Thursday, November 01, 2018

if I can do a 1.75 all-nighter, I can give this another shot

I’m talking about NaBloPoMo.

  • The party was fun, but the place wasn’t really even finished so it was a bit raw. A lot of people got overserved but I nursed two drinks all night. We went next door to a hotel and closed out their bar, too. It was so nice to see everyone, so it was a happy 40th to me. 
  • I just finished a HUGE project at work, that almost resulted in my death (I was convinced a terrible tension headache was an aneurysm and started planning what I’d say as my last words). 
  • I was up for 45 hours in a row. I hadn’t done a double all-nighter since college (and then only once). I’m not bragging; I know how pathetic that is. 
  • Apparently, it took all these years of trying all kinds of music and noise and techniques to help me concentrate before I realized that I work best to the soundtrack of show tunes. 
  • Here (and everywhere) all I talk about is work. It makes others annoyed and makes me hate myself. Because while I have two amazing children and the best husband, friends and family, this job has siphoned off my life force, leaving me nothing but 76 tickets in the queue inhabiting the shell of my former self. Wow, did I actually just write that down? 
  • During a “debrief” conference call the 22-year-old showpony, as I like to call them, ”managing” the project said “you all can have 26 minutes minutes of your life back, I wanted to scream, “BUT CAN YOU GIVE BACK MY FOUR-YEAR-OLD’S BIRTHDAY?” 
Damn. I’m rusty. Let’s see how long this lasts. 

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

no space for George Michael

It's 2 a.m. I just cobbled together a playlist of '90s hip-hop for what will be a party thrown for me a month and a day after my 40th birthday. By my brother. Got it in just under deadline, as usual.

He's renting the third floor of a new bar in suburbia (full disclosure: his old boss is a silent partner) and there will be free drinks and appetizers for the first two hours. I’m concerned about how much it’s going to cost, but I'll admit, the empanadas excite me more than the open bar. He has even gotten them to do a signature Cadiz drink, "The Hemingway," which is something like rum and grapefruit juice. All my friends who drink are in love with the Paloma, which I think is tequila and grapefruit juice. I haven't really drank much (not even in Greece) since 2012, and honestly? I don't really miss it all that much.

I am terrified of being overserved and turning into a wailing, sobbing mess. I am legitimately planning to nurse a single drink the entire night. Even though it'd be my party and I could cry--I just don't want to. I'd ruin the evening for my brother and the friends who love me enough to go to a renovated barn in the northwest suburbs to drink and try to figure out how to get home to their children safely.

My track record is this: Whatever my underlying mood is accentuated by 1000 with enough alcohol. Back in the day, I used to drink and dance. Often in 4-inch stacked heels. I found a pair recently and was aghast that I'd ever been able to climb stairs, let alone break it down until 4 a.m. wearing them at Zentra. Later, when there was way less dancing and we were drinking in people's living rooms, that coincided with my heart being smashed to smithereens, and I spent each night out (coerced into joining my friends) sobbing like a cartoon spoiled brat. I cringe just thinking about it. The crying was ugly at best and downright humiliating at worst. I will always cherish my friends for taking care of me. And I knew my husband was forever when he saw the worst of me and he didn't block my number.

It’s 3 a.m. The boy just woke up and stood at the railing of his crib, wailing. I went in there and walked around with him, listening to Terry Gross interview Jake Tapper. I probably stayed longer than I needed to because I would have to turn the podcast off when I went to lie down. Unfortunately, Ro sleeps between us, still, a little habit she picked up when she realized she could get out of her bed, open the door and come in. That coincided with the baby moving into her room. I don’t have enough wits about me to try and fight it. I’m sweeping up Cheerios and oven-roasted beets at 11:30 pm and trying to find a blouse I don’t have to iron at 7 am.

I took the baby for his 1-year appointment. He is marvelous, as expected. I filled out the depression screening I’d missed at 9 months because Jon had handled that one. I guess I didn’t pass because the pediatrician called to say perhaps I needed to talk to someone. Jon agreed, because he really doesn’t know what to say.

I can’t decide if things are not right or if I have some unrealistic expectation about how it’s *supposed* to be. I do wonder when it was that the bucket I carry around to hold my joy sprung so many leaks. I’ll call the person. We will see.

Kash is crying again. Maybe roasted root vegetables weren’t a good idea.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


The baby turns one in four days.

He’s pulling himself up—sometimes even by using his teeth on the ottoman, couch, his father’s shoulder, his mother’s thigh—to climb.

He often stands at his crib and sings the songs of his people (early birds) until his mother (night owl) peels herself out of bed. He always greets me with a smile that propels me through to the end of my often long and frustrating days.

He leans toward me when I approach someone who is holding him. Almost to the point of falling out of the person’s arms in order to get to me. This is a situation I have only experienced as the holder: A physical obstacle my daughter scrambles over and launches off of to get to her father, when he comes into view. I had always wondered what it would be like to be so unquestionably somebody’s number-one choice. It’s all that I’d hoped for.

He’s figured out how to put shape blocks into their respective-shaped holes. Obviously, this signifies that he will be the one to unlock the mysteries of a non-communicable deadly plague on society.

He brings so much joy to everyone he encounters: his sister, parents, grandparents, family, our coworkers, daycare, neighbors, people at the store. I swear, that smile can light up entire city blocks. And he gives it away to everyone!

He’s constantly examining any sort of mechanical object as though he’s formulating a way to take it apart. I can envision him shrugging at me, holding the innards of an Alexa and smiling, in the not-too-distant future.

We are all sick this week. The last two days it has been very hard to get him to stay asleep—which we had gotten complacent about because he’s a tremendously better sleeper than his sister (I fear she’s inherited my night-chronotype and has a lifetime of morning struggles ahead that I know well).

I had been pacing and singing from 8-10p to get the boy down. Nothing was working. Not the 1970s Bollywood classics, not the laundry list of nursery-rhyme songs, not even the bulletproof Vampire Weekend album with the chandelier. I resorted to singing a couple songs where I list every single person we know. I like to do this with the kids so they don’t forget about our far-away family—I recall my mom doing something similar, and to this day I feel a kinship to my India cousins though I’ve never interacted with them for more than a couple weeks in grand total. I was singing “He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands,” like I have done for both kids about 22,000 times: All of Jon’s family, all of mine, our good friends, kids at daycare, everyone invited to his birthday party on Sunday. I always end with Jon, myself, Ro and him. But for some reason, this night, I choked up and called out his two older sisters in heaven, too. I think of them often, but tonight I ached for them with a pain I’d only ever experienced during labor for both Ro and Kash. I cried harder during my deliveries over those two lost babies than I did for any physical pain—and I separated my pelvis and couldn’t walk for four months after my daughter was born.

I croaked out the rest of the song and let the tears flow. He demanded another round of singing and awkwardly fell asleep askew in my lap in the rocking chair. I put him in the crib and backed out slowly.

I had no business looking into old colleagues on LinkedIn and watching J.Lo’s performance at the VMAs and trying to search my texts for exactly what Queen song it was that made us go into that dive bar in the labrynth of Santorini where we danced our olives off and had the best time in a LONG time. It was pure stupidity for me to be up until 11:51 pm.


We had causally draped a flannel blanket over the side of the crib for no real purpose. I had put him down and covered him with a heavyish muslin blanket. Normally if he cries after the initial sleep, we let him work it out for himself. But this night he cried and I looked at the monitor—because I was up.

He was struggling. The muslin blanket and the flannel blanket were wrapped around his head and he was twisting them tighter as he tried to get them off. I flew into the room, ripped them off, grabbed him and held him to my heart while I whisper-screamed every single prayer from CCD I could remember. I’m still shaking.

Thank you God. Thank you, big sisters. Thank you, Nani. Thank you, universe. For looking out for us. Because I don’t have it in me to bury another one.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


It really doesn't seem that long ago that I turned 30. In fact, I wrote about it. There was a whole lot of tumult back then; I had a fat mortgage I couldn't cover as a freelancer, Jon worked as a temp for the State of Illinois doing a job he was ridiculously overqualified for, my savings was circling the drain because we couldn't sell the dee-luxe apartment in the sky...but we were happy.

Now we have two magnificent children who on several occasions have made me turn to my husband and say, "THIS is how people get ponies." We live in a house with an overgrown yard (sorry passive/aggressive neighbors!), and we have decent jobs: I spend too much time either doing, talking or thinking about mine and Jon pretty much solves problems all day at his. We have a circle of family and friends who give generously of their time and love. We have health. We have it all.

But in the middle of the night, or when I'm standing at the gas pump waiting for the tank to fill, or when I'm trying to help sleep catch hold of a small child by pacing and singing? That's when this idea sneaks up and throws a hood over my head: I'm failing. At everything. All the time.

I wonder what people who couldn't wait to see what I would grow up to accomplish would say about my being a midlevel "analyst" working 60 hours and being paid for 40 at a job that does help people but not nearly as many nor as much as I would have hoped. The weight of their imagined disappointment drags on me. I don’t have time for making art, my cooking skills are languishing. I had been trying to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for exactly 46 months and finally admitted defeat: I moved it from my nightstand back onto the shelf. My kids' birthday parties are not Pinterest-worthy. My three-year-old often does not go to bed until 11 p.m., no matter how early we start the bedtime routine. I'm an old mom who works a lot, so I'm not interested in burning the precious little time I have with them in battle. The clutter in my house is breeding and we only replaced paper shades with real curtains just before our five-year houseiversary. We still do not have a wedding album, let alone baby books. I often cannot remember why i walked into a room. Or what I had for lunch two hours later. But! I know every word of the Sofia the First soundtrack. Being able to belt out “Bigger is Better” on command has got to be worth some extra credit.

Is this 40? Does this happen to everyone? Ri said, on her 40th birthday, that she "has never felt more healthy or vibrant in her entire life!" But I remember her climbing out her parents' window and smoking clandestine cigarettes on their roof while talking to me on her extra-long-corded phone in high school. Surely, she's not MORE vibrant now—while sleep-deprived from adulting and parenting small children—than at those moments? Is everyone just faking it till they make it? Or am I failing at that, too?

I spent the day trapped in meetings, save for a lovely hour on a rooftop bar with my closest coworker, who smuggled in a Nothing Bundt Cake for me, complete w a candle and the only book of matches in her whole house. We went back for the rest of the meetings, and I cut out early to get a pedicure with my mother and met up w the rest of the family for a nice dinner. Everyone took turns holding the squirrelly baby so I could eat my food when it was WARM. I call that an exceptional day.

This is forty.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

the dungeon is kind of an office building now

It’s five in the morning and I am pumping. I thought I was awake because I had a bad dream someone was trying to hurt my child but after tossing and turning for 20 minutes, then reading a bunch of parenting stories about how to protect my kids from predators, and an hour of catching up with what a blogger I used to follow has been doing the last eight years, I realize this strange feeling is the need to empty the tanks. So I’m pumping.

This is stupid because my kid is going to wake up really hungry in about 25 minutes and I won’t have much to give. So I should stop. 

I have so much to say and no time to say it. One of these days I’ll come back here and tell you about my son, who radiates joy every second of the day—even when he’s hungry—and he *may* even prefer me sometimes to his father, which is surprising and nice. And my daughter, who is very likely smarter than I am already: when I tried to convince her a goblin ate her cookie, she said “no, mom, I really think it was you.”

I am filled with anxiety so much of the time—it used to be the mechanism that kept me in line, but I think it’s veering off into the land of hindering more than helping. I’m probably just paranoid. 

Two years ago I started to suspect I had always had ADD and started talking to someone about it. Then I learned if my goal was to have another baby and not consider taking medicine, there’s really nothing to do except techniques and tools you use “until they don’t work anymore.” I did get that baby (it wasn’t easy), and I’m cycling through those techniques and tools. Still, I’m pretty wound up and easily distracted most of the time. 

Last month I went to Greece for 14 days with my best friends from college, leaving my 9-month-old and 3.5-year-old with their dad. I grappled with unbelievable mom guilt about it, but many people were encouraging me to go—including my husband and mother (who would be taking care of the children). Truly the one sentence someone told me that made me feel ok about going was “think of this as “Jon’s separated pelvis.” And while it was probably a rough 14 days for him, as FaceTime showed, trying to heal a separated pelvis (twice) takes a LOT longer than two weeks. Also? An infant doesn’t understand FaceTime. Recording/sending videos is better when you’re on another continent and your child can’t get to you. That brief but heartbreaking experience is probably the reason this government-separating-families-at-the-border thing has been keeping me up at night, crying.

It took me a full ten days to unclench and start to relax on vacation. I did carry the breast pump with me wherever I went and dumped more ounces of precious milk than I care to admit, but I’d be damned if my kid was going to stop nursing because mommy got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hang out with her friends in a gorgeous place for 14 days of only having to worry about what she was going to eat for dinner. 

Part of the reason I sought the tools and techniques about the ADD was because I was so miserable at work and of course thought that was my fault. Allowing myself to be bullied probably was, though. After six years, I found an oppportunity to report to a different person and, damn, that makes a big difference.

I am typing this on my phone, and while I am wearing my glasses, I’m pretty sure I’m looking at 0.2 font size. The Blogger app has been unsupported for years and this may not even post. Doesn’t matter because I’m the only one who will read this, likely in a few years when I’m up at night worrying about where we will get drinking water when the United States coastlines have flooded and all those people show up in the Midwest to maim us for lake water. 

Oh the sun is up. Perhaps it’s time to go to bed. 

Im willing to bet you can find that exact line in posts from 2006, when I was working in the dungeon. In rather sad news, the castle where I worked is being turned into condos, so half the staff has been relocated to the dungeon. Which is good, because with all those witnesses, the odds a person will be murdered and dismembered have gone way down. 

Wednesday, December 06, 2017


Jon’s hometown is on fire.

It’s been burning for about two days and people the family knows have lost their homes. The winds have not slowed down, so it’s moving quickly and not sparing much in its path. Including the spot where we laid our Baby’s ashes.

I know it was ashes already, that the baby is hopefully hanging with my Nani in heaven and I’m relieved that very few people have died in this disaster, but seeing the gorgeous hill on which  we left her charred and bleak just broke my heart. It’s a sacred place for us.

This is just a reminder that the grieving never really ends. We just learn to live with it better every day.

This is what it usually looks like.

And now it is this.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

veteran's day

Thank you, servicemembers, for all that you have done and do today. Gratitude, also, to those you've left behind here to soldier on, missing you for the good of all of us.