[Quiet Thoughts] Light Against the Darkness

Non-photo: It just wasn’t a week to take pictures, Dear Reader. But stay tuned next week. I’ve got a little surprise for you…

 

I had a moment in my car. I find that grief comes most acutely in the silent moments, alone and in my head. I was parked in front of my house, the breeze was going through the trees. It was so quiet, so beautiful, the sun shining down and warming a calm world.

I wondered, out loud: Don’t you hear us praying? We’re asking you to deliver us, to not let us suffer simply because we exist and others hate us for it. Are you really going to leave us here like this?

I realized how purely impious I was being in that moment, failing a fairly fundamental test of Christian faith. I felt guilty, ashamed. I thought about Grandy, how disappointed she would be at my indiscretion, how much wisdom she would give to me in that moment. She would have admonished in her first breath, taught with her second. It would have made everything better. The world would have such clarity.

So, in my pain and in my low state, I asked my next question: How could you leave me here when I need your advice now more than ever?

And the tears came.

I have had moments of grace, I have had moments of terror, and I’ve had moments of the most intense sort of grief. Grief compounded and compounded as all of this terrible year seems to fold in on itself. Introduce fear into it and it’s a cocktail for absolute disaster. Where grief is a viscous air that chokes and weakens, fear is a sharp, piercing poison that rips and then grips tightly before spreading throughout the body.

It has felt like too much. How the hell to move forward? Do I have the strength to take the advice that I’ve been so freely given to like-minded friends all week?

And can I do it with my faith intact?

I have learned two lessons this autumn that I will always keep with me:

The first I have shared with you before, and I think it still applies beautifully:

In the face of death, bring life with you.

The second is something that is counter to my usually introverted personality:

In moments of crisis, I’m at my best when I’m reaching out.

Each of us (those who are feeling anxious and fearful about the next 4 years) will have to create for ourselves a toolkit for survival. I wrote last week about becoming a “patron” to two local causes that are dear to me, and that’s because I’m programmed to think about others before I think about myself. But this week, my brain has clicked over to self-preservation. How to combat the poison trying to make its way through my system? How can I resist the onslaught myself so that way I’ll be strong enough to aid in the larger resistance to come?

This is what I wrote in my notebook this week:

  1. Intellectualism will be under attack. Therefore, I will read widely and ferociously.
  2. Art will be under attack. Therefore, I will create with purpose, intensity, and frequency.
  3. Journalism will be under attack. Therefore, I will read it with increased scrutiny (and pay for it).
  4. Non-Violent Radicalism will be under attack. Therefore, I will seek radical thought and apply it appropriately.
  5. History will be under attack. Therefore, I will read it, preserve it and teach it to my children with integrity.
  6. Color will be under attack. Therefore, I will be beautiful, graceful and conspicuous with my presence.

To be honest, these are things that I’ve done for my whole life (maybe not always number 4. I’m pretty square and I prefer rules over chaos). There is nothing new here. But to write them down, to reaffirm and recommit, is very powerful. It’s the perfect antidote to the fear, the perfect hit of oxygen to stop the choking. Rearticulating my values, the core of myself and how I exist in this world, is going to get me through this. My truth will be the light I bring to guard against the darkness that is coming. Stating and restating the purpose of my life and what it means will be the perfect rod and staff to comfort me in this 4-year journey through the valley.

And I will reach out my hand time and again. In moments of crisis, when I don’t think I can take anymore, then I will reach out: in service or for help. When I chose to reach out, I feel better.

I write these Quiet Thoughts because this defeat is hard, because the world feels out of sorts, and because the sun keeps managing to rise each morning. It has only been a week, and there is an unbearable nature to how this is going. The waiting is actually worse than the shock, as we are reminded with each appointment, each misstep he is already making, just how much we’ve lost and just how much more we still stand to lose. Resistance is what has been called for, but resistance requires multiple levels and types of strength. The Resistance must be made up of many, many strong individuals. This kind of strength training takes hard work. Take your time and do it well, Dear Reader. We need you.

It is a mild Friday night, Dear Reader. The last little tease of warmth before the first flurries threaten to fly this season. The farmhouse is warm, the children are sleeping, there is plenty of work to do and so little time to get it all done. I don’t know a lot of things, Dear Reader. I don’t know what’s in store for us, for sure. But here is what I do know: I’m grateful for your presence, so thankful for your readership. Thank you for spending a little bit of your time here with me each week. I wish you restful sleep this weekend, deep and healing, the kind with dreams that stir the soul. I wish you food the fills, warms, and nourishes. The kind that takes hours to slowly prepare, complex and layered with flavor, best enjoyed in the company of others and with a good, dark beer. I wish you the lingering embrace of a person you love, holding on for a breath longer than usual, letting their warmth and scent soak in for a moment. I wish you the wise words of an elder, comforting and resolved. I wish you the sweet words of a cherished one, heartwarming and intimate. Finally, I wish you a little time to look yourself in the mirror and remind yourself of how beautiful and important you are. You can be the solution to one of the world’s problems, Dear Reader. You are someone’s light against the darkness.

Until Monday, take care of yourself, Dear Reader.

 

Talk Less, [Listen] More…

 

So, it’s Wednesday, and Wednesdays are the crazy day of the week. The ultimate destination is guitar after school, which used to be a semi-relaxing time to sit and breathe after a long day. Post-election, the lady in charge who sits at the front desk, has needed to talk. And, as I explained last week (and I explain to the husband often), I’m the closest Oprah around, so she needs to talk to me. (That’s right: Black, overweight, generally a good listener = resident Oprah. It’s a thing. People think I’m approachable. I wish I could get in on the cash part of it, though!) I spent the 30 minutes of the lesson making this woman feel better while making myself more anxious.

Then that one mom came in.

Remember that time, way in the beginning of the school year, when I encountered the Mom who didn’t want summer to end? She was just having such a great time, just couldn’t bear to send the kids back? Well, turns out her kid and my kid are in the same class because, you know, God has an excellent sense of humor. Of course, her older kid has a guitar lesson right after Major has his, so I have to see her at the tail end of my busy Wednesday. I feel the need to be pleasant, which is… draining.

There I am, speaking with the lady at the desk about the post-election fallout, and here comes That Mom, bright and sunshiny as usual, her kids and their dog in tow. Everybody exchanges looks and sighs about what’s going on in the news. “How are you doing?” We all ask each other.

I answered honestly. “My husband and I were talking this morning about getting a dog or something. I don’t really feel safe right now. Not even in my own home. I just want something with a big woof to be a deterrent, you know?”

That Mom was sincerely shocked. “Oh my goodness, no! You are safe here! You are surrounded by like-minded people!”

Lordy. I’m such a moron. Why do I ever answer honestly? And why did I continue on? “Not surrounded. There were plenty of [He Who Will Not Be Named] supporters in town at the polling place. I am not going to pretend like I don’t know where I live.”

“But this is Massachusetts. Stuff like that doesn’t happen here!”

“Yeah, I want to think that, but then I turned on the news and heard that [a hate group] is putting its newspapers in people’s driveways not far from here.” I told her.

She nodded her head. “I heard about that, too. Just can’t believe it.”

I crossed my arms, ready to leave. “See?”

There was a silence for a moment. Then she leaned in a bit. “Well, you should just know that they are the minority,” That Mom said. “and that this isn’t my choice. My kids don’t even see race! They don’t see color. They don’t see wheelchairs… they don’t see religion. I’m giving them a moral compass. They are my little proteges. And I’m not shielding them from what’s happening. They need to see this and know what it is.”

Alrighty.

I hope I didn’t sneer or scowl. I wanted to tell her that Massachusetts liberals are some of the most racist people I know. That this state is one of the most segregated in the country. That I’ve never experienced so much racial tension in my life until I moved here, that Massachusetts racism is some of the most insidious because it’s so hidden, so nuanced, so utterly unfair, unreasonable, illogical…

But I called to my children instead and told them to come on. It was time to go home. I wasn’t going to teach that woman anything. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she’s part of the problem. I didn’t have that fight in me.

I recognize that my disengaging is part of the problem, too. Change requires discourse, learning requires confrontation of normalized thoughts and behaviors. In other words, if I want to see different results during the next go-round, I need to actively choose discomfort in order to carve out opportunities to change minds.

That Mom isn’t my enemy. Her heart is in the right place. But, because her mouth was open, her mind closed, she wasn’t actually doing anything to be a good ally. That conversation is part of the reason why I don’t feel safe right now. She’s right, I am surrounded by like-minded people. They think they are being supportive, but really, they are making themselves feel better about themselves. A good ally listens with empathy first, seeks understanding second, takes action afterward.  But the number one best thing a real ally can do is listen.

I have had my moments of grace this week and then I’ve had others of a deep and unabiding dread. It’s difficult to try to reassure others (not by telling them that it will be ok, but by telling them to watch and wait. We’ll know what we are really dealing with after the first 100 days), when I cannot always reassure myself. I’m a fool to try, frankly.

I can’t believe it’s only been a week. What a damn nightmare. How are you holding up, Dear Reader? Have you found any effective strategies to soothe? Distract? I’d love to know.

See you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.

What My Kindergartner is Learning

Photo: Minor came home with this beautiful work of art today. It’s remarkable enough to put on the blog because it’s the first work of art I’ve seen from him that didn’t have a speck of yellow on it. This child has always found a way to put in yellow (or simply not do the work). I’m not a big hearts sort of girl. I prefer other shapes. But these two hearts are gonna get hung somewhere before the end of the week!

 

Two stories from my kindergartener today. One good, one bad. The world is always in balance. Even this world, which is full of bad news of late. Something is coming. Good will return.

I’ll start with the dark and then end with the light.

Ursa Major got off the bus today and said the following sentence:

“Today, we had a drill at school for if there is an active shooter at my school.”

What the hell do you say to your child in response to that?

They’d sent a letter about this. I didn’t object to the idea that children should learn how to seek safety in the case of emergency. However, I object to the language. I really have a problem with the fact that Major knows what an “active shooter” is. I’m not convinced that it’s age appropriate. I also don’t feel very well equipped to explain any of this to him.

The fact that my child said the term “active shooter” to me without a question or without reaction tells me that he probably doesn’t fully understand what the term means. I’m not sure if this is a mercy or if this is a problem. Here we are, with this language, this big concept, just floating in his head, with nothing concrete to anchor it, nothing for him to grasp onto. I don’t understand. Why introduce the idea at all then?

They then followed up with a bus drill in case of fire. “We got to go out the back of the bus!”

“I want you to know that it’s very unlikely that any of those bad things will happen to you. You are safe at school and you are safe on the bus. You know that, right?” I felt obligated to say this before we walked in the house. It seemed really important to reiterate. I said it for myself, too–who the hell needs this right now? I can’t really think about this, too.

My child nodded. I couldn’t really read him. He was simply quiet and nodded, gave a little “uh huh.” I can’t tell if he was dismissing me, like “yes, I know.” Or if he was contemplative, like “why would you say that?”

He seems far less upset about it than I am. What a sad, sad state of affairs. My kindergartener knows what an active shooter is.

I was a freshman at high school with Columbine happened. I remember watching those students go out of the building with their hands up on our classroom television. I can remember it so clearly: I was sitting in a science lab at the very end of the school day, backpack ready to go, twitchy as I waited for the bell to ring so I could bolt out to catch my bus home. The idea of it–a peer walking into school with a gun and the intention of mass murder–was as foreign of a concept to me then as it is to my son right now. I don’t remember fear. I remember distance, so many reasons why such a thing could never happen in my school. I went home, did my homework, went to bed and got up the next morning. I had many worries about school: being safe while in the building wasn’t one of them.

So many lifetimes ago.  I have a kindergartener now. He has used the term “active shooter” in a complete sentence. This is the world we live in.

My son surprised me again during dinner (welcome to the lighter story).

We were all enjoying too many tacos and were wrapping things up (the boys were starting to get silly). I was just about to excuse the two from the table, when Major had a moment. His eyes opened wide and he sat up full and straight. “Oh! I have to tell you something! Something about school!”

I was worried (because of the earlier story. I didn’t want him to tell Minor about it), but I told him to tell us.

“We are going to write our own storybooks!” Major announced. “They are going to be real books that we really get to write!”

We were all impressed.

“And I am writing about you, Mommy!”

Uh, ok…

“I’m writing about when you got the big cut on your skin,” Major said.

The Husband and I exchanged looks. Really? “Uh oh.”

“I told [my teacher] about how you got this big long cut on your tummy,” he said, as he pointed to his chest. He pointed to the part of his chest where I have my (still ugly, very visible) scar. “And I told her how you had all sorts of things taken out of your tummy and they are all bad.”

I smacked my head. The Husband chuckled.

Major looked at us and chuckled too, trying to be in on the joke.

“Baby, this is my chest,” I said, pointing to my scar.

Ohh, right! Your chest!”

Uh huh. “And I didn’t have a lot of stuff taken out. I had a small piece of fat called a lipoma removed. It was not a big deal.”

He chewed on that lipoma word. We’ve used it before. Matter of fact, the boys have gone around and around this surgery thing. They’ve checked up on the scar, have asked a few questions over and over… I didn’t realize how much impact it would have on them.

“I think I’m going to have to make some changes at school tomorrow.”

You think!?

I wonder what the teachers think happened to me!?

So… I’m writing a quick email after I write this post.

It is Monday. The world is still turning, the sun is still rising. The moon is, in fact, super. Surely there is meaning in this life. We’re going to find our way.

I’m grateful for your presence, Dear Reader. Let’s have a productive week.

Until Wednesday, take care.

[Quiet Thoughts] Where I Landed

Photo: A friend of mine came over this morning with three bottles of (really good) wine and this bouquet of flowers. “I am just in so much grief,” she said to me. “but I have been thinking of you.” I’m grateful beyond words for the kindness, and for the pop of color in my home. In in-laws are here and will be here until Sunday. The “liquid grace” will help make that a bit easier, and these flowers will be a lovely visible reminder that this, too, shall pass.

 

I didn’t write on Wednesday because I was baking bread. I was exhausted, I was grieving, I was terrified, but I’d made a promise, so I did it. A loaf of oatmeal molasses bread was baked and didn’t actually come out of my oven until 10pm. I set it to cool while I slept on the couch for about 45 minutes, then I wrapped it up and put myself to bed. My husband asked me why I was baking it, who was it for?

Thanksgiving. Not for the outcome of the election, but simply because the sun had risen. I placed that loaf and a small prayer on my church alter. I recognize that I had no control over Tuesday’s outcome , but I have control over how I deal with the news.

My grief took on many forms on Tuesday night and into Wednesday. Pure and simple terror kept me from sleeping. Anguish and disbelief made me snippy in the morning, downright depressed in the afternoon. Other people’s sorrow seeped in as I went through my day. I ended up being Oprah for many on Wednesday: giving people hugs, rubbing their backs and holding their hands, telling them to take things slowly, to let the panic subside and replace it with action. It was hard to take my own advice. There were moments when I had it together, others when the cold grip of unshackled fear would break loose and cause me to physically shake. I kept dropping my keys, dropped my coffee on my lawn, could not get proper footing on the sidewalk while running an errand. I joined the chorus of fright on Facebook, expressing my concerns and calling people to action, but then buried myself in life and what needed to be done instead of being the person I was telling everyone else to be. I prayed, then I baked bread as I promised I would.

Clarity came to me on Thursday morning, having emerged from the shock. As I thought about the darkness to come, watching the Republicans systematically dismantle my president’s legacy, my brain went to fundraising and giving to the watchdog organizations who have the infrastructure to put up a decent fight. But that got me thinking about the smaller organizations that are going to be left behind as we all decide to retreat to our partisan corners and throw money at our favorite big-picture nonprofits. The local food banks, the small but potent charities and service groups, the real community-based organizations that do real work for local people are going to be left behind if we don’t champion them over the next four years. The new economy is already showing that it’s going to be all about nourishing the already rich and it’s absolutely going to leave behind the poor. I can’t save every person, I can’t take up every mantle, but I decided that I do have the power to take thoughtful and meaningful actions in the following ways:

I’ve decided to be a “patron” of two local organizations that I love. The first is First Teacher, a nonprofit parent education and advocacy group in Boston that provides families with support groups to help their children gain important pre-literacy skills as early as infancy, greatly improving their chance to succeed in school and in adult life. It is founded by a good friend of mine, it is proven to be successful, and every new family who walks through their doors is given a brand new book for their kids. I’ve decided to champion their cause, speak about them with my local friends, and donate to them regularly (2-3 times a year) and as significantly as I am able. The second is the Discovery Museums, a beautiful children’s science museum in a local MetroWest town that serves the children of the region with in-school science and engineering projects, free Friday programs, special days for children on the spectrum to enjoy the facilities in accessible ways, and generous discounts for families who cannot afford their admission fees.

I really encourage you to take similar actions, Dear Reader. If you have the means to give, I urge you to choose one or two local organizations in your community to champion over the next 4 years. Become their patron through regular donations as well as advocacy on their behalf. Nourish them with meaningful gifts from your own coffers, but also through pulling your friends in as well. The little guys need you, Dear Reader. Give if you can. Donate your time if you can’t donate your treasure. By reaching out right now, you are strengthening yourself.

I will not pretend to tell you that I’m ok and that everything else will be ok. I would not lie to you like that, Dear Reader. However, in my uncertainty and despair, I’ve decided that I will not crumble, nor will I hide. I’m going to use this as an opportunity to exhibit some grace, to find ways to sustainably practice my faith to the benefit of others, and to step up and take a more leadership role in these communities that I belong to. In other words, it’s time to be a damn adult.

It is night, Dear Reader. The night is for stillness. It is ok to be still right now, Dear Reader, and to process everything that has happened. When you are ready to emerge and start moving again, please do so thoughtfully, understanding that the world needs you now more than ever. We need your brain, we need your good health, we need your strong hands, we need your clear voice. Without you, the fight for change and growth will have little resonance or urgency. How you see the world and what you bring to it matters.

Therefore, I wish you peace this Friday, Dear Reader. Let it fill you up and calm you down. Let it illuminate the way forward for all of us.

Until Monday, stay safe and take care.

 

Not Ready for the Chill

Photo: Joy is needle and thread and a little bit of time, resulting in a warm feeling of accomplishment when it all comes together. Yes, these guys will be “colored in” but not until after I get all of the elements of the pillow outlined. What a delightful distraction.

 

It was 28 degrees outside this morning. 28.

I’m not ready.

Cold means stuff and a different level of organization than I’ve had to have during these warm seasons because there are extra layers that need to be put on, and cold comes with tiny pieces akin to the lego sets I keep stepping on around here. Hats, gloves (“no, I don’t want the gloves, I want the mittens”), mittens (“He has the mittens, so I want mittens, too”), boots (“they are two small. My feet hurt!”) and, eventually, snow pants. Of course, boys have to zip up before walking out to the car (“How many times do I have to tell you to zip before you put on your gloves?” “They aren’t gloves! They’re mittens!”), so that takes longer. And did you know that it is recommended that kids take off their puffy coats and stuff before being strapped into their car seat? Yup. So, we struggle here in the house and then we struggle out there in the van.

Lordy.

The van and the new commute complicate things. The biggest thing that the van complicates is the preheating process: those big-ass side doors let all of the warm air out in a big, instant, giant whoosh ! I get it, the sliding doors are incredibly convenient, and I would even go so far as to say that I love them, but… I don’t know what I’m going to do about that. I think tomorrow we’re going to have a drill: open the door, get into the van and then press the button before the door opens all the way. That’s gonna be a disaster. I don’t even know why I’m bothering. Bet you they’re experts by the first below-zero day, though!

Here in the farmhouse, the radiators are back in service. I love their banging and clanging, their wonderful hissing. I’m very proud to say that we have yet to have our first oil delivery of the season! Our good fortune will not last much longer. I don’t even want to know what the first tank will cost us (last year, it was in the $400 range… maybe even closer to $500, but that was for filling it up when it was practically empty). Last year, the guy warned us that we are going to have to replace our tank soon. I’m dreading what he’s going to say this year. If we could get this tank to last us one more year, that would be idea. But, as you know, now that I’ve typed it, everything is going to go sideways at the first fill up!

I’m going to stop complaining. The change of the seasons is inevitable, the autumn turned out to be spectacularly beautiful, and my January child loves the snow. You know what he asked me for over the weekend? Ski lessons! Ski lessons, Dear Reader! Who asks for that!? Who wants to strap sticks to their legs and go down steep hills? Who?? And doesn’t he have enough, what with his very expensive guitar lessons? These children expect the world!

I told him I’d look into it. That was good enough for now, but he’ll be back again. There isn’t even snow on the ground, yet!

I know that this post has been about nothing, essentially, but I hope that it has distracted you from the insanity of our country at the moment. I’m exhausted from all of the work I’ve done today, but if I weren’t typing this post, I’d be debating with people on Facebook or refreshing the Washington Post over and over again to try to find the poll I like most that validates my desires and opinions. So if you, even for a moment, thought about a chilly New England morning instead of a candidate, or you imagined Ursa Major as the new skiing champion of the world, then I have done my job and this little nothing post is actually more powerful than I can appreciate. It certainly eased away the knot in the pit of my stomach, at least for a little while.

If you are American, please exercise your right and vote tomorrow. It’s obvious who I support, but I think it’s a sacred privilege to choose who you want to vote for. I won’t tell you to vote for my candidate, but I will hope and pray that you choose her.

No matter what, I’m baking bread on Wednesday morning and I’m writing a post. The sun will rise and the world will spin no matter the outcome.

Until Wednesday, Dear Reader, go vote and then take care.

[Quiet Thoughts] Truth Cuts Through Noise

Photo: Things are going more slowly than I’d like, but I’m enjoying how the design is turning out.

 

I woke up this morning with my stomach in knots. The Husband and I voted last week, but that hasn’t eased any of my ill feelings. On top of everything else, everything else, the underlying feeling of dread and anxiety is causing me physical illness.

From corner to corner of my little suburban world, I’ve been huddling close with trusted people to lament about the tension. So many whispers of sickening dread, so many sighs, so many crossed arms. We keep giving each other the same instructions: keep the faith, engage in the positive, preach when possible, absolutely vote and urge others to do the same.

I confided to a friend that I’d asked The Husband to consider moving out of the country. I even floated the idea that I’d be ok with being a royal subject (yes, friends. I’m that panicked!).

My friend said something so utterly wise that I have to share:

“But nothing is going to change. Not the day-to-day, the people we see, the people we love. We’re still going to all be together, we’re still all going to be here working it out.”

Sure, we wouldn’t like what was happening around us, but at least we’d still be here, connected to the people we love and value, working together, doing the things that must be done.

As I have written in previous posts: every generation before us has thought they were living in the end times. Yet still, they carried on. Together. When the sun didn’t fall out of the sky, they kept doing what it takes to make the world go ’round. They did so with their neighbors, for better and for worse.

I’m going to get up on Wednesday morning and bake bread, because people will still be here and the people I love will be hungry. We’ll all be here together, no matter the outcome.

My Quiet Thoughts come from the glorious wisdom of the utterances said between friends. As we all look on in disgust at the wider state of things, seeing a big picture that scares us, even wakes us up at night, sometimes the focus on the beautifully mundane, the complex and yet intimate, can yield profound wisdom, even a little bit of hope.

My Quiet Thoughts also come from a truth that has been forgotten in all of this but hasn’t gone away, and is the single most important thing to remember: when the lawn signs go away, the commercial breaks back to blessed materialism, the landline no longer ringing with robocalls, and the vestiges of power peacefully passed from one person to another, we’ll all still be neighbors.We’ll be people working under the same sun and same flag. We’ll be neither angels nor demons, as we were never those things to begin with. We will go back to the people we’ve always been.

We are better than what we’ve convinced ourselves we are.

We’re better than this.

I’m not sure I’m going to sleep any better tonight. I’m exhausted, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be sleeping any better. But, I’m grateful for my friend and her words. I know that she didn’t know what she was doing when she said them. If we’re lucky, our teachers come from unexpected places, our best lessons at unexpected times.

Everyone keeps saying it’s just a few more days until it’s all over. That’s true, but it will feel like an eternity. Keep breathing, Dear Reader. Keep marching forward. And, in your debating and your terse conversations, remember who you’re speaking to: neither an angel, nor a demon, but your neighbor.

It is a Friday night in November, chilly and with extended darkness, sweetened by the smell of burning wood, noisy with the crunch of leaves falling and being tread upon. The farmhouse is warm, with the occasional breeze coming through ancient drafty windows. It smells of jerk chicken and pesto meatballs, all sent out of this house for a boy scouts meeting/potluck. It’s a time to take up a book or, for me, needle and thread, and let the world fall away for a time. It’ll all be there for you tomorrow, Dear Reader. We all will.

My first wish for you comes from the sweet intimacy of a silent room: nothing on, nothing beeping, nothing notifying you of anything. I wish you time with yourself and nothing else, listening to nothing more than your breath, your movement, the beating of your own beautiful heart. Take a little time to think your thoughts in peace, to wander in a place only you know and where only you can go. In your stillness, Dear Reader, I wish you peace. We all need a little bit of it right now. I wish you broth, savory and warm, full of goodness that nourishes. Bonus if you make it yourself this weekend. May I suggest one of these vegetarian options? I wish you the opportunity to make something with your hands. If you’re as anxious as I am, or if you’ve been hunched over words/computers/paper all week, let your creative energy come out in some sort of tangible way. When was the last time you took out an instrument to play? Or doodled? Or made something out of clay? Maybe collect some of the falling leaves and press them between some wax papers like when you were a kid. Finally, I wish you the opportunity to do something kind for someone else. Tell someone important that you love them. Hold the door for the person behind you. Sincerely ask someone how they are, how their day is going. Put into the world what you are yearning for–a little bit of warmth, softness, calm.

You are loved, respected and admired, Dear Reader. What you contribute to the world matters. Never forget that, even in the tense times.

Until Monday, Dear Reader, stay safe out there and take care.

 

Get Better Day

Photo: The pillow is slowly coming along. Did I tell you that the graphite seems to fade over time? Well, I have decided to go through and outline each element of the pillow so that way nothing fades away before I can get to it. It’s been nice watching things come to life. I think I have enough time to do this. I think.

 

Two little boys are home sick today. Minor, as usual, brought the pestilence first and Major caught it quickly after. We got an email from both schools last week about different serious illnesses: Hand Foot and Mouth disease in Minor’s school, Strep Throat in Major’s school. Lordy, Lordy, how we’re trying to avoid both! (HFM is much worst than Strep, though!) I got on my knees and prayed they’d both pass over this house. We don’t need any more major setbacks right now! So far, so good.

Sick days when I was a little girl were fun, but weird. Father’s theory was that you needed to “sweat out” a cold, so I always had to put on my warmest pajamas and be under ten blankets. Yes, there was unlimited Nickelodeon and usually fried chicken from my favorite bodega (if Father was staying home) or freshly made chicken soup (if Mom was staying home), but it came with the sweats. It also came with no movement–no getting up from the couch for anything other than a potty break.

My two boys? Well… let’s just say there has been a lot of movement. Major, especially, cannot accept that he must be on the couch and can’t go anywhere. Minor was perfectly fine with it yesterday! He relished being able to sit and watch movies all day (and yeah, he took a nap!). But with his brother around, there is this need to be moving, jumping, wrestling. No rest at all! So there has been movement in and out of the playroom, a yoga break, and some jumping on the living room ottoman. The good news? They seem to be on the mend. I think both of them are going to get out the door tomorrow. I might get my first morning to myself this week!

I will say that I’m not too anguished about being home. My in-laws (all of them) are coming up to visit next weekend and this house is not ready for it. Babies being home means I haven’t been in my car all day, which means I’ve been able to start the deep clean that this house really needs. It’s a two-week process: organizing and purging this week, spraying and scrubbing next week. I grind my teeth knowing that my mother-in-law is still going to have something nasty to say about me and my house, but I’m trying to put it out of my mind.

Honestly, I’m feeling anxious today. I know that a lot of that has to do with next Tuesday (Lord, save us all!), but it also has to do with next week. I’m feeling sensitive, still raw and even a little weepy. I know a lot of it comes from fatigue, too. I’m still not sleeping well, haven’t had a moment to stop and sleep in. I asked my husband to move this entire thing to my brother-in-law’s house because I just don’t feel like dealing with it, but it was a no-go. A non-starter, even. I just don’t know how I’m going to feel when my mother-in-law comes up in here talking whatever shit she’s going to talk next week. I’m not in the space to be patient or graceful. So the question is, will I fall to pieces or engulf in rage when she starts up? It is taking every ounce of me to hold myself and the function of things together. I don’t know if I’ll have enough strength to hold on and ignore her. I wish my husband would understand that. Emotional intelligence isn’t is strong-suit.

Can I speak more playfully about my husband for a moment? Can we talk about how spoiled he is? I was at Wegmans on Monday and they had gorgeous wild catfish in the case. I had to have it, amending my whole week’s menu to make room for po’boys tomorrow, one of The Husband’s favorites. I told him about it when he got home. He smiled the way men smile when they get such news, but then he got a mischievous look on this face: “but can I get a remoulade on it, you think?”

“A remoulade!? Boy, you been watchin’ too much Chopped!”

“I’m just kidding!”

He wasn’t kidding. He knew exactly what he was doing.

So, of course I looked up how to make a remoulade! I went looking for one in my New Orleans cookbook, but there wasn’t one in there. Emeril has one, and so does Serious Eats. I’ll probably go with Serious Eats, but we’ll see. If any of ya’ll have a great recipe, please send it my way before I hit the grocery store tomorrow!  I’ve gotta go out and get some coleslaw and stuff!

Spoiled, spoiled! He’s lucky it looks pretty simple!

Happy Wednesday, Dear Reader. I hope you are healthy and warm. I can’t believe it is mid-week already. Make sure you finish out the week strong, yeah?

See you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.