My Delicious Victory

It’s been a long week, dear Psychos.

Last night I really wanted some wine. I had been saving a bottle of Pino Grigio, which is my fave, and we were too exhausted/overwhelmed to open it on election day…or when the results were finally called…or anywhere in between.

At any rate, last night was the night. My mind was made up.

I’m not great at opening bottles of wine. And by not great I mean I suck at it and rarely attempt it. I’ve come to prefer boxed wine, quite frankly. I’m all about breaking down barriers.

Nevertheless, I am a modern, empowered woman and I wasn’t going to let a little plug of endangered tree bark wedge itself between me and my wildest dreams.

I got out the wine and a corkscrew and that little thingy you use to cut off the junk that covers up the opening. (Please allow me to amaze you with my knowledge of technical wine jargon!) I inspected the bottle to check if the top would simply screw off. I gave it a good yank (that’s what she said) and it didn’t budge. I proceeded with using the little cutting tool thingy. First, I couldn’t figure out how it fit onto the bottle. It kept slipping off as I tried to turn it (dear lord, she said that too), and I set everything down, frustrated.

Now Psychos, while I am a strong, independent woman, I am also not above asking for help. My husband was home, but he was upstairs giving baths to the kids. There was no way I was going upstairs and risk being asked to help or getting guilted into reading bedtime stories involving talking trains or various scratch-and-sniff Christmas items. That meant that if I wanted help, I had to wait. Temporarily defeated, I left all the tools sitting out and I went and sat down in front of the TV with a glass of water.

Water, y’all.

I lasted a few minutes before I got up and went back into the kitchen with a surge of I’m gonna fucking do this. I wrenched down hard on the cutting tool and cut through enough that I was able to pick it off the bottle. I looked in and there wasn’t any cork. Weird, I thought, but score! I poured myself a glass and was triumphant in my delicious victory.

Fast forward to this morning, when my husband saw the partial bottle in the fridge.

“You know this was a screw top, right? You cut right through the cap.” He pointed.

“Huh. That would explain why it didn’t have a cork.”

Nobody needs to worry about me. When I want something I’ll just claw at it until I get it.


Day 10

A Full Day

There are some random things that tend to stick in one’s mind for whatever reason. Yesterday, I shared one of those things with my husband and it was the first time he’d heard this story even though we’ve been together for 17 years.

My family of origin is heavily into sports – mainly basketball and football. I don’t remember the context in which this came up, but my brother introduced me, directly or indirectly, to a clip from the ESPY Awards from 1993. It was an acceptance speech from the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, given to people whose contributions to society transcend sports. That year’s recipient was someone whom I’d never heard of – he was a basketball coach named Jim Valvano, or more affectionately called Jimmy V, and he was dying of cancer. I had no idea what he had done to deserve the award, but the words he said in the first part of his speech really moved me and stuck with me all these years.

He said, and I’ll paraphrase here, that if you do three things each day, you’ll have a full life. If you laugh, if you spend some time in thought, and if you find yourself being moved to tears – that’s a full day. That’s a great day. Do that everyday, he said, and it’ll equal a full life.

If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re gonna have something special.

Jimmy V, 1993

For me, it’s not everyday that I do those three things, but when I do, I take note. I mark it in my mind as a full day, a great day.

Last night, my husband and I were getting ready for bed, brushing our teeth in our bathroom. I looked at him in the mirror, my eyes still a little puffy from crying all the way through Kamala’s speech and even during part of Biden’s. “Today was a full day.” I said. He looked at my quizzically, probably because we hadn’t even left the house that day. I told him how much it meant to me to see a woman up there on that stage, especially four years after a devastating loss. I can barely put it into words. I also told him the story of the Jimmy V speech, and how it had stuck with me through all these years.

“…so today I laughed, and I spent some time in thought, and I was just moved to tears.” My eyes welled up as I said the words.

“And so today was a full day.”


Day 8

A Sigh of Relief

I woke up around 8:45am Pacific time this morning.

I could hear my kids playing downstairs and my husband was stirring next to me. I was enjoying the moment, just lying there, peaceful and rested and warm.

My husband grabbed his phone and started checking things. He thrust his phone in my face. I could tell it was a picture of Biden, but without my glasses I couldn’t read it, and so he read me the headline.

Then I grabbed my phone and, instead of reading the news, I first saw a barrage of celebratory gifs from my friends. I started laughing and couldn’t stop. It was such a release, the laughter.

I looked at the time and realized I should get moving if I was going to make it to my Saturday morning zoom yoga class. I’ve been missing yoga lately, eating way too much Halloween candy, my nightly teeth-grinding has ramped up. I’ve been wound really tight lately, as many of us have.

I crammed breakfast into my mouth and shut myself in my son’s room and logged in. It was especially hard for my mind to stay in the here-and-now during the class. It was running all over the place, thinking about the future and how Kamala made history and ending this pandemic and the laundry and oh I need to clean and do all the things.

But my body. It’s hard to describe other than a release. I’ve been doing yoga so long that the poses and the flow feel extremely natural in my body. For a long time I haven’t had to think about what comes next, my body just does it. It’s literally muscle memory. And the simple act of moving my body broke all these tiny dams within me that were storing stress. worry. trauma. pain.

The roof of my mouth and my jaw started to ache, from the nightly grinding. My glutes relaxed and let go. My right shoulder gets gummed up frequently and that, too, started aching. My core woke up and felt alive, activated, welcoming the use. My knees and back were popping, crunching with the movements. I’m developing a headache as I type this, still sitting on my yoga mat.

But somehow this all feels…good. Or at least appropriate. I wouldn’t be surprised if tears develop for me later on, another way my body might purge. Reminds me of how people tend to get sick while on vacation, when their bodies are finally allowed to relax.

I’ve seen footage from friends around the country, some of which are marching, dancing in the streets. I’m doing that in spirit right now. I’m right there with you, finally breathing a sigh of relief.


Day 7

Only a Hippopotamus Will Do

Today, I did something that I am pretty sure I’ve never done.

I listened to Christmas music way early.

I know, I know. Some people do this all the time and some people are chipper and some people can bite me.

It’s not that I don’t like Christmas music – I do! It’s just that I love Halloween more, and I respect doing holidays in order, and I don’t want to make Christmas music feel less special by overplaying it. You know?

At any rate, today I was daring to feel thiiiiiis much more hopeful about the outcome of the election (I kid you not, I’ve literally been breathing more easily today. I’ve felt lighter.) and I started working on Christmas lists for myself and my kids. I asked my daughter what she wanted for Christmas and, without hesitating, said “a car.” She’s three.

From there, I got “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” stuck in my head and so then I needed to hear it, and after that YouTube took it from there. I was dancing and singing and shaking my butt and it felt so wrong and yet so right.

As an afterthought, I’ve also begun to realize that I’ve been doing things early (for me) and speeding things up in an attempt to try and make time pass faster because, in my mind, if time passes faster, the sooner this pandemic will be over and I can hug my friends and family again.

Usually, I’m the type of person who lingers. I like to savor moments and try to stretch things, wringing out all possible enjoyment. But this year, the day after Halloween was a Sunday and I…just found myself cleaning up the decorations. I never do that. But I had decorated early in the first place, and it was a weekend day so I had the time and I just…felt…done. Like it was time to move on.

Just like now, where I’m so done. We’re heading into winter and dear lord I need some cheer in my life. So if that means extending the Christmas holiday, so be it.

Also, a hippo would either trample you or eat you alive. Zero stars, do not recommend.


Day 6

Bright. Warm. Sunlight.

I saw a rainbow today

It started out faintly

And it was only a few degrees of curvature

At first

But then

The showers persisted and the sun pushed through the clouds

It happened gradually

Until I could see the entire beautiful arch

Shine brightly against the dark sky

I turned my back to take a selfie

And I was blinded by the

Bright. Warm. Sunlight.


Day 4

Peace+Tranquility On Fire

Today I’ve been trying to keep my cool.

Yeah right. Like I had any cool to begin with. To rephrase, I’ve been trying to keep my inner monologue – which today is only the sound of my desperate, frantic screaming – where it belongs, on the inside.

On the surface, the day has seemed mostly normal. Mostly.

Unfortunately, my robot vacuum lovingly named Olaf woke me up at 5am with a distant jingle followed by a robotic female voice informing me that DO-DO. BATTERY IS LOW. DO-DO.

Dazed and confused, my heart leapt into my throat and I prepared to die. Even after I figured out what was happening and realized I couldn’t fix the issue through the app on my phone, I still woke my husband to help because there was no way I was going downstairs by myself at night because the bent neck lady was waiting and fuck no to that. (I’m only two episodes in, and while my nerves may not let me ever finish, no spoilers please in case I ever do.)

Anyway, the point is that my day started off with me being afraid for my life and that’s keeping with the theme of this year.

I made coffee, I began helping my kid with online school. I wiped my littler kid’s butt.

I decided one cup WAS NOT ENOUGH so I made a cup of tea. Caffeine tends to make me anxious, but I like the ritual and I like the taste so while this may or may not have contributed to my goal you can fight me.

I decided my mid-morning hobbit snack needed some ambiance so I lit a candle. My husband hates scented candles but I did it anyway. To avoid a fight I decided to tell him about it before he had the chance to notice on his own, but looking back I’m wondering if maybe I could have used more tact.

Me, as I burst into the room: I LIT A CANDLE AND IT’S CALLED PEACE+TRANQUILITY. DON’T HATE ME.

Him: …Is it working?

Me, shouting: OF COURSE IT’S WORKING! YOU WANT SOME TEA?!

After school and lunch, I ran out of the house to do my normal Tuesday errands, which involve the library and picking up our grocery order. Today, the order was a bit bigger in case election rioters release the murder hornets and I blasted my car stereo so I could no longer hear the voices in my head.

While I’m wearing suffragette white under my jacket and RBG earrings, I decided I needed to make a louder statement.

After returning to the house and getting my kids outside to run around, now the real nail-biting portion of the day begins as I turn on the TV and re-learn the fucking electoral college.

Choose love, y’all. Let’s get through this.


Day 3

Holding My Breath

Like many Americans, I’m having some feelings this week. Lots of flashbacks to the last election.

Four years ago, I was pregnant with my daughter and I was excited. I was so sure my daughter would be born into a world where she’d be able to take a female American president for granted. To me, it seemed like a no-brainer: our country’s most qualified candidate in history was running against our country’s most unqualified, outwardly racist and misogynistic candidate. It should have been a slam dunk.

I believed the polls. I had faith that an overwhelming majority of Americans would not choose fear and ignorance and hate. Needless to say, the outcome was shocking and traumatic. The experience was definitely a loss of innocence.

That election day I attended a goodbye party for another mom-friend of mine. This was a sad occasion for my whole family since her husband was friends with my husband and they were basically the first friends we made after moving to Oregon. This party was also the last time I planned to leave the house for a while, as my goal was to potty train my 2 year old son as best I could before the new baby came.

We had election coverage on in the background while we ate dinner. We had to turn it off while my husband put my son to bed, and I remember sitting in my room on my phone, scrolling. My first indication that something was wrong was when Florida went to He Who Must Not Be Named. After that, we watched with growing fear and went to bed in shock and disbelief.

I woke up the next day in a daze and proceeded with the potty training plan. It was horrible, stressful. I spent a good portion of the day in tears, not knowing what exactly I was crying about. All of the day was spent elbow deep in piss and shit, one way or another.

I remember thinking that my daughter would be ALMOST FOUR before we’d have the chance to vote him out. Four years is a hell of a long time to do a lot of damage. And so much damage has indeed been done.

As I write this, it feels akin to how one might tell a story of where they were and what they were doing when the twin towers fell or when Kennedy was shot. It was a dark day; one I’ll never forget. Looking back, it spun me (us) into a crazy-ass couple of years. My daughter was born. My post-partum anxiety took off like a brush fire. I went back to therapy. I spent a good few years just trying to get ahold of myself and figure out who I was and how to leave the house with pants on. All this with a background of news reports on hate, ignorance, fear, anger, violence. Rolling back progress and denying human rights.

Fall of 2019, I finally started feeling better, consistently better. I, like many others, declared that 2020 was going to be my year. And it was…until the pandemic. And now the election.

So you can see (I hope) how I am holding my breath. I’m white knuckling this. I’m so angry and scared. I want to believe the polls. I want to have faith in people to do the right thing. But frankly, this country is not what I thought it was, and we’ve all been here before, on this abusive rollercoaster from which we can’t seem to get off. I’m honestly not sure how I’ll get through the next few days…or weeks…or longer, depending.

To those in power who are using that power for personal gain and to manipulate and spread fear: we see right through you. You might be fooling some, but you sure as hell aren’t fooling me.

Abusive people use anything at their disposal to have power and control over others. If they can’t control others, their power is gone. Abusive people try to stop others from voting. Abusive people try to sue for votes to not be counted. Abusive people lie and manipulate the system. Abusive people threaten violence. Abusive people intimidate (in this case, by bringing guns to the polls, or by blocking traffic, etc.). Abusive people gaslight others and deny any wrongdoing. All of these behaviors are coming from a place of insecurity, NOT love, NOT protection, because if these people knew they could be fairly reelected in a just, democratic system, then there would be no need for such devious theatrics.

Abuse is not strength. Make no mistake, we are in an abusive relationship and that is an incredibly powerless feeling.

I voted as soon as I possibly could. I even made sure my ballot was received. And now, I wait. Full of dread, fear…and some cautious hope.


Day 2

Vote with me, baby, one more time

I love voting.

It makes me feel all grown up and stuff.

When I went off to college, and even when I lived across the country for grad school, I still stayed registered to vote in my home county because I knew I’d eventually move back to California (and plus I’ve never lived in a swing state, or I would’ve re-registered before you could say “Bain Capital”).

Because of this setup, I voted absentee via the mail.  That was cool an’ all, but it wasn’t the experience I was craving.  I wanted the anticipation of standing in line at the polling place.  I wanted to feel the rush as my name was crossed off a list and I was handed a ballot.  I wanted to feel the urge to do something naughty in the privacy of the voting booth – and then feel proud when I resisted it.  I wanted to actually physically participate in the action, the ritual of voting rather than just putting a piece of paper in the mail like I was sending off a bill.

And, let’s face it, I wanted that damn sticker.  I wanted the bragging rights.

Needless to say, when I found my Big Girl Job and moved permanently back to Norcal, I registered in my new county and got to start voting in person on election day, and boy it was everything I had hoped for and more.

My local polling place turned out to be the fire station that is down the street from my apartment.  Can you believe my luck?!  Few things are sexier than voting, and one of those things is a firefighter drinking a glass of milk or washing a fire truck (or both).  Put those things together, and you have one civicly responsible, hot-and-bothered pair of Lyssapants.

This explains why I carry a gallon of milk with me when I go to vote.

Happy voting, everyone!!