the world

#MicroblogMondays: ISO Holiday Spirit


It is 6 days before Christmas, and I am in dire need of Christmas spirit. Our tree is up, but that’s about it due to the wiring/fiber project and frankly, scope creep.  I’m off work for the rest of the year, and there is plenty to do, but I can’t find my motivation.  It’s been a year. Between health issues, work issues and more work issues, kitty cat issues, 7-year-olds going on 13 issues, and the election, we – the adults in the house – just want to hibernate until…until when? When things are better?

It’s a year for things to be up-ended, even our holiday celebrations.  Jimmy and his brother both starting new jobs means less vacation time, so we had his family’s Christmas celebration on Sunday when we usually have it after Christmas.  Instead of spending the day after Christmas baking goodies, I made only two small batches on Saturday since they are flying back to NJ instead of driving. We will have Christmas with my family later this week and then actual Christmas at home and then we’ll be done.  It isn’t bad; it’s just different. Everything feels different this year.

It’s been quite a year.

But we will muddle through as my favorite melancholy Christmas song suggests. We have an excited little boy who is counting down to Santa – maybe one of the last years for Santa in our house – and two Advent calendars to maintain. Cookies to bake for Santa and for us.  We introduced him to the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies recently, and it is so special to watch his wonder as he discovers those worlds.

So maybe the wooden Advent calendar is underneath the stairs and there is a TV in our fireplace. So maybe one strand of my carefully-checked lights on the bushes outside stubbornly refuses to work. So maybe the $1.39 lights for the windows I bought refuse to work consistently (thanks, China!). So maybe I’ve already watched Christmas Vacation three times. So maybe my Christmas cards still aren’t done despite actually having a formal family portrait this year.  So maybe I prefer to read Trixie Belden fan fiction instead of engaging with the news because reality is too much.

It is what it is. And maybe, just maybe, Christmas spirit will find me.


This may represent the entirety of our decorations this year.


#MicroblogMondays: Fat

Last night as I was tucking Daniel into bed, he told me he wanted to see how fat I was. I stood up because I wasn’t really sure where he was going with this, and he giggled and said, “you’re fat” and started patting my stomach. I told him that wasn’t nice to say and left the room.

I was crushed. But even more than the hurt and embarrassment I felt was my curiosity about what prompted that exchange. We are diligent about not talking about weight or body issues around him but maybe we aren’t as diligent as we thought. Was it something from school? “Fat” was one of his spelling words a few weeks ago.

It’s likely that he doesn’t really understand what he said and why it was hurtful. Now to figure out how to talk about it. My mother laments that once your child starts school, “they’re never really yours again,” a statement that is actually kind of horrible, but maybe it contains a grain of truth: the more they experience of the world, the less control you have; from that point on you are fighting to fit in these new experiences with your family’s value system and world view. And ours definitely does not include calling people fat!


White Deer

snow, sleet, ice in North Carolina


A few days ago, Daniel and I were driving through our neighborhood, almost home, when he asked, “What’s in that yard?” I was dutifully looking straight ahead, but I started checking out what was on either side of me to figure out what he was talking about, and it was then that I saw them.  At first I thought they were dogs running like crazy from the house on the left.  Then I realized they were deer.  Three young deer.  They raced across the front yard of the house on the left, leaped across the road and raced across the yard of the house on the right into the trees.

It took a few seconds for my brain to process what it saw: two young brown deer and one white deer.  We live in an area with lots of trees, so seeing deer isn’t unusual.  As a matter of fact, Daniel and I watched 5 deer wander around our back yard last weekend.  It’s not unusual for me to see deer crossing the street: deer are notorious for darting across the street with little notice where I work.   However, I had never seen a white deer before.

I joked on Twitter that I hoped the white deer wasn’t a sign of doom or death.  I looked it up, and white deer symbolize purity, an impending spiritual quest or a message from the gods that you had transgressed a taboo.

My imagination took over, and I started wondering what message the white deer had for me based on what is going on in my life right now.  Had I committed some grievous sin against the universe?  Notice how I instantly go for the worst interpretation.  Am I about to be tested by a spiritual journey? I kind of hope not because I think that’s what the last year or so has been.  No more testing, please!

In truth, I’m sure the white deer is simply a white deer.  It happened to cross my path because I was in the right place at the right time.

Sometimes I envy the ancient civilizations.  We modern humans often roll our eyes and laugh at how they attributed everything that happened in their world to a sign from their gods.  How they had huge number of deities governing every aspect of their lives.  We think how primitive their thinking and their understanding of science were.  How very precious these first civilizations were!

Yet, these people felt connected to their gods.  They felt like their gods were literally everywhere and took an interest in their lives and their world.  If the crops failed, perhaps they had displeased a god.  If the harvest was bountiful, the god was pleased with them.  It is simplistic but reassuring at the same time: there is something bigger than they are keeping watch and taking notes.  And if they had transgressed, there were definitive actions they thought they needed to take to make it better: offerings, sacrifice, rituals.  Possibly brutal and disgusting to modern sensibilities, but I can imagine how it would have been a relief to feel like you could do something to change your luck in the world.

I contrast that with how often I want to look for a sign, a symbol, a message in nature, in a certain song on the radio, in a dream before acknowledging the more likely randomness of events.  During the darkest days of our time in infertility hell, I often wondered WHY we had been selected for this outcome.  Were we being tested like Job?  And what about those who had children with little effort?  Were they truly better people?  Were we being punished?  More importantly, was there something we could do to right our karma?

The truth is that life doesn’t work that way.  Life is a crap shoot and sometimes you’re up; other times you’re down.  No omnipotent, omniscient being is picking on you, even if it seems like that.  White deer running across the road are simply white deer running across the road.

I long to believe there are mysteries in the universe yet to be solved; that there is more to life than what it seems.  My heart tells me one thing while my stubborn brain tells me another.


I had a three-day weekend last weekend, and it was much anticipated and very nice.  I needed it because I was not looking forward to the work week to come.  Things are a little crazy at work right now with uncertainty due to the recently-announced need for a “mid-year correction.”  The week was culminating in two days of meetings for the entire staff and then another meeting afterwards that I was dreading.  I was in a bad mood all week and just knew it was going to be a bad, no good, horrible week. When you dread Friday, you know you’ve got problems.

Suddenly, mid-way through the week, things started to change.  I skipped a day-long meeting and had a quiet day in the office to catch up on some work, picking up Daniel a little early so we could cook dinner and have a little more time together.  Thursday, mere hours before the staff meeting started, the Friday portion of the meeting was cancelled due to impending bad weather.  With snow/sleet/ice threatening, Jimmy urged us both to stay home on Friday, keeping Daniel home with us since we didn’t want to be caught trying to navigate nasty roads with him in the car.

Friday morning, the nasty weather started earlier than expected, and I was grateful we decided to stay home.  I got some work done, and then we three snuggled and watched it sleet all day.  I even took a nap.  It was a lovely, low-key day.  An unexpected…sleet day and another three-day weekend.  I told Jimmy that the week had ended beautifully, much, much better than I had thought it would even only a few days earlier.

Maybe white deer…maybe there are some mysteries still left.