Monthly Check In: March

Monthly Check In March

So March was a bizarre month…. I question my NYR’s a bit and wonder how they may have been different if I could have possibly known what was coming, but I also think they’d probably be the same.

Continue Practicing Gratitude

I’ve continued with the gratitude jar and it’s crazy how much I look forward to reading all these bits of awesome come January 1st. I’ve also begun a new daily gratitude practice as part of the free Yale course on happiness called The Science of Well-Being. I’m in the black on this one.

Continue Spending Time With Family and Friends

Eek! Well, clearly have not been spending time with friends and the family the way I imagined. I did get my once a month day with my bestie before everything went to hell, but our monthly family meet-up had to be cancelled due to quarantine. What’s interesting is that I’ve continued to be in touch with both family and friends quite a bit more than usual through text. Everyone is being very good about staying in touch, probably because we all feel so out of touch. So while I haven’t maintained the friends and family time the way I wanted to, I’m going to go ahead and say I’m in the black on this one because I have remained in touch as much as possible given the circumstances and because my little immediate family has been spending much more time together.

Continue My Self-Care Regime

Definitely still maintaining here. I continue to sauna three or more times a week, I got my monthly massage in before the quarantine, and I’ve been making time for myself for things like reading and learning. I’m in the black on this one, too.

Spend More Time Outside

We continue with the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge and we’re getting outside for a little while every day. We even went on a few hikes this month to places that have been on my list for years. We spent several hours outside working in the yard the last few days and plan to repeat that tomorrow. We’re in the black on this one, too.

Write for One Hour Every Day

I need to double check but I think I only missed three days this month. All three were due to pure exhaustion and/or anxiety, so I don’t feel bad about missing them the way I should. I feel like they were “emotional health days,” and I give myself a pass.

Submit at Least One Piece for Publication
Each Month

As I said in January I realized this is a better goal for 2021. In the meantime I’ve adjusted the goal such that I’m reading and learning more about publication so that when the time comes I’m prepared. I’ve continued reading books on publishing, writing, agents, etc. I’ve also received a wonderful offer from a fellow blogger to do a guest post on her site and I’ll be looking into that. I’m in the red on my NYR but in the black on my long-term goal.

Read at Least One Book a Month

I finished ten books this month which is AMAZING and partly due to the fact that some of them were begun in other months and only finished in this month and partly due to the fact that there were a few days where we were home quarantined and the baby took his nap allowing me an hour or so to read when normally I’d be driving or doing something out and about. March has put me so firmly in the black on this NYR that I’ve had to expand my Reading Challenge on Goodreads.

Take a Stained Glass Making Class

I still plan on being able to make this NYR happen this year but it’s not entirely in my hands right now. All dependent upon quarantine.


Despite how anxiety inducing and sometimes completely crippling March has proven to be, I’m surprised at how well I’m continuing to move forward with my goals. Not only that, but taking the Yale course on happiness and an OSU course on gardening have been brand new goals added into the mix. I feel like I’m making the best of the situation at hand, and that’s really all I expect from myself (or anyone) right now.

How are you doing on your New Years Resolutions? Are you meeting your goals? If you’re having trouble, take a look at my post on Achievement and let me know if it helps you!

The Farm

The Farm

When she bought the farm she had grandiose dreams of how it would be: growing all her own food and operating a little farm stand out by the highway or maybe running a CSA delivery on the weekends. She’d be tired but happy, dirty and fit, responsible to no one but herself and completely self-sufficient. It was such a naive but beautiful dream.

Looking back on journals from that time, from before she knew what she was getting into, was such a laugh. Such a treat on a cold winter day, her body aching to get back out to the soil and also grateful for a few months respite. She both dreaded and anticipated the first hard snow, eager to have a couple months to read, mend, try new recipes, and come up with new ideas for how to use her harvest.

She loved her life, there was certainly nothing about it that she’d change. But it wasn’t easy. Her mother had once warned her, “I’d never want to be a farmer. So much work and so little reward.” At the time that had made her decision all the more romantic, all the more laudable, all the more magical and necessary and pure.

Even in winter there wasn’t really a “break” from the farm. There were still animals to care for morning and evening, still fence to ride, tools and clothes that needed mending, supplies to order, decisions about planting the next years crops to make, and all the marketing stuff she didn’t have time to do during the growing season. Emails and newsletters and recipes and ideas and thank-yous and and and and….

There was never a time where she sat with nothing to do. Never. In fact, there were times where she’d realize she’d been staring at the fire for twenty minutes, completely lost in thought and she’d begin to chastise herself for the lapse before realizing that twenty minutes had created a truly novel idea. She’d quickly write it down before she lost it and then spend the next hour working on whatever sock needed darning or newsletter needed fluffing all the while the new idea simmering around in the back of her mind.

Her fourth year into the farm was her best yet. She’d finally broken even. She hadn’t made any money, nothing she could say “look, here it is, my profit. I am profitable!” but she also hadn’t lost any money for the very first year. She took this as a good sign and looked back over what she’d done that had made money and what she’d done that had lost money. She did this every year, of course, in a struggle to always do better and strive to make her dream a realistic reality, a sustainable reality.

She was looking forward to her fifth year and had just finished the design for the newsletters, the majority of their info for each month pre-filled and ready to go allowing for her one hour each month of current information (the part her subscribers claimed was their favorite). The weekly emails were also pre-formatted and ready with recipe ideas based on what she knew for a fact would be included in that weeks CSA no matter what, and also with a small space for her to add whatever interesting bit came up that week (again, her subscribers favorite section).

Her subscribers loved that her life seemed so free to them. The stories of the barn cat that moved in from nowhere and proceeded to have a littler of kittens. The rooster she’d decided to let live because he protected the flock from a renegade coyote one day. The goose she lost to a mountain lion after she failed to bring the animals in one night. Even when the news was morbid her subscribers loved it.

She was living the life they all wished they could live, but didn’t really want to live. They just wanted her fresh produce, to know they were supporting her lifestyle, to tell their friends how they personally knew the woman who grew their food. And she was grateful for it. All of it. She worked hard to keep them well fed physically and emotionally.

She spent a lot of time coming up with all the right instructions for bottling your kombucha, dehydrating your own beef jerky, canning tomatoes with an InstaPot. She worked hard to find not only the things that worked but that her clients loved. Some of her clients even tried the things she told them about although most of them again loved the ideas she provided more than the practice.

She would occasionally stop to think about the things she’d given up: marriage, kids, a solid retirement fund. She’d sometimes become nearly paralyzed with the anxiety of these things she’d chosen to miss out on in order to live her dream. But these moments didn’t last long, and didn’t happen often, and as the years went by they became less of a hazard.

And then one day, early in the spring, when it was still too cold to start working the soil but warm enough to be out doing things like mucking stalls, she broke a pitchfork. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, she’d just go grab a secondary pitchfork and continue her chores. But on this day, she’d already broken her main pitchfork and had been using the auxiliary fork when the unmistakable crack of the wooden handle met her ears at the same time as she tried to quickly right herself before falling, all the weight at the end of the handle suddenly gone and all her strength at the other end of the handle still straining.


She’d have to buy another, and it couldn’t wait. She’d be able to fix the first pitchfork with some soldering but that would take time and wasn’t something she could do today and still complete her chores. She’d have to go into town.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

20 Pounds of Rice

20 Pounds of Rice

A little over a month ago, before this whole pandemic thing really gained traction in the US, we were having issues with our youngest having unbelievable gas pain at night. So gnarly that he couldn’t sleep, and neither could we. We decided that much like his brother, he has some food allergies that he’ll hopefully grow out of but in the meantime, since he’s still mostly on the boob, I’d have to change my diet.

To be fair, I’m already pretty strict on foods just because I don’t like the way they make me feel. I’ve read so many books like The Whole 30 and Clean Cuisine and Eat 4 Your Type, and I’ve followed so many of the diets for a minimum of 30 days that I’ve figured out how to make a mesh of all the advice and find the thing that works best for me. Safe to say, I already eat super minimal: tons of fruit and vegetables, no sugar, no dairy, no gluten, and animal protein only once a day.

With the littlest kid having gas though I also cut out soy. Helped but didn’t solve it. So I cut out eggs. Helped but didn’t solve it. So we decided I’d go down to a chicken and rice diet for a month, see if it helped, and then slowly start adding things in until we found the culprit (this is what we did for my first kiddo and it was a game changer). At any rate, we made this decision so I went out and bought the huge bag of Costco rice and a couple packs of the organic chicken thighs (because breast meat is dry and gross y’all) and came home eager to get my littlest sleeping again.

Fast forward three days and I was absolutely miserable. I was feeling headachey and body achey and totally miserable. It was too much protein and despite the fact that I was desperate for the calories, I couldn’t bring myself to eat one more bite of chicken. So we dropped it. I went back to eating my regular way, leaving eggs and soy out, and for whatever reason the baby went back to his normal anyway.

The point of all this is that before the pandemic hit we had an enormous bag of rice and a bunch of chicken thighs that no one was eager to eat. We don’t normally eat rice and don’t miss it. We’ll have it occasionally when we go out for Thai or Mexican but as a daily staple it’s not on our home menu. Now, however, we’ve been going through rice like crazy. We make at least a pot every other day. We have it with breakfast and lunch and dinner. And those chicken thighs are slowly getting cooked up and thrown into rotation.

We’ve been finding clever ways to use food that’s been sitting in the back of the freezer and the back of the cupboard (as long as it’s not expired) and it’s been kind of fun…exhausting but fun. I loathe cooking normally, but experimenting with new things has been interesting. One of the best parts has been learning that I can go to Google, type in the ingredients I have and “recipe” and search and all kinds of ideas pop up. Doing this reminded me that I also have lots of recipes in my head from growing up. Dishes that don’t have exact measurements or list of ingredients but are re-created each time by what’s on hand.

It’s as close to “fun” as cooking has ever been for me. And while I certainly don’t want to do this forever, it hasn’t been the worst part of the pandemic for me personally by any means. Plus it’s led me to find other fun things about food and cooking. One of my favorites is on Twitter, a woman named Kaitlyn McQuin @kaitlynmcquin posts every evening about what she’s having for dinner, but not in a here’s a gorgeous picture of the incredible seven course meal I made way. In fact, quite the opposite. Instead she describes what she’s eating for dinner using the most fabulous foodie words and then breaks down and tells you what she’s actually eating and it’s always something like Pop Tarts or Ritz Crackers with Cheeze Whiz. Absolutely hysterical and totally makes my evening every day.

I’ve also learned that my sister-in-law, perfect in every way like a real life Mary Poppins, is schooled in the way to use things before they go bad. This to me is not only a necessary skill but a skill which I don’t possess and have no idea how to garner. For instance, my mom got a ton of eggs all at once from us because we had stopped eating them. Rather than have any go bad, my SIL figured out a way to make what she wanted to make with them and then freeze that thing so that it can be used down the line. I don’t know what she did but it was much cooler than the advice I’ve read about scrambling the eggs and then freezing them to be re-used as actual scrambled eggs later (cause that sounds gross, although I’ve never tried it so I don’t know).

At any rate, this is the sort of thing that makes me go: yes! I want to know that too! But how do you even go about learning that sort of thing? I suppose a Google search would get me somewhere and then revising that search until I hit the nail on the head. It’s just so odd to have to search for something you want to know but you don’t even know what to call it so how do you search for it?

I miss my librarians.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

Stay Curious

Stay Curious

Some of the good stuff to come out of this whole pandemic: some families are getting closer, some couples are deciding to stay together rather than divorce (I know, this shocked me, too), lots of artists are offering their products for free (NIN say what?!?!), and lots and lots of educational material is now free. It’s a homeschoolers heaven except for the whole being unable to go anywhere or let your kids play with other kids thing.

Anyway, with all this free stuff available I decided to bite. There are only so many times in your life where the things you want to learn are going to be free to you, so even though the amount of free time I have has not changed one iota (I had two kids who stayed with me all day before the pandemic and now I have two kids and a husband who stay home with me all day), I have still jumped at the chance to take two courses that I would be highly unlikely to take at any other time.

Yale: The Science of Well-Being

The first course is one that I didn’t really expect to get much out of but it sounded interesting: The Science of Well Being. It’s originally out of Yale and is supposedly their most popular course. I can see why, it’s all about happiness and why we think things will make us happy that don’t and why even when we know what makes us happy we don’t always do it. In other words, it’s about how we allow our brains to be illogical even when we know better.

I wasn’t really sure what I would think of this course, and I still can’t give it an overall grade as I’m only through the second week of teaching. What I can tell you though is that, so far, it is absolutely fascinating. Totally and completely. I’ve read a lot of books about happiness and seen some Ted Talks and stuff, but this is a really comprehensive course and it’s easy. You can go at your own pace, so if you have six to nine hours free, go ahead and take the whole course all at once. Or, if you’re like me and are lucky to get an hour here and an hour there, take your time.

You have an entire year to complete the course and unless you want a certificate for having taken it, it’s totally free. Even if you’re super happy all the time, I still think it would be a fascinating course. If you’re like the rest of us, mostly happy most of the time, or even someone who gets pretty blue, I think you will get a lot out of it. And if you don’t? It’s better than watching A Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce on Netflix. I promise.

You can find The Science of Well-Being on coursera or through the article link here.

OSU’s: Master Gardener Vegetable Course

The other course I signed up for is a master gardeners course in vegetable gardening. It is being offered through Oregon State University. I am only partway through the very first part of this course so I feel I have no room to say whether or not it’s wonderful. I can tell you that the very teeny tiny bit I’ve done so far is basic and I haven’t learned anything new YET.

Here’s the thing though, I’ve done a ton of gardening. I’ve read a ton of books. I’ve been lucky enough to work with master gardeners on things. So to say I haven’t learned anything new YET just means exactly nothing right now.

If I look at what’s been covered so far, if I had never tried to grow anything before in my life I’d be super stoked right now. The little bit that’s I’ve done so far tells you exactly what to do. There is no rocket science going on. They are literally laying it out for you: do this, then do this, then do this. They are breaking it down and making it so easy that I have to remind myself “it really IS that easy.”

So if you’ve never started a garden before but you’re super into the idea (especially with everyone talking Victory Gardens like this is a war and not a pandemic) I suggest at least looking into the course. If you start it and don’t like it, no big deal. It costs you exactly $0.00

You can sign up for the vegetable course (and other courses, too, I’m sure) here.

Keep Learning. Stay Curious.

I know it’s super hard not to be a ball of anxiety in the corner of your closet right now. I get it. If you don’t like these two ideas for ways to help yourself through this crazy time, there are lots and lots of other ways to keep your brain healthy and distracted. A Google search for “free online learning” or “free online courses” will deliver you a plethora of options. Something is sure to tickle your fancy and then it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump til we’re out of this and on to the next big disaster. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t let the bastards grind you down. Keep learning. Stay curious.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

Beautiful, Fragile, Temporary

Beautiful Fragile Temporary

I woke at 3am to the silence only snow brings. The house had gotten very cold, the wood stove unable to keep up against the chill without someone feeding it every hour. The baby finished his feed and rolled over back to sleep. I got up and peed, fed the stove, watched the snow fall waiting for the wood to catch, the stove to reawaken. The snow was so beautiful, and fragile, and temporary.

Beautiful. Fragile. Temporary.

It seemed a good mantra. It encapsulated how I have been feeling about the world, the people in it, myself.

A stunning blanket of white that makes the sky even bluer, the leaves of the first bulbs popping through the ground so much greener. There have been so many stories of beauty in all this chaos. People singing from their balconies, people assisting others with their shopping, companies and universities and artists giving their products away for free to help people through.

Despite or perhaps because of the beauty, everyone and everything feels so fragile. Anxieties flaring. Even the introverts struggling with the isolation because it’s so forced, so pervasive, no end in sight. The snow had created structures that looked like tatting, like lace or spider webs. Not the typical frost seen on window panes, these were actual structures of snow in between the railing of the deck and the deck itself. Like icicles without the conical structure and dagger-like point. The structures disappeared when approached, unable to withstand the heat from even two paces.

The snow too was thinner that I’d thought and an hour of sun set it all to melting, it was nothing more than slush, completely gone by the end of the day. Like the people dying in record numbers each day.

Suddenly beautiful, fragile, and temporary sounds like a pretty horrible mantra. And the thing is, I don’t much want to feel beautiful and fragile and temporary. I want to feel confident, useful, and strong.

I want to exude confidence that my family and loved ones will survive this thing. I want my sons to know that all is well, everything is handled, there’s nothing for them to concern themselves with here. Play cars, eat snacks, ride bikes in the driveway; you’ll be back to playing with friends at the library and park soon enough.

I want to be so fucking useful that I’m satisfied with my day when I lay down at night. I want to know exactly how to use the produce that’s quickly going bad and that I won’t be able to replace for at least another week. I want to whip up meals and crafts and family dance parties like some mountain mama caricature of Martha Stewart.

I want my strength to radiate from the inside out such that I can not only hold up under all my own emotion but I can show my sons how to hold up under theirs. I want that strength to extend to my physical body such that I can hold my kiddos for hours if necessary as we sway back and forth and look out at the world.

Instead I can barely lift my arms and hands to type. I can barely wash a dish, or take a picture, or smile another smile to dispel fear. Barely. But I do. I wash the dish after letting my husband cook the meal. I take the picture as my husband sleds with the boys. I smile another smile while my husband holds them in his arms. I type my one hour.

Because the thing is, this too shall pass. This thing that is not beautiful or fragile, is at least temporary. This pandemic will go, and those of us who survive will remember how it was handled, how it could have been handled better, what worked, what didn’t. We will carry this knowledge to the voting booths. We will carry this knowledge to the next disaster. Collectively we will exude confidence, we will prove our usefulness, and we will show our strength.

We are currently beautiful and fragile, and this is temporary.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

The Painting

The Painting

She often spent a day each month touring the antique shop. The one near the furniture stores. The one no one ever seemed to frequent because it seemed out of place. It’s nearest neighbor a party supply store. This particular antique shop had the very best prices on things she’d ever found and she often wished she could just find something she actually wanted to buy. After all, it would be lovely to support a place she frequented in order to feel she’d done something with her day, even if it was nothing more than browse.

There was always beautiful jewelry in the wall cases. Jewelry she could actually afford, jewelry that would appraise for much higher than was being asked. Jewelry she would never actually wear.

There were always interesting books on the myriad bookshelves, also for sale, strewn here and there throughout the store. Books with beautiful covers, worn covers, fabric covers. Books she would buy if she thought she’d ever read them, though she knew she wouldn’t. She already had a bookshelf of unread books in her own home.

She would often look at dressers, so many dressers, some oak, some painted to look old, some actually very old, all beautiful and heavy and slightly off in some way. She always wanted to take home at least one dresser, but how many dressers does a woman need? She already had two at home, one that lived inside her closet and one that lived outside. She had nowhere else to put another one, nor any clothes to fill one with. Still She’d look and debate and ultimately not purchase another dresser.

On occasion there’d be beautiful pieces of stained glass or paintings or artwork of some kind. Always things she’d appreciate from afar, perhaps even walk up to get a closer look, but never anything she could see taking up space in her space.

And then one day, just another ordinary day, she’d had her regular coffee and eggs benedict at her usual breakfast spot and then headed over to the antique store, just another day. Only on this day, after having spent the better part of thirty minutes walking through the left hand side of the store and coming up through the middle aisle to begin her jaunt down the right hand side of the store, as was her usual route, she saw something that stopped her in her tracks.

There was nothing particularly special about it. In fact it looked quite like something a grandmother would have hanging in her living room. The sort of thing that’s art but not art. Almost Thomas Kincaide-like. Only this was a barn. A barn in a field of white flowers. A blue sky, some trees, a bird here and there. Nothing particularly exotic or fantastic about it. The brushstrokes a far cry from Monet or was it Manet that did the outdoor scenes? At any rate, it wasn’t particularly anything really. And yet.

She loved the old frame, for the frame was indeed old. Wooden and ornate, not in carvings or decoration really, but not a simple single wooden frame either. The frame was plain wood on the outside band, then green painted wood on an inside band, then another plain wooden band, followed finally by a strip of fabric, before an ultimate thin strip of wooden frame and the painting nestled within. The frame itself was wondrous and if it had held a different painting would have belonged in a museum.

But she was glad there was nothing more than a barn painting within the bygone frame, for she loved the barn. She loved that it looked like a picture of tranquility, much more so than any picture of someone with their toes in the sand at some beach. The barn to her spoke of an age in which people cared for animals, cared for the land, cared for their neighbors, cared for themselves. The barn spoke to her of her ancestors and a life she’d never had to live, had never even heard about, a life she’d be hard put to describe aside from “hard.”

She approached the painting expecting that upon closer inspection it would fail to meet her approval, but finding only that she liked it even more and finding it only thirty dollars she picked it up from the wall and carried it to the cashier.

The cashier had seen her come in every month, had watched lazily and with little interest as she cruised up and down the store, lingering over dressers and jewelry but never purchasing anything. He was thus surprised when she approached with a painting in her hands. He looked at her expectantly, unsure what it was she needed him to know about the painting, perhaps it had fallen off the wall or was damaged in some way. He was even more surprised when he realized she wanted to purchase the painting and was downright flabbergasted when he saw which painting it was.

What in the world would this woman want with a painting of a barn that belonged in a grandmothers home.

He smiled as she left, there was no accounting for taste.

She went straight home this time, rather than continuing on to peruse dressers in the furniture shops, dressers she never bought but always lingered over. She went straight home and hung her new painting in her living room, where she could look at it when she rested her eyes when reading a book or when writing in her journal.

She looked up the painter, just to see what the piece was worth, just to see what she could find out about this painting that spoke to her as though she were an eighty year old woman who hadn’t been raised in a city. It turned out the painter was a man from Missouri, like her father had been, and barns were his shtick. He was quite famous for his barns, and while most of them sold in the thirty dollar range, some went for well over a thousand dollars. She’d never be selling this painting to stock her retirement fund, but that was just fine by her. She liked that it was an investment in herself, and not an investment.

~~~That’s one hour~~~



I know I got out for a walk yesterday but already it feels like I’ve been trapped inside for days, weeks even. It’s all in my head, and it’s all pervasive. This afternoon when the sun peeked through the cloud for a red hot minute and the wind died down from hurricane level to gale force, my husband announced that he was “going outside.” My sons quickly echoed him, the dog, too, jumping up barking his agreement. “You coming?”

I should have said “yup.”

Instead I weighed my need to go outside with my need for five minutes of silence and chose silence. I helped get the kids into coats and kissed smiling faces as they walked out.

I stood for a moment paralyzed by indecision: I have a minimum of five minutes to myself and possibly one hour, what to do? I could paint my nails, something I haven’t done in years but have been jonesing to do for some odd reason (and my nails are wicked short y’all, so this isn’t like a beautification thing, it’s more of a something to do thing). I could continue reading one of the many books I’m in different stages of reading (so many books, so little time). I could journal, something I’ve been desperately needing to do but unable to). I could clean something, our home is a bit of a disaster because no one ever leaves which means it can never get cleaned, and here was an opportunity!

I chose to sit and read.

I definitely should have gone outside. Or gone into my room and done some exercising. Or cleaned something. Anything to get my blood and body moving. Instead I read. And it was lovely. But also, not.

Now I’m restless and feel caged.

I need to hike, despite having done so yesterday. The hike I need is more than yesterdays little mile long jaunt. The hike I need would be two miles one way. A hike with journal and pen and thermos of hot tea. My dog, now dead but very much alive in this vision of my needs, at my side, panting happily. Out to a fallen tree we’re drawn, flopping down against it and marveling at the sky, the clouds, the cold, the birds, the small flowers. I write and write and write, my dog occasionally jumping up to investigate the movements of a squirrel or chipmunk before returning, sneezing his joy at our adventure.

The hike I need exists in my memories. I could re-create the hike. Get the family dog, grab a journal and pen and thermos of hot tea. Ask husband and kids to stay home together for a few hours while mommy has some alone time. This could happen if I ask for it. It might even be a good hike. It might even ease the restless. Still, it would not be the hike of my memories, the hike I need.

My dog is buried under an oak across from the barn. It’s the unofficial cemetery on our property. The previous home owners have a dog out there. We have a goat out there. I suspect the previous home owners have a mountain lion out there, too. It’s as good a place as any to be buried. A beautiful view of a mountain. A cool tree in the summer. People walking past every day on their way to collect eggs from the barn.

I realize this virus has me terrified that everyone I love will die unexpectedly.

My dog was perfectly fine. Fine. Young still, even for a big dog. And then one night he was panting, non-stop panting, and whining. At first I was annoyed, what had he eaten that was disagreeing with him so much and why wouldn’t he just go outside and throw it up, maybe I would have to give him peroxide. After a deep breath to calm my irritation I got out of bed and went to him, pacing. I held his big beautiful head in my hands and put my forehead to his forehead, a gesture of love I also do with my sons but didn’t realize until this moment.

I am trying to communicate telepathically with him: tell me what is wrong.

I begin running my hands along his slender body and suddenly I feel them: masses everywhere. Where did they come from? I had just run my hands along his body the day before, that morning even. Where had all these masses come from? Further inspection reveals that they are not the fatty tissue that sometimes develops on older dogs, the masses that hang off these dogs like golf balls and tennis balls shoved into too tight pockets. These are not fatty tissue. These are cancerous lumps.

The cancer is everywhere.

There is nothing I can do for my dog, not at 10:30 at night with the children asleep and the one needing boob in another hour or so. There are no emergency veterinarians anywhere near us. There is nothing I can do until morning. Only my dog can’t sleep. Can’t sit or lay down. Everything is panting and whining, pain. I ask my husband which of his pain meds is the strongest and he goes to the medicine cabinet and pulls out a bottle that’s been expired for over a year.

A 150 pound man should take one pill. I give my 60 pound dog two.

After an hour he finally lays down and sleeps. The sleep lasts roughly six hours. Then the pacing, panting, and whining begin again. My dog is in pain. My dog who was perfectly fine 24 hours ago is now dying painfully of cancer before my eyes.

And this is why I’m restless and caged today. Because my dog died nearly a year ago after being fine one day and riddled with cancer the next. Because this fucking virus is everywhere and we could already have it and not know it. Because my mom is over 60 and my immunocompromised husband lives with our two kids who are germ farms. Because everyone is fine today but what happens if they start whimpering in pain tonight?

After naming my restless I calm down. After naming my panic and fear I am not quite free, but also not so caged.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

2020 Census

2020 Census

I took the 2020 Census online last week and aside from the major issue I have with the not-so-veiled racism, which I will leave for another time, my major concern right now is that I told the government how many people were alive in my house on the day I filled it out and while #staypositive I hope we all make it to April 1, I also have to say that in all honesty it’s possible one or all of us could be in the hospital by then and…I can’t write it. I can’t. Let’s just say that all four of us better still be alive and well love after April 1st.

Why does this matter?

Aside from my own personal nuclear family, this matters because there are tons of people who have filled out the census or who are going to fill out the census in the next week or so who have since become ill or will become ill from COVID-19 and some of these people will die.

The death toll in Italy, China, Spain, here in the United States…it’s ridiculous. It’s insane. It’s mind boggling. When you find out Italy stopped counting their dead. When you find out Spain turned an ice rink into a morgue. When you find out the United States has literally no idea how many cases of coronavirus we have and yet it could all be over by Easter. (Please tell me you’re not believing that, by the way).

My point is this, and my intention is in no way to minimize the lives being lost or the humanity of this pandemic: how will we know our census is correct?

The census is kind of a big deal.

The census is a major undertaking. It goes down every ten years. It cost $2.6 million to do the census in 1990 and I can only assume it will cost as much or more to do it in 2020. So this is not a cheap undertaking. Nor is it without serious labor. For every census address that is not returned or returned incorrectly or incomplete, actual physical people are sent out to the address.

Wait, what?

Yes. Amid COVID-19 people will be dispatched to follow up with homes that did not complete the census.

The census is a “constitutional obligation,” and therefore there is absolutely nothing that can stop the census from taking place fully and completely every ten years. And you actually want to be counted in the census, you really really do because it allocates funding to your neighborhood and determines your number of seats in the House of Representatives among other things.

We need the census to be complete. We need the census to be accurate. We also need people to contain the spread of coronavirus.

How will we know it’s accurate?

How will the government know that on March 20th there were four people living in 1234 Main Street, Anywhere, USA but that on April 10th one of those people died? And when you take this and multiply it across all the residences that will lose loved ones to this disease across America, how will we know that our numbers are correct?

If we are a nation of 327 million people today-ish and by August we are a nation of 294 million I would say it matters. It matters for businesses, real estate, districting, funding, and those precious House seats I mentioned earlier.

How is the government going to know that I live in one district but my nearest hospital is in another district? In other words, I took my census in city A but my death was recorded in city B. Or will the numbers somehow work themselves out when looked at as counties?

This whole post is depressing and morbid and disgusting and I also can’t stop thinking about it. I feel like I’m missing a major component in all this. I feel like there’s some major A-HA! thing that I should be getting out of this but all I can think of are the people dying. So many people dying.

And we all have to assume it’s an inevitability. We will all get coronavirus at some point. It will be impossible to avoid. We are all just waiting for the hospitals to get to a place where they can handle the influx of patients, that whole flattening the curve thing. So if everything about this is a matter of “when” and not “if” it all becomes a bit overwhelming. And right now I can’t see the forest for the trees (oddly the title of a book I’m reading right now, too).

Help me. What am I missing? How would the inaccuracies of the 2020 Census affect you?

~~~That’s one hour~~~

Stop Saying “Fine”

“How are you?”

Every conversation between casual acquaintances

I am guilty of ignoring my feelings and robotically saying “fine” when asked how I am. It’s a habit. It’s a wall. It’s a lie.

I don’t mean to lie. I don’t consider myself a liar. But we can’t be “fine” all the time…hell, I don’t actually want to be “fine” all the time; what a boring f-ing life.

And yet…

“How are you?”
“Fine. You?” (or “Good. You?” or “Alright. You?” These are all the same lie).

Usually what I mean when I say “fine” is that I either:

  • Have no actual idea how I am because I haven’t checked in with myself, too busy running after kids or running errands or running around inside my head
  • Am super emotional and don’t have the ability to talk about what’s bothering me
  • Am super emotional and don’t want to talk about it

The other day amidst all this COVID-19 business, a friend and I were texting and because it’s texting when she asked me how I was I said “good.” That would be *big eyeroll* fine because we were texting except that it wasn’t fine by any stretch of the imagination because she had just finished telling me a rather harrowing story about how she’d spent the last week under crippling anxiety. Instead of commiserating with her, being honest with her about all the feelings I’m dealing with, I said I was “good.”

Now here’s the thing: I am good. I am.

  • I am unbelievably happy with my husband and my two kids and my dog and the roof over my head and the food in our kitchen and the wood stove that keeps us warm
  • I am lucky
  • I am grateful

Now here’s the other thing: I am not good. I am not.

  • I am terrified every time I cough that it’s coronavirus and I’m going to kill my immunocompromised husband
  • I am certain that we already caught the virus in January when we were all the sickest any of us have ever been in our lives for three straight weeks
  • I’m petrified that we haven’t had COVID-19 but that I’m going to bring it home from the post office when I get our mail once a week or from the grocery store when I break down and go after not going for two and a half weeks
  • I am sad because I saw my mom for the first time in three weeks through her living room window while I stood out in the yard and texted with her
  • I am happy because the grocery store checker I used to see every single week without fail was there today when I finally went grocery shopping. Our eyes met and we both broke into big smiles and we were like long lost friends: how are you feeling? How’s the family? Is everyone being kind? Are you finding time to take care of yourself? etc.
  • I am worried this if our life until August at the earliest
  • I am grateful we live where we can go outside every single day and never encounter another person
  • I am going crazy because half of me needs to be with my babies every moment of every day to ward the virus off of them like some kind of supermama talisman and I also desperately need some time alone to meditate, to hear my own thoughts, to be

The thing is, I could talk to people about any and all of these things, not everybody who asks how I am obviously, but the close friends who ask and really want to know. I could tell them. I should tell them. There is no reason to put up the “fine” lie-wall.

While I’m not using “fine” in a passive-aggressive sense, I am actually being very very passive. Passive in my friendships and passive in my own well-being. It doesn’t benefit anyone when I say “fine.”

I am going to work on this. I am going to actively attempt to tell people who ask how I really am and if I hear myself saying “fine” I plan to catch it and admit that it was a habitual response and untrue.

I want to be fine and good and okay some of the time. I also want to be angry and sad and ecstatic and thrilled and tired and worried and all the feelings. I want to let people in to my full life, and that includes me. I can’t very well say I’m living a full life when I don’t even check how I feel from day-to-day.

So, I’ll start: How are you?

~~~That’s one hour~~~

Our Lives Are Big

Our individual lives are allowed to be big even in a pandemic

The other day an incredible author, roxane gay @rgay, on Twitter posted that this pandemic has been hell on her wedding planning. She then called that small.

My heart broke.

Weddings are huge. For some people their wedding is the ultimate big event of their lives, the thing they’ve been planning in some form since they were old enough to know that people got married. A wedding even on the smallest of small scales can take a ton of planning (and I know this because my wedding was one of the smallest weddings I’ve ever been to and I planned it all myself while pregnant).

Weddings are supposed to be huge, even when they’re small, they’re huge on emotion and beautify and family and friends and love. And here’s the thing, weddings aren’t the only things people are trying to plan for or have to cancel. All over the world people are changing vacation plans (we were supposed to go to Hawaii, my first time, with our family as a celebration of my life for my stepdad, and we cancelled), wedding dates, concerts, birthday parties, bar and bat mitzvahs, quinceaneras…funerals.

A pandemic is a global thing. It can feel so overwhelming. It affects so many people that we begin to feel that how it affects us shouldn’t matter. People begin comparing: yes, my anxiety is through the roof, but really that’s nothing compared to so-and-so whose grandma just died. Wait, what? So someone else had a relative die and that means your anxiety is now small potatoes? No. Wrong.

Our individual lives are allowed to be big even in a pandemic.

Reread it.

Our individual lives are allowed to be big even in a pandemic.


Our individual lives are allowed to be big even in a pandemic.

You do not diminish in importance or scale simply because something outside of your control rages in size and gains importance. This is not a physics equation of conservation of mass. You have every right to feel all your feels right now. Angry? Good. Scared? I feel ya. Lonely? Gotcha. Guilty? Hold the phone. Ashamed? Stop right there.

Take a deep breath. Now, for exactly one minute and one minute only, go ahead and feel guilty and ashamed because your life matters to you. Go ahead and feel it. I can’t make you stop anyway. Plus, once you’ve run through those feeling of guilt and shame they lose their power cause you’ve let them have free reign. When your minute is up, stop.

What would you say to your best friend if they told you they thought their wedding was a small thing, unworthy of complaining about amidst a pandemic? What would you hope your best friend would tell you?

Allow your life to be big. Allow your life to take up space. Allow your life to be loud.

Your life is valid. Your feelings are valid. You can live your life. You can cry about your struggles.

Your life is big.

~~~That’s one hour~~~