No Time Like the Present

I started this blog in 2012. I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. Heck, even before I could write properly, I was making wordless books.

Eventually, I’d love to get published. On my bucket list it says, write a book.

Well, today is a special day because today, I submitted an entry in a short story writing contest – something I’ve never done before.

Even if I don’t win anything, I’ll still have won something.

Might as well do something creative and productive and hopeful with this crazy, anxiety-filled time I/we am/are wading through.

No time like the present, eh?

Wish me luck!

I’m Not Okay

I am not okay.

I am all over the place, you guys.

My mood changes daily, but often by the hour.

I am so scattered and internally, my mind is going in a million different directions at once. I start so many things that I struggle to go back and finish. Articles. Text messages. Podcasts.

I’m taking in so much information and I’m getting interrupted way more than normal because my kids are home and all over me. I can’t remember what I read where.

I’m moody. Way moodier than normal. I read too much news, I get anxious. I chat with friends, I’m uplifted. I see beauty in the human spirit online and I’m inspired to paint or write. I do yoga and I’m energized. I think about extended family, people’s inability to lead or plan ahead or follow directions, and all that I can’t control, and I fall into despair.

I microwaved some lunch, and when it beeped, I opened the fridge.

Since September, my autonomy from my kids had really begun to increase, take shape, make me feel like I was getting back to myself again. My kids were going to school. I was going to the gym. Heck, I was exercising more regularly that I have ever done in my entire life. I was going to the gym and yoga and pilates and sole sisters (walk/jogging) every week. I was doing Whole30. I was feeling pretty great.

And then extremely quickly, I lost it all. All of it. And while I’m a tried-and-true introvert, this is giving me ptsd from when I was stuck at home with newborns. I’d be okay if the time at home was my own. If I could do what I wanted.

I was unemployed when I was pregnant with my first and I did okay. I read a lot. I watched tv and movies. I ate whenever I wanted. I napped whenever I felt like it. I took walks. I did chores. It wasn’t the best, but I’m good at entertaining myself. I like my own company.

But now…I am constantly breaking up fights. I can’t hear myself think. I can’t read when I want. I can’t watch tv with adult themes. I can’t exercise. Fuck napping. Basically in order to do what I want, I need separation from my kids. Bottom line. On top of all that, I’m supposed to teach them shit, too. All while being scared out of my mind.

And so I try and do whatever I have to do to get by. One day at a time.

I’ve taken to locking myself in other rooms of the house. Oh yeah, because not only is my time gone, but also is my space. My kids rule the entire first floor, and my bedroom is now a home office where my husband works. I’ve taken to locking myself in my son’s room so I can nap or do yoga or chat with friends. It’s what needs to be done so I can continue to get through these days.

I don’t know how long it’s going to take until we find a new normal, or if we’ll ever find one. Because this is NOT. NORMAL.

And so. I’ll get by. One day at a time.

I’m not okay.

And right now, that’s okay.

 

The Silver Lining

This post picks up where my last one left off, last Friday the 13th.

The next day, we woke up to snow. We couldn’t believe it. All winter, we’d been hoping for snow, wishing for some, and nothing. Until schools close and the world starts shutting down. It started snowing again during the day, and they were the biggest, fluffiest flakes I had ever seen.

THIS IS THE SILVER LINING! THIS IS PERFECT! I yelled as my family and I gawked out the window. My kids scrambled to put on shoes (no jackets) and ran out into our yard to play. Still wearing my pajamas, I put on a jacket, hat, and snow boots and decided to sneak out the front door to stand still in the (relative) quiet.

Several neighbors were outside also enjoying the weather, including my next door neighbor with their young son. Earlier, we saw our neighbors across the street letting their two retrievers frolic and play in their front yard. They looked like they were having the time of their lives.

“They should have their dogs on leashes.” my son dutifully said. He’s heard me complain in private and chastise people in person for not having dogs on leashes. It’s not safe for all involved, and I’m proud that my son now knows this.

“You’re right. They should be on leashes.” I replied.


I stood on the sidewalk and looked up. The fat flakes were falling so slowly that I could pick one out and position myself so I could catch it in my mouth.

I heard a shout from across the street and I looked up just in time to witness one of the gorgeous dogs get hit broadsided by an oncoming truck. It all happened in slow motion and all at once.

My other next door neighbor burst out of his house and started screaming. Apparently he had been watching from inside. He yelled at the owner something about how the dog should have been on a leash and pick him up, get him to the vet, RIGHT NOW. I also heard a voice whimpering oh no, oh no, oh no and realized it was mine. The owner ushered the still upright and walking dog into their house and closed the door. The truck was long gone; it never even slowed down.

Realizing there was nothing I could do, I turned around and made eye contact with my neighbor and his son. Oh god, I hope he didn’t see, I thought, and not knowing what else to do I turned and walked into my house and burst into tears.

I kept peeking out my window because I wanted to make sure they were going to get the dog emergency care. I saw a man come out and empty out the trunk of a car. The next time I peeked, the car was gone.

Over the weekend I kept watching for the car, and it didn’t come back until 48 hours later. I am both desperate and terrified to know how the dog is – too terrified to go and outright ask.

Needless to say, that event definitely spoiled my day and probably my entire weekend. I took a ridiculously long shower, trying to wash off the trauma. As a trauma therapist, I’ve heard every disturbing narrative you could imagine and many you can’t, but I’ve never actually seen something so traumatic. I also can’t tolerate violence toward animals, real or fabricated.

I spent the rest of the day manically cleaning my house. None of us went anywhere that day.

Since then, we’ve essentially been sheltering in place. On Sunday I saw on Facebook that our local library was closing the next day, so I ran out and checked out a buttload of books and DVDs to hopefully last us for a long time. My husband called in sick on Monday and then went to work on Tuesday only to pack all of his office supplies into his car so he could continue working from home. Besides walks around the neighborhood, grocery shopping, the dentist, and one trip to the pediatrician because my kids continue to be sick, we’ve been hanging out at home, just trying to hang on and get well.

I’m pretty terrified. I’ve said it feels like we’re waiting for an invisible tidal wave to hit us and the anticipation is crushing me. I’ve had to shake off the ridiculous expectations that suddenly mothers are supposed to homeschool their kids like we don’t have enough shit piled on our backs. Not only are mine still ill, but they are confused and frustrated and do not take well to their mom trying to get them to do fucking worksheets. To hell with all that. We’ve been taking temperatures daily, we’ve been watching a lot of movies, and we’ve been taking walks, reading books, writing letters to grandparents, and doing art. On our walks, I’ve been carrying chalk and writing positive messages around the neighborhood. Once the rains come and wash them away, I’ll go out and do it again. Not sure if I’m doing that for myself or for others, but I guess that doesn’t really matter.

I’ve been meaning to compile a list of the positive side effects we’ve been experiencing as a result of all this chaos.

  • We get to sleep in
  • We don’t have to worry about being on time for shit
  • All the hilarious memes and videos and late night shows being broadcast from celebrities’ couches
  • I don’t have to make school lunches every night
  • My husband is home during the day
  • My house is going to be spotless by the time this is all over
  • Our carbon footprint has been drastically reduced! Both on a local and global level; how exciting is that?! Perhaps this experience will drive lasting change.

Now go wash your hands and stop touching your face.

 

 

We haven’t been living the same since.

This past two weeks has been nuts and I kinda want to document it more for my own mental recollection, but y’all can read it too if you’d like.

Mostly, I am amazed at how quickly things progressed. I remember watching the special features on the Titanic DVD, and James Cameron gave the extras a number on his panic scale as a way of letting them know how freaked out they should be acting. You know, 1-10, where 1 is totally chill and 10 is THIS SHIT IS SINKING WHERE IS THAT FLOATING DOOR?! My point is that I feel like I went from 1 to 10 in the span of about…5 or 6 days. Well, that’s not true. I suppose I was at a 2 for a while, but honestly I expected Covid-19 to be more how I remember SARS or Swine Flu – I remember seeing it on the news, and I was concerned, but it never affected me and I was never all that scared. We made jokes, and it passed. But this – I suppose I went from that 2 to about…a 9 in those few days. And then each day that passes I think that I can’t possibly get more paranoid but oh yes, Melissa’s nervous system, I sure as hell can. Especially when I intellectually know that this shit is going to get way worse before it gets better.

To back up, on Monday, March 9 I was having a meeting with the board members of my MOMS Club. We met in a happily crowded cafe, and we went over our agenda and planned out activities for the spring. I remember assuming that we would actually attend and enjoy all of these activities. An Easter egg hunt, a moms night out, an end of the year picnic. And then the week continued on and things in Washington state started ramping up a bit, Seattle had been shut down, their schools were starting to close, and there were rumblings that ours would soon close. Perhaps after our spring break, which was to start effectively on the 19th. Had there been deaths in Oregon yet? I can’t remember.

And then, that Thursday the 12th, a neighboring school district suddenly decided to close starting the next day. I say “suddenly” because it felt sudden to me. I’m pretty sure they were the first school district in the state to close, which was surprising considering there were more cases in other districts. At any rate, we knew ours wasn’t far behind. Turns out ours was only hours behind! Our school district decided to close starting the following Monday (the 16th). I remember this starting a second wave of local food/toilet paper shortages. There was one (just one? more?) even before all the school closure junk started. At this point I had resisted any panic buying, mainly because 1) we already had much of what we needed and 2) there wasn’t any availability of stuff that I was actually interested in buying, like all the cleaning supplies.

A side note: after all this, I find out that my husband, who does all the grocery lists and meal planning, had been stocking up on certain things for weeks. I’m the one who does the grocery shopping and putting stuff away, and so my misguided assumption when he bought more coffee when we had just bought some, and an additional box of wet cat food even though we had plenty, was that he was just forgetful. Nope. He was being awesome instead. PLUS, on a whim in early March I had just bought more toilet paper than I usually did. Why? I supposed only because I didn’t want to have to worry about remembering more too soon. I don’t know. I like these weird coincidences; we’re also not a family who tends to buy “too much” or in bulk or to store and/or hoard. We only buy what we know we’ll use in a reasonable amount of time. It’s how we stay frugal and make sure we’re not wasting stuff. But I digress.

Once we got notice that schools were actually closing, shit got real, at least for me. I started to internally panic…which quickly led to external panic. I announced to my husband that I was going to go to Target. I’d been seeing empty shelves for a few weeks now at the grocery store and I especially wanted to get some extra cold meds because we were (and still are) super sick with a nasty cold bug. I was terrified that we’d be stuck at home with sick kids and wouldn’t have Tylenol.

I got to Target and got what I could, which was a few paper towels and some Tylenol meant for infants (my youngest is 3) because it was ALL THAT WAS LEFT. When I got to the cold meds aisle, I almost burst into tears. My worry was starting to consume me, and the only silver lining was that everyone in the store was being super, duper nice. We were all fucking scared.

The next morning, Friday the 13th (woo), my husband told me as I got up that my oldest had pink eye. FUUUUUUUCK. There went his last day of school. I seriously started whining that all I wanted to do was GET TO MY PILATES CLASS BECAUSE I KNOW ITS THE LAST ONE AND THE WORLD IS ENDING and so my husband graciously stayed home from work for a few hours so I could 1) run to Walgreens because a friend had told me that had cold meds AND THEY DID! Thank god because we’re about to break into the meds I ended up buying that day, and 2) work my ass off so hard in Pilates like my life depended on it.

I got home, and another friend texted me. I don’t want to freak you out, she began, but there’s a run on the store and the food is going fast if you want to get down here.

I can’t! I texted back, panicked yet again. I fucking still had to pick up my youngest from preschool (which turned out to be her last day, because endoftheworld).

That friend was amazing and picked up some stuff for me, that totally got us through the following week (Thankyouthankyou) because we had to wait longer than we’d planned for our normal grocery pickup slot. It also allowed me to continue doing Whole30 because GODDAMN IT I AM FINISHING THIS THING BEFORE THE WORLD FINISHES BEING A CUNT. (too much? I’m stressed.)

And after I got my girl home, that’s when everything changed and we haven’t been living the same since.

Whole30: The Last Day

Ok guys.

A lot has happened since I last posted, mainly that the world is going to shit. Schools are closed, people are working from home, and everyone is watching Frozen 2 on loop. We’re definitely headed into the unknown…amirite?!

And now, today’s the last day, you guys!!! It’s Day 30 of the Whole-fuckin-30. I definitely hit a groove somewhere in there and started to eat and make my food choices without much thought. Now, I get up in the morning and make my eggs like I’ve been doing it always.

But here’s the thing. It’s not really over, because now I have to reintroduce all them non-whole30 foods the proper way because I want to see what makes my body angry or this was all for nothing. Tomorrow, I get legumes. I plan to smother my face in peanut butter as soon as I’m conscious. Then it’s non-gluten grains, followed by my personal fave, DAIRY, and lastly, gluten. We’ll see how the next 10 days plays out.

Top two things I definitely missed: ice cream and crunchy things to add texture to meals, like chips and crackers.

Surprising things: I didn’t get sick of eggs! I still really like them. Also, I think I actually prefer almond butter to peanut. I guess I’ll know for sure tomorrow.

The hardest part: Not partaking in alcohol and sweets in social settings. Emphasis on social. I have willpower for days, and the principle of out of sight, out of mind totally applies to me regarding food, but when I’m around all these other people who are having yummy sangria and frickin gooey rice crispy treats, I tends to get a little more than a little grumpy.

Another thing that made this hard is that I came down with a nasty sinus infection last week (which I’m still fighting, grumble), and being sick makes everything harder. It makes you tired, it makes you grumpy, and it makes you reach for the comfort food. Forever the stubborn rule follower, I stuck to my guns because I wanted to say I did this the right way.

HOWEVER.

I did not deny myself some sweet, sweet NyQuil that is actually 10% alcohol, which I confirmed after ingestion. Having a shot before bed after being sober for 25 days was like my own personal party! #noregrets

So. Congrats to me in about…5 hours when I go to bed…for successfully completing Whole30!

But honestly, the real celebration will be a week from now when I finally get to have my ice cold, sweet, fatty, smooth deliciousness. Hopefully, it’ll actually be there in grocery stores when it’s time for me to have it. Fingers crossed.

Whole30: Whisper-screaming

I don’t know what happened, you guys.

My tiger blood packed it up and left town (along with the great weather we were having), leaving me feeling super cranky, tired, and rundown. I’ve been needing naps and craving sugar.

Rawr.

On Monday, not only did I have my annual GYN/cancer check up, but I also had a headache. (On the upside, everything came back normal!!) Oh yeah, and speaking of my ladybits, my hormones decided to start the flow right around here because their timing is impeccable.

Last night I had my regularly scheduled yoga, and so I screamed out of the house as soon as my husband got home. It definitely made me feel a bit better and took the edge off; the yoga helped too. I tried my hardest to get to bed early last night, but night terrors prevented that. Yaaay.

And get this- last night I had my first food dream since this whole shindig started. I dreamed that I was at a bar with M (my Whole30 friend/coach/guru/emotional punching bag), and we ordered croissants and beers. It was loud, dark, and I had forgotten about the diet. Halfway through my dreamy snack, I looked down and, through the haze, realized with a jolt what I had done. OH SHIT! I screamed. M, WE CAN’T HAVE THESE!! She shrugged and kept eating. Thanks a lot for your subconscious dream abandonment.

I woke up with tension in my jaw, a clear sign that my body is trying to grind my neuroses between my teeth again.

So today, in an effort to turn things around, I went to the gym and did some good rage workouts. You know, the loud music, grimacing, and whisper-screaming obscenities to no one and everyone in particular. It definitely helped. Aaand today’s weather isn’t horrible.

I’m trying my best, you guys, but this is definitely starting to get old, like my eggs.

Whole30: To the kind soul who finds this

Dear Diary, or to the kind soul who finds this,

It’s Day 15 in this dark place. I wonder when I’ll see the end? Sometimes I think my punishment will never end.

I feel pretty accomplished, surviving in this strange place, with a huge credit to my husband on the outside who has courageously smuggled in compliant dinners.

My captors allowed me to eat out a few times and but forced me to make substitutions and special requests. I longed to cry out for help to the waitress, but I was threatened with punishment upon our return. At one point I was brought to a bowling alley that sold fried foods as another twisted means of torture and I ended up begging to be put out of my misery, to no avail. I was present at a gathering where I was offered pizza. and. cake. but I knew of the unsaid consequences if I were to succumb to temptation in a moment of weakness. Only strength will get me through. And hope. One day at a time.

My time here has reminded me of being pregnant, oddly. My sense of smell has become superhuman. Halfway down the dungeon stairs I breathed in, and with my exhale I moaned, “THOSE MARSHMALLOWS HAD BETTER BE GONE BY THE TIME I GET DOWN.” Sometimes, the captive start to sound like the captors.

I’m still craving the sweet flavors of home, mainly in the dark of night. Some days are better than others, but I find being given permission to eat something -anything compliant- does the trick to distract my body from its woes and the craving passes.

I should be drinking more water. I’m being given my ration, but I long for something different.

My biggest concern for the second half of my sentence is the shackles of food boredom. I’m trying to keep my spirits up by finding ways to make my meager breakfast more interesting. Even the slightest new taste can do the trick; I plan to beg for fruits I don’t often have. With luck I’ll be shown some mercy.

Sometimes I sense that my time here is melting away my humanity. Have you seen that movie, Lord of the Rings? Do you remember when Bilbo saw the ring again after he hadn’t seen it, or held it, caressed it, in a long time? The greedy monster inside him contorted on his face for just a fraction of a second. That’s how I feel when I see my captors eating ice cream right in front of me. The preciousss.

Another day, gone.

If you should find this, please leave a message of hope in its place.

I’m going to need it.

Welcome to the Jungle

Today is Day 13 and I feel greeeaaattt. (If anyone else remembers and loves this commercial as much as I do – you are my people.)

So far, I haven’t been progressing through the Whole30 prescribed schedule, but I’ve more or less been experiencing it in broad strokes.

I felt the hangover and on and off for a week I felt some yucky bloating, but the last 2.5 days it’s mostly given way to TIGER BLOOD.

I actually feel almost manic, which, for me, is alllllmost to the point of uncomfortable. I have more energy and I feel more alert. It also feels like my body and brain are buzzing and I’m having a flight of thoughts (not quite racing). When I feel manic like that, like I’ve drank a pot of coffee, it ironically makes me want to nap. That said, I am definitely enjoying the lack of sluggishness!

In addition, not last night but the three nights prior, I’ve been having incredibly intense dreams. They haven’t been scary nightmares, but they’ve all had dystopian/survival themes with extremely vivid sensations and detail. The kind where I’ve woken up and my body was still rigid and my heart was racing, and each time I’d have no trouble getting back to sleep and having yet another death-defying sequence. In one dream, my family was preparing for some kind of disaster and so I was rushing around with my kids making all these arrangements, packing up and getting ready to leave. In the most intense one, my husband and I were staying in this castle/mansion high on an ocean cliff that felt like Scotland. We had about 15 minutes warning for a tsunami. We were located on the highest ground as far as we could see and we had no time to go anywhere, so we sheltered in place. We closed all the doors in an effort to create as many barriers as possible. I felt the air pressure change and heard the loudest roar ever and then all at once the entire room was full of water. I woke up heart pounding. Crazy!

I’ve also really been enjoying my new ritual of making my breakfast every morning, new for me since I don’t normally cook. Pouring the olive oil in the pan. The click of the gas stove. Cracking the eggs. Shaking the salt and pepper. Scooping the avocado. Washing the blueberries. Glooping the almond butter. (I totally get that this sounds like I’ve gone off the deep end and drunk the Whole30 koolaid (not compliant)). The downside is that all this takes more time in the mornings (and non-tiger-blood me is not a morning person), but I am enjoying this new way in which I take care of myself.

As I move through this process, I’m starting to think about which habits I’d like to keep, and to what extent. I’ll for sure add some stuff back in, depending on the results of how certain food groups make me feel, but I definitely want to continue to go easier on the carbs and cook myself some egg deliciousness more often. I’ve gotten great at making the perfect over-medium fried egg!

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You know you’re doing Whole30 when…

  • You’re constantly thinking about food.
  • All you have to do is give your partner a look and a grunt (maaaaybe a wave of the hand) for them to get that fucking beer/ice cream/candy bar wrapper out of your sight.
  • All your girl scout cookies are shoved to the back of the pantry.
  • You practically live in the bulk-foods aisle. (Did you know that those pre-packaged nuts are a racket?! You can just bag them and weigh them yourself- they’re the same nuts! -for much cheaper y’all.) #samenuts
  • Your husband starts naming snack options for your kids and after each option, you start saying “compliant” or “not compliant” without even thinking.
  • You start thinking about how many ways you can make eggs. There’s scrambled, hard boiled, poached, fried, omelette, raw…such a world of possibilities!
  • You start carrying full meals around with you to social gatherings. You know. Just in case.
  • You try to cram an entire meal into your piehole (not compliant) before going out because you’re pretty sure there won’t be anything you can eat there…and then you still bring a meal with you just in case.
  • You make slow-mo videos of the blender whirling your latest tastebud sensation and then post them to Facebook (ahem).
  • You start mentally planning your next smoothie even before this one has finished whirling (has anyone included almond butter?! Totally doing that next.)
  • You start looking up W30 memes and laaaaaugh and laugh.
  • You start running out of compliant food midway through the week and have to run to the grocery store again, ugh.
  • You start continue sharing about bowel movements.
  • You start blogging about it. Like, all the time.

 

Whole30: I miss cookies

Here’s how conversations go now that I’m doing Whole30 (inner monologue is in brackets, because I’m normal and have a constant inner monologue like every human rightfully should. Also, like Joe from You because he’s witty and not at all creepy):

Mom acquaintance at school pickup: Hey, how’s it going?

[I’m on Whole30. It’s day 5. I miss cookies.]

Me: Pretty good! How are you? [I’m normal! Act normal.]

Mom: Doing good, feeling tired. What’s new with you?

Me: Oh, nothing. I’m doing Whole30. [smile!]

Mom: Oh, cool! How’s it going?

[Help me. Do you have any chocolate? I won’t tell.]

Me: Surprisingly well, actually. I feel good, just starting to get cravings at night after the kids go to bed. [It’s like a sugar booty call and I can’t get to the phone.]

Mom: Ah. Well, good luck with everything!

[I’m gonna need more than luck, but ok.]

Me: Thanks! [run away.]


Also, it’s interesting how food and diets and programs like this shine a light on one’s personality. What I mean is that I’ve always been a rule follower. I like rules; they make me feel safe and alive. I tend to follow them to the letter. And well, I’ve found out that my Whole30 food guru leader, M, is a little more lax than I thought. Observe our text conversations that may or may not have been embellished for my pleasure.

Me: Soooo, you can’t have hummus, right? They’re legumes?

M: Oh. Technically that’s right, but they’re my cheat thing.

Me: Oooh, got it.

(later on)

M: Lookit this pic of this super tasty Whole30 meat bowl explosion at Chipotle!

[includes pic of a super tasty-looking bowl of food- but wait!]

Me: Looks yummy! But uhh…is that corn? Corn isn’t compliant.

M: Corn is a vegetable!

Me, unable to tell if she’s joking: Corn is a grain. It’s against the rules.

M: It’s ok. Everything is ok. Breathe.

Me: But, but…how many cheat things do you have? You’re supposed to guide me on this journey. This is such a violation of my expectations! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW?!

M: Eat what you want, lady. Your goals on this are different than mine. Breathe.

Me: [hyperventilating]