Saturday, March 28, 2020

the 'rona

We are now a full week into Illinois's Shelter in Place to stop the spread of the COVID19 virus. To say I'm anxious is an understatement. We didn't hoard (ok, maybe I do have a couple more boxes of Triscuit and Wheat Thins than I normally keep) so I'm scared we won't be able to find toilet paper when the time comes that the 15 rolls we have left are gone.

There are people who are not taking the social distancing recommendation: staying six feet away from others and only leaving the house for necessary tasks like getting food or going to work if you're an "essential" employee. I wish I could say with certainty that every member of my family is following this advice, but I suspect my father--whose mantra is "nothing happens"--can't help himself. This is terrifying because, while he is 70+ and definitely at risk, my mother is immunocompromised from all the chemo drugs, and susceptible of getting very very sick if she gets it. That said, she's "essential." She works in the hospital and I'm trying very hard to convince her to retire. With very little success.

The local hospital is putting employees that don't have much to do right now (like outpatient mammography technologists) into a "labor pool," and sending them to do needed tasks around the place, like sanitizing and cleaning and picking up trash. At our community hospital there are nine cases of COVID19. I can't even keep up with these statistics. I think it's something like 85,000 cases in the United States at this point. The numbers don't really reflect reality because we aren't testing enough people.

There's so much to say about the political state of the world, but I'm trying to focus on how people are pulling together--my alma mater has come up with a ventilator they are putting into production very soon. The vacuum people, Dyson, also invented a ventilator and are getting 55K in production. Abbott Labs in the Chicago area invented a 15- or 13-min (depending on the result) test that is approved by the FDA and is getting out for use next week. Plus there are various therapies and vaccines that are in clinical trials.

H and I are working from home, as we are essential-adjacent, but we know people who have lost their jobs and are struggling. My brother, for whom I worry the most, is reluctantly staying home and working from home (also essential-adjacent) and probably withering from loneliness in his big old house alone, though he'd never say so. H's folks are also sheltering in place, the professors teaching online and the others working from home as much as they can.

We have the kids at home with us; our daycare shut down along with the shelter-in-place order. "Working" while the kids are home has been challenging at best, and I pray that our inability to be as productive isn't going to affect our employment. I realize how lucky we are to even make that statement, in light of how many people applied for unemployment this week--3.3 million--blew the previous record out of the water. I heard on the radio that unemployment is projected to hit 30 percent. It was 25% during the Great Depression.

These are strange and terrifying times. I can't recall how many times I've heard the word "new normal." But nothing about this is normal. We have tickets for the August 13 "Hella Mega Tour" at Wrigley Field concert featuring Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Weezer. We had been searching for a fourth person to join H, my brother and I. However, I suspect that isn't going to happen now.

Ro's kindergarten roundup was canceled in early March. She's supposed to start school in the fall, and we were planning to hurry up and sell our house, then buy another one in my parents' school district--ideally so she'd go to school next door to their house. I don't know what is going to happen now. Maybe she will go to the school near us and the trajectory of our lives will be much different than what we had planned. I guess that's the way things always go, though.

The thing that terrifies me the most is H or I getting this and leaving our children without a parent; flawed as we are, no one will love them as much as we do. I have recurring nightmares about this. Only slightly less frightening is that a loved one will get this and we will have to contemplate their suffering (or worse) without being able to be there with them. I've already started hearing about people losing grandparents without having been able to say goodbye. No one is having funerals anymore, either.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's go-to guy about these things said that a highly contagious symptom-less upper respiratory virus like this is a worst-case scenario. Even worse than Ebola, because it's very obvious who has Ebola and you can only catch that if you're in very close contact with that person. They are finding COVID19 on surfaces of those cruise ships 17 days after everyone had been off of them. Not good.

The grocery and convenience stores are still open. The truck drivers are still making deliveries. Some people are acting like this is a staycation. People are cheering for healthcareworkers, who are starting to become infected and dying here, as they have been in China and Italy for some time. Things are going to get much worse before they get better. And yet, I'm hearing about people secretly meeting up to work out together or have game night with booze. Do they think they're invincible? They know enough not to advertise what they're doing, so clearly this is just selfishness, right? But because of their weakness we will all be trapped in our homes and there will be unnecessary deaths. And that makes me so mad. SO mad.

My biggest struggle is that those who are complaining about being stuck at home, or talking about online shopping or day drinking or hobbies aggravate me. It's not their fault, but I can't look at one more person mourning the high school seniors' lack of Prom or Graduation without wondering how bad the wailing would be if those promising youngsters were instead being drafted into a war. And those who are so incredibly inconvenienced by staying home getting together to work out and potentially spread this around further, they make me irate. Probably way more angry than I have any right to be. Unfortunately for them, I will be remembering those who joke around about being "an irresponsible human" and going out for drinks or dinner when we should have been staying home. I see them in a different light and it makes me sad, then guilty. Because who am I to be judging people? This is the stuff that keeps me up at night: Fear, judgment and guilt.

Monday, February 10, 2020

whoooa, we're halfway there

Gone are the days when I have time to edit my thoughts into coherent bits--and since I have only recently discovered that most everyone else in this world has an inner monologue that basically tells them what to say and do, word for word before it comes out of their mouths *, and they don't spend 95% of their typing time hitting backspace to translate the four different emoji conversations happening over the background song (at the moment it's "I Like Me Better When I'm With You" by Lauv)--anyone who happens to still be reading this is stuck trying to figure out what I'm trying to say, as I edit the feelings and images in my mind into English.

It's coming up on Valentine's Day. Jon and I have declared that a "dead" holiday for us (perhaps after 13 years, a blog reveal about H and two children later, we might now be able to talk about how we almost broke up on that first one...some other time). My actual best February 14 ** was going to IKEA with one of my bffs and Prom Date, highcon, who gathered us together this past weekend to say adios to Chicago (again) as he officially moves back to New York (again) to be with his love, K

I rode the train in with JZ, a friend of mine from elementary school, who also ended up being great friends with highcon in junior high/middle school. The districting around here is wacky so JZ and I were split in jr. high and everyone was reunited together in high school, where I met highcon. I'll skip to the TL;DR: We all go waaay back.

So JZ and I are at this fancy restaurant an entire hour early. I send this text to highcon

"T-53 minutes. Highcon, do you know where your wallet is?

And your phone.

And your keys.

And your man?

We are here and already drinking."

His response, 46 minutes (or T-14 minutes until the private party was set to begin):

"Omg.

I lost my phone!!!!!

It's in an Uber and he's meeting us at [fancy restaurant].

My work one.

Kill me!

So, you called it"


Highcon has a history of these shenanigans. It is mind-blowing that someone who cannot keep track of mundane things such as cellphones, keys and wallets has somehow risen through the ranks to become a bigshot at an international company, literally making billion-dollar decisions on the regular. I'm not usually one to drop annoying hints like this, but he and his equally successful sweetheart have a house on Martha's Vineyard and travel the world for fun. But at the end of the day, he's still the same silly guy who'd procrastinate with me on English papers and talk smack about classmates until the wee hours of the morning on the phone in high school. 

I had already been feeling extremely nostalgic recently. I don't know if it's because I'm starting to really feel the wear and tear of 41 years on my body, or that caring for small children while trying to maintain a house, a marriage and a very demanding job that requires me to not quite ever be "logged out" is making me wonder what would have happened if I had taken any of the other options when I got to forks in the road. I regret nothing, but when you watch cheesy teen movies like "To All the Boys I've Loved Before" and read books about young people coming into their own and discovering love and life, and you celebrate one of your besties taking a great leap into the semi-unknown (his mom asked K if he was "ready to have highcon full time"), realizing that you're halfway done with this life is kind of like a sharp kick to the stomach. With a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking. 

During the warm and jovial dinner, several of us got a text that a classmate (and good friends of one of the other people) had suddenly died of cancer, leaving behind a wife and a 15-month old. This, on top of the unexpected death of Kobe Bryant, who was revered in our house by the devoted Laker fans, the one-year anniversary of Ri's brother-in-law-to-be dying of a heart attack a month before his wedding to her sister, and the pre-sad anguish anchor I drag around every moment of every day about the possibility of losing my brother was too much to bear. I broke down. Maybe it was the alcohol.

JZ had a clearer head and got me up and out of there so we could catch the train home. I had to be at work at 6am Sunday, for a work go live--which was not a fun experience, but I'll have to write another post about how the job is going. I was so thankful to have that evening. Sixteen people came together to talk about why we love highcon, sharing stories digging up exactly the kind of dirt you have on someone with whom you rode the bus or helped figure out how to put contact lenses in. 

The morning after the party, when I was broke-brain as hell, I got about 3/4 of the way to work and realized I had left my computer at home and got there at 6:20a instead of 20 min early. Then I couldn't locate my cellphone for about 5 hours. I literally walked from the car, into the office, up the steps and to the Command Center to check in. I couldn't have left it at home because the directions were telling me just how late I was going to be and I was listening to Sarah Silverman tell Conan O'Brien about how he thwarted her plans to make out with him many years ago by telling her he was recently engaged. After THREE car searches, I located my phone. I texted highcon and JZ

"Dude, thank you (and K) for the lovely party I had so much fun, and sorry if I was obnoxious--I haven't been drinking in a LONG time!

In total karmic justice, this morning at 5am I forgot to put my laptop in the car and had to turn around halfway, and then couldn't find my damn phone for like five hours! It had slipped between the console and the passenger seat. I think this is payback for giving you crap yesterday."

His response:

"Bwahahahahah

See this is why we are friends

We are all functional hot messes"


I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't know where all the time went. But talking about all that old stuff, which was SO IMPORTANT back then, and realizing that most of us can only even recall it in pieces so we have to be in the same space to argue and put it all together, makes me realize that this life is zooming. Just flying by. And I'm so thankful to have written some of it down. 


*subsequent posts on this dude's blog say that he has ADD, so there goes that theory (I am not officially diagnosed, but an ADD therapist said almost all the markers light up for me having ADHD or something of the sort).

** I pulled that post up on my phone to show K what a sweetheart highcon was for going to all the trouble of printing out a kids' coloring-book valentine to give me on the way to IKEA.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

previouslies 2: all the posts fit to print

In 2011 I did this pretty comprehensive "previouslies" post. Here's where that leaves off, including some stuff I probably would have posted about, had I been doing this sort of thing regularly:
  • In December 2011 I picked my brother up from O'Hare and flipped my car. That was possibly the first and definitely the last time I will ever leave the house without say goodbye to Jon after an argument.
  • In February 2012 I started a new chapter in my career, fully putting the dungeon industry in the rearview (though I didn't know it at the time). My boss micromanaged and bullied, and I was her favorite punching bag. Giving so much while being made to feel incompetent is why I didn't post all that much. 
  • In December 2012 Jon and I went on a gun-shooting /wine-tasting (not simultaneously) outing in Michigan with friends. Because I am me, the first weapon I ever fired was an AK-47. I pray I never hold another gun in my life. I didn't like how it felt to have that kind of power in my hands. It was a taste of the paranoid anxiety I would later experience post-partum. 
  • In May 2013 I went into labor with my first child. After an immensely stressful several months at work, my water broke in my cubicle, 20 weeks early. The baby's lungs weren't developed enough for her to survive.
  • In August 2013 we bought this house. Jon and our dear friend/realtor, Mala, did the legwork to find it. We were so excited to have a garage and a yard, and had big plans (like compost!). Less than a month after we closed, the pipes from the house to the street had to be dug up and replaced. I don't think we ever regained any homeowners' excitement and our yard looked like a construction site for the better part of four years (if you don't count when it was covered in snow). 
  • Madelyn moved to Chicago.
  • In December 2013 we lost baby #2 at about six weeks. She had a genetic defect (Trisomy 16).
  • Jon started working at the same place as I did, but on a different team, in fall 2014. He is a natural, and people noticed.
  • Two days before the one-year anniversary of Baby's due date, I delivered a healthy baby girl named Ro. She literally is the light of our lives. Grieving the first two are now complicated because technically we couldn't also have had Ro if they had survived. I had an emergency cerclage stitch put in to prevent labor and was on bed rest (and would have stood on my head for the entire pregnancy if I needed to). Delivering her separated my pelvis. I needed physical therapy and a walker to get around for the next four months, and the only thing I could do for her was nurse, then give her to someone else to be walked, burped, changed, bathed and the rest. Missing that bonding created a tender spot deep in my heart, kept sore by the guilt of feeling jealous and sad when all I should be is grateful. She kicks that very spot each time she pushes me out of the way to run to her father or says NOT YOU, MOMMY. I am happy that they have a great relationship, but I'd be lying if I said being left out doesn't sting.
  • Jon's entire family came out for the holidays in 2014. I was thrilled to have both sides together for Ro's first Christmas. It was especially sweet to see her 2-year-old cousin Declan play with her. I wasn't exactly the best hostess, however, what with the walker, pain and trying to wrap my head around being somebody’s mother.
  • I came back to work with pretty serious post-partum anxiety and my boss told me there could be a promotion. But they were "pretty sure they wanted to give it to" the woman who joined the team nine days after I gave birth (if you do the math, she was there for about three months and I had been there, slogging away, for three years). If I wanted it, I had to *prove* I deserved it. I was too stupid to see the mind game for what it was and redoubled my efforts. This was a very cruel thing to do to a lactating, sleep-deprived person who could barely walk, and I suffered as much as you can imagine. But I got the promotion. The other person was promoted a few months later.
  • We took Ro on her first plane ride to see Jon's family in Southern California in September, 2015. She was 11 months old, met her great-grandmother, said hello to her sister, dipped her feet in the Pacific Ocean and caught her first major-league baseball game. We were there for our anniversary, too. It was a great time.
  • My brother got an apartment in Chicago, within walking distance of Wrigley Field. He also *finally* started making some money back on his Cubs season tickets. I got to see them win the NLCS with him in 2015, which was amazing.
  • Our "rainbow baby" turned one on Halloween. We celebrated, Oz-style, and everyone dressed up. Jon's mom flew out to see her granddaughter and hand-made her gorgeous Dorothy costume.
  • My father's youngest sister, who lived in Mumbai, passed away from aggressive cervical cancer. I couldn't believe that I'd never see her again.
  • In May 2016, our neighbors helped us break down our rotting backyard shed. There was a possum skull under it, and evidence that it was using the supports as a teething ring.
  • My brother was set up on a date with a lovely Indian girl, who is friends with the wife of his BFF. Sounds good, right? Apparently she reminded him too much of me, which is a dealbreaker.
  • HighCon was on tv, skulking around in the background on CNN during a Joe Biden speech. I always knew that guy would be famous. Now he and his dude have a house in the Hamptons that I very much hope we visit one day; it's beautifully appointed.
  • My brother gave us a tremendous scare in August 2016 when he was retaining so much fluid in his chest and abdomen that his organs were impaired. He called me from the emergency room and had to be admitted. I believe five pounds of the stuff was drained out of him while he was in the hospital. He changed his diet and is controlling his sodium. But that was hella terrifying.
  • My mom, Ro and I walked in the India Day Parade in my hometown on August 14, 2016. It's kind of a big deal because 40+ years ago when my folks settled in this place, there were only a handful brown people, and even fewer Indians. The existing community sure didn't make it easy for them. And now there's a parade!
  • I went to my 20th high-school reunion in August. I had tried on about 25 dresses (including selections owned by a friend who goes to galas) but ended up with a $20 navy cotton dress from Target. And it was great. Had we been able to bottle the nervous energy in that country club banquet hall, we could have powered a city. I found out someone I never imagined had been reading this blog for quite some time (I had included the address in the wedding thank-you cards but didn't expect anyone to follow the link. If you're still reading, hi MSE!). I also got two apologies--only one of which I remember in context now (shame on me). Everyone should go to those things. You never know what can happen! Apparently the 10-year is when people hook up, and the 20-year is when people apologize...Perspective, amirite?
  • My parents went to Singapore in September 2016 to visit my cousin and attend her daughter's First Communion. I was honored to be asked to make the veil. Jon and I realized that while they help us a lot with Ro, we can actually handle it ok without Nani and Papa. It's just nice to have them around.
  • Ro started "preschool" at her in-home daycare. It still felt like a big step; there was a personalized backpack and all.
  • Around this time, I sought a therapist's advice (a recommendation from two middle-school friends whom I haven't seen in decades--thank you, social media). She confirmed I exhibit classic signs of high-functioning ADD (and coped much better before kids, when I pulled all-nighters and only had to worry about myself). Many revelations followed. It is still a struggle. I didn't want to take medication because Jon and I were focused on trying for another baby.
  • Our workplace had a huge project that had been in the works for years. In September 2016, my husband and I spent the weekend of our fifth anniversary working 10-hour shifts both Saturday and Sunday. We managed to get lucky and spent the money we'd saved for a celebratory weekend away on tickets to see Hamilton in October. It was worth every single cent to see it before the hype got nuts in Chicago. We were legitimately blown away and treasure having had the experience.
  • I worked several overnights for the big project go live, including (my one day off in nine days) when I ACCIDENTALLY CAME IN TO WORK AND NO ONE STOPPED ME. This was a breaking point, because I thought I had messed up scheduling care for Ro and fought with my family for no reason. I started applying for other jobs.
  • My college girls and I went to the "I Love the '90s" concert. Coolio, Color Me Badd, Tone Loc, SALT-N-PEPA and others. Salt-N-Pepa have still got it. The others made me feel kind of sad. The Allstate Arena parking lot was wall-to-wall minivans (we arrived in an Odyssey) and women were getting sloshed on tall cans of goodness-knows-what spiked fruit drinks. We almost got in a brawl with some broads in front of us who were so busy taking selfies they didn't realize they were spilling their drinks all over us. #goodtimes
  • The Cubs won the World Series. I was at the game with my brother when they clinched the NLCS, and walked home through the drunken streets of the city in my David Ross jersey. It was *almost* as good as Grant Park in 2008. My brother was there for the actual win, and let me hear/see the pandemonium via phone (Shocker--I was working late that night while Jon and Ro were at home). I pray that more things in life can make my brother as happy as he was that day.
  • I made Ro a pretty convincing Mary Poppins costume for her second birthday. She had a party at the jumping place and will not consider having her party anywhere else.
  • I missed my first deadline. Ever. It wasn't for work, but still. A little of piece of me died that day. But you know what? The world kept turning.
  • The country elected president number 45. I still feel some kind of way about that.
  • My SIL a and our nephew, Declan, came to visit in November 2016. They had a blast playing together and exploring the children's museum. I wish we lived closer.
  • PP and her dude bought a house on the South Side of Chicago that Quincy Jones used to live in! They didn't figure that out until more than two years later when they saw a documentary about his life and recognized their street.
  • CC moved back to Chicago. I don't get to see her much because she runs content and social media for a publication that awards five-star ratings to hotels and restaurants around the world--and she gets to try those places! She got me a cool insulated water bottle from the Ritz Carlton in Lake Tahoe. It's a cool job, but damn, does that woman hustle. She recently got back from the Maldives.
  • After multiple rounds of interviews, I got another job offer (commuting to downtown Chicago every day) and was about to accept. Then I peed on a stick. One thing my current job did let me do was work from home on bedrest. So I had to turn down the offer.
  • Jon made Madelyn a "doggie deck" for her puppy, Frankie, who could tell I had a baby in my belly and would snuggle him. Sadly, her life was cut short because of a car accident when I was 22 weeks pregnant and she was about 22 weeks old. 
  • I had a "preventative" cerclage put in at 16 weeks because by pregnancy NUMBER FOUR, they finally decided I have a bum cervix and maybe they should sew it up to keep the baby in.
  • In April 2017 (Easter weekend), we revealed the baby's gender by having Ro open a series of plastic eggs in varying sizes until the smallest one burst open with blue m&ms and shared the video with the family. After all that we'd been through, we didn't want to make it into "a thing" until we had that healthy baby in our arms.
  • I had an emotional Mother's Day.
  • My college girls threw me a surprise baby shower, pretending it was pp's birthday party. I was overwhelmed with surprise and gratitude.
  • PP took me to see Aladdin on Broadway (in Chicago). She had to escort me around the theater because of my delicate situation, but I'm so glad I went. It was so very good. SO good. I loved it. This was also the first time I used a ride-sharing service (that was weird).
  • July 27, 2017 I took Ro to have ice cream with Ri and her two little girls. I dropped Ro off with my mom as she got off from work at the hospital and went for a "routine" appointment to have my cerclage stitch clipped because I was at 36 weeks. Apparently, during the 20 weeks the stitch had been holding my boy in tight, my skin had grown scar tissue all around it. This proved to be incredibly painful unimaginable ways--the MD couldn't get it out in the office, and called for backup. The backup couldn't get it out at the hospital's Labor & Delivery department, and called for backup. And the big boss (who started the practice and whom I followed from my old office because she's so good) busted out this huge, gray metal box with all sorts of Medieval-looking hatchety tools and STILL couldn't get it out. I felt all of that digging around, despite the IV meds. They took me to the OR and finally did it under an epidural. But they cut me up, so they had to cauterize the wound so it didn't get infected. At the end of all that, one of the OBs says "well, we'll know what to do for your next pregnancy." Uhhh...
  • Madelyn got a new puppy and named her Olivia. She's more hyper than Frankie was, but is the same breed (Italian Greyhound).
  • Again, I went beyond my due date. I was in labor for more than 24 hours and never dilated more than 2 cm, as cervical tissue that is scarred and tough doesn't really want to expand too much. TMI, but my doctor was trying to "break up" the scar tissue, manually, and I felt all of that, too. I just wanted a healthy baby; cervix be damned. But it just wasn't opening, so they rushed me in for a C-section. Apparently, he was practically knocking at the door. Kash was pulled out at 8:33 a.m. August 26, 2017. He is as limitless as the sky.
  • I feel like exactly the kind of person I never wanted to be, having written only two posts here about him. I have spent just as much time marveling over his milestones as I did with Ro. But working full time with two small children? It's a wonder any of us are still alive, let alone documenting anything. Let me say that the entire time I was pregnant and rejected by Ro, I would hold my belly and say "please be mine. please be mine." And he does make me feel very appreciated.
  • My MIL and Madelyn were watching Ro while I was trying to recover from the surgery and learn how to nurse this kid and make it from day to day in the hospital. Jon ended up having to stay home with Ro, who couldn't bear to be without him. My mom stayed with me in the hospital and would get up and go downstairs to work every day. I was doped up and they'd give me the baby in the middle of the night to feed--one time I caught myself nodding off. What if I had dropped him? Cue the exponential surge in anxiety. Those post-partum days were trying times, y'all.
  • Guess what? Even though I didn't push to deliver Kash, the sheer widening of my pelvis to make room for him to grow messed with the ligament holding it together and it separated. Again! Hello, old friends physical therapy and the walker! 
  • October 2017: We FINALLY got a handle on our Garbage yard. We got the front and back leveled and re-seeded by professionals.
  • Jon turned 40 on Halloween 2017. I had presented him with a baby on his 36th birthday, and just grew him another, so I didn't think I needed to top that. He flew out to LA for a World Series Dodger game the day before his birthday (he saw them win) with one of his BFFs. Unfortunately they didn't win the whole thing, but he was back home in time to celebrate with his birthday twin.
  • Ro wanted to dress as a witch for her birthday/Halloween. And she wanted another "jumping party." This time the theme was Sofia the First--the best princess of all, in the collective opinion of Ro, Kash and myself.
  • There was a terrible fire in California, and the place where Baby's ashes were laid burned to the ground. I was much more sad than I expected. The cross remained standing, though.
  • Ro and Kash met Santa at Kohl's. Ro wouldn't talk to Santa, let alone sit on anyone's lap, but after hemming and hawing, she got within 10 feet and practically whispered that she wanted an Elsa Barbie-like doll. Kash was his jolly self and bestowed smiles upon everyone in the store.
  • We traveled to Ohio to spent Christmas with Jon's family at SIL m's house. It was really nice, and the kids did fairly well on the seven-hour drive back and forth. Ro had a blast with her cousin, Declan.
  • I interviewed for a higher position at my employer. I did not get it. Jon moved to a different team in our company.
  • We had a crazy amount of snow in February 2018. Jon threw Ro into a snowbank almost half as tall as he is. She sunk into the fluffy stuff and screamed with delight.
  • My brother had been a bit...lax, shall we say, about checking in on his pacemaker. On Valentine's Day, 2018, he had to have heart surgery to replace it and have the new one attached to his heart. It was discovered that 36 years of stress from irregular bloodflow, 11 open-heart surgeries and living life, his liver has developed cardiac-induced cirrhosis. A week before this, a pipe in the unit above his apartment burst and destroyed his entire place. He moved in with us while his apartment was cobbled back together.
  • In March I got pinkeye, then had a severe reaction to the medicine given to me by urgent care. My face swelled to Hitch  proportions, so much that I could hardly see, my eyes were smashed almost shut. I missed Angel07's '70s birthday bash, which sucked because I enjoy disco.  
  • I interviewed for another position at my employer. I did not get it, either.
  • Ro went to my friend's daughter's unicorn-themed birthday and rode a pony disguised as a unicorn. With all her heart, she believes she met a real unicorn. I'm hoping to let that slide for as long as possible.
  • This was the year most of my friends and I turn 40. Several years ago, joking around, we talked about all going to Greece for our fortieth birthdays. The planners that they are, they actually made it happen. The gems that Jon and my mother are, they made it possible so I could go, leaving my 3.5y and 7m children for 14 days. I took off in May 2018. I am so eternally grateful for not having missed that opportunity to bond with my friends and take a severely needed mental break.
  • I carried both a manual and electric breastpump through three countries and pumped/dumped everywhere from the beach to the club. I would be damned if my vacation was the end of my ability to produce food for my kid. I was worried Kash would reject me when I came home and steeled myself for the possibility, but he was very happy to see me. As was Ro. Thank goodness.
  • Work stress escalated to new heights. There was a lot of drama that I thought would have been resolved while I was out on maternity leave, but in a shocking development, it had been left, festering, at my feet when I returned. I meticulously cleaned up that dumpster fire, then desperately tried to get away from my boss within the company. I finally realized that wow, I *am* competent, and even actually kind of good at this job. Imagine! My "work wife" and I managed to get onto another team, which came with new challenges.
  • My brother invited us to Cubs Family Day at Wrigley Field on June 26, 2018. Kash was just learning to crawl, and he managed to army crawl on the actual field. Ro ran the bases but she was more excited about the inflatable jumping contraption. We have photos from the dugout that will last a lifetime.
  • My dad *finally* relented and got rid of the hideous, overgrown evergreen trees in front of my childhood home (which had probably been there since 1978). Now the kids look forward to playing on the extra-wide stoop/sidewalk when the weather is warm. They can't play at our house because #mosquitoes.
  • My cousin and her family came to visit from Singapore. We took the week to be tourists in our own area (Chicago is the best city in the world) and had so much fun at the Arboretum, Millennium Park, the Museum of Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium, Brookfield Zoo, IKEA, the waterpark, all kinds of restaurants and playing around at home. I wish our families lived closer.
  • Jon arranged for a few friends to do a cool escape room for my birthday as a surprise. Unfortunately we didn't beat it but it was fun. I would love to do another of those. He may have even ordered a bunch of random locks and stuff in the hopes of opening his own escape room...
  • Little man turned one in August 2018: It was baseball-themed and I was a mess. I stayed up almost all night painting a comparable refrigerator box as Dodger Stadium with Kash's "stats" on the big screen (I had made a similar painting of the Emerald City for Ro's first birthday). We rented a park pavilion and a lot of the guests arrived before we did, with the food. But I think people still had fun. There were water balloons and so much Cubs-cake frosting all over the baby.
  • Ro took gymnastics at the park district. She would not participate. I had to do the moves with her on the floor (sometimes moving her arms and legs for her), and she did not warm up until the last week of the second session, when she was all about it. But she could do all of the tumbling perfectly at home. Apparently those age ranges reference social readiness as well as physical capabilities.
  • My old team banded together and ousted my old boss to another area where she would not have any direct reports, kind of like a coup. The person who had filled in for me while I was on maternity leave with Ro was promoted to her position. I can't help but wonder if the boss realized that she backed the horse that would kick her.
  • My brother rented out his boss's brand-new bar for my 40th birthday. I curated a '90s hip-hop playlist that was appreciated by a surprising number of people. The paint was barely dry in the bar, but we closed that sucker down. And apparently the bartender was very generous and my friends--many of whom got babysitters for the evening--were not accustomed to drinking that much. We moved to a nearby hotel bar and closed THAT one out as well. I still hear about some of the subsequent hangovers.
  • Ro wanted to be Sofia the First for her birthday. I ordered a beautiful costume as soon as it became clear I wasn't going to be able to make anything that year, not even four hours' sleep in a row. Her jumping party theme was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • Work really went off the rails. Without belaboring the details, senior leadership hired a consulting firm to basically blow up everything I had designed and implemented for the previous six years...except it wasn't actually broken but working quite efficiently, as we proved time and again. And yet, when we pointed out the flaws in their plans, one of those jerks had the audacity to say "It doesn't matter that you don't want to do this, your CEO signed off on it." Clearly he didn't care about improving the business; they were going to take their money and bounce. Their proposal was for two people (myself and work wife) to essentially move the equivalent of the leaning tower of Pisa from one end of the yard to the other, brick by brick. But it would still be leaning and not improved much at all. We took our concerns up the chain and were told "it's dumb, but we have to do it" and that contracts had been signed. The consultants estimated it could all be completed by two dedicated people within three days. It took these two people more than 500 hours to do it over a three-week period, and I was still fixing it for months afterward . The deadline? October 31. I pushed and pushed and got it extended all the way to November 1. I worked more than 100 hours those weeks. I worked overnight October 30, because I didn't want to miss my baby girl's and husband's birthday. The consultants sat in my cubicle and wouldn't leave because #deadline. I got to the bakery at 7:02pm, begging them to unlock the doors so I could pick up birthday cakes. I missed trick-or-treating. I missed seeing them dressed up. I pretty much missed her entire fourth birthday. The adults didn't even have dinner because they were all waiting for me and it was simply too late. It was too late for too many things. I don't know that Jon will ever forgive me. But by that point I was so brain-dead, I didn't have the mental capacity to realize I should have just gotten up and left. That the expectations were beyond ridiculous. I got my resume out instead.
  • Ro started ballet and tap class. She participated! A little. She says she "loves ballet," but I think the real thrill is seeing her dad or my mom or me through the window, watching her.
  • Kash became obsessed with any kind of sports. But mostly BASEBALL! And when someone says "Go Cubs!" he loves to yell "NO! I SAID GO DODGERS!" Jon is over the moon. Ro roots for the Cubs. Sports makes people do strange things.
  • February 4, 2019. I interviewed outside the company and didn't hear back. I thought they ghosted me. I accepted that I was staying and that staying was probably for the best.
  • My brother bought a house eight minutes away from us in May 2019. It is the same raised-ranch layout as our house, short one bathroom and one bedroom. It has a deck AND a patio. And a garden. It's adorable and so much space for him. We are planning on crashing there while we sell our house. I have been taking one ball from the ball pit he gifted my children and leaving it hidden somewhere in his house, every time we come over. Eventually, he will have all of them, squirreled away under his bed, in his pantry, in the liquor cabinet...
  • Jon is dedicated to making our home the "smartest" around. I swear, every piece of electronic gear is synced with a smarthome device, or motion detector, or app or camera. It's very helpful with the children, but a hacker could look in on us anytime in nearly any room to see that we are just trying to get through the day like everybody else. And we don't seem to get tired of pizza.
  • May 2019. The outside employer called to see if I still wanted the job. I told my current boss what the offer was and she took a day or so before saying they wouldn't counter offer. Message received. I gave my two weeks' notice and shocked everyone who assumed I'd be a lifer. CC and I promised ourselves not to do that back at our first post-grad job in 2004.
  • We hired a master gardener (my brother's BFF's wife's mom) to re-landscape our front yard. What a difference! She added hydrangeas, which I carried in my wedding bouquet. Of course, now that we are looking to move, I'm starting to warm up to this house.
  • Ro adamantly doesn't want to play any sport but soccer, BECAUSE SOCCER IS HER FAVORITE. Jon turned on the Women's World Cup this summer and watched the U.S. take the title. Ro asked, "what is that on tv? Can I watch Moana instead?"
  • Three months before what would have made16 years (on and off) at the organization, I took the leap to the new job. I'm so scared and a bit heartbroken. But not nearly as sad as when almost two weeks at the new gig went by without my talking to another human being out loud (just on instant messenger/email) outside of saying hello to the receptionist at the front door--then found out the old job already replaced me. I pray that I haven't made a mistake.

And here I am: Perched at the edge of a giant bed in a Grandstay Hotel in Wisconsin. Working on a certification for this new job. I'm alone and very lonely. I forced myself to stop in the tiny downtown near my hotel is and had ice cream for dinner sitting on a wrought-iron chair/table and peoplewatching, imagining a simpler time. Then I FaceTimed my family and felt sadder. Kash was reciting I Love You, Through and Through and I Am a Bunny to me because we've read them together so many times. Ro told me about all the fun they had with the sprinklers and the waterballoons at Nani's house and ran off to whatever she was playing. I wished Jon Godspeed and hung up.

I cobbled together what must've happened during the last few years by scrolling through photos on my phone. Now, more than ever, I can feel years--not just hours--whooshing past while I'm standing still, trying to process it all. I had a practical stranger re-create a photo of me taken in 2012 at this same training facility. Side by side, it is plain just how much I've gained in seven years. Weight. Wrinkles. Scars. Gray hair. Sorrows. Joy. Memories. Knowledge. Experience. Wisdom?

Is this what it's like to get old?


For old time's sake, check out this ancient post about parking, back when I didn't use capital letters.



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

averted

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.

Except.

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

40

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.