Resolutions–January Review

Well, January felt like the longest month of all months ever. How are things going, resolution-wise? Exactly one thing actually crossed off the list. But progress on some others, and absolutely no progress on other others. Not a terrible start to the year!

  1. Drink more water. This lasted about a week. Now I’m back to my usual dehydrating schedule of gallons of daily coffee. More water necessary. I definitely notice that on the days where I don’t drink enough water, getting through the evening commute/dinner hour/bedtime is rough–I get hangry and light-headed. 
  2. Sleep at least 6 hours per night. See below. 
  3. Aim for 7. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL! NOPE. Well, I’m alternating. Work has been busy and I’ve been up crazy late, way too often. Plus reading Twitter and fretting about the state of the world. I do this for about a week in a row until I’m completely exhausted and then go to bed freakishly early on alternate weeks. As usual, I’ve got to get back on a more moderate, regular schedule. 
  4. Exercise 5 days per week. See above.
  5. Eat more vegetables. We’re doing it! See below. Still not as many as we should or could be eating, but there has been a real, significant uptick in the volume of fresh vegetables consumed. 
  6. Be kinder to my spouse. I try to observe and appreciate *everything,* not take anything for granted, and verbally thank as much as possible. Whether in general I’m in a more friendly mood overall, not so sure. But I am trying to be proactively more gracious and appreciative. 
  7. Be less rigid. Eh….
  8. Have more fun. Eh….
  9. Roll with the punches. Eh…..
  10. Take the long view. Everything is temporary. Everything can change. Indeed, everything will change, whether I want it to or not. It’s hard to take the long view when the last two weeks has felt like ten years. Will keep trying. 
  11. Take myself as seriously as I expect other people to take me (like, carry business cards and shit). I think I am doing this. I’m assuming, for example, that I’m not dispensable or an accessory at things, and taking my attendance and contributions and leadership appropriately seriously, and I think it’s making a real difference. Bit by bit. So, I will keep it up. 
  12. But also take stuff in general less seriously. Eh….
  13. But also do not become complacent/paralyzed/apathetic re: the world/our nation/social justice. I stalled out after Thanksgiving and it took until the travel ban to really get jump-started again. We marched in our little city on Jan 21 and that was great and important and galvanizing but let’s be honest, it was also largely a feel-good thing (if also a visibility thing). It wasn’t until I woke up last Saturday morning and read all the travel ban stuff that I got back on the phone with my representatives. I also spent about an hour digging about the Department of Homeland Security website until I found an appropriate number to call and complain, and I shared it with a few folks, who shared it with a few groups, and I know word got out to others. I don’t even know if it was the right number, but I did *something*, and the something had ripple effects. After the election, before Thanksgiving, the idea of having only one action a week felt absurd and not enough. And it probably isn’t enough. But now, now that we’re in it, for the long hall, holding myself to one concrete action a week means I’m *taking* one action a week, and it may help stretch out my stamina to stay in this, as long as we need to. So, trying to stay engaged, but also pace myself. 
  14. Just keep grieving. I feel like Trump has pulled me out of my grief slump kinda the same way WWII pulled America out of the Great Depression. Like, suddenly something so much bigger, requiring everyone to rally and work together and combine resources, has come into being, and as Enjolras put it, our littlel lives don’t count at all. But also: In January we had my aunt’s birthday, Liddie’s birthday, my grandma’s birthday, and my dad’s birthday, in that order. He had a huge sweet tooth, and I made a batch of double chocolate cupcakes–the same ones we had for his 60th birthday–to honor the day.
  15. Pull my weight re: nurturing friendships; do my fair share of organizing, hosting, prodding, reaching out, reminding, and lowering the overhead as much as possible for busy people to spend good time together. Yeah! I’ve re-instated a weekly ice skating lunch with a good friend, hosted a book club meeting, and organized a trip to see a play with friends in June. Doin’ it! Will keep it up!
  16. Participate in the weekly Sunday night potluck dinner organized by a former neighbor at least quarterly. Aim for monthly. Our neighbors are valiantly continuing to host this meal on a weekly basis, and we haven’t gone yet. By Sunday night we’re usually just feeling so tired and anti-social we’re not really up for anything. Will continue to try. 
  17. Cook more real food for dinner at my house. We’re doing it! But, it’s hard to say if it’s worth it. What does “worth it” even mean? These evenings are rough, and cooking with toddlers is rough. I used to think it was just an unfortunate coincidence that everyone I knew who had a bad accident in the kitchen had small children. Ha. THIS IS NOT A COINCIDENCE. This WEEK alone, I burned my arm pretty badly and cut my finger. I admit that I *have* really been enjoying eating more actual, whole foods and fresh vegetables. Food tastes better and I appreciate it more. Will try to keep this up However, it turns out to be in conflict with the following: 
  18. Eat dinner as a family, at the table. Yeah! Kinda sorta. We’re doing it more than we ever did before, and it’s great! We like it, and Liddie likes it too! She now always tries to get us to sit down with her before she will eat. But cooking *and* eating together is hard. We did it for a week or so and her bedtime kept getting pushed later and later and later. I feel like we need to figure out some kind of balance between nights where she eats with us, but we have a super easy dinner, and nice where we cook something a little more involved and eat after she goes down. But *then* we achieve the goals of cooking more and eating together more, but we don’t have a predictable routine for the girl, and that’s something she likes and needs. *shrug.* So much of working + adulting + parenting = can’t win/do what you need to get by. 
  19. Make time to speak with my mom at least weekly, more if possible. We’re both sick and tired a lot, but we’re doing it! 
  20. Make time to speak to my aunt and my grandma at least monthly, more if possible. Well we’re only a month in, and I have talked to my grandma on the phone once and Skyped with my aunt with Liddie. So I guess technically I haven’t fallen behind yet, though I don’t feel like I’m doing much to reach out and be supportive. Keep it up, self, and don’t fall behind. 
  21. Curtail Facebook usage (unless actually writing meaningful messages to the above or others) That’s a big NOPE. I even blocked it from my work computer–and then unblocked it after two days. 
  22. Blog more. Not yet…
  23. Write more letters. Not yet….see below: at some point I’ll unpack my stationery, pens, and address book and then I’ll get on with things. And I just wrote my first postcard of the year! (it’s to a friend, not a political protest) Now to actually mail it….
  24. Make a weekend with Kelsey and Robyn happen. Yes! It’s happening! It’s booked! First weekend together in like ten years. I can’t wait! I’ll officially cross it off the list after it happens. 
  25. Visit my aunt and grandma in Denver Yup!–I’ll tack this on to the front of the weekend with Kelsey and Robyn. But, this is only a half success, I’d say: I’m not bringing Liddie on this trip, which will leave everyone in the family unsatisfied. 
  26. Get my high school girlfriends to Michigan for a visit. No plans yet. 
  27. Take one awesome, adventurous, ambitious family vacation. No plans yet. First concrete step: get Liddie a passport. I’m irrationally paranoid about doing this because I’m somehow afraid that the record of her birth certificate–literally the only evidence that we are family–will somehow disappear in the process, or that something will go terribly wrong. Need to just get on with it, as it will open up our options so much! Also to be prepared in case of emergency bug-out. 
  28. Make our bedroom a nice, warm, comfortable, functional, attractive, calming, intentional place to be, rather than the garbage pile where we hide everything that we don’t want anyone else to see. Paint. Window treatments. Closet. A bed. OK. We have a bed. It’s 90% assembled–the last step is going to be a stupid doozy. And no progress on anything else. 
  29. Renovate our kitchen. No progress. I’m coming around to really liking some parts of our kitchen. Other parts (portable dishwasher that connects to sink, flat white cupboards that show every single stain and grease spot) I am SO done with. I also feel wary, like, we shouldn’t spend so much money with the way the world is right now. I’d rather have savings in the bank and not luxuriate/spoil ourselves when the world is so rough. I don’t know. We’ll see. 
  30. Establish a personal desk/table/corner/space for my crafts/personal projects/special off-limits pens/whatever. Well, the table is ready, but covered with junk. Oh man, keeping surfaces free of garbage/other people’s mail takes such freaking EFFORT. I have an empty set of plastic drawers set up under the table. Next step: unpack all my desk stuff from the old house. I still have no stationary, pens, stamps, my address book, etc., at hand. 
  31. When not on vacation/sick/out of the office, respond to email within 48 hours. I think I’m getting better, but how can one know for sure? Just kidding. I know one can know for sure. I think to test myself on this it would be a good idea to put some kind of alert on emails that haven’t been dealt after 48 hours. 
  32. Fix our goddamn roof. YES DONE! One actual task checked off the list!
  33. Obtain access to a functional and comfortable bicycle. No progress. 
  34. Create playroom space in our basement. No progress. Jeez, the basement is still half full of packed boxes from moving. 
  35. Swimming lessons for Liddie. No progress. 
  36. Take Liddie ice skating. No progress.
  37. Help my mom move out of our family home. Ease this transition as much as possible with significant practical and emotional support, i.e. a substantial stay with her this spring.  Cry as much as needed. Do not withdraw, do not fail to show up for this. I’ve blocked a week on my calendar in April when I might go, stay, and help, but need to, you know, talk to Mom about this and make sure it works for her schedule. 
  38. Cruise on my brother’s schooner!!! Mom has booked her trip for the first week of August and invited Sam and me to join. We need to figure out what we’d do with Liddie and if we can manage it in general–but the door is open. 
  39. Make regular donations to worthy causes. Yes! Ongoing! Monthly gifts set up to ACLU (doubled my existing monthly gift after the travel ban) and Planned Parenthood. Annual memberships to the Detroit Zoo and the Detroit Institute of Art. Instead of signing up for TSA pre-Check as I had planned, I gave the $85 as a one time gift to the International Rescue Committee.  Add to this existing monthly gift to the Uganda Community Project. 
  40. Visit with Liddie’s birthmother in person at least once. Aim for three times. Need to get in touch with her. Sent some pictures after Liddie’s birthday, but haven’t tried to set up a meeting yet. 
  41. Do something fun on purpose for my birthday. This won’t be til June.
  42. Participate in the neighborhood yard sale. See above. 
  43. Go to the beach. Ehhhh, there’s time, there’s time. 
  44. Find a way that also works for spouse to regularly schedule to space and time to myself that does not involve staying up puttering until 1 a.m.: mental health days, Saturday mornings out, whatever. Well, I was sick yesterday and slept literally the entire day. Does that count? Also, Sam took L to the grocery store this afternoon (right now) and I am supposed to be vacuuming (see no. 46)
  45. Set up auto-pay or reminders as appropriate to pay all bills on time. Well, I got in a fight with a customer service rep at AmEx because I couldn’t log into the site on the day my bill was due, and wanted them to waive my late fee, and they did, but then the guy got condescending with me about why it was my fault that I couldn’t log into the site….so, that counts, right? In all seriousness, I am starting to get a fresh handle on our finances in this new house world and that’s a good thing. 
  46. Clean house more consistently. Sweep, vacuum and bathrooms weekly, that would be  a significant improvement and good enough. I’m hitting maybe 50% of my very minimal house cleaning goals. We are constantly drowning in laundry and dishes, and getting out in front of that often feels impossible and discouraging.
  47. See more movies in the theater. Enough movies that I’m not devastated every time I manage to go and it doesn’t live up to my expectations. I love going to the movies. It brings me joy and it is probably the number one thing that I used to do a lot of and now do practically none of. So far zero movies in 2017. 😦 
  48. See at least one live theater performance. Booked! Going to see Fun Home in June when it passes through East Lansing. 
  49. Have a big-ass Christmas tree. A little early to tackle this one. 

How Life is Now Part II

Not that I was exactly succinct in my last reflection, but I keep thinking of other big and small things that are true of my life now. The beautiful thing is, this is my blog, so I can put them all here! Lucky you.

  • My nails are WRECKED. I have no idea why. When the Fustible was a newborn I figured it was because it was winter and I was washing my my hands so much. Now, it’s the mildest winter ever and (I confess) I don’t wash my hands as obsessively as when she was only a few weeks old. But still, my nails still just peel and shred and chip and shatter, more than they ever did before. Is it stress/lack of sleep? Malnutrition? Carelessness and distraction when doing stuff like grating cheese and prying outlet covers out of the wall? All of the above.
  • Nothing else that I used to stress about seems that important anymore. This is not some self-righteous philosophical thing, like, “Nothing compares to the majesty and importance of forming a human mind!” On the contrary: my expectations for overall success have been lowered so much that no day seems that bad on balance. Oh, I’ll still get frustrated or overwhelmed or tired or angry. I don’t mean that I’m now unflappable. Hardly. Indeed, I am probably more flappable because, as noted elsewhere, these days I don’t have lots of patience to spare for fools. But whereas previously someone’s snippy email would ruin my day, now, I’ll get pissed off, rant a little bit, and then at the end of day, shrug and walk out happily because no one died and now I get to go pick up the babe. I’m not really intimidated by anyone because no matter what happens, they probably won’t head butt me in the chin, pull my hair, and sob piteously as though the world is ending (though this may happen in other departments). Passive aggressive, weirdly competitive dudes interrupting each other and acting like I’m to blame for…something? I’m not scared. Today we got the baby to daycare, dropped one car off for an oil change, got to work on time, rolled from meeting to meeting right up til 5:15, hauled a load of tablecloths belonging to work home to launder (DEFINITELY not part of our job descriptions…), picked up the car where we learned that our rear brakes are essentially out and need to be replaced immediately for a mere $400, got the baby, walked the dog, and met friends out for dinner. And dinner took FOREVER–an hour waiting for a table and another hour to get our food. 18 months ago, my takeaway would have been “What an annoying and exhausting end to an annoying and exhausting day!” Today, I was like, we KILLED this day! I can’t believe we survived! We rule! Best day ever!”
  • I weigh more than I ever have in my life and I just don’t really care. When the Fustible was born I was already at a lifetime max weight. And then I put on 10 pounds in like two weeks. I was such a fool–I had all these plans, that since I had *not* just given birth, I was going to get SO MUCH EXERCISE bouncing the baby at home all day instead of sitting at my desk. Lol. On the contrary, I never exercised again and I ate only frozen pizza for months. And also I turned 30 and now it apparently takes more than skipping a couple of cookies to lose weight. Weirdly? I don’t mind how my body looks now. I even kind of like it. In most pictures now I look exponentially happier now than I did in 2012 when I was 25 pounds lighter. And I don’t spend hours every day tracking food intake and calories. So be it. The main downside is that probably 2/3 of my wardrobe is now off limits. If I lost 10 pounds I’d get a lot of clothes “back” and it would bring me down from the boundaries of the unhealthy weight zone. When I do buy new things, I get things that fit properly, but I’m surely not going to replace everything (or if I do, it will take another 10 years). Look, I do know that claiming to be happy with my body shape is no excuse for not exercising: I need to exercise, not necessarily or only to lose weight but because it helps regulate my moods, and because I need to be strong and flexible and fit to chase the baby around and not throw out my neck or back or knee every time I pick her up. (“Lift with your legs” was clearly not invented by anyone who ever lived in a house of baby gates, cribs, playpens, etc.). And also, not just for her but for me, because I should take good care of myself. I know, I know, I know. And that’s all I’ll say on this for now.
  • My cycles are shorter. No, not those cycles. What I mean is, the ups and downs and round and rounds of life are compressed. For example, anyone in a very long term relationship will know that your relationship is not always the same. Sometimes for a few weeks or months it will be just like when you first fell in love–fun and happy and sexy and easy. Then you’ll go through weeks and months where you’re brittle and tense and arguing and just nothing seems to fit right and you wonder what happened to your life. And other times you’re more like roommates or even neighbors, just acquaintances moving through each other’s space. And then you’re in love again. Now? Instead of over weeks or months, we go through all of these phases almost every single day. Sometimes multiple times. Likewise, I used to think of days as morning, afternoon, and evening. Now each of those has at least three or four sub-sections (pre-breakfast, post-breakfast-pre-nap, nap, post-nap, pre-lunch, etc.), and each of *those* might contain time for work, play, rest, food, cleaning, reading, and cat-chasing. Round and round and round we go. Do something. Correct. Iterate. Parenting is basically living life according to the agile development model.
  • My hair is the longest it’s ever been, ever. Like, by a lot. I barely wash it (I was always skeptical of those women who said they didn’t have time to wash their hair but, nope) and I barely brush it. This seems to be the best possible way to treat my hair. It’s never looked so good–wavy and golden and shiny and voluminous. Hey, maybe all the cells from my nails are going into my hair instead for some reason? I guess I should probably cut it someday but, eh. Why?  I can always go pixie again and I’ll probably go to my grave that way, but these are probably my last years of mermaid hair.
  • It pays to diversify your diaper situation. We do mostly cloth diapers when we can and when it makes sense to. But there are times when it doesn’t. The best thing about having both on hand is that you’re pretty much never out. I am the kind of person who will always be out of gas when I need to get to the airport, out of milk when all I want is cereal, out of flour when I want to bake, etc. I’m not great at planning ahead for supplies. I definitely would have died on the Oregon Trail. So: I would *definitely* have been That Mom at Meijer frantically buying diapers at 11 p.m. Every week. Practically my favorite thing about cloth diapers is that they are literally always in your house. We buy one large box of disposables probably every 3 months to swap or supplement as needed. And between the two? Never. Out. Of. Diapers. Thank God!
  • Speaking of diapers, diapers are the only thing that lasts. Bumbo seats, pacifiers, walkers, Sophie the Giraffe, sleep sacks, infant bathtubs–all these things that you stock up on, and then they’re just over, done, in the blink of an eye. But not diapers. Diapers are forever. We are probably not even halfway done with diapers. Sigh.
  • I thought when we stopped buying formula we would suddenly have a lot more disposable income but it was cruel lie. 


How life is now, or, “Things I never knew I never knew”

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Birthday hats are delicious!

The Fustible turned one last month. I had no idea this would seem so much more momentous than any birthday or anniversary or commemorative occasion, ever. Honestly, the last year didn’t feel especially fast or slow to me. There were the days that seemed like they would never end, and then there were the whole months that just evaporated. On the whole, though, the year felt substantial. It felt like, well, a year. But as we closed in on January 16, and I thought back to where we were a year ago–as the sense memories and the snow crept up on me, I started to relive those early days more vividly than I had, well ever. And it’s crazy. 365 days, and our baby’s no longer a baby.

So, in the spirit of sniffly noses and full hearts, here’s a bunch of random anecdotes and thoughts about what’s up, one year in (and some change). In the inimitable words of George Washington (or maybe Lin-Manuel Miranda, same thing), “I wanna talk about what I’ve learned, the hard-won wisdom that I’ve earned!”

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