Numero Uno Humans

For the past several years, I have been working at a K-8 school.  I am neither a teacher nor an administrator, rather, I am the one who walks around capturing little magical moments (of which there are many) and sharing them in articles and on social media. 

Because I am at school a lot, the kids all know me as Julie: the lady who is always taking pictures.  I am in tune to the kids insofar as knowing who is camera shy, who will jump in front of the camera whenever humanly possible, who is photogenic and who is having none of it. The kids don’t necessarily know that I post the pics up on our Instagram and Facebook accounts with a pithy description of any given magical moment (again, there are many), but their parents do. And they kinda dig it. Who doesn’t love seeing their kids being totes cute? It is one of the joys of parenting: knowing your kids are doing just fine in your absence.

As a parent, I have had at least one child in school every year since 1999.  I have one who is done, and three more who are active students. 

I have been to umpteen conferences, back-to-school nights, school committee meetings, and assemblies, both as a parent and a school employee. Some I even paid attention. Some I even enjoyed.

Over the years, I got to know many teachers. Not to brag, but I was pretty much universally loved by them, mostly because I refused to come from a place of “not my kid”, rather, I assumed it was my kid.  And it usually was.  

I am still in touch with many of them, because, well, they not only put up with my kids, but returned them back to me in an improved form.  And for that I am grateful.

I naively thought I had a pretty good grip on what it might be like to be a teacher.

And then I took on a new role: proctoring middle schoolers while their amazing teacher valiantly teaches from home via Zoom. 

Remember when I said I had a good grip…yeah, that was a lie.

Folks: Now is the time to bow down, cherish, adore, and heap gifts upon every single teacher you know.  And even the ones you don’t.  I don’t care if they never taught you or your kid…they deserve capes to accompany their Super Hero status.

To be clear, in my new role, I am expected to impart exactly zero knowledge to the kids.  I am little more than a placeholder for the real deal. Rather I am there for two purposes: to keep everyone alive and be the grown-up in the room.  

Let me tell you something: there is not.one.single thing easy about being a teacher – even if you are not actually teaching.

Every single kid in the world is awesome.  At least some of the time. (What? You thought it!) 

Every single kid in the world is unique in how they learn, interact, opine, and share.  

Cool.  

That being said:

This kid never has a pencil.  That kid talks too softly to be picked up on the microphone. The other kid finished all the work ahead of everyone else and is, argh, bored. 

This kid seems to literally have ants in his pants.  That kid is all about mask breaks.  The other kid is crazy smart and knows every answer before everyone else, every time – in a good way. Except when you are the adult trying to keep things under control.

This kid is less interested in the lesson than in talking with that kid.  That kid cannot stop herself from responding.  And the other kid, yeah, she just got booted off of Zoom.  Again.

They are kids. Doing their job.  Nothing to see here.

That is where the teachers come in.  

They are calm when us mere mortals definitely would not be.

They are patient for way longer than you or I would be. 

They are accepting because they know exactly what they are working with. And don’t hold it against a kid.  Like, ever. Oh, sure, they might think some less than charitable things, but they never-ever-ever let on how frustrated they might be. Super power.

They have this laser focussed ability to pick up on each child’s needs and manage each kid so seamlessly that it looks easy.  Newsflash: It is not easy.

They are teaching with masks on.  All day long. The only upside to this is that they need not fret over chin zits which are a direct result of wearing said mask. Not that that’s happened to me.

They are reliant on computers and applications that should, but very well might not, work. And, just to keep things fun, one never knows when justonemore Zoom attendee will crash the whole internet connection.

Now, I would never dare to call myself a teacher of anything other than, perhaps, the virtues of McDonald’s french fries, but I will dare to say that if my limited “teaching” (you know, the one void of lesson plans, creating tests, and, um, imparting information) is any indication, these folks are numero uno super humans.

N.U.M.E.R.O.  U.N.O.

Straight up. 

To the millions of teachers I have had in my and my children’s lives, let me say this: 

Sure, I was a parent that teachers dug because I hung on every word they said, but I am willing to bet that to every one of me, there were dozens of the other kind. You know, the “Not my kid!” kind. They stink. I am truly, truly sorry you had to deal with them. Or any other jerk – adult or child.

Thank you for loving my kids when they might have been a little unlovable. Which was not altogether unusual.

Thank you for having the patience of Job.  (Sidenote: In 2nd grade I had a teacher who was not a numero uno super human. She did not love me when I was either lovable or unlovable, and had no patience at all.  She actually definitely hated me.  And did little to hide her feelings.  Ah, Miss Estelle Cassidy…or, as she will forever be in my mind: Miss CassAssidy.) (Note: It is okay to talk smack about her for the following reasons: she was wicked mean to me, I believe the only thing she taught me was self-doubt, and she is long dead.)

Thank you for showing up every day, ready to take on whatever might come your way. Particularly knowing that “whatever” could truly be anything.

Thank you for being wise enough to teach all those things that I know nothing about – like math and science – and, further, being able to teach them to my kids who, because half of their genetic make-up came from me, were at a potentially lethal disadvantage.  (Aside: they happen to have done great in both math and science.  Go figure.)

Thank you for not only figuring out, but slaying the whole remote learning gig.  From where I stand – as a parent and a stand-in fake teacher – it is kinda hell on earth. (Legit question: how many of you are teaching with sweatpants on?)(C’mon, you can admit it, I won’t tell anyone.)

Thank you for picking up where a lot of us parents/mortals fall short or, more to the point, don’t understand this funny new math. 

If you have children who are or were in school, as in ever, please go socially distantly hug a teacher.  Or send them a note.  Or give them Starbucks for the rest of their lives.  Or get down on your hands and knees and bow down to them. And thank them like you’ve never thanked anyone ever.

They truly have the hardest job on the planet. (School administrators have a hard job, too. Feel free to hug them.)

Oh, and I could use a hug, too.  

Free

When was the last time you felt free?  Like truly free?  Nothing worrying you, no low-grade or high anxiety, no general discomfort, not a care in the world?  Yeah, me neither. This guy here?  I think he might be the … Continue reading

Hangover 2020

I am exhausted. Well, maybe hungover is a better way to put it. Problem being, I never (okay, almost never) enjoy more than a single glass of wine in one sitting. Given, well, life, I believe that to be noteworthy. Anyway. Not a drinker, yet seriously hungover. Geez.


Assuming you are a living, breathing creature who did not spend the past several years living under a rock, I am going to assume you know what I am talking about. Hungover and exhausted every single day. Minus the fun of drinking.

I would argue that it doesn’t really even matter where you stand politically or socially; whether you vehemently agree or disagree with the goings-on of the world – you feel hungover, too…right? Here’s why: the daily hysteria, and ruckus, and he said/she said, and anti this versus anti that, and a seemingly endless tornado of chaos which, in and of itself was e.x.h.a.u.s.t.i.n.g. And left you feeling perpetually h.u.n.g.o.v.e.r.


Yet now, even though we are thisclose to a different “mood”, the weariness and resultant nausea and headache seems to have ramped up rather than settled down. And again, no tasty adult beverages were had. Well, that’s just rude.


It almost doesn’t feel safe or even appropriate to exhale and not feel ill. The troubles we face as a county are enormous, the damage done is immense and runs deep. The divide is so deep, that, in my estimation, it will be beyond our lifetime before it is settled. Crap.


Saturday night, I sat with my husband, his parents, and our 22 year-old niece listening to Kamala Harris (aside: she is everything) and Joe Biden speak. My niece was in tears, my in-laws were mesmerized, and I had goosebumps all over. But then, when the Harris and Biden families came on stage?? Man, I sat up straighter, felt my shoulders relax, could feel the genuine love between them. As things began to wind up, and the promise of new reality dared to settle in, though, I was overcome with exhaustion and an almost drunk feeling. All I know is that I-needed-to-crawl-into-bed-for-a-week and hoped to wake up sans the hangover. Anyone else?


Sunday morning, my husband was raking the tremendous piles of leaves that had amassed so suddenly. It was as though the trees, struggling with their own exhaustion, simply could not hold onto those leaves for one more moment. In an effort to avoid raking, I headed out for leaf bags at Home Depot.

In line, there was one woman in front of me, one behind, and one running register. The customer in front of me turned around, looked me dead in the eye and asked;


“Are you happier today than you were yesterday morning?”


I legit hesitated for a few seconds, wondering if I was being set up. I was concerned as to whether she would align with or denigrate my response. I paused and considered avoiding the question, fearful that I would find myself on the wrong end of an argument in, of all places, Home Depot. Given our proximity to one another (admittedly less than 6′), I really had no choice but to respond. My back was up, having grown so accustomed to animosity, anger, and vitriol. And I had an unearned hangover.


Thowing caution to the wind, I replied.


“Oh, yeah!”


The woman behind me said something along the lines of,

“Amen to that!”


The woman at the register, a young African American woman, also agreed. Aggressively. In a good way.


The woman posing the question had tears in her eyes. I had not, in fact, been set up.


I noted to her that asking someone a question like that could be risky. She acknowledged that fact, but enthusiastically, and with pride added,


“I straight up don’t give a shit.”


Then, women in arms, we all purposefully exhaled and visibly dropped our shoulders. Then they (okay, we) let loose on the magnificent relief. Finally, we all sighed at how utterly exhausted we were. Hungover, even.


The relief at something being over is almost always coupled – and complicated – by the fact that something new is coming. Everyone always says that change is good. I have always retorted with a (perhaps) whiny,


“But it’s haaaard!”


Sorry to be Debbie Downer, but to my thinking, things are going to get worse before they get better. I am not able, or, perhaps, ready, to let go of that hangover quite yet.

There is so much wrong with our country.

People within my own small community who have differing opinions are, on the daily, vicious to one another. (Admittedly it is mostly online – lots of keyboard warriors out there, folks.)

Covid has issued a super gigantic fuck you to those who thought that we might be approaching the other side. We aren’t.

And, oh, yeah, our climate is whacked. As much as I like 75 degrees in November, it ain’t right, and, not for nothin’, does nothing to ease my personal hangover.


No one can predict what lies ahead. No one person (or two people as the case may be) can fix what was recently, and not so recently, broken. It’s not over. The fat lady isn’t singing. Yet.


Look out for your people.


Take care of yourself.


Try to clear your head from all the noise. It’s not helping.


As I write, I am nursing a glass of wine. I encourage you to do the same.

With any luck, it won’t bring on a hangover.

Because hangovers, no matter the source, suck.

Tashlich aka “See ya 5780”

Yesterday, Jews around the world celebrated Rosh Hashana – the Jewish New Year. Like most of 2020, the way in which we observed the holiday bore no resemblance to years past. For our part, we hosted a RHBBQ (Rosh Hashana Barbeque). We were a small but mighty crowd of some, but not all, the people I love. I have to say, it was among my most favorite RHs ever. Below is something that I wrote and shared as we participated in Tashlich. Don’t know what Tashlich is? Read on.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I think it is safe to say that none among us would debate that this past year, 2020/5780 will go down in history as one of the worst.  Forget the forced isolation, anxiety, and fear that is part and parcel of a global pandemic – that’s just icing on the cake.  I am 100% confident that each of us has faced our own personal struggles and demons.  Whether the battles were internal or interpersonal, the fears real or imagined, the anger just or unjust, no one is immune to the ongoing assault of life.

I speak only for myself in saying that this was among the most challenging years of my life…and that’s really saying something!

Everyone here is a warm, kind, and loving person.  Although, if we are being honest, none of us is immune to having behaved in a way that could be considered less than warm, kind or loving.  We’ve barked at one another.  We have pushed – sometimes too hard.  We’ve talked in unflattering terms, criticized, and judged.  We’ve thought we knew better – or more – than those around us.  We’ve been quick to anger.  We’ve been inpatient.  We’ve been either too sensitive or not sensitive enough.  You haven’t?  You, then, are a better person than I.

In a normal year, this morning we’d have gone to synagogue.  For some, it is about the liturgy.  For others, the social connection…something we all crave now more than ever.  Regardless of your reasons for going, or not going as the case may be, we’ve been robbed of the ritual.

In a normal year, we’d have put on nice clothes, the men in suits, relieved when it was time to go home, mostly for the joy that comes with kicking off shoes that pinch. 

A cast of thousands (no one was ever turned away) would be gathered around the table at my in-law’s house. Bursting with delicious food, wine and more desserts than we could possibly consume, three generations came together, some family, others, friends who would leave (complete with to-go food) feeling like family.

This, however, is not a normal year.

I don’t always participate in Tashlich. Okay, truth: I actually cannot recall the last time I did.  I do love the concept, though and always say, “next year”, but, alas, it hasn’t happened.  This year, I became fixated and maybe a little bit obsessed with making it happen.  It’s meaning, beauty, and, perhaps most important to me: the ritual.

Tashlich comes from the Hebrew word meaning “to cast,” referring to the intent to cast away our sins.  The act of throwing bread crumbs into the water can be cathartic while joyful, intense while freeing, simple while complex.  It pushes us to take a look inward and acknowledge our weaknesses while looking ahead and focusing on our strengths.  The bread you toss into the sea might represent something as simple as that time you talked smack about someone or as complicated as the time you held onto a blatant lie.  It could be your neglecting to point out to the cashier that they had forgotten to charge you for the turkey (that might have happened) or walking past someone on the street who could really have used your help.  It could even be giving yourself props for owning your stuff and then letting it go.  Ultimately, it is accepting the challenge to do everything within your power to become the very best version of yourself.  

You need not share what you choose to cast away.  This is for you, your peace of mind, and your own personal journey…no one else’s.  It can be tricky business, but I suspect it will be worthwhile.  Just the act of throwing something, anything, is a release and offers a freeing of your soul.

Okay, I know I just finished saying it is no one’s business what you choose to cast away, however….

A few weeks ago, I took a baby step out of my comfort zone and went tubing.  I had never done it before, even as a kid.  As I (not so gracefully) climbed onto the tube, I talked myself out of worrying that I would get hurt, or dizzy, or would lose a contact lense.  At 40 MPH, bouncing in the waves, water splashing in my eyes, wind whipping my hair into a frenzy, I was truly joyful. And then I (not so gracefully) fell off.  After quickly (and with great relief) retrieving my bathing suit bottom from my knees, I noticed that my engagement and wedding rings were gone.  I didn’t freak out.  I didn’t panic.  I actually, and I know how crazy this sounds, felt a little bit, well, free. To be clear, I adore my husband and loved both the rings and their sentiment, but I knew in my heart that there had to be a reason this happened.  I couldn’t for the life of me imagine what the reason was, but I just knew it.  

Yes, it helped that my husband and brother, my two greatest cheerleaders, were there to comfort me.  It further helped that my brother reminded me of three important things: 1. It wasn’t my father’s bracelet (that I have not taken off since his death) which completely irreplaceable, 2. I have Barry for a husband (read: he didn’t freak out) and, 3. it was insured.  At that moment, I realized that, although I loved my rings, they were ultimately just things and not the important ones.  In hindsight, it was in that moment that I actually knew everything was really going to be okay.  As my father used to say, “Everything is going to work out,  perhaps not how you expected it to, but it will.” I, like my rings currently residing at the bottom of Lake Cochituate, was free (okay, freer..let’s not get crazy.)

That night, I dreamt that my teeth were falling out.  The teeth, though, were covered in beautiful crowns (the kind royalty wear on their head, not the kind that cost a fortune at the dentist) adorned with sparkling gems in reds, oranges, and that perfect blue.  Of course, I Googled the meaning of this highly disturbing dream and discovered that, while, yes, indeed, dreaming of losing one’s teeth can symbolize loss and death, it can also  represent rebirth.  I chose to run with the latter.

So, how does this loop back to my fierce need to make Tashlich happen this year?

As I embrace feeling lighter and more at peace now that I can ever remember, I want you to have the opportunity to feel the same.   Of course I still have things to cast away but I now appreciate that the very act of tossing one’s sins, struggles, and challenges into the ocean and embracing a new start is way more powerful than I could have imagined.  

Now, in an effort to continue to venture out of my comfort zone, I am going to blow the Shofar.  Up until two days ago, I had never even held a Shofar, let alone attempted to blow it.  Thank you to Barry and the boys for patiently (for the most part) teaching me.  They can (and better!) attest to the fact that I have had many successes in making the Shofar sound. I have, though had an equal (or greater) number of failures which have truthfully frustrated me, yet I have kept at it.  (Aside: turns out there is a strong correlation between one’s ability to blow Shofar and being able to whistle.  I have never been able to whistle.  Just sayin’.) 

I am proud to have not given up (a pretty solid habit of mine) and will stand here today trying and trying (and probably trying some more) until I make it happen.  Take that, 2020.  

p.s. Turn up the volume. 😉

Here’s to freeing ourselves from the sins of the past year, and welcoming a new year of peace, contentment, and joy.

L’Shana Tova 

Ode to Barry

I am not proud to admit this, but I am, by nature, kind of a pessimist.  I say kind of, because I think I am less of a pessimist and more of a worrier.  I am famous for pre-worrying (again, not proud), and that glass?  It’s usually half empty.  Bad shit is all around us, amIright?

My husband Barry, on the other hand, is an eternal optimist.  He wakes up every (okay, most every) morning happy, ready to get things done, blissfully unaware of whatever shit might hit the fan. That’s because he knows that, whatever it might be, we can deal with it.  Intellectually, I know that to be true, but fretting is my go-to.  Again, not proud.

Throughout this entire disaster called Covid, he’s kind of kept me alive.  Not literally, but certainly emotionally.  Actually, literally, too.  Of the probably 600 meals consumed since March, 599 of them have been cooked by him. And I am talking real, actual (usually delicious – with the exception of that weird thing he did with that fish…yuk) meals. It’s quite impressive, actually. (Edited to add: I will look in the fridge and announce that there is nothing to eat. He will them, perhaps even just to prove a point, pull things out and whip up a meal. I used to feel defensive, now I just sit back and watch.)

My own (not so) little energizer bunny, he – and his brain – are in constant motion.  He seldom (read: never) sits still for very long, is seldom (read: never) without some sort of project to tackle and, truthfully, watching him dart around, often in circles, provides endless entertainment. It’s almost like I can see the synapeses firing.

I am always (every.single.time) ready to go before he is.  I will be in the car, lipstick applied (I miss pretty lips), cooling my heels while he is roaming in those circles, going through a checklist in his head (complete with counting on his fingers) to ensure he has every possible item we might need for any possible situation we might encounter.  Note: we never need any of it and, if we are being honest, he often manages to forget the one thing we did need. Like, for example, the pile of Bed Bath and Beyond coupons we needed for the one place we were going: Bed Bath and Beyond.

His breakfast vs. mine: Can you guess whose is whose? Yes, those are eggs on pizza.

He has two speeds: on and off.  I never shut off, even, alas, while I am sleeping.

He will go anywhere and do anything.  I am a bit more,shall we say, selective.

His way of keeping score vs. mine: (Yeah, he beat me. This one time…)

 As much as he hates needles, they don’t bother me in the least.  I, however, abhor the sound, smell, and mere thought of vomit. One could barf on his feet and he would be unfazed. For my part, I can take or watch someone getting a needle with nary a blip in my blood pressure. This makes us a perfect union.

We have one essential thing in common: we love to laugh and, perhaps more to the point, we crack one another up.  And that, my friends, is the key, particulary during these shitstormy days.

We also happen to be the world’s best photo bombers.  Don’t believe me, well check these out for yourself. No one is safe from our stealthily running up and no one has refused to Airdrop the photo to me. No one.

The mom was in on this one. The kids had no clue we were behind them. The whole restaurant was cracking up, as were the kids when we showed them that they’d been bombed.

These young women spoke no English, having just arrived in NYC from Japan…but knew all about Airdropping.

These two kiddos thought it was so funny that we photobombed them that they proceeded to chase us down the beach trying to playfully scare us. They might have succeeded.

Mom saw us coming. The kids did not. I lost my phone in the process. One of the kids found the phone and ran it down to us as we were retracing our steps. It had fallen out of my pocket as I ran over to bomb. Insert eye roll here.

How cute are these two who were just trying to take an Insta-worthy shot. Barry kindy offered to take a photo of them that did not include us. He said, “that’s okay” while she was saying, “sure!” She won.

And then there is this. Thanks, B. for having my back, being my bestie, and making me laugh (usually with, but sometimes at) you. There is no one I’d rather be with in Crazytown.

On FOMO, Decisions & Judgment

I recently read an article shared by a friend on, where else, Facebook. When I finished it, I commented that not only did I agree with what the author was saying, but I wish I had written it.  And that got me thinking: I have not been doing a whole lot of writing about anything, let alone something that would prompt a, “Damn, I feel the same way!” response.  To be patently clear: I have written many words…all of which I have deleted.  Many, many, many words. All deleted.

 

The gist of the aforementioned article was that this new phase of the pandemic is creating a new wave of anxiety…as if there wasn’t plenty of anxiety to go around already. When every single person everywhere in the world was in lockdown, things were, in some respects utterly sucky, in others, pretty swell.  FOMO was no longer a thing, even among those among us who normally suffer from it greatly.  No one was doing anything, so there was nothing to MO on.  Right?  Now, however, with the world reopening, we are forced to not only worry about the virus but, dammit if FOMO isn’t creeping back in and, damn it all to hell,  the need to make decisions – lots of decisions – is wicked hard to avoid.

shouldI

I have said it before, and will say it again: there is a lot I really dig about lockdown. Any decision I had to make was a simple one:

 

  • Take a walk or don’t take a walk?
    • Decision: 5-10 miles a day.  Did it. Continue to do it. It’s literally the only exercise I am getting, but I am getting it.
  • Eggs, oatmeal, or smoothie for breakfast?  (Clarification: there was often a first and second breakfast, so many times it was more a matter of when than which.)
    • Decision: more often than not, two hard-boiled eggs courtesy of this little gadget. (Mine isn’t pink, but now that I have seen the pink one, I want it.)
  • Shower or don’t shower?
    • Decision: Shower every day. Twice when I walk. Which is nearly every day. Except for that time last week, when I had vertigo and the only walk I took was to the bathroom, and that was more of a crawl. It was awesome!
  • Read a book or watch tv?
    • Decision: I had an entirely ridiculous and self-imposed rule of no-tv-during-the-day.  Not much at night, either. Too taxing to choose from the bazillion possibilities. Even recommendations (still haven’t seen Ozark, btw) were too hard to wade through.
    • Decision, Part II: In a brilliant move, I took several books out of the library before they shut down.  Less impressive: I read exactly none of them.
  • Jeans or sweatpants?
    • Decision: Fact – and a well-documented one at that – I put on jeans and a belt every single day. Which, as it turns out, was a fantastic decision because I have not gained one single pound.  Thank you for that, Covid-19.

 

Now, however, as we ease back into life (which, incidentally, will never ever ever be the same), suddenly (or so it seems) there are thousands of decisions to be made, and, boom, FOMO is kind of a thing again.

 

  • Go into stores; not just for necessities, but for filling the holes in our souls?
    • Decision: I have been to Marshall’s.  And TJ Maxx.  And Old Navy.  And Walmart.  And Target. Oh, and Home Depot.  At first, it was for things I needed. (Aside: why is it that not one single of the aforementioned stores has gym shorts? Or, if they do, only in sizes XS and XL?) Then, the excursions became more about feeling normal.  Shut up: going to Marshall’s makes most of us feel normal.  But, truthfully, it wasn’t an easy decision.
  • Get my haircut? 
    • Decision: Back in early February, before the world shut down, I had 5” cut off which, as it turns out, was an epically wise decision.  That said, I was the second appointment on the first day that my salon reopened at the end of May.  It was a joyous day. It was not, however,  a decision I took lightly.
  • Manicure/pedicure?  So here’s the truth.  I have been having my nails done, religiously, for, gulp, 30 years. (In a quest to feel normal, and with my doctor’s permission, I famously had a manicure and pedicure the day before my bi-lateral mastectomy: it runs that deep.) For the duration of lockdown, I had short, unpolished nails and I was pretty much okay with it.  In fact, I might have said (many times) that I was over getting my nails done.  That, it turns out, was a lie.
    • Decision: Once nail salons were allowed to open, I waited several (okay, two) days before scheduling an appointment.  Afterward, despite feeling decidedly more human, I found myself hiding my hands, lest anyone judge my bad judgment decision.  Truth be told, my nail salon had more precautions in place than the urgent care I took my stepson to last week.  Aside: a kid with a broken wrist during the first summer in the history of life that camps are all closed is even more fun than vertigo! Truth.
  • Go to a restaurant? I happen to be married to a man who happens to not only know how to cook but also happens to love cooking and also happens to make dinner every single night.  As regular and avid go-out-to-dinner folks, his menu – delicious as it was most of the time – was becoming a little, shall we say…repetitive.  We ordered take out once or twice, but last week, the first (and only) time since March that someone served us (on paper plates)(with plastic utensils) was spectacular.  Utterly spectacular.
    • Decision: See above.

 

What makes the FOMO issue particularly challenging is the fact that along with one’s envy over other folks’ goings and doings is an inescapable reality: judgment and, well, more judgment. There, I said it. Who among us hasn’t had an opinion about what other people are choosing to do?

judgejudy

You’re going to the market in March?!? (I made my husband do all the marketing until about a month ago.)

 

You had contact with a human being that doesn’t live in your house in April?!?  (Nope. Even the people who live in my house were kept at a distance.  Mostly because of the pandemic.)

You left the house in May?!?!  (In fairness, I didn’t really leave until my hair salon opened.  Truth.)(In my defense, I have thick, heavy, and copious amounts of hair…it is a blessing and a curse under the best of circumstances.)

 

Judge, judge, judge.

 

Yes, I found myself concealing my perfect nails, painted the perfect pink (gel #135) lest someone judge my decision.  And, until now I have kept the experience of my visit(s) to Marshalls close to the vest.

 

Judge, judge, judge.

 

Some may consider my decisions reckless.  I do not.

 

That said, I will not go into a mall.  I will not walk along the water when there are throngs of other people doing so.  I will not go to a party.  And I try (really, I do) to not judge anyone else if they do.  I get it. (Okay, so I might judge a little.  Shut up.)

 

Here’s are the only things I will judge, and judge harshly:

 

  • People who don’t respect the most anxious among their people. If someone you love, or someone you even know, is uncomfortable – even if you think it is a bit much – suck it up and do as they wish.

 

  • People who don’t wash their hands. Forget the fact that folks should, as a general rule of living, wash their hands.

 

  • People who either don’t wear a mask or wear one under their nose.  Seriously, cut that shit out.

I hope you are managing emotionally, socially, and physically.

I hope you are among people who love, respect and protect you to the very best of their ability.

I hope you are being patient, kind, and understanding of not only others but your own needs.

I hope you are reserving judgment for the things that really matter.  At least most much some of the time.

Are You Losing It? (I am.)

This might just be it.  I am pretty sure it is.  I have some fairly hard evidence to back up my claim, too.

Yes, the more I contemplate, the surer I am.

This was the week that broke us all.

losingit

I thought perhaps it was only me.  My legions of Facebook and Instagram cohorts, however, have proven me wrong.  This week nearly everyone I know, to varying degrees,  lost their shit.  Some rather epically.

A friend who is a teacher is killing herself teaching and supporting and loving and understanding and adapting and morphing and creating and connecting with her students (6th graders…so, um, yuk) and had a total meltdown…during a Zoom faculty meeting.

Another lost it whilst sitting in the parking lot of her supermarket, having been traumatized by the disregard of social distancing of fellow shoppers.  And the fact that they had no name brand toilet paper.  Truth be told, it might have been the toilet paper that truly set her off, but let’s give her the social distancing.

Yet another became apoplectic because her incredibly sweet, adorable, and highly cooperative three year old has become Satan -I think only at bedtime, but does it matter…Satan is Satan – which, I could make a case for, is definitely related to this fucking pandemic.

Another pal,  one who works (well worked is more accurate, more on that in a second) in a hospital where, one could argue, stress levels are even higher than stratospheric, had the audacity to use her kick-ass sense of humor – and perhaps a smidge of sarcasm – in an attempt to lighten the burden of the insanity of working in a hospital during a fucking pandemic only to find herself on the wrong end of a boss who, also buckling under the pressure, couldn’t take it and, um, fired her.

And my sweet friend, the one who is kind, patient, understanding, calm, and gentle, reported to me that, upon spying some schmucks enjoying 18 holes on the closed golf course not only called out to them that the course was closed, but called them assholes.  Okay, she yelled at them that they were assholes. And then burst into tears.

Then there are the kids, especially the teenagers who, nearly to a person, have had more than enough family time, are desperately missing their peers, are bemused and perplexed by the new way in which they are expected to learn, and actually need contact with people who do not share their last name.  Same for the parents, actually. I’d give my left arm to hang with someone who didn’t share my, my husband’s or my ex-husband’s name.  Truth.

For my part, I spent the better part of the past three days crying. No, not crying.  Sobbing.  Convulsing.  Choking on spit.  Dry heaving.  #goodtimes.

Since I do not watch or listen to the news anymore, or, for that matter, read anything other than Buzzfeed, Daily Mail and light fiction (okay, and death notices), I am not sure how long this fucking pandemic has been going on.  I might have accidentally heard or read that it has been about six weeks.  Based on that assumption, I am going to assert that six weeks is  how long it takes to set someone completely off their axis.  Amiright?

Yes, I have every single thing I need.  I have (an abundance) of food, (an ample) supply of wine, (generally) agreeable roommates (when they aren’t being assholes), work to do, puzzles to solve, books to read, recipes to try (currently baking my second challah…hoping this one isn’t quite as brick-like as the last one), shows to binge (hello, “Big Little Lies”), movies to watch, walks to take (averaging 5-10 miles a day), and jeans that still fit.  I have nothing to complain about.  But I will.

This fucking pandemic is getting to me.  I miss people.  I miss eating out.  I miss going to the movies by myself in the middle of the day. I miss spending $2.86 on a hit or miss cup of hot coffee.  I miss my boxing class and the people I punch with.  I miss asking the guy at the deli counter to slice it somewhere between thin and not too thin.  I miss having my nails done by someone other than me.  I miss seeing the kids and my colleagues at the school I work at.  I miss wasting an entire afternoon at Barnes & Noble.  I miss being able to go to the market for two things (which winds up being more than two things) without having to HazMat up.  I miss not having to wash my groceries before they come in the house.  I miss seeing my son and brother who are so close yet so far away. I miss feeling any need to swipe on mascara.  And lipstick?  Who needs lipstick under those godforsaken masks. (Aside: am I the only one who often forgets to breathe while wearing said mask? I seriously do that. Wha??)

I haven’t cried yet today.  I might.  In fact, there is an excellent chance I will.  It might be warranted, it might not.  It doesn’t really matter, though…it’s not like anyone is going to see me.

Fucking pandemics are lonely, even if you are among people you (mostly) love.

Fucking pandemics are isolating, even if you are FaceTiming, Zooming and old school Skyping.

Fucking pandemics are in no way normal. There is nothing normal about either a virus floating around looking for victims or the behaviors they demand of us.  Not. One. Thing.

Fucking pandemics are scary.  Seriously – going to the market or CVS makes my heart race.  In fact, it wasn’t until this week that I was brave enough to do either.  Hmmm, perhaps there is a correlation between being a consumer in the age of Covid and simultaneously losing it. Coincidence?  Methinks not.

Fucking pandemics prove one thing and one thing only: no one has any control over anything ever.  Despite what one of my children might say, I am actually not (normally) a control freak.  These times, however, I am grasping at any kind of (totally perceived and ultimately false) control I can muster. It’s not working.

Everyone is caving under the pressure.  Okay, maybe not everyone, but I certainly am.

Stay strong, brothers and sisters.

Stay healthy, y’all.

Stay as connected as humanly possible, people.

This is going to end.  And then we will all have to adjust, yet again, to a life that bears little resemblance to the one we’ve known.  Should be fun…