Shake it Out

Well, here we are. The last week of October. I thought I’d be OK. In control. But I’m not as much as I’d like to be. I thought it was Mercury Retrograde weighing on me because I really felt it. Uncomfortable in my own skin. Pulled, contorted, strained, weighed down. But here we are. My own personal D-Day. I can feel my anxiety rising daily. I’m struggling just to keep it together when what I really want to do is burrow under the covers and stay there. House a mess? Check. No cooking? Check. Clothes unfolded? Check. Child late to school? Check. Oversleeping? Check. Irritation? Check. Sensitive? Check. Crying? Check.

And my thoughts are so jumbled and muddled. My therapist told me a few weeks ago that I intellectualize emotions and feelings instead of letting myself experience them. I try to explain what I am feeling instead of letting myself indulge in them. But I do feel them; I find it difficult let myself to be an emotional person. To be seen as someone who has feelings.

You know who I envy? People who don’t give a fuck what other people think. I’ve always cared too much. It has improved, but I still care too much. I had a conversation on Friday night about my feelings, and I’m not completely certain it went well (not the fault of the conversation, but talking about feelings can be difficult). But I know that I cried – like ugly cried – afterwards. The kind of crying that left my eyes extra puffy Saturday and experiencing an emotional hangover.

We all have history and formative experiences and god knows I have thought a lot about mine. Probably too much. Analysis is my forte. Feeling is not. I’m not going to subject any of you to my TED Talk on why I am this way. I guess I should get to the point. I think my thoughts are jumbled around vulnerability and shame (yes, yes, off to read Brene Brown). After that conversation on Friday – or frankly, any conversation in which I let loose like that – my first reaction is embarrassment. I’ve revealed too much of myself. All the ugly parts. The parts that indicate that no, I very much do not have my shit together. You know, the parts that reveal me as a flesh and blood human who is not perfect. And the fear about whether people will still like me or respect me if I reveal that I do have feelings. But I AM human! I DO have feelings! Why is vulnerability such a difficult state for us to occupy? How did we get here?

I think of this verse Rizzo sings in “There are Worse Things I Could Do” from Grease:

I could hurt someone like me
Out of spite or jealousy
I don’t steal and I don’t lie
But I can feel and I can cry
A fact I’ll bet you never knew

But to cry in front of you
That’s the worst thing I could do

And to finally, finally get to the point. I have a lot of thoughts about this week. Can I express those emotions? Should I express those emotions? Can I be that vulnerable? Is it allowed? And yes, I know it is technically. But am I allowed to feel and express these things truly? Or should I keep a stiff upper lip? What is the statute of limitations on grieving in our society these days?

It is funny to be writing this after last week’s somewhat “rah rah” “Entropy” post. Well. I feel what I feel when I feel it. THAT I have definitely learned in the last year. And I grapple with that dichotomy. I have good days and bad days. Last week was not a great week, and I have a feeling that this week may not be either. And I have to be OK with that. I have to accept that and understand that. More importantly, I have to give myself permission to feel. To let those emotions flow through.

This week is worthy of my feelings. If I feel dread, uneasiness, and anxiety every day, it’s OK. If I need to take a day and just be, that’s OK. From what I have seen, there is no manual for any of this (but if there is other than Kubler-Ross, message me?).

I’ll do what I need to get through it. Cry when I need to. And then “Shake it out” as Florence + the Machine recommend and prepare for Halloween. I have three pumpkins to gut (ugh) and carve (good luck?) and a child to make happy.

One step backwards. One step forwards. Every day.

It’s always darkest before the dawn.

Entropy

I’m not going to deny that the last few years were…not ideal. I feel like everything around me is falling apart both literally and metaphorically. I no sooner fix one issue with my house than another arises. Fucking whack-a-mole. Mondays suck because three jobs. Behavior…yeah. Mercury Retrograde. And I feel bad talking about it because it feels like all I do is talk about the bad stuff. Each week I say, “I’m tired of my own shit. I won’t inflict it on others.”

Entropy describes the last few years well. Things not getting done around the house. Easier to give into feelings and situations instead of trying to fix them. Entropy is fucking powerful, and it is easy to be dragged down by it.

I am usually a driven person. I do things. Sometimes I do too much. I was the definition of “work before play” and therefore, “play” typically never happened. And somewhere in the last few years, I lost that. It became easier to succumb and wallow. When you feel out of control, sometimes it is easier to give in and say, “why bother? No one else is.”

Well, now, I’m the only adult. I want to be better. To do better. My list is long. I want to reject entropy. I want to fortify myself against it. I CAN be better. And I know: I’ve been through a lot in the last year and should cut myself some slack or give myself some grace. But at some point, you have to stop making excuses and step up (woman up?). I need to be an example. I need to feel good.

“You’re turning into something you are not” – Radiohead “High and Dry”

Today we went to buy pumpkins. We bought a lot, and it was great. I also bought flowers to put in planters. I hadn’t done that in years. I love flowers. I don’t in any way claim to have a green thumb, but I love flowers. So I decided I would pot these flowers today. I did it. It felt SO good. It’s a small thing, but I felt like it was a tiny shield being erected against entropy.

One step at a time. One flower at a time.

Apparently Fridays Can Suck Too

It’s possible I might be in an especially raw phase. I cried at least 5 times this week. I just finished crying in fact. And I might cry more. The jury is out although it would be nice if they would give me a heads up.

I blame Mercury Retrograde. Yes. We are in that lovely period in which Mercury likes to fuck with us. I have an entire post planned on it if I can get past this week because I have a lot of Mercury in my natal chart, so I am essentially fucked.

I hope you don’t mind expletives. I am quite fluent with them these days. I always liked them and used them before, but now, it’s like my native tongue. Makes me think of when I returned home from college the first few times. My aunts and my mom looked at each other knowingly as the expletives rolled off my tongue. A look I learned to decipher as, “oh, so cute! College girl thinks she has grown up!”

I don’t like to feel that anything is overwhelming for me. At all. But I’m also human and apparently have pesky things called feelings, and they can be hurt and trampled on too. That really destroys my vibe as someone who is above that sort of thing, but here we are.

And 12-year-olds are especially good…exquisitely good…at picking out your weaknesses and trampling all over them gleefully.

He’s apologized. I’m sulking and trying not to cry again. It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s all fine. I am both 15 and 44 and that’s a weird place to be.

It’s just…one minute you are going along thinking – not that you have it together – fuck no. Never that. But that you are managing things. You are getting by (that is a bar set very low). And then, something emotionally sideswipes you and you realize you have nothing together, your life is shit, and it’s like a bucket of ice-cold water has been dropped over your head. Everything you believed is a joke. You know shit. This week has been an entire week of this. And believe me, my expectations are very low. And somehow that hurts even more.

And when you try so hard to look like you have it together, that you are keeping everything together, it’s like an extra low blow. Especially when you are trying to look towards the future and try to make plans – you know “be optimistic”: the universe guffaws (maybe in a nicotine-deadened croaky voice), “ha ha ha. Why did you ever think you could do anything like that? Achieve anything like that? You are FUCKED!”

Like I said. Expletives are my lingua franca these days.

Just think of me as a crab: hard exoskeleton, soft underbelly. That’s what I feel like.

***

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Today is Manufacturing Day. I’ve posted about this day for many years, but please think of the manufacturers in your area and thank them, support them, vote for legislation friendly to them. Manufacturing is so important to our economy and, frankly, fascinating! Someone said on a call today, “manufacturing has changed!” And that is so true. It is very different than what it used to be, and I want us to get to a point where we can visit plants again (damn COVID) so people can see what it is like now. I could think of a zillion types of tours to plan to showcase the various products made in NC, and I know my colleagues across the nation could do the same. I love Manufacturing Day. It inspires me, and I love trying to figure out best how to highlight what all we make. And the truth is that if we as a nation no longer make things, we are doomed. If I, a prissy English major who had never been exposed to manufacturing prior to 2000, can find it fascinating, I guarantee that you can too.

***

And welcome October. It’s time to get out my Halloween villages and set up a few things. I love October. I love the leaves changing. I love knowing we are getting to the end of the year and the shortest day of the year. It appeals to something primal in me. I have 20 pairs of Halloween socks. I love it. Today, October 1, also marks the 11th month since Jimmy died. I am stunned it is month 11 already.

Life and feelings ebb and flow. Flow and ebb. Emotions come and go. Go and come. You do your best. It’s all you can do.

And, well, fuck it, right? You knew I couldn’t end without an expletive 🙂

I Don’t Like Mondays

I try not to air too much dirty laundry, but, well, sometimes I need to vent and share, and I like to think this is my safe-ish space to do so. I have no interest in being the poster child for “getting by” because I have lots of raw, ugly emotions here.

I hate Mondays. I think we can all say that to some degree, and a friend turned me on to “I Don’t Like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats, and it sums it up.

I used to blithely say it, but now I really, really mean it. Mondays now mean attempted school refusal because it’s a PE day (note to self: another call I need to make). Lots of meetings. And putting on three hats: job 1, job 2 (marketing) and job 3 (mommy). It’s a long day. And it includes garbage needing to be dealt with. It sounds silly, but I don’t know…garbage symbolizes so much, and it is a huge pain. Garbage night symbolizes to me one of those tasks that I didn’t have to do previously but now must do now. And I fucking hate it. 

And my sweet boy. Mondays are a trigger for him because of gym class. He hates gym class. I hated gym class too. Do I look like someone who excelled in gym? Nope. Like I said, school refusal attempted. And then surliness at me. Demanding I speak to him a certain way. Nothing pisses me off more than being told to use a nicer tone or say “please” by my 12 year old. And this comes barely two days after taking him to a Lego festival, spending a lot of money and being told that it was the BEST day.

I am not good with this. I am too verbal and use too many words to be effective, and it angers me SO MUCH. This morning, once he agreed to go to school, he announced he was going to the woods. I muttered, “By all means, go live deliberately” and he shouted, “I don’t understand your slang.” I laughed and laughed. 

And then after I dropped him off at school, I came home and cried and cried.

I mention all of this not to shame him or myself (though the shame for me is omnipresent) but to point out the reality of our lives right now. It is not all great. It is not often great at all. 

I am lonely. I am alone. I often don’t know what to do. I Google a lot. We both have therapists. It’s just hard. And I’m OK with that being our reality because it is true: hard. But I wonder when it will be less hard. And I hope there will be a time.

I like to think I am doing my best, but when I don’t feel like I am doing my best at anything, I can’t believe I am doing my best at parenting either. But I know the tween surliness is developmental and I know that his rages at me are also due to him knowing I am a safe person he can rage to. I know that. Just not easy to take. And that all gets woven together with being the only parent and being alone and feeling alone and trying to do my job, and I just want to scream.

Me

We went to the beach for Labor Day weekend – a do-over from a few prior rainy trips and a “last hurrah” to the beach as well as an early birthday present for me. And it was wonderful!  But we did have a scary moment. The ocean was the calmest I had seen it in years and there were amazing sand bars that extended far out.  Daniel and I played in the water, swam (me) and overall had a great time. 

And then the scare happened: the closest sand bar disappeared suddenly. Daniel freaked out and wrapped himself around my neck. I knew we were only a few inches away from being able to touch, but the tide was coming in quickly and I had someone gripping me even though I tried to calm him down so I could walk or swim us closer. It was the scariest moment I have ever had in the ocean. Fortunately, there were swimmers close by that could help us progress the few inches needed, but I was devastated. Relieved. Humiliated. Grateful. Angry. I had talked to Daniel several times about not grabbing me around the neck if he was scared in the water. I know that panic occurs and how it makes our rational thoughts disappear instantly. But I could feel what could have happened, and it was terrifying. All I could think of was that this child who was berating me the night before for not doing something for him was now gripping me, hoping I would save him even though he could quite literally have drowned us both. We returned to our room, and I cried from the adrenaline and from feeling like a failure who couldn’t take care of her child and from feeling overall like a terrible mother and human.

So that’s where we are. If I’m not waving, I’m drowning. Sometimes literally; mostly figuratively.

And in the midst of all this other drama, milestones occur. Last week, on Sept. 22, I realized it was the anniversary of when I met Jimmy. We’ve always considered it a significant date, and it felt weird to me that it took me almost the entire day before I realized what the date was. We met in 1996, so it would have been 25 years. Then, on Sept. 25, I took Daniel to BrickUniverse and gave the credit card a work out even though I hate Legos at this point. September 25 was also Jimmy’s birthday, so I thought indulging Daniel might be a good idea. It was a good day. It was a good way to honor Jimmy because he would have loved taking Daniel to BrickUniverse. 

I have lots of milestones this time of year: my birthday (9/9); our meeting anniversary (9/22); his birthday (9/25). Next month is the last week of his life at the end of October. Then we have the first anniversary of his death on 11/1. Our wedding anniversary is 12/1 and let me tell you what a gift last year was with the first month of his death arriving on our anniversary. I usually enjoy celebrating milestones and important dates, but I kind of want to put my head in the sand this year. The dates are a lot, especially as they come almost all at once.

I write this not to seek pity or even condolences. More of a rumination on what it’s like to be us … to be me mainly … right now. I try to keep a stiff upper lip, but to be frank, this shit is hard. 

But I try. I try so hard every day (maybe sing that to Flock of Seagulls’ “I Ran.” That would be amusing). It’s all I have and all I can do.

I joke that many days I feel like Sisyphus, and that is true. But I also think of this video, and it makes me laugh and feel better.

“Like Sisyphus, I am bound to hell.”

Sisyphus indeed. Better days will come.

Birthday Gift for Myself

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself”

Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

A few months ago, I decided what I wanted to give myself for my birthday. It was…a bit radical for me. Despite my liberal beliefs, I am a bit conservative in some areas.

But once the idea took hold in my head, I couldn’t get rid of it. I wanted…no, I needed to do this. I made a goal to have it by my birthday, but it wasn’t possible. However, one week later, I did it. I fulfilled my birthday gift to myself.

Behold:

I honestly never thought I would get a tattoo. I admired them, but I never thought I would get one. However, like I said, over the summer, the idea took hold in my head, and I wanted to do it.

I know a phoenix is a little cliche and possibly trite, but it spoke to me. What better symbol of rebirth could there be after one’s spouse dies and you are forced to figure out a new reality and existence? Plus Harry Potter.

And I love it. I do. I could not stop grinning for hours after I received it. It’s such a small thing, but it felt so transformative. So symbolic.

My tattooist was great – I think he is in his 80s based on what he said, but he has had a very colorful life (and I think he is libertarian based on his comments. That or slightly conservative?!). He had on classic rock in the background, and we had some good chats about the music. It also made me think of my father.

I’m not going to lie. It did hurt. About 75% of it was bearable and mainly resembled a lot of acupuncture needles being placed at the same time. The other 25% caused me to clench my jaw and grip the pillow. But it took only an hour.

I don’t know if it makes sense to be proud of myself for getting a tattoo. But I am. It felt like a radical act…for me.

I know we all likely know this line from Mary Oliver (and I’ve used it in this space before):

“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I want to live. To find me. To be me. And this tattoo felt like the first step in that direction.

Happy Birthday to Me.

Surliness and the Seventh Grader

Daniel started 7th grade (OMG!) in person last month. I must confess that *I* may have been tad bit excited for it. In person! Not virtual! Maybe actual education and learning will be had! Getting back to routines! To be fair, Daniel was excited to return too, so lest you picture me doing excited pirouettes around my house after I dropped him off…well, you’d be correct.

But wow was it difficult returning to the grind and routine of school. What are school supplies? I have to pack a lunch? We need new clothes! School starts when? Where IS the school? That last item is not exactly an exaggeration. Last school year – sixth grade – would have been his first year in middle school, and we were unable to tour it in the spring of 2020 due to that little thing called COVID. Last year was spent virtual, and I think I personally went inside the school twice. Things are SO weird, but I don’t have to tell you all that.

We went to Meet the Teacher night as usual, and Daniel loved his teachers and the classrooms (seriously, they may have been the nicest, cleanest classrooms I have ever seen). I did have a moment of amusement because his Homeroom and English teacher listed the books she was reading, and I was stunned to see she is reading a novel by someone I know from the fanfiction realm. I sidled up to her and whispered, “do you know she writes fanfiction? She’s really good.” She did not know this, so I have sent her some links. Reeling them into the fandom one link at a time…

So here we are about to start week 4. It’s going well. Academically, things seem good, but the school has also continued with the limited/no homework policy, so I usually have no idea what D is working on unless he deigns to share. Like last week he rocked social studies, so I heard about that. Otherwise, it’s pulling teeth to get information. But from the teachers I have heard from, they like him a lot and appreciate his enthusiasm. I’ll take it. I’ve always wanted nothing more than for him to do his best, and after the last 18 months, if he is enjoying school and actually learning, that’s all that matters.

Socially…well, we all know middle school is hell. If middle school had been a concept when Dante was writing The Divine Comedy, I’m sure there would have been an entire level of hell dedicated to middle school. And with good reason.

Daniel was disappointed that a few of his closest friends from elementary school aren’t in any of his classes, but he does have a few other former classmates, so he is slowly (slowwwwlllllyyyy) getting over that disappointment. He hates gym, but who among us did not hate gym? He feels bad because he cannot do a push up, and I’m promising to help because one of my weird splinter skills (along with serving a volleyball) is doing push ups.

My child is a bit surly kind of a misanthrope. He informed me recently that HE is a man and the other students in the school are children, and he will not associate with them because they are less mature. OKKKK. I’m not sure what his definition of a “man” is, but this is where he and I butt heads because I want preciseness in language, so I do a lot of saying, “you are legally not an adult! There are laws about this!” I know this surliness is typical, but yeah, the next few years are going to be GREAT. And damn. I know I’m an introvert and joke about not liking people, but come on! I’m sort of proud, yet appalled? We have a lot of conversations about what is means to be polite socially even if you loathe the people around you. Sometimes our conversations – like much in the last 18 months – seem very surreal.

Ultimately, I spend a lot of time telling him that yes, middle school is hell and everyone is an asshole. Just do the best you can and ignore the ones that get on your nerves. That somehow seems like good advice (based on painful experience) and insufficient? I’m always reminded of a Teaching Fellows summer seminar I went on junior year. One of the keynote speakers was a middle school teacher and basically said this:

The students won’t like you or listen to you or their parents. They will only listen to their peers. They don’t care about school. But other than that, middle school is great!

Way to sell middle school!

We’re getting by. Yes, it’s only 4 weeks in, but I’m grateful he is back in school and that the district has a mask mandate (fairly red county and controversial, so I was pleasantly surprised). It is disconcerting to receive calls almost every day from the school about the latest positive COVID case. I told some friends that “deep disinfection and quarantining” is the COVID version of “thoughts and prayers.” And I’m grateful Daniel seems to be enjoying it or at least dealing with it. I’ve had the joy of experiencing afternoon pick up, and holy shit. I cannot believe how early people line up. I’ve taken entire meetings via Zoom on my phone on several occasions as I have waited to pick him up.

The first week of school, both water containers disappeared. Daniel was nonplussed (the current definition, not the definition I prefer). Then the second week, I saw his water container sitting on the bench outside the front of the school when I picked him up early. I guess it’s true what the say: “if you love someone (something) and set it free, if they come back to you it was meant to be.”

I’m all about signs these days, so I’ll take it in a water bottle.

44

I turn 44 tomorrow. Technically, I turn 44 at 11:13 PM tomorrow, meaning my birthday was almost Sept. 10 instead of September. 9. But at this point, that and what they may or may not have done to my mother to get my oh-so-large 5 pound self out doesn’t really matter. However, I’ll never live down the broken tailbone they gave her to get me out. Believe me, it’s like the nightmarish bedtime story I cannot escape. Do you ever feel guilty about your own birth? I do.

But. Tomorrow. Thursday. September 9. It’s my birthday. Broken tailbones or not. I’m definitely starting to reach that point at which I shrug off birthdays. Just another day! Except I want it to be more than another day. Just a little bit. Maybe not worth a whole to-do, but maybe a bit of one. Guess I better get to work on that.

It’s been quite a year. And I’m trying to figure out my place and settle within it. To find my mooring. And a lot of times I feel like that involves quite a bit of dissembling: “of course everything is fine!” And it is. Truly. But sometimes I feel like I am collapsing in on myself like a dying star.

Oh and I’m a bit more dramatic. Sorry about that. Or not. Maybe I should stop apologizing for having feelings – some rather fucking complex ones.

So 44. A few fun facts about 44: Obama was the 44th President. 44 is a tribonacci number. 44 is the country code for the UK. It’s also the number of candles in a Hanukkah box of candles. The .44 magnum. And according to Wikipedia, 44 is both a palindromic number and a happy number. I have no idea what that means, but it makes me smile.

Inhale. Exhale. I’ve told a few people that I feel like a raw, exposed nerve lately. And I do. And it is weird when things hit and make me cry. Like tonight. Why am I crying? It’s just a birthday and not even a milestone one. I think, that as Virginia Woolf put it in To a Lighthouse, it comes back to “time passes.” 44. No spring chicken. I could see the thestrals at Hogwarts very likely. And…44. It sounds old-ish. Several hundred years ago, I’d have been preparing to retire to a nunnery, because what other use could a woman of that advanced age have?? Though I suspect I’d raise some hell in a nunnery.

As Prufrock says:

“I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.”

But. But. Though I toy with melancholia, I have good spirits. It’s just another year around the sun. I am very fortunate to have Daniel, the kitties, friends old and new, and a job I love. I have a lot going for me (looks around frantically for something on which to knock on wood).

It will be OK. My birthday will be a good day regardless of what may come.

It’s just a day. But it is my day. Happy Birthday to me.

Bittersweet: More Sweet than Bitter, Bitter than Sweet

It’s a cliche that every author of a semi-abandoned blog returns, apologizes for the absence and expresses a desire to dust it off and resume writing. Well, I am nothing if not a cliche.

I thought about blogging in March 2020 when we started quarantine. I thought about blogging a few months later about how much I hated wiping off the items from the grocery store and how my nails would never be the same thanks to Clorox. I thought about blogging the first time I left my house (July 2020) since March. I thought about blogging about how small my house felt with Daniel home and “attending” (read: not) virtual school, my husband on medical leave, the arguments and the three cats that draped themselves in front of me and on chairs while I worked. I know I had a few interesting Zoom meetings when one of them did something gravity-defying in front of me and my expression was one of panic or shock. I thought about blogging about the quest to make my dining room chair as ergonomically comfortable as possible since I spent all day, every day hunched over my laptop (still do!).

I worked my ass off, literally (we’ll get to that). I know some employers complained about a loss of productivity, but I have never worked so much (and still doing so) ever. But it was good work. Meaningful work. Taking my org’s mission and trying to identify manufacturers that could make PPE and match them to state and federal opportunities. I never thought I would find myself discussing Everclear in a work call, but it happened because the alcohol proof to be effective against COVID needed to be at least Everclear levels and we had to advise the local distilleries seeking to make hand sanitizer. Bizarre. But this sort of thing is why I love my job. You never know what you will need to research.

And I had anger. Lots of anger. And resentment. My house often felt like a prison. Trapped between a surly, increasingly anxious tweenager and an anxious spouse who often butted heads because frankly, they were so much alike. They both would come vent to me, and I would offer counsel, but I also screamed, “I am working here! I am the ONLY one in this house working. Figure it out for yourselves!” I fantasized about just walking out the door and leaving. Even 43-year-olds can run away from home, right? Sartre said that hell is other people, and I raise a glass to him because at that point, truer words had never been spoken.

And then came Halloween 2020 and November 1, 2020. I was in a foul mood. Everyone had been extra…needy that week. And it takes a lot out of you when you finally shut your laptop at 5 or 6 or whatever and have to shift to your second job of “keeping the fucking household going: cooking, cleaning, feeding the cats, laundry, etc.” Bitterness, resentment and anger? I had them. Old friends by that point. Best friends. I was feeling resentful and angry because I had to get everything ready for Halloween, including the pumpkins, dinner, candy, the costume, etc. And also guilty and sympathetic because Jimmy wasn’t feeling well. My goal was to give Daniel a decent Halloween because so much of 2020 had been a shit show: couldn’t go anywhere, beach trips canceled, nothing fun. The least I could do is take him to a few houses to trick-or-treat.

We went to bed and…the next day I woke up a widow. I’m not going to go into details because they are incredibly personal and awful. Just know that I saw things I cannot unsee. Ever. It was a terrible, terrible day. And Daniel was home, so I had to shield him as much as I could.

That was almost 10 months ago. I cannot believe it has been that long already. I’ve talked to more people on the phone than I have in years. I’ve written the first checks I’ve written in decades. I’ve filled out so much paperwork. I’ve dealt with tax issues and estate planning. I found yard people! I am dealing with a plumbing issue. I’ve carved a turkey (not necessarily well but that fucker was carved). I’ve dealt with the anxiety of being the “only” parent. Daniel and I have fought and made up so many times. I know he trusts me because he feels free to be a right asshole to me. I’ve upped my meds. I’ve cried many, many times. I found a therapist of my own. I work. In fact, my team has doubled. I try really, really hard to keep it all together, but I have also learned to let myself be vulnerable and to be seen as vulnerable.

And I’ve let people in. I have zoom calls with friends from high school. I have a monthly “happy hour” zoom with a former coworker. I have Zooms and a FB group with fellow IF friends and I now consider them among my closest friends. I’ve made new, special friends. I used to have few people I texted, but now I have so many that I forget to whom I have told what. I talk and talk and talk. Jimmy used to joke that he could tell when I hadn’t talked to anyone at work because I would come home and talk nonstop. I lost a lot, but I feel like I found a lot. I have been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting. Some days are unbearably lonely. Other days, I want Daniel and the cats to leave me alone after a day full of Zoom meetings. But these connections mean a lot to me. I’ve always felt chronically lonely and that was probably of my own making, but being able to talk to these people – realizing that they care – that they find me worthy & interesting is humbling and wonderful.

We have had a good summer. Several trips to the beach. Lots of freckles (me); whatever his heart desires (Daniel). I’m probably spoiling him a bit, but I’m OK with that. And I lost 40+ pounds since January 2020 (see “literally working my ass off”). Was not intentional. It turns out I am not a stress eater, and anxiety renders me incapable of eating. It’s a weird place to be. I’ve cooked less than I anticipated, but that’s OK. “Getting By” is the goal. Is Daniel fed? Are the cats fed? Have I eaten something? Then it’s all good.

So why tonight? Why resurrect the ol’ blog tonight? Well, I’m a sucker for milestones, and Daniel starts school – in person – on Monday. We are both looking forward to it. I’m not sure I can adequately explain it, but the last 18 months seem so surreal. Almost dream-like (or nightmare-like – pick your poison). Nothing seemed real. I’ve been working in a tank top and lounge pants. My beauty ritual has been whittled to 5 minutes. I joke I’m feral but it’s not really a joke. No, really. So resuming in-person school seems like a nice coda. Maybe now we can start to re-establish routines. Better bedtimes. I don’t want to put too much pressure on us, but I have some optimism about this. The world is still on fire (literally in several cases) and the Delta variant is causing trouble. Also, the first day and week of school have threats of protests by local groups who believe a piece of cloth is the worst affront to their rights they have ever seen 🙄 Overall, though, it feels like a whisper, a hint of normalcy.

I hope to revisit this space more. I NEED an outlet. And every day is not perfect nor do I expect it to be. But I am learning and growing as painful and wonderful as that can be. I leave with this quote from Keats:

Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Infertility Never Goes Away

When I read infertility articles, I goggle a bit because these are current POVs & experiences whereas mine are both technically current (endo & congenital issues don’t disappear) and in the past because we know our issues and with an almost 10-year-old, we have made peace with our family.

But yeah. Infertility never goes away- at least to me.  This article came to my attention this week and while the particulars are different, everything else is sooooo familiar.

I’m 41- almost 42 – years old and I suspect I will always find articles like this to be familiar. It’s a sisterhood, a club, without formal admission requirements or meetings (or even desire to join). Just pain. It isn’t omnipresent like is was before D was born but it is still there, lingering. I almost wrote “hiding”, but that isn’t true. I don’t want to hide this pain. That does a disservice to the experience.

I have a child, yet I still hurt. I will always hurt even if it is compartmentalized.

Is there a flag for “Infertility is Forever!”? Ha.

So, i’m trying to publish this from my phone, so things aren’t working 100%. This is the article I referenced: Infertility article

NYE 2018

It’s cliche at my age to talk about how fast time goes by and how it seems to go by faster and faster each year.  But damn it, it’s true. Here we are – somehow – on the final day of the year again.

Not a superb year, but not a terrible year either. Probably a normal year with normal ups and downs: car died; new car! Dryer died; new dryer.  Days off of school for hurricanes in the Fall (while we got off lightly, the eastern part of the state was devastated) and then a day off for an unusual snowstorm in December.  Two trips to the beach. A trip to Asheville and the Biltmore House for the second time, fast becoming an annual tradition for our family (along with a heated indoor pool and a continental breakfast). A good end to 3rd grade and a good start to 4th grade for Daniel.  The unexpected death of an aunt. Increasingly creaky bones and quickly greying hair.  My first salon highlights.  Work frustrations (always) but trips to DC to participate in Hill Day and to Kansas City to present at a conference as well as representing us at other meetings showed me I was becoming a trusted member of the team.  Extended family health issues and controversies. Family relationships and friendships renewed.

A normal year.

I’m not sorry to see 2018 go, though.  This year has felt taut and out of control as the news raged around us, and we cringed at each “Breaking News” alert (“the center will not hold” and all that). But I’ve also never been more in tune with the world around us.

I read the fewest books this year that I’ve ever read: only 16. I read a LOT of fan fiction (another whole post could be devoted to that) because it was a much-needed antidote to the world around us. I also read (and recommended) tons of articles. Surely that mitigates somewhat the lack of reading actual books? Despite the stack of unread books on my nightstand?

We’ve watched some good movies and good series. Things that make us laugh and provide escapism (although Avengers: Infinity Wars left us devastated even though we know it is only part 1).  Some dramas seem too real these days, and I found myself turning away from even my go-to Law & Order: SVU reruns in favor of something else.

We sent no Christmas cards this year. I had every intention of doing so, but we just couldn’t make it happen. We didn’t have the large in-law family Christmas on the 27th this year for the first time in…decades? But we all breathed a sigh of relief, and our small lunch on Christmas was just right. I didn’t even bake cookies for the holidays, instead buying scrumptious cookies from a neighbor.

Sometimes I wonder if we have given up and are letting go too much, but sometimes it’s also nice to have quiet holidays. You have to recharge your batteries, right?

Daniel was happy, and that was what mattered.  Also, 9-year-olds are moody beasts.

I don’t think I’ll make any resolutions.  I have a list of things I “need” to do. What I need to do is to be more forgiving of myself and others and be more generous. More open. I think many of us could say the same thing.

Goodbye, 2018.  Welcome, 2019.  May it be good to us all.

My favorite picture of us in 2018.

My favorite picture of us in 2018.

 

PS: I really hope to write more here in 2019. I’ve missed it.