I’ll Eat When The Cheer Is Complete

At the beginning of this long holiday weekend, I was all I’m gonna turn a corner in my life. We’re gonna bring in some Christmas cheer and I’m gonna stop watching scary movies that prevent me from sleeping and I’m gonna get gift shopping done early sos I can kick back and enjoy watching this yule log of a year burn, baby, burn. Or something like that.

To kick off the holiday season right, but also so I could move on with my life, my husband and I watched our last 3 hours of The Haunting of Hill House right after the kids went to bed on Thanksgiving. Tis the season!! This show scared us so badly that we were dragging out the time between watching each episode and I just needed to rip this bandaid off right quick. Overall, I did enjoy the season even though I felt like it stole a few days from my life and they are now residing in the Red Room with everyone else.

The next day I asked my husband if he wanted to watch this one random movie I got from the library and he said foolishly said sure. I picked it up and showed it to him, and I have a disease, you guys. True to form, I had chosen a zombie flick because it had the word pandemic on it. It was called Alone, and it came out this year – how did I manage to miss this?! The movie was just okay, and it involved an interesting take on the classic zombie genre. Because my nerves were still fried from Hill House, I jumped way more than I should have, but I persevered, my friends. I don’t expect my family and friends to associate with a quitter.

So today – today – was for sure the day. We were gonna create some motherfucking cheer, goddamnit. We got up and had pancakes, which never fail to make my kids happy. We attended a surprise birthday car parade which was lovely and joyful. To continue the cheerful momentum, I hesitantly asked my husband not to freak out, but that I wanted to decorate for Christmas aaaaaand – gasp – play Christmas music. This, this is simply not done in our house. My husband has this thing where he won’t celebrate a holiday until the first of the month of said holiday. Lately, I’ve been asking him ever so sweetly to stop CRUSHING MY JOY when we see Christmas lights go up in the neighborhood or hear sleighbells on the television. Today, he graciously allowed me to usher in some gaiety after I shouted at him that THIS WAS ALL THE HOPE WE HAD LEFT.

I started getting the bins out and my kids actually helped put up some decorations. I left the fake, lit garlands I usually wrap around the banisters until last. I was getting a little peckish but I was determined to finish the job and so I pranced over and decided to plug them in – just to make sure they worked, you know, as a formality – before I strung them up. First one lit up the room. Excellent. The second – crap. Suddenly, my empty stomach felt cavernous. The dull, annoying headache I’d had pounded up my brainstem and beat me behind the eyes. Oh yeah, was it that time of the month too? WHY THE FUCK NOT?!

Not to be deterred in the slightest, I proceeded to expertly wiggle and jiggle each and every bulb, all while muttering devil-words under my breath. My husband could sense a change in the atmosphere in the house, and gingerly suggested I take a break and get something to eat. I’LL EAT WHEN THE CHEER IS COMPLETE was my rabid response.

Knowing my limits as a rational human being, I screamed at allowed my husband to take over to troubleshoot the light issue. Then, for reasons still unknown to me, I decided that only fools eat food or take breaks, and I proceeded to organize the liquor cabinet. This only enraged me more when I: 1) couldn’t reach the back of the cabinet and had to ask for help, and 2) couldn’t open a jar of 10 year old homemade booze that we’d never drink and had to ask for help, and 3) banged my head so hard on the open cabinet door that I had to stand there for a good 30 seconds to let the pain pass. Sigh.

After I Marie Kondo-ed the booze (it all sparked joy, save for the 10 year old Baileys that had chunks floating in it, may you rest in peace), I had enough good sense to make and eat some noodles. By that time, my husband had exhausted all options with the lights and he promptly ordered some new ones on the internet because he loves me and he effectively saved Christmas!!


Day 28

Far Away Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Today I’m using an idea I got from reading Steven’s blog about spending Thanksgiving as an American overseas.

In the Fall of 2005, I studied abroad in The Netherlands through a program run by the University of California system. My destination was University College Utrecht in The Netherlands, which is an international university that, at the time, housed and educated roughly two-thirds Dutch students and the other third students from all over the world (of around a total of 750 students). My personal circle of friends included Americans, Dutchies, Australians, Germans, a Swede, and a few assorted others. It was one of the best, richest, most exciting experiences of my entire life.

For Thanksgiving, the UC program people put on a traditional holiday dinner for all the American students, who each got to bring a plus one. My boyfriend (now husband) was visiting me that week, and so he got to come and join in the merriment. For most others, that meant a non-American student got invited to their very first Thanksgiving dinner.

I honestly don’t remember much about the food at all, but the experience was so much more than what we were eating. At that point in the semester, we’d been away from home for four months. The days were growing short and cold, and many of us were starting to feel twinges of homesickness. Having the familiarity of tradition, familiar foods, and my boyfriend there by my side made me feel comforted and joyful.

I found a blurry picture I took of the food!

What I enjoyed most was the exchange of culture that took place. The non-Americans had so many questions about why we ate certain things and why this custom and compared it to their own. It was an invitation for me to stop and think about customs and traditions I had always taken for granted. To see myself, my country, my culture through the eyes of foreigners is an incredible experience. I highly recommend it.

When the dinner was over, we went outside for the short walk back to our units (dorms), and upon setting foot outside we found that it had started snowing. The Californians, me included, promptly lost their shit and started playing in it, not ready for the night to be over. It was a special dusting on top of a very special evening.

Frolicking in the snow!

Now that I think about it, that Thanksgiving feels similar to this year in that I’m separated from family. At least in 2005 it was by choice.

I’ve often stuck my nose up at the American tradition to celebrate gratitude by wallowing in excess. Doesn’t it make more sense that you’ll better appreciate what you have by going without? With that in mind, this year I’m making a special point to be grateful for my family and friends, especially those I haven’t seen in far too long. I’m not on the other side of the world this year, even though it often feels that way. Hopefully, we’ll be together again sooner rather than later.

Counting my blessings, and I’m hoping you have many to count as well.


Day 26

Sit with the ache in your heart

This Thanksgiving marks the one year mark since I have seen my parents in person.

This is the longest I have ever – EVER – been away from them and it sucks.

Last year was the first year my husband and I decided to host Thanksgiving. In years past, we traveled to California from Oregon to spend Thanksgiving with both our families (my husband and I are from the same hometown, so going home means we get to see everyone in one trip) and we made it a point to stay as long as we could. Travel is expensive, and since having one and then two kids, it’s a huuuuge pain in the ass. If we were gonna go anywhere, we were gonna stay and make the trip super worthwhile.

We opted to host last year because my son had started kindergarten and we couldn’t take the 2 week trip without him missing school. We invited a bunch of family, knowing we were deviating from the norm and that most would probably have other plans already. My parents were the ones who chose to fly up and join us. We had a fun visit and a pretty chill Thanksgiving meal. My mom helped out by making her amazingly cheesy shredded potato casserole. I struggled to take a selfie of everyone sitting around the table, but somehow I managed. We had no idea it would be the last holiday we’d spend together for a very long time.

My parents had another visit planned around…I wanna say…April? We all mutually decided to cancel; it wasn’t worth the risk of anyone getting sick. My mom has a preexisting condition and so her health is at a higher risk than most. Also, both of them are over 65.

Ever since, we’ve been FaceTiming but y’all know that’s not the same. My son is able to write real letters now, and we do that from time to time too. My daughter would contribute her spirited artwork. There’s just no way to write enough or color enough to fit yourself into an envelope and mail all of you to where you need to be.

For me, this Thanksgiving will be one to grieve a benchmark of time spent apart. We’ll be grieving the loss of safety, normalcy, etc. I’ll also be giving thanks that, although apart, my family is all in good health. Our sacrifice, and the sacrifice of everyone around us, is for good reason. It’s so that we can all be together again in the future to celebrate and share our lives and swap germs and not take that closeness for granted ever again.

I know this lockdown is hard, probably one of the hardest things we’ll do as a global community in our generation, but resist the temptation to let down your guard and get too close to those not in your household this holiday season. Think about the long-term consequences. Think about how you’d feel if a social gathering landed a person you love in the hospital. The risk is not worth it. I encourage you to sit with the loss. Sit with the ache in your heart. I feel it too. The good news is that it won’t last forever.

This Thanksgiving, I’ll be thinking about my parents and making plans for the future. Because if everyone does their part, then we’ll all have a future to celebrate together.


Day 24

Gratitude Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

I baked this and will consume it shortly.

Here is my top ten list of things for which I am thankful:

  1. My family: my husband, and all he does to support me without question. The kids, and how freaking adorable and amazing they are. I’m very lucky.
  2. Health. Mine and my family’s.
  3. That we have everything we need. Food, clothes, shelter, clean water.
  4. My friends. They support me emotionally, they don’t judge me, and they make me laugh.
  5. My extended family. I know I am loved, and for that I am grateful.
  6. I have freedom and choice and privilege. I try not to take these for granted.
  7. Creative outlets, like writing and painting and singing. They make me feel alive.
  8. Entertainment (books, TV, movies) that awakens me emotionally and spiritually, and those that release stress by making me laugh.
  9. Opportunities where I can be alone. I like to recharge and explore my relationship with myself.
  10. Yoga. It is my happy place; it is my place of worship, where my body is the temple and I get to say thank you for taking me through this life.

nanopoblano2019

The One With All The Thanksgivings

This is the first year that my husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving.

I mean, there was one year where we had it just the two of us, in Boston, after we had just moved in together for the first time. That was…way back in 2006. It was kinda cute, because we didn’t have a dining table of any kind, so we ate sitting on the floor on opposite sides of our Ikea coffee table.

I don’t entirely remember what we did for all the food…we only cooked a portion of turkey, not a whole bird. I do remember feeling a little sad that we weren’t with our families, but also cozy, quiet, and comfortable being with my most loved one. No drama. No fuss. Just us.

Fast forward to now, when I was the one who decided to host and invite family over, and I am also the one who doesn’t cook. Ha! Hilarity will ensue! Let’s get a reality TV show camera crew in here.

My husband is a good cook, but I am a better planner. And I’m told that cooking for Thanksgiving, in the crazy all-out way that Americans choose to celebrate a holiday supposed to be centered around gratitude, is largely about planning. I’m optimistic that our dynamic Thanksgiving duo will be able to put on a fairly chill, simple-but-yummy holiday meal.

We’ll cut corners where we want. Like, we’ll cook some turkey parts again and forgo a whole bird. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I’m gonna bake the pie cuz I likes to bake. My mom is gonna make her famous potato casserole. Yum!

Our Thanksgiving will also have to include some kid-friendly backups, like turkey-shaped pb&js or something, because the last time I checked, my kids only eat the rolls anyway. Kids are so weird. STUFFING IS AMAZING, YOU GUYS! FOR THE LOVE, JUST TRY IT!

A side note about Thanksgiving, which I alluded to above. Only Americans could take a holiday supposed to be about appreciating things you have and surviving the winter by creating excess, by exercising gluttony. I picture the fat disgusting dudes from The Oatmeal cartoons saying something like, “Shit, James! We didn’t starve or die from the measles this winter! I’m so happy to be alive! Let’s celebrate the way our forefathers would want us to – by eating everything in sight and bringing on early onset diabetes. ‘Merica.” And then they high-five each other.

It just makes more sense to me that, in order to truly know and show gratitude for something, you’d need to know what it’s like to be without it. Maybe one of these days I’ll put my money where my mouth is and actually fast for Thanksgiving evening. Perhaps having control over the meal this year – and simplifying it – is one baby step closer to that goal.

And, having said that, perhaps my kids have the right idea by just eating the rolls.


nanopoblano2019

Meat, Vests, and Keanu Reeves

The past two days, my fellow hero in anxiety, The Bloggess, has encouraged her readers to first post things they hate that everyone else loves, and then the inverse – things they love that others don’t get.

This exercise was her way of reminding us that us, each of us, either who we are or what we write/produce/put out into the world (or all of the above) is not for everyone. Not everyone is going to like us or understand us, and that’s okay. Nay, it’s normal and expected.

As for me, I despise:

  • whiskey (I involuntarily shudder each time it touches my tongue. That’s what she said.)
  • David Sedaris (Okay, so despise is way too strong of a word for Mr. Sedaris. I just don’t get him, really. I’ve read several of his books and I keep really trying to find him funny, and I only find him mildly amusing some of the time.)
  • licorice (bitter and gross)
  • vests (your arms are still cold)
  • pot roast (dry and tough and I don’t want my meat tasting like carrots and my carrots tasting like meat)
  • potatoes that aren’t highly processed…like the kind in pot roast
  • turkey (like, the Thanksgiving kind. It’s dry and tasteless. I eat at Thanksgiving for the sides. And the pie. Mmmmm, pie.)
  • sausages (I’m a horrible mostly-German person)
  • I guess I just don’t prefer most meat, really…except bacon
  • IPAs (I don’t like drinking Pine Sol)
  • The Smashing Pumpkins (whiny voices)
  • Keanu Reeves (never cared for his acting)
  • Oregon.

And I love:

  • therapy!
  • the smell of gasoline
  • writing resumes
  • Hanson
  • Almond Joys (sometimes you feel like a nut)
  • really depressing and/or traumatic reading material

People who know me – was there anything I missed? I’m sure it’s easier for my friends to remember just how much of a weirdo I am. Much thanks.

Now you! You go; it’s your turn. What things do you love/hate that most others don’t?


nanopoblano2019

Contributions and Gratitude

I’m reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book Option B, and in it she talks about how recognizing your contributions to the world helps to build confidence and a sense of agency. She urges people to recognize this in addition to things we are grateful for. Yes, gratitude is important for cultivating happiness and joy, but she argues (and claims the research shows) that because gratitude is passive, it only goes so far. Meaning, gratitude practices acknowledge things you receive, while recognizing and celebrating one’s contributions to the world is more active – it’s something I’ve done to make the world a better place.

And so, I thought I’d give it a try. Here are a few contributions of which I am most proud.

  • Everyday, I am raising my children to be kind, compassionate people. I try to show them with my words and also lead by example.
  • I try to do small kind things for people around me, both friends and strangers.
  • I blog. I put my feelings out there into the world, in hopes that maybe someone will read them and feel less alone.
  • In my previous life (and I will again in my next life) I devoted my career to creating a safe space where clients could come to vent, heal, and be heard. I served as a crucial witness and container for suffering.
  • I keep my household running pretty damn well.
  • In spite of it all, I actually manage to take care of myself, too.

As another year comes to a close, I am also extremely thankful for the following:

  • My health, my husband’s health, my kids’ health.
  • We have enough. Of everything. Food, housing, transportation, money, clothes. In a world that is hell-bent on telling us we need more, more, more – and the flip side of that is that we never have enough – I want to remind myself that we DO, in fact, have enough.
  • Choice. I am privileged, and I have choices in my life. Living under a presidential administration that is working to take choices of all kinds away from citizens makes me realize just how precious and important it is.
  • Freedom of speech. We still have the right to say what we want and fight injustice in this world, and for that I am thankful and do not plan to take it for granted.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope your day is filled with contentment, joy, and stuffing.

Snacks on a Plane

17packing

 

We’re going home to California for the week of Thanksgiving and I’m all excited to BE there, but I am not at all excited to GET there.

Here’s how it’s gonna play out. I pack and worry and scream to try and make everyone be on time. Then I’ll worry some more about what we forgot and being on time. Dylan will break down in the security line and go to his dark place where he goes limp on the floor. Audrey will thrash so hard in the Ergo that she’ll ram her head on my sternum and make several bruises. And that’s all before we get on the plane.

On the plane there will be more thrashing and seat kicking and trying to reach buttons and wanting to crawl down the aisle. And the kids will act up too. (See what I did there? I’ll be here all week.)

Once we touch down in the land of milk and honey, we’ll be greeted by loving, rested grandparents ready to whisk our children away for stimulating play and healthy snacks while Brian and I fall asleep pass out for 5 days. Then we’ll wake up and eat turkey and mashed potatoes and go comatose for another 3.

Too soon it will be time to get on another plane and head back to Waterworld Oregon, where hopefully our cat hasn’t resentfully pooped on our pillows and vomited in our shoes. All the dirty laundry will steep in a small, smelly mountain in the hallway where I hope it will get so rank it’ll one day grow legs and walk itself into the washing machine.

I’ve decided that I’d actually like to enjoy our trip, so I plan to re-blog some of my favorite old posts while I’m gone, especially since I have some new readers and I’d like to share some pieces of which I’m rather proud.

Stay tuned, dear Psychos.


NaBloPoMo Day 16