[Name].

The first time the Who asked to add my maiden name to his middle name was a couple of years ago.

“Sure,” I told him. “Whenever you’re ready, we will help you do that.” I didn’t know exactly what it would entail, but I knew I was going to wait for him to ask again before looking into it.

The second time he asked was a year and a half later. Whether the time between asks was a function of him not being ready or just absent-mindedness, I don’t know. But this time, he was more insistent. “When are we going to add [the name] to mine?”

“Say the word and we will get the ball rolling.”

And I waited again. Three asks seemed like the right amount. It’s arbitrary, I know. But only a week later, he asked again. So after three unsolicited asks and at 10 years old, we began the process.

Turns out that while changing your name as an adult requires taking out ads in local papers and a court date, changing a minor’s name (at least the middle name) is a piece of cake. They consider it a “correction” to the birth certificate and all it requires is filling out a form, paying $25, and getting it notarized.

So here we are, a mere three months after the final ask, and The Who, formerly a boy with three names is now a boy with four, placing him in a long line of [name]s, reaching all the way back to the shtetl.

There is something about a name that connects him to me the way that even carrying him inside my womb for nine months didn’t do. It’s a lineage. A history. A mark of who he is and where he came from. His full name is now a thread that ties him from my ancestors to me, to her, to her ancestors, wrapping him in all of our stories, from generations past to generations still to come.

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Bullets

  • They called my car a total loss and I have mixed feelings. On the one hand: new car! On the other hand: new car payment.
  • I don’t trust anyone to do what they are supposed to do on the road anymore. It makes driving way more stressful than it used to be. It’s a good thing there are some good podcasts right now because white-knuckling my commute with nothing to listen to would be a bummer.
  • I thought a “mid-sized SUV” was what I wanted. Turned out those are boats. I want a compact SUV.
  • I feel like Suburu should have Pride month specials. Lesbarus for all! 🏳️‍🌈
  • That said, I’m leaning toward a Honda.
  • That said, it’s really unfortunate that I have absolutely zero faith in American-made cars.
  • Unrelated: I am excited to start some modules in my nerdy Adobe Suite online training course. Photoshop is my dreamy boyfriend and I can’t wait to learn Illustrator.
  • Cross stitching into the wee hours of morning while binge-watching Handmaid’s Tale is making me feel some kind of way. I keep telling myself that it’s dystopian. It’s not prophetic. Except…
  • My baby Who added my maiden name to his legal name at his own repeated behest. The paperwork came through today, days after he turned 10 and a half. That kid. 💗
  • 2am is ridiculous. I am a grown-ass woman. There’s no excuse for my being up this late. Except maybe for all the swirling anxiety.

Awake.

I’m at that part of a cold where I wake up every couple of hours with an impossibly scratchy throat and the only thing that soothes it is a cough drop (that i don’t have.) At the 12:45am wake-up, I foraged in the kitchen and came up with some sour cherry gummy candy rings. The sugar coating was just scratchy enough to get relief and the gummy candy acted like a sort of Pine Bros. situation. It was the best I could do, but I still saw 1:52am, 3:37am, and 4:24am. I figured I might as well blog since I’m up anyway. The birds are starting to chirp. It will be normal to be awake soon.

I realized yesterday that I am approaching my most misanthropic months — the ones leading up to a presidential election. It has happened without fail the last two election cycles. Slowly but surely as candidates start announcing and the political chatter heats up on the facebooks, people start to show themselves for who they truly are. And, spoiler alert, they’re kind of assholes.

As it turns out, it’s not just politics-related. It’s just that my people-hating meter becomes the most sensitive around this time. Maybe it’s the news cycle of terrible decisions and terrible responses to terrible decisions or maybe it’s just springtime. Everyone is shaking off the winter cobwebs and coming back to life. :::blink blink::: what? Immigrants are still coming in? ::::blink blink:::: Women are still allowed to make choices for their own bodies? This will never do!

I am generally optimistic about people. I believe people are inherently good. When they do bad things, I am forgiving. I look for the reasons. I hold them accountable, but I can usually see the path to how they got from innocent baby to hateful adult and when the bad news comes in like a steady drip, I can keep up with it. But as elections draw closer, people feel emboldened to show their true, horrible colors and the steady drip becomes a full running faucet. And once were in the full swing after primaries, it’ll be basically a breached levee. How could I ever keep up with that much? How can I ever explain away or see the paths from innocent to baby to hateful adult of that many people? Inevitably, I end up changing my fundamental belief that people are inherently good.

I hate people. I hate people who think Alabama is making the right decision. I hate people who shoot up synagogues. I hate people who are white men and insist on running for election in a crowded field of more deserving candidates. I hate people who think that class size doesn’t matter in the fifth grade. I hate people who think that their position as an elected official makes them superior beings. I hate people who don’t hold the elevator. I hate people who beep at people when they don’t notice a light has turned green right away. I hate people who steal parking spaces. I hate people who need parking spaces. I hate people who drive. I hate people who wake up every morning and get in my way. I hate that guy getting his coffee at Wawa.

See? See where I went? Misanthropy. Full blown, unapologetic misanthropy. And it won’t go away until 2020. And maybe not even then.

It’s 5:04 now. Maybe I can catch another 56 minutes of sleep before it’s fully light out.

Annual.

I’m pretty sure that getting melancholic, overwhelmed, and feeling basically like a failure at everything I attempt is an annual thing now. This is the second year in a row and two years in a row makes it a thing, I think.

I used to be a great lover of my birthday. I always insisted that my party be on the actual day of and there was literally nothing I loved more than all my friends all around me, celebrating me. But lately, it’s just not that great. I mean, don’t misunderstand; I still really love people celebrating me. It’s just that I don’t anticipate the day the way I used to. And, more unsettlingly, now I actually find that there are more woeful days surround April 8 than joyful ones.

I’d say it’s a function of getting older and mortality awareness and the whole thing about time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’ into the future — and, sure, there’s probably some of that, but I have friends my age or older who seem to still really luxuriate in the glow of a birthday month — or at least a birthday week.

I said a couple of weeks ago that I felt like all my plates were falling. I dropped the ball on work deadlines, personal deadlines, side job deadlines, and volunteer deadlines. I found myself wanting only to scroll ceaselessly through Facebook, despite how mind numbingly terrible it is these days. I went to bed too late, did too little, and spiraled in and out of shame cycles about all of it.

It’s funny how I’m using the past tense because, actually, it’s still going on. Witness: it’s 1:20 am and I am navel gazing instead of sleeping.

Last year, my crisis came to light when I found that I wept every time Adele’s “When We Were Young” popped into my playlist, yet I masochistically kept it on heavy rotation. It’s my birthday! This whole thing is because I’m getting old! I had, like, a eureka moment. And then I felt instantly better. Identifying the root of the malaise was like flipping on a switch. After weeks of underperforming and feeling like shit, it all got better. The song stopped bringing me to my knees. I got more productive in my job. I refocused my energy and attention with The Who and April 8th came and went with lovely little celebrations marking the arguably happy occasion of my 44th birthday.

But now it’s a year later. Almost exactly. It’s three weeks from April 8th now and I’m circling the drain of ennui. I cross stitched for 5 straight hours today and for the first time in many years, I wondered if it might be an excellent idea to give up all my responsibilities and just hop on a Greyhound.

Instead, I decided to throw away all the Mike-n-Ike wrappers, put the cross stitch away, get into my bed, and write this. More productive than the bus thing. But it still sounds pretty tempting.**

———-

** Relax. I’m not going anywhere. This has been my escape fantasy for decades and it’s never come to fruition. I’ll be at work tomorrow. I’ll be picking the kids up for Hebrew school on Tuesday. I’ll be making dinner and doing dishes. And — I’ll be turning 45 really soon. I’m just not that happy about any of it right now.

Late.

My bread mix was a cup of flour short and so when I went to check on it, I was attempting to prove challah soup. (I say “prove” now because I’m posh and I have been binge-watching The Great British Baking Show.) Fortunately, I started the bread early enough that I had time to start again, with the proper amount of flour, which is not something I always do — start early enough to account for mishaps and unexpected timesucks. It is, however, something I have been trying to teach The Who to do. (Do as I say, not as I do? Don’t lecture me; I’m working on it.)

We are almost always scrambling at the last minute. We aim for 8:35. We’re usually screeching out of the driveway at 8:50 (as much as an electric car can screech, which is basically not at all) getting him to school and me to work with just mere minutes to spare. I mean, his morning routine is fairly simple: get dressed, brush teeth, socks and shoes, eat something. And, considering that he wakes up naturally by 7 at the latest, there shouldn’t be an issue. Except — there always is. Mostly because he wants to do all the things before his routine begins: watch YouTube, play video games, throw a ball against the wall, whittle some stick (seriously — this is a new pastime and I have the bark shavings all over the kitchen floor to prove it.) He also grossly underestimates the time it takes him to do anything. “I can get my shoes on in, like, 30 seconds.” Sure. If you were wearing flip flops instead of tightly laced, double-knotted high-tops.

So, the other day, we’re backing out of the driveway at 8:50 as usual and we see a giant truck blocking the alley where we park. I could pull back into my driveway and go out the other way, but I don’t want to. And, frankly, I’m annoyed that we’re running late again to begin with. I take all of my frustration (with The Who for being late, with me for not enforcing better time management, and with the guy in the truck, who really doesn’t deserve any of it) and channel it into a lesson. (Pause and take a moment to celebrate this with me; how often do I ever have the wherewithal to take frustration and make it into something useful in the moment? Not often.)

“See?” I said to The Who. “This is why you should always build ten extra minutes into your schedule — to account for things that are beyond your control. If we were leaving ten minutes early, this would be no big deal.” (This, by the way, is the same lesson I used to try to teach my students to no avail. “If you printed your paper last night instead of this morning, when the printer ran out of ink, you would have had time to replace it.”) Anyway, that was all I said and left it at that.

A week or so later, it happened that I had a morning meeting at work that I forgot to tell The Who about, meaning that we had to leave ten minutes earlier than usual. I expected a lot of pushback about it, but surprisingly got none. Instead, when I poked my head downstairs and told him we needed to leave, he cheerfully said, “perfect timing! I just finished my game!” Then he came upstairs, put his shoes on, brushed his teeth, and we were out the door exactly on time. As we were pulling out of the driveway, he said, “See, Mama? Good thing I did what you told me to do and built an extra ten minutes into my schedule because then I was ready even though you had to leave early unexpectedly!”

Did you comprehend that fully? I gave some advice to my tween in a moment of frustration, he pocketed it, pulled it out later on his own, used it, and then happily told me about it. It’s a freaking magical miracle. I mean, it might not happen regularly (or ever again for that matter) but it did happen.

Parenting can often feel like Groundhog Day. You say the same stuff over and over and nothing ever changes. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve told him to throw away the wrapper from his chocolate milk bottle or turn off the bathroom light when he’s done. But every now and then something sticks. A freaking magical miracle, I tell you.

2018.

The 2018 New Year’s Meme:

Did you do something you thought you would never do?
Cancelled a two-week vacation days before we were going to take it.

Did you keep any New Year’s Resolutions?
I didn’t make any resolutions because I hate cliche. But maybe my resolution this year will be to make one. That might be too meta.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

Did anyone close to you die?
No. But a friend’s spouse died very suddenly. I felt and continue to feel impacted pretty profoundly with the realization that it can happen at any time and to anyone — and what it means to me every day to have a spouse and what it could be like if that was taken from me the way it was taken from her.

Did you visit any countries outside the US?
No. We intended to visit a part of Canada I’ve never seen before as part of the trip that was canceled, though.

What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?
More discipline and a bigger car (although that’s really not in the cards until 2020.)

Will any date from 2018 stay etched in your memory forever?
11/27. Keeping a human that I built from scratch alive for a decade felt monumental.

What was your biggest achievement of 2018?
Negotiating the work schedule I wanted. I know a lot of people and moving parts went into the finessing of it, but it took a boatload of courage to say what I needed in the first place.

What was your biggest failure?
I made a couple of social missteps that landed me in places I didn’t relish being.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major. I am currently at the beginning of the end of what is probably my worst upper respiratory illness since the day I found out I was pregnant, though.

What was the best thing you bought in ’18?
My new Big Fig mattress

Did your behavior change over the year?
I think it’s constantly changing.

Where did you spend most of your money?
Technically, it’s Hanukkah gifts. The new pool/ping-pong table, actually. It would have been that big vacation.

Are you happier than this time last year?
In some ways, a little less happy. In other ways, the same amount of happy.

What song will remind you of 2018?
Baby Shark, of all things. Ugh.

What do you wish you would have done more of?
Date nights, art, writing.

What do you wish you would have done less of?
Reprimanding. Gossipping.

What did/will you do for Christmas ’18?
It was very low-key, in part by design and in part because of the URI I’m still nursing. We went to the movies (Mary Poppins Returns) and went out for Chinese food.

Did you fall in love in 2018?
No.

Did you get your heart broken in 2018?
No.

Favorite TV programs of ’18?
This is Us, My Brilliant Friend, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and an assortment of mindless TLC reality shows.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nah, same people.

What was the best book you read and/or movie you saw?
The best book was Just Kids and the best movie was RBG.

What was your greatest discovery?
This isn’t new, but I rediscovered my sewing machine recently and found that I can do things like hem pants in ten minutes before school drop-off.

What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I turned 44. I had breakfast at Bittersweet, like I always do on my birthday. Then taught Hebrew school, took The Who to basketball clinic, and went to see the re-release of the movie Grease in the theatre with my pals.

What would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
The removal of the entire current administration.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2018?
Maxi skirts and Crocs/Uggs (depending on the weather)

What was your greatest disappointment in 2018?
My greatest disappointment continues to the current administration and the fact that despite so much apparent evidence, nothing of consequence is really happening to take it down.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
The Who’s. I mean, he’s a tween now and he has the mouth to prove it, but overall, his behavior definitely merits celebration. He maintains a pretty rigorous schedule, works hard in school, plays hard at sports, meets challenges as they get thrown at him, grapples with right and wrong, and aside from the typical heavy sighing and eye-rolling, takes most of it in stride.

Who was the best new person you met?
Tracie and Lianne, but it’s possible I met them at the tail end of 2017.

Who did you wish you did not meet?
No one.

Who was your best friend?
M* is my best friend.

Who was your enemy?
No enemies, but a few I could really do without.

Who do you miss?
I continue to miss my grandmother. Also: SKB, KAE, DD, and my mama.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018?
Stepping back is ok for a little while, but you have to get back in the ring if the fight’s not won.

What will you always remember about 2018?
This wasn’t a super-remarkable year. It was fine, but nothing too monumental.

Brine.

Maybe you remember the Great Brine Incident of 2012. But just in case you don’t, let me refresh:

It was the first time I was making Thanksgiving dinner in my own home. My parents were due in town and I had pre-ordered and picked up a much-too-big turkey from an Amish farm. Having done some research online, I understood that I should sugar/saline-brine my turkey in a container large enough to submerge it in the bath and cover by at least another inch. Owning no such vessel, I probed further online and learned about brining bags — these giant, heavy-duty ziplock bags designed to contain both bird and bath and sit on a shelf in the fridge.

I mixed the solution, took all the bagged things out of the cavity of my giant turkey, plucked the remaining feathers out of it (such is the way with a fresh local turkey) and got it into the bag, sealed, and in the refrigerator.

Later, when my whole family was asleep and my house was blissfully silent, I attempted to turn the brining bag over (in order to evenly soak) one last time before bed. Maybe by now you can see where this is headed. Somehow, in the process of turning the bag, the zip-lock burst open, exploding sugary sticky raw turkey juice all over me, the floor, the refrigerator, and everything in it.

Suffice it to say that I made the decision in that moment never to brine a turkey again. And, between travel to Boston and choosing to roast chicken instead, I haven’t. This year, though, armed with new information, I am braving the big fowl again.

What new information could I possibly have that would change my mind? Two words: Dry. Brine.

This year, I am trying a dry brine. The internets swear that this kosher salt and baking powder rub will yield a juicy bird with crispy skin and won’t flood my fridge in the meantime, so I’m game. I spent the afternoon today picking up my pre-ordered Black Heritage farm share turkey, patting all of its moist parts dry, delivering the salt rub under and on the skin, and otherwise prepping it to sit for two days.

A note about turkeys: they are fucking huge. And I have to tell you, there is a not-small part of me that honestly believed that when I got finished pulling the neck out of the cavity, there would be a head attached.

Anyway. So that’s where we are. My fridge is full up with dry brined poultry (we’ve named him Mort and greet him every time we go in for a snack or a drink) and I have touched more raw bird today than I really need to ever again. I’m ready for Thursday. Bring it.