Love in the Time of Covid

(Still no nickname for J. It’s on my list. No, I don’t know why it’s taking so long either, it’s not as if I have a ton of stuff to do.)

For the first bit, we went back and forth between houses. I stayed at his, he stayed at mine and we both avoided everyone else. It worked, mostly. Eventually, our Chief Medil Officer of Health suggested that it was unwise. Stopping the virus mostly depends on staying at home as much as possible, not moving between houses.

So too is the problem of his kids. His girls are with their mum and n’t move. His university-aged son hasn’t seen his girlfriend in forever, and there I was, moving back and forth. We might reasonably argue that a 41-year-old woman is more responsible, but fairness is often more about optics than procedure-ality. I n be a grown-up, and so n he.

So you live a relationship of doorway drop-offs. Cookies and a pigs’ ear for Charlie. Coffee beans for me.

I drop off his easter basket early on Easter morning, with what I got in the US before this started, with what I could order from Amazon, dig up from online grocery ordering. From him, it was chocolate and dinner and a nonleaking french press and 5 kilos of flour (the flour was the true gift).

It’s a world of face time lls where we watch mindless TV. Lately, it’s been Tiny House Nation. Neither of us would ever buy one, but we enjoy critiquing the design choices.

We had coffee last night, appropriately socially distanced. I told him I couldn’t do that again, it’s too hard to walk away without hugging him.

It’s a lot of emoji’s and I miss you. Photos of our day, sent back and forth.

And every single thing about this sucks.

Posted in Pandemic | 1 Comment

Radil Self Acceptance

I keep seeing this meme on Facebook and Twitter about now not being the time to learn a new skill, take up a new hobby, start a new side business (and I’m sorry, but I am so done with the idea that a second job is lled a side hustle.)

Now is the time for radil self acceptance.

I sit at my desk at home, no makeup. I’m neatly dressed, my house is more or less tidy, I have a small to-do list for the day next to me. I’m largely ok. I am not feeding fear, at least most days, but I still feel fear. I guess, the good news, the upside of down, is that I know fear. I have lived with it before, in the ten days between my diagnosis and Gabe’s birth. In the time my mother lay dying. Every moment of every day since Andy was diagnosed. I am not going to be blithe and say that fear is a friend. It isn’t, it never will be. Somewhere in the last few years I’ve learned a bit of what Peema Chodron talks about when she advotes leaning into fear.

I had a panic attack on Saturday night. It was a bad one. I’ve had bad ones before, but I think the last one like this was probably the night of Gabe’s funeral. It lasted for a good 45 minutes, I wound up having to have a shower after, given that I started to vomit in the middle.

Everyone has a breaking point. Saturday was mine.

I’m not good at radil self acceptance. I’m not ok with the fact I broke that badly. It seems like at least the start of this might be to be honest.

Posted in Untegorized | 2 Comments

Feeding Fear

I was so reful when I was pregnant. Never mind having quit smoking months before I conceived; I gave up lunch meat and fish and soft cheese; rare steak and peanuts. I wore gardening gloves to garden and refused to go within 15 feet of the t litter. I avoided sick people, got my flu shot the day they me out. Not just alcohol, I gave up communion grape juice (but made sure I was at church every Sunday). I refused Tums and slept sitting up when the heartburn got bad. I lost 15 pounds in the first three months from ‘morning’ sickness but refused to take Diclectin, which has been prescribed since 1957 and is safe as houses.

I gave up coffee. (let that sink in for a minute).

I figured you couldn’t be too reful.

The night that my blood pressure hit 210/160, the night they told me I had to give birth even though Gabriel was going to die, there was a woman in the bed across from me. She was, oh, probably somewhere between 35-37 weeks pregnant. She didn’t know how far along she really was. She’d had no prenatal re. She didn’t take the vitamins beuse she didn’t like the way they tasted. And would they hurry up and take the fetal monitor off her, beuse she really wanted to go and have a smoke.

She went home with a healthy baby, you know.

I’ve told you about how I held my son in my arms and sang him lullabies while he gasped for breath and suffoted to death. I’ve told you that there is no fear after that. There is nothing the world could do to me that would hurt more. There is no other way to break me. When you put back the pieces after something like that, you live without fear.

Up until that moment, I had done everything out of fear.

The Cree, the Ojibwe, the Salteaux, they talk about this creature they ll the Wendigo. It’s a sort of folklore monster that comes out in times of famine and strife. It’s a nnibal, but no matter how much it eats, it’s still hungry and lean. However much you feed it, it nnot be satiated. I think the Wendigo also eats fear.

You give up fish and cheese and lunch meat. You will do everything in the pregnancy books and add in edicts from a few more random old wive’s tales besides. You will feed fear. The Wendigo will stay hungry. Your mother will still rry her only grandson down the morgue. The baby that you did everything right for. It was not the things that you were frightened of anyway.

I wear my seatbelt. I re about triglycerides and A1Cs. In these days of a pandemic, I wash my hands and practice social distancing. But when Facebook tells me that it plans to hide its basement? When Twitter tells me it sanitizes boxes before allowing them in the house? When Instagram tells me it sterilizes its clothes with a flamethrower? When I hear the muttering of old wives’ tales and the murmurs that you n’t be too reful?

I see the Wendigo behind you.

You still n’t feed it enough.

Posted in Feats of Wonder | 1 Comment

The Lessons of 20-Year-Olds

Beuse I’m worried about my job (I think I’m going to be laid off in the next 2-4 weeks), the general state of the world, an uncle in congestive heart failure and a nephew who is dying, and I will not be able to get to him**, I am teary.

Bread is a soothing sort of thing. It reminds me of how much I love cooking for others, how much it connects me to the people I love. I made bread for J’s. son, who reminds me so much of Travis that it sometimes takes my breath away.

So universe, if you are listening. I know Travis and David won’t talk to me anymore. I know that when they returned a wedding gift, I was never going to be told what I had done. I know whatever it was, I’m likely very sorry for it.

But Universe – they are still my nephews. They will always be my nephews. They get included in the total count and always will be. I n’t bake bread or make mashed potatoes or knit for them. So universe, if you would keep an eye on them – deal gently with them? I’d appreciate that.

*Does this work as a nickname? He was J. in my phone for quite a while, while I hoped things would work beuse I liked him, but wasn’t sure.

**Update to Sit Rep – The border has not been militarized, but no one official on the nadian side is recommending travel. They aren’t sure if I would be allowed in, or at what points I could enter and they have been very clear that if I tch Covid 19 and die, no one from nada and our socialized healthre is coming to get me.

Posted in Untegorized | 3 Comments

The Downside of Up

I have been trying to stick to a routine in these days of social distancing. I have been trying to get up at about the same time, go to bed at the same time, get dressed, put on makeup, walk the dog, take a lunch break. I have set up a coffee meeting with friends and colleagues three times a week. I have a little list of people I text on a regular basis. I see the boyfriend (He does not have a nickname. He needs a blog nickname. I’ll work on this) beuse we (and his lovely oldest son) are not really ever seeing anyone else, so we count as some sort of isolation buddies. I’ve done all the things that should be assuring me some form of mental health protection. Nope.

The downside of up, or the upside of down is this: it’s hard to sre me after the universe made me hold my baby in my arms while he suffoted to death and died. Really, what else could you do to me? What more is there? You n’t threaten me with the fear of pain and hurt and sorrow and near death, so I’m not worried about getting sick and dying. I should be, what with the MS. I should be at least a little bit worried. I’m not. I’m worried I am going to lose my job, that I shall become homeless and Gracie and the ts and I shall have to go and live in a rdboard box.

What makes me panic is randomness. When the universe took away the fear of pain and hurt and sorrow, it left me with an ironclad sense that the world is not fair. The world is not just, it is not reasonable and it does not re whether or not you are a nice person. Bad things happen to good people, to bad people, to meh people. Bad things happen. You nnot predict them, you nnot stop them, you nnot even hedge against them.

I tell myself that we are all panicking. Indeed, I would question the mental health of anyone who wasn’t worried. This is a time of panic.

Still. It’s exhausting.

Posted in Feats of Wonder, Learning Life | 2 Comments

Sit Rep

This morning I asked my niece in law if she could, in her “spare time”, please get a hold of one of Andy’s doctors to get a letter inditing that Andy was going to be dying soon. You see, the borders are closed except for “essential travel” and the definition of “essential” wasn’t as robust as one might expect. The letter might help explain that no, this wasn’t a fun jaunt, I was coming beuse Andy was dying. Not dying in the hypothetil, not dying in the abstract, but actually dying right this minute and could you just let me through.

We were working on that when the . . .

Screech.

I have tried, more or less, to be at least somewhat civil about Trump. I have tried to remember people I love voted for him.

The absolute flaming pile of horse shit that 46.1% of Amerins (including the niece and nephew I am trying to get to) voted for has decided that what he most needs in the middle of a pandemic is not universal healthre, it is not to value science, it is not universal basic income, no it is to militarize the borders with . . . . nada.

nada and the US have the longest unmilitarized border in the world. Indeed, we couldn’t be bothered to decide what the full and official border was until 1908 (this was 41 years after confederation for nada and 132 years after the US declared independence). We had a joint commission and sent out a bunch of surveyor’s and sometime around 1925, we all decided that the map they me up with was good enough.

Until today, the Department of Foreign Affairs in nada, while not encouraging me to go to the US, did seem to understand that the situation was rather dire. They could tell me that with my nadian passport, nada Custom’s would have to let me back in and that at least now, and likely then, if then was not too far in the future, I would have to quarantine myself in my house for 14 full days if I had no symptoms, and then the length of the symptoms plus 10 days after if I did develop Covid like symptoms.

Until the moron that somehow got elected president got involved and was confused about what a pandemic meant and what one should do and also – again – the military on the border – and now?

Now?

Now I n’t get there.

To be clear – I may be the only nadian wanting to actually get into the US right now. I am probably the only person I n even think of who wants to leave the world of the social safety net, universal healthre, kindness, good government and a Prime Minister who has managed to govern the country from home beuse he’s also a full-time parent, whose wife is in quarantine.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have another (nadian) beer.

Posted in Untegorized | 4 Comments

Burn the Boats

Somewhere between the tension of being deeply practil and sensible and being, well, somewhat fierce, I . . .

It wasn’t that I hadn’t realized I’d fallen in love with this guy. I’m dumb, but I’m not that dumb. I’m smart enough to know when I’ve fallen in love. No. the problem was that I am practil and sensible. Practil and sensible women do not fall in love with someone they have known for two months.

It doesn’t matter that said man went and bought snacks for my trip to Montana, and refully figured out what I like to drink and bought me that and refully remembered that I really like Cheesies and included chocolate and pepperoni (beuse he felt that I am often short on consuming protein). It doesn’t matter that he lled me almost every night and listened to me talk about how crazy things were. It doesn’t matter that he spoils my dog and likes my ts and brings me coffee in bed. It does not matter that I get texts asking what I ate for lunch, which is really a gentle reminder to eat lunch, beuse we both know damn well I have forgotten to eat. Again.

It was impractil to have fallen in love with someone you have known for 8 weeks. It didn’t matter that I had fallen in love with him, the sensible and rational part of my brain pointed out that you n’t fall in love with someone that quickly. It’s unwise. It’s a great recipe to get hurt, how much n you really know someone in 8 weeks, he could be an ax murderer . . . . It is not practil or sensible to fall in love with someone in 8 weeks.

It is now 10 weeks.

I’ve fallen in love with him.

Thought you should know that.

Posted in Feats of Wonder | 6 Comments

Mind // Body Dualism

In the third year of my undergrad degree, I took a philosophy course which was mostly on epistemology (how we know what we know). We spent rather a lot of time on Mind // Body dualism.

The thought experiment goes thus:

A young man, body mangled in an accident nnot survive the trauma. In an attempt to save him, we transplant his brain into the body of a middle-aged woman in a persistent vegetative state. Her body was healthy although her brain was gone. The riddle, the thesis of the paper, the crux is the answer to the question – who is that young man // middle-aged woman? Are we our bodies? Our brains? What makes us, well, us?

Our brains are perhaps as mysterious as the whole of outer space. Dimensions unknowable and six inches between our ears; we don’t know much about either in spite of what we may have heard. It’s rare. The doctors tell us that. In a few papers maybe it’s mentioned.

It’s not the tumour, it’s not swelling from the radiation, it’s not trauma. It’s not meds. The doctors shrugged at us. They did it kindly. The cops who forcibly brought him into the hospital were as humane and as gentle as they could be. Still, I took his wife past the security guards and the nurses gathered outside of Andy’s room. It took 4 huge men and 2 nurses, a syringe filled with Haldol and Ativan and Benadryl to restrain him. When they got him out of his clothes there were 6 knives and ammunition. A locked psych unit. Threats, screaming. An involuntary committal hearing.

I feel like I’m telling you about a newspaper story or the crazy friend of a friend story you tell with hand motions at a dinner party.

No, I have been pondering the wrong thought experiment for more than 22 years.

The thought experiment now goes thus:

There’s a man you love like a brother, you have known him for almost 20 years. He looks like the man you have always known, but you nnot recognize his brain. When you nnot fathom the rage; when his wife nnot manage his aggression and his small children are terrified; when everyone decides to discontinue chemo and meds; is the man restrained and guarded still Andy? If not, who is he?

Posted in Grief, The language of families | 3 Comments

All the Things

This week I have a grant applition due, I have a paper due, I have a class, I have several tricky meetings, I have to drive back to Billings for a few days (Andy is failing. Oh, his body is fine, but he is actually losing his mind). I need to move some meetings, find someone to cover a few more that n’t be moved. I need to get the r in for an oil change. And one more thing. I have to go meet my boyfriend’s children.

Yeah, I know. I felt weird typing that.

So, let’s unpack that. I didn’t actually intend on having a boyfriend. Joel arrived awhile ago, and it works. I quite like him and I’m delighted and he met a bunch of family and friends last night and he brought me coffee in bed this morning, so I guess that t is out of that bag (Actually, the ts all over him. The ts really like him). But. Umm.

Here’s the thing. The children are the ages I like. The ages I am good at with. They are teenagers. I’ve even managed to set it up so that I meet them one by one – the oldest is Tuesday. He’s doing a degree in politil science. I’d normally be quite excited. I love poli sci students. I was a poli sci student. Usually, I’d ask what he’s learning, who he thinks should win the Primaries, the nadian Conservative Party Leadership Race. We’d argue current events.

You know, when they aren’t my boyfriend’s children.

I’m bringing pie. Less Politics. More pie.

Posted in Untegorized | 3 Comments

Dreams Change

In my early thirties, as my body lost baby after baby, dreaming I was pregnant broke me. In my mid-thirties, after I decided I wanted off the ‘try and get pregnant/stay pregnant/lose another pregnancy’ rollercoaster, pregnancy dreams beme less frequent. They were the scent of a mpfire in the late fall when you know winter is coming.

About this time last year, I had a dream I was pregnant. I woke up panicked. The Irishman kissed me the next night and I cringed. Finally, I confessed the dream. He looked bewildered. Between the IUD, the condoms, my age and the fact he’d had a vasectomy 8 years earlier – there was no way I was pregnant.

The Irishman didn’t quite get it. I did. I noted the change. Pregnancy was panic. A sudden, rapid and profound adjustment of a life that I like. No, a life that I love. There is no longer room for a baby. That was ok.

A few weeks ago I went on a date. He was all the things I like in a man. Smart, funny. Self-aware. Valued family and intellectual thought and good grammar. He wore a shirt in his profile photo. (This is bigger than you would think).

My date told me he wanted a family. He desperately wanted to be a dad. I smiled and told him that age and destiny had passed me by. I wished him well in his search.

I find myself, not sad, but remembering.

That woman who wanted to be a mum? Who wanted to rry a baby? Give birth? Nurse a living child? Watch that child play and grow? She’s part of me, although a dede gone. Sometimes I picture her in the glowing light of a winter afternoon with a baby in her arms. I hope she’s happy.

I know I am.

Posted in Adult Dating, Life After Children | 2 Comments