"I am as deep as a puddle after a hard rain"
Really? A blog? How very 2001.
Posted on 10/17/2021 in Books | 0 comments
Earlier in the year I wrote that this would be the year that I finally finished reading The Brothers Karamazov. At the time I felt certain it could be done. “If I read 3-4 pages every day I’ll be done before the year is over!” Well, best laid plans and all that. I keep saying I like the story and that is true but given my atrocious reading habits for the past, well, decade and the fact that we are still living through a pandemic, even just 3 pages of a Russian novel a day has proven to be too ambitious.
Which doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. As the image shows, I’ve actually surpassed my Goodreads reaching goal for the year. That hasn’t happened since 2015. So reading isn’t the issue. It’s reading something that actually requires the brain to really think that’s the problem. At the end of the day, when I discover that I’ve watched everything there is to watch on Netflix or Hulu, I turn to reading books that flow, that entertain but don’t tax the already overly taxed brain.
The Brothers Karamazov shall have to wait. Maybe next year. See, this is the good thing about books. You can literally shelve them and they never get upset, they don’t complain that you’re neglecting them. They don’t vague tweet or Facebook post about how you’ve ghosted them because you’re a mean mean person. And they smell good. So really there is no downside to books. You heard that here first. I’m sure.
Posted on 10/13/2021 in Writing | Writober | 0 comments
A coworker was telling me the other day that a teacher in her child’s elementary school was her high school science teacher. Because I am now old, my first thought, and what I said to her was, “Oh, wow. She must have been young when she taught you!”
She thought about it and then nodded, “Yes, she was actually.” That sent us down a short path of trying to figure how many teachers we remembered. We each decided that of all the teachers we’d had through the years, we could only remember a small handful.
So here is my list:
- The teacher in El Salvador who invited my brother and I to her dog’s birthday party. Yes, party. There were other four legged guests and a piñata that consisted of raw meat on a plate that was pulled up and down on a rope as the dogs jumped around, trying to grab it. Don’t ask me what I learned from her in school. The lesson outside of it is much more important. Parties can be for anyone and anything for any reason. If that isn’t a life lesson, I don’t know what is.
- Mrs. Houser, who was visibly pregnant for much of 4th grade and who ended each of our days by reading to us. James and the Giant Peach. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I don’t remember if the other kids listened as intently as I did but, oh, did I love those afternoons.
- The substitute teacher who took Mrs. Houser’s place when she went on maternity leave. The teacher who, as punishment, would make you squat, put your arms out and then she’d add several heavy books. You had to hold this position for endless minutes.
- The history teacher in 7th grade who had had polio as a child so his left arm was always in a sling. In his right hand he always carried a long wooden stick that he used to point to things on the chalkboard. Or, if he felt you weren’t paying attention, he’d slam onto the desk. I never heard of him accidentally hitting anyone with it. Which is good, because he was funny and I really liked him. The last week of school he would put a big tall globe on a desk and tell us as long as our heads didn’t pass the top of the globe, we would go anywhere in class and hang out with our friends. Oh, and he taught us how to take better notes. A lesson I still use to this day.
- The 9th grade English teacher who pulled me out into the hallway to tell me I was talking too much and that I had to let the other students have a turn at answering her questions. I suppose I should be glad she told me that in the hallway. At the time I was just hurt. Hurt enough that days later when she got tired of none of the other students actually engaging with her, I looked away and said nothing when she looked my way, wanting me to respond.
- The 11th grade English teacher who didn’t like my writing. The teacher who, I’m embarrassed to say, the entire class banded together to bully until she just stopped coming to work one day. Teenagers are assholes.
- The 12th grade French 5 AP Literature teacher who had to be sent to a crash course over the summer to learn how to teach French 5 AP Literature. The crash course didn’t take. By the end of the year, only 7 of us remained in the class - 5 because we couldn’t change our schedules and 2 who had to stay in the room but were allowed to treat the time as a study hall. That couldn’t have been fun for her.
- The 12th grade civics teacher who gave me an A for the year even though I had basically tanked the 4th quarter. “But,” I said when he told me, “I didn’t earn it.” “It’s clear you were going through something,” he said. “And you are more than capable of it. So that’s the grade you deserve.” Life lesson - some people care even when you don’t say a single thing. I tracked him down a couple of years ago and sent him a long thank you for that gift. He told me he shared my message with his family and that they all were touched by my words. If I’m ever in Boston, I’m supposed to look him up.
- The creative writing professor in college who gave me an A for the year and wrote me a note to say I should be a writer. I had illusions back then of maybe one day trying to write fiction professionally. But it was just nice to know someone thought I was adept at stringing words together. I don’t write fiction every day but I craft some nice emails and memos. And I can edit like, well, I’m being paid for it, which I am, so, you know, same thing. 😊
And there we have it. There are a few more but the above are the ones that I think about most often - some with fondness, a couple with regret. Except for the horrid woman in 4th grade, I’m sure they all were doing their best.
Posted on 10/4/2021 in Writing | Writober | 0 comments
A month ago, while visiting my dad, he said to me, “We’ve done well as a family. When I think about where we started … sometimes by the middle of the month, we didn’t have any more milk for you and your brother and I had no idea where we would get more money. Now look at you, your brother and sister - if I hadn’t had an opportunity to come to the United States…”
“I know,” I said. “We have done well. I’m definitely really aware of that. Sometimes I think maybe I haven’t tried hard enough but then I think, from tin roof shack with a dirt floor to getting to sit in front of a computer and get paid to think for a living. Sometimes I don’t understand how it happened.”
He smiled and we moved on to another topic.
On Saturday I was listening to NPR’s Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! RZA from Wu-Tang Clan was on. He was talking about his love of all things HGTV. Someone commented that the problem with watching home improvement shows is that it makes you unhappy with your house and makes you want to go out and buy a whole new house.
Or, he said, you buy a nice lamp.
Our family, for sure, is good at buying nice lamps.
I’m thankful for that.
Posted on 9/5/2021 in Dailies | 0 comments
Part of the desire to blog is because my memory is awful. We could blame my advancing years but in truth my bad memory has been a problem for decades. For a while I had a reputation for taking meticulous notes at work and people, I believe, prescribed that to work ethic or quality work. Those were great by products but really the notes are just necessary in order for me to do the job properly. Sadly, I’ve never been good about bringing this habit to my personal life. On and off I’ve tried to rely on the blogging to fill that need but we can see from my inconsistent posting how well that goes. Maybe if I paid myself to blog that would do the trick?
Let’s do a quick recap of this year’s doings, shall we?
After a couple of years of contemplating buying a home for the kiddo and myself, in February of this year I got serious about it. I knew the location I wanted, which limited things a bit but I prioritized the kiddo being able to walk to grandma’s over square footage. We moved mid-April, which I’m told is fast in terms of home-buying but this is the first (and hopefully last) condo I’ve ever purchased so I have nothing to compare the process to. It’s a nice place; has some good and bad aspects to it. The most annoying of which, because of the humidity of the area, means some of the wooden floorboards are peaking. Home ownership, gotta love it, no? Last week, after picking the kiddo up from daycare, she refused to come into the building. Instead she took my hand and led me on a walk to grandma’s house. That she gets to do that whenever she wants was the point of the purchase so that makes the annoyances less annoying.
Speaking of daycare, even though the anxiety is tough to deal with, she’s back in daycare. Now that she’s 2, she needs more structure than I can provide while also working from home. And her excitement at seeing other kids whenever we would go for walks or to a park made it clear that she wants the company of other kids. That doesn’t mean the return to daycare has been seamless; she’s struggled a bit and as a result has been more clingy than is her usual. Prior to daycare, nap times and bed times were pretty easy going routines. Once daycare started, she started crying at every single nap time and every single bed time. Even if I stayed in the room with her, she wasn’t always happy. After a month and a half things seem to be calming down again. Which is such a relief. The moments weren’t fun for either of us.
Work in the office was supposed to resume this month, but that’s been pushed back to mid-October. Thankfully we’re only expected to work in the office two days a week. I remain forever grateful that during peak times of this pandemic I had a job that allowed me to stay home and keep myself and the baby safe but that doesn’t mean I was looking forward to going back to the office full time. It’s the introvert in me, I suppose. I’m perfectly fine with keeping in touch with folks via email and video chats. I don’t need to be in the same room with someone to feel as if I’ve connected. Maybe that comes from years of keeping online friendships going via those same methods? Either way, I would have been fine staying home indefinitely but two days a week is fine too. Better than the alternative.
I think that’s a good enough update for now. Let’s see if I can’t be a bit more interesting and timely with the next post, no?
Posted on 4/7/2021 in Parenting | 0 comments
This kid is an early riser. She’s up between 5:30 and 6:30 every morning. If she goes to 7 and later I think she’s sick or we’ve had a rare bad night. I didn’t bother changing her schedule because, selfishly, early wake ups mean early bedtimes. And I have needed the couple of hours between her bedtime and mine to do stuff or not do stuff, as the mood and energy levels dictated.
However, it looks like I need to try and get her to have a more consistent 6:30 wake up. Because when she goes to daycare nap time is going to be at 1pm. If she continues to wake up closer to the 5:30 am side that’s gonna be a long 7 hours. Going back to daycare is going to be enough of an adjustment without having her melt down from over tiredness.
We have time though. I’m not taking her back until July or August. Really depends on how she’s doing at home. I like the continued savings of starting in August but watching her playing all alone is making me sad. I can’t give her the structure and stimulation she probably needs now so it seems wrong to not take her back as soon as I feel comfortable Covid-wise. By July I’m hoping enough folks will be vaccinated that I won’t have too much anxiety about sending her back out into the world.
Ugh. I need to win the lottery. Or finally marry rich. Really do not know why I’ve put either of those options off for so long.
Posted on 2/24/2021 in Dailies | 0 comments
I’ve made choices (some good, some bad, some questionable) that have made it so that I’m alone at 47. Except for some fleeting lonely moments I’m okay with that. Truly. It was maybe a self fulfilling prophecy but I always had a sense I would spend my life without a partner. (Please, no, “there’s still time! Don’t rule anything out!” I’m not. If someone great came by tomorrow I’d say hello but I’m also not actively looking and have no intention on actively looking any time soon.)
That said, there are times when I wish I had someone to share the mental and emotional task of making decisions. Like buying a place, for example. All the forms. All the uncertainty of whether I’m making a good decision. All the homework on top of work and raising a child.
It’s a lot. It would be nice to have someone to turn to and just say, can you deal with it? I’m tired of thinking.
Thankfully these moments pass. Once we’re moved and unpacked I’ll be back to my usual self who likes being able to make all the decisions based solely on my preferences without worrying about having to consider someone else’s thoughts or opinions.
Well, there’s the kiddo obviously - although I think I’m a few years away from her caring too much about whether I put the utensils in the drawer closest to the stove or the one near the sink.
It’s just that right now I’m a bit tapped out.
Posted on 2/22/2021 in Parenting | 0 comments
One of the things I’m looking forward to in the new place is moving the kiddo to her own room. The AAP recommends that children sleep in the same room as their parents for the first year. Easy enough as those first few months required being close for the multiple night time feedings and it helped to ease my anxiety about SIDS. By the time she was sleeping through the night around the 8 month, I started thinking I’d move her to her own room for her first birthday.
But as that date drew closer I realized that one of my anxieties was uh just a tad irrational. Our apartment is on the ground floor, see. And the bedrooms are on opposite ends of the apartment. So my thought process went like this, “If I put her aalllll the way over there I won’t hear if someone breaks in and steals my baby!”
Yeah. I know. Trust me.
So here she is almost 20 months and she’s still in my room. It’s not much of a problem except if I have to get up in the middle of the night. If she happens to be awake she thinks, “yay! It’s time to get up! Wait, where are you going? Get me out! Yes, it’s 3 am but I’m ready to be up! Don’t mind my yawning! Let’s go! Okay well now you have to listen to me cry because you won’t play with me!” Oooph.
No matter how many times my brain has told me to stop being silly I haven’t been able to move her into her own room.
So when I started looking for a place I knew a ground floor apartment was a deal breaker. It’s just easier to buy a condo that’s not on the ground floor than do the emotional work of getting rid of irrational anxieties apparently. You gotta know your limitations I always say! Heh.
Posted on 1/29/2021 in Dailies | Parenting | 0 comments
I was never really taught to cook. Not really. Unless we count that one quarter in 7th grade Home Ec where I mistook salt for sugar and made the nastiest pie ever imagined. Maybe that’s why I don’t like pie? Regardless, let’s not count that quarter because other than the awful pie I don’t remember a single other thing I was taught.
And so I’ve stumbled along in the kitchen, at once wishing I were more comfortable there but also not having a tremendous desire to get better. Until a year ago.
Once the baby entered my life it seemed like a good time to get comfortable in the kitchen. One, because I’m told feeding babies is looked upon as a good thing and two, joking aside, I would like to pass on a better relationship to food to her. And that, in my head, meant that I needed to get serious about cooking - I certainly have no illusions about this task. I hardly have visions of being Julia Child. I just need enough dishes in the rotation to not have anyone groan and say, “We had that three days this week!”
I’m 47 years old so, yes, I have spent time in the kitchen but let me put it this way, at no point have I ever considered inviting anyone over for dinner or have volunteered to make anything for a potluck. I don’t think people should suffer what normally passes as dinner fare in my place. My cooking is to put it kindly - serviceable. More often than not whatever I make is well done because I lose interest or just forget.
But that’s the past. We are living in the now. And in this ever changing world, the present includes me making chicken soup - almost like they make it back home in El Salvador.
On Monday I decided I wanted soup but, of course, didn’t have the necessary ingredients so we made a quick trip to the store. By the time we got home, however, it was too late to start the soup and have it in time for the kiddo’s dinner. So I put it off to the next day. The next day I discovered I’d forgotten several of the vegetables. I could have still made it but it just wouldn’t have been the same. Given that we’re still living through a pandemic, another trip out wasn’t in the cards so I placed a grocery delivery order. Finally, Wednesday we had soup. I know this happens to everyone at some time or other but in my head all the missteps just add to my feeling of not being adept in the kitchen.
So along with my cooking skills needing to get better, my self-perception will have to change as well. Why is everything work??
Thursday, on a whim, I decided to make pupusas. This is noteworthy for me because when I’m going to make something it usually entails so much thought. Can I do it? Do I want to? Let’s look at the 100th YouTube video to make sure I know what I’m doing.
But I’ve attempted pupusas enough that the process is pretty clear in my head. The technique still needs work but at least I’m realistic enough to know that even getting to good is going to require some effort. Skilled and consistently delicious? Well, let’s keep that dream on the back burner for now.
The pupusas came out pretty good. Probably the best batch I’ve made so far. It’s progress that I consistently think each batch is better than the one before.
So, in my basic cookbook, we have chicken soup and pupusas (let’s count the curtido as a separate thing, shall we?). It’s not enough to open a restaurant but it’s a solid start. If I keep this up, by the time she’s ten I’ll have 20 whole dishes down! Exciting.
Posted on 1/23/2021 in Dailies | 0 comments
I got my first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine today. I don’t know why I feel as if I shouldn’t share that. Maybe I’ve seen too many people on social media posting about their vaccines along with messages that they didn’t jump the line or they got it because of their job, etc. As if the ability to get vaccinated quickly needs to be justified.
I’ve had several people ask me how I managed to get an appointment so fast, or what my hook up was.
Timing and an underlying health condition is my response. The day I heard that Va would be expanding the criteria to include people with underlying health conditions I logged on to the health department’s website for the county in which I work. After reading the message about the long wait there I went next to the health department in the county in which I live. There I was able to add myself to the list even before the website information had been updated to the new expanded criteria. I did it not expecting to hear anything back for days. To my surprise I received a message from the CDC to create a profile on the VAMS website that same night. At first I thought it was SPAM because the CDC email seemed a tad informal. After doing a little Googling I decided it was the real thing. I created a profile and after bumping around the site for a little while I was able to get an appointment for this morning.
The day after getting my appointment I started seeing the news stories about how the federal government had misrepresented the amount of vaccine it had in reserves. Well, I thought, so much for my appointment. For the last week and a half I’ve been expecting to get a notice that my appointment had been cancelled.
Thankfully that did not happen and getting the shot this morning went quite smoothly. All told it was about a 30 minute experience, including the 15 minute wait time afterwards to ensure that I didn’t have any immediate negative effects. So far there is only a slight discomfort in the upper arm, and a mild headache. But as we know, I suffer from chronic headaches so it’s hard to know if today’s headache is vaccine related or just a regular ol’ headache, it’s a day that ends in Y kind of headache.
Before I left the clinic they asked me to sign up with the CDC V-Safe app which they will use to monitor my reaction to the vaccine. Today’s check in was pretty uneventful. Let’s hope that trend continues.
Posted on 1/17/2021 in News | 0 comments
When I set up my first “real” blog aka hosted on my own domain, using a content management system I had installed, I took the time to develop a commenting policy. I remember spending time on that, wanting it to be fair but also clear in that I wouldn’t allow people to get out of line. The amusing thing about this, now and then, is that no one knew I was setting up a blog. I told very few people I knew offline (or as we used to say back then, ‘in real life’.) But I wanted to be ready when the comments started rolling in. Even at my blogging peak, comments rarely rolled in. At best they trickled. Once spammers got good at their craft the comments were more often spam than an actual response to anything I’d written.
I’m reminded of that as I work on the back end of the site; again I’ve told few people I’ve restarted the blog and I haven’t set up a way to track web traffic so I’ve no clue if anyone is stopping by. The spam, however, is hitting every day. So I’ve been playing around with ways to block that annoyance. I briefly considered turning on the CAPTCHA option but opted to not do it when I read the disclaimer in the EE manual about how CAPTCHAs can be hard for folks with visibility issues. I have no true expectation to be getting many comments. I have no idea if anyone who does stop by to comment will have issues using the CAPTCHA and yet - on the chance that someone wants to contribute a response it seems unwelcoming to put up barriers.
This is the way my brain works. As people have often told me, I over think things. I do. I can’t even say I would want it to be any different. Under thinking things doesn’t seem terribly appealing actually.
So, the comments are open albeit through moderation. An annoying compromise.