2020 Blew Chunks

2020 blew big ass chunks. And it’s over. And today is the official first day of 2021. Despite the fact that we all now have PTSD from COVID-19, political and racial tension, and staying home with our kids for almost a full year, and helping to virtual school, some good things came out of this year for me and my family. I also learned a bunch of things about myself, which I guess is stellar considering I’ve had 40+ years to figure these things out. Who knew we needed a global pandemic to gain some perspective? Here’s the Top 10 of 2020.

  1. We moved. We love our new city. Charlotte is fucking ah-mazing! And it will be even better once we can see more of it. We love our neighborhood. We love our friends. I have never felt more welcome moving anywhere in my life. I don’t know if it was the circumstances of the pandemic, but we made friends easily, and we are so thankful that they were able to be stand-in family as we moved away from those we loved.
  2. I figured out that I am a pretty good cook. I can follow a recipe with the best of them. Things my kids liked: chicken stir fry, broccoli chicken casserole, the rice in pork chop casserole (although there was way too much of it for us to eat). Things my kids did not like: almost everything else I made.
  3. I can bake with the best of them. Mostly cookies. Because cookies are the best fucking dessert, and if you don’t think so you can fight me. Chocolate chip, Gingerbread, Sugar. Bring it on.
  4. I am still really lousy at keeping a clean house. And it is really hard to do when four other people are living at home all the time. Well, really three other people, because the oldest child basically lives with another family at this point. Random Side Thought: Trying to make a teenager understand that pandemics can spread is so hard. They think they are invincible, and they are so into their friends at this age. Being with family all the time, not for them. I do love seeing the person he is becoming, and I don’t agree with the general sentiment that teenagers suck. I think they’re dealing with a lot, just like us, and need to be given the benefit of the doubt. Just as long as they keep wearing their masks.
  5. When gifted a lot of time in my life, what did I do with it? Write? Read? No, I binge watched Netflix and almost every other streaming service in the world (and there are a shit ton of them–I mean really, how many do we actually need?). Normal People, y’all. So good. NSFW and NSFK (Kids, is that even an acronym?) Why do we talk in acronyms now. The Queen’s Gambit. All 12 seasons of the Big Bang Series. The Middle with my middle child. Sex and the City. I finally watched both Deadpools. Slightly disturbing and bloody, but so funny. And Ryan Reynolds–man, I need you in my life (sorry R!). Really, now you know why I’m lousy at cleaning.
  6. I really like my husband. Like really like him. I mean, yes, there have been some ups and downs over the last few months. We moved for his job, and basically he is still working from home. So cray-cray. And we share a home office. And he walks and talks on the phone, and he often does that right behind me while.I’m.trying.to.work. And sometimes he eats lunch at his desk, and let me tell you, he chews so loud. (I’m sure I do too, but I can’t hear me). But he’s nice and funny. And he makes me laugh. And he’s not-as-lousy at cleaning. And he cooks. And he’s a pretty good dad. And he tries. And he understands that I need alone time, and that sometimes I’m depressed and want to lie in bed all day or take a bath with candles and be left alone. He puts up with a lot of my shit. But really, he is my best friend. And it possibly took a global pandemic for me to figure this out. For those of you who know me and my husband, you know we have had a lot of ups and downs over the year. But we all good. There’s no one I’d rather spend a pandemic with, R.
  7. My sister and I bonded over Animal Crossing. We play a lot. It’s fun, and our characters have the best clothes. We talk on the phone and play. So much fun. We did a lot of playing over the summer, and then she had to teach, and I didn’t realize how much I’d miss our daily chats and play. But I did miss them.
  8. My family is the best. We Zoom once a week. I miss my mom and dad a lot. We went from living 5 miles away from them to about 400 miles. That sucks balls.
  9. My dogs get me. They are my emotional comfort animals for sure. Jazz got throw up sick and I thought she was going to die. She didn’t–thank God. But it made me realize how much comfort they gave me. Also, my dog looks really freaking cute in pajamas. I may have bought more dog clothes this year than I bought human clothes.
  10. The biggest thing I learned was to not take friends and family for granted. Before March 13, 2020, we were all going in different directions. R working, me working, kids at school, activities. Life felt so stressful. I felt pulled in a million different directions all the time. Overwhelmed, strung out. We took a big pause. Everything changed drastically and suddenly. That part sucked so much. But in the end, I realized how much these people in my life mean to me. And we were able to slow down and really reconnect. Will we have that chance again once this is over? Who knows. I love my friends and family so much.
Jazz in PJs — the best of 2020!

Lastly, as we move into 2021, COVID has not mysteriously disappeared. It is getting worse all over the U.S. Hospitals and ICUs are overwhelmed. The vaccinations are taking longer to distribute than was originally anticipated. Even once we’re vaccinated, we need to stay vigilant. My family has been so lucky in that we have not lost anyone to the pandemic. We have been careful. And there is hope. But many of us are experiencing pandemic fatigue. We want life to go back to normal, and we think if we just pretend there isn’t a pandemic it will go away. Well, this is not true. That’s why so many people are getting COVID right now and why so many people are needlessly dying. All those people who traveled for Thanksgiving thought, it will never happen to me. Well that type of thinking can almost guarantee it will happen to you! We as humans have this tendency to think we can escape travesty. We have this ability to look at statistics and think they only apply to other people. Perhaps this is a survival mechanism, a gift curse to us from our cavemen days. Pretending something won’t happen never means that it won’t happen. It just means you’ve closed your eyes to the possibility of it happening, so when it inevitably happens you act blindsided. So act as responsible as you can. We are all so tired. We all want this virus to end. But what we need to want more than all of that is for our loved ones to be safe and healthy. And we can only do that by continuing to social distance, to mask up, and to make the right decisions every day for ourselves and those we care about.

So be careful, stay safe, have hope, and GET VACCINATED in 2021 as soon as it’s available to you.

Now I’m going to try to write a book again. Take that 2020–on to the next year, the next goal, the next step.

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Thoughts on the Situation

Today, I am really trying to schedule. Yesterday was the first day I felt restless. I think it’s because we were supposed to go back to work and school from Spring Break yesterday. We started homeschool, and after a few complaints and hiccups it went better than expected.

I wonder what my children will think about this strange time in their lives when they’re older. Last night, Darling Daughter asked about her birthday part in May. I told her it might not happen if we still have to stay in. She then went on to tell me COVID-19 was no worse than the flu. Who has she been listening to? I told her that we have no immunity to COVID-19. That it is worse than the flu, because it can spread more quickly. I told her the flu has been around for years, and therefore we’ve built some natural immunity to it.

My heart does break for my kids.. It’s so hard for them to be isolated from their friends. We are dealing with this on top of our whole life changing as we move. None of us can say goodbye to people we’ve known and cared about since we’ve lived in Alabama. That’s tough.

I took the dogs for a 2.3 mile walk today. They enjoyed it, and hopefully they won’t bark at every car that drives by. Many people in our neighborhood are having work done on their houses, and my dogs think it’s their natural duty to guard our house from everyone. I love my dogs, but they can be annoying.

I am going to start writing again. I’ve been brainstorming the last few days, and I think I have some direction. I feel like this whole situation is teaching us to put life into perspective. Writing has been important to me for most of my life, but I continue to put it on the back burner. Why is that I wonder?

Is it worth it to be so busy and have no time for people? I’ve Facetimed and Marco-Poloed (is that even a word?) so many people this week. Humans are social animals, and even though I like alone time I’m missing social interaction. My kids are chatting with their friends all the time. We’re having dinner together every night (and breakfast and lunch sometimes too). We’re truly and deeply connecting with one another again. I am so happy I have five people in my household. I feel deeply worried about people who are weathering this by themselves. I’m also worried about our government’s inability to compromise, put aside their differences, and actually help the American people who are suffering right now. There is so much to worry about. There is also so much to be thankful for.

Yesterday, I had a mini-meltdown. And afterwards, I focused on the kids. We played Red, Light, Green Light in the backyard. Then we went to the baseball field and played a game. There was no one there. We ran bases and hit, and chased the ball. That made me think about how lucky we are to be alive and to have each other. It also made me feel less restless and to thin about how sometimes the simplest things in life are the most important.

Stay safe and stay home, my friends.

 

Now…or Later

I met a woman over the weekend at a book club who had the gift for gab. She told me she had written a children’s book and four memoirs. She has this exuberant personality, go-getter attitude, and incredible energy. We went to lunch yesterday. This woman is in her 80s, and she wanted me to put some information together for her so she could try to have her non-fiction children’s book published. Talk about living your dreams at any age.

I’ve had a hard time lately, thinking I’m running out of time to become a serious writer. And I think this woman was sent to me to remind me that as long as I’m motivated I can achieve my dreams. She has done so much with her life, because she went for it when the time came. And she said something to me yesterday that made so much sense too. We were talking about my fear to speak in big groups, and she said, “Let the butterflies in your stomach drive you, because they’re energy. Don’t let them turn into anxiety that holds you back.” I think this can be applied to other situations. Often in writing, us authors get caught up in the thought of someone reading and critiquing our work. We get caught up in thinking about rejection after rejection from agents.We let these anxieties hold us back. We need to use our creative energy to propel us through that and not let the anxiety rein us in.

What drives you forward? What are some ways you can achieve your dreams?

And as a completely unrelated aside. Here’s a tribute to my dog Beasley who is being euthanized today. 14 1/2 years old. He was a wonderful Beagle pup we retrieved in the country of Maryland from a breeder who said he was defective because of an overbite. He lived with us for 5 years, and then resided with my parents when Rob and I moved to Montgomery and had to live in an apartment. He was always happy, smiling, and there never was a tail that wagged more. My mom fixed him some pizza in the Cuisinart last night, and he went to town. He has cancer, is blind, and deaf, and has started walking into walls, and acting like he doesn’t know where he is. So we know it’s time. Here’s to a sweet old dog as he travels across the rainbow bridge.

Beasley

Beasley – younger days

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