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Archive for the ‘Chief Complaint’ Category

It snowed last night! Our first Real Snow of the season! Woo hoo! So I’m feeling chatty.

I suppose this is just a regular old Friday randomosity, dressed up in slightly different clothes.

Being a Parent Sometimes Means Forcing Your Kid to Go to School Crying

Hoo boy we had a rough start to the day. Poor Carla woke up on the WRONG side of the bed. And, oh, how I empathize. That feeling of dozens of little angry crabs, skittering all over your skin and clamping their tiny sharp claws into your brain, is so familiar to me, and I have dealt with it hundreds of times over the years and STILL don’t know how to get through it without snapping at my husband and/or feeling wounded by any tiny slight and/or wanting nothing more than to climb back into bed and start over. But for Carla, it’s still a new experience. She just doesn’t GET cranky, and so it’s been a long time since she’s felt this way and she hasn’t yet figured out how to cope.

I tried to be empathetic – validating her feelings, lots of hugs, keeping my own frustration in check (we left the house TWENTY MINUTES LATE) – but matter-of-fact. Being cranky happens, and it feels rotten, and nonetheless we all have to go on with life and do the things we have to do. I tried to suggest some strategies for getting past the yucky feelings. (I tried not to sigh too loudly when she rejected them all.) And then I dropped her off at school, even though she was tearful and upset, and I am hoping hoping hoping that her day only goes up from here.

Okay, despite my anxiety about being That Mom, I sent an email to her teacher just to check on her. (Not sure what I will DO, if her teacher says she is still crying… go get her? That seems like both the Wrong Lesson and the Right Thing to Do.)

Cleaning Before the Cleaner Arrives, Helpful or Ridiculous?

One of the reasons Carla was cranky (I think) is because I gave her a Hard Choice this morning. She was supposed to tidy her bedroom and her bathroom last night, in preparation for the housecleaner. I reminded her twice. I asked her whether she’d done it, and she said yes. But then, well after she was asleep for the night, I had to go into her bathroom for something and discovered that she had NOT tidied the bathroom. The opposite, in fact: sodden Barbies lying facedown on the bath mat, a full Barbie swimming pool in the tub, toy catalog on the counter, hair ties and rocks (yes, rocks) on the floor, pajamas wadded up in the corner. I know that some people who have housecleaners believe that the housecleaner can handle stuff like this. And I’m sure our very capable housecleaner could. But it is my view that time spent tidying – especially tidying away toys and things whose homes you may not be aware of – takes precious time away from the CLEANING. For me, the value of the housecleaning is in the scrubbing of the toilet and the scouring of the bathtub and the mopping of the floor. Some people in our house may disagree but I FIRMLY AGREE with myself on this point. So Carla’s bathroom door has been shut tight and the housecleaner has been instructed to stay out, and Carla will be getting some hands-on experience with what I mean by TIDYING vs CLEANING because she will be doing both.

Okay, so I also gave the microwave a quick swipe (there was a Ham Incident the other day, which I mostly took care of at the time, but exploded ham bits are surprisingly evasive) and wiped down the stove top (I haven’t even MADE anything on the stove lately, WHY was it so FILTHY?) before our housecleaner arrived because I don’t want her to think we are total pigs.

Stepping Out on Your True Love: Will It Rekindle the Fire, or Cause the Relationship to Implode?

The thing I REALLY wanted to discuss with you, before all the morning’s crankiness and associated anxieties derailed me, is that I have had a Startling Revelation. I think I am growing weary of my one true love: tea.

I hope you took that paragraph break to allow the magnitude of this revelation to sink in. Because it has taken me a few weeks to come around to this understanding. Historically, I LOVE tea. Double Bergamot Earl Grey has been my faithful and delicious companion every weekday since I discovered it, with splurge days on the weekends when I drink my fancy Uncle Grey imported from Canada. Before that, I drank regular Earl Grey or English Breakfast. I can’t remember exactly when I started drinking tea, but I know that it has at LEAST been for eight years (one of my fondest memories from Carla’s first year of life is that my husband made me tea every single morning and brought it to me while I pumped), and probably for several years before that.

But these past few weeks, I’ve had waning enthusiasm for my tea. It doesn’t taste quite as good, I find myself dragging when I need to prepare it, I end up gulping it down to get it over with instead of savoring it. It’s just not giving me the joy that a warm morning cuppa should give a person.

I don’t think I can switch to other teas. I don’t really like most teas – the fruity kinds, no thank you. Rooibos and Chai are okay on occasion but not every day. I like green tea, but it doesn’t have the same comfort factor that Earl Grey does. Matcha is wonderful, but it requires so much milk and frothing and so on to make it the way I like it.

So NOW WHAT.

Today, I asked my husband to make a little extra coffee and so I am drinking that. It is… not good. It is too bitter, even with two packets of Sweet’n Low and my normal glug of half-and-half. When I am not drinking it, the inside of my mouth tastes metallic and sour, and I’m sure my breath is a delight. I made sure to eat a high-protein breakfast before I drank it, but I still feel like it’s making me jittery and a little queasy. How do people drink this every day?

I used to drink coffee. When I was eight, my mom brought home these beautiful bowls from France and she would make me café-au-lait for breakfast. When I went to her office after school, I would help myself to coffee and powdered creamer and many, many packets of sugar in the break room. During my first summer job during college, I would live for the few minutes when I could step away from filing and pour scalding coffee into a paper cup and doctor it until it was creamy and sweet. At some point in my life, I was a fan of Pumpkin Spice Lattes. So I have gone through multiple coffee drinking periods in the course of my life.

But I can’t say I ever really liked coffee. When I left it behind a decade or so ago, I intended never to return. Still, I don’t really want to get back into it, now. It would require too much sugar, for one thing. Too much half-and-half. Too much… amped-up quease. (I feel like the non-word “quease” evokes the feeling much better than the word-word “queasiness.”)

But what else IS there? I need a warm cup of something in the mornings! (PLEASE don’t say warm milk. Hork.)

Maybe I will drink coffee for a few days and then see if I have a newfound appreciation for tea. Or maybe I will find myself sucked into the coffee cult that has thoroughly brainwashed my husband and Lorelai Gilmore and so many others (maybe even you?).

Edited to add: It took me many hours to finish this post; distractions abound! So this is Future Me reporting back to you on today’s coffee sitch: I have still not finished my cup of coffee; my mug is still one-third full and the liquid is cold and my head feels powered by hummingbird wings and my stomach is a-sail on choppy seas. This is not a promising beginning.

A Strange and Unfamiliar Dilemma Arises!

This is not an actual problem.

We ordered our holiday cards on Sunday and they arrived ON WEDNESDAY. People, it is STILL NOVEMBER. This has NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. I am absolutely delighted. (We ordered through Mpix.com – it was a great experience, through and through. The cards look great, even if adding a photo to a card and printing it didn’t make the awkward way I am holding my arm in said photo look any less awkward.)

But now I am facing a quandary: when do I send the cards? Part of me wants to send them NOW, get them off my desk (my office has become Holiday Storage Central, and is full of boxes that I can’t bear myself to throw away and gifts for people), and perhaps achieve the ever-elusive status of being someone’s First Holiday Card of the Season. (Our First Holiday Card of the Season usually arrives from one of the few high school friends I continue to talk to as an adult. I am anticipating it any day now.)

But the other part of me is resisting this. I don’t know why. Maybe because I am a firmly Wait Until After Thanksgiving holiday celebrant? Maybe because I don’t want to be first? Perhaps people will toss the card because it’s so early, or perhaps I am uncomfortable with the idea of MY awkwardly posed arm being on someone’s wall or mantel all alone for days or weeks? I don’t know. It seems too early!

Then again, Hanukkah is early this year, and begins the weekend after Thanksgiving. Part of the reason we send holiday cards instead of Christmas cards is because so many of our card recipients are Jewish. It would be nice for the holiday card to arrive DURING the holidays, rather than after them. (Although I doubt that any of our Jewish card recipients care all that much; Hanukkah isn’t really that big a deal, and they are likely inured to the tradition of getting “holiday” cards during Christmastime.)

All this to say: I am sort of leaning toward sending them out on December first. That puts them arriving solidly in December, and hopefully before Hanukkah ends.

You Can Bet I Filled Out the Customer Survey, and I Filled It Out GOOD

Yesterday saw me flitting about from store to store, running errands. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve done something so carefree. I was looking for three specific things: 1. Candles for the menorah, which I did not find. 2. Ideas for a “giant crate filled with crafting supplies,” which was the top item on Carla’s letter to Santa. 3. A tiny, not-terribly-expensive salt and pepper shaker set that I can use when my parents are here; I did not find this, either. I did manage to spend a lot more money than my lack of success would imply.

Oh! Brief deviation from the topic, which I haven’t even GOTTEN to yet: I thought it was so fascinating to see how differently stores are handling the pandemic. Many stores had signs on their entrances, but I don’t think any of them were the same. “Masks required” said one, with a sentence below in smaller print citing CDC recommendations. “Masks recommended for unvaccinated individuals” said another. “Masks optional” said a third, which is similar to the second, but conveys a very different vibe.

One of the stores I visited was Target. I haven’t been in Target in a long while, partly because I haven’t needed anything from Target in a long time and partly because I love, with my whole heart, the option to order my items online and have someone deliver them to my car. CURBSIDE 4EVA.

It was sort of pleasant and nostalgic to wander around Target for awhile. It wasn’t terribly busy, and I could see with my own eyes that they were, in fact, completely out of Carla’s size in fleece-lined leggings. (I don’t know why I keep buying them, because holes sprout in the knees practically immediately.) (I do know why: they are cheap.)

I narrowly avoided buying any of the cute Christmassy appetizer plates they had for $3 apiece. I am beginning to think that was a mistake.

I was not able to resist the miniature office supplies set, which will make its way into Carla’s stocking.

image from target.com

But when I checked out, I reconnected with one of my biggest peeves about Target. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve complained about it before. But my peeve has been so inflamed that I am going to complain about it again.

When you checkout, there is almost NO WAY to see whether you are being charged appropriately for each item. Long, long ago, so long ago that I am willing to admit it may be a figment of my wildest dreams, you could go up to the credit card reader, and it would show you what you were buying in real time, as the checker scanned your items. No more. Now, if you have even a small hope of glimpsing what the computer says you owe, you have to stand back at the conveyor belt – which makes it very awkward to fill your cart as the checker bags your items – and squint at the computer screen facing the checker. Facing the checker, not facing YOU. And the type is so small that you have very little hope of seeing the price of each item anyway. In larger type is the total of your purchase, but that requires instantaneous math, and I am not good at that in the best of times, less so when I am in public.

We all know that Target makes errors. It is OFTEN that an item will scan at a different price than is displayed on the shelf. And the placement of the computer makes it nearly impossible to know that this is happening.

Also, the only way to know the total you are about to pay is to listen carefully to the checker, who has to say it out loud to you. It does not even give a total on the card reader! This is madness!

HARUMPH.

I did get a customer survey in my email later that day, which I took great pleasure in filling out. Not that it will do a lick of good.

Suspected Shipping Snafu Turned Sweet Surprise!

A box from amazon arrived the other day, as is an all-too-frequent occurrence in these days leading up to the holidays. (I am trying to wean myself off of amazon, I AM, but it is difficult.)

The box was addressed to me; I was expecting some fleece-lined leggings I’d ordered for Carla, to replace her hole-y Target ones. So I opened it.

Inside was a smaller box, with a label that said “lidded casserole.”

This was something I had JUST THE DAY BEFORE put on a list of Christmas wishes that I had shared with my husband. My guess what that he had accidentally sent it to me because I am the intended recipient. So I sighed and put it back in the box, resolving to be So! Surprised! when it appeared under the tree on Christmas Day.

But when he came home, he swore he hadn’t ordered one for me.

Turns out it was a thank-you gift from his parents! When they were here, I’d mentioned that I was constantly on the lookout for a medium sized casserole dish… and my mother-in-law remembered and sent me TWO!

What a fun and thoughtful surprise!

That’s the note I’ll end on. Well, and this additional note, from Carla’s teacher, that she arrived to class her cheerful, happy self. PHEW.

Hope you have a lovely weekend, Internet!

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I have a case of the grumps, and I can trace each grump directly to its source, and they are all very mundane and so silly that my inner critic is standing there with her hands on her hips and her head tilted condescendingly saying, “Perhaps you should be grateful that you aren’t an Afghan refugee instead of whining about your perfectly lovely life, ever think about that, hmmm?” Well. She can eat a bee. Sometimes the only way to escape a particularly irksome grump is to share it, so here we go.

  • I am living in filth. My lovely, creative, crafty daughter has crafted our house into a trash heap. (I trust that you will understand I mean “likes to make crafts” here rather than “deceitful and cunning.”) Her gorgeous brain is constantly coming up with things to make and build and decorate, and I love it. I do. I am astonished by the things she thinks up and astounded by how she can bring them to life with scraps of plastic and bits of cardboard and copious amount of glue. And yet despite my pride and delight in her crafty pursuits, I have begun to feel like I am living in an actual garbage dump. Carla has an entire designated craft cabinet in which to stow her materials, but the results of her work end up everywhere. Little tiny seashells made into crabs. Skewers turned into swingsets and chopsticks and the legs of little clay beings. Cardboard shelving units and apartment blocks. Toys wearing clothing made of paper and string. Purses made out of plastic and cloth and clay. Little bits of paper that now represent dog food, toilet paper rolls, confetti, Barbie workbooks. There is no place to PUT these creations, and of course each one is rare and precious, so we have designated a section of the dining room (which is never, ever used for dining) as the Craft Waiting Area. But do the crafts wait quietly in their area, until such time as Carla deems them ready for the great Outdoor Craft Storage Compartment? No they do not. They migrate. And, with them, creative detritus piles up. Sheets of foam that have been cut into jagged lace. Broken bits of pottery. Plastic baggies. Pencils. Scissors. Sequins. Stickers. Chunks of clay. Slabs of dried glue. Q-tips. Empty play-doh containers. Rocks. Fluffy rainbow pom poms. Barettes. Three sets of needle nose pliers. Pencils, markers, paintbrushes, and pens. Corners and slips and strips of paper. Plastic baggies filled with scraps of paper and broken crayons and tiny rubber bands and bits of yarn. IT IS A GARBAGE DUMP. And, have I mentioned, every single scrap of anything is PRECIOUS and USEFUL and NECESSARY. If ever I suggest moving any of these items into the trash, Carla collapses in tears of betrayal and shock.
This is a photo I took several weeks ago, and it isn’t anywhere near as bad as things were this morning. Picture this doubled.
More detailed look at all the bits and bobs. Note the scrap of masking tape on the wall, there for no reason at all.
  • My family and I continue to require sustenance. Dinner continues to seem like an alien concept. I continue to suffer from meal-amnesia. Since Monday, my family and I have eaten tacos three times: I went to the grocery store with literally only the single idea for a meal this week (tacos), hoping that the shelves would shove meal ideas at me (they did not) (except, I guess, in the case I am about to describe), and when I walked in, there was a display of everything a human could need to make fish tacos, so I bought those things and we ate fish tacos Monday, leftover fish tacos Wednesday, ground beef tacos Thursday, and, on Tuesday, the chicken shawarma that I had planned and purchased for the first week of October. Yes, the broccoli managed to survive that long in my crisper. I have absolutely NO IDEA what to make for dinner tonight. My in laws are back next week (for two weeks), and I doubt that they will be as amenable to Tacos Every Day as my husband and child are, and yet I have no ideas. Food is a mystery. And even though I have catalogued my own meal planning here for several years now, and have multitudes of recipes both in my online files and in the files in my kitchen… and despite having access to both dozens of cookbooks AND the internet, I have no ideas. None. If you were to press a recipe into my hands and say “Make this,” it would surely gradually dissolve into gas and float away on the air.  

  • My husband is giving me guff about holiday cards. It is no secret, either here or in my marriage, that holiday cards are MY FAVORITE PART OF THE HOLIDAYS. I love to send them, I love to receive them. I love them. I thought this was well-established. I thought that my husband, who doesn’t give a goat’s beard about any of it, had nonetheless fallen in line. AND YET. I requested that we go somewhere pretty this weekend to take a family photo for holiday cards, and he grumbled that he doesn’t WANT to do holiday cards. They are stupid and a waste of time and money. While he is entitled to his own grumps, of course, I am feeling CRANKY AND STUBBORN. This is My Thing. Why is he objecting? It will take an hour, maybe, to find a spot and take a serviceable photo. I will do the card-options-narrowing-down work, and offer him a few to choose from. I will send them out. It is not a big drain on him, time-wise. Money-wise, sure, it’s not super expensive. But it’s not going to break the bank. Why can’t he just bend to my will? Why can’t he just fall in line? WHY????? (We have taken exactly two (2) photos of the three of us since summer of 2020. Neither is holiday card worthy, you will just have to trust me. And I would slap a bunch of photos from throughout the year on a card and call it a day in a frosty second, but my husband always, always hates those kinds of cards when I mock them up, and despite the fact that he is making the whole thing harder than it needs to be, he and I still feel he gets a say in a card representing/featuring him that goes to all our friends and family.)

  • Our health insurance is being downgraded. Oh, excuse me: “improved” and “enhanced.” I get that my husband’s company is a business, and they need to find ways to keep costs down, blah blah blah. And I get that I am very fortunate to have access to health insurance at all, and the means to pay for it. But I am still DEEPLY ANNOYED. Mainly because my husband’s hospital system is trying to spin it as a benefit when it clearly is NOT. They sent out this piece of direct mail giving us a heads-up about one of the changes to the insurance plan, which is that they are going to now “leverage” the hospital system’s own pharmacy system. Isn’t that great?!?! Aren’t we so happy?!?! They alluded to benefits from this change: We are now going to “get the best medication outcomes.” What the fluff does that mean? We will now have the “convenience” of using hospital pharmacies (NOT convenient, unless you are at one of the FOUR ON-SITE PHARMACIES in a 100-mile radius) or mail-order (NOT convenient if you have a necessary daily medication that happens to be a controlled substance and may not be available via mail order). And we will have “one card” for pharmacy and medical insurance coverage. Wowee, what a benefit! (Eye roll.) I suppose they do also allude to lower costs. There is also a black box notifying us that we need to stock up on medications so that the switch to the new plan doesn’t affect our prescriptions. Is this even possible with the medications we have? WHO KNOWS. And then it says to go to the website of the new company for more details. But the website does not have ANY USEFUL DETAILS for non-members. This does not feel like they are “expanding and enhancing” my healthcare benefits, that’s for sure.

  • We still have not completed my gallery wall dream. I have been saying for years that I want to have a gallery wall of photos/paintings in our living room. And my husband keeps jumping on and off board. The artwork and empty frames that I had chosen for the gallery wall have been pushed up against the dining room wall (see above) for months and months now, and I think I may have to admit defeat. It is not going to happen in this house. My husband has no interest in helping me plan, but I will need his help to execute the whole thing, and I just don’t know if I can summon enough umph to see it through. So I am summoning grump instead.

To help counteract the Grumps, I will share two goods:

  • The other day I went to a Work Event. I was very anxious about a) being around a bunch of people at a restaurant and b) feeling self-conscious about all the weight I’ve gained since I last saw these people and c) worrying that my much-increased social anxiety would make me panicky and weird. I went out and bought an entire new outfit; I haven’t had to don Office Wear regularly since 2016, and I have since been hard at work “expanding and enhancing” my size, so I had nothing remotely appropriate to wear. I got a pair of black dress pants and a burgundy sweater at Talbots (for 30% off! plus 10% off for joining their rewards program! plus $10 off for joining their mobile mailing list!), which helped tremendously. I felt like I looked put together and appropriate, and like someone who would be totally competent at doing freelance work in the future. But, even better, the event was GREAT. It was outdoors, everyone was vaccinated, and I hadn’t seen most of the attendees in five years. People gave me hugs and seemed genuinely excited to see me and we had comfortable, easy conversations and the whole thing was super, super lovely.

  • I have hacked away at some of the trash heap. Just now, I got a surge of Living In Garbage-related energy and tackled both the Dining Room Trash Heap and Carla’s craft cabinet, and threw a LOT of stuff away, but also organized everything. It doesn’t look good, but it looks significantly better, and now feel much less Strangled By Junk. Hopefully I can persuade Carla that I kept most of her things and simply organized them all in a way that looks like I threw most of it in the trash (I did throw a lot of things in the trash – but really, WHO NEEDS ten plastic baggies filled with tiny bits of paper and string and the cottony ends of Q-tips? The garbage bin, is who.) I need to take a similar approach to her desk in her bedroom, and then we’ll really be rocking and rolling.
At least it is all contained to the giant slab of cardboard now. If I move the artwork and frames down to the basement, it will look even better.

Tell me your grumps, if you’ve got em.

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Well, I am sitting here waiting for the exterminator to come do our quarterly bug roundup (I like to picture him ushering a bunch of creepy-crawlies down the stairs and out into the street and off into some buggy wonderland, Pied Piper style), and I neither feel like emptying the dishwasher nor trying to plan our meals for the week, so randomosity it is!

  • Speaking of our bug guy: I am mad at our pest control service. They are constantly bothering us to sign up for this quarterly “deal,” wherein you get a discount per service. And my husband and I had figured that we were calling the pest control on an as-needed basis about three times per year, so the math didn’t work out for us to do the quarterly plan. But, for some reason, we decided to sign up the last time they made their sales pitch. I don’t remember why, but it must have involved math. ANYWAY, we signed up in June, for the quarterly plan. They sent the bug guy, invoiced us… And the amount was DOUBLE what he’d quoted me. I emailed him back and said, “I thought the quarterly plan cost $X. Or is this invoice for the entire year in advance?” And he CALLED ME. I could not answer at the time, so emailed him back, reiterated my question, and said that email is much better than calling. He called me AGAIN. I remember I picked up the phone because I was waiting for another call, but there was some incredibly stressful thing going on, and he was being super confusing and not answering my questions directly, so I started frustration-crying on the phone. It was awful. The upshoot was that he didn’t want to submit a specific quote in writing, because “their rates change based on unpredictable factors.” *Picture me right now, sitting at my desk, blinking slowly and taking multiple deep breaths.* Anyway, because I cried at him, he emailed me this: “as discussed on the phone. The current charge is your initial charge with a discounted rate. 3 months after your initial treatment we offer a discounted quarterly rate ~$X + tax on a regular quarterly basis.” Which, I have to say, STILL MAKES NO SENSE. Does that mean that the quarterly discount only kicks in… later??? And also, I want to know what we are going to pay, every quarter!!!!! “~$X” is not specific enough!!!!! I immediately started asking my neighbors who they use, even though we have used this particular service multiple times per year for over a decade. The only reason I have decided not to switch services is that I adore the man who does the actual spraying of the bugs. He is a lovely, kind, gentle man who asks about my kid and is always super flexible about timing and is very efficient. He is the kind of guy you could call to come over IMMEDIATELY and take care of any issue. Plus, he is getting up there, age-wise, and I just picture us canceling our service and him being out of a job. (This is ridiculous; they have other customers.) So we are, for now, keeping our service. But I am STILL MAD. In fact, I feel riled up enough that I am once again thinking of finding a new service. EDITED TO ADD: I asked our bug guy if he knew what today’s appointment was going to cost me, and he said he didn’t; he leaves that to the other guy, who will send me an invoice. So I still have no idea how much it cost. I DO NOT LIKE THIS.
  • It is a good time for the bug guy to come, because it is Spider Season. And I know that spiders are good and lovely and take care of other bugs, but during this time of year they get very bold and decide to break the Spider Covenant of out of sight, out of mind. Do they think they add to the Halloween ambiance? There was a spider in Carla’s room the other day, and she came shrieking into the living room to have one of us rescue her from its clutches, but then my husband couldn’t locate the spider to remove it. (I would have squished it. Am mean.) Carla KNOWS that the spider is still there, probably on her bed, maybe building a little web inside her pillowcase. She does not believe us that the spider has likely moved on. She has been sleeping in our room ever since.
  • Oh, speaking of stupid things that make no sense (yes, I am still exercised about the bug service situation): Do you remember I told you, a long while ago, about this absolutely RIDICULOUS bank situation? In short (or, as short as I can very wordily go), we have a loan through a bank, and the bank is holding a big chunk of our money as collateral against the loan. This bank has a policy stating that you (we) need to add some nominal amount of money to the account annually, or you (we) are charged an inactive fee. Even though I don’t WANT to add money, not even $5, to that account because we cannot touch it until the loan is paid. And even though I don’t have any sort of bank card that would allow me to do so without going, in person, to the bank. And even though the bank is nowhere near my house or any place I ever go. So every year I get a statement charging us an inactive fee, and every year I call the bank and ask them to remove it, and they give me a spiel about how easy it would be to avoid the fee, just by making a single annual transaction! And how it could just be $5! And how they have all these branches! (None nearer than a 30 minute drive.) I persist, getting louder and more strident, and finally they agree to remove the fee, and I ask that they make a note for next year, and they say they can’t. Remember when I whined at great length about that? Well! Last year, we got a statement that showed the inactive fee… and then showed an instant refund!!!! I did not have to call! SOMEONE MADE A NOTE! That is my hope, at least. I suppose it could have been a Pandemic Nicety. Anyway, I’m waiting for the statement to show up this year, just to see what happens. I know you are on the edge of your seat.
  • I got myself a jump rope. Carla has one and it seems fun. Plus, it reminds me of middle school gym class, and how Jump Rope for Heart! was a big health movement back then. It IS good exercise, I think. I don’t know for sure because I have yet to try it. I’m… nervous? Afraid of hitting myself in the face? Or… enduring excessive boob-flop pain? Or… having a heart attack? I don’t know. Also, I am pretty sure this is an Outdoor Activity, so that’s another hurdle. The jump rope is currently on the floor of my office. Do you jump rope? And if so, how do I begin my jump rope journey? Perhaps I shall begin by taking it with me to Goodwill and leaving it there?
  • Listen, I KNOW it’s only October, but I also know that you are aware – as are we all – that shipping and supply chain issues are causing delays and snarl-ups all over the place. So I am thinking about Christmas. Fretting is a more accurate word than thinking, except there is also a lot of inertia because it is sooooo far away and I am just coming out of a four-family-members-have-birthdays period over the last six weeks, with the fifth still to come. I persuaded my husband to order a couple of things for Carla already (thank you, Target, for having a “buy $50 in toys, get $10” promotion at the exact right time). (We got her a carnotaurus and an LOL OMG doll that she requested.) But literally no one else in my family is thinking about the holidays right now, except maybe my parents whom I have already bothered on the topic. And lord knows WHAT I will get my husband; I just had to buy presents for his birthday and it was rough. I ended up buying him a couple of things I’d purchased previously, that’s how out of ideas I am. Well. At least Santa Claus will have something to deliver to Carla. If the rest of us get nothing, that’s fine. We need nothing anyway.
  • This Christmas situation illuminates one of the Major Differences between my family of origin and my husband’s. I emailed my mom and asked her to start thinking about Christmas, and she happily complied. In fact, I had received an email previously from my dad, asking what we want to eat for Christmas dinner. They are Plan Ahead People. They have everything planned out for the next… nine months, I’d say. While I am not (always) that much of a planner, I do prefer to know what’s coming down the pike. My in-laws, on the other hand, are Spontaneous People. (This is why I end up wrapping so many gifts that they send us at the last minute grumble grumble.) They are also Christmas List People, who prefer that we all submit and choose from a list of specific items. (My parents are Money Gifters, who then also usually wrap something small to accompany the money.) My in-laws also live in a different state, so we have to ship all gifts to them. (And I prefer to buy them and wrap them before shipping them.) This is a bad combination, even in years without shipping and supply chain issues (not to mention all the health issues that are obviously and justifiably requiring significant attention). But this year it may be that everyone gets a Suzanne Hopes You Will Like This But Maybe You Won’t present.
  • Do you have a go-to gift that you send to people who have everything/people who are difficult to shop for? There has to be a Good General Gift that most people enjoy, right? Except I can’t think of one, outside of consumables like chocolate/wine/cheese.
  • And also, what would YOU, personally, like to receive as a gift? Like, right now, what is the thing that you are coveting most? For me, it is a citrus squeezer. Mine broke, and I use a citrus squeezer ALL the time, so I have been mourning its loss near-daily. Okay, after writing that, I just ordered one – it’s stainless steel, so the paint won’t wear off and it’s dishwasher safe! It will arrive on Friday. SORRY, PEOPLE WHO BUY ME GIFTS.
  • I really, reallllllllly wish that we could alllll agree that we are grown ups and do not need gifts anymore. Seriously. We can get the kids presents, if we want, but no one else needs anything. I just don’t know how to broach that topic. Like, it seems like one thing to say, “I would like you to stop buying me gifts; I have everything I need” but a whole different thing to say, “I would like to stop purchasing gifts for you.” Yeah. Makes me sound like a dick. *Resigned sigh of gift anxiety forever and ever amen.* 
  • At least I don’t have to worry about Thanksgiving! My in-laws are hosting Thanksgiving at their house, in a different state, despite the fact that it is their year with us, and despite the fact that my husband and I established nearly a decade ago that we will not travel on holidays, and despite the fact that there is still an ongoing global pandemic that makes travel – especially crowded holiday travel – unideal. (And lest you think I am being heartless, they made these plans before all the health turmoil.) (I am still being a little heartless, but the whole thing irks me.) So! It will just be the three of us, here at home! My IDEAL! I suspect I will still need to make turkey and stuffing, since my husband likes those things. (Bleh.) I can probably get away with a small turkey breast, though, which will be nice. And I am delighted that I get to make a big vat of garlic goat cheese mashed potatoes to slowly coat myself in.
  • OMG I usually tip our bug guy but I FORGOT to get tip money and had none. He said goodbye at the front door, but then his shoes were at the back door, so we trekked through the kitchen, saying things like “keep safe!” and “see you next quarter!” But then at the back door, I had to wait as he put on his shoes and tied them and tried to make small talk about the weather while I was very blatantly NOT giving him a tip. And then he got his shoes on and walked through the garage and reminded me to close the garage door and we must have said goodbye/take care to each other at least four times all while I was not giving him a tip OMG it was so awkward. I hope he knows I will get him next time.

That’s it from me, Internet. After that grueling interaction, not to mention the anticipation thereof, I need to lie down for the rest of the day. (Kidding. Mainly.)

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I need a root canal. Deciding that the tooth pain was bad enough to warrant a dental appointment wasn’t super fun. Confirming that I needed a root canal – first at my dentist’s office, then at the endodontist – was agony. 

The dentist kept saying he was sorry for causing me pain, even though the whole point of the tests he was doing was to elicit pain. It was kind, but I have that reflex where I say, “that’s okay” or “it’s not that bad” in response to someone apologizing, which felt a) silly and b) untrue. 

The endodontist did not apologize; not in a sadist-y way; he was kind, but just sort of stood there watching me clutch at my jaw as tears leaked from my eyes. He also offered me an Advil. His tests – which were very similar to the ones my dentist had done, just 30 minutes earlier – elicited a MUCH higher pain response. One test – he put liquid nitrogen or something on a swab and swabbed my tooth – hurt so bad that I cried. And then I felt ridiculous for crying. I tried to comfort myself by thinking that I couldn’t be the ONLY person to ever cry in that office; that must be why the assistant had tissues at the ready for me to dry my tears.

My dentist thinks, based on how nervous I get for dental work, that I need some sort of extra medication. Either something like V@lium or @tivan prior to the appointment, or conscious sedation during the procedure. He said, kindly, “That’s what I would recommend for my wife; she gets nervous about dental work. But I’m just telling you the options – you don’t need it. I wouldn’t do it, myself. Dental work doesn’t bother me.” Which made me wonder: ARE there people who are unbothered by dental work??????? This was a wholly novel concept to me. I figured that there was a spectrum, of course, from moderately nervous to requiring sedation just for a simple cleaning. But I never once imagined that there exist human beings who don’t mind dental work. 

(As for my spot on the spectrum: I get nervous for a simple dental cleaning; I clench my hands into fists, my arms and legs are rigid the entire time, I have to do anti-anxiety breathing while I’m in the chair, waiting for the exam to begin. I did a LOT of focused breathing today, let me tell you. And then cried in my car all the way home.)

The thing is, for me to do any sort of pre-medication, I need someone to drive me to and from the appointment. And my husband is unlikely to be able to do that anytime in the near future, if at all. And I don’t know that I have any friends who I would feel comfortable asking. So I am feeling very sorry for myself indeed. I suppose there is always Uber, but I have never once used Uber so that’s another hurdle to surmount.

Part of the reason I cried in the car (aside from the lingering tooth pain following the swab) was that I felt so ridiculous about crying. The crying was bad enough on its own. But then I couldn’t stop crying. And even when I finally got the actual tears under control, I still had Wobbly Voice. Ugh. I couldn’t stop thinking of that awful anesthesiologist who commented on my ability to withstand pain when I was in labor. Maybe I have a very low pain threshold, and other people are going around dealing with similar or worse pain without being fazed one bit. And maybe everyone thinks I am a huge baby who is making a mountain out of a molar pain. And I am FORTY YEARS OLD for floss sake, why can I not just GET IT TOGETHER like the adult I supposedly am instead of acting like a whiny child? 

This is just the latest in a run of negative self-talk that I can’t seem to squash. It started with my writing and has since spilled over into every other aspect of my life. 

I am suspecting – and hoping – that it has at least something to do with the calendar: both the monthly calendar, which has spun right around to canker sores and chocolate cravings, and the annual calendar, which has turned once again to the anniversary of my friend’s death. Not to mention, we are now sliding down the dark slope of fewer hours of sunshine each day and facing the looming pressures of the holiday season. 

While I do my focused breathing and wait for the calendar to flip a few pages forward, if you have any advice for how you pull yourself out of this kind of self-talk tailspin, I would greatly appreciate it. For now, I have self-medicated with Trader Joe’s macaroni and cheese and some of my only-on-the-weekends good tea. And, of course, I am blabbering it all to you. (Thank you for listening.)

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Technology and I are not getting along.

My WordPress blog – which I have had since 2009 (am v. old) – is now suddenly not working correctly. The platform claims that I am trying to access WordPress via an unsupported browser, but when I click on the list of supported browsers, the link does not work. If I google which browsers support/are supported by WordPress, I am assured that Safari, which I use, is in fact fully supported. Do I have to update it or something? Maybe. But that opens a whole other can of worms wherein my computer claims it has no memory left and then I spent 80 hours trying to clear everything off of my hard drive even though the portion of the bar graph that is taking up the most memory is invisible stuff I cannot access or erase.

Yes, in fact, I DO feel very unsupported. (For this post, I have switched to Chrome, which I dislike for unknown but very strongly felt reasons.)

While we’re badmouthing WordPress – which I don’t WANT to do; I have been happy with it these long years – it is also doing a thing where I will create a post and then suddenly it says there has been an unexpected error and I cannot access the post nor edit it. There is no further information offered; none of the buttons next to this message go anywhere or do anything. Well. This finally justifies my long habit of writing posts in Word first, and then copy/paste-ing them into my blog – and I have not lost any content as of yet. But it is STILL ANNOYING.

That’s all I get: “unexpected.” And yet it keeps happening… so… at what point does it become expected?

On to the next grouse: There is too much spam. Many of my blog followers are spam accounts. I delete them and they sign right back up. Why? Why? What are you getting out of following my blog, moneybiz2020 and Buy CBD Oils UK?

I mean, Dickie B looks super nice but his email address, and, frankly, the fact that he is subscribed to my particular blog, leads me to believe he is NOT A REAL HUMAN.

Bots are constantly following my Instagram account, too. They are all the same: names like “the_agile_walrus893” and then there’s a profile image of a beautiful young woman who has a very American-Sitcom-Character-type name and lists her Totally Normal City and her astrological sign and something Totally Normal (umbrella lover! anorak collecter! beet sniffer!) about her. And then the account is filled with dozens of exotic travel photos – featuring zero people who look remotely similar to the woman pictured in the profile – and the photo captions are always emojis. And the bots follow lots of people! And lots of people follow the bot accounts! And I delete/block them every time I see them but ARRRRGGGGHHHH. Why? WHY? What in the name of Jeff Bezos are the bots getting out of these interactions?????????

This is not a real human. Right? RIGHT?
Why do these bots have SO MANY followers??? Are they all just following each other? And if so, WHY?

And I am getting TONS of spam emails lately, too. Not just the normal emails from Athleta and my local library and Barnes & Noble – the ones I signed up for, which nonetheless sometimes feel like spam. But emails from websites I definitely did not visit nor give my information to. Like GQ Magazine. Or some life insurance company I may have requested a quote from once, via telephone, a literal DECADE ago. Clicking unsubscribe, of course, does NOTHING. The emails keep coming.

I don’t have a photo of my inbox because I think you might faint if you see the number of unread emails I have.

Somehow I accidentally clicked the Apple TV app on my computer and now it refuses to leave. I have regular quit. I have force quit. I have turned my computer off and on again. It is always in the background, doing… whatever it is doing. (Something nefarious, I’m sure.)

Likewise with Adobe Flash Player. It constantly pops up on my desktop even though I SWEAR I have deleted it from my hard drive multiple times. It’s hiding somewhere deep in my computer, though, and I cannot root it out, and it keeps popping up and telling me to update.

Speaking of updates: My password manager asks me to update it weekly. At least. HOW does it require so many updates? HOW? And why? Just pick a version and stick with it! For a month, at least! (Edited to add: After I drafted this and tried to shut down my computer, the password manager asked me to update it again. It reads my blog, y’all. SIGH. I did it, but we’ll see how long it lasts.)

Last grouse (at least, for today): when I go to the Instagram website via my laptop, it quite frequently pretends as though I have asked it to display something mythical and non-existent. I am simply typing “Instagram.com” in the browser and hitting enter so please do not pretend like this a site that does not exist.

SOMETHING’S BROKEN, ALL RIGHT. Also, I love how it says “go back to instagram” as though I am not already there.

If I didn’t use technology every second of every day, I would say goodbye so fast

Actual grouse, whose incredulity mimics my feelings exactly. (image from Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources)

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Thank you, first of all, for your kind words; my mother-in-law made it through surgery with flying colors and we will know more about next steps soon. 

Are you up for talking about the pandemic a bit? Cases are rising and school is back in session and, while it never went away, not by a long shot, the topic of COVID is much more front-and-center in my brain space lately.

The other day, when I was posting about our weekend activities, I had a moment of panic: we are doing TOO MUCH. We are still in a pandemic, and we are acting as though we are not!

I talked it through with my husband and we both looked at each other with fearful eyes, but ultimately agreed that this is where we are. We are still wearing masks in public spaces. We are still limiting our interactions with other people – outdoors, mainly people we know and believe to be handling COVID the way we are. We are still saying no to things that seem “unsafe.”

And yet. We are doing SO MUCH.

Our lives are nowhere near the same as they once were. But we are doing so much more than last year. I don’t know if this is the right way to do things. I don’t think we are being completely devil-may-care about the whole thing, but I do recognize that we are expanding our bubble. No – we no longer have “a bubble.” And that’s a little unsteadying. Part of me thinks we should keep as tight a lid on things as we ever did, considering Carla is still unvaccinated. But the other part of me believes that COVID is now a part of our lives, going forward, forevermore. And while I feel like we are still being prudent, I also feel like we are trying to find a way to live our lives in this new way. 

Ugh. I hate it when people say “we’re just trying to live our lives” or “we’re just learning how to live with COVID.” Because that so often is accompanied by behaviors that I find appalling. And maybe you find my increased activities appalling! And maybe they are! Heavy, bewildered sigh.

And UGH. It is so hard. Because there is no One Right Way, and I know that I am being less stringent than some (who have good, valid reasons to be stringent!) and more stringent than others (who are probably feeling some less-restrictive version of my own “we are trying to find a way to live our lives”!). So if you read my posts with distaste, please know that I hear you, and I’m sorry if I am disappointing you, and I have felt that way in the past and in the current time and I really have no idea what the “right” thing is. 

Not exposing other people, of course, is at the top of the list. And Carla goes to school, so I feel anxious right there about the potential of infecting others. But also… when we hang out with other kids, they already go to her school. And I know that many of her classmates (not to mention many, many of the students who are in her grade, or other grades at the same school) are nowhere near as careful as we are. But that doesn’t mean we should be incautious! Argggggghhhh! Circles of pandemic worrying! 

Anyway, I thought I would post about Where We Are in the Pandemic Currently, considering I used to post pandemic-related things more frequently, and it’s been awhile. Here’s what I’ve got for you. 

My Target is looking very bare these days. An acquaintance mentioned that toilet paper is going to be in short supply again, and I haven’t bought any toilet paper for myself (mainly because I have a Costco toilet paper in the guest room closet, purchased last fall when toilet paper seemed more abundant but I was less confident about the duration of said abundance). But I have noticed occasional rolling shortages. The big one, for me, was when my grocery store was out of my preferred brand of sriracha  for three weeks in a row… and then my target was also out of it… and then when I mentioned it casually to a stocker at my grocery store, he shrugged and said, “Yeah, we keep ordering it and it keeps not coming.” So I did order a BUNCH of sriracha and now I am well-stocked and of course my grocery store now has plenty of sriracha on the shelves. That is a desert island food for me; I use sriracha the way most people use salt; I could certainly live without it if I HAD TO, but I prefer not to thankyouverymuch.

Speaking of shortages: my grocery store was COMPLETELY OUT of boneless skinless chicken breast. Boneless skinless chicken anything, in fact. As BSCB is a staple of my family’s diet, I was quite miffed by this turn of events. 

* * *

This past July, Carla and I flew on an airplane (four airplanes, to be technical) to visit my parents. As I am sure you understand, my husband and I made the decision to risk putting our unvaccinated child on an airplane after much discussion and weighing of various risks. My husband did not join us; one reason was work and another reason was that HE is not ready to get on an airplane yet, so I think you will understand also that I was Very Jumpy about traveling. 

Our plan for the air travel was this: Double mask on the plane and in the airport. Stay away from crowds if at all possible in the airport. Eat and drink only FAR away from other people. Eat and drink as little as possible on the plane. 

(Our plan for being with my parents: No eating in restaurants, no crowds. Very simple to stick with because they live in the literal middle of nowhere.)

We did okay, I think. We didn’t really eat anything on the way THERE; the flight times worked out that we ate breakfast before we left, and then ate a very early dinner when we arrived. Carla is a champion traveler and a champion masker. And the airport in which we had a layover had an outdoor space! So we spent our time between flights outside. Still masked, because there were a decent number of people out there, but we technically could have removed our masks and been okay, which made it feel better.

On the way HOME, our departure airport also had an outdoor space. We had arrived two hours early, as recommended, but it is a small airport and we have TSA pre-check, so we got through security in about five minutes. So we sat outside for ninety minutes, enjoying a mostly-empty space (it was raining lightly, which kept other people indoors), and eating some snacks. 

But once it got close to time to board, we went inside. And. Sigh. Even though masks are REQUIRED, so many people were either wearing them below their chins or just not wearing them at all. 

There was a college football team on our flight. And SO MANY OF THEM just didn’t wear a mask. 

When you are flying, the flight attendants have added a little “Masks are required by the FAA” spiel to their pre-flight commentary. On the flight with the college football team, the flight attendant looked especially stern as she recited the rules – “you must wear a mask over your nose and mouth” – but STILL I could see at least one footballer sitting there mask free. And OF COURSE I don’t know his life; maybe he has a legit reason to be going without a mask. But I meanly wondered whether he is just aware that he is an enormous, intimidating football beast of a man and is pretty sure no one is going to press him to do anything he doesn’t want to. Harrumph. 

(My coping thought was that, of ALL people, a college football team must SURELY be vaccinated.) 

We did not pay for first class seats, so I sat in the middle seat on all flights while Carla got the window. I felt this gave her at least a LITTLE separation from all the germy strangers. On our very last (three-hour) flight, the woman next to me was… not exactly mask-averse, but certainly mask-relaxed. She knew the person in the middle seat in the row in front of us, and would occasionally chat at him, pulling her mask down to do so. She ordered a drink and snacks when the flight attendants came around and did not pull her mask up in between bites/sips (which is what I did, and instructed Carla to do – although she ate a few Hi-Chew and that was it). And then she pulled out a snack pack she’d brought. And then just didn’t put her mask on at all. 

I fretted and fretted and wrote and revised a million little scripts in my head, trying to come up with the perfect, friendly, non-judgmental way to ask her to put her mask back on AS REQUIRED BY LAW. Before I could say anything, she asked me if I could turn on her overhead light for her and that was my chance! So I said, trying to smile brightly behind my masks, “Would you mind putting your mask back on? My daughter isn’t vaccinated.” It was not the perfectly scripted and breezily-stated request I wanted to make, but we do what we can with the tools we have, and my tools are anxiety and blurting. Thankfully, she did so without comment and I turned on her light and she kept her mask on for the rest of the flight. 

* * *

A good friend and his spouse got COVID, even though they are both vaccinated. Fortunately, they recovered quickly and fully. We know that the vaccine is not 100% effective; what we are aiming for is to keep people out of the hospital/alive, not to eradicate COVID completely. And yet it is still scary. 

* * *

Some friends recently invited us for dinner. The parents are fully vaccinated, but the kids are not (they are Carla’s age). Before visiting, my husband and I fretted over how to address mask-wearing. We finally settled on saying something like, “We have been having all the kids wear masks when Carla has playdates, but the grownups have been going mask free” when we  responded with our delighted, “yes, we’d love to see you.” But then they replied, “Oh, our kids are terrible at wearing masks… we can try to force them to keep one on while you’re here if you prefer…” My husband wanted me to respond that yes, we DO prefer. But ugh. I felt really squicky about that because 1) they had invited us to THEIR house, and it feels really weird to demand that people do something new/different in their own house and 2) if their kids aren’t used to wearing masks, would they even be able to do so effectively? and 3) UGGGGHHHHHHH. The whole thing is SO AWKWARD. 

We ended up making Carla wear a mask in their house, and then encouraging all of the kids to play outdoors. Everything worked out okay. But it all felt So Fraught. 

* * *

Carla and I had doctor’s and dentist’s appointments a few weeks ago. One doctor’s office has, in big letters on the door, a sign saying, “MASKS REQUIRED” and then below that in medium letters, “Because we are a healthcare facility, the CDC guidance says everyone should wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.” 

Carla and I opened that door, went into the waiting room, and stopped… because two patients were sitting there without masks on at all. Both facing the door into the exam rooms which also featured the same sign.

We waited in the hall. And then when the doctor asked if Carla wanted to wait for me in the waiting room, I said, “My daughter is unvaccinated. Is there someplace she can sit where she doesn’t have to be around other people?” and the doctor said of course and let Carla sit inside the exam suite. She cringed when I asked and said, “We have all these signs!” But of course if you don’t enforce the rules, the people who don’t want to follow them AREN’T GOING TO, see above Re: college football player.

When I had to return to this same doctor’s office last week, another person was maskless in the waiting room. This time, I said something passive aggressive – like, “Oh, I’ll just wait outside while people aren’t wearing masks” – and when I was called back for my appointment, the unmasked person had put a mask on.

* * *

Carla’s school is requiring masks of ALL people in her school this coming year. I am so relieved. Even though most (though, as we discovered during the same announcement, not all) of the teachers and staff are vaccinated, I just feel better knowing that everyone is wearing masks. (Some parents complained that vaccinated teachers/staff have to wear masks around our unvaccinated children. To which I give a long, weary sigh.)

The class sizes are larger than they were last year (Carla’s grade had a maximum of ten kids in each classroom last year, for instance, and two of those kids were remote), but they are as large as they were originally. They are enforcing three-foot distancing. Kids eat in classrooms as they did last year, behind three-sided shields. There are cohorts, and the scheduling of non-core classes (language, PE, music, art) has been rearranged to limit “mixing” of those cohorts. We know from last year that if we need to go remote (please please please no), we can do so fairly easily. And everyone is wearing masks.

I am very, very, very grateful that we chose to send Carla to this particular school and that we have the ability to continue to send her there, and I am very, very, very aware of what a privilege it is to do so.

* * *

A dear friend – one who was one of the two families we got together with regularly last year – has invited us to a special birthday event… and my husband and I want to decline, because it is so far removed from our particular comfort zone. (Which, as I have said, is much expanded from last year!) But this event involves multiple people together in a vehicle, and multiple people together inside a restaurant, and we are just not comfortable. It is especially hard/weird because our families were so aligned last year on COVID protocols… and now somehow we are not. It is so hard to say no in this instance and blame it on COVID! I think they will understand, because they are wonderful people, but I also think their feelings will be hurt. ARRRGGGGHHHH.

* * *

think I am seeing an uptick in mask-wearing in public spaces. When the mask mandate in my state expired earlier this year, I was often the only person wearing a mask at the grocery store. (I went mask-free for about three stores, and then immediately went back to wearing a mask in public spaces.) Now, the number of masked customers is MUCH higher. Which is a relief. 

* * *

A person who lives in a very COVID-relaxed state invited us to visit. When we declined, this person reacted in a way that made me think they were very put out by our response. 

In almost the same breath, this person – not a medical expert in any way – advised that we not vaccinate Carla. Sigh of exhaustion. 

* * *

As you are, I’m sure, I am so very tired of dealing with all this. 

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Carla has begun third grade and by all reports, it is going swimmingly so far. While I miss having her sunshiny presence in the house, I have been eager to get my days back. I have writing to do and edits to make and housework to complete. 

But I haven’t quite been able to get my sea legs yet. I feel a little directionless, drifting on an ocean of possibility, but not finding anywhere to drop my metaphorical anchor. 

Part of my aimlessness, I think, is that the house is a mess. It’s cluttered with all the flotsam and jetsam a busy eight-year-old produces. So, I think, start there: clear the house of clutter and you’ll feel accomplished and free to sit down and work on all the other items on the to-do list. I did a first pass, pulling things off the walls (Carla’s long-abandoned reading tracker, an old poster from second grade, a few pictures she’d taped to her door) and wiping down the whiteboards that held our summer schedules and to-dos. I did a bunch of laundry and folded much of it. My husband, without being asked, went through the towering pile of mail that clings barnacle-like to the little sideboard near the garage door. 

Somehow, this did very little to free the house of its cluttery, oppressiveness. And even though I have settled in my writing chair, with a good idea about what to write, my brain feels unsettled and overcrowded. I keep thinking of things I could do that I don’t want to do: put the new fall schedule up on the whiteboards, finish folding the laundry, clean out the bucket that Carla filled with exploded water balloon fragments after last week’s playdate, tidy my desk or my bathroom, paint my toenails, take out the trash, get dinner started in the crockpot, finish unpacking the suitcases from our trip of two weeks ago, implement the edits I painstakingly made to my manuscript, exercise. 

I am fretting about a work thing, a family thing, a friend thing. The news is, once again, still, endlessly, terrible and disheartening. I am dreading Carla’s first soccer practice, during which I will surely be expected to talk to strangers. I keep trying to listen for the air conditioner, which decided to stop working yesterday for several hours, until our house was 82 degrees inside. (It came back on just in time for my husband to come home, ask why it was so hot inside, and then squint at me uncomprehendingly when I told him the air conditioner was broken.) I have a head cold, or a sinus infection, or something that makes me feel foggy and drippy and cranky all at once. I have a giant, inflamed mosquito bite smack in the middle of my forehead. Everything feels rumpled, troubled; ill-tempered waves lashing at me from all sides.

I think what I need to do is make an old-fashioned To Do List and start crossing things off. But the prospect of doing such a simple thing makes me feel limp with I don’t wanna. 

Surely you have felt adrift in this way before. What do you do to restart your engine and coax your ship forward, in any direction at all? 

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This was one of those mornings in which I woke up promptly at 5:00 am and then couldn’t fall back to sleep, even if I had Zero Reason to be awake at that time; it’s the last week of summer for sleep’s sake! I should be enjoying every second of sleeping until 7:00 while I can. 

As usual, I kept pretending that reading things on my phone would lull me back to sleep (what? it works sometimes, often enough to convince me, lab-rat style, that it WILL work again), instead of using those two extra hours as the precious resource they were. They never SEEM precious, when I’m not planning to wake up early. Especially when I stayed up past eleven the night before watching Bachelor in Paradise

I only fell asleep again once my husband’s alarm went off. You know. To taunt him. 

He hit the snooze button and I snuggled into his warm body and sank immediately into a horrible nightmare: I was at a party, which my supervisor from my prior job was attending, and he told me gravely that someone from my prior job was making terrible accusations of sexual impropriety about me. Not harassment, I don’t think. Just, like, hooking up with this colleague who was not in my chain of command. In the dream, my supervisor never outlined what these accusations were, or how they would affect me besides making me out to be an adulterer, but I was alarmed and outraged and got very yelly and sailor mouthed (apologies to sailors) and indignant because it seemed like my supervisor didn’t believe me, even though he claimed he did. I couldn’t even remember meeting the person who was accusing me – his name was Noah Centineo, which is apparently the name of a real live actor person, a fact I discovered when I googled the familiar-sounding moniker after waking up – and I was shaky and angry and wanted more details so I could call my mom and sue the husk out of Noah for slander. (My mother is a retired lawyer and I don’t know if slander applies in this case, or really what the issue was; I think I was afraid that I would lose the only recommendation from the only job I ever had, even though that is NOT the only job I’ve ever had.) While I was waiting for my supervisor to go get details, I was angrily chewing an enormous piece of purple gum and it got very sticky and I tried to spit it out and it got stuck to my teeth, and I had to pry it out of my mouth long stringy strand by long stringy strand and it got spiderwebbed all over my hands and face and hair. 

The only reason I woke up from this awful dream was because I got a text message. It was from a person with whom Carla and I are having a playdate I am dreading. The mother has many good qualities but she is also an Extreme Extrovert and I am even more of an Introvert since the pandemic began than I was to begin with. (This mother had, at one point, suggested TWO playdates this week but fortunately stopped pressing when I told her one playdate was stressful enough that I couldn’t even FATHOM two playdates without breaking out in hives.) (I am not yet at the comfort level of leaving Carla alone at someone’s house for a playdate.) It wasn’t the best text message to wake up to, is what I’m telling you. Out of the gum-web and into the fire of forced interaction.

The nightmare clung to me, much as the dream-gum was clinging to my teeth and hands, but I managed to awaken Carla and strip the bed. (Let’s blame the sheets for my sleeplessness. I mean, clean sheets can’t hurt.) I did not manage to put the detergent in the right place; there is a little drawer with specific compartments for detergent and fabric softener and bleach, and instead I threw a cup full of detergent directly onto the sheets in the drum of the washer, which is surely some sort of terrible laundry faux pas, and I am fully expecting a tsunami of bubbles to erupt from the washer and onto the floor at any moment. 

Carla had requested sour toast and ants on a log for breakfast, but first the dirt (??? what is the role of peanut butter in this concoction???) wouldn’t stick to the log; the halves of the banana seemed wet somehow, though it was a nice fresh banana, and the peanut butter wouldn’t spread properly, and I had to kind of drape it in unappealing plops across the banana, which continued to glisten wetly. I eat neither bananas nor peanut butter, so I don’t know if any of this is acceptable or not. Carla didn’t comment, so we’ll assume it is fine.

Worse, though: I couldn’t find any ants. In this case, chocolate chips. I dug around in the pantry for a while before giving up and offering dried cranberries (pass) and fresh blueberries (keep) as insect alternatives. Then I discovered that I had been carrying around an unopened bag of tortilla chips, on my hip like it was a baby. 

That was when I decided I needed to sit down and allow the fog to clear a bit before I attempted anything else. Which is why you are getting sentences like the first one of this post, in which the phrase “in which” sounds completely hatpin crazy to me, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to rephrase the sentence. Hmm. I suppose I could just take it out and make it into two sentences, but I will leave it as an illustration of the state of my mind.

This is one of those rare occasions where I find myself wishing I drank coffee. I love my morning cup of tea, but it doesn’t provide that jolt of clarity that supposedly comes from a cup of hot black coffee. Perhaps I will have to chug a Mountain Dew instead. 

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Sometimes the day just seems to fall apart before it’s even really gotten going. Like today, when Carla was late to camp because we (I) forgot an essential at home and we had to turn around to get it. 

And then I went to Target to return some ill-fitting water shoes, and decided to pick up a couple more pairs of jean shorts for Carla because she prefers jean shorts to anything else. And there was a big display of Cat & Jack shorts that said “comfy jean shorts $10!” Under the sign were multiple piles of jean shorts, in multiple colors, and I looked suspiciously at some of the tags that clearly said $15 instead of $10… but Target is notoriously bad about many things that involve any sort of detail orientation, so I grabbed two pairs. Target also makes it nearly impossible to see what you are being charged as each item goes over the scanner: the only way to do it is to stand back by the conveyor belt and stare over the checker’s shoulder at their computer. Of course, I missed seeing the shorts scan. And I am terrible at math, so I thought maybe the final price was a little high, but could be in the realm of accurate? (I grew up in a state with no sales tax and have NEVER SINCE been able to figure it out.) I even asked the checker if the shorts rang up as $10 and he looked and said yes. This is a very long and boring story!

As I left the store, I looked at the receipt and one pair had indeed rung up as $15, so I went back in and asked at customer service what the deal was. And they shrugged and said, “Well, the display meant that THESE comfy shorts are $10, but not all of them.” And while I was trying to parse that in my head, I nodded and shoved the shorts back in my bag and left, and then fumed all the way home about not simply returning the shorts when I had paid $5 more than I intended to pay for them. Or at the very least saying what I wanted to say which was, “Well, that is a deeply misleading sign.” 

Anyway! Home!

To discover a giant leak underneath my kitchen sink. All of the cleaning supplies and trash bags and extra Scrub Daddies were completely soaked. 

And while I was removing each item and then drying out the cupboard and trying to diagnose the source of the leak (why? how? I am not equipped for that nor for addressing a leak should I find one), the pest control people CALLED ME BACK.

Which just added to my hatred of this morning because I had specifically asked – via email (after I had responded, via email to an invoice, and he left me a garbled voicemail) – that the guy EMAIL ME INSTEAD OF CALLING.

Not only is he boldly ignoring an explicit and reasonable request, he is trying to retroactively change the pricing terms we had discussed before I had the pest control people come out to deal with a Wasp Situation. And I was Very Frustrated and Sharp with him on the phone, and told him that I didn’t mean to be sharp, but I was dealing with a leak and this was not a good time (why did I answer the phone? why did I bring home the $15 shorts?) and would he please EMAIL ME all the rates that we had discussed, and instead of saying, “Sure,” he said, “Oh I understand completely, give me a call back when it is more convenient.” NO. EMAIL ME. OMG. 

His reasoning is that their rates change, so I guess he didn’t want to commit to something in writing. Which a) is bullshit and b) can’t he simply spell that out in the email??????

I did finally persuade him to email me, but it took an increasingly strident and near-tears additional request.

Oh, and now that I am writing this out, I do think he finally agreed to email me what we’d talked about (EXACTLY) so that I could talk it over with my husband, which in retrospect seems VERY condescending and sexist and jerkfacey. I mean, I was being quite short with him, but wanting to see a list of rates rather than having to remember all the specifics shared during a conversation, especially when I am otherwise distracted, is a reasonable desire and not an example of my poor feminine brain being unable to compute simple numbers. And if I didn’t absolutely adore the guy who comes to do the application of pest spray, I would find a new pet control company in a heartbeat. 

These things are all handle-able. They ARE. None of this is the end of the world, or even, taken individually, that big of a deal. I am not despondent, just frustrated. Frustrated because of these things and because today was supposed to be my one day this week to do some writing. (Does venting to you count as writing?)

Frustrated, too, because I am in a phase where everything seems to be falling apart: our fridge is still on the fritz, which means either an expensive repair or a new fridge; the shade in our bathroom no longer goes up more than a few inches; the WASP SITUATION; there is a stain on our front siding that I scrubbed off last week and has since reappeared, indicating a potential leak inside our soffit; we need to paint/stain/do something to both the trim on the front of the house and the playset in the yard.

And Father’s Day is this weekend, along with two birthday parties Carla is attending, and I am meeting a friend for her birthday tomorrow, so I have a million presents to wrap today/tomorrow and, this weekend, lots of good, wonderful reasons to not be writing. But it is all feeding the frustration. 

And Carla’s birthday is coming up and so there are a bunch of things to think about for that.

And my in-laws are visiting next week.

Anyway. It’s just now ten o’clock and I am already DONE with the day.

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