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bucket list

i fell off the blogging wagon. it was meant to happen at some point.

not quite sure where the last six days have gone, but it feels like a blur. i haven't been crafty or creative, no big thoughts in my head ... i did ignore life to read a book in one day, and that felt delicious. henry has called a few times just to chat, which is always a joy. i'm back in physical therapy for a 30-year-old shoulder injury from my swimming days; that's fun.

but really, not much to talk about.

however, my brain has been drifting often, lately, to the What Comes Next dreaming. the bucket list, if you will. i may as well put that list here, for accountability and motivation ... and something to write about, when nothing else of interest comes to mind.

in no particular order ... here we go:

1. live abroad

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after obsessively bingeing "mediterranean life" and devouring "stanley tucci searching for italy," i have decided that i absolutely HAVE to live abroad at some point, for at least a year. and it needs to be in a place with a slow pace of life, fantastic views and places to explore, simple and fresh foods. and serious bonus points if an ocean view and bougainvillea are involved. i'm leaning hard toward andalucia, spain.

 

2. see everything

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one benefit of living abroad for at least a year, especially if we're somewhere in europe, is the ease of travel around that part of the world. i want to see it all, but REALLY see it. not just the touristy highlights, but the small towns, the little fishing villages, that tucked away spot with the best food, the most gorgeous view that no one knows about except the locals.

we also have a dream plan to live in a place for a month, once a year. try on new parts of the country and world, one month a year at a time, until we feel like we either have it out of our system, or find where we want to land permanently. currently, my short-list includes seattle, nantucket, maine, tulum, cornwall. pretty sure marc's list would include mountains, deserts, and ultra-modern glass and cement boxes in the woods. (the idea for short-term living came about because we obviously can't agree on where we would like to spend our retirement years. i am very much a new england girl, and marc is ... not. so, short term places or we go our separate ways.)

 

3. write a book

i've started and abandoned so many projects. one needs to be given the life it deserves and brought to completion.

 

4. learn another language

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see numbers one and two. learning spanish makes the most sense, but marc speaks spanish. i feel like i should cover italian, just in case. i started duolingo a month ago and can tell you that a boy ate an apple. i have a ways to go.

 

5. learn to sail

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i just want to. my goal is to end up on water at some point before i'm dead, and i'd love to be able to take a little boat out for a sail.

 

6. learn to play the guitar

 

7. learn to bake breads from scratch and make homemade pastas

 

8. live with intention

slow down. simplify. have and do less. quality over quantity. less multi-tasking, more focus.

 

9. have a meal at the lost kitchen

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since first learning of this place a few years ago, i've become obsessed with entering the lottery to get a seat, then taking a spur-of-the-moment trip to maine for a meal. it will likely have to wait another two years, until elizabeth is out of the house. i'll pass the time with erin french's books.

 

10. find my purpose

we all want that out of life, though, right?

 


elizabeth

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when my baby girl was born, i had some ideas of what to name her, but it wasn't until i saw her little face that i knew for sure: harper.

she was three years old the first time she told me she didn't like her name. she thought she would prefer to be called rainbow sparkle my little pony. i talked her out of that.

for the next 12 years, she would occasionally tell me she didn't like her name, didn't feel like a harper. and every time she misheard her name when someone was saying "parker" or "piper," she would become embarrassed and more annoyed with her name.

she mentioned numerous times that she wanted to change her name.

and this week, she asked that we finally, formally, please call her elizabeth.

to be fair, she is starting a new school where no one knows her. she has two more years at this school to try it out, and the school is full of kids trying on who they think they are, be it a new name, new hair color, or new gender. the teachers and administration and classmates are supportive, open, accepting, and nonjudgmental. it's really the perfect time to give this new name a go and see if it feels more her.

on the day that she asked me if i would please stop calling her harper, i told her that if, over the next two years, she feels more comfortable in the skin of elizabeth than she has as a harper, upon graduation we can do the paperwork to change her middle name to elizabeth, then she can decide whether to tell people she goes by her middle name or reclaim her original name as she moves into the world.

her names were given thoughtfully, with reason. but to her point, we gave them to her. we had to name her before we walked out of the hospital. if she's going to live her life, she wants the choice of what she answers to. i can respect that. i'm a michele; growing up in the 80s, every fifth girl was named michelle ... right after the jennifers, amys, stacys, and heathers. i get it.

her dad is struggling with it. not that he doesn't like the name elizabeth or feels particularly wedded to harper (heck, he wanted to name her sam or julie, so i don't think he really cares either way WHAT her name is), but he is worried she's being influenced by the environment in her school that encourages self-discovery. well, buddy, welcome to Gen Z ... especially Z-ers at an arts high school. they're gonna experiment, and they're gonna find themselves, and by god they are going to be better off than we were in the Knowing Who They Are game.

what i would have given for radical acceptance and freedom and support. i wasn't even allowed to get my ears double pierced until i turned 18. (guess who's making an appointment to get about five new holes in the next week or so? i'm learning so much as a 47-year-old.)

i look at these kids fighting through the generational layers of rules and suppression, and i have to think they are going to save us all. when you aren't dealing with your own shit on a daily basis, you're much more free to love, accept, and change the world.

go forth, elizabeth. change your name, change your game.

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nothing glitter can't fix

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i needed last week's little scream-into-the-void and a couple of quiet, disconnected days. it was henry's conference meet weekend, so i was glad for the distraction. even though i couldn't be there (which friggin' KILLED me ... i can practically count on one hand the number of swim meets i've missed in 10 years), it was nice to be able to watch the livestream and cheer him on that way.

pro: no swamp ass from sitting in a hot aquatic center for three days. con: no hugs for or from my boy. i still yelled at the screen and cheered, while marc looked at like i was insane.

whatever, dude.

what i also missed, though: apparently he led the pep talk on at least one of the days.

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as a junior, he's a captain, and absolutely loves his role as leader, supporter, and cheerleader. in fact, we spoke the other day about his summer plans, and he told us he is talking to his coach about working with the local team this summer. then he mentioned he is considering taking his fifth year of eligibility (thank you to the ncaa for giving these kids another shot at a year to replace the one messed up by covid) to start his masters, which we had suggested but he kind of blew us off, UNTIL he talked to his coach about what it would take to coach at the collegiate level after graduation, and his coach highly recommended a masters. (even if a masters isn't needed, thank you, doug! because if he doesn't coach, or coaching doesn't last forever, he WILL need that masters in political science to do anything in that field.)

not to bury the lede, but that means he's decided to turn his passion for swimming into a career.

i'm so excited for him. while he loves competing, i think he loves the sport and the teams and the teaching and supporting even more.

so proud of him.

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today has felt a bit more normal. i'm trying to stay away from news ... it just enrages me daily and makes me feel so powerless. instead, i decided to tackle a project i've had staring me in the face - literally: it's been sitting on my desk - for two years.

i found these sweet, laser-cut wood ornaments at world market, and bought them with the intention of covering them in glitter. i am a sucker for any ornament on the christmas tree twinkling with glitter. my one girly quirk. somehow, having them on my desk, right next to my address book, just to the left of my computer monitor for two years didn't ever give me that push to bedazzle them. but today was the day.

 

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the cutest, right? who knew therapy could be as simple as white glitter?


damages

my brain is constantly whirring around at about a thousand miles per hour. today, it's closer to a million.

i wish i was able to just plug in, matrix style, and download everything in one concise, coherent, spell-checked, edited lump. but since i can't, i'm left with the conundrum: how much to share? how deep to go? how much hurt do i purge and how much do i hold back? how much time do i put into this before i decide, ultimately, to delete the whole thing and let it go?

to be honest, as i type, i'm still uncertain about the answer to any of those questions, so i'll just keep typing. maybe i'll hit post, maybe i won't.

this is clearly why i've never gone to therapy. if there was a way to walk into a room, sit on the couch, and start in the middle - no need for preamble or introductions or timelines or feelings, just "here's today's bullshit and why i think it's bullshit and and what its bullshit origin story is" - i would prefer that. my husband and i have talked about this a lot over the years, and every time, it comes down to: what if i spend several hours with someone, unloading things and trying to work through things, only to find either they don't get it or they are an idiot and i can't connect with them? then i've wasted time, money, emotional bandwidth, and got nothing in return. so i just don't bother.

i am really good at the "i'm fine" thing; the "i don't have it as bad as someone else" or "my thing isn't that awful" or "whatever. it's done. my life is good, so no permanent damage."

yet i'm not happy. not really. not deep down, where peace within yourself starts. so damages were done.

and when i try to track my ups and downs, i find that most of my downs come from being disappointed in someone or something, or someone/something letting me down or not living up to the standards or hopes i put into them/it. or willful ignorance; THAT one really sends me over the edge.

i hate being let down by things i've been trained or conditioned to hold up. i hate being let down by people based on assumptions i had about them. i hate being let down by the nebulous idea of "people" or "the world." i hate being let down by myself. and let me tell you - that one happens a lot. low self-esteem and self-sabotage are my two strongest personality traits, mainly because i was never taught what good self-esteem is, or given the tools to build myself up and keep going.

my husband - bless his heart - is my biggest cheerleader, and i'm grateful every day that he chose me and continues to choose me and believe in me. but he has also never once in his life had a moment of self-doubt or soul pain, so his ability to truly empathize is ... not great. when i get down, he tells me to fix it, or let it go because i can't do anything about it anyway. which, hello ... as an enneagram 4, that's the LAST thing you want to tell me.

there are truly times when i wish i could be an island; just me, no hurt, nothing to make my head or heart or gut explode in rage or sadness ... no one to let me down or disappoint me with not being who i thought they were. i dream of leaving, moving away where i know no one and don't speak the language so i don't HAVE to know anyone. the older i get, the less i need or want people or their input or their voice in my head. but ... the privilege of that ... i can't do it. if those truly suffering can't flee, then neither should i.

maybe the point is to use my hurt as a means to protect others. use my damage as a way to fortify others. maybe it's time i took a chance on therapy. maybe i go get those tattoos i've been planning and the piercings i've always wanted, and say, "fuck you, i'm 47 and i'm a whole goddamn person who owes you nothing." maybe i learn to smile and nod when faced with something i know is immovable rather than scrape my hands and knees against it. maybe i learn which fights are worth fighting and which aren't worth my well-being. maybe i keep my monster in the closet so it doesn't destroy the world. or maybe i learn that it was never a monster in the first place, just something that has always felt unworthy of being cute and cuddled, and grew fangs to protect from the hurt and loneliness.

or maybe i'm fine, and today my brain is just too unsettled to see it.

 


all that is left

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my grandparents' house was torn down today.

it's a long, sad, infuriating story, but all that remains now are the stories and memories.

my dad and his siblings were raised there. nearly every christmas of my childhood and young adulthood was spent there. i swam in the lake all summer long. i got ready for formal dances in high school and my sister's wedding in my aunt's pink bathroom, with butterflies on the wallpaper and movie star lights around the mirrors. it always smelled slightly of talcum powder. my high school graduation party was held in the backyard. i caught the first - unbeknownst to us at the time - glimpse of my future husband across the lake in 8th grade, when my best friend and i were on a paddle boat, and he and his friend were shooting at frogs with bb guns. we would meet again, for real, five years later, just yards away, on the college campus.

in that place in the brain that holds sensory things, i can still hear the squeak of the basement door to the garage, smell the fragrance of gasoline mingled with sawdust from grandpa's wood shop. i can hear the creak of the stairs, the heavy whoosh of the sliding doors to the deck, the white noise splash of the fountains on the lake, and the geese honking happily as they pooped all over the yard. i can remember the yellow and red tulips in the planter lining the driveway ... the daffodils and japanese maple in the garden behind the house, all of grandma's bird feeders by the front window. there was the low westminster quarters played on the bells of the college administration building across the street ... and on the grandfather clock in the great room. the ornate, heavy front door. the imposing stone fireplace and hearth, where we all sat to crack thousands of nuts over lifetimes of christmases. grandpa's massive congressional desk in his wood-paneled office. the game table and orange roller chairs where the adults sat to play hour upon hour of boggle, and the kids sat to do innumerable crafts. the red, white, and blue stripes on the ceiling of "the pit," and the crazy 60s carpet in the basement, covered with gameboards. i wish i had a picture of that carpet. i forgot to ask my mom for one when she went to visit the house one last time. though, by this point, the house was in disrepair, almost to the point of ruin, so who knows what even still existed of that carpet.

when henry was small, and harper smaller, my parents briefly lived in my grandparents' house. my grandparents had moved to assisted living, but the family wanted to keep the house alive for gatherings and sentiment. my kids got to have two christmases there - christmases they will never remember, but i'm grateful happened. they got to slide their stocking onto the pole grandpa always used, and sit on the couch to hear "'twas the night before christmas" read by their grandpa, just like mine had done with me and all my cousins. they got to bake cookies in the kitchen with grandma ... right in front of the drawer where my and my cousins' grandma kept tins of oreos and fig newtons and chips ahoy that we would all sneak. (i'm assuming we all snuck cookies ... i know i did.)

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the last time we were all there together was when grandma passed, 12 years ago ... before half the cousins married and had their own families; we all still felt like "the kids" at that point. the paddle boat was taken out ... and promptly half sunk, halfway across the lake. the fishing poles came out and everyone took a turn wetting a line. it was just like it always had been.

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but it was the last time. my parents moved shortly after - again, part of the long, sad, infuriating story - and that was it. for 12 years, the house sat ... empty, alone, neglected by those to whom it was entrusted.

knowing it was being torn down today was heartbreaking, but watching it fall apart was worse. all the years, all the memories ... disrespected. ignored.

years change people and traditions. the generations shift ... the oldest layer of relatives ages, and the newest grow up and have their own schedules. there are more bodies and moving parts, so gatherings are no longer as feasible or easy. a house is just the container that holds the moments; our hearts and minds hold the memories. but it's also hard to grow up and move on. sometimes you just want to sit at grandma and grandpa's house, hear them fussing over everyone, feel the security of your own parents nearby, hear the laughter and teasing, and know where the center is.

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my high/low for the day

i'm so tired today. so tired. friday, harper had school IN a school building for the first time in 13 months. she was so excited ... i was so excited for her ... but that 6 a.m. alarm was no bueno. it's been a long time since i've had to do that. on top of that, her new school is 20 minutes away, without traffic, so i get to add "commute" to my list of activities as re-entry into Normal takes place. before i picked her up, i ran some errands - another 40 minutes in the car, and after lunch, i drove her to get her first vaccine shot at a CVS an hour away. in a rain storm.

it was such a long day.

the quarantine year has made me soft.

there is nothing creative in my brain right now, but luckily i have this handy little "inspiration guide" in my office ...

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i opened a page at random, to see what topic i could and write about today, and this prescient little nugget presented itself:

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well ... okay.

another weekend in pandemicland, and we are continuing various projects and tasks around the house that we can't stand to look at anymore notice as we spend, literally, every minute of every day inside these walls.

one project that has long been on the list is putting some sort of organization system in each closet. we decided to start with harper's because - just being real here - her closet is usually just a pile on the floor, everything she doesn't want to put away for real, or whatever she's told us she put away but really just tossed onto her closet floor. my hope is that with actual storage in her closet, things will have a place and she will keep it organized.

now, please understand that i DO realize this is likely an exercise in futility. i've always given her ways to organize ... large bins to toss toys in at the end of the day; specific bins for specific things so she can clearly see where things go and doesn't have to figure it out on her own; a dresser in her closet so at the very least she can jam stuff in drawers and call it a day ... and nothing has worked. her design aesthetic is somewhere between "creative chaos" and "hoarder."

but maybe now? a girl can dream, right?

yesterday, marc hung the support pieces, i painted the closet the same cheery peach as her room, and today we got the organizers up and everything put back in. it's lovely. i'm envious. i want to do EVERY closet now.

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and today: our room.

i've been trying to figure out the curtain situation in our bedroom for quite awhile. in fact ... we moved in nine and a half years ago ... so i've been trying to figure out curtains for nine and a half years. i'm picky, a perfectionist, and cheap. those things lead to a LOT of delays in decision-making.

i finally i found curtains that i liked, though, and ordered them ... and was given a four- to five-month delivery window. and back in february, i bit the bullet and went to a custom drapery and upholstery place to order the rods, because of course our windows are too wide to just order curtain rods from a normal place, like a normal person. again, about a two month delivery time. but the curtains arrived last month, i picked up the rod on friday, and today was the day! the rod looks beautiful, the curtains look beautiful, and i was so excited about sleeping in room that is fully dark for the first time in so, so long.

all of these things were total highlights for me this weekend.

and yet ...

what's a high without a low, amiright? gotta keep the universe balanced.

when the closet organizers were going up, i asked harp for her opinion on where she wanted things. i got a very dismissive, derisive, "i don't care!" from her super grateful little self. so that was fun.

then we moved on to the curtains, and discovered that the room slopes about half an inch, from east to west, which made it interesting to figure out where to put the brackets. then we discovered there are no studs on the window wall. i mean ...wtf?? but we did the math and decided 1/4" wouldn't be noticeable over 164", started to drill into the drywall, and discovered that there IS a header, so the top holes on each bracket are in wood. thank goodness. i was envisioning the entire thing pulling out of the wall over time.

but then marc started to put up the rod, and the screw that holds the rods together broke off as he was screwing it in. so: custom hardware, broken. store, not open until wednesday. and as i was putting the drapery hooks into the panels, i discovered flaws on one of them. so: panel, unusable. needs to be returned, and then i have to await the arrival of a replacement.

i mean ... swear to god. does any home project ever go right on the first try, with the first round of stuff you've purchased? because i don't think it has EVER happened around here. there are always multiple trips, returns, something broken or scratched or missing a part or a hole is in the wrong place or whatever.

we talk a lot about moving, about other places where we would like to live. as we were getting through our day, though, i told marc, "it's taken us nearly 10 years to feel like we finally have this house 'finished,' and every project goes less than smooth. as soon as i get the urge to move and do this all over again, please remind me of this nonsense."

and he fully agreed.

we just couldn't agree if we were going two steps forward, one step back, or one step forward, two steps back.

 


that thing i (used to) do

in 2001, a friend introduced me to the world of scrapbooking. i had a one-year-old baby boy and no baby book, because my tastes were picky and my family tree asymmetrical. creating scrapbooks felt like a nice way to commemorate his milestones and hang on to our stories while fulfilling my need to have it look the way i wanted it to look.

over the next few years, i honed my style, taught myself photography, and soon had spots on a couple of online scrap website design teams. by 2007, i had done work for a few manufacturers, had pieces published, and then i won a spot on the memory makers magazine masters - their top 10 designers for the year, who created for the magazine every month and represented it at trade shows and in idea books.

it was a dream. i made wonderful friends, got to be creative, had an outlet, and had a "job" for the first time since leaving my career in publishing when henry was born.

through memory makers, i got a book deal, spent a year as a contributing editor ... and then the industry shrank, seemingly overnight.

it still exists in small and new ways, but i'm no longer a part of it. that time is over.

occasionally, i'll pull out stuff and play around, but it's no longer a part of my daily life as it used to be. for the last several years, i get things done only when i go on crafting weekends with friends, but covid has gotten in the way of that over the past year.

as i was cleaning my office a few weeks ago, i found a plastic bin of supplies that never got put after my last weekend with the girls. as i was going through it, i found page protectors at the bottom with things i had created. just looking at them and touching them makes me want to cast off my to do list for the rest of the week day to just create and play and re-immerse myself in that world.

i'm reminded that i NEED creativity. i NEED to get these stories and thoughts written down. and i NEED time to do my own thing, just for me.

as we all do.

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too much

last year, a friend invited me into a writing group that was going to work through ursula k. le guin's "steering the craft." this piece came from one of the exercises, inspired by a rental car my husband had for a week while his car was in the shop:

 

Too Much

The date might have been going well, but she was only aware of the overwhelming, suffocating bubble of his cologne. It was everywhere, all around her, moved with them through their evening.

When she opened her door to him, his cologne greeted her first. He started his car, and her olfactory system was assaulted by a choking fog of cedar citrus spice blasting from the vents. As she inhaled with the tiniest, most shallow breaths she could muster, she wondered if he wore more than one cologne, for the brutal, craggy layers of scent that kept crawling their way into her nose. When he talked, she only heard the symphony of notes wafting across the table toward her: first, a bright top note of bergamot; then a crescendo of geranium that resonated in her lungs; lastly, a lingering musk meant to leave a warm finish, but instead left her wanting to claw at the scarf around her neck and gasp for fresh air, when no fresh air could exist around him. What she ordered for dinner was inconsequential, for she could only taste the dissonant chord of melon pine.

After, he asked if she wanted to see a movie or go for a walk, and she answered—too eagerly—in favor of the walk, praying for a stiff breeze to clear the haze around him long enough for her to decide if he was worth the sensory overload. As fresh air moved in, brushing aside the haze of flora, she could see him more clearly … kind eyes, a smile that showed he was nervous and trying too hard. She made a small joke and he laughed enthusiastically, the geraniums shedding red petals in all directions. She thought maybe he was an okay guy after all, maybe after a few dates she would feel comfortable enough to mention the cologne ... see if he could go more lightly.

On the ride home, the thick sweetspicy air seemed less oppressive than it had earlier. She had scaled the wall of botanicals and found a genuinely nice guy on the other side. When he walked her to her door, she smiled at him, said she was glad they’d gone out, suggested they do it again sometime.

His cheeks turned pink. He looked down. He looked back at her. “I’m really not attracted to women who wear so much make-up. It’s like you’re trying to hide something. But it was nice to meet you.”

And he walked away, leaving a trail of blood orange that snaked around her heart, melted into her incredulity.


the gift of a year; or, how i blew a pandemic

it's so easy to say, " if i had the time, i would (fill in the blank)."

the past year has taught so many of us that maybe it isn't really about the time.

did i write a book? no. did i lose 3o pounds? no. did i learn how to bake bread from scratch? no. did i finish all those projects, big and little, that linger around the house? no. did i make zoom plans, to stay connected with people? no. did i do deep cleaning? no. did i finally organize 15 years of digital photos? no. did i finally organize printed photos? also no. did i read all the books i bought and planned to read? no. did i binge-watch every show and movie on my 'must watch' list? no. did i catch up on sleep? no.

did i do anything useful with the past twelve months?

well ... no. but also yes.

i DID write. just not much. i DID start making exercise a habit and am healthier now than i was, just haven't lost any weight in the process. i DID finally master yeast in the bread machine, so i kind of made bread from scratch, if the machine isn't considered cheating. we did some projects, a couple of zoom calls with family, and i cleaned when i had to. i organized photos a little ... enough to feel like i got started on the project. i did read, but i've spent so much time over the past four years reading history and non-fiction political books that i burned myself out and couldn't pick up non-fiction. i DID binge-watch some stuff, but more than that, i stuck to things that i knew would bring me peace, that would mindlessly entertain me, and to which i didn't have to pay much attention. and i feel physically rested, but emotionally i am still exhausted.

the fact that we have stayed sane and healthy and still like each other after the past year feels like all the win i need.

so why do i feel like a wasted a gift?

truth is, many things about being home and unscheduled exhausted me.

harper has been home every day since march 12, 2020, three days before she turned 15. her best friend had recently moved out of state, which sent her reeling, then school went online. dealing with distance learning has been - to put it mildly - a clusterfuck. she needs to be back in school, and i need her to be back in school.

marc has been home every day since early march of last year. his company said early on to expect in-person meetings and travel to be on hold until this july, at the earliest. for the first time in nearly 25 years of marriage, he's been home every day, slept in our bed every night, eaten every meal at home every day, every week, every month, for a year. while it's been lovely, and we still like each other, and we've talked quite a bit this year about our Next Stage plans, the truth is i miss being alone.

which is a very odd to thing to say after being isolated from the world at large for a year.

but when there are people always here, even if they are in their own spaces, i feel stuck. i feel like i have to be outwardly productive on something visible and practical. being quiet and contemplative and creative don't feel useful or valuable. and i have had to be a thorn in harper's side constantly about school.

i'm feeling suffocated.

when the covid year began, there was a sense of excitement, in a way, about what it would be like to live in lockdown for a few weeks. we started seeds indoors, we got out for walks and fresh air, we had this smug, giddy, "look at us quarantine!! woot!" attitude. when summer came around, henry swam in a lake in a wet suit while it was still cold, then bought a bungee so he could swim in his girlfriend's pool until the team could figure out how to safely train. harper set up facetime "play dates" with her best friend, and they drew pictures together while they talked. living creatively in the "new normal" still felt novel, but took on an air of urgency, to figure it out because who knew how long we'd be in this.

and we made it. life was good, in its own new way. and then we survived fall and winter in similar fashion, yet i learned nothing about using my time more wisely. i couldn't. and i had no idea why.

we have all known we are introverts (well, not henry), so the aspect of not being WITH people for the foreseeable future didn't bother us a bit. but it turns out that when you isolate in your own spaces in your own home, and go hours without seeing each other, it changes something in you. marc and harper will both come to my office, sit in the chair in the corner, and just chat. and while early on in covidland i cherished that, now i just feel usurped. it has taken me until my mid-40s to have a space that is all my own, and now that i have it, people want to come visit me. and harper will follow me around the house, showing me funny videos or memes, and while i adore that she wants to include me, and i know my time with her at home is short, and i know she's lonely ... i feel like i am back at the toddler stage, and just want someone else to entertain the kids so i can escape.

why??

why has this gift of a year, of time and space, been so UNproductive, and driven me even deeper into my introversion?

can anyone else relate to that? can i redeem this time?

what happens in the After? when we can come out of our shelters and are in the world again? though ... people ARE out in the world again, HAVE been, and that just flares my anxiety and frustration and anger at the complete selfishness and inability to care even a little about others. people i used to enjoy and respect have lost my favor; i can't unsee who they are or understand their choices, especially when hypocrisy comes into play. so what happens to my relationships after this?

according to myers-briggs, i'm an INFJ. i've known that about myself for more than 20 years. what i didn't know until a few years ago is this thing known as the "INFJ door slam." essentially, it's how we preserve ourselves emotionally or physically. we cut people off, and that's it; you had your chance, but you blew it, and i'm done.

wow. once i read that, i just said, "yeah ... that's about right." i've been doing it for a long, long time.

but now, in the covid universe, i have a new reason to slam the door on people: i can no longer trust them, their values, their worldview. it was hard enough during the trump years, but add in how covid has been handled, and ... my social media friend count has taken a hit.

so after the vaccinations are given and the world opens back up, are there people in it for me? or will i stay isolated? and what happens to my productivity? or my creativity? if i'm not a part of the world, does creativity even have a place?

i've always thought myself more virginia woolf/"room of one's own," but what if i'm actually emily dickinson, never leaving my room and communicating only via the computer?

maybe a year is long enough. maybe it's time to get the gears of life moving again. it would be nice to do something intentional after all of this ... take some classes, be a part of something with purpose and deadlines, which is where i work best. we were given this gift of a year, we learned many things, we discovered many things, but maybe the greatest lesson is that putting off our desires and dreams and plans isn't so much about a lack of time as it is a lack of motivation and focus. if i had to do the year differently, i'd like to think it would be more successful and i'd have more to show for it. but maybe not. maybe this was the year i needed to know that isolation is my crutch, not my friend.