Thursday, December 31, 2020

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night 2020

As we here in DC wrap up 2020, I know many of you are already happily in 2021.

I don't know anyone who isn't glad to see this year put to rest.

For me personally, it wasn't the worst year of my life. 

But honestly, that's because it's very hard to compete with a year in which your dad dies by suicide. And you buy a house with no ground floor kitchen, have an emergency C-section and can't do stairs, have very limited support because your mom is understandably having her own breakdown, *and* you have post-partum depression.

Otherwise, this would totally have been the worst year of my life. I mean, let's be honest: it was a super suck-ass year.

Collectively, I think it was the worst year of life for our family.

We are all healthy, but we lost people we dearly loved. 

We've been out of in-person school since March. In October, India left DCPS to home school, because she was so unhappy being online. Jordan has been struggling with online school.

We agree that we love each other and have gotten closer, but we are also pretty sick of each other. My kids cannot wait to be back in in-person school.

Recently Jordan suggested that we regularly have days where we all do our own thing inside the house and don't really spend any time together.

This sounds good to me.

As I mentioned, I've been home schooling India and we spend A LOT of time together. And I don't know if 8 is a particularly hard age for everyone but I will say that India's age 8 is a brutal one for the rest of us.

Jordan, thankfully, has been incredibly sweet.

Also fortunately, Nick has gone to the office daily, which is safe because he is one of maybe four people who do, and he spends his days entirely alone.

If he were staying home, one of us would surely have stabbed the other by May at the latest.

I'd hate to go to prison, and particularly in a Covid time.

I don't have anything profound to say, but in this time I have learned something about myself.

First of all, I was quite sure that I'd be fine staying home all the time. I love staying home. I'm an introvert.


I'm not as much of an introvert as I thought.

Yes, I need alone time to recharge. But oh my gosh, as it turns out, I love a lot of people. 

I had so many more daily interactions than I thought I had, until I didn't have them anymore.

I missed greeting the school crossing guard and the guards at the door. I missed my yoga group. I missed the parents I would chit chat with at school drop-off and pickup.

There are more, and I won't go on, because I know you all have your own people, and it super sucks. 

I don't know how this has affected the non-huggers, but as a hugger, I hate it. In normal life, hug practical strangers if we make a connection. And I have made connections in the aisles of Trader Joe's.

I only recently shopped at Trader Joe's for the first time since the pandemic began.

But anyway. I learned that I need and enjoy so many more people in my life than I thought I did. This was a huge revelation for me. 

Also, and this did not used to be true of me, I can spend two to three days in the same outfit, unbathed.

Although now that I say that, I do recall that week closest to Everest base camp, when all I did at night was take off my boots and unhook my bra. Because it was just so cold. But that was an anomaly.

I used to be rather concerned about my appearance.

I wonder if that will happen again.


We are lucky lucky that Betty lives with us, as otherwise we'd probably never see her in this fucking wretched pandemic.

We are blessed to be able to stay home and away from others, and fortunately we have been healthy.

We see our good fortune, and we recognize our blessings. 

We've done a crap job at eating fruit or vegetables, and have kind of descended into a junk-food laden kind of debauchery.

Which ends tomorrow.

I decided to do a sugar-free January to hopefully help my sleep and my mood. Nick decided to do a dry January, so I am joining him in this. Also, he's going to try to lose weight.

The kids decided they were on board with no sugar. This will be a shock when they actually live it.

And Betty recently got diagnosed with high cholesterol, so I proposed she ditch the sugar and join us. So she's joining as well.

She and I are the biggest sugar fiends. We'll see how this goes. I think it will be good.

And January 20, which is marked on our calendar and toward which we have been counting down, is allowed as a bacchanalian day, should we choose. I imagine I'll mainline sugar and then do naked backflips down the sidewalk. Unless it's really really cold.

So, that new regime starts tomorrow. In whole new year!

Right now Betty and the kids are watching Stranger Things and Nick and I are sipping beverages and listening to music in the living room.

On a Stranger Things note, earlier today India and I were watching together. There’s a line where a dad says, “This is our government. We have to trust them.”

India looked at me, rolled her eyes, and said, “As if.”

Jeez, is she growing up way faster than I did.

Anyway, I have a Zoom with some of my dearest friends from my youth at 9:00 pm.

Thank you for living through the hellscape that was 2020 with me. I wish you all such joy, laughter, connections, and good fortune in 2021.

Love love love,


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The one for the strong of stomach

This is a rather revolting tale, so if you don't like reading gross stuff, stop now.


If, on the other hand, you enjoy schadenfreude, scatology and/or emetology, then do I have a gift for you!

You've been warned. On with the story.

The other morning I walked into the kitchen to find Nick shaking his head and scrubbing his hands with scalding water.

He said, "That dog is so disgusting."

Wanda, our scroungy hound, will lunge for any old rotting piece of pizza, tail of shrimp, or whatever else she may find in the park. Regardless of how well fed she is here.

She just can't resist the crust of an old bagel. She will not drop it on command. 

Nick or I can generally pry her mouth open and pull out whatever it is. One night she got something she really wanted and absolutely refused to open her jaws. So Nick held her head and I put my fingers over her nose until she had to open her mouth to breathe.


Yah, so on this particular morning, she stuck her head into a bush and pulled her head out chomping something. Nick prised her mouth open to remove...poo.

That dog was eating poo.

Which he was vigorously scrubbing off his hands on that fateful morning.

And then he left for work.

Jordan went upstairs to get online for school, and India headed to the living room to open her books while I made tea.

And suddenly she yelled in utter panic, "MAMA! MAMA COME HERE MAMA!" 

I started running towards her.


On the whole, I'm terrible with vomit, but dog vomit, I've learned, tends to not be so bad, because it's mainly a big blob of dog kibble. It's pale, easy to clean up, and doesn't soak into the rug.


Unless your fucking dog has eaten poo.

I grabbed some paper towels and headed into the living room to find that Wanda had puked on my favorite carpet. One my parents bought in Tehran in 1979 while my brother and I climbed on piles of carpets as tall as mountains to us.

We spent the day in a carpet store, eating biscuits and drinking tea while our parents perused carpets and bargained.

I approached the vomit to find that it was larger and more spread out than normal. 

And. It smelled really, really bad.

For this I would need gloves. And way more paper towels. I ran to the kitchen and returned with such items.

I started working on the mess and immediately began retching. I got up, and, realizing I wouldn't make it to the bathroom, headed for the front door.

Yes. There I was, running for the door trying to hold in my vomit, clutching paper towels soaked in semi-digested, regurgitated poo.

I didn't make it.

However, I did manage to mainly vomit into my hands.

When India realized what was happening, she began to retch.

I yelled, "TAKE WANDA OUTSIDE!" Figuring that if there was any more puking done by anyone, at least it would be outside.

Then I yelled a bunch of profanity just to make myself feel better.

Jordan came running down the stairs to see what the commotion was. 

He, too, is a sympathy puker, and I was not about to add him to the mix. So I told him Wanda had puked, it was terrible, we were fine, and to go back upstairs.

Then I cleaned up my vomit and went back to work on the rug.

Some people, maybe most people, might be more concerned about the state of their dog than their rug. But I was mad. Ooh, I was so mad.

If you're going to be an asshole and eat poo, you'd better not puke on my carpet.

I was blotting and wiping with wet paper towels, and then I recalled that soda water takes stains out. I looked, but we didn't have any.

We did, however, have white wine, and I remembered reading that white wine will take red wine out of a carpet.

So I poured a bunch of white wine on the stain.

And it was only 9:45 in the morning, but I also remembered that 7:30 am is 5:00 pm in New Delhi, so that would make it whatever time of the evening there. 

I poured myself a big damn glass.

Then I let the dog back in.

Friday, November 13, 2020

13: The fire you like so much in me is the mark of someone adamantly free

Thirteen years ago tonight I had my last first date.

It was a Tuesday that year. It was damp and warmy-coldy like today. That evening, my glasses fogged up when I got into the heat of the Tabard. 

(Now, in the pandemic, my glasses fog up when I go outside because of my mask.)

My expectations were low. I don't think Nick was quite as jaded as I was.


The other day I referred to him as a control freak. He took offense. 

I meant it as a descriptor. For me, it's just a fact about him. Not an opinion, not a judgment.

Apparently it sounds judgey.

Although now I wonder if maybe he judges me for my lack of organizational skills. When I see them as an unfortunate weakness, but, like math, just something I'm not good at.

The more I read about executive function, the more I'm like, gee, I think I've been compensating for a long damn time.


I've been taking a walk through the November 13ths of the past 13years.

A year after meeting, married, we met at the Tabard. We'd make it an annual date. We saw a woman get stood up, and our hearts went out to her.

This, I think, is my favorite meeting anniversary post.

The following year, we brought Jordan along.

Year three, it seems, we stayed home.

The following year, I was pregnant and not drinking, but we still celebrated at the Tabard. I see in the photos we are tired.

I find myself surprised to note that in 2014, we kept our date, and I think that was our last outing to the Tabard.

Which is not to say that I don't love this day, because in some ways it feels more momentous to me than our wedding anniversary.

Every year, I commemorate it. Anyway, I thought I did. Apparently 2015 was a not so much year. Same with 2018. But in 2016, 2017 I remembered to voice my thanks. And last year on this very day, we got Wanda.


For the first I don't know how many years, every time we had a big fight, I expected it to be the end of our relationship.

I didn't expect permanence from much of anything in my life; why would this be different?

And finally, at some point, I realized we could have big angry fights and then get past them. We could disagree vehemently but still agree that we loved each other. And still agree on our shared goal of staying married and maintaining general harmony.

It probably helps that we can both fly into a rage and then apologize and be fine.

It surely helps that we make each other laugh.

Because on Tuesday when Nick got mad at me (because I was mad at him), and refused to help me navigate the car in the alley, I screamed that he was a selfish fucking asshole. I meant it about the larger issue but it also applied to not helping me with the gigantor car in the chaotic alley.

This kind of thing stresses out my conflict-averse mother. We drove away and I turned to her and said, "Don't worry. We're fine."

And we were.

Last night Nick got mad at me because I hadn't scheduled a trash pickup that he'd asked me to schedule. Quite frankly, when he asks me to do something, he expects me to jump.

He married the wrong person for this expectation. 

And yet somehow, if I don't take action on his request within a 4-6 hour period, it's an affront.

Whereas when I ask him to do something, I just mean, when you have time. Not now now now right now.

He was mad at me, and I was mad at him for being mad at me. Because bulk trash pickup is not a fucking emergency. (Neither, may I add, is routine goddamn dry cleaning.)

So last night I sat there accumulating my litany of complaints about him.

And then was like, all of this is fucking hard. We're all struggling.

So I got on 311 and scheduled the pickup and then said, "Please don't be mad at me. I'm doing the best I can."

At that point he wasn't angry. It was over.

Nick is a human who gets a lot more done in a day than I do. He shovels through a ton of work and home projects.

I currently spend a lot of time tending to the emotional needs of our little humans. There's less concrete to show for it, but it's a great deal of effort.

I'd like to be as organized and efficient as he is, but I'm not. I don't know if he'd like to be as empathetic as I am. I should ask.


Yesterday Nick suggested that as we can't go out, perhaps we should order a special dinner for tonight.

The kids apparently overheard this and got very excited about the special dinner. So did my mom.

Last night they wondered aloud what our special dinner might be. Exciting!

I'm not yet sure what our special dinner is going to be.

But we'll be enjoying it together, as a family.


And family, after all, was the outcome I was hoping for when I embarked on that first date 13 years ago tonight.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

It is an ancient Saab, And it stoppeth one time of three...

In 2013, I inherited a 2003 Saab from Nick's dad after he passed away. 

Until this February, when Nick's car basically died, it was our "new" car.

As it turns out, Nick and I are both people who keep things we like forever. I still have boots I bought at J Crew in 1998. Which makes them about the same age as Nick's old car, now that I think about it.

But back to the Albatross.

For a few years, it was great. To start with, it had so much power--so much more than my Civic. There's this terrible coming from the left side merge onto the GW Parkway, and in my Civic I'd have to really gear up for it--vrrooom vrooom--and make sure there were absolutely no cars in sight.

With the Saab I could just hit the gas and it would fly.

It also had lots of automatic things and buttons for functions I didn't even understand. (But honestly, I was coming from a manual window roll up car.)

It also had a tape deck, which was kind of awesome when I unearthed to mixtapes made by long-ago paramours.

It was all fabulous. Until that day it just plain stopped in the middle lane of Rock Creek Parkway at rush hour. You may remember my complete and utter hysteria.

We had it towed. We took it to a Saab repair place. They couldn't make it stall. They ran it for days and took it out in the hot heat and still it would not stall.

They ran through several tanks of gas. No stalling. 

They found things to fix, however. There were always spendy things to fix.

But it was still cheaper than buying another car.

Eventually the Saab people decided that it was bad gas. Like, there must've been some water in the gas and it turned into steam and stalled the car or something like this. 

I didn't have a better explanation. And because I had called the engine light the yellow submarine light. and don't have car vocabulary, I also didn't have a lot of credibility among Nick and the Saab fixers.

Anyway, they "fixed" it. Except.

Some months later, on I-95, that Stygian place, happened again. I determined that it happened when it was very hot and we stopped the car and then started it again without having given it a chance to cool down.

And it happened another time.

Basically, I stopped driving it when it was hot.

I took to calling it the Albatross. Which initially insulted Nick, as it was his dad's car and all. I decided there was some emotional attachment.

Since I rarely drive, it was not such a big deal. I'd take Nick's car to Costco.

In the summer of 2019, we embarked on a big Midwestern road trip. In the planning phase, Nick suggested we take the Saab, driving from DC to Minnesota and back. Since, he contended, it was fixed.

I said not one chance in hell was I going to risk being stranded in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana or anywhere else, thankyouverymuch...


We flew to Minneapolis and rented a terrific car, and had a great time. And somewhere in the Midwest, where precisely I cannot recall, I received a call from my husband.

See, after we left, he took his own old car in for a big service. And that weekend he had a rowing race in Philadelphia. So he drove the Saab to Philadelphia. Or rather, he attempted to drive the Saab to Philadelphia.

Because in fact, he got stranded somewhere near Bel Aire, MD.

That quitting thing the Saab would do? Where the yellow submarine light would go on and you would push the gas pedal and it would go "Rrrrrrrrr" but just not go?

It did that. And he was stuck.

And then boy howdy did he agree that there was something very wrong with the car that new gas wouldn't fix.

But as luck would have it, he was stranded near a service station owned by a man who loved Saabs. And who fixed it.


So that was a year and some months ago. Then this summer, juuuuust as the hot hot DC fires of Mordor  heat kicked in, the air conditioning stopped working. As did the anti-lock brakes.

They were going to be expensive to fix. So we didn't.

This unfortunateness happened just before Betty, the kids and I loaded ourselves into our brand-new family SUV and toodled off to Michigan.

Ordinarily, Nick would take the bus to work. But with Covid, he was driving. So he drove back and forth in a sweaty little hotbox.

We continued to use the car as needed, but really as rarely as possible.

Until one afternoon I had to take my mom to an eye appointment with a specialist in Friendship Heights. I told Nick I'd take my car.

We were driving back with all the windows down for breeze, less than a mile from home, when the car made these CRRRRSHHHSHSGGHRRR RGRRSSHSH SHSSSKRUNK kinds of sounds and became practically impossible to steer.

I pulled over to the side and called Nick, and he asked what I wanted him to do. And I said, "COME GET US I AM NOT DRIVING THIS AGAIN!"

He drove over and we swapped cars, and he managed to get the car parked within a couple blocks of our house.

I opened the trunk to empty it, and found, among other things, my lovely Spanish sunbathing mat. I'd forgotten about that old friend!

I said it was time. I called the NPR vehicle donation line.  

When they asked how they could help me I said, "Please come tow my car away!" 

It was going to be a few days until the tow truck could come.

As this is the way street parking invariably works, the day after Nick parked the car, no-parking signs went up because of street repair or something. So I had to move it.

It took all my strength to parallel park it, fortunately at the end of a row of cars. No way I could've maneuvered it between two cars.

I was overjoyed when the tow truck came. I had to meet him at the car.

Actually, they told me I could just leave car unlocked and put the title and keys in the glove box...and I said, "Uh, it's parked on the street in DC."

I mean, I didn't have an entire wheel stolen and not learn anything.

The tow truck driver had two large super intimidating incredibly barky dogs in the cab of the truck and also it is Covid times but honestly I wanted to give him the biggest hug.

I did not. I handed him the keys and the title. He pulled off the license plates, which Nick had loosened, and gave me a receipt.

He asked if the car functioned to drive onto the truck and I said yes but it was hell to steer. He was unconcerned.

I practically skipped all the way home. I called Nick to say it was gone, gone, gone!

Nick was all, "Wouldn't it be great to see Kojo Nnamdi and Kai Ryssdal drag racing in our old Saab?"

I'd pay cash money to see that. 

I'd even give them the sunbathing mat for extra joy.

Monday, October 19, 2020

There is no pain you are receding...

I'm someone who generally feels a lot. Or anyway, rarely feels nothing, or very little. Which is to say, I tend to feel strongly one way or another about everything.

Not like about whether we have chicken for dinner--I rarely have strong feelings about food.

But about emotional stuff, and about people, I FEEL a lot. And travel. And clothing.

OK, I feel very strongly about many things. I guess I even feel strongly about dinner, in that I am fucking sick of making it.

But anyway.

Nick says that he's glad he doesn't have my lows, but he doesn't think he feels as much joy as I do in my highs. I also don't think he connects with people with the intensity that I do.

Which is why he can be indifferent to people. Whereas I'm rarely indifferent.

But for some time now I am kind of...indifferent to most things. Numb, maybe? Numb with bursts of outrage and anxiety.

And still, somehow, I want to be number.

If I were inclined to start my day with alcohol and then just keep going, this is what I'd be doing right now.

I had an aunt who did this, and she was really, really fun. Except when she wasn't.

But I don't want to be out of it. I just want to feel closer to nothing.

I bought some CBD gummies from Martha Stewart, of all people, because I read this charming New York Times article about how she got high with Snoop Dogg and how her delicious fruity CBD gummies were helping her maintain a sense of calm.

This past Sunday or maybe the one prior I saw in Parade that Martha has been baking a lot of cakes and I was all, hell yeah no surprise there. She's been smoking all that pot with Snoop Dogg.

Anyway, her spendy little fruit gummies do nothing to take the edge off. (She did say in her article that she only takes two of them, where as some of her friends take 20. Let me tell you, 20 is most of the jar. That would be an expensive damn gummy habit.)

Now, you might think that because I'm numb I'm not anxious. That seems to have stuck around.

I'm incredibly fucking anxious.

I have this Russian friend who always has these fabulous home remedies like mustard plaster to loosen chest congestion. Anyway, she told me about Motherwort drops, which you can order on Amazon, and so I did.

You put a dropperful in a couple ounces of water and tastes kind of like freshly cut grass, which makes me feel better about it. Like, if it tastes bad, it's probably going to work. You drink it in the morning and the evening. It's supposed to calm your nervous system so you can sleep.

Oh, because that's another thing. I haven't been sleeping.

It's not anxiety. It's just not sleeping. It's awakeness when it should be asleepness.

And then sometimes I'm so tired it hurts, and I lie down in the afternoon and sleep like I am dead.

I don't think I'm depressed. I have given this a lot of thought, honestly.

I think it's pandemic life coupled with a hugely anxiety provoking election and the inability to make any future plans because god knows.

It's the absence of hope.

And also I cannot fucking figure out 6th grade distance learning. And there is no end in sight on this.

Maybe we will fail 6th grade.

Although, you know, when I was in 6th grade, my dad attempted suicide, and we didn't tell anyone. And then he told us we were all fine. So we believed we were, of course, totally fine. 

And being totally fine, I forgot to do my homework every single day. Until my teacher made me write it down in a notebook and bring it home for my mom to sign to say I'd done it.

But because my mom was also totally and completely fine, she would forget to make me do my homework and also forget to sign it every single day as well.

And somehow I still made it to 7th grade. 

So maybe Jordan and I will, too.

I'm grateful, of course I am. We are all healthy. Nick is super busy with work. We have a comfortable house and plenty of food and I feel guilty that we are totally fine when so many are not.

It's not that I don't feel guilt or sorrow. And Schitt's Creek has even made me laugh recently. I feel these things. But at kind of a removal.

Like they're happening to someone else. Someone to whom everything matters less.

But that person is also super anxious. And doesn't really sleep.

And she also just got a prescription for antibiotics for the Lyme disease that doctors kept saying she probably didn't have, despite tests saying oh, hey, look, here's some Lyme!

Maybe doxycycline will help. Pray the doxycycline helps.

And she should maybe start ordering Martha Stewart fancy cake instead of those little poseur gummies.

 By she of course I mean me. Cripes. Imagine. That's all I need.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

World Suicide Prevention Day 2020

Today, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day.

My dad was struggling at my wedding. He was proud, and he was happy. But I could see it in his eyes and his smile. 

You know I use the same photos over and over. Some of them just resonate.

Also, 2009 was a hard cut-off. I won't ever have more.

Sometimes I obsess about the fact that I don't have a nice photo of my dad and me dancing at my wedding.


Prior to my physical last week, I had to answer a couple questions about mood. One of them asked about hopelessness. I chose the yes I feel hopeless every single day answer.

I knew this was a depression screening. I figured it would raise a flag. But it was accurate.

So when I saw the doctor I felt the need to explain my hopelessness. I told her that I chose ever day because currently, with Covid and our political situation, as far as I can tell, there is literally zero hope on the horizon. 

I don't think it's my chemical state; I think I'm appropriately medicated. I'm not in a personal pit of despair. I just think we're in a hopeless situation. The world right now is a hellscape.

Uh. Sorry if this is making you depressed. 

Boy howdy am I fun at a cocktail party.

I think. I can't really remember cocktail parties.


Anyway, it was our first meeting, I don't know that she was convinced. This was OK. I don't mind if in my file it says keep an eye on this one. 

I wasn't trying to convince her. I was just, I don't know, feeling like I was OK. Mentally. Not physically.

Because physically my elbows hurt all the time even though I have taken a break from yoga and try not to lift anything heavy and also I have nose rot AKA rosacea, on which I am currently putting private parts cream which is holding it at bay until I can see the dermatologist.

Jeez, this really isn't the post I thought I would write.

In any case.


The doctor asked about my support system. Who I have to talk to and to check in on me.

I have people. I reach out. I have a psychiatrist.

But I told her I was glad they ask those questions, and I know what they're trying to get at. 

I want everyone to be asked these questions. I want doctors on the lookout. When there's an opportunity for a health professional to help someone who may need it, I am so glad. 


At this point in my life, I know so many people who have lost loved ones to suicide. I know so many who have either contemplated or attempted suicide. 

We--those people--we are everywhere. And a lot of us are all sparkly on the outside, so you wouldn't actually know it unless you knew what to look for, or asked the right questions.

Sometimes even then you wouldn't know.

I don't know what one does about those situations.


So far, this year has been more about self-preservation than activism.

I remind myself that this is OK.

I'm actually one of the vulnerable people I worry about. Even though I think of myself as really, really strong. I mean, I am. Just not always.

We have to nurture or at least preserve ourselves so we have something to give to others. And also so we don't just walk around all batshit crazy.


I probably should've written a poignant post. The truth is, I think about my dad every day. I no longer carry the weight of the should-haves or the what-ifs, at least, not most of the time. I slide into them every once in a while, but it's become rare.

What I think about more is if he'd had the vocabulary to talk about his feelings.

Because part of the problem was that we weren't allowed. But perhaps a bigger problem was that I don't think he'd have been able to, even if we were permitted.


I'm raising my children to know that all feelings are OK.

Crying is good. We need to express our sadness. When bad or upsetting things happen, we all feel sad. Everyone does.

Anger is fine. We are allowed to be angry. Often or maybe always, anger is covering up fear. It's also OK to be afraid. Everyone is afraid sometimes.

I wasn't raised this way, and neither was Nick. But this is how we're trying to raise our kids.


And I believe that in these small or maybe actually very big, ways I am protecting my kids. 

Kids who are allowed to voice feelings and who feel heard are less likely to self-harm. I don't know if this is the same for adults, but I have to assume so.

I want them to feel safe in letting their feelings out, and to not feel aberrant for having them in the first place. And to know in their hearts that they can ask for help anytime. That help with your feelings and help with your brain are just as valid and just as normal as help with your body.

This, I think, is one of the best things we can do for prevention. We can teach people that all feelings are valid, and there is no shame in needing help with some of them.


That's highly simplified. I feel no shame in asking for help, and I know my feelings are valid. I also know that my brain just needs some chemical help. And I feel no shame in this either.


Maybe this meandered too much. I don't know.

It's a day of remembrance for me, and a day of looking forward, trying to make the future a better one.

Because while I'm absolutely certain that it's hopeless right now, I'm just as certain it won't always be.

Told you I was appropriately medicated.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Today I am 51

Today is my birthday.

(Also, Jordan's head is not actually twice as big as India's or mine.)

Friends have asked if I'm doing anything special.

I mean, not as such? I have a gynecological appointment.

Nick asked what I wanted for my birthday, and I said a cordless vacuum cleaner. And I was not kidding. 

So I asked friends on FB if any of them had a vacuum they loved. Let me tell you: people have strong feelings about their vacuums.

The consensus seemed to be Dyson or Miele, with numbers leaning to Dyson. But there are a lot of different models.

Really, I wanted one person to say, "This is exactly what you need." But it got narrowed down to like three, which is better than 27.

And then! Then Nick looked at Consumer Reports, because he is a man who researches stuff.

Whereas I tend to ask my friends and then be like, ooh, and they have a pink one!

For cordless stick vacuums, Consumer Reports rates a brand called Tineco (which I'd never heard of) as its top three. So there I was, looking back and forth between my saved FB recommendations and Consumer Reports, reading about vacuums.

Honestly, my dad must be laughing with delight about this. Thorough product research and vacuum cleaners were two of his favorite things.

Anyway, we still haven't gotten one.

My mom asked if I wanted cake, and I said we should probably have cake. And then she offered to make brownies, and as we're all rather indifferent to cake, I jumped on this idea.

But now India is insisting on cake. 

The truth is, I don't care. 

It's not that I feel sorry for myself and I don't think I'm depressed, but I don't feel a lot about this birthday. 

Or maybe I just don't feel much lately.

Spring was such an emotional wallop. I felt so much of everything, all the time. My children's anguish seeped into me, when I was already close to saturated. I felt like I was drowning.

The kids and I cried a great deal. Every day at least once per day I had at least one person in my lap sobbing.

I slept a lot. I felt guilty about all the sleeping. I felt guilty about everything. 

I was functioning at a fairly low level. 

Out of the blue, in May, I got a text from our friend Jordan, who invited us to come spend time on his farm in Michigan. 

I thought about it. I couldn't just pack up the kids and my mom and drive to Michigan...could I? I mean, why couldn't I?

We did it. And it turned our whole year around.

We had our own two bedroom house--the former caretaker's house. 

The kids ran around in the yard and played with the dogs and cats. They swam in the pond multiple times per day. I went for runs in the woods and jumped in the pond and jumped right out because cold!

Betty weeded for hours. She picked asparagus. We went to nearby beaches and swam and collected rocks and just generally enjoyed being outdoors without masks and without so many people.

We sat on Jordan's porch and read and reminisced about long ago days in Dhaka and Delhi, about dear friends and family.

It was perfect.

We returned to the hellishly oppressive heat and humidity of DC with emotional reserves.

I am a person who loves heat, whose favorite season is summer. But holy cow, this summer has been brutal. We spend all our time inside, except for the hour that I force my kids to go for a hot, complain-y walk in Rock Creek. 

We were wading (which my kids pronounce wadding, which to me means they learned it by reading) in the river but then this article came out reminding people that it is a) illegal; and b) a feces-filled waterway.

As someone who has had a variety of fecal-borne illnesses, I'm fairly cavalier about that but it is a disgusting thought. So now we make sure it hasn't rained for a number of days prior. Because that's when all the poop washes in.

Oh! I have a poop story! But maybe I will save it for not my birthday. That's probably better.

Anyway, it has been HOT. Relentlessly, cruelly hot.

The kind of hot where you leave the house and your glasses immediately fog up and your dog, who, despite six weeks of online training, typically pulls on her leash, just ambles resignedly, panting next to you.

When you return home, you rip off your mask and collapse limply on the nearest surface, moaning, "Water...water..."

Today, however, is dark and rainy. I would ordinarily be sad not to have sunshine for my birthday, but this is a welcome respite. And as my son said, it's perfect weather for having a low-key birthday.

I like to document what I look like on my birthday, and my kids came over to hug me and I suggested we take a photo. So as we were about to take the selfie above, I had an urge to run upstairs and put on makeup. (Full disclosure:  I'm wearing is lip gloss, but only because I couldn't find my lip balm earlier.)

So I was going to be like, wait, I'll be right back. And then I thought, no, this is real life right now. I can't remember the last time I wore makeup.

And! Most of this is my real, actual hair color! I honestly hadn't seen this much of my real hair since I was maybe 30. 

I kind of like it.

A few days ago I ran into a neighbor. We were talking about life in Covid, and the conversation eventually turned to hair. I've pinked my hair twice this year, and each time it's washed out after a couple months.

We were talking about salons, and she said for now she's just letting her grey grow out. I said I was thinking about putting the pink back into my hair. She asked if this was my real hair color.

I said, "At this point, it's mostly my real color. Only my bottom hair is bleached."

I paused, happy she couldn't see me grinning maniacally beneath my mask. I said, "I mean the bottom of my head hair."

I don't think she really noticed, and I stopped myself before being all, "Bottom hair! Hahahahaha!"

I like this neighbor. I don't want her to think I'm a complete weirdo.

Anyway, I don't have bottom hair, and if I did I wouldn't dye it pink. Particularly before a birthday gynecological checkup.

So there you have it. I am a complete weirdo. And it's my birthday.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

When time no longer matters, all that matters is time...So I put all the pieces together where they belonged.

 Dear Patti Jo,

Thank you for being my cousin, for being the loving, kind, beautifully gentle soul you are.

You've been such a gift.

I want to tell you now, while there is time.

I can't remember how we started talking about a visit and family reunion in 2018, but I will always be grateful that we did.

You opened your heart and your world to us. I was searching for peace with my dad, peace and understanding with our family's past, and comfort in my childhood memories of Duluth.

You gave those to me and more.

You've been a bridge to my dad in the world beyond. You've shared his messages and comforted both him and me. To you he has always been Uncle Mickey, which I always thought sounded funny as a kid.

With you and through you, I've started to understand our family.

I feel so connected to you, though we've not been back in each other's lives for all that long. I mean, you've been in my life since I was born, but I didn't really know you.

When I was a kid, you and Johnny and Stevie were teenagers, which in my eyes meant all grown up.

By the time I was old enough to have memories of visiting Duluth, you were all out of the house. We'd stay with your parents every summer, but I didn't know you so much as know about you.

We spent so much time with Auntie Jo and Uncle Howard. So many of my childhood memories take place with your parents.
Hanging out on Jo's houseboat, and eventually growing out of being small enough to sleep under the table. On the beach looking for agates and staring out at what I believed was your mom's island--the beach you took us back to that first summer.

Or just running around on their property, sitting on the rusted out tractor, admiring Jo's paintings, spray painting gravel in the driveway to look like gold nuggets.

And in your voice, your cadence, your accent, I hear your mom. You're uniquely yourself, but I also love the occasional flashes of Aunt Jo that shine through.
You are a memory keeper. And you happily opened your box of memories for me. That's my Lake Superior childhood painted on Aunt Jo's wall.

I know, through you, that I look like our great grandmother.
I now have a better understanding the generational trauma that pressed down on our parents, and with you have the goal of living and parenting differently, such that we might break patterns.

I treasure the fact that you know and love my kids. They each immediately felt close and safe and at ease with you.
An enchanted connection
You have a youthful twinkle in your eye, and endless creativity. You set up outside tables and chairs with goodies and art supplies.

You have an adventurous spirit, a house of treasures, of personal art, of interesting wonders.
Your sense of humor is the same as ours, and we revel in it.

I am overjoyed that my kids have been agate hunting, and that they know what snot agates are, and that they, too, have waded into the cold waters of Lake Superior, and dug in the rocks, and giggled in joy with the golden sun at their backs.

They've run towards the lift bridge to see it going up, to watch the amazing spectacle of a massive boat going underneath.

You've endured so much trauma and pain in this life, and still, you are kind, gentle, and seek the good in humanity. You're positive and good, and make it a point not to harm anyone or anything.

You save animals. You work, in ways small and large, to bring light and joy to others.

You introduced us to your kids and their kids, and now we have so much more family than I did a few years ago.
I love that you still have Aunt Jo's rolling pin. I don't know why it looms so large in my memory, except  maybe that it took me so many years to actually get from one side of the room to the other on it, and to proudly be allowed to add my name.

At some point, I needed so badly to make peace with my dad on the shores of Lake Superior. I needed to return to my Duluth family, though the people I grew up visiting were gone.

But connecting with you was, in a sense, like coming home. I have family there, stretching back generations and leaning forward into new generations. My kids are now part of this.
Watching you talk to my mom, hearing your exchange of stories, I understood that you had a whole relationship before I was ever in the picture. You remembered me as a baby being dangled in my mom's skirt.

My parents knew you and loved you long before I was born.
I remember when my dad and I visited your mom in Florida during what was to be her last winter. She made him red Jell-o with bananas in it, because she knew he loved it. I had no idea.

And it struck me then that she was his big sister. She knew a lot about him that I didn't, and she nurtured him as her baby brother. They were family.

My first thought when I read Jen's news was selfish. I love you so much. Betty loves you so much. We only recently got you back.

What a blessing and a privilege to have someone such as you in my life.

That love doesn't dissipate, but thinking about goodbye really hurts.

We were supposed to be together a week from today, heading into a third delightful family reunion weekend. Covid canceled our plans.

You're one of this world's kindest, most beautiful souls. I see who you are, and I love you for it. All of it.

I know you're in pain, and I wish I could ease it.

You've given me the gifts of your love, your friendship, family.

I love you now in this world, and I love you into the next, my dear cousin.



Friday, May 15, 2020

Eleven year anniversary

Eleven years ago today, May 15, my dad disappeared.

It was a Friday, like today.

Other years the anniversary has fallen on other days. I do understand that's how the calendar works.

But this anniversary is Friday-Saturday. Just like it was when my dad left us.

Beautiful and sunny, lush and glorious, with the rich promise of summer, also like today in DC.

Too beautiful a day to die.

I have written this post annually. It's not even like there are new facts.

I like to use this photo of my brother and me standing as my dad plays piano in Bangladesh.

But I think about his death sometimes. Not all the time, like I used to. Just sometimes. And particularly today.

With all the news about intubation lately, I think about signing a paper in the ER saying we understood the risk of death when they switched the emergency tube inserted by the EMTs to a longer-term one that would keep him breathing in the ICU.

I think about the repeated terror of knowing Dad had slipped off with the intent to die, and of not being able to find him. I think about the times that either we or the police found him.

I think about begging and hoping and praying that he would live.

I think about holding his hand, watching him carefully while he was hooked up to machines that made sure he breathed, that monitored his vital signs, that did whatever else one does to keep a body alive.

And then I think about the last time, about knowing in my heart he was gone, but hoping and praying I was wrong.

I think about waking up to no news on Saturday. About Nick driving and me calling hospitals as he drove, because we needed to be doing something, not just sitting, waiting for a phone call.

I think about the sun streaming through the windshield, and how big and uncomfortable my belly was in my lap.

When Nick suggested we call the morgue, I made him talk. I think about listening to Nick, on speakerphone, persuade the man at the morgue to tell us whether or not they had my dad.

I remember not being able the breathe, and the kick in the gut feeling when he said yes, they did.

I remember wishing I could tuck my knees up and curl into a ball, and knowing that would be impossible even if we weren't in the car.

Typing this, I feel my breath quicken and my tears sting.

Everyone says time helps. You get so tired of hearing time helps when you are stuck in the moment, and the moment hurts so much, and you can't do anything to speed up time.

Yes, yes, time, time, I know, I know. Time. Thanks.

You get tired of people moving on before you have. You get bitter when people you love think you have grieved long enough.

But here, eleven years out, time has helped tremendously.

Now I can think more about good times and funny stories. I try to share with my kids stories that show my dad as a whole, real person.

One day I'll tell them the story of Nick and my dad bringing Nick's boat across the Chesapeake. The photo above is from their lucky safe arrival.

It's not that we had all dark times. We had a lot of fun, and uproariously funny, times. We just didn't have a lot of calm in between times.

I am like him in this regard. I work on this.

This year for the first time, Dad has started appearing in my dreams. Really it's been since Covid19 hit. I don't know what this is about, but he's alive and my dreams, while chaotic, are not tragic.

He's still a very complicated figure for me, but I take this as a sign that I've moved into a better place with all of it.

He left us on a Friday. They called the time of death on Saturday, but we don't actually know which day it was. So for me, it's a two-day anniversary.

I knew he was gone.

And still, when we called the morgue and they said yes, yes we have him, it was still somehow a huge shock.

Because it is one thing to know in your heart, and another thing to know for sure.

And here we are now, eleven years later.

My friend Vik just texted me *hugs*, the way he does every year on this date. And every year, I feel hugged and loved.

It's a spectacular, sunny day. I'm going to train my dog. My kids are doing their distance learning lessons, and then this afternoon we'll go on a walk. They'll run and fling themselves to the ground among the buttercups.

The azaleas are glorious. The dogwood are blooming. Roses are so fragrant you can smell them even through a mask.

It's a beautiful day for an anniversary.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Sit stay

Put on your jeans, they said. It'll keep you honest, they said.

Honestly, I need to be able to breathe when I sit down.

It's no mystery how this happened.

A few weeks ago I started eating a lot of bread. Like, a lot.

We all did.

I know many people are baking. We are not. We are supporting the local farmer's market bread stand. We have purchased a great deal of bread.

Seriously. I don't even want to tell you how much. We have been all, support the community!

Generally, in normal life day-to-day, I don't eat much bread or pasta or really any simple carbs except for like, chocolate or sugar injected directly into my veins.

But those would be balanced out with the amount of walking I did.

Now I eat bread and do a lot of bottom sitting.

Oh, and I train my dog. Every day.

We are all distance learning up close and personal. The kids, Wanda and I, all together and separately till death us do part.

Wanda failed the week two test, which was to walk next to me in a straight line for 15 steps and then sit on her butt of her own volition.

Wanda was like, I do not want to sit on my butt, thank you very much.

To which I was all, here, let me help you.

But by that point she should've been doing it with no help. Just, you know, me saying, "Sit!"

I tried Jedi mind tricks. One time we went for the sit and she looked like she was going to do a perfect sit. And then she continued until she was lying flat all comfortable on the warm pavement.

She is not a large dog but I am not a large human and I will tell you that when she doesn't want to get up it is not the easiest thing to get her up.

You have to submit videos a couple times a week and then one of the end of the week test so that Mark, the trainer, knows that you are ready to move on.

Wanda and I were stuck in week two for a few days into week three.

But now we've almost caught up, and she does some good sitting and staying. We even impressed people in the park the other day.

Today's our meeting for week four. We haven't yet done the week three test, which I hope to submit tonight.

One of the challenges, as I believe I mentioned, is getting a child to cooperate enough to video. And to focus on us rather than the adult humans clad head to toe in tie-dye performing skateboarding tricks.

When Mark said we needed to train around distractions, I cannot imagine he meant clowns on skateboards. My kids were certainly distracted.

So Wanda and I might actually do the exercise correctly but the video shows...the skateboarders, the very interesting crack in the sidewalk, and a close-up of my butt.

Honestly, I know, I do, that it's fucking tedious to stand there while I back up to five feet and then count to 50 Mississippi (which to spell I always have to do the M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I, but is fortunately not Massachusetts, which I find impossible to spell on my own).

But look at that good sit stay!

Anyway. I now have watched my butt walking away from the camera and bending over to do the two-handed presentation to get my dog to sit and honestly if I never watch a video of my butt again that would be just fine.

Oh! And as it turns out, when Nick does these videos for me, there is also a focus on my butt. But clearly this is a choice and not a height issue. I'm...flattered?

In sum:

I don't want to grow out of my real jeans. Not my spandex jeans that make me feel better.

So I am trying to rectify this.

More in-home workouts. Less bread and butter.

But honestly, who wants to eat salad when the world is going straight to hell?

Monday, April 27, 2020

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming

Clearly I just needed to have a big tantrum and feel sorry for myself and get a lot of the mad out.

I have it much, much easier than so many people. I know this. I feel guilty about this.

And I'm grateful. I'm just not grateful every moment and sometimes I need to verbally lie on the floor and pound my fists and stomp my feet.

So thank you for letting me do that and being sympathetic instead of telling me to stop being a solipsistic, privileged turd.

So now where are we?

It's Friday Saturday Monday.

Wanda has been doing online dog training.

I mean, we meet with the trainer online, and then we do the training in person.

Wanda's computer skills aren't strong enough. Also, I'm not so sure about her commitment to education.

Our Wanda has many positive attributes. She is a lovely, kind, patient dog who puts up with a lot of shenanigans, particularly from India.

We weren't sure if she knew her name in the beginning. Now we are 100% certain she knows her name. She just pauses to decide whether or not she wants to come.

She also pulls on the leash. And she's strong.

She pulls extra hard when there is some highly suspect rotting pizza crust that she desperately wants to snarf before we can manage to stop her.

I would like these things to improve.

My friend Jen has this amazing dog trainer, but he's in North Carolina. Jen was offering me training tips, and sent me videos, and her dog that went through training is just beautifully trained.

So when she told me they were doing online courses, I was delighted.

One, we need to train Wanda. Two, it's very nice to have something concrete, with measurable goals, to focus on.

It's still the first week. We meet online every Wednesday to go over the next week's assignments.

In the past week, I've spent a whole lot of time walking and running a triangle in the park. You choose points 50 feet away from each other, and then walk the dog on a long line, but with different parameters every two days.

Most people seem to have yards. I was like, well, let's see how our local park goes.

The first day, two affable drunk men wanted my attention every time I was near their bench, which was close to Triangle Point B.

It's DC, and I'm used to drunks in the park, so I just said hi back (each time) and then focused on the task at hand.

Today and tomorrow the goals are to get her to stay within two feet while walking. She gets farther than that and you run in the other direction and go back to the starting point.

I have done a lot lot lot of running back and forth in the park. A lot.

The trainer wants us to submit videos so he can see how we are doing. India has been my videographer, and as such, there are a lot of minutes of sky or grass.

Yesterday I was really bummed, wondering if Wanda was ever going to be willing to follow. I was panting as I counted off the 15 seconds at each point before resuming.

She is stubborn. But so am I.

Today I could see progress, and feel much more heartened.

As it turns out, the photos and videos are aimed at my butt half the time, and I mean, whatever, we all have butts. I just don't spend so much time watching mine run the other direction.

Also, I am on the verge of getting Nick to cut my hair. It is making me crazy.

If you've ever had short hair and tried to grow it out, you know that it inevitably gets a poof somewhere that you don't want. And it's flat where a poof might be nice.

Or maybe this is just me.

And if you're growing out your hair and also dye it with semipermanent pink, because you felt like that would be a good distraction, then there is the added je ne sais quoi of roots and half-pinkness as well as the poofing and sticking to your head as you run back and forth from lamppost to tree like a maniac.

It's all going pretty well, is what I'm saying.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Ha ha ha, bless your soul/You really think you're in control?

I am not doing well today.

Today I have yelled at both children. I have stomped upstairs twice like an angry kid. I have thought hateful thoughts about the people I love most in the whole world.

The day started with India stomping around in a foul mood. I finally coaxed her onto my lap, where she cried. We agreed this is hard. We're doing our best.

And then, when we discussed today's schedule--because we are trying hard to be on some sort of schedule--my kids lost it. Two different hours of school work?

And about this schedule. I will tell you, I have told you, that organization is not my strong suit.

I suck at outlines. In school I would get so hung up on the parallel. Is this B of equal importance to A? Or should it be a small a? But then there's no B. Shit. There has to be a B if you're going to  have an A.

As an adult I said screw it and all my outlines just have lines. No real hierarchy.

That's also how my email is. And my computer. Nick has folders and subfolders. For me, it's all just there.

I think this is how my brain is.

And at the moment, I'm confused. I can't organize. Everything feels elusive.

Nick got what felt like was all judgey about how we're spending our days. Which is with a lot of TV. Because, well, there are a lot of becauses.

Honestly, I just want to get back in bed. Like, all the time. Sometimes everything feels so heavy that it hurts to stay awake.

This is another way in which I feel like I'm failing. I have the energy to work out, to take my kids on a walk with the dog, but I don't have the energy to fight. You don't want to read in Spanish? You don't want to math?

It doesn't feel worth the fight. But then I'm failing in getting them to do what they're supposed to be doing.

But back to my no good horrible suck ass day, or whatever that book title is. Which is also really just kind of a continuation of all the days before it, just that I hit a point of not being able to deal with patience and compassion.

India lay down on the floor flailing, screaming, stomping. It was a tantrum like she used to have when she was little.

She calmed down and started pulling at her glasses frames.

At which point I yelled, "DON'T BREAK YOUR GLASSES!"

And then she started to cry and Jordan turned to me and yelled, "YOU'RE A JERK!"

And then Nick sent me upstairs.

Which is where I was heading in a rage anyway. Because he goes to work and I deal with all the bullshit.

And then he comes home and when I ask he says his day was stressful.

And I think, seriously? Did any of your employees have a screaming fucking fit about brushing their fucking teeth? Did you have to cajole, struggle, bribe any of your clients into their fucking socks and shoes to take a walk in nature to improve their moods? Did anyone shit all over you when you tried to get them to do a minuscule amount of work? Do they tell you they're SO BORED every 10 minutes?

No? Huh.

And then, then I also feel like a big fucking loser.

Because most parents are having to maintain their jobs during this. They have to do actual work, and get their kids to do something constructive, or at least keep them entertained and fed.

Me, now, my entire job is keeping my children from losing their everloving minds, feeding them, and making them do a modicum of schoolwork.

And when Jordan was a jerk about doing an online Spanish book, first telling me how stupid it was, then being rude when I couldn't immediately locate the one he wanted, and then reading out loud in the gringo-est accent he could muster, I lost my shit.


This is approximately what I yelled. At the top of my voice.

My throat hurt after I did it.

Jordan burst into tears. My mother went to comfort him. I went back upstairs.

India came up after a bit and said, "Do you need a hug?"

I do. I really, really do.

Friday, April 03, 2020

SD: Team Sanity

Selfie panoramic had somehow never occurred to me...
Last week I was in a conversation on FB with other moms from our school.

I confessed that we'd done nothing in terms of schoolwork. My kids were having a hard enough time without the stress of trying to force them to do math.

And my friend Erum said she was all for Team Sanity. So that's how I've been thinking about it: Team Sanity.

Yesterday my son had a 5th grade video chat. Bless the teacher, who spent at least 50% of the time explaining to them that they only get to unmute their microphones when it is their turn to speak.

That way, she explained, if your sister (ahem) is bugging you, or the dog (also ahem) is pushing her way in (because you encouraged her), or your mom asks you what you want for lunch (not ahem) or whatever, everyone else in the class doesn't hear it.

One kid kept turning her microphone back on unintentionally. All the other kids thought this was hilarious.

Bless our teachers, who always work so hard, and are rising to this extra challenge.

Teachers have called to check in, and I have been completely honest: we've done almost nothing academic.

I have to fight guilt and anxiety over this.

I mean, I'm in the extraordinarily lucky position of not currently having a job I have to juggle along with having my children home all day.

I have so many friends who are working full time and trying to get their kids to follow the lessons that the school is providing. And compared to them I think, what the fuck am I doing?

We are doing some online learning. India has done some math and Spanish. Both kids are reading a ton. This is something. But it is not the math and science and Spanish and writing that Jordan is supposed to be doing.

Neither of them are interested in writing projects, despite cajoling.

And so mostly I'm letting them just hang out.

Because the fact is that I struggle with my children to brush their teeth twice a day, which is one thing I cannot compromise on. Bedtime takes a lot of energy.

I mean, seriously. We brush our fucking teeth every single day. We go to bed every single night. How is this an appalling surprise, an affront to their very way of life, ever single damn day?

My son rarely does homework, because he gets upset about things like the repetition, or gets very worked up about making his writing perfect, and any small mistake can derail him. He's better than he was, but us doing homework means me sitting next to him the whole time and then, forcing myself to stay calm when he gets worked up, and supporting him in calming himself down.

It's a drama trauma almost every time, is what it is.

And now that we're spending all our time together, I'm not spending our days like this. DC just announced that while they don't yet have a set date, we will not be going back to school April 27.

This means we have a lot more days at home in front of us.

It's an extraordinary time in history. It might be a lost academic year for my kids. I can live with this.

I'm far more interested in household harmony. In behaving in a loving manner. If I'm constantly angry because I'm trying to get my kids to do things they do not want to do, it means I'm not good at being gentle with them when they need me.

And right now, they really need me. They both need a lot of my attention. They get upset easily. They want reassurance.

Some days, India is on me, like physically stuck to me, the way she was a baby. The other day I sat with her in the big red chair, and I cuddled her, and I explained how we sat in that chair the first few months of her life, and she would eat and then fall asleep on my chest and I would read.

I read and read. I read all but one of the Game of Thrones books. And they were long. The truth is that at some point I started skipping the chapters of the characters I disliked. Theon Greyjoy? Skip.

The positive of this was that when I watched the show, some things were total surprises to me!

I still feel bitter about how they ended it.

That's an aside.

We have much better days together if we focus on doing art projects, and talking to each other, doing puzzles and playing games.

My mom and India and I sat together making Sculpi...things. I wound up not baking anything I made. They looked better in my mind than they actually turned out.

So I voiced this guilt, this anxiety about not forcing my kids to do online learning, and in response, a friend sent me something that basically said to take care of your kids' mental health first and foremost. Our kids aren't going to remember what they learned during this time--they're going to remember how they felt.

This resonated with me.

When they look back on this, if what stays with them is the feeling of being loved, of being cuddled tight, of hanging out together watching Harry Potter movies, and of eating truly astounding amounts of popcorn every day, I'm OK with that.

Team Sanity.

Love and hugs,


Wednesday, April 01, 2020

SD no longer counting: People, people who need people...

Hi neighbors! Zoomed from an appropriate distance!
One thing this pandemic has done is made me very grateful for the people in my life.

When I spoke with my psychiatrist, he said that "social distancing" was the wrong term, and that we should be calling it "physical distancing," because people still need to be connected to each other.

Yes, my goodness yes.

It is true that I'm an introvert. But all that means is that I recharge by being alone. I need some alone time to be my best self.


As it turns out, I love people. I mean, select people. But there are many of them. So many.

(You already knew this, right? My kids did.)

And I'm a hugger. If we're friends, and you're cool with it, I will hug you hello and goodbye.

My family would say, "I love you" at the end of every phone call. Even if it was like, "Hey, I'm at the store on the way home. Do you need anything? OK. I love you! Bye!"

I have heard people who are of the opinion that saying I love you too often diminishes the meaning. Whereas I feel like you cannot have too much love. Spread that stuff around as much as you can. We all need as much love as we can get.

So I hug friends. And in our school community, there are lots of Latin Americans and Spaniards, which means one cheek kiss or two.

There's lots of physical connection in my everyday world.

Nick does not come from huggers. He is kind and friendly but hugging practically every other person is not how he operates in the world.

With so many friends near and far I am texting, WhatsApping, calling, FaceTiming and Zooming (during which I spent approximately 75% of time time thinking my god, does my face really look like that? And why is my hair doing that? I need to stop touching my face).

With Gerald and Tracy, we've chatted though the window. It's fun but not as satisfying as sitting down having coffee and intense conversation.

They're right here, and I miss them!

Before this, I hadn't thought about the casual interactions that I have every single day.

Most mornings when I'm walking Wanda, Tracy passes me on her way back from boot camp. Our chat is brief, but I love the check ins.

I see Gerald at the end of the school day every day. Sometimes we all walk home together.

We met Tracy, who was also pregnant and lives directly across the street, because our next door neighbors had a party, a really, really loud party with a band, on a weeknight.

I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with India, and Nick went outside to knock on the door. (This was prior to the police arriving.) Tracy was out in front of their house yelling, "SHUT THE FUCK UP!"

Of course we were going to be friends.

My friend Claudia told me that I'm always making new friends. I was like, really? And then she pointed out that I'd just said, "So I have this new friend..."

And in fact, she and I just met a couple years ago, and we were immediately friends.

This summer, my kids and I were planning to go to Spain with her and her daughter, one of India's besties.

I was holding off getting a new passport, which I need, until my hair was no longer pink.

Because 10 years of pink is...long.

But currently it is hard to imagine that this trip could happen in August.

Claudia is also part of my almost-weekly social time. Many Fridays India goes over to their house after school to play, and then I go to pick her up, and Claudia and I sit on the couch and drink wine and eat chorizo and catch up.

It's small, but it's also enormous.

And I now realize I invite people over all the time. All the time.

Come over! I say this all the time. I've invited people I barely know to come stay with us. Come over! Come for coffee! Come have a drink! Come stay!

It's so hard to imagine now, but our first Christmas in this house, when the ground floor was still almost completely under construction, we hosted a tiny Christmas dinner.

How did this happen? I cannot remember.

The kitchen had just been completed, but there were still walls and parts of floors open and we still had to walk across boards to get from the front door to the stairs, or into the kitchen for that matter. Sheets of plastic to keep the dust down were still hanging in doorways.

We had a four month old. Nick bought the last fake tree they had at Lowe's and put it up upstairs.

It's a time I barely remember.

And still, we invited friends for dinner. My dear friend Danny (personal chef extraordinaire). Our friend Kurt, who saved us during snowmaggeddon,  and who managed the guest house across the street, and a man who worked with him, whose name I don't remember, who had formerly lived and worked in our house and who brought his girlfriend's dog.

We brought a table and some chairs and pots and pans downstairs. I couldn't even tell you what we ate, just that it was nice to be together.

After we were done, we cleared everything away, took stuff back upstairs, and didn't use the kitchen again until the ground floor was done the following summer.

Kind of odd, actually, no?

Anyway, this come-overness is how, another year, we wound up with 40 people for Christmas dinner. Every time someone told me they weren't going to be with family, I was all, "Come to our house!"

My mother told me to stop inviting strangers from the bus stop, which truthfully was practically what I was doing. Next time I felt inclined to open my mouth and invite someone, she said, I should just close it.

Our friends all brought food. It was lovely to all be together. It was also very crowded. We took turns eating at the table, or ate standing in the kitchen.

We didn't manage a holiday party this year, or holiday cards, for that matter.

We decided we'd do a big party in January or February, when things are grim and people really need some cheer.

And then January and February went by and here we are.

I get all kinds of anxious before big gatherings. I wonder why I invited so many people. What if we don't have enough food? What if we run out of clean glasses?

Nick talks me down every time. He's always like, "You get like this, and then people get here and they have a nice time and you really enjoy it and then you want to have another party again immediately."

This is true.

I just have so many people I like, and they're so interesting, and I love introducing people I like to other people I like and then it just goes from there...

Which is to say, we'll probably have like a 500 person party at our house when all of this is over.

When I told Nick that after all of this I want to have an all-day party starting with breakfast margaritas, he said breakfast margaritas aren't a thing.

But I think if you have them with a side of bacon and a coffee chaser they totally are.

Come over! Then! Whenever then is!

For now: stay home!

Be safe. Big hugs and lots of love,


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

SD Day I'm not even sure what day it is anymore

As it turns out, today is Wednesday. I'm pretty sure.

I just checked. It's definitely Wednesday.


Also: my mother may not have gotten out of her PJs today, but the rest of us did. I'm happy to report we all brushed our teeth.


Yesterday we got a call from one of India's teachers, and today one of Jordan's teachers called. It was lovely that they called to check in and to talk to the kids.

I was completely honest with both of them: we've done nothing academic. The kids have been reading in English, not Spanish. But that's it.

Frankly, I'm not sure that Jordan will do any of the schoolwork in this period. India asked to do some this afternoon, and she did math. Up to a point. And then she was all, "UGH! This is just like doing schoolwork!"

Why, yes.

Jordan's teacher offered any help we might need, and said he doesn't need to do more than 30-60 minutes per subject per day.

I didn't say there's just no way that's going to happen.

But there's just no way that's going to happen.


We are doing puzzles. Jordan is reading The Hobbit.

A friend suggested we play Cribbage to use some math. I am going to look into learning it.

Part of what I find hard is that I have to be involved in all of this. Not hand-holding but right there, encouraging, participating. It's kind of exhausting.

Today I didn't make them do anything. We had a totally peaceful day. We finished our puzzle. We hung out. They watched an embarrassing amount of television.

Jordan walked the dog at some point.

But my idea to chronicle this historic time (writing!) was shot down. Jordan said, "YOU can write about it."



Also, our running has gone straight to hell. As it turns out, they're not remotely interested in running just to run.

Even for money or screen time.

I asked friends if they had suggestions for workouts for kids, and so we did Beachbody on Demand for Kids, GoNoodle, and PE with Joe Wicks, all of which were free.

They did this for screen time. Not for joy or health.


I feel like Bridget Jones but I'm wondering if I should start noting my exercise and alcohol consumption.

I think she also weighed herself daily, and if I do that I will go down an obsessive rabbit hole. So, no weighing. 

Today I lifted weights. And drank two beers.

Apparently regular old vodka is just not strong enough for hand sanitizer, which is too bad because I was thinking I could mix it with aloe, which we have a jug of in the pantry because at some point I was going to make healthy juice kind of concoctions but never did.

But I read that vodka doesn't have a high enough percentage of alcohol.

So then I was thinking, well, vodka and aloe could be a calming and healthy-ish breakfast drink...

Maybe mix in a few greens? Some chia seeds?

I know. It's a slippery slope. I should stick to protein smoothies.


Oh, also, I think I've developed a tic.

See, my cough is better but when I'm out walking the dog, as soon as I see someone, I get the urge to cough.

I bet vodka and aloe could really help with this.

Stay safe.

Love and hugs,


Monday, March 23, 2020

SD Day 8: "Things are different today" I hear ev'ry mother say

Yesterday I went out for a long run to try to lift my mood and lower my anxiety.

Actually, it was more of a run/walk, because the pollen has been out in full force and my allergies are making me cough. And running through the gently frolicking pollen made me cough. A lot.

Now, on the one hand this was helpful because I didn't have to cross the street when I saw people approaching. They crossed the street when they heard me.

On the other hand, coughing incessantly is miserable in the best of times.

But at this juncture I am all, cherry blossoms? Or Covid? CherryblossomsorCovid?

I have been coughing so often that I have a perpetual headache. Which I believe is also a symptom of the illness.

So now I'm regularly checking for mucus. Mucus? Check! Good! I have a stuffy nose. Also good! I'm coughing because my throat is irritated by the mucus. Good! I don't have a fever. Excellent!

Not all people who got sick had a fever.

I really and truly don't think I have Covid. I have seasonal allergies. And anxiety. It's just very bad timing.

I mean, let's be fair: all of this is very bad timing for everyone. There's never a great time for a pandemic.

Which reminds me. Have you read Year of the Flood? I really do believe Margaret Atwood is a visitor from the future. She knew everything way ahead.

Last week I emailed my psychiatrist to tell him that while I am taking my medication religiously and exercising and getting out in the sunshine, there are times when I just lose it. I asked if he could prescribe Ativan or something of the sort.

He called. I didn't recognize the number, but fortunately I answered anyway, and we had a little chat.

When he asked how I was, my inclination was to say, "Fine!"

Remember how I was going to lie to him that one time and then didn't?

So I started to say fine but then was like, I am really not doing very well. I'm not in crisis. Except, in some moments I am kind of in crisis. Sometimes I just get myself so wound up that I can't calm down.

Not a panic attack, because now I know what those are like. But like the 3:00 am anxiety that jacks up my adrenaline and makes me physically uncomfortable.

I cannot be alone in this.

Just getting a prescription made me feel better.

Of course, I walked into the pharmacy wearing gloves, with my sleeves pushed up so I wouldn't have to push them up with my hands when I washed them, and carrying nothing but my credit card. Which I sprayed down when I got home, after disposing of my gloves and scrubbing my hands.

Over the weekend, the kids said they would like daily running to be a weekday thing. I agreed.

But then today, when I suggested we go for our run, my son said, "It's supposed to rain all day."

I looked out the window and said, "It's not raining."

"But it's supposed to. All day."

Frankly, I didn't have the energy to get them enthused for a run. I didn't even have the energy to threaten them into it.

So I said fine. We put on GoNoodle and they jumped around to a bunch of those and giggled, and I figure that's at least as good.

I don't have anything funny to say. All I want to do is sleep. I feel this crushing guilt for not scheduling my children today, for letting them have screen time, for having GoNoodle possibly be the most constructive thing we do today.

I'm supposed to be a positive force in the household, holding it together for the kids, whose anxieties are leaking out in crying and in anger.

And all I want to do is hide and sleep.

Hide and sleep. A new game for children with tired parents.

Stop, drop, and roll. Shelter in place.

Stay safe.

Love and  hugs,