Ten Things on Thursday: 4/15/21

  1. I’m weary. It is really all I can do to keep going this week. Seriously, another man in Minnesota shot dead during the Chauvin trial? Make it make sense, because I’m blown.
  2. And now, Chicago has just released the snuff film of 13-year- old Adam Toledo being murdered by police. THIRTEEN years old. Seriously, are cops just walking around scared all the damn time? I mean, I know I walk around scared of them…Oh and lest we forget the Army Lt here in my state who was pulled over in bumf*ck, VA behind some temp tags in the window, pepper sprayed, career threatened.
  3. And folks are mad about property damage resulting from protests. BURN THAT ISH ALL THE WAY TO THE GROUND AND THEN I CAN USE THE ASHES WHEN I’M SITTING IN SACKCLOTH GRIEVING. People>Property. I hate it here.
  4. I think I’m really burnt out. The monotony of working from home, vacationing at home, weekending at home, all without a meaningful break and escape has really gotten to me this week. I’m just over everything.
  5. In other news, Hope will get her first vaccine next week! I’m currently planning our annual 4th of July trip to see my sister and her family. I really can’t articulate how happy this makes me.
  6. I’m actually cooking this week, despite my emotional state. I’m trying to reject wholesale emotional eating. I can’t also let extrajudicial killings of unarmed BIPOC folks also make me unhealthier than I already might be. Seriously I was in therapy this afternoon talking about how I’m basically emotionally being held together with bungee cords and invisible tape. Anyway, I’m making Tikka Masala tonight.
  7. The weather has greatly improved and I’m so glad. I need my sunlight and my outside time. I’ve also been following some tips from Tiktok photogs on how to better use my camera phone. See some snaps from this week’s neighborhood walks below.
  8. No, I’m not really “on” Tiktok; I just really wanted to see some content that was cross-posted on Instagram and got sucked in. The way my schedule is set up though, I’m on it roughly 15 minutes a day before I drift off to sleep. I follow mostly goofy animals and a few social justice accounts, but those are getting cut. I need one place online where I don’t need to be reminded that the world is a whole hellscape dumpster fire.
  9. I’m guessing my emotional state has not been helped by the fact that I’ve skipped my weekend bath ritual for the last two weeks due to scheduling. Please know that this will be dutifully corrected this weekend with a super long soak. Hell, it might happen tonight.
  10. To Tymeyers who wanted to know what some of my fave podcasts are:

For entertainment: Hear to Slay on Luminary (singularly why I pay for that service!), The Read, Ratchet and Respectable, Savage Love, Jesus & Jollof, Fanti, Terrible Thanks for Asking and The Moth.

For lowkey education with Hope: The History Chicks, Mafia, Serial, Undisclosed, Code Switch, In the Thick, Shots in the Back, Slow Burn, Nice White Parents, Today Explained, The Daily, It’s Been a Minute, Reveal, Invisabilia. We are currently listing to Spy Affair about Maria Butina. There’s really no shortage of amazing content out there. This is just a fraction of what’s in rotation. I listen at a faster pace and crush a lot of info on my walks.

I just couldn’t even pull this list together yesterday. It was all I could do to tidy the kitchen after dinner, watch a show with Hope and crawl into bed with my nightly piece of cake. I’ve also got another post in my drafts and well, hopefully it will get published this weekend.

This morning’s sunrise.
This one is currently my zoom background.

Ten Things on Wednesday: 4/7/21

  1. The family trip was so good. The hotel situation was a disappointment (no room service, turn down service or room cleaning due to COVID). But I got to see my parents, Hope got to see her grands and Yappy got to come (which is all he ever wanted). We had “easter” dinner on Saturday and Sunday breakfast before hitting the road. The grands almost always provide 2 meats–bacon and sausage; which means they are going straight to heaven one fine day.
  2. Returning to work on Monday was harsh. The demands, the requests. I can legit spend all day just answering emails from the previous afternoon and beyond. Things go on the to do list and seemingly never come off. This time off really showed me why I enjoy traveling so much. When I know I’m going far away, I shut down work ABM immediately upon logging off that last day. I’m done. I’m able to truly unplug. These COVID staycations are rough because it takes me so much longer to unwind. By the time I really hit my stride in relaxation, it’s time to go back to work. Ugh.
  3. Hope put chopped hot dogs in her ramen tonight. I was buzzing around the house listening to her, and that factoid stopped me in my tracks. I wondered aloud if such a combo made me a bad mother. I mean really…I got 2 things going for me: 1-Hope gets higher end ramen. Her love of Asian food means any old ramen just won’t do. We make a special trip to the international store each month to stock up and supplement with online ordering of more difficult ramen to get locally. 2-I buy chicken hot dogs, which tend to have a little less fat (and Holy Homeboy knows what else); Hope loves them. Hope swears this wasn’t a struggle meal, it’s a college meal. My response? Is there a difference, really?
  4. Spring has sprung finally. I’m still waiting for the spring rains here. Normally April really means showers here. The lack of rain means things are blooming faster, and the pollen is flying. It’s kind of a beautiful torture.
  5. Anyone else have a kid who has horrible allergies but utterly refuses to take meds or irrigate so they just snort/slurp/sneeze/sniff incessantly, which really weirds you out because it’s a whole ass global PANDEMIC outside? Just me? Ok.
  6. I did not have my luxurious, stress-relieving bath this past weekend. I mean, I got to my parents, which was a more than worthy trade, but it’s now Wednesday night and I’m eager to get in my tub.
  7. I’m seriously considering a bathroom renovation. I can’t change the footprint, but I’m looking for more storage, a taller toilet w/ bidet features, a deeper tub, a heated floor and shower shelving for my Saturday bath candles. You know, simple upgrades. LOL.
  8. 2021 has officially rained down hot flashes on me. Since what appears to have been hormone changes that made me miserable in January, I hadn’t really had too many menopause symptoms. And then the weather turned nice, but not nice enough for the air conditioner. Monday night I thought I would combust. Last night I threw open the windows and turned on the ceiling fan. Much better. Tonight, I’m adding the floor fan. Seriously, this is some BS. Who do we have to blame for this? It’s really effed up.
  9. I am not watching the Chauvin trial. I wait for the New York Times to send me the notification of their daily rundown. So much of the news coverage insists on replaying George Floyd’s death video on a loop. That is traumatic AF. Stop playing the video! I know that once the prosecution rests it’s going to be a real shitshow, and I can’t bear to watch that murderer deny killing this man when we have video that says otherwise. Lock his ass up.
  10. Beau got me into Netflix’s Who Killed Sara? Quality TV, even if the dubbing kinda sucks. It’s nice ot have something to sink my teeth in. Hope and I are still watching Grimm on Prime. We’re also listening to a podcast on Maria Buttina, the young Russian woman who the FBI alleged was something of a spy. We booted her back home; ironically she turned up on the news this weekend. It was cool because it gave Hope a face to got a face to go with the story; she’s all in on the show now. Podcasts on road trips have always been a cool way for me to teach Hope current events and history on the low. We start a show, I dig up a few articles to rope her in and she totally gets immersed. She knows all about how Las Vegas came to be thanks to a mafia podcast we binged in 2019 on road trips. Good stuff!

Until next time…


Scratching the Itch

Last night the man in my life asked me if adopting Hope satisfied my need to have a biological child.

It was a heavy question for any number of reasons.

  1. I will forever be wounded by my infertility.
  2. My beau is an adoptee. He shared this with me recently after dating for quite some time. Turned out to be game-changing information for us, and I’d like to thank adoptees for teaching me to act like I got some sense.
  3. Beau is childless.

I was honest, and I said no. It satisfied my desire to be a mom, which was ultimately a stronger pull, and Hope is absolutely my daughter. But did it “replace” my desire for a biological child? No.

I thought so much about this over the last 8 years.

My grief around infertility has changed a lot over the years. Initially it was really messy, as all grief is. I did grieve the imaginary scenario that I’d been cultivating since I was in high school. I would be married in my early 30s to an amazing partner with whom I would have a couple biological children and then look into expanding our family through adoption.

That was my script.

So as I slid into my late 30s, unmarried and suddenly considered infertile, I really grieved the loss of that ideal I had constructed for myself. I remember feeling like it was the last bit of my dream that I lost. Never-mind that my career was going great, I was working on my doctorate, and I was enjoying a really good life. The door definitively closed on my dream, and that was what my grief was about. And sometimes it still hurts acknowledging that, but that’s not where my grief lies now.

I told Beau that my grief has less to do with any imaginary biological child and more to do with how betrayed I felt and feel by my body. We’re conditioned to believe so much of being a woman is about the ability to incubate a new human and have all these warm, nurturing, maternal feelings. Well, not being able to have a child because my body “failed” was and remains hard. I’m like, I’ve always been overweight, but my entire adult life I’ve tried to eat decent and be as active as possible so that I would be able to handle pregnancy like a champ. Instead my body wasn’t even riding the bench. It just sucked when I needed and wanted it most.

My grief wasn’t about having a baby. I was never all jazzed about babies. I just wanted the chance to be a mom. Ultimately it didn’t matter how; it was just that my body was supposed to be able to do this thing that women do. And, well, it couldn’t.

Hope satisfied my desire to parent; that part is the same as what I desired in having a biological child. But in answer to Beau’s question, no it didn’t satisfy my desire to give birth because it was about my body and not the child.

He seemed to understand. I reminded him that grief is a wicked thing. He agreed.

Then I told him about how in 2020 I worked hard to focus on what my body can do rather than what it can’t. While I didn’t commit to doing it because of grief, the reframing definitely helped me resolve some of my grief. Of course the fact that I did get to be mom to Hope is really the story here. I am a mom, which is really what I wanted. I am fortunate to have matched with Hope and be accepted by her. There are times when I really marvel at the fact that I have a version of the family I dreamed about. It didn’t happen as I thought, and the life partner is still missing in action, but I have this family–me, Hope and Yappy.

It’s more than enough.


Ten Things on Wednesday: 3/31/21

  1. It’s my 5th pandemic “staycation,” and…I’m over it. I have been productive, which is a word that I do not like to associate with vacations. I filed my taxes today, completed a consulting gig, worked on a baby blanket and ate some leftovers. Yesterday, I exchanged a pair of sneakers at New Balance, because I prefer to go during the week when there are no crowds. I stopped off at Lidl to pick up a few things and swung by Michaels because I needed another skein of yard for this blanket’s border. Yeah, this vacation is uber exciting…#sarcasm.
  2. Hope, Yappy, and I will be going to see my parentals on Friday for the Easter holiday. I booked us a hotel room downtown where we will order room service, cuddle Yappy and enjoy a change of scenery. I hope to take Hope to the museum and run around the city ordering takeout from my favorite hometown joints.
  3. I think I’ve made the decision that Hope and I will take a real vacation this summer. I think we’ll go to the Caribbean where I can get nice dark bronzy brown, drink from sun up to well past sundown and snooze a lot under the umbrella. I want swimsuit tan lines and a tan line from that resort bracelet that gets you an endless supply of fresh towels and booze. As much as I want an adventure trip, I am still skittish about moving around too much–I think a vacation where I lay on the beach for a week is in order.
  4. Hope never really got up today. It makes me sad. Yesterday we went to see a movie. Only 6 folks were in the theater–Side note: first movie in more than a year. It was weird. We skipped the snacks because we couldn’t justify taking our masks off for popcorn. Just seemed silly. Anyway, we got takeout after the movie and it was great to see Hope out, about, and engaged. It was a reminder that she’s in there, trying to figure out how to beat the darkness back. I’m guessing it was probably exhausting being up and out. Figures that she would sleep even more today. if there’s no rain tomorrow, I might see if I can lure her out with a game of tennis outback.
  5. It’s hard to find things to engage Hope. She’s just not at a place where she can put her own plan together. I’ve offered to get her a tutor so she can continue her Chinese and Korean lessons. I’ve told her about places that are hiring. I’ve suggested that she look into a free online class just to create some structure. I suggest a lot, and I get frustrated a lot because I keeping thinking and Hoping that one day she will be at a place in her development and healing where she might chase down a lead. Each week, especially during lockdown, I’m reminded that she’s just not there. I desperately wish I could help her in a more meaningful concrete way, but the reality is that other than supporting her and keeping her safe is my role. The heavy work of healing is her job at this point. I respect that, but I still wish there was something I could do.
  6. A few months ago, I bought Yappy a set of FluentPet AAC buttons. The goal is to train Yappy to press buttons with recorded words so he can communicate with me (if he wants). This is another lockdown situation in which I watched too many dog and cat videos on instagram for too many days. A couple of weeks ago, I finally opened that box and set up his first button, “Outside.” We’re on week 3 of me making a big deal out of saying OUTSIDE and pressing the button and then going out with him. He hasn’t yet intentionally hit the button, but he is vocalizing a bit more–which is a real change because Yappy just doesn’t vocalize much at all—, and he gets excited when I push the button. I know he knows the word; it’s just a matter of seeing if he decides to tell me he wants to go outside. Stay tuned.
  7. I’ve had a couple of more sedentary weeks. It happens, but I’m trying to get back into my moving rhythm. I wasn’t taking as many work breaks to move around; I didn’t play as much music. I didn’t get on the treadmill as much. I don’t worry about it too much in the grand scheme of things but I also don’t want the lack of movement to become a bad habit. I like it when I’m more active. Several months ago I started jumping rope, only to realize I”m just horrible at it. Folks online talking about how you can stay fit by jumping rope–Hmmmph! I stumbled repeatedly. I bought several different jump ropes because clearly, the problem was the rope. #sideeye. Eventually, I ended up with this super cheap jump rope that has a counter–that was my game changer. I am finally up to jumping 200 a day. A long-term goal is to get to 1,000.
  8. Yep, still eating cake every day. I’m convinced that cake heals me at night. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
  9. I’m thinking about buying roller skates because, at 48, I have a death wish. This is why I need to quick social media. Stupid videos and subsequent ads got me making all kinds of bad decisions. Just some of the things I’ve recently looked into as a result of social media ads: roller skates, boxed cold brew delivery (this is totally worth it, btw), CBD bath bombs, other kinds of bath fizzies, hoopless hula hoops, dog toothbrushes, workout clothes with resistance bands sewn in them. Anyway, back to the skates, I enjoyed roller skating (she says totally forgetting about the couple of times she went skating in the last 10 years and nearly ended up in a body cast–ok, a minor exaggeration. Adults look so cool on those things in the videos. I already know I’m going to end up being one of those “How it started/How it’s going” memes.
  10. I got my second vaccine on Saturday. What a relief. I know that it doesn’t prevent me from spreading it or getting it, but just knowing that I would survive it…that’s a lot. I mentioned earlier that Hope and I are going to see my parents; we haven’t seen them since July of last year when we went for a few hours and sat mostly on the deck in the back yard. I’m so excited to see them; this is by far the longest that I have gone without seeing them in person. I miss them. Hope is super excited to see them as well. She saw them in October when she spent a few days with them. While we had a nice quiet holiday season here, Hope really missed seeing family over Christmas. She’s looking forward to having that time with them. So am I!

Vacation Where?

Today marks the first day of my 5th pandemic staycation.

It’s downright depressing, especially with FB reminding me that 2 years ago I was in Rome, 3 years ago in Athens, years before that in Montreal. I miss traveling terribly. Oh the places we will go when this pandemic lets up.

Hope has finally come to an age where she’s a bit more fun to travel with. Yes, she still struggles with impulsiveness. Yes, we still have at least one episode of losing my ish and flinging myself on a bed with all dramatic pretense. Hope can still turn on the spoiled princess persona that she’s adopted occasionally when we are traveling. All that said, I love seeing the world through her eyes. I loved taking her to various places, seeing things, hoping some of all this good experiential learning takes hold.

More than anything right now, I wish we could get away. We could both use the change of scenery. I think it would do amazing things to lift our depression. Also, it would be nice to have someone bring me food via room service.

We will be visiting my parents later this week now that they and I am vaccinated. This will definitely be the highlight of my week. We haven’t seen my parents in person since July of 2020 when we scooted down for a day with them. I’m thinking we might actually make it a weekend thing and maybe take in a museum, get some take out, definitely order room service. It will have to do, and I *am* looking forward to it, but the way my wanderlust is set up…

I’m thinking about maybe booking a trip to the Caribbean this summer. I desperately need to get AWAY. I mean, already today, I’ve answered 3 work emails and had one zoom call. This doesn’t happen when I’m traveling.

Boo. Hiss.

The only one happy about the current state of affairs is Yappy–who whines if I go to the laundry room without him.

Anyhoo, I’m entertaining myself watching a completely nerdy show on Prime about the Illiad, while looking up some of these 2nd tier Greek gods on Wikipedia. I might actually have to crack open Homer again. Of course, this is also contributing to my need for travel, but for now, it will have to be enough.

Maybe Greece again next year. I have so much more exploring to do.


Ten Things on Wednesday: 3/24/21

  1. Another Wednesday; anyone else feeling like they are just coming really fast? This is the 12th week of the year, according to Google Assist, and it’s only the 83rd day. I feel like I’ve had too much “life experience” for 2021 already and I’d like to just skip the next part.
  2. I made this week’s cake with cannabis infused butter, and let me tell you…the best sleep!!! I wake up refreshed and really rested. Will go back to regular cake tomorrow, but I expect I’ll be making another one of these soon enough. It was gentle magic.
  3. I had my annual physical today. Healthy! The only “dings” is continued loss of the lower hearing registers and my incredibly stubborn vitamin D deficiency. It’s like no matter what I do I can’t get it to get to and stay in a normal range. When doc heard about these last three months, he kept asking if I’d like to try an increase in one of my anti-depressants. I told him I’d like to think about it. Like do I need it? Will it make any of this easier? I just feel like I need to name how I feel vs. how I want to feel vs. what’s chemically possible. I’m not into unnecessary suffering, and there was a time when I would have happily accepted the new dose, but I really need to check in with myself first, I guess.
  4. Hope is the same; which is good in that at least things aren’t worse. With improving weather I’m keen on getting her outside a bit. I have a very small window to do that in before the bugs hit in late spring. Getting Hope out of her bed and into the shower regularly is the daily goal; look at me with BHAG goals trying to get her out of the house. She is eating a little more now that I’ve given up on balanced eating and leaned into just getting calories into her. My gawd, I’m buying vienna sausages and pop-can biscuits. Last week we had breakfast sandwiches for dinner because she gobbled them right up. I just buy whatever I can get her to eat, and I cook often to create additional choices.
  5. I’m starting to think about the fall, and what it holds for me and Hope. Will she go back to her college? Will she be able and ready to? Will I be ready to begin traveling for work again? If Hope does go back to college, how will my life change again? I’ve got just under 2 years until I turn 50; how do I want to end this chapter? I’m really starting to think about all this. It’s like my 2021 pt 2 vision board is coming into view. I do really wonder what will become of my sweet daughter? Will she begin to find her way again? Will she feel strong enough to make decisions again? Will she be able to go back to doing dumbass college shit? I mean, after this last year, and especially 8 months or so, I am almost mad at my naive self and how irritated I was when I stumbled upon Hope’s stash. I wish we could just go back to that. Knowing what I know now, I would have just taken that stash, made brownies and gone on about my business. Yeah, I just want her to be doing dumb college ish again…at college.
  6. I have not been spending as much time on social media lately, but I have noted all kinds of drama rumblings about transracial adoption and the recent tragedy of hate crimes committed against Asian Americans. Asian TR adoptees have been sharing their stories of struggling culturally and identity-wise having been raised with no cultural connection, being raised to be grateful for being adopted, and being considered the “not like the other Asians.” White APs who do believe in this stuff come out of the woodwork to troll adoptees. Whew what a mess! I was telling Hope about it, to which she replied that White folks and APs need to talk less and listen more. She’s not wrong.
  7. Work is…ugh. This just continues to be a tough go of it. Maybe a med adjustment would give me better coping skills for work. Today somehow I’ve got swept up in some drama over a private company. Owner and I have chatted about diversity; this week it’s been like he thinks I’m his personal diversity guide. Anyway, tomorrow I have to intervene and guide a major course correct that ain’t even my job. I literally have to Olivia Pope this thing; why you ask? White supremacy + patriarchy = some bullshit every day and 5x on Sunday. I’m already over it.
  8. I get my second vaccine this Saturday. #joy I got Hope on the state registry this week; hopefully she won’t have to wait too long. I will see my parents in less than 2 weeks.
  9. I’m off next week. I think I’m going to get us a hotel room. In fact, I need to look into that right now. A room with a view, good cable channels and a mean room service menu. I just want someone else to take care of things for a couple of days.
  10. I’m heading into a recipe rut. I’ve got tons of recipes, but I think I’ll be trolling for something new soon. I need to revive my kitchen creativity. I’ve been slowly building the pantry back up with things for different recipes. I really just need to get into the kitchen and put in some work. I occasionally invite Hope to cook with me, but it stresses both of us out. I tend to use recipes as a guide; I love improvising. Hope hates this and freaks if she misses any step of the recipe. We are cooking opposites. In any case, maybe that’s what I’ll get her to research this week–new recipes.


Ten Things on Wednesday: 3/17/2021

  1. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I wore my green glasses today.
  2. Things are…all over the place. I almost hate it when someone asks, “How are you?” Like, there’s a pandemic, I’m an extrovert trapped at home; my daughter is struggling and I don’t know exactly what I can do to make it better, work is emotionally draining 99.9999999995% of the time and my own mental health always seems precarious.
  3. So, I”m doing fine.
  4. Except, that’s not really true.
  5. I am fighting the good fight though. With daylight savings I can get more outside time and I’m delighted by that. I’ve taken Yappy on an evening walk every day this week. The increased sunlight and exercise is always great for my mood. I’ve started sleeping with my weighted blanket again. Sometimes that added weight, pressure just is so soothing.
  6. I’m really struggling with parenting right now. We have a good medical team. We’re really trying to give Hope autonomy with her care as a young adult. I’m trying to give her structure, but it’s really a lot with everything that’s going on. The issues are just like whackamole; we get one thing under control and something else pops up. Depression is getting better, but now the anxiety is debilitating. I can only imagine what it must be like for Hope. Not being able to find a “fix” is killing me. I really feel helpless and super frustrated. I don’t see this ending anytime soon.
  7. At the end of every day I’m exhausted. I would probably allow myself to get in my bed at 7:30pm if it didn’t sound SOOO early. Sometimes I do it anyway, but days like today…I’m trying to wait until at least 8pm.
  8. In other news Yappy is now using steps to get on and off of my bed; I’m so proud of him. A few months I noticed he was starting to have to work harder to get up on my bed; it’s a big jump. I bought some doggie steps, tried a couple of times to train him to use them. He looked at me like I was stupid. I shrugged and just left the steps there. After a month he started randomly using the steps, just like that–no prompting, no treats, nothing. He just started using them. Now he uses them consistently unless he’s feeling frisky and wants to hop up. If only everything was that easy.
  9. I am supposed to get my second vaccine next week. I’m now able to really count down the days until I can see my parents, who will be getting their second shot tomorrow. Just knowing I will be able to hug them in a matter of weeks nearly brings me to tears.
  10. I still wish I was motivated to write more, especially about parenting and older child adoption. Sometimes I get so frustrated because so much of the adoption conversation is dominated by infant, international and transracial adoption. I really wish more folks were writing about families like me and Hope. There are absolutely threads that are similar, but there are narratives that are different–not better or worse, just different. I often find myself trying to decide if I want to weigh in on posts even though I know the conversation isn’t about older child adoption and I want to hear about those stories and from those adoptees. I’m realizing that I might need to reconstruct my adoption squad. Our challenges never really go away, but I don’t necessarily seek the same kind of engagement and help that I used to seek. This young adult thing is different, and while in some ways it’s hard to remember what life felt like before Hope, it’s only been 7 years. It’s crazy. I just wish there were more folks talking and sharing about this kind of journey. Sometimes it’s lonely out here.

Ten Things on Wednesday: 3/10/21

  • I went to the gyn this morning to talk about this menopause stuff. She was basically like, “That sucks, and sounds like you are doing all the right things. Good luck. #frustrated
  • We took a short family walk this evening. Hope wants y’all to know that Yappy was super cute.
  • She also wants you to know she choreographed a new dance, and she just announced she was going to dance professionally. This is not true. 😂😂😂
  • Yes, we are jointly authoring this post.
  • The Harry & Meghan interview was lit. So much tea. Sad though tho. Racism is a helluva drug. I think they really thought they could control them. Eff around and found out. And just imagine if Meghan wasn’t so fair skinned? They tripped that Archie would come out looking like his Black grandma! I mean… Trash. #basura After the way they did Diana, you’d think they’d know better, but here we are.
  • Hope is still having nightmares; she says they are so sleep disrupting. I’ve had to wake her out of the terrors a couple of times this week. Yeah, it’s still bad.
  • I made baked beans and sausage last night. You would think it was a high end meal the way your girl Hope crushed it with a side of toast. I’ve put another can of beans on the shopping list.
  • I need to find a language coach for Hope. She wants to start studying Korean again.
  • Hope also wants you to know she’s bought a new alarm clock. Cross your fingers that it works for her (and me)!

The Fire

So, this weekend a condo down the hall from ours caught fire.

Yappy and I were sitting on the couch; we’d already been on our morning walk. I was thinking about groceries and planning a nap. I got my first vaccine on Friday, and the only side effect I had was fatigue.

Saturday mornings are notorious for smoke alarms going off around the building. The toaster burnt some toast. Someone’s bacon is extra crispy. Someone’s kid somehow got syrup on the bottom of the oven. I typically tune them out, unless they are accompanied by the building fire bell.

So when I heard a neighbor’s smoke alarm go off, I thought “Oh breakfast is starting.” Yappy had already gone and sat by the door as the alarm was going off.

Then the big bell started.

I cracked open the door, and the hall was full of smoke.

I quickly closed the door, got Yappy on his leash, woke Hope up and rushed her to get dressed and down 8 flights of steps we went. We sat in the car for a little while and watched as fire and EMS showed up. One of my best friends lives in the building next door, so my little family was able to shelter there and watch from the window.

My mind raced.

Would the fire spread? Would the fire door save our place? Ugh, there’s going to be smoke damage. Please Holy Homeboy keep that fire contained. Oh shit the elevators will prob be out for a while. I’m glad I have my purse; I can get us a place to stay. I can get us some clothes. OMG, do I call my parents? I’ll text them. My coat smells like smoke. Yappy’s coat smells like smoke. How bad will the smoke damage be if we smell like this when there’s only about 4 ft between our front door and the fire escape we went down? I need to get on the Target App and put an air purifier in my cart for pick up later. I need to do it now before my neighbors buy them all. Dammit, we could lose pictures and papers. The papers are in a fire box…on the 8th mfing floor. Why did I buy a condo again? WTF was dude cooking?

And on and on. My friend put on a movie while Yappy cuddled up with me and Hope watched the drama from the window. I kept asking if she was ok, and she kept saying she was. I was worried, but she seemed genuinely ok.

The reality was that while the fire gutted that condo and a few others sustained major damage, we just have a funky smoke smell. I left the patio doors open for a few hours and hit everything with the heavy duty Frebreeze and things seem ok. The housekeepers come tomorrow and I suspect that everything will seem just a little brighter once they rid of us the fine layer of smoke/ash that I’m sure is coating everything.

It was scary though, and I found myself thinking about all kinds of things all at once and what I was going to do to take care of Hope and Yappy.

Hope says she was really fine and that she knew that somehow we would be ok. I’m glad that she trusts me so deeply. I was scared as poop, but she’s right, somehow we would’ve been ok.

I took a Monday evening bath *with a face mask* to celebrate that and still having our home.


One Pandemic Year

One year ago, today, I was buzzing around a local hotel with other colleagues making sure that the next to the last day of our annual conference went smoothly. I remember being tired, but excited because Hope was on a bus headed home for spring break. I was looking forward to seeing her when I got home and maybe ordering takeout.

Little did I know that that was really *it* for us, in terms of going out and living free. I had taken a few days off from work to spend with her before she headed back to her small liberal arts college. I ended up working from home full time later that week, while we just assumed that she would be heading back to school in a couple of weeks when this COVID stuff all blew over.

Three weeks later we were packing up her dorm room masked and gloved up.

A week later I had COVID, assuredly contracted during our brief trip to pack up her things.

We’ve both been home ever since.

Hope did have a couple of summer jobs, but quit, in part, because classes resumed remotely in September.

We’d been managing to hold it together until then, but early fall presented an escalation in our struggle. Honestly, things just went totally left in August and it’s been a daily struggle ever since.

Hope experienced a series of traumas related to some decisions that 19-year-olds can be prone to making. Honestly, I made some of the same decisions, as did many other 19-year-olds I knew at the time. It’s just a wickedly unfair world that some of us pay dearly for those choices, while others get skate away trauma-free.

I had to really remind myself to meet Hope where she was and remember what that season of my life was like to be as empathetic as the moment required. It’s easy when you have nearly 30 years more life experience to forget what it was like and how easy it was to do something that didn’t seem like it might have lasting repercussions.

There were definitely days when I failed miserably at meeting the moment, and other days when I nailed it. I’m hoping that Hope shows me the grace I don’t deserve as the years pass.

The hits just kept coming through the fall and into the new year. This kinda lost pandemic year totally wreaked havoc on both of our mental health statuses. The loss of control, the lost freedom, the inability to have the usual levels of family and friend support has been so challenging.

I see a lot of loss ground for Hope in some ways; I see a lot of lost ground for me as well.

My own career soared during this time, but it came a huge cost. In the weeks following the murder of George Floyd, my job and voice was in high demand. There was little time for my own processing of grief and anger. It was mostly a lot of work.

And then after a month or so, a lot of anger and frustration about how folks chose to engage me, how little my own humanity seemed to matter, how much was just constantly demanded of me. I really had to start working on creating boundaries in ways I didn’t have or want to before.

Ten months later, I still trying to create boundaries with almost virtual electronic/barbed wire fencing. I do this in the face of receiving recognition for the work I do within a largely homogenous profession. The wear and tear on me this last year…whew.

Add on how I seem to be sliding into menopause…and I just feel…tired, cranky and crazy.

It’s all hard to describe, but it’s just perpetually feeling off. I’ve got some cream and I’ve upped my self-care game, but I’m headed to the doc this week to just talk about what I can and should be doing during this time to cling to my sanity and to not kill anyone.

This year has been hard.

But it hasn’t all been bad.

Hope and I are probably closer than we’ve ever been. Our parent/child relationship is evolving to a parent/young adult relationship. The biggest difference is knowing that being of legal age means I just have to let a few things go and focus on leaning into the years of trust we’ve built.

Our conversations are different. The gaps in knowledge around life skills are more apparent. My pushing and pulling is not seen through entirely negative eyes; she can tell me how she sees things. We are closer, and I’m hoping that whenever the next new normal lands that we’ll maintain this level of emotional connection. It’s nice.

I have also finally, genuinely moved to a place of acceptance regarding my body. This last decade of my life has featured a number of body betrayals that were just layered on to two previous decades of body image problems. I exercise every day. I try to eat reasonably healthy. I do not deny myself foods that I enjoy. I ride my bike. I walk a lot. I do videos and I invested in work-from-home equipment that would help me maintain some healthy habits.

I wrote some time ago that I really shifted my thinking to what my body can do and how to maintain and expand its capacity rather than focusing on how it looks. Honestly, regarding my body, the last 4-5 months or so have been the most liberating of my life.

I still fight negative thoughts, but they are fewer and far between.

Most of all, Hope sees me being less critical and that means a lot as well. She’s a beautiful girl, and she struggles to establish healthy eating and exercise habits. The best I can do is model them for her.

In total, it’s been a rough year. I don’t know when the pandemic will be “over.” I got my first vaccine a few days ago and I’m excited that I will be able to see my parents for the first time in nearly a year in a matter of weeks.

It will be a while before Hope is eligible for the vaccine. Because she’s unemployed and not in school this semester (much less hardly leaves the house), she’s very low risk and will be at the bottom of the list for the vaccine unless something changes. I’m hopeful that this year brings some better energy to both of us. I hope that we can get back to some version of our old normal at some point this year


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