nothing more to do

I asked my husband, Anthony, if our kids could have extra screen time today: “Is 6 p.m. OK? I’d like to write a post.”

“Sure,” Anthony said, before returning to playing his video game.

Having gotten that okay to write a post, I suddenly found that … nothing I wanted to write could possibly fit into so small a time.

I decided not to write. Instead, I made my sons whipped cream; for such a simple treat, they rejoice every single time I make it (?!?!).

But when I was done, I realized I had a veritable ocean of minutes left between then and end of tonight’s-new-screentime-end. So: I decided to read blogs, for the first time in many days.


As luck would have it, the top couple of posts in my feeds described the 22nd of every month as “Pepper Day.” So I decided, knowing these posters but not much about Pepper Day: Why not?

Why not spend a dozen minutes simply stating exactly where I am right now?

Where I am:

The month since my sons began school has been harder than I could possibly explain. I thought last Spring’s willy-nilly, on-the-fly virtual instruction would have prepared me for more structured Fall virtual classes, but, wow, was I wrong.

This became clear when, one day a couple of weeks ago, I found myself struggling to explain to my older son how to answer a math problem. I was so damn tired, I literally couldn’t access the memory to understand–let alone explain–something that has been bone-deep knowledge for me since I was my son’s age.

After a lifetime of telling myself I Can Do Anything, Always, Period,

I went to my car and sobbed for several minutes before, knowing I could not possibly keep going as-was, I wondered what I could change and–still deep into bouts of sobbing–contacted my work team to say I could not sustain working eight hours daily right now … at least not without hurting myself and my family.

Fantastic news: They understood! All pretty much instantly replied that I ought take care of myself, and my family, so that …

I wondered: How did this not occur to me sooner?

How did it not occur to me to tap out?

Why, apart from ever-loud societal expectations (including those non-verbally communicated to me oft by my own intellectually-believed-otherwise mom) that women should work themselves to the bone and then dig even deeper into the bone, had it not occurred to me to just say: “I cannot sustain this in these circumstances”?!

Regardless of what held me back before that tear-filled moment,

I’m glad those sobs brought me clarity:

I cannot sustain this.

So, not yet two weeks into my new-er normal, I am so relieved to have confronted the fact I could not continue as-was.

While I can’t speak for next week, or next month, it seems quite probable, now, that I could continue as-is for some time–

with “as-is” being a combination of time, encouragement, and support,
as well as the bliss of having having made a few moments, every day,
to stare at the ceiling
with nothing more,
then,
to do.

even so, or: “shoes”

This time last year, my husband introduced me to the 2006 music video “Shoes.”

When the video began playing, I couldn’t imagine why Anthony shared it. WTF was it, even?

By the end of the video, though, I was laughing. Hard. I couldn’t remember laughing that hard, or feeling so very-not-serious about anything, for years.

My kids and I ended up watching dozens of videos by the video’s maker, Kelly Liam Kyle Sullivan. Our favorites were “Muffins” and “Kelly’s Hollywood Meeting.”

When my late October birthday came around, my husband bought me two gifts: a Kelly shirt emblazoned with BETCH (Being En Total Control of Herself, natch), and another with the proprietor of Cunningham Muffins at her very wildest, muffin-loving best. Continue reading “even so, or: “shoes””

worth more

As my mom often told it, she was ten or eleven years when she first began losing her religion.

It wasn’t that Mom was faithless; she was, indeed, built to believe, as evidenced by her lifelong search for a place to express her deeply felt faith.

It was, rather, that she didn’t—couldn’t possibly—believe a woman’s sole path to heaven was being called there by her husband. That she could envision believing herself worthy of welcome in every single room of buildings of worship, instead of being prohibited from entering many for her audacity to not be born a man.

By the time she could talk about all this with me, I was myself ten or eleven to her thirty-ish years of age.

She’d left her religion an eternity ago, by my reckoning, and it had been—naturally, for things that have happened eternities ago!—a clean break. Continue reading “worth more”

(now) uncommon magic

This morning, my sixth grader, my first grader, my husband, our dog, and I all gathered together on our futon. This uncommon magic lasted for almost ten whole minutes.

To capture a fragment of the moment, I took pictures of my first grader and our fourteen-year-old dog together. The picture captured only a small part of that heart-filled moment, from the outside.

From inside the moment, though? It captured everything–most important of all, what might be some of the very, very last moments my older son is willing to snuggle.

You don’t need to see those moments for me to be able to see and feel in them all their heartbreak, and wonder,

and joy.

 

 

to show up

Today was my sons’ second day of (online) school this Fall.

Anxieties have run high among the adults in my home the last week or so: “What?! We just got the hang of COVID summer. How are we supposed to adapt to school now, when Summer just started … it did just start, didn’t it? Wait, is it still 2020?”

The first two days went pretty well, actually. I was able to collapse the chaos of virtual school-plus-work into a spreadsheet, and then … reality actually conformed itself, more or less, to that spreadsheet!

(That seldom happens, so I take time to savor it when it does.)

The best part of day two involved a summer assignment my older son finished a little late: “As a family, talk about an event in the news and how it relates to your faith.” Continue reading “to show up”

possible

Early yesterday morning, I took my sons for drive-through hot chocolate. Rather than heading straight home afterward, I drove surface streets for a few minutes before hopping on the freeway.

Even for a Friday morning in pandemic times, traffic was unbelievably light. For a few miles, then, we got to do one of my favorite things in the world: unhindered by bumper-to-bumper traffic, fly down the freeway in SoCal sunlight.

My heart soared, despite the outward mundanity of the act.

I grinned as I told my kids how much I loved the feeling. I’d only just voiced curiosity about the source of this feeling when I found my answer, which I shared with my kids. Continue reading “possible”

love can win

Many with privilege can recognize, in the abstract at least, that poverty and the suffering it creates are a scourge and that we should work to end them. But without ever having lived in poverty, they may not appreciate its wiles, how it penetrates every aspect of a life. Many more do live in poverty, but because the nature of poverty is to disempower and distract, the burdens of their daily lives limit their capacity to act. Few have both an intimate understanding of the day-to-day reality of poverty—the suffering it causes—and the privilege to address it. The profound responsibility of those in this last category abides.

— Abdul Al-Sayed, Healing Politics

After I gave birth to my younger son in early 2014,
I suffered profound postpartum depression.

I remember:
With grim determination, tears streaming down my face,
telling my husband that I only kept going because
my children needed my income to survive …
and I remembered, oh how I remembered,
how the kids across the street suffered
when they lost their dad to suicide.

“Your kids need more than your income from you, Deb,”
my husband told me.

At that point,
no part of me believed it.

I’d grown up the poor oldest daughter
of four poor children of a
poor single mom; Continue reading “love can win”

to karen (1)

A few weeks ago, I wrote about concerns with Karens,

as well as concerns with my own use of the word “Karens” (noun) instead of karen-ing (verb).

I’ve been thinking about karen-ing a lot the last week or two:

What does it mean to karen?

Who is most likely, based on societal structures today,

to feel empowered to karen in public?

Do I karen? If so,

How do I adjust my life in ways that help me

karen less?

While the process of discovery as I’ve experienced it isn’t as linear as the nature of English and blogging may make it sound, the process really did begin with one question above all:

“What does it mean to karen?” What’s the definition as I’d write it?

To come to that definition, I had to first answer a different question:

Apart from the fact they’d been perpetrated by white women, what did all the acts of karening I’d witnessed on social media have in common?

In each case, a white woman felt subjectively threatened by the skin color and/or non-aggressive acts of a Black person, and then acted out that sense of threat in ways that increased possibility of harm to the Black person.

Thanks to author Nassim Nicholas Taleb, I had words for what was happening in these moments of karening: Continue reading “to karen (1)”

laughing, right here

Rache & I, these days

Many years ago,
before either of us become moms,

I dreamed my sister Rache and I
were leaders in a
human uprising
against brutal
space aliens

(both of us are
horror lovers, so:
this was not as out of left field
as it might sound).

Eventually,
in this dream,
there came a time
where Rache got really
sad and tired about the
kind of life that could be lived
in such a prolonged fight.

An ASNAC nerd scholar,
her my-dream self told me, “Deb,
if I can’t study Beowulf,
why am I even here?
I need you to
let me go.” Continue reading “laughing, right here”