Three.

I get laryngitis all the time. Probably at least once a year — since I was a teenager at least. And every time, without fail, there comes a day where, suddenly, not only do I completely forget what my actual voice sounds like, but I am also absolutely certain that it will never return the same as it was before. This is where I am in my quarantine. I forget what it is like to make social plans, to see people’s actual faces, to have someplace to be and I am absolutely certain we won’t return to a sense of normalcy that actually feels…normal.

I had heard a long time ago about the “Icky 3s” as it related to quitting something and quitting other people seems to be no exception. “At three weeks, we’ve gotten through the shock of physical withdrawal and we’re just beginning to tackle the mental side.” Uh, yeah. That’s pretty much spot on. It doesn’t seem crazy anymore or as weird as it did. I notice I’m not (nor is really anyone else) saying things like “in these strange times” nearly as much as we all were. It’s not that strange anymore. It’s a new normal. But I’m reactive and moody and I’ve retreated pretty far into myself (for me, anyway) as a response to the social interaction craving.

I’m also absolutely enraged by people not following protocol. Anytime someone tells me they’re seeing family members because “we’re related!” I want to scream. I thought at first that it could be jealousy and a sense of fairness (if I can’t, why can you?) but then I realized that it’s actually indigence. If I will, why won’t you? It’s really no different from someone listening to a video on their laptop in a cafe at full volume. It would be chaos if we all did it and the only reason you’re able to is because I (and other people like me) are. The chaos is real. Driving your brother to CVS or having your adult nephew over for lunch in the middle of a stay-at-home order is listening to your laptop at full volume in a cafe. Those of us following the rules and staying home are making it safe for you to abandon those very same rules.

I could go on and on with various metaphors and ranting, but it actually doesn’t help me. Rage is not going to make this any better. Ennui is not going to make this any better. Wallowing in carbs is not going to make this any better (though it is going to make it taste better.) The only thing that is going to make it better is to keep slogging through it and to remember that there will again be warm, sunny days where we see neighbors from a distance and play games as a family and get work done and the goodness of people shows itself clearly.

Until then, fuck Week Three. Fuck it right to hell.

In the Bag.

I gave up coffee during this quarantine. Not at all on purpose, but I had a cup one day and I felt like crap all day. The next day, I didn’t (inadvertently) and realized I felt better. Then I had one the next day and felt like crap again. Seems like a no-brainer. I don’t miss it, but the headaches coming off caffeine kind of suck. I’ve been subbing my morning beverage out with decaf black tea (all we have) but I’m hoping for regular tea in our next rations drop. (That’s what online grocery feels like now. Brown bag on our doorstep. Knock and leave.)

The Who decided that he prefers a schedule, which is a total reversal, although I can see that predictability in this mess could be a craving. When he was in school and doing all his extra-curriculars, the last thing he wanted on the weekend was a schedule. Now that we are home and scheduled basically to the minute all week, he finds that he misses the structure over the weekend. He can’t wait to get back to it tomorrow.

And about that schedule…I’m finding it incredibly comforting, too. I like knowing what’s coming and when. It is pretty structured, but it’s also not overwhelming. It’s not like I have him buried in math problems for six hours a day. There are about 1.5 hours of academics (tomorrow it’s Civics and Art), lots of breaks (some with screens and some without), quiet time, “recess” (which is always outside, twice a day if its not raining), chores, regular practices (Hebrew and piano), and the occasional virtual extracurricular (also Hebrew and piano, actually.) It sounds full, but it’s got a soothing pace to it.

We’re also doing a very good job of keeping him off the news. We asked him not to watch news on YouTube and we are very mindful of not putting it on the TV unless he is in the basement or in bed. It’s working for me, too. I got saturated in the first few days. A quick catch-up on MSNBC in the evening is enough. Being assaulted with doom is really hell on the psyche. Who knew?

I don’t want to pretend it’s not happening, but I’m really just trying to bury my head in the sand just enough. You know how when you’re walking somewhere far and you keep your eyes down, looking at your feet or counting the sidewalk cracks, you’re there before you know it, but if you keep looking ahead at the destination, it feels like forever? That’s sort of how I am approaching this. Head down, assuming we are in it forever, and hoping to be pleasantly surprised when one day, they just say the spread is over. The vaccine is ready. The flowers are in full bloom. You get a car and you get a car and you get a car! Everybody gets a car!

Until then, though, more wiping down my groceries with Clorox wipes and singing the ABCs in front of the sink.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Stay the fuck home. I love you.

Bullets.

  • Kids (and really everyone) talk VERY loud when they are video chatting with headphones on.
  • Outside is amazing.
  • When people are scared, sometimes anger bubbles right up to the surface.
  • Wearing real pants all day, while not the most comfortable, makes me feel more human.
  • Obvious things don’t seem the same level of obvious to all people.
  • Algebra is hard.
  • When people are scared, sometimes incredible human kindness and generosity bubbles right up to the surface.
  • Bread, eggs, and milk (ok, half and half) really are snow day/quarantine necessities in my family and it has nothing to do with French toast.
  • Having a kid has really changed my perception of my own mortality. I think there might have been a time in the past where I thought: well, if I get it, I get it. That is not the case anymore.
  • Booking future airfare in the middle of this shows incredible optimism (which, aside from my daily 10-minute freakout and nighttime news saturation, I have.)
  • Snow days and natural disasters only offer local empathy and community. Global pandemics offer a sense of oneness many have never experienced in their lives.

Shit.

In my writing group last night, the prompt was, “You’re full of shit.” This is what came out of it. The disclaimer here is that this is not memoir. But it’s not fiction either. This particular scenario never happened, but many similar ones did.

———-
“You’re full of shit,” he said, not fully understanding what the phrase even meant, but having heard it enough times to repeat it in a way that felt authentic.

“And you’re grounded,” she replied, not fully understanding the implication.

“You’re a piece of shit!” he hurled back, his face crumpling into a sadness born of humiliation and regret. He immediately thought of saying, “I didn’t mean it,” but there wasn’t time. He saw something behind her eyes change, a snarl grew on her lip, and he turned and took the steps two at a time, slamming the door to his bedroom when he got there.

She fumed. Breathed. Seethed. Slammed the cover of her laptop down and dropped her head into her hands. “That piece of shit,” she said under her breath and wondered where he had even heard the words before. She uncrossed her legs, put her feet flat on the floor, and tried to remember what he had told her. “Try counting to ten,” he had suggested, as if it were the most novel idea in the world. Breathe in and out a ten count. She tried it. One. Breathe. In. Out. Two. Breathe. In. Out. She heard stomping upstairs and then what sounded like books being thrown from a bookshelf. “That motherfucker,” she seethed. Three. Breathe. In. Out. Four. Five. When she got to six, she felt something relax in her back. The heat in her cheeks started to fade. Seven. Eight. By the time she got to nine, she was nearly blaming herself and then she heard his feet on the stairs.

“Mama?” His voice was small and choked. She didn’t even need ten.

“C’mere baby,” she practically cooed and he came to her. Leaned his surprisingly heavy body into hers, all elbows and knees, his sharp chin buried in her neck.

“I’m sorry.” He said it first. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. But maybe he was a better student than she was a teacher.

“I am too,” she said. “I didn’t mean to yell like that.”

They stayed like that for a long time, their breath falling into rhythm until eventually he pulled himself away and settled heavily into the couch next to her, lightly turning the drawstring of her hoodie in his fingers.

After a long while, he sighed. She looked down at him. “You are full of shit a little, though,” he said, a smile playing on his lips.

Fair, she thought. But said nothing.

[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.

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.