Monday, December 31, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: Reflecting on 2018

New Year's Eve is an opportunity to look back on the year and see what transpired over the past year, what's changed, what's evolved, what were successes, what were failures (or maybe just 'not yets')... what made 2018 the year it was. Tomorrow, for me, is about planning for the new year.

2018, thankfully, was a far sight better than 2017. 2017 was The Year of Urgent Care, The Year of Massive Change, The Year I Became Chrysalis Goo, and The Year We Redefined What Our Life Would Be. So, a hard year, a year of tremendous loss, but also a year of reconstituting and recovering.

2018 started with us knowing exactly where we stood on the family front, and looking to see what we could do with this new and exciting opportunity to embrace what is and let go of what was not.

- January was rough, with the whole fatty liver thing making PCOS obviously a lifelong issue, and being told I "only" needed to lose 15-20 pounds.
- But, I did end up losing 12 pounds over the year and have maintained that loss. Which is great.
- I took up tap dancing, and although I am decidedly NOT a prodigy, I enjoy it and can't wait to get back to it in January as the move made both that and Buti Yoga near impossible to get to.
- We did new things -- more concerts out at the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, a Bug Dinner, taking advantage of the art museum
- I wrote more, but didn't submit anything. File that under "not yet"
- I read a whopping 86 books. Less than 2016, which was 105, and the same as 2017 exactly. I think 2016 was a year of not doing as many things, and needing to escape a whole lot. I plan to do a separate post with my favorite books of the year. (To be fair, more than a few were for work, books my kids were reading so I could have meaningful conferences, so I wasn't reading 86 War and Peace-sized tomes.
- I hosted book club at our old house, which I had never felt I could do before we got all our new furniture and rearranged everything.
- I wrote 80 posts by the time this one goes up, my lowest since 2014 when I was in the 70s. I blame the move and a particularly challenging school year, but still not too shabby.
- I received my National Board certification, technically in December 2017, but it went into effect in 2018 and I have had it a whole year! I will say it is also nice to get the extra stipend, too.
- Bryce passed his Qualification Exam with flying colors and became an official PhD student/candidate.
- I tutored over the summer for the first time, and didn't hate it! It gave the summer structure, and gave me extra cash, and still allowed me to do all kinds of fun things on my own time.
- We decided to move after spending the summer evaluating the possibility of an addition/garage project.
- Moving took up much of the time between early September to now -- we had NO IDEA just how chaotic that process would be, to sell our existing home of 15 years (well, 12 for me) and move into a new house -- SO MUCH CLEANING AND ORGANIZING AND PURGING.
- But, the good news is that my annual "get the house organized and clean for the new year" craziness is going to be INCREDIBLY EASY this year. :)

That's a pretty damn good year, if I do say so myself!

I wish for you all the happiness in the world for 2019, and peace, and good health, and more of what makes you feel fulfilled.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Ones that might actually be micro in nature? Go here and enjoy!

Friday, December 28, 2018

House of Broken Dreams, Home of New Dreams

Moving turned out to be far more emotionally taxing than I'd anticipated. It wasn't just the office with books that reminded me of loss, it was the whole idea of leaving this house where we'd had such high hopes for one kind of life, and had all of those hopes dashed one after another.

I got particularly sad when the closing on our "old" house was pushed up, presumably so the family could spend Christmas in their new house. This was a family who we saw going in for one of the showings from our neighbor's house, and their youngest is a little towheaded boy. With curly hair. A highly energetic, adorable stab to the heart by way of my uterus. I was so very excited to get into our new house, to start this new life in earnest, in a house where all the memories were yet to be made and there weren't any hard moments to sneak up on us, but I couldn't help but feel down about the fact that some other family, with a child that looked very much like what I imagined our biological child might have looked like, was going to have the Christmas we'd always hoped for in our old house. That they were going to live the alternate reality we couldn't make happen, and their rooms would be full of the beautiful chaos we'd wanted so badly.

I was kind of a disaster for a few days, quick to tear up, and just bummed about that one last loss.

But then, once we got settled into our new home, a home of new life and new dreams, that loss just sort of...evaporated.

We had a beautiful Christmas in our new home. We have spent untold hours unpacking and organizing and arranging and rearranging, and the house already looks like our home. It FELT like our home from the very beginning. It was weird, actually.

I don't feel creeped out in this home at all. I can walk the halls in the dark and not feel scared. It is surrounded by woods, and I am not fearful at all. I feel...happy. Settled. Content. Amazed at our good fortune to have found this house and snagged it for ourselves.

I feel as though we were haunted by the pain of our losses, of the dreams that couldn't be realized, in our old house. It's like there was a veil of sadness over everything. More than once we felt like the house didn't want us to have children, which sounds kookoocrazypants but it was a very real feeling. My office was steeped in sadness and loss -- it went from Bryce's exwife's son's room when he was small, to a guest room, to a guest room I redecorated to be happy and beachy, to a room we knew was going to be a nursery, to an actual nursery, and then to my office, but with board books under the chaise lounge and the lovebird decals still up from the nursery wall set. A new and glorious space, yes, but also one with a definite feel of something was lost here.

We loved our old home, our old cozy little hobbit house. But it wasn't until we settled into this new space that we realized how free we feel in this one. How perfect it is for us. How we have nothing but new dreams to pursue here, and some have already been realized.

What we see in this house are the positives of our relatively new childfree life, and not the negatives. We can embrace what is and let go of what isn't. There's no room that was meant for a child here. This house is actually not too terribly child friendly, which I think is why it took a bit to sell and we didn't have to fight anyone for it. There's plenty of room for books, and delicious meals, and a fire, and sitting out on a deck and listening to birds and watching the sunset.

And there's room for something I've always wanted and is now a reality -- a dream realized that never could have happened in our old house -- that was my last Christmas present from Bryce.

We are now the proud owners of a PING PONG TABLE! And a room with ceilings high enough and a large enough space to fit it (as long as we fold it up against the wall or wheel it into the closet when we're done). 

It's a good life. It's a good move, starting fresh somewhere else that is clearly manufactured for our life now, and not the dreams that died.

My wall of books in my new office -- I'm going to put my diplomas and National Board Certification on the wall in that top middle cubby box and feel all fancy! 

View of my office from the door -- it's actually smaller in square footage than my old one, but has full height ceilings and feels very spacious (but also cozy and hobbit like in a good way). I got that quilt on the chaise from Bryce, it's BOOKSHELVES! Amazing.

More books! Bryce has a wall of built in bookshelves in his office, so his fancy giant bookcase is shared out in the hall.

EVEN MORE BOOKS! And the fireplace. And the cat. And a sneak peek into the dining room/kitchen.

Sunset view from the deck out back. 

I feel like we are truly living a dream right now.

Monday, December 24, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: Lost in Boxes

We are officially moved, and officially sold our old home, and are settling into this beautiful new space.

Unfortunately, some key items have been temporarily lost (jeez I hope it's temporary!!!) in the shuffle.

Mainly, my laptop chargers.

I don't enjoy phone blogging, and I desperately want to get the zillion posts I have rattling around in my brain out and catch up on reading, but alas. I am powerless. Literally.

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday if you celebrate, and I am hoping for a Christmas miracle... May the charger fairy bring the power back to my sad laptop!

Ahhh, love this spot

Pretty birdie, snow

Fortunate beyond measure. We didn't have time to get a tree, so the tiny one is it!

Merry Christmas from our mugs to yours!

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: Moving Memories

A big fat huzzah to the fact that we are officially, OFFICIALLY moving next week! The movers come Monday, and we got the clear to move this past Tuesday, so we have been frantically packing up what seems like literal tons of books and trying to get as much stuff as possible over to the new house before the movers come and charge us money to do us that favor.

Packing up has been a mixed bag. It is so very exciting to be on to a new adventure, to be going to a house that is all new to us and just waiting to have new memories made within its walls. But packing things has brought up an awful lot of sadness for me, sadness that I'm hoping to shed as we move from this house to the new one.

My office was a place of quiet remembrance this weekend, as I packed up all my books and realized just how many picture books I have that I really have no use for. I have the ones from my own childhood, and ones from when I worked for Scholastic, and ones I use in my classroom, and ones that I just bought and loved for myself because the art is beautiful. Those all made it over.

But then there's the sad ones. The ones that were clearly meant for a child who didn't come. The ones that have nameplates from my shower with notes from the people who gifted them to us, addressed to our nonexistent baby, declaring love for this amorphous being in the ether who didn't materialize, imagining storytimes snuggled up in a cozy blanket together that just will never be.

That was a heavy shelf, let me tell you.

I am finding that I am okay with saying goodbye to some of these books, even though I feel horribly guilty (my best friend assures me that I don't have to feel guilty, but I do). I really don't want them in the new house. I want the new house to be free of little bombs of devastation hidden in bookshelves or tubs in a closet. I want the books I bring over to have meaning for me, not for a sad reminder of what did not come to pass. I don't need books or other physical items as reminders of what is deeply entwined within me.

And so I am putting together boxes to donate, and refusing to shelve books that have no value to me, for me. They will be better honored in the hands of some other tiny child, one who exists and isn't a ghost. It's better to have books that are used and enjoyed by someone, rather than moldering like dusty relics of our grief. They don't belong in this new space.

It's just so, so hard to feel all this so acutely, and so I hope by dealing with these things before we are fully settled I can start fresh in a new home that is filled with light and music and books and the joy of our new life together.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: House Update

I feel like it has been forever since I've had the opportunity to update this space -- moving is proving to be a much longer process than we'd thought it would be (go figure).

The good news is, WE CLOSED ON THE NEW HOUSE! Last Tuesday we sat at a conference room table and signed document after document after document. And when it was over, we were handed keys and the next part of our life could get moving right away. Imagine that. It was the best day of massive signing yet!

The annoying news is we don't have a closing date for the sales of our house yet, and without a mortgage commitment letter from the buyers' bank, we can't hire movers. We can't move big things, because we have to be ready to put the house back on the market if they mortgage falls through, and although I like to think that won't happen, we need to just-in-case this one.

However, we've gone over to the new house almost daily, internet is set up, some music is set up, and we've moved all the stuff in our upstairs crawlspaces and back little room storage area (as well as some books) into the house.

I love going there. It feels like home already, all welcoming and cozy despite having no furniture and all white walls... Soon, soon we'll be all settled in!

Toasting to the first day in the house as owners!

The view out the kitchen window... We don't own it all, but it's lovely how wild it is!

The seller left us a welcome home kit! Such a thoughtful gesture that was so appreciated.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

Monday, November 19, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: Limbo, Again

Oh, how we hate being in an in between place.

We still haven't closed on our new house, and so we wait to be able to pack and move and paint while the nice window between our closing on the new house and the other people closing on our current house gets narrower and narrower.

But, unlike infertility and adoption, we know that this will end -- that the house is ours and while it's delayed, we WILL be moving soon.

Here is a photo of our neighbors around the corner, because it makes me happy while we wait. I stalk the house and these guys weekly, driving by and imagining the day when we are firmly rooted in our new home with our awesome new neighbors.

There's two -- the one in the orange coat, and the one with the white blaze in the far left corner. This was before it snowed...

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

Monday, November 12, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Celebrating the Cycle

When I was twelve and got my period for the first time, my mom baked me a cake. No, not red velvet (although that would have been hilarious), but my favorite at the time -- white cake with vanilla Pillsbury frosting. She called it a January Cake, so that the secret was ours, but the message was clear -- this was something to be celebrated.

It set up womanhood as a concept to be treasured, but also tied womanhood to my uterus and celebrated my newfound ability to become a mother (hopefully far in the future).

Loribeth's post about maybe, MAYBE finally hitting the end of this stage of supposed fertility, of hopefully being in menopause, reminded me of this cake and the idea of celebrating reproductive functioning. We should have farewell parties for that, too -- a sort of bon voyage to the idea of having been fertile, or in my case the big lie that arrived infrequently until the Pill masked the dysfunction.

It could be funny, or sentimental, or vengeful... All depending on your circumstances. I regret not having a goodbye party for my lining when I had my surgery almost 2 years ago, although I'm not in menopause. So there's still time to have a farewell party, with cake (gluten free this time), and tell no one who's leaving!

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

Hurtful Comments

I've been holding on to a couple of comments that happened on the same day in October, because life has been totally crazy lately and consumed with house nonsense and school difficulties. But maybe if I write them down here I can let them go.

I was at a training, a second run of a program meant to seek equity and diversity in schools, when we did a different sort of icebreaker activity -- The Hot Seat. Instead of the dreaded go-around-the-room and introduce yourself (name, where you teach, what you teach, something interesting maybe), each person had one minute where anyone in the room could ask any question of you. Which is interesting, but not exactly less stress-inducing.

Other people went before me, and I heard the question I dread over and over "Do you have kids? Do you have kids? Do you have kids?" -- although to be fair more interesting questions were asked too, like favorite vacation spot, last movie watched (ha, what's a movie, I have kids, ha ha ha HA ha), pets, etc. Interestingly, I was sandwiched between two other women who also do not have kids.

At the end, I was like, "wow, I'm so happy that no one asked me if I had kids!" to my friend who was also not asked if she had kids (although to be fair she is quite a bit younger and so maybe the assumption wasn't there?).

But then she told me...that I'd missed it, but when she asked me how many books I read this summer, and I answered "23," someone asked at the same time someone else asked another question, "Do you have kids?"

Except it wasn't a nice inquiry. It was sarcastic, like, "you couldn't POSSIBLY have kids and read so much, so you MUST not have kids, you oddball childless bookworm."

I'm glad I missed it. (Although it might have given me the opportunity to say witheringly, it's NOT by choice.)

However, I didn't miss the pointed comment directed to me by a coworker and friend who MUST have had amnesia because she knows my story. I said I was rushing home to have roasted duck, and didn't even get to say "for my anniversary dinner" before she said, "you guys always cook such fancy food -- well it's because you don't have kids. I never cooked fancy food when my kids were home."

UM, NO ACTUALLY, IT'S BECAUSE WE LOVE TO COOK AND IT'S OUR FREAKING ANNIVERSARY. We don't have roast duck on a Tuesday, typically speaking. Because...even though we don't have kids, we are actually quite busy and have responsibilities that make weekday gourmet difficult, despite our state of barrenness and empty extra bedrooms.

I did actually say the caps, minus the "freaking." I asked friends of mine with kids who I know love to cook, and they were like, "how ridiculous -- if you have things you love to do, having kids doesn't have to keep you from doing them. Not cooking because you have kids? That's a choice." Maybe you can't do gourmet dinners and read for two hours every night, I get it -- your time is not entirely your own, and at some developmental stages are more time-sucking than others. Maybe I would have felt differently if it was phrased in a way that made it sound like, "that sounds so lovely, I wish I had duck on a Tuesday!" or "I wish I could read so many books during the glorious summer months!"

But it really burned my britches to have my free time exploits so summarily judged and put into the box of, "Well, she doesn't have kids," most definitely packaged as a statement of what isn't rather than what is, of a lack rather than an alternative.  It's always amazing to me how not having kids allows people to both bemoan (and rub in) all the things I'll never get to do, all that I'm missing, but then also begrudge me what I do have. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: Stress Relief

I am a big fan of self care, but it seems that self care is not a big fan of me lately.

These past couple months have been incredibly stressful, and not just because of the house buying, house selling, and the horrific crime and loss on our street. This is probably the toughest school year I've ever had. I have a LOT of very complicated kids and it seems that a good day is when only one of them is in crisis at a time. It is exhausting.

So when I called Bryce in tears last week after a particularly awful day and said there was no way I could cook and could we please go out to dinner, he did one better.

He met me back at the house, a little later than usual, and then told me to just hop on in the car. There was a gift bag on the seat, which I opened once we got to a lovely Mexican restaurant that specializes in tacos and mezcal (and unbeknownst to us has Taco Tuesday, where all tacos are only $3!).

That Bryce.

He got me not one but TWO pairs of socks that swear:

He said one was for home and one was for school. Guess which is which?

He got me a hand lotion that is lavender and espresso -- an odd combo but together it is relaxing without being old-ladyish.

And lastly, he got me an AMAZING necklace. Not because it's sparkly, or fancy, or expensive. Nope, this necklace is amazing because it features a spherical lava rock that is porous, and you drip a drop or two of essential oil (he got me OM, which is amazing) onto it and it soaks it all up and then diffuses it right to your nose via your body heat. ALL DAY.

This is the face of daylight savings time. I may be sleepy but I am relaxed!

I haven't taken it off since (well, except to shower, to preserve the lava rock goodness) -- I feel so much calmer, and even if it's totally psychosomatic, it really is making me feel a little more zen in the face of my stress.

Now if only I could diffuse it through the halls of the middle school, that would be something!

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

What the Eff, October?

October is our favorite month. It's our anniversary, it's a beautiful time of year, and we usually do fun and relaxing things throughout the month. In the past we've done anniversary overnights at a local fancypants hotel, we've done walks through Mt. Hope Cemetery (Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas are buried there, and it's really equal parts park to memorial space), we've done country drives and picking out of pumpkins and going to the local cider place... lots of fun things. And we watch horror movies and It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

NONE of that happened this October. In fact, I have never in my life been like, When will October be OVER???

Until this year.

The Beginning
I started the month by being sick. Like, really sick -- nebulize-four-times-a-day, I-can't-breathe, why-isn't-this-leaving? kind of sick. I had the sinus infection/upper respiratory thing that was going around, but for me it just lodged in my lungs and made friends with my asthma. So that wasn't so great.

Add to that that we were scrambling to put our house on the market, working hard every day and then coming home to work hard in the basement, in the closets, doing everything we could to get everything in showing and selling condition -- it was SO STRESSFUL.

Showing the House
Then we showed our house. It was a super intensive thing -- We started Saturday the 13th, had showings Saturday and Sunday, then had showings EVERY DAY THAT FOLLOWING WEEK, and 5 scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday the 21st. TWENTY-THREE showings in 6 days.

The first weekend, we took the cats up to Bryce's office and spent about 5-6 hours up there, in an industrial park (like, a REAL industrial park with pipes and smokestacks and weird smells, although Bryce's office was reasonably homey).
Lucky trying to get comfortable

How I felt after the second day trapped in the office
It was a decent enough solution -- the loveseat was the one in our house that we replaced with the swanky cream-colored couches, and maybe it had faint smells the cats would recognize. There was wifi, and they have a ping-pong table, and Bryce could run out to get Chipotle or Panera for lunch. It was stressful for the cats though, and getting them in the carriers was not fun. The second day was better, though, because they'd marked everything with their chins.

Although when we left on Sunday, the security guard station decided to search the car, and was quite surprised to find two cats in carriers in the hatchback of Bryce's car. Ha.

Luckily, for the workdays after that, our neighbors were amazing enough to let us camp out at their house, with the cats, so we could just carry them (and their stuff) over. And we could kind of see what was going on at our house -- if people didn't show up, if people seemed like they liked it, if people stayed for over an hour. All of which happened MULTIPLE times.

It was exhausting, because we couldn't live in our house really, we had to keep it perfect all week, and not cook so it didn't stink of bacon, or fish, or brussels sprouts. So I'd have incredibly stressful days at school, rush home to move everything over to the neighbors' house, and make sure I'd turned all the lights on, taken all the hand soaps out, removed most towels, swept/vacuumed, hidden all evidence of cats. Because apparently people will THINK they smell cat smells if they know a cat lives there, even though our house doesn't even remotely smell of cat.

We were super glad when it seemed we had some offers coming in.

Anniversary, Interrupted Part I
We were supposed to go to a cabin on Keuka Lake for our anniversary, the weekend of the 19th & 20th. We thought we'd be done showing by then per the market in our area, but everyone was circling and no one was committing to an offer...lots of people saying they WERE GOING TO put one in, that they WERE GOING TO their bank to check on a cash offer, but then...NOTHING. People would reevaluate and say the house wasn't quite right. It felt awful, like our profile book -- "oh, they look nice and lovely, but just not right for us. PASS." It was amazing how this felt like our adoption process, all the hurry up and wait, get everything in order, and then feel passed over, over and over and over again.

We ended up cancelling our weekend away, because we were SO stressed we couldn't get on the road early enough (it was 1.5 hours away), we were worried we wouldn't have cell coverage in case an offer came in, and we were going to have to leave early on Sunday to get the house ready for the afternoon showings. We were nervous to put a pause on showings for a whole weekend when things weren't moving forward despite a LOT of interest. It all felt like adoption again -- tied to our phone, waiting for news, feeling stuck. Luckily the people who rent the cabin were fine with us rescheduling. We'd "won" it in a silent auction at the Care After Cancer event put on by our fertility clinic for fertility preservation prior to chemo/radiation, and we'd been looking forward to it since the spring, so this was a real bummer.

So, we just stayed in pajamas all day on Saturday, went out for a fancy dinner to celebrate, and then got the house ready for Sunday.

Happy "legal" anniversary! 

Selling Drama, Part I
We were very glad that we DIDN'T go to the cabin, because we got a call Saturday morning that we had an offer. It was a lot lower than our asking price (which we'd already dropped $10,000), but we were advised to take it as is, and get the ball rolling (you do NOT want to be selling in the winter when people don't want to move, and we did NOT want to hang on to two mortgages until spring. Nosireeebob).

So, remember how we were so upset that the seller of our house had an open house the weekend that we accepted the counteroffer? That we'd sent it in Friday night/Saturday morning and he'd still kept that open house on? WELL. Here's why that's legal.

If you receive an offer and you accept it and sign it, it is not legally binding until the attorney approves and signs it. And if you put your offer in Friday night, Saturday, or Sunday, the attorney office is closed and so it cannot be signed until Monday. So, if you have the chance the entertain more possible offers, you absolutely do it, because you could get one that is more appealing and then kill the other deal. Attorneys can kill a signed acceptance contract at any time for any reason before they sign it. So, we were VERY VERY LUCKY that no one was interested at the open house for our new house, and we still "won" it.

The person who put in the offer that we accepted Saturday wasn't as lucky, because when we asked if we should cancel the showings our realtor said, NO FREAKING WAY! and so while it felt real icky, we again went to the neighbors' house and waited to see what would happen.

We got two offers -- one cash ABOVE our asking price, and one right smack dab at the price we were asking for. We would have had to be crazy to still go with the lower offer. So we gave that potential buyer the option to counteroffer, and when it couldn't come close, we accepted the higher, cash offer.

It felt HORRIBLE. It felt like screwing someone over. But, it was perfectly legal, apparently a very commonplace thing, and it is a business transaction and so feeling bad couldn't stop us from doing what was legal and in our best interest.

So, we had the inspection last Sunday. The people were there for THREE HOURS and FORTY MINUTES. But, we knew all we had to do was wait the 48 hours and then we'd hopefully be moving forward.

Now Things Get REALLY Messed Up...Anniversary, Interrupted Part II
I was in my classroom on Halloween when a coworker whose daughter lives at the end of my street called me and said, "What the hell is happening on your street? My daughter said she can't leave the house, there's cops everywhere, and someone was murdered last night???"

Um, how do you react to that vague and disturbing news? Especially when you've had a terrible day with a very sad and complicated situation with a student and your nerves are shot and you're already thinking, "is EVERY DAY going to be like this?"

Well, you check your phone. And find that you have, no joke, 12 text messages from your husband, who is working from home that day, saying that there are 15 cop cars, 2 fire trucks, an ambulance, a crime scene investigation truck, and reporters galore on your street because your neighbor 3 doors down and across the street, whose house you can see from the front door, MURDERED HIS WIFE. And then, after brutally bludgeoning her, he went and severely beat his mother in another neighboring town, leaving her for dead (although the police found evidence to suggest other family members were in danger and so hightailed it to her house and probably saved her life although she is still hospitalized, and oh, 75 years old), and then fled across state lines to Pennsylvania where he shot himself.


It was so upsetting. It is STILL so upsetting. We saw them all the time -- we talked to him fairly frequently and he was always super friendly, a little odd around the edges but nothing that would lead us to believe that we had a brutal murderer in our midst. She was always super quiet, extremely introverted, but the two of them were frequently working in the yard and he was ALWAYS improving that house. It is so surreal. And incredibly sad.

It definitely changed Halloween. There was crime scene tape up across the street until 7ish, I had to show my license to get down my street, and reporters were swarming. Once the tape was lifted, absolutely NO children came down our street. We don't get a lot anyway, but it was depressing, and not the best way to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and so after answering the door and finding only reporters, and eating our dinner and having some champagne and feeling morose about the whole thing, we went and hung out with the neighbors for the rest of the night, watching the news and just trying to make sense of something that will never, ever make any sense.

It was entertaining to see Bryce answer the door and tell the reporters what a great costume they had and for us to get them to take candy. We were like, "candy is all you're getting from us, thank you, goodbye."

It did not feel super celebratory, I will tell you that.

Still in my "troll" outfit from school, my hair looking as stressed as I felt, wondering what is WRONG with October this year. Happy 9th anniversary to us...
Selling Drama, Part II
So, then our other neighbors were like, "Aren't you selling your house? THAT sucks." Yeah. So when you google our street name, it comes up murder, murder, murder, murder, HOUSE FOR SALE. Yipes.

And then the person who had the cash offer backed out.

I don't think it's related to the horrific events on our street, or the incessant news coverage saying our street name OVER and OVER and OVER. It was because the inspection scared her too much. We saw the report (she sent it to our realtor for some reason), and it was only 4 pages (most are way longer than that), and there was nothing scary on it -- no mold, no structural damage, no evidence of pests (she had an EXTERMINATOR come inspect it, which didn't feel mildly offensive at all)... but things like the need to put a $40 bracket on the pipes in the upstairs bathroom since our contractor didn't install them correctly and they're not affixed to the wall (which creates a bit of noise, not any disaster). The inspector said we had leaves in our gutter. NO SHIT. It's fall, it's been pouring for days, and that is sort of where the leaves go. But she backed out after hemming and hawing for days.

So the freaking out commenced.

Although, there was another interested party, and the original interested party also put in a higher offer, but she got outbid again. (If only she'd put her offer in on Thursday of that original week, it would have been over and done with!) The people who came on Sunday the 21st got the inspection report from our realtor, and came on Thursday afternoon to see it and walk through with the report, and they put in an offer for the full asking price with no concessions yesterday, waiving inspection and just having a radon inspection since that was the only thing not done by the other person.

All's Well That Ends Well, I Suppose
We are immensely relieved. They are a family of four, which was shocking to us (how are they going to fit in our hobbit house?) but apparently have been living in a small apartment overseas and so our house feels like a castle to them. Perspective!

Also, I wrote a little welcome note to them when we packed up and went next door again, and she actually wrote me back. They love the house, and said, "We will make good use of all the bookshelves -- people after our own heart!" OH THANK HEAVENS! They are going to be great people to live in this house. Now we just have to wait on their commitment letter for their mortgage before moving our furniture to the new house, which hopefully we close on next week. We have our commitment letter, it's just down to scheduling. But, we can't take the risk that this deal falls through on the mortgage end and our house is empty of all our stuff, because our realtor said that our home is so inviting and so interesting to people because of our furniture and decorating, and without that it would be mighty hard to sell it the way we have. So, a little bump in the road, but it's okay.

So, if you've made it this far, I thank you for your patience! October was a seriously crazy month. Bryce asked me how my stress levels were, and I was like, "Oh, I don't know, this is the hardest school year I've ever had, we're drowning in house stuff, and I can't get to the gym or my dance/yoga classes and I haven't been able to blog because of all the craziness, so NOT GOOD!"

I am so thankful that today is a quiet day where I can do laundry, sit in pajamas, get on the computer, read my book, and just chill. I want to drive to the new house because it's a gorgeous (but rainy) fall day and the foliage is just beautiful. I want to do absolutely no work for school today to have a bit of a respite. I want to believe that November is going to be a much better month.

Monday, October 22, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: Things I'm Grateful For After Showing

We had 23 showings in 6 days. Hopefully we are done with showings now, feeling superstitious so read into that however you'd like, but there are a few things that I'm glad we're done with (hopefully for the foreseeable future).

- We love Halloween, but everything out this year  has had to be very tasteful and tame -- no skulls in the garden, no ghouls dangling from the shrubbery, and DEFINITELY no tombstones, especially the one that reads "Death Waits For All Who Enter." That is not the message you want to send to potential buyers (even if technically it's true). Now we can dig the creepy crawlies out of the closet crawlspace, which must have been entertaining for those unsuspecting people who opened the door...

- Going out to dinner is fun. Going out to dinner every day because you don't want your house to smell or for there to be dishes when you've cleared all the counters gets old. I am pretty sure I can blame a few pounds on the Showing Diet. We made dinner tonight, and it was glorious.

-Brussel sprouts. I love roasting them in the fall, but that makes your house smell like farts. Again, not the ambience you want for potential buyers. Reveling in my farty house right now -- dinner was burgers, roasted delicata squash fries, and roasted brussel sprouts. Mmmmm. Pffffttttttt.

- Some day I will be able to go back to my yoga class and tap... Hard to keep that up when you have showings every evening (or are frantically cleaning and clearing the house to ready for the showing insanity). I miss humiliating myself for fun.

Keep those fingers crossed... Things are moving along but, as I'll write about next, this is a process with many hurdles that brings up so many emotions and echoes of processes we've left behind. But, now we can have tombstones and brussel sprouts. Silver linings.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

Monday, October 15, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: I Hate The Selling Process

Buying the new house has been exciting, even though the offer acceptance process brought back difficult memories of waiting.

Selling our house? I am pretty much hating it outright. It's MORE waiting, but this time our home is being evaluated. It's disruption, because we have to keep the house spotless and sparse (since Saturday when showings began), and we have to relocate ourselves and the cats while virtual strangers are in our home, deciding if it's what they want. That's been real interesting.

I know this is temporary. Someone will love our home and buy it, and it's only been a few days... But I can't help but think that like so many other processes we've done in our lives, we came in just a bit too late since the interest rates just went up and the market literally changed in the past week or so. It feels oddly like adoption -- our home is lovely and cozy and close to being the right fit, but it just isn't getting chosen. YET.

I mean, I DO have to stop and take deep breaths since it hasn't even been a week yet, but this process is making me feel crazy and displaced and it's sucking up so much of my time. Please, please cross your fingers that we get the right match and someone snaps up our completely adorable home!

So cozy and festive!

What's not to love?

I even have pumpkin pillows galore!

And a lovely reading spot!

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Monday, October 8, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: I Don't Want To Be Invisible

Last weekend I got invited on Facebook by several people to participate in a "blackout" for domestic violence awareness -- basically, you changed your profile picture to a black square to "show men what a world without women would be like" and of course "don't tell anyone but women about this," because THAT's how you spread awareness, with secrecy and profile pictures.

It reminded me of those stupid "breast cancer awareness" meme things where you write a weird, vague post like "I'm 4 weeks and craving pickles" or "Forgot to feed my unicorn" or some other stupid thing that supposedly makes people go "huh? what's that?" and immediately go get a mammogram.

Wait, that's NOT what happens? Huh.

It pissed me off, frankly. Right now, where women are coming out with their stories of abuse and assault and rape and violence, and they are being met with ridicule and disbelief and threats of MORE violence, right now we want to "show men what a world would look like without women?"


I just ignored these requests and didn't do it, quietly seething, and then someone I know put up a post basically slamming everyone who responded with "I'm not doing this" by saying that she was disgusted with people who don't believe in awareness for domestic violence. And I couldn't stay quiet anymore.

If you want to do something like that, have at it, and just know that it probably is not creating a safe haven for women escaping abuse, or convincing a controlling, violent man to stop being abusive. BUT DO NOT TELL OTHER PEOPLE THAT THEY SUCK FOR NOT DOING IT.

When you have kept your shoes by the door so you can run out of the house for safety, when you have locked yourself in your office while a swearing, screaming man kicks a hole in the hollow core door, when a magazine leaves Nicole Kidman's face on your white wall because it was thrown with force towards your head and missed, when someone whispers through gritted teeth "I want to just snap your neck" while shaking you by the shoulders... then maybe you can judge me for not making my profile pic a black square in order to "make a difference."

Nope, even then, for the love of all that's holy, respect other people's choices not to participate in this ilk.

Because THAT'S WHAT ABUSERS WANT -- a world where women are invisible, powerless, weak, easy to push around.

That's what all these people who are bullying Christine Blasey Ford and other women coming forward with their personal accounts of sexual assault want. For heaven's sake, the effing president of the United States took in all the accounts of violence and assault and inappropriate behavior and then turned it into IT IS A SCARY TIME FOR YOUNG MEN TODAY.

We don't need to make ourselves invisible by choice, it's already happened. We need to be loud, because apparently it is damn near impossible to get a woman's voice heard. We need a flood of strong, fierce, vocal, VISIBLE women.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy. Some may even be micro! 

Monday, October 1, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: Soooooo Invasive

Our Realtor warned us about the mortgage process.

"It's incredibly invasive, you won't believe it. They need all this paperwork from you, and they inspect every little thing. But you'll get through it. It's just really annoying and can be super stressful." 


We laughed, and laughed, and LAUGHED.

We got the list of paperwork to hand over to the bank guy and discussed it on the way to dinner this weekend.

It seemed...not at all that bad. 2 years of W2 and tax returns, 4 most recent pay stubs, current mortgage statement, current homeowner's insurance info, bank statements.

"Did they need our birth certificates?" I asked Bryce.




"Letters of reference from four people illustrating how we'd make good homeowners?"


"A signed statement from our doctor stating we'll live until the majority of the mortgage?"


"A visit to our house to see how we take care of this one with a multiple-hour interview?"


"Written autobiographies about our life prior to buying this house?"


"A TB test?"


By this time we were laughing hysterically. I'm not sure if our realtor understands how incredibly low the mortgage attainment process rates in invasiveness when you've gone through the adoption homestudy process (plus a renewal).

Ah, the gift of perspective.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Sunday, September 30, 2018


This house thing, while very, VERY exciting, is definitely swallowing my life. Add to that a horrific upper respiratory infection that triggered my asthma and knocked me flat this week, and I am feeling super overwhelmed, like I am behind on everything, my to-do list stretching for miles.

Of course, thanks to the treatment for my sad lungs I have BOUNDLESS ENERGY (with a core of exhaustion) because of a short course of steroids (medrol this time, not prednisone, thank the heavens) and nebulizer treatment.

So naturally, in addition to cleaning out rooms of furniture and "stuff" that we don't want to bring to the new house, I've decided on a new project.

I have decided to catalogue every book in the house on index cards.

Not a full Dewey Decimal situation, but author, title, and genre on cards that are (for now) organized into rubber-banded stacks with a cover card that is color coded by room and bookshelf location.

Is this really, REALLY the highest priority task I could be doing right now?

Is it compulsiveness fueled by medrol tablets and albuterol mist?

Procrastination on the less pleasant things that must be done?


But it's also incredibly soothing, and a fun "break" activity in between dusting and moving stuff into storage tubs and deep cleaning baseboards and floors and cabinets.

It's amazing how many books we have, and how many I've forgotten about because in our current cozy home they are hiding behind instrument cases, or tucked into an overstuffed shelf.

This is one of the things I am most looking forward to in the new house -- BOUNDLESS BOOKSHELF SPACE. There are three walls of built-in bookshelves floor-to-ceiling, and one more built in in the hallway upstairs. There will be book space galore! I don't need to cull and purge my books anymore, which is incredible.

But I do want to set it up like a library, and we plan to get a little card catalog for shits and giggles. You can still buy the cabinets. I get a kick out of thinking about a house that's totally wired and wireless, has no landline phone, is all modern and high tech, but has a card catalog in it, albeit a very small one.

I've got the living room done already:

Look at them all! Just about 400 index cards in there...
Also, I love this lamp we found in HomeGoods. 

If only I could organize the other crap in the house this clearly and easily

I figure it will make it easier to set up our shelves and pack for the new house if we have a full reckoning of our inventory so far. It will make it so organized, so easy to group by genre and have the ability to find any book quickly, and even sign them out on the back of the card.

Should I be planning for the week while I'm frantically scribbling book titles and authors in my best handwriting? Probably. But it's a weird sort of grounding activity that's getting me through this bizarrely stressful period of transition, as exciting as it is.

Friday, September 21, 2018

A Fresh Start

Thank you so much for all the crossing of the crossables and good thoughts sent our way during the very interesting process of waiting to see if a house offer is's been a really hectic and exhausting time! And yes, we got it...whew! So far so good. BUT, I can tell you, I would have NEVER actively chosen to do this whole process in September. RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING OF SCHOOL.

We are super excited, and all the things are falling into place, but we weren't really expecting to find something so quickly and now we are scrambling to get our house ready to sell as quickly as possible.

This could be a lot more catastrophic if we weren't neat, clean people who keep a decent house that looks cozy and might I say adorable 99% of the time. (It wasn't so adorable when all my binders and books and boxes of stuff that had to go back to my classroom were cluttering up the front door area, but that's over and now I just have stuff in my office to go back to school. School pretty much takes over the house.)

But still, we've lived here a long time. We have 15 years of living from Bryce, and 11 years of living from me, and that adds up to a lot of things that need going through.

As Bryce said, "We do NOT want to move crap!"

And so the seemingly gargantuan process of going through the cabinets and bins and boxes in the basement, in the closets, and in the storage crawlspaces upstairs in the "attic" has to happen, and quickly.

Some boxes are fun to go through.

I found box with my pins from high school for National Honor Society and track. I found an inexplicable trophy labeled "Coach's Award." That one HAS to be for participation, or maybe a good attitude despite limited ability. I was decent by the end of my running days, but I was never trophy-worthy.

I found a boatload of letters and cards from college. I found hand-folded looseleaf notes from high school, signed LYLAFS (love ya like a favorite sister), and once I un-folded them I couldn't for the life me figure out the naughty origami we used to create these compact notes that could be passed behind a teacher's back. Now kids just text, abbreviating everything unnecessarily and leaving no proof.

It made me feel sorry for the kids today, who won't have any of these unexpected treasures. Like finding the original Paula Abdul Concert Quiz and Answer Key that my best friend made for me and my other best friend to do in the car on the way to Jones Beach for our first ever concert -- she was going separately, and she was a FREAK for Paula -- and so we had to bone up on things like what kind of dog she had and what kind of house she lived in and what her first choreography job was on the way. You can't put a value on things like that!

But then again, the kids today will probably have a lot less physical STUFF to sort through when they move from place to place. So that's a positive. For them.

I found a bag filled with cards from my first wedding. I started reading them all again, and then wondered what the fuck I was doing when time is of the essence and I recycled them.

I bit the bullet and recycled all of my notes and materials from grad school -- I hadn't gone back to reference anything in 12 years and honestly, so much has changed in terms of standards and research that I really didn't need to keep it. I kept a few papers, and my Master's thesis, but that was it.

I kept all my photos. I kept letters. I kept the Paula quiz. I kept notebooks of my writing as a child -- one was from 8th grade and included a hilarious and classic tale that I'm pretty sure was written after we read "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury involving ESP, the sun supernova-ing, and a luxury space shuttle. AND LOTS OF CAPS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!!!

But we also came across errant stuff saved for our possible children. My tooth fairy pillow. Mementos from my childhood that no one is going to feel connected to after I'm gone.

And, my vision board.

Oh man, Bryce came up with it covered with another piece of plain paperboard, and was like, "What do I do with this? I don't even want to show it to you, I don't want to make you upset."

But I did want to see it, all dusty and busted.

And I was okay with throwing it out. Part of me wanted to save all the pretty pushpins that were holding all of those defunct hopes and dreams to the handmade tackboard...but then I realized that to take each individual tack out would be like stabbing me with a tiny knife over and over as I removed each fragment of a dream that wasn't, and so I made the executive decision to just chuck the whole thing. Losing the pushpins was worth not having all those tiny needles stab me in my most tender parts.

And so it's gone. Which is okay, and appropriate.

This move feels like an incredible cleansing, a move away from a home where we'd hoped things would work out one way and instead they went in a totally different direction. The new house has no history, for us. It is a place to start all new memories. It's sad to leave this house behind, with all its coziness and all the things that we did to make it ours.

But it's also leaving behind rooms where I stabbed myself with needles, where Bryce stabbed me with bigger needles, rooms where I miscarried, rooms where we got bad news, and rooms where the contents of our nursery lay piled up and waiting to be picked up from the donation agency. Bryce has more feelings for our current house than I do, as he chose it and did a lot of work before I got there, even though I arrived a scant four years after he did. But for me, I didn't pick this house. I love this house, but it wasn't ours from the beginning--it was Bryce's and his ex-wife's to start. And while I've lived here for far longer and we've made it ours over the decade+ that we've lived here together, it still to me feels a bit like HIS house that I moved into. Ours now, but with that history of not starting out mine.

The new house is OURS. Totally, unequivocally ours, with no sadness, no rooms that bring us back to moments that are heartwrenching. And that is a glorious thing.

We need to finish up all our cleaning and clearing within the next two weeks, so we can get this warm, cozy home up for sale and get things moving. I'm sure there will be a lot of things that trip us up on the way -- I can think of a tub in the attic space that is filled with books and onesies we didn't want to part with -- but I am so, so excited for this fresh start.

Monday, September 10, 2018

#Microblog Mondays:A Little Too Similar

Part of me has been delaying writing about this whole home-buying process because of a very real fear of jinxing, but here goes -- we put an offer on that house. The contemporary, out-in-the-woods, huge-landscaping-project, originally-built-for-childless-recluses house. 

It's all very exciting, but it's also causing me a great deal of anxiety because... the process is a little too similar, a little too close to others that had me waiting by the phone for news. This time it's primarily texts, not phone calls, but still. I'm watching my phone like a hawk, and it doesn't feel good. 

We put the offer in, and then it was countered (reasonably), and it took us a little bit to accept the counteroffer as Bryce was out of town on business. We went to see it again, just to make sure it felt right (and I may have brought a tape measure like a lunatic to check out room sizes against our furniture and whatnot) -- we went straight from picking Bryce up at the airport and then accepted the counteroffer after, at dinner. 

BUT. When we were at the house, we noticed an "OPEN HOUSE" sign for Sunday. 

So of course, I spent all weekend simultaneously planning all kinds of fun things for this new house, while also working myself up into tears over the possibility that someone could go to the open house and swipe this place right out from under us, and we'd be screwed AGAIN. 

Things are at the attorney stage, and the contract is signed by everyone (after agonizing Signature Watch on my phone and through the weird signing software), and hopefully there's no surprises from that open house I hope went dismally, so I'm almost to the point where I can stop being a crazy person...but it really feels awful to be back in that cycle of hope and fear, waiting and partial good news, uncertainty and not knowing. I feel like we have a positive pee stick -- encouraging, but ultimately it means nothing. 

I really want this house to be something that we searched for, and worked towards, and adjusted our vision for, and then HAVE IT WORK OUT. Cross all your crossables, please. Unlike the other process, if this doesn't work out there truly will be another house. But for once I would just like the original plan, the original desire, to come to fruition. 

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Monday, September 3, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: House Shifts

One of the things that we spent a lot of time on over the summer was trying to figure out our house situation -- do we stay and do an addition, one with a usable garage and a living area overlooking the ravine out back, solving some space issues and definitely solving the parking/swapping cars/neverending scraping of windshields? Or do we move and try to find a house that we love as much as our own, that we can see our furniture in, that we can make as cozy as this place, that has the privacy and proximity and character we love but solves the other issues?

Well, it would appear that as much as we love our home, adding on to it is not going to be the solution. We saw three different contractors, and while one was more than happy to relieve us of an insane amount of money to do it, the other two were much more realistic about the fact that no matter what we did, it wouldn't likely solve our issues and we would STILL have a low, unfinishable basement, STILL have ceilings that smash Bryce's tall head in, and STILL have a single driveway...and it wouldn't be financially logical.

So we started looking for homes, with the thought that we'd do a "Make Me Move" scenario and take it slow and be super thoughtful but not rushed about the process, because we do truly love our home.

We've looked at a couple of homes so far, both houses with a lot of character -- although at polar opposites from each other. One was a renovated farmhouse, the original part built in 1855, that had a location that was super close to everything but also super close to a busy road and the backyard that looked and was advertised as a "private oasis" was lovely...but had the constant thrum of passing traffic and the visible homes nearby ruining the secluded effect we apparently value.

The other one was super modern, not at all our typical style especially on the outside, further out (but close to the highway so easy to commute to things), situated on over an acre of wooded lot in an area that will never be further developed and backs to a pond and marsh, and is in impeccable renovated shape.

The funniest thing about that one is that when we stopped to talk to a neighbor, we were told that this particular group of houses on this dead end road was originally built in the 1980s as a community for "childless couples who wanted to live like recluses out in the woods," but then apparently they had to legally open it up to families (the legality of that idea is definitely interesting -- what happens if you get pregnant? They kick you out? Courts determined it was discrimination). IS THAT NOT HILARIOUS, THOUGH? Only we would find a house that's in a former commune for woodsy childless recluses.

Anyway, we were shocked at how much we loved that one, and are considering our options. Maybe it won't take so long after all, which brings up all kinds of other thoughts and feelings relating to how we got here, what we leave behind, and the enormity (and freedom) of starting a new life in a home that is definitely not meant to have children in it.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Thin Skin

I've been struggling a bit lately.

Getting ready to go back to school has felt super overwhelming for some reason, and I don't know if it's because I'm teaching something totally new, albeit for one period (12:1:1 social studies), or because it marks the passing of another year, or if I've procrastinated too long on getting everything but my room ready, or I'm nervous about meeting a new group of students and parents and facing the questions that that brings. My anxiety suffered a bit of an uptick in the last month.

I know it's normal for grief to be nonlinear, to go around and around like a crazy squiggle rather than in a straight line of healing, going from A to B, Mess to Well-Adjusted, without any bumps or setbacks along the way.

But a few things reminded me that it's only been a year since we made our decision to end our parenthood quest, and our lives took a turn that will impact us for the rest of our lives.

      *                                 *                                    *                                      *

Most recently, we were at our favorite Mexican restaurant when a friend was celebrating her 60th birthday. It was a huge family celebration -- 17 people -- filled with kids and grandkids and a lot of joyful noise. There was singing and talking and laughing, and we felt honored to be called over to say hello during such a family-oriented celebration. BUT. When the cake came out, when the singing happened, 15 voices of progeny in two generations... I found my eyes welling up against my will and tears spilling over down my face.

We'll never have that.

When we turn 60, we can throw ourselves a party, we can celebrate quietly via a weekend away, but we will never be surrounded by our kids and grandkids, wishing us well on another trip around the sun, reminding us that after we go there's people who will live on with a little piece of us inside them, remembering us, putting our pictures on their walls, talking about that time we celebrated Grandma with enchiladas and cake.

      *                                 *                                    *                                      *

Another moment was when we were showing Bryce's mom and stepfather, in for a visit, the display box that Bryce's dad built to house the WWII watches and other small paraphernalia from both his grandfathers. It goes perfectly in his fancypants office, all mission-y quarter-sawn oak. It's incredibly cool to have actual history in our home, these relics from a war I teach 8th graders about, that we have personal connections to. (My grandfather and one of his grandfathers were both at Guadal Canal, although at slightly different times.) I will admit that the whole watch thing always makes me giggle, thanks to Pulp Fiction and Christopher Walken, but the piece is absolutely beautiful and it's truly an heirloom.

Except. I made a joke that we had an heirloom with no heirs, and then it sort of stuck with me. We have this amazing hand-crafted display box for amazing personal war paraphernalia, and where will it go when we're gone? Do we see if there's a museum that wants it, with one of those plaques that says where it came from and whose it was so that there's a little piece of our family history living out there somewhere?

I know that having "heirs" (like we live in Windsor or something) doesn't guarantee that they will want your stuff or take any of it upon your demise. We were just visiting with a friend who was lamenting that she has all these amazing international dolls that she herself inherited, and her children don't want them, so who knows what will become of them? It was a little reassuring to see that "who will want my stuff" is more of a universal question, one that having children doesn't necessarily solve. But it still made me sad to think of the pile of things that meant something to us, that will just become "stuff" for lack of a place to leave them to.

      *                                 *                                    *                                      *

My hardest day, the one where I truly felt the thin membrane of healing rupture and ooze, was earlier in August. It started with an ill-advised trip to our local humane society. I do not enjoy going to check out cats and dogs up for adoption unless I am planning to bring one home. It's a weird thing where Bryce and I are at total opposite ends of the spectrum -- he can go and check out cats in the adoption area of the pet food store, or at the ASPCA location, and it doesn't fill him with sadness. I WANT TO TAKE THEM ALL HOME. I can't stop thinking about what will happen if no one chooses them, and I tend to get real sad thinking about the older cats in particular. And dogs... dogs look at you with those knowing eyes and just break your heart into tiny pieces. IT IS NOT FUN FOR ME.

But we went, as visitors wanted to check it out, and I felt my well-being start to crackle around the edges like ice on a spring pond. There was this one cat, either Lydia or Layla (I think I'd name her Lydia if that's not right anyway), and she was in a bigger room having some "quiet time" and her story typed up and taped to the glass read, "Lydia is very confused to be here -- she is 9 years old and her owner had to surrender her, so she is feeling lost and uncomfortable and wants to be back home." JUST STAB ME THROUGH THE HEART AND TWIST THE KNIFE. I know why those are written that way, but it still felt emotionally manipulative and all I wanted to do was to break Lydia out of her glass prison and introduce her to Lucky and Abner. She was super sweet. I failed miserably at not thinking about how this is NOT a no-kill shelter, and so decided that was the point where I'd leave the cat area and stand out in the main hall/reception area where maybe I wouldn't fall apart into tiny pieces.

I also tried to go to the dog area, but was definitely not feeling it, and I walked into one "suite" (they separate the dogs out in groups of 2-3 so it's not as stressful) and walked right the fuck back out. Their eyes just bore into you and beg you to take them home, and they look so dejected and so wanting out of their sterile cells. Of course, this shelter does a great job with volunteers who come to walk the dogs and they get a lot of love, but in the end they are still living in bare cells that echo, not curled up on a couch next to a person.

Understandably this put me in a big fat funk. I was not in a good place. And then a situation unfolded later that same day where I felt like I should be okay, where I felt like I could play along and see other people's babies, but what I could handle (seeing a picture or two of this particular other person's baby) became a barrage of pictures of a super sweet little baby whose story is not mine to tell but opened those spidery cracks into big fissures that just dropped me into dark icy water and left me to drown.

The baby had one of those hooded animal towels, a little frog, and is seriously one of the most photogenic babies ever, so at first it was like, "awww, look at that sweet little guy!" But then, it reminded me of the little crab towel we had for our own nonexistent baby, that has probably already aged out of the baby it was donated for and has either been passed on or tossed out. This was not a particularly pleasant thought. As the pictures just kept coming and they involved parents holding the baby and just a bum rush of gushing and oohing and ahhing, it sort of passed over "I can handle this" to "holy shit I CANNOT handle this but I don't want to be that sad sap person so I think I'll just stuff all these feelings deep down into my gut and smile my frozen smile and hmmmm, this is not a good feeling and doesn't bring me back to good times, but it's what I've got right now."

I got up and found a few board books that were appropriate for this baby's location and really, really wanted to give the baby these books, and get the books out of the house, and have them serve a better purpose than relics stuffed in a basket under my chaise lounge because I can't bear to look at them. I wanted them to be useful. I wanted to give some goodwill. I wanted to squash these feelings of emptiness and grief and what-will-never-be with a gesture of love and "see, I'm totally okay right now."

Except I wasn't.

Once we were alone in the house I fell spectacularly apart and sobbed like I haven't sobbed in months, and felt just how thin my skin of well-adjustedness is. I honestly thought it was thicker, more that thick, shiny scar tissue than translucent membrane.

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A friend at lunch recently told me not to give myself such a hard time. That these things will happen, that it's only been a year since a life-changing turn of events that separates our lives from every TV commercial ever. That I AM well-adjusted, because I didn't lay facedown on the floor as much as I may have wanted to. I let the feelings wash over me and some lingered longer than others, but I could still be a functioning human. Sometimes I feel more functioning than others, but that's okay.

I think what upset me most about the last two moments, the animal shelter and the photo blitz, was that I did not feel that I could really stand my ground and say "nope, I've had enough." I could have said "I'll meet you by the car, I'm going to go look at the horses outside/walk the nature trail/read the kindle that's always in my purse on a bench." I could have said, "You know what, I think this tiny human is adorable but I can handle maybe TWO photos and then I need you to stop, not because I can't appreciate this baby but because it makes me surprisingly desperately sad for what we've lost." I don't know why I couldn't just say those things and save myself some serious mental anguish.

And the thing with the baby is that I DON'T WANT A BABY ANYMORE. That's not about jealousy, that's not about wanting what I can't have. I don't want it anymore. I have passed the point where that is reasonable, for a million reasons. But there is a huge difference between being sad because you want what someone else has and being sad because you feel that loss acutely, what you'll never have and don't want anymore, what could have been but is never, ever going to be reality. It's like peeking into an alternate universe without actually wanting that alternate reality anymore. And there's also a huge sense of unfairness, of having WANTED something so very much and having TRIED so hard to make it happen, and then having it happen elsewhere with no effort at all although surrounded with difficulties of other kinds.

It was so, so hard.

There are solutions to the other things -- we can do advance planning and figure out who we can gift our things to, who would appreciate our massive collection of books, our instruments, even our LeCreuset dutch oven. We can figure out if there's not a person, then maybe there's an organization that would put these things to use. A library. A museum (more for the historical stuff than say the dutch oven).

Or maybe an asteroid will hit us and everything will go up in a fiery explosion and we won't have to even think about that. Or, with the state of climate change, any number of apocalyptic events could make these worries obsolete and silly.

The 60th birthday one? We can decide how we want to celebrate milestone birthdays and not feel guilty if it's to celebrate in Iceland, or Tuscany, or Hawaii, just the two of us, reflecting on the lives we've lived so far. May we be that fortunate. We could have a party where we surround ourselves with friends and family, like we did for our 40th celebrations. I kind of like the first option though, for right now. We do have to turn 50 first, so this is way off, and asteroids could hit and whatnot, so there's really no point in perseverating too much on a birthday that's so far off.

But it doesn't hurt to think about contingencies. Especially if it helps my thin skin build another layer, heal up from this strange parade of assaults on my armor, It doesn't hurt to really think about how we can build up our life and our experiences to feel like those alternate realities aren't even as attractive as we once thought they were. And it really doesn't hurt to forgive myself for feeling so sad when really, we are so fresh in our loss. I think sometimes I try so hard to be well adjusted and to work on my healing that I forget just how recent everything is, just how fresh this transition is from maybe-parent to never-parent, just how different it makes our life from those who have children and perhaps future grandchildren, just how separate from the standard narrative we feel.

All I can do is my best to figure out how to do all this -- how to face down those moments of "oh god we've lost so much" and honor them, and then celebrate all that we do have, all the possibilities that are open to us because our trajectory shifted. And to know that as Bryce said when I was a sobbing mess on the couch, that that skin over the hurt isn't thin, it's like the Earth's crust -- super thick in some places but ready to rupture and erupt in others, but really it's strong all the way around.