- Today I breathed. It’s not that I think Biden/Harris will solve all the problems, but I certainly don’t think they will cause as many as we’ve seen during the last administration.
- Watching VP Kamala Harris take the oath of office with Justice Sonia Sotomayor with my daughter this morning was…amazing. #RepresentationMatters
- I can’t really describe the relief I felt watching the Troll in Chief and Troll Barbie take flight and disappearing.
- My only sadness is that I couldn’t take Hope down to the mall to watch it in person. Don’t get me wrong: inaugurations are cold (it flurried here this morning) and usually crowded, but the energy is amazing. It’s actually very cool and super patriotic.
- Did y’all see Michelle Obama and that guy she’s married to? (I love him too.) My gawd that woman is gorgeous. The hair, the outfit, the lashes…the gorgeous former president. I live!!!
- I really needed today. It’s like a bright spot in a dark time for me. The pomp and circumstance! The lofty, aspirational charge of it all. The hope. I needed it really badly.
- Things around here are still precarious. I’m still fighting burnout. I’m still trying to prop Hope up in the midst of new traumas.
- I think I’m going to tackle my front closet and my bedroom closet. They are both a disastrous mess. I was always taught that your closets are a reflection of your life, and well, those 2 closets are a disastrous mess. I’ve been consciously avoiding them for months. I know that tackling them will help.
- I also need to do some purging. Things feel really cluttered around here. So, stuff has to go. Of course I’m also still shopping for a new low profile treadmill; so part of my motivation is to make room for new ish.
- I’ve been really trying to be more introspective right now. I’m honestly feeling a bit lost. Motivation is low. I slap on a functional face on workdays and feel like collapsing after 5pm. I really have not experienced these feelings in a very long time. I don’t like it, but I’m fighting through.
- 2021 is shaping up to be a trashtastic year already.
2. We’re only 13 days into the year, and I swear it feels like it should be like May 2021. This year has somehow started counting in dog years or something; I’m convinced of it.
3. I’ve concluded that I might be fully gray by the end of this year. I’m ok with that; I figured it was going to happen anyway. And now that I’ve found a good temporary color hair wax, I can switch up colors at will. #brightside
4. Parenting is hard work. Parenting during a pandemic coupled with ongoing social unrest sometimes feels like insanity. I’m glad that Hope is much older; I really don’t know how you guys will littles are doing this.
5. We still struggle with Hope’s lack of impulse control; this weekend that issue tipped off a series of really awful events that will ripple through our lives for a really, really long time, quite possibly forever.
6. And I’m exhausted, and frankly over everything. I’m appreciative of friends who are checking in on us and on me and making sure I am getting the support I need through the latest upheaval. It’s hard to even articulate what I need right now. I’ve made sure that the standard supports are in place, but honestly, it’s like my mind and short-term memory have just checked the eff out.
7. So yesterday I made a huge batch of mini cupcakes. They are specially infused cupcakes in little mini portions. That was a highlight of my day, besides eating a cupcake with a
tumbler glass of wine after the workday was over.
8. Tonight, we’re having mac and cheese with brisket for dinner. A friend in TX sent us a lovely gift of TX BBQ. I’m going to put a bit of butternut squash in the mac and cheese to make up for the fact that there will be nothing green anywhere nearby. I need comfort foods, and I need it now.
9. I’m thinking of taking a short leave of absence from work. I am realizing that a) I’ve got a lot going on, b) my own mental health is starting to get sketchy, c) Hope needs more of me than I’m probably capable of providing despite the fact that we’re both in this house 24 hours a day and d) I’m starting to feel like I’m not quite burnt out, but my edges are pretty crispy. Not my hair edges, they look marvelous.
10. I want to spend all day under my weighted blanket looking at Italian greyhound reels on Instagram. I’m not sure how I tripped down that rabbit hole, but they really do crack me up. Oh and did I mention I also feel like failing at pet parenthood because I pulled a tick off of one of Yappy’s toes yesterday that, by its size, clearly had been on him for a few days.
We’ll see if I can keep up with this 10 things bit! 😊
So, a week in and I swear I’m ready to already write 2021 off.
Unless you live under a rock, you are aware that the US Capitol was overrun this week in a coup attempt.
Many moons ago, I worked on Capitol Hill in the House of Representatives. I was there for a little over a year as an intern, working for a member from a district similar to the one I grew up in. I primarily worked on tobacco and education policy. It was a plumb gig, as the special assistant to the president of my university recommended me for the position. It was only supposed to be for a semester, and it lasted a year.
I also interned on the Hill for a House Committee chair during my second year of college.
I went on to be an association lobbyist for nearly a decade, spending many days on Capitol Hill meeting with staff and Members on topics in my portfolio.
There is a certain mystique to the Capitol complex. There are tons of tunnels connecting all the buildings. Hidden doorways and chambers, a little subway on the Senate side. There almost always a bustle of people coming and going. Security is always tight; you had to go through metal detectors long before 9/11. There were places where you lowered your voice, more out of reverence than anything. It’s a special place; its representative government live and in real time.
There were lots of things I hated about working on the Hill, but I never forgot how fortunate I was to have been able to work there—It’s a place where careers are made. I often thought of the enslaved people who helped to build the complex and what their spirits must think about me being in that space. It gives me chills.
So, to see people literally climbing the walls of the Capitol building was really emotional. I have friends and colleagues who work there. My current beau works there. To see the space desecrated in ways that really were unthinkable was hard personally, but as an American—yo, WTF.
The news didn’t report how some of these folks urinated outside of offices. There are only a few pictures of the largely Black and brown custodial staff who had to clean up the horrendous mess folks left. They didn’t talk a much about how security rushed to save Members of congress, while staffers where left trying to barricade themselves in offices under siege. I saw staffers tweeting at their bosses in hopes of checking to see if everyone was ok.
And then of course there’s how easy it was for the Capitol to be overrun. Last summer, most of downtown was boarded up because of fear of possible damage to property. My office building has pretty much been boarded up since June given all the protests that have taken place. During the summer tanks and other military vehicles were all over downtown DC. It reminded me a lot of what it was like in the city right after 9/11.
But not this week. The National Guard didn’t get called up until well into the afternoon. Images show that insurgents were treated with patience and kindness throughout the afternoon. There’s lot of video and audio of these terrorists threatening and harming police—so I’m guessing all that Blue Lives Matter stuff is out the window. There is literally no explanation other than giving emotional White folks the benefit of the doubt that wasn’t afforded to protestors who just want law enforcement to stop extrajudicial killings of Black and brown folks. If you know DC, you know this is true.
Even the arrests in the aftermath—what around 20 people? And I’m supposed to feel some kind of way about that? Do you know how many hundreds, and nationally thousands, of people who were arrested during BLM protests last summer? In protests about extending oil pipelines through reservations and sovereign Native property a few years ago? The juxtaposition is hard to swallow.
I watched coverage of what was happening with Hope, who concluded that if this came with adulthood, she didn’t want it. I wonder how all of this will shape her ideals about democracy and participating in it.
Lots has already happened since the coup attempt, and I’m hopeful that this country will get it’s ish together, but Wednesday was a hard day to endure since then.
In the meantime I’m still going to be hunkered down right here until at least after the inauguration.
Each year I do a vision board. I have it blown up and I keep it framed in my bedroom so that I see it daily and am reminded that there are things to do.
My 2020 board included things like evolving my parenting now that Hope is in college, chasing some adventure, self acceptance, health and as always love.
How does the meme go?
How it started…It was to be a year of great promise.
How it ended…It was a year of survival.
COVID-19 pretty much took a wrecking ball to the year.
Hope is currently not enrolled in school, and I’m back to daily, active parenting. Just when she was becoming more social and connected, everything was cut off. It all made her really vulnerable, and just like that trouble found her. It’s been really hard dealing with the fallout of the summer’s drama. The pandemic made it just that much worse—there are so few outlets for having any sort of social connection.
Adventure? Well, going to the grocery store became an adventure. Going anywhere became an adventure. I feel like my world just closed in this year. In January I was counting down days to a trip to Israel in March, but instability in the region made my travel buddy want to cancel. We rebooked and planned a trip to Costa Rica, but then COVID hit and our trip got postponed to November. November came, along with a surge in cases, and Costa Rica was cancelled. In July Hope and I took a day trip to see my parents. That was a highlight for the year.
My vision board has hiking and relearning how to swim on it, meanwhile the pool never even opened. Adventure finally came about two months ago when I decided that we would start visiting local farms in the area. It was fun, and I have a lot of jam in my pantry now. It was wonderful having fresh pressed cider and fresh picked collard greens. I will likely sign up for a CSA in 2021 so that I can be sure to keep the goodness coming.
While I’m grateful that I found small ways of creating adventure, I’m sad that my world shrank in so many ways.
I have had a lot of time to think about what I like and dislike about myself. I’ve also had a lot of time to remember that Hope watches and learns from me. I have been able to make a lot of progress on self-acceptance. Listen, I’m not saying I’m “there,” but I’ve at least switched my thinking from focusing on my looks and size, to focus on what my body can do and what I need to do to make sure it is able to keep doing those things. I lost about 20lbs this year, most of it in January-March, but have largely kept it off. I walk every day. I’ve managed to increase my daily steps substantially. I cook more.
But I also still make a cake every 4-5 days; I still eat too much sugar, I still haven’t mastered hydration and my coping mechanism when it comes to consumption is still…an issue. 😊
I’ve been fortunate that I didn’t take a financial hit this year. I’m grateful for that. It’s meant that I’ve been able to keep debt low and afford some things that have made quarantining more comfortable—more streaming subscriptions, a new electronic standing desk, and some other odds and ends. I’m now contemplating some updates to the kitchen and my bathroom. I mean, if I’m going to be hold up here indefinitely, I probably should make it pretty and comfortable.
The flip side is that this has been one of the most challenging years of my career. The emotional toll is heavy. Dealing with rampant White supremacy in the midst of a pandemic is draining. The murder of George Floyd will be with me for a long time. The fall out has changed the way I think about the work I do, the pleasantries that I’m sometimes forced to engage in, the patience that I’m nearly always in short supply of. And watching some folks just fade back into racial oblivion is…toxic, yet to be expected during the best of times.
It’s been hard.
And love? One of the great loves of my life passed away in January, Elihu. I miss him every day. I wonder what I could’ve done to change the course of our relationship, even though I know my ending it was the right thing to do at the time. The loss of E came on the heels of losing another one of my great loves just the year before. Dating this year was trash. I am seeing someone, but I know it’s not a great fit for me, so I also know it has an expiration date. What can I say pandemics…#shrug. I’m hopeful that maybe I’ll make a meaningful connection in 2021—not meaningful like the Match commercial with Satan and 2020, but meaningful nonetheless.
But I suppose there are some bright spots.
- I survived my own bout with COVID early in the year.
- Hope had two jobs for a while and was really good at them.
- Yappy is much more affectionate with Hope, even if he is primarily still very attached to me.
- I managed it all without completely falling apart.
- I deepened some of my friendships.
- I did a lot of writing and creating, though not in this space.
- I found another level to my voice regarding diversity at work.
I’m also super conscious of the fact that lots of folks would trade places with me in a minute during this crapshoot of a year. Hope and I are fine. I would give my left foot to hug my mom and dad, see my sisters and snuggle my niece and nephews, but I guess I’ll settle for waving on camera. In the grand scheme of things Hope and I are very fortunate to be comfortable. Our families have not suffered any losses. We are able to afford what we need and largely what we want. We have each other and Yappy.
I have no idea what my vision board will look like for 2021; right now I just want a giant picture of OUTSIDE, but I’m guessing I should be more specific.
Merry Christmas folks.
I know I have stopped writing as frequently. I hope to really embrace writing again in 2021, but this year my brain was already at max cap.
Anyhoo, we are surviving. Some days are better than others, and this time of year can be emotionally challenging during regular times. I have enjoyed a lot of downtime this week and still have another week off. I really needed this time, and Hope has needed me with fewer distractions.
So about this robe… About 5 years ago we were picking up some things at Walmart. Hope spotted these robes and beelined to them. She played in the racks; she rubbed the robes on her face. She begged for me to buy her one.
I scrunched up my nose. This robe was cheap velour with a front zipper and a nehro collar.
In short, it was your grandma’s winter house coat. I was like, “Um that’s kinda old for you. It’s kinda a granny robe.”
Hope saw something different.
She saw luxury.
She saw comfort.
She saw functionality.
So, I bought her one. And she loved it. She’s asked and received a new one every Christmas since. Two years ago, she was so delighted, she slept in it on Christmas Eve.
This year, none of the local stores carried the robe. I snagged one on the website. As it does every year, the new baby blue version has brought her immense joy.
Shared with her permission and urging… Because she’s proud of her granny robe. Her college friends even *call* her Granny! It’s a whole persona.
She’s already posted on her own socials. I’m amused that at 19 she still loves this robe so much. It’s very much become a part of our holiday tradition!
Now we’re watching The Christmas Story–the Muppets version. 😂😂 #mychoice #ihatemusicals #butlovemuppets
Have a great holiday for those who observe and for those who do not, may your take out be delicious! ❤️
Hope and I have always talked. She tells me just about everything, and since she can’t keep a secret or lie well, I’m pretty sure of that. I’ve mastered the non-judgmental face while sometimes I scream on the inside; BTW, there’s been a helluva lot of screaming in 2020.
I’ve also always been open and honest when it came to discussing sex. I committed to having a sex positive home very early on. Now there are times when that’s been especially hard, really, really hard. But sex positivity remains the goal. Too many kids don’t get the chance to ask open and honest questions about sex, the feelings, the challenges, the ups and downs and the values I have around it. Parents often say they’ve taught their kids about sex, but they focus almost exclusively on the values associated with it, rather than the mechanics, the more detailed body stuff that we tend to learn either from friends or trial and error. I have always wanted Hope to know she can talk to me about sex; I want to be the first stop for inquiries! And I don’t claim to have all the answers; sometimes I have to say, “ya know, I don’t know the answer to that. Let me research and get back to you.” And then…I do.
Anyhoo, with COVID and the trauma of 2020, Hope and I only have each other day in and day out, we talk a lot and really substantively. And we talk about EVERYTHING.
Even when it’s awkward, I think, “wow the fact that we are doing this, talking like this is really mind-blowing.” I can’t even imagine my parents having some of these kind of chats with me at her age. Heck I don’t see us really having some of these chats at my current age and I’m pushing 50. It’s just not done!
This week Hope brought up some very specific questions and concerns that left me thinking….
Seriously, in the moment, I plastered on my “Oh this is totally normal” face and thought, “This is a wicked time for me to fast from alcohol cause I really need a cocktail.”
I allowed for a long pause, thought about how I’ve handled this issue in my own life, and then I made some recommendations. What I recommended shocked even me to be perfectly honest!
And it’s kinda got me really in my head. Not because I question the decision to make some pointed recommendations, but because these conversations really force me to confront my own hang ups and insecurities. I’m realizing that I’ve really got some stuff to unpack on my own, you know? #morestufftodiscusswithmytherapist
I want Hope to have a full, loving, meaningful relationship with herself, her body and hopefully one day a partner. Heck, I want that for myself too. It’s so taboo to talk about these things, and I feel especially so for women of color. I want Hope to know that how she loves herself directly influences how she looks for love externally. It took me way too long to learn that.
So, we’ll keep talking, and with this pandemic, all anyone around here can do is talk.
So, what does sex positive parenting look like for you?
It’s been over a week since I totally lost my ish.
I’m better now. We’re better now. Therapy has kicked in and meds are fully on board. I’m making moves to reduce my schedule for a month or two so that I can devote more time to caring for Hope and caring for me.
The weekend I lost it…my own depression was spiraling after months of holding it together. I took a few days off from work, slept a lot and just worked on getting it together. I also announced to Hope that I was going to take some control of some decisions about her care-taking and treatment. We both needed some stronger interventions.
I also took some time to unpack what really sent me over. Originally I thought it some off the cuff comment Hope made during our afternoon walk, but I was already pretty far gone.
My niece was dedicated that morning, and Hope and I watched by zoom. Baby G is adorable and it was such a sweet event. I missed my nephew’s dedication due to a work event a couple of years ago. It would’ve been nice to have witnessed it in-person, but you know, pandemic.
Anyway, during the dedication prayer, I just cried. I’m emotional by nature, but this was a trigger.
Hope deserved a dedication. I deserved it. My family deserved it. This ritual is something our family does and my old church denied us all the ability to do it, to witness it. And Baby G’s dedication brought it all rushing back.
And the grief was fresh all over again.
There are so many things about adoption that are absurdly complicated, full of loss and just, well, sucky. For us, the dedication was one of those things. Long story short, my old church couldn’t seem to figure out that families of older kids who are adopted need religious rituals too. For me it was something that was important, something that would keep me connected to church, something that would bind my new little family.
Hope and I bonded without the ritual. But my connection with organized religion essentially died after that. Hope and I attended a Unitarian church for a couple of years and if we feel the need to go to church, we will still visit that church. Aside from that, I essentially quit church.
I still am a believer, and quitting “church” meant that I could really and without apology embrace all tidbits of things I believe outside of traditional Christianity. In some ways that has been freeing, but the reality is that I miss the ritual of it all. Of course, watching the devolution of American Christianity over the last few years has done nothing to renew my interest in rejoining a church, but I do miss the ritual of church.
All of my feelings about church resurfaced during the dedication prayer while Hope was sitting watching next to me. It was a lot and it hurt. I was already stressed, I was super tender and when Hope mouthed off later I. Was. Done.
I just went down the drain.
So, now my therapist and I are gonna spend sometime working through my feelings about faith and church. There’s a lot of unresolved stuff there, a lot.
But I’m aware of it, and that’s part of the battle. For now, I’m ok. Hope’s ok. And we’re thankful for another year as a family.
Everyday I set a couple of small goals for Hope: help me with making dinner, going for a walk, showering and getting dressed. It is not easy, but most days we achieve one or two goals on the path towards healing from the trauma of the summer and early fall. Naturally, some days are better than others, but there is an element of “pulling teeth” to everyday.
This week I acknowledged to myself that juggling work full-time and a heightened level of care-giving is hard. Actually hard is an understatement. My job takes its own emotional toll on me, and this year that toll has been extraordinarily high. Racialized social unrest in a pandemic during an election year is like the worst of the perfect storms for folks like me who do diversity work. I usually am able to compartmentalize some things, but this year–really where was I going to compartmentalize my own emotion? Under the kitchen sink? I upped my therapy to weekly, figured out my preferred strains of cannabis that would help me relax a bit and cope and increased my exercise. I knew that my rope was frayed, but I felt like I wrapped around a little duct tape and was able to keep going.
Then things hit the skids with Hope, and everything has felt like a house of cards built on a seesaw for a couple of months now. At first I could busy myself with the immediate task of pulling together the medical and mental health teams (part of which involved securing a new psychiatrist who does not take our insurance). I’m actually not bad in crisis–I can clearly identify what needs to be done, so I got to doing those things.
Work continued to be demanding, and I began making a cake nearly every 4 or so days because: EATING MY FEELINGS. I tried to pull back on a few projects, and set better boundaries. My evenings became devoted trying to cook better meals, spend quality time with Hope and Yappy and trying to create some sense of normalcy in the midst of what is becoming the worst time in my life.
My own light began to dim a couple of weeks before the election. The idea that that Orange Demon could possibly win began to set in, and I had a harder time managing my anxiety. I took up crocheting a few months ago and I just started trying to focus on that. The COVID cases began to rise and the hopes of visiting my family for Thanksgiving started to fall. I started baking, crushing chicken figures like I was a toddler and throwing myself into dealing with Hope’s challenges. I started feeling just too tired to get my 13.5K steps everyday. It became hard to answer any phone call that wasn’t work related. I tried to pull it together. I bought a new desk, since it’s clear I won’t be in the office anytime soon. I became consumed with rehabbing an office chair I bought second hand (I ended up just running out to buy a new chair this morning), Amazon started making more frequent deliveries as well.
I could and can feel my depression and anxiety is at an all time high; I also feel like there was and is pitifully little I can do about it.
Hope began to make baby steps forward on her journey, and that was the only bright light.
And then both of our bad days collided. On the weekends, I try to plan several activities to get us out and about (safely of course). Last week we went to a farm and did some shopping. We got some fresh fruit and veggies, fresh pressed apple cider, jam and honey sticks. Everything was delicious and it set us up for a few good eats during the week. Hope wanted to go back this weekend, but I found another farm for us to visit that had more things (fresh ice cream!) to enjoy. We’re supposed to visit today.
But yesterday, I struggled. I keep crying for no reason. I was fixated on the stupid office chair, and I was furiously crocheting Yappy a 2nd new sweater. I
was am emotionally exhausted, which makes me feel physically exhausted. Yesterday’s goal was to go on a short family walk. The walk happened and the walk was a disaster. By the time we returned from the house, I just felt like giving up on everything.
I didn’t cook.
I didn’t fold my laundry.
I binged watched Fargo.
People called, but I could barely talk.
I sporadically cried.
I tried to nap, but couldn’t.
I air fried half a bag of tater tots and ate the left over cake and a bunch of chocolate covered peanuts because yum.
I finished Yappy’s sweater (Bright side: he looks very handsome in it).
I sat and just looked into space.
Today, is not much better. I do not feel like dealing with anything or anyone, sadly not even Hope or Yappy. I am disgusted that there are no more chicken fingers in the house–yet I also know I’ll be disgusted if I ate more chicken fingers. There is not more cake which means I need to make some, which is energy I don’t have. I know I can make a mug cake but it’s not the same. It’s mid-month and I need to pay bills, which frankly enrages me for no apparent reason other than hating the exercise. I still don’t have the energy to talk to anyone, even when I know it will help. My gout has flared because I’m eating poorly, so I hurt and I have no one to blame by myself, and well the Holy Homeboy for allowing me to have gout.
Oh yeah, I’m in deep. I *know* I should get Hope up and I know I should try to achieve the small goals, but real talk: My tank is empty and even the fumes are gone. I got nothing, and that’s hella problematic because Hope really doesn’t do well when I lose my shit.
And my shit is definitely gone today.
So because I’m the super fragile one today and I’m also the one who has to keep this boat from capsizing, I’m taking the day to just wallow.
My coffee is currently in a wine tumbler. I’m about to eat some buttered bread for breakfast. I’m going to take a shower, put on some comfy fleece and crawl under my weighted blanket. I might go for a walk at some point, and I might even stock up on more chicken fingers. I’m putting some butter on the counter for later, so I can make a cake. And I will make the Tikka Masala I was supposed to make yesterday, if for no other reasons than 1) the chicken might spoil and 2) I bought fresh naan yesterday and I don’t need the guilt of eating it without the dish.
Yeah, we are both fragile over here.
I live for rest time on the weekends. The number of Zoom meetings I have during the week exhausts me. By Friday evening I just want to go to bed immediately after logging off.
These days the second shift really starts after work as I try to help Hope work towards some sense of normalcy after the summer drama. I try to spend a few hours of quality time with her and try to get her up and around a bit. It’s not easy, but we’re getting better at achieving a few small goals everyday.
This weekend I was determined to get us up and out to enjoy the gorgeous 80 degree days. Yesterday I got us up and out to visit a farm to do some good shopping: fresh pressed cider, apples, tomatoes, honey, and jams. Then we got Whole Paycheck for a sorbet Hope had been wanting to try. Then we headed home to watch Lucifer on Netflix while I made a dog sweater for a colleague.
We celebrated the election results, and enjoyed a special moment watching VP-elect Kamala Harris give her speech. Gotta say, watching that speech with my daughter was something I will never forget. For me it was reminescent of Obama’s first term and all the emotions I felt then.
Today I’ve been up since about 3:30am when Hope’s early morning insomnia antics disturbed my sleep. Since then I’ve been on the move, cooking, cleaning, bathing Yappy, finishing the dog sweater, returning Amazon items, shopping for new sheets, meal planning, reworking a slide deck for a workshop I’m conducting tomorrow, cleaning the kitchen a second time, and do on and so on.
I’m finally sitting, noshing on some reheated chicken fingers, thinking about just crawling into bed. I’m so exhausted.
And tomorrow, the rat race starts all over. I’m taking some time off later this month and a couple of weeks next month. Of course that means nothing tonight. This adulting thing is so dang hard.
Yesterday, on the long back from the farm, Hope asked me what were the top 5 things about being an adult… That weren’t material. It was one of the best and most challenging questions she’s ever asked. I talked about learning about myself, learning to be authentic, the joy of constantly learning, the freedom to do most of what I want with little consequence, and then Grammy called and I was spared from coming up with the final reason.
The exercise really did make me think hard about my own life and how I want to encourage Hope to keep pushing forward. Adulting is hella hard; it’s great but it’s really hard. Hope sees that and her first brushes with adulting have made her rethink independence all together. I low-key don’t blame her some days.
This is another busy week ahead, another week of adulting and another week of nudging Hope towards the same. Wish us luck