Wednesday, March 31, 2021

What to wear while rooting through your neighbor's garbage

First of all, if you're wondering if I wear these outfits all the time, the answer is yes.

If you're further wondering if this is the outfit I was wearing while rooting through the neighbor's discards, the answer is also yes.

These suipersuits are improving my pandemic. My goal is to wear them as much as possible while it's still cold because once it's DC hot these will turn me into my own personal sauna.

(Which is pronounced SOW-na. So there.)


On Monday I bought this charming monstera that was just starting to fenestrate from a very nice guy in a plant group I joined a few months ago when I decided that plants would also improve my pandemic. I also bought homemade moss poles from him.

I'm currently considering a worm farm. Nick thinks this may be a bridge too far, much like putting one's penis though plantation shutters to greet the day is, in his opinion, insane.


So I bought this monstera in a very nice pot, and it had a little plastic water-catcher under it in just the perfect size.

Which I accidentally left on the floor in the backseat of our car. I meant to go back and get it out, but I forgot.

And then that night Nick and I had a fight. And he drove the car yesterday.

Since I wasn't calling him and he wasn't calling me, I couldn't say oh by the way there's this plastic thing on the floor of the car that fits the pot of my new plant perfectly.

So last night when we were all back to fine, I mentioned it. And he said, "Oh. I got the car washed yesterday and I put it in the recycling."

I knew, I just knew, he did this maliciously. I didn't say this, however. Till this morning.

This morning Nick was being all lovey and I said, "I know you threw out that container at the car wash on purpose."

He was all, what?

I went on to explain that he clearly threw out the perfect-sized plastic water catcher thing because he was annoyed with me. 

And he said, "I was cleaning out the car. I also threw out a bunch of your mom's tissues that had wound up on the floor. There was no ill intent."

Betty always carries around no fewer than 47 tissues at any time, just in case. And...what he said made sense.

And he added, "They're just in the next door neighbor's recycling."


There's a group house next to use which, when we first moved in, was full of mean girls, but it's gone through many iterations since then, and the inhabitants I've so far met there now are nice.

So I traipsed down and began rifling through the giant blue cans that DC uses for recycling. It wasn't on top. Or near the top. I had just decided that maybe it wasn't worth it to me when I heard a voice behind me say, "Hi, Lisa!"

I turned to see our across-the-alley neighbor smiling at me. He and his wife are great.

But I don't know either of them well enough to not seem weird in the neighbor's garbage.

So started to explain about the planter thingy and how Nick threw it out and it was the perfect size and seemed like a waste was starting to seem less worth it since it wasn't right on top and their recycling was kind of disgusting.

As I did this, I closed the bin and sauntered cheerily away from it, to show that I really wasn't digging in it anymore.

Our neighbor said, "Yeah. Digging in refuse can be kind of gross...That's a nice bright springy outfit!"

I thanked him and told him I was trying to cheer things up. It occurred to me that it was probably the perfect outfit, in fact, for trash rifling, because who would go out of their way to do something sketchy in so obvious a getup?

Once I'd thought of that, I felt a little better. Although still weird.

I wished him a nice day and hustled inside.

When I got in Nick asked if I'd found it and I said no, so he went out to look. He came in with it and said that actually, he realized after looking in the neighbor's that he'd put it in our recycling.

He was scrubbing his hands with very hot water. He said, "Our neighbors don't have a great grip on recycling. They had some broken china in there."

"We should totally tell them."

I mean, I do feel like we should, but how do you even start that conversation?

"So the other day I was picking through your recyclables..."

I think that's my bridge too far.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Comme il pleut sur la ville...

Every grey day, of which I believe we've lately had more than our share, I feel like I've never seen the sun. 

It's been raining my entire life.

Intellectually, I understand this is not the case. I have photo documentation. It was sunny on Monday. Maybe even Tuesday. Whichever day India and I did this fun photoshoot with my in my pink supersuit.

And incidentally, there is a photo of my butt that India took either before I jumped or after I landed, and she thinks it's so funny she wants me to put it on her birthday card. No lie.


I can't exactly remember if there was sun on Tuesday, because as I said, it's been grey my entire life.

When the sun is out, it's the best day ever. I feel like this is a childish response, but it is mine. The world is full of hope and I have energy. I'm filled with joy.

I can smile and leap. I know that I radiate happiness, and in the moment, it is true. I beam and it is genuine.

And when there is no sun, it takes all my willpower to get out of bed. Willpower and Nick saying, "Lisa. I need you to. Get. Up."

He has a tone. Nick, who is never affected by the vicissitudes of weather, never pulled up or bogged down by light or lack thereof.

He strides steadily forward in life, accomplishing all he needs to accomplish, never pausing to lament the cloud cover.

Nick has said before that he doesn't envy my lows, but he also doesn't experience the joy of my highs.

So it's been rainy and grey for at least two days or my entire life.

Unless you're with me, you don't know. I still post funny memes and use exclamation points and laugh emojis. (I also wear skinny jeans and have a side part, but that's a whole nother things.)

Yesterday, I turned on the car in the garage before I opened the garage door. Because we live in a place where things disappear quickly if the door is left open, we have it close automatically on a one-minute timer.

And even though we have a sensor, I have this fear that the door will come down on the car if I don't get out in time. So I get in, turn it on, adjust the seat and other bits to my size, start Waze, and generally do all the whatevers necessary to get myself to where I need to go prior to pressing the open button.

As I sat there organizing, I wondered briefly if our garage could fill with carbon monoxide, even though there's a large opening where we come in from the deck.

Would it be possible to sit in there and fall asleep forever?

It wasn't a plan, or even a wish, just a brief wonder.

These are the "just quit" whispers that I know not everyone has. Nick doesn't have a line he needs to keep from crossing, a bridge he sometimes sees.

I thank god that he doesn't. And I know my kids are more likely to.

This isn't any kind of cry for help. I'm fine. I know I've shared this essay before, but I just think it's such a good way of explaining how things are for some of us.

On Wednesday my son said he was absolutely not going to school in the rain.

He's back in a classroom. They're still doing school online, but they have someone in the room to help keep them on track. They get to see friends. They go outside for lunch and recess.

It has changed the state of his mental health.

This is currently only available to the kids who were in the most difficult situations, or who were struggling most online--and still, many turned it down. But we got to a point where it seemed worth the risk with Jordan.  

But Wednesday, with more rain, he was all, "This is the worst day ever. I'm NOT going to school!"

And I understood, oh, I understood. Every rainy day is the worst day ever, unless the sun is also shining, which almost never happens.

We cajoled him out the door, teeth unbrushed, because we could only choose between him brushing his teeth and putting on his shoes, and shoes seemed more critical for walking to and attending school.

He voices the extremes in my head. THE WORST DAY EVER.

Obviously, it's not the worst day ever. Hell, I know my worst day ever, and a plain old rainy day will never come close. But in the moment, I get it, I really do.

I think Tuesday might in fact have been sunny, because I think Nick woke me up and said, "It's sunny!" And I said, "Oh, thank God." And Nick said, "I know you mean that."

Sometimes I think about the spring my dad killed himself. It was a relentlessly grey spring. There was no sun.

They went to Hawaii to visit a friend, and it was unseasonably grey there, as well. 

The day Dad disappeared was sunny and spectacular, but I think by then he'd hit his limit. I know medication, or lack thereof, was the main problem. But I can't help but think that if it had been a glorious spring, he'd have held on longer.

I don't know. What do I know?

I mean, here's what I know: sun lamps are helpful for me, and so is medication. Getting outside always helps, even if it seems like the stinkiest idea ever. Fish oil is good for your brain. 

Wine is a false friend. So is sugar.

I didn't set out to have tea and Cadbury eggs for breakfast this morning, but sometimes that's how it shakes out.

And apparently the sun will come out tomorrow.

I mean really. Not because I'm trying to be all Orphan Annie about it.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

We are made of stardust

Dear beautiful Patti Jo,

This is one of my favorite photos. You and India met, and I felt like your souls connected.

You were immediately entranced with each other.

I think you look like woodland fairies in an enchanted garden.

I know you are in pain, and I'm so very sorry. I wish I could take it from you. I wish I could cradle you and soothe you, although I don't know that that would be of comfort at this point.

I love your grace, and your kindness, and your gentle manner. I love your humor, the twinkle in your eye, and your lyrical way with words. I love that you save animals, and then, when they get old and don't get out to exercise, you build them an apartment with multiple levels out of a bookcase, and entice them with treats to climb to the top.

I know those days are past, but they are the embodiment of you.

While we will not see each other again in this lifetime, we are made of stardust, and we are all connected, and that doesn't end when this life does.

I know I will see you everywhere.

I'll see you in the blue of the forget-me-nots, the kind we both used to enjoy in Grandma Margaret's garden. In the sparkle of the waves on Lake Superior. In the foghorns--such a hauntingly beautiful sound--reaching out to ships. In the incredible lake fogs, for that matter. The kind that surround you with a soft hug.

I will see you in those mysterious circular glints that show up in photographs, that I just know are loved ones saying hi. I take comfort in the thought that you will be in great company.

I'll see you in the clouds, in the sunshine, in the green of the trees.

For us, you will be everywhere.

You'll be the lush ferns, the birds, the doe in the woods near your house, dipping her graceful head to drink. The dogs and cats, tilting their heads to hear something that we cannot.

You'll be pie enjoyed on the road up the coast. M&Ms eaten giggling in your yard while playing your created games. Bridgman's ice cream. 

You'll sway in the wind like the elegant cattails, and take to the air and float freely.

Sometimes I lament the time we didn't have--the in-between time when we didn't know each other. But mostly I am grateful for the time we did have.

When you were a kid you used to sing, "My best friend is Charlene Foster." I didn't really know you then, and I certainly didn't know Charlene, but my parents told me the story. Or maybe your mom told us one summer. I cannot remember, but Betty and I sang it. It was catchy, somehow.

For me Duluth is all wrapped up with you, and you with Duluth. I come there for family and for memories, and I always will. 

And you gave me the gift of family. You gave me our ancestors, helped me come to peace with my dad and his parents. I think you gave my father peace, finally. 

You gave me the link to future generations, and that is a gift I will continue to share with my kids. I told Jen that now that I have her, I am not letting go.

You'll always be in the the thrill of rides on lakes, in the mud as the kids squish and play, in the splashes of water, and in the terrifying fun of being tossed by cousins into the water.

But most of all, you'll be in the safest, coziest of places, with the rest of our loved ones: in our hearts.

We are made of stardust, and we are all connected. And we always will be.

I love you now and I love you forever.


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The window is open, so's that door/ I didn't know they did that anymore...

My mom and I are sitting in the living room drinking Prosecco.

I offered her a glass when she came downstairs around 1:00 pm.

I popped a bottle right at noon, to celebrate President Joe Biden. To celebrate Madam Vice President Kamala Harris.

The kids and I have been talking about a new president since, well, I guess since Trump won the election in 2016.

But we didn't then know we'd have added the joy of a biracial woman as vice president. A woman with an Indian mother!


When I decided to have a no-sugar January, and then decided to join Nick in dry January, one of my rules for myself was that January 20 could be a free-for-all. A big day of celebration with whatever.

I didn't join the kids in French toast dolloped with ice cream and berries. I meant to make a protein smoothie, but I needed to get dressed and put on makeup and walk the dog, and there was the inauguration to watch, and then India and I did a photoshoot in my new and fabulous Hypervigilance dress.

All this to say, I never did eat breakfast.

Proseccos is grapes, though. So I guess I had fruit for breakfast?


A couple weeks ago, I happened across this amazing and adorable possum design on Instagram. 

I clicked on it, and it took me to the account of Jordan Pientadosi. Her words resonated with me and I  immediately wanted to buy one of pretty much everything on her site.

I believe in art, and supporting artists, and I also feel strongly in wearing clothing that brings me joy and/or makes me giggle.

So I ordered the Hypervigilance dress and as soon as it arrived, I put it on and decided I needed to wear it for the inauguration.

I mean, look! It has ten swords, including one on each arm! Powerful! It has so many eyes!

 It is comfy for sitting around with the dog!

And! I seriously feel like I could kick someone's ass while wearing this if I needed to.

I felt like that was appropriate for the occasion.

I'm lounging around in it all day.

Naturally, for Kamala Harris, I added pearls and Chucks. The only Chuck Taylors I have are gold, but that seemed about right, too.


India is all about fashion.

She offered to take multiple photos of me. Since I don't often put on makeup and get dressed in real clothes anymore, and since this is a momentous occasion, I was delighted.

I maybe got her to take more photos than she was all that interested in taking. But I'm still delighted.


Betty thought the Prosecco was so tasty that she poured herself a second glass.

She just turned to me and said, "Is Prosecco alcoholic?"

Yes, Mama. Yes, it is.


I believe in love and I believe in art. 

I also believe in democracy.

I believe we have to pull ourselves back from toxic capitalism, where the wealthy just get wealthier by taking advantage of the poor.

I believe that people like Nick's older sister, who keep calling us "Socialists", don't actually know that schools and roads and anything that benefits people as a whole is a socialist construct.

I don't know if I believe, but I certainly hope, that intelligence will prevail. Intelligence and kindness.

After more than four years, I once again feel hope. Here I am, watching the inauguration intently.

I believe that everything important comes back to love.

Happy Inauguration Day!


Monday, January 18, 2021

Covid vaccine and DC lockdown

Let me start by saying that I am so thankful that my mom got her first Covid vaccine. Truly thankful.

Perhaps more so because it almost didn't happen.

And I'm grateful that it was last week because getting across DC would be a nightmare this week. 

Let me add that I'd like to know why NJ State Police cars are parked around the corner from us.

I thought we were about a half a mile north of the designated Green Zone. 

And is it so crazy that we have red and green zones  and police and National Guard in DC right now because our politicians need to be protected from armed Americans?

I mean, we see a lot of police in DC. And we hear a lot of helicopters. But not like this.

A few months ago, the kids and I were out walking when a police car sped around the corner.

I said, "It's the po po!"

And India responded, "Act natural!"

So now that's what we say when we see them. We do our best.

But back to Betty.

I don't know if it's improved since last Monday, but the DC scheduling website was kind of horrendous. You had to enter all your data and fill in those annoying letters and numbers in Captcha twice before it would tell you that the location you selected didn't have any vaccine.

While I was on the site, I was number 125 on phone hold to speak to someone.

Finally I found a clinic in NE that had appointments available. I snagged one for last Wednesday.

As we drove across town Wednesday, there were lots of police cars and people putting up fencing and placing jersey walls.

I've only seen photos of the security downtown, but Nick goes to his office every day. He can't drive or take the bus because of all the roads blocked off. So he bikes.

I asked him to please wear flannel plaid so he kind of blends more.

We live north of the blocked-off area so up to now we haven't seen a big police presence in our neighborhood, but it's very disconcerting.

I am nervous about this week, particularly, of course, Wednesday.

And speaking of, I got a kick ass dress that I am going to wear Inauguration Day. It has 10 swords on it, and lots of eyes. Very powerful. I'm excited.

Anyway, for the shot we drove across town, which gives me anxiety, because driving places I don't know makes me anxious.

Which may sound odd, because I'm always proposing we jump in the car and drive somewhere like Colorado. But it's more cities that make me anxious. Highways are fine.

In fact, I got my first in-person speeding ticket on a highway in Indiana last summer. The officer clocked me going well above speed limit.

Fortunately, I'd slowed down before going by him. I'd been going rather fast.

Which reminds me. Nick handed me a photo ticket the other day. He was all prepared to lecture me. I could tell. He that look. He had a tone. 

He was starting to talk about responsibility and being careful, when I looked at the date and the location of the ticket.

I was all, "Wait, when was I in that neighborhood? What date?"

In fact, I wasn't.

So I suggested that perhaps he should be more responsible and pay more attention.

I will admit to feeling a little smug at that point.

But finally, back to Covid.

I got Betty this precious, hard-to-get appointment all the way across town. Nick printed out the confirmation, and she had her license and insurance.

I'd registered her with her name, her birth date, and our address. I gave my email and phone number so we couldn't miss the confirmation.

We left with plenty of time. We got there a few minutes early.

India and I waited in the car. We'd each brought a book, and were settled in reading. And after about 10 minutes, my mom came out.

I asked how it was and she said they wouldn't give her the shot. Because the information was wrong.

She handed me the paper with the confirmation code to scan and said they wouldn't give her the shot. Because the email was in my name. They told her she didn't have an appointment. 

When I knew for a fucking fact that she did. I was all, "Like hell you don't have an appointment. They're not giving you that shot!"

I threw on my mask and marched into the clinic with her close behind. I went up to the desk with the papers.

I very nicely but extremely firmly told the receptionist that they'd my mother out but she absolutely had an appointment. I said that it was under my email, but that's because she's 83 and doesn't email. I pointed out that the confirmation email was addressed to Betty. The name above the scanner code was Betty. They'd called me the night before asking for BETTY Jordan. 

 She. Was. Registered.

The woman took my mom's information and headed to the back.

A nurse came out to confirm the information. Then another one came out and said that the registration was under my name, but they'd switch it to Betty and give her the vaccine.

I didn't argue about the fact that they were mistaken and I had proof. I almost burst into tears, so relieved she'd be getting the shot.

I stayed inside until they called her back. I was super tense.

Honestly, I think that if an 83 year old person turns up in the correct time slot but there is some detail that is not correct, they should still give that person the shot.

The more people vaccinated, the better for everyone.

In fact, I think they should load up vaccines and medical personnel into ice cream trucks and drive through neighborhoods playing 40s and 50s-era music to entice senior citizens out and then just give them all the vaccine.

But that's just me.

Truly, my mom getting the vaccine is the best thing that's happened to me for as long as I can remember.

We return in February for her second dose.

What is happening with Covid shots (or police presence) where you live?