Category Archives: Other Stuff

Reflecting on 2021

Well, first of all, whew; I’m glad that’s over! I mean, losing Betty White on the last day of the year was just…unnecessarily mean behavior from the universe.

Last year was a bit of a rough ride for me and Hope. It started with the absurdity of the January 6 insurrection—I can’t tell y’all how many friends and family fretted about our safety. We were fine, but having worked at the Capitol early in my career, my partner at the time worked at the complex. I have many friends and colleagues who work there or frequent the complex. Aside from the emotional proximity–that was some wild White people-ish. My career has been devoted to making this country better and to see what we saw…It was as stunning to me as watching the towers fall 20 years ago.

Hope and I would endure a major trauma just days later that was just…Nearly a year later, it is surreal. I remember feeling guilty, angry, pained, devastated. It took months for Hope to recover as she was already flat down given traumas from 2020. But, as always, she is the strongest person I know. Thinking about the last 2 years, Hope had a rough entry into baby adulting.

And then one day, thanks to a great team, she was better. She got a job, started saving up for a car, and started pushing all kinds of boundaries that left us sporadically at each other’s throats. I’m not going to lie, I spent a lot of time mad this summer. This period also left me with some major trust issues, that I’m just starting to unpack now. I came to realize a couple of things during this time. First, my intrinsic motivation made me behave very differently at Hope’s age. I didn’t *really* cut up until I was out of undergrad and had a home of my own. Second, what boundaries I strode across at Hope’s age was done 2 hours away from home and my parents’ knowledge. It helped me remember that her behavior was delightfully, annoyingly and trust-bustingly normal. I did find solace in that.

I said no a lot at work last year. I hope to do more of that this year. My priorities with work are evolving. I’m fortunate to have a lot of autonomy, but something is missing. I’m not being intellectually stimulated in a way that feels good. The last 2 years have been crisis management. How do you sustain anything when a 2 year crisis is quickly turning into a 3 year crisis? It’s exhausting and doesn’t leave much for intellectual creativity or curiosity. I think I’m busier than ever and bored, really bored. I took a 6 week philosophy course that ended last month and the readings, discussions, they were both hard and invigorating. I also realized that this class was honestly the hardest I’ve intentionally worked my brain since the accident. I turned my camera off and hit mute one night because I was overwhelmed by the fact that my brain “still had it.” I didn’t realize how fearful I was that my capacity would always be affected. Anyway, that’s also how I realized, I was bored.

I took a vacation alone; I recommend it. Hope bought a car. I’m so proud of her. My perimenopause symptoms worsened–like WTH? This is really some trash, but I’m glad my circle is normalizing talking about it; it helps to know your repro-revolt isn’t any more or less weird than your sista friends’ experience. I started a small crochet business making pet sweaters and scarves (for now!). Hope made a big decision about her relationships with her biological family. She also has the most amazing Afro now that her hair has grown out, and the best part is that she finally seems to really love her hair. I was partnered and now I’m single again. I was reminded that straight men really have no clue what BS straight women have to contend with. I really need us to do better parenting and modeling healthy romantic relationships because there are a lot of jerks who didn’t get schooled.

As we celebrated last night, Hope and I talked about our desires for 2022–a return to normalcy, the end of the pandemic, a return to living in residence at college, possibly the sale of our home, companionship for both of us and a trip to Vegas for Hope. Yappy just wants us to never leave him ever again–I really need to start working on that in hopes of getting out of the house more.

It was a tough year, but Hope and I ended it on a positive note–dressed up for homemade pasta, playing Mario Kart with frosted sugar cookies, and Costo’s Bailey’s knockoff.

Happy New Year Peeps. Thanks for rocking with me, Hope, and Yappy for another year.


Ugh 😣

Wrote a whole post about Hope’s refined code switching skills. It was touching. I talked about my own affinity for switching and how I’m at an age when I choose to do less of it. I talked about how we both kinda like being bougie and occasionally acting super proper, even though that colonized AF.

It was good.

And then Google ate it. Said, “Oh girl, you wrote that? That was yours?” while slowly looking me up and down while popping gum.

Technology kinda sucks.

We’re fine, and I’ll try to recreate the post tomorrow. Xoxo


Keeping Up with ABM

I really took the last couple of weeks to get rest. I meant to write. I meant to do a lot of things. Some things got done, others didn’t, and I’m ok with that.

I was grappling with an arthritis flare that forced me to slow down. I don’t like that I was forced to stop and rest, but that rest was so needed. I feel like my vacation was forever ago.

Thanksgiving with the family was wonderful. After two years of being apart, it was such a joy to be with my family in the same spot. It was so soul-filling. I have missed them so much. During the pandemic, I have seen all members of my family individually, but being together was magical. Hope had a great time; Yappy…less so because of the toddlers, but he was a perfect pup.

I’m trying to wrap up the year at work. I’m eager to take more time off and get more rest.

Hope is working her fanny off. I think it’s fair to say she doesn’t enjoy working with the “public” much. People can be awful and the pandemic has really brought out the problematic people. Layer on holiday shoppers and it’s any wonder why folks tolerate anyone else. I try to support her, make sure there’s good food available and home remains a safe place. I also listen to her post-work vent sessions. She’s really adulting now. LOL.

We’re ok, just busy. I promised to be back soon!


This Week in Parenting

Ah yes, the purchase of a car triggers all kind of adulting issues! There is some work that the dealership still needs to do on the car; I made sure it was included in the contract. I’ve left it to Hope to make the appointments to get it done because it’s her car.

Well, you know how adult-adults talk to baby adults? Yeah, that. This dealership has given her all kinds of run arounds all week. Frustrated, she came to me on Thursday to complain (again).

Now, you know how you have to put a bit of bass in your voice to convey meaning and authority? Most 20 year olds don’t have that yet, so, I asked her if she needed “Dr. ABM” to call; she sheepishly said yes.

I dial up the dealership and leave the sales manager a nice, but firm message that this needs to be taken care of immediately and that there will be no more shenanigans from any other departments: Make it happen sir.

It’s such a whole new world for Hope; I forget how much we model things for our children.

Well, the car is getting the last of its work done this week, just as I gently suggested on the phone.

Interestingly, the sales manager didn’t call me back; he called Hope a few minutes later. She laughed afterward because he told her to be sure to tell me that he called me back right away and that things will be handled in short order.

You got that right.

This is just such an interesting time since I am constantly trying to figure out when and how best to help Hope. I want her to feel supported, but I also want her to feel like she can handle an increasing number of things herself. I always feel like I’m practicing one extreme or the other.

I felt like I did ok this go ‘round. I stood back and allowed her to try to handle it; when that didn’t work, I asked her for permission to help.

This parenting thing really does keep evolving.


Ten Things on Thursday: 10/14/2021

  1. I have been wayyyyy too busy this week. I’ve got a work thing on Saturday morning and dang it that messes with my weekend snooze schedule. This past weekend I took a 6 hour nap, got up, fixed dinner, walked Yappy, showered a second time and got back in bed for the evening. Ha!
  2. Hope is doing well. Her arm is healing; she did a really good job with wound care after I did it for the first few days. The dental work is done. She’s got a good schedule going.
  3. I’m still figuring out how I feel about her working retail during the holidays. We won’t be traveling to see our family for Thanksgiving or Christmas because RETAIL. I hate that she very well could end up working on the ACTUAL holidays because CAPITALISM. I hate that things don’t just stay closed so families can do their own thing.
  4. In any case, I’ll be cooking this year and it will be good. I cook a lot more these days, but I still don’t go all the way out. Last year we had lamb chops for Christmas dinner; I think I’ll make that a tradition! Maybe Thanksgiving will be straight up comfort food day. Who really needs veggies any way??? Just kidding southern collards are essential to Thanksgiving. Neither Hope nor I particularly care for turkey, and she wants to consider cornish hens. I could do that. Can you air fry those?
  5. I have not been on a scale in months. Work stress meant that knowing that number could seriously trigger a bulemia relapse and I haven’t experienced a relapse in over a decade. I haven’t much paid attention to my clothes; this WFH situation means a lot of soft clothes. I put on something last night and was stunned by how much my body has changed. Inches are just gone all around my hips and belly. It was a really unexpected win!
  6. Meanwhile, my darling Hope has gained a bit of weight over the last couple of months. I noticed it all along the way, but didn’t say much about it. Her doc was very upset, very! He’s looking at me, “How did you let this happen?” I’m basically like, I cook just about every week. She will eat that and her own special groceries and anything else that’s edible and available. Hope also loathes exercise. I’m lowkey fascinated by her resistance to movement. I don’t workout hard on the weekends, but I’m getting increasingly intentional about my weekday workouts. I do not deny myself anything; I just know I gotta compensate with movement.
  7. Yappy is my steady cuddle buddy. I love this dog. I’m so happy about that; when The Furry One died, I thought I’d never love like that again. The heart does heal, and love comes back.
  8. I’m currently drinking moonshine. It’s so good.
  9. I also just ordered double dipped peanut butter chocolate peanuts from a bulk order place. Chocolate peanuts, the double dippers, take me right to my happy place.
  10. I’m need to go to bed early. Long day downtown tomorrow. It’s legit been months since I’ve been anywhere near my office.

Ten Things on Thursday

  1. Hope is fine after her fender bender. She shook up, but she’s fine. It was a classic case of poor defensive driving; she attempted to “get out of the way” of another driver rather than allowing that driver to navigate on their own. It happens. Of course, now she feels some kind of way because there are consequences to having an accident. I’m not punishing her, but I am making her pay the costs not covered by insurance, like the $500 deductible. “But that’s not fair!” “Surely, you don’t expect me to pay these expenses when you are responsible for the accident.” “But it wasn’t my fault, the guy…he…” “Neither here nor there, you ran into a barrier and damaged the front end of the car that now needs to be repaired.” *pouts*
  2. I am officially burnt out. Work is draining my soul. There is never enough time to get everything done, and there’s always something new to do. I utterly refuse to work early, late or on weekends; I’m miserable enough. I’m certainly not volunteering more time to what feels like an endless black hole. I’m cynical, exhausted, barely able to be professional. I’m just effing over it. My vacation is in 32 days, and I already know it’s not long enough. I’m just blah. I’ve been taking off Wednesdays the last few weeks just to help me get through the week. I end up taking very long naps and catching up on the TikToks I’m too tired or busy to look at the rest of the week.
  3. Is anyone watching The Chair on Netflix? Seems to be the rage with higher ed folks right now. There is an adoption story line embedded. Sandra Oh’s character is a single adoptive mom; her daughter seems to be having some challenges. I’m only on episode 3, but I’m guessing there’s some attachment stuff going on. *Spoiler Alert* I really related to a scene where Oh’s character talks about how her daughter got a raw deal when they were matched; how she falls short all the time and that she’s a mess. Whew, been there. There have been many days where I have told myself I wasn’t good enough, totally messed up a parenting moment or otherwise dragged my own parenting. Was it true? Maybe, but I know those moments feel…overwhelming. I’ll keep watching because I just want to see what they do with that story line.
  4. Remember when I said I was going to log my food and tighten up? Yeah, the logging lasted about 3 weeks. I’m still working out pretty hard (except Saturdays). I’m trying to eat a little more balanced and responsibly. I get so busy during the day that getting lunch sometimes just doesn’t happen. Most days I try to grab some yogurt or some cheese and crackers. I’m still cooking a lot so that Hope has healthy food to eat. She’s got her own eating issues. Her eating is very disordered, but not because she’s trying to lose weight. That said, it’s something I’m keeping an eye on.
  5. Teaching responsible finance to my daughter continues to be a challenge. I got off of the joint account, and not a moment too soon since she’s overdrawn several more times. It’s not that she does not have the resources to cover her purchases, but she her saving behavior is more like hoarding and she’s not giving her self enough to support her regular weekly spending. It’s challenging to offer guidance because its seen as so critical. She’s learning and I want to be supportive, but I also want her to feel good about her choices. I’m guessing we’re back to that natural consequences bit again. She’ll figure it out.
  6. Today is a National Dog Day, so here are some snaps of Yappy looking adorable.
  1. Did I mention that my vacation is 32 days away?
  2. Yeah, so my vacation is 32 days away.
  3. I’ve got another browser open, looking for some new recipes. Why is it that recipe bloggers have to tell you their life story in 87 paragraphs before you can actually get to the recipe? I just need the ingredient list and a general sense of how to throw it all together. If I could find a blogger who just posted pictures and the recipe without the storytelling, I’d subscribe in a minute. Anyway, got any good recipes? We don’t do seafood and we like cheese.
  4. During the pandemic I’ve made about 9 crochet baby blankets. As soon as I finish one, I find out about a new baby or pregnancy. I’ve also made a lot of hats and scarves. I’ve also got a huge blanket for my own couch that I’ve been working on as well. It’s been a really great hobby that makes me feel good to just give away something I made. I love the colors, choosing stitches and edges/borders. I love seeing a project come together and start looking like something. Crocheting has definitely been a part of keeping me together during this wild and crazy time.


It Finally Happened

Hope wrecked my car. Single car accident, triggered by her panicking about the behavior of another driver at a gas station.

Honestly, it was just a matter of time. I rode with her on Friday to run some errands, and while she is not what I would call a bad driver, I did point out a few areas where I suggested to demonstrate a bit more care. But alas…

I’m home waiting for her to arrive since despite minor hysterics, she insisted that I didn’t need to take an Uber to her location.

When I answered the phone, she was in freakout mode and couldn’t really talk. I basically had to say, I don’t care about what happened, are you ok? Is the car driveable? Is the other driver gone? Is anyone there to help you? Do you want me to come?

Yes.

I think so.

Yes.

I dunno.

No.

Ok well, put a little gas in the car and come home. We’ll call the insurance and figure things out.

Seriously, it was just a matter of time.

Here’s what I do know, she might end up buying my banged up Nissan from me. That car has been good to me, but I can’t live like this.

Woooooosa.

“Opens browser to begin looking at cars…”


Things I Learned During the Pandemic

I think I may be more introverted than I used to be. I do miss my friends; I really miss my family. But I also realize that maybe I’m comfortable at home. Transitioning last year was emotionally rough because Hope also came home. I wasn’t used to being home this much; to not taking vacations, to not hanging out with folks, to not always making plans. After 18 months, I’m not only resigned to being ok at home; I’m coming to luxuriate in my home time on the weekends. This may change as fall emerges, and I fight another bout of SAD depression.

In some ways I’ve become more patient, but I feel like my hair trigger temper looms even larger. I just don’t act out on it, but I’m kinda always at a rage level of 4-5 on a 10-point scale. I don’t have a lot of places to put those emotions these days, so I try to do other things. It’s hard; I feel like the pandemic has riled up so many emotions for me.

I am sick of math. I love quantitative research; there are aspects of it that I really could get much stronger in, but I’m a solid researcher. Regularly having to calculate risk/reward probabilities in my head when making plans or going out is exhausting. Each week I head on over to the COVID dashboards on the NYT’s site. I look at my state, my county, the counties where my immediate family lives and where Beau lives. I think about what my own exposure level is—I have to take into consideration that Hope works retail and has a high exposure rate. It the idea of always checking the calculated risk of going out in public. I’m not completely fearful, but I really do enjoy being around a few people and I get to see my parents and sisters and nephews and niece now. I am actually just trying to make sure my risks are low so I can see them whenever I want. But the math…I’m sick of it.

Yappy is the sweetest and most stubborn dog I’ve ever known personally. This dog adores people; his disposition is absurdly sweet. He’s a cuddle bum and is very happy nestled up next to you with a light blanket covering him. And then he also can be this:

This is one of his daily standoffs that we are now known for in the neighborhood. I try to let him dictate the direction of our long morning walk but let me try to deviate from his plan—especially if it’s to something he *knows* he has no business doing—he goes from sweet to rooted in his spot, refusing to move. He’s a whole mess. I’ve also learned that even though I taught him how to use AAC buttons, he really can’t be bothered to use them consistently despite positive reinforcement and behavior modeling. He’s on his own ish. I low key respect him for that.

I’ve learned that my home brewed cold brew coffee is worlds better than Starbucks, even with cheap coffee. I used to hot brew and then ice, but I really like the richness of cold brew. It took me forever to get my preferred ratios together, but now, it’s always perfect. 1 cup of grounds to 8 cups of water. I put it in my brewing pitcher, shake, pop in the fridge for 24 hours. I bought these straining bags—kinda like cheesecloth but made into a drawstring bag. Pour into my regular pitcher through the bag and voila! Dunzo! I was on Keto years ago and the only think I kept was my penchant for using heavy cream in my coffee. I froth it and my daily coffee experience is elevated!!!

I’ve learned that after we really get on the other side of the pandemic, I might have to redecorate. I could stand to update everything. I’m also thinking about getting rid of my dining table and just setting up that space as my home office. I think at this point, it just makes more sense and is a better use of space. I want to paint, maybe get a new couch, buy a couple new rugs, consider wallpaper. I just need to switch it up around here.

I’ve really come to appreciate our mental heath squad so much more this year. I’ve gone to therapy since undergrad, and Hope has required varying levels of mental health care since becoming my daughter. But this year…whew, I feel like we’ve definitely got our money’s worth in terms of therapy, meds management, talk therapy. I know my marbles would definitely be scattered all over the floor if we didn’t have a team in place. This 18+ months have really taken its toll, but they’ve remained a steady part of our lives; I’m grateful beyond measure.

Hope really enjoys my cooking. I am confident in my cooking skills, and these last few months I’ve finally really settled into a cooking schedule for the week. I do a lot of cooking on the weekends and keep more convenience foods for the latter part of the week. I’ve also expanded my recipe repertoire. She eats just about everything. She’s always enjoyed my cooking, but I think she really, really enjoys it now. She loves seeing what I’ve come up with. This weekend, I made beef and cheese empanadas.

I’m really over this pandemic; like really, really over it. I can admit, though, that it really has given me an opportunity to reflect and think about what I’ll take from this experience. I’m hopeful that at some point we’ll get ahead of it and that others will get vaccinate or head to a closed colony or something. I am eager to see what the new normal will be; I’m eager to go to brunch again; to socialize, to just be free with out worry of consequences of someone breathing on me. I’m just ready to move on.


Ten Things on Wednesday: 6/23/2021

  1. There are thirteen days before my stint at the beach and I haven’t been this excited in a long time. I will be so glad when I’m able to travel unfettered again. This staying home things has been tough.
  2. I’m honestly most looking forward to imaginary fishing with my nephew again. He’s upped his fishing game lately. He’s added a laundry basket as a boat to the scheme. I seriously cannot wait to play with him.
  3. Did I mention I was trying to teach Yappy to use AAC buttons to communicate? We’ve been at it for months and it looks like we’re finally making some headway. He definitely gets it, but I’m really focusing on modeling the words for him. We’re focusing on “Pet Me” right now because he loves touch so much.
  4. I can’t believe that Hope will be 20 on Friday. It’s kinda crazy to believe. I ordered a gift yesterday, and I’ve taken the day off to hangout. She’s funny, I asked her what she wanted to do and she said it wasn’t a big deal, just another day. When I deadpanned that I’ll go ahead and work then, she begged me not to. Ha!
  5. Now that she’s working, I don’t spend much time with her. She works afternoons and evenings and sleeps when I’m up and getting into work. I realized that I hadn’t really hugged her in days last night. It made me sad.
  6. I bet you were thinking, Awww, ABM misses spending time with Hope.
  7. You’d kinda be wrong. Sure, I miss hugging my daughter, very much actually, but having true alone time in the house is amazing. I sometimes take during the week baths when shes at work. I do the whole thing: candles, bubbles and bath fizzies, a cool beverage and an excessive amount of time on Insta and Tiktok.
  8. I can’t believe I got on tiktok, really. I don’t ever see myself posting anything, but the short video format is great for my attention span these days. I seem to have a well curated For You page and there is something that always makes me laugh from my belly.
  9. I went to the gym for the first time for the first time in almost a year and a half. I’m really proud that I avoided the COVID30 this year. I have fluctuated about 7 lbs up or down, I call that a win. The gym was ok; it still felt weird; I’m trying to get some of my old pre-pandemic routines. I’ll try to go a couple days a week going forward.
  10. It’s been almost 4 years since my head injury. It’s been on my mind a lot this week because ever since the accident I experience a severe bout of photosensitivity around the summer equinox. Something about the angle of the sun bouncing light to my eyes–it feels like my brain is overwhelmed and my eyes hurt. The only relief is dark glasses and closing my eyes–preferably both. The experience lasts 3-4 week, and it’s awful. It’s worse in the evening–which is what drove me back to the gym. I can get a good workout at home, but I needed a change of scenery. I prefer to walk outside, but in the evenings it hurts my eyes and makes my brain feel wonky. Anyway, I’ll be the one with the granny glasses on for the next couple of weeks.

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.


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