Time for an Update

1. Therapy is going well.

2. Lexapro did NOT go well, and after only three days, with my doctor’s permission, I ditched it. The side effects were pretty awful, but for three blissful days, I didn’t have anxiety. (Just insomnia, tremors, and nightsweats!) I have a follow-up appointment with my doctor to see about trying something else. Although, I have to say, the anxiety in general has been lower. I think because I am starting to process some trauma (see #1).

3. In the “Acting Like a Responsible Adult” category, I had my very first mammogram. It wasn’t as horrible as I feared.

4. In the “Not Acting Like a Responsible Adult” category, I spent last night eating Chipotle in front of Jane the Virgin on Netflix. I also drank two beers.

I did not have to take care of anyone last night. Dan and the children are in Virginia; I am joining them this evening.

It was kind of nice to not have to take care of anyone for a night.

5. I am not cooking anything Thanksgiving Day — I am showing up at my sister’s (with Dan and the children). I will probably help clean up after dinner, though. I mean, I can’t do NOTHING.

6. With some luck, I will gift you all with a post-Thanksgiving rant about what I am traumatized about (edited for my parents’ well being).

7. Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for online and IRL friends; family, both immediate and extended; and a good career. Be safe, eat well, drink some good drinks.

What are you thankful for this year?

It Feels Like Losing a Friend

Famous people die, because people die, and famous people are people.

Some deaths do cut deeper, though. As a music fan, I felt the losses of 2016 — David Bowie, Prince (PRINCE!), Leonard Cohen — very deeply.

Dave Rosser wasn’t FAMOUS, but he was a well-known musician, and he played with my favorite artist, Greg Dulli. Dave was the guitarist for Twilight Singers, Gutter Twins, and Afghan Whigs, among others. He was respected by his fellow musicians, and out-and-out loved by fans.

The first time I saw Afghan Whigs was in Pittsburgh, at Mr. Smalls. The band is extremely accessible, usually coming out after shows to mingle with fans, sign CDs or posters or setlists, and chatting with anyone still hanging around. I took pictures (that I can’t find now!) with John Skibic, the other guitarist for the band, and Dave. I think I have one with Rick Nelson, too. And of course, the pictures I took with John Curley and Dulli.

(If you do visit the blog post from 2014, Mr. Rosser is off to the right of Mr. Dulli in two of those images.)

Then, when I went to Cincinnati last year, I chatted with Dave again. I expressed surprise that he sang baritone on a couple of songs. “Oh, I love singing those low notes!” he exclaimed. “It’s my natural range.”

Dave and Diane
Dave, Diane, and the red hat (Cincinnati, 2016).

Last year, the band announced that Dave had been diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer; there were fundraisers and benefit shows, and an outpouring of love and support. The Afghan Whigs recorded a new album, and announced new tours. Dave played on the album — check out the guitar on Copernicus — but didn’t join the group on stage for the tour.

Still, I think I expected to see him again. When I bought my VIP ticket to the Cincinnati show later this year, I imagined being able to give him a hug, ask how he was feeling, tell him it is good to see him.

I won’t get to do that now. And that sucks.

Reading through stories from fellow fans, one theme is prevalent: Dave was easy-going. He was down to earth. He was strikingly friendly, easily starting conversations, making people comfortable. I mean, he tore it up on stage, pouring all of his talent out on us. But down on the floor, mingling with the audience, he was just a guy, doing his thing.

I’m not sure what else to say. When the news broke on Wednesday, I wanted to pack it in, go home, and listen to Twilight Singers for the rest of the day. I texted my husband, “Hi, I know this won’t mean much to you, but Dave Rosser died. He was the guitarist for Afghan Whigs.”

My husband surprised me, though. “That SUCKS!” he texted right back. “I’m sorry. In spite of my teasing, I really thought they were a tight band, and I really enjoyed the show we went to together.” Dan and I may not have the same taste in music, but we can recognize talent.

His text continued, “I remember two years ago, when BB King died, I felt like I lost a friend. I suppose that’s the way it is with the artwork of those who touch us, and inspire us, and reach us in that solitary place deep inside.”

He captured it, utterly. Dave was someone I had met — someone I had liked — and chatted with. He was a vital part of music that I love. I cannot imagine how much deeper his close friends and family and bandmates must be hurting. And I hurt for that, too.

Rest in peace, Mr. Rosser. You will be missed here. Thank you for your music, your ease, your smile. I hope you know how much you meant to so many people. Go in love and light.

Rosser on stage.
Image by Janet Elizabeth. Thank you for sharing.

I Am Cranky

It is Wednesday, and I am cranky.

I am cranky because I am not in the woods.

I am cranky because I am sore.

I am cranky because I want to go home this evening and I want to stay home.

I am cranky because I cannot go home and stay home this evening. I have a waxing appointment, and then a meeting at the middle school regarding travel soccer.

I am cranky because I had to make a mid-week appointment for a wax rather than a Saturday appointment because of soccer.

I am cranky because I have no produce at home. Not even frozen produce. I want lettuce, and broccoli, and frozen mixed vegetables, but I need to shop.

I am cranky because I don’t have time to shop.

I am cranky because I don’t know when I can go to the chiropractor and have him address my sore hip.

I am cranky because I am tired of calling my representatives in Congress knowing full fucking well they aren’t going to listen to me.

I am cranky because it is cool and rainy. I am cranky because after I don’t get to stay home tonight, I don’t get to stay home tomorrow night, or Friday night.

I am cranky because Dan and I haven’t had time for quality time for us.

I do not want you to try to jolly me out of my crankiness. I also realize that being cranky, about any of these things, is not the end of the world.

But go ahead and tell me what you’re cranky about.

7 Things: The Excuses Edition

Here are all the reasons I have not updated my blog since March 21, 2017.

1. I don’t have anything to say.

2. I have too much to say.

For example, I have a rant locked inside my head about how sexist the current administration is, and due to a new outrage every day, I cannot get it out.

T*ump refused to shake German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hand.
Mike Pence doesn’t dine alone with women who aren’t his wife (or attend events with alcohol without her there). TBH, I don’t know if this is more self-loathing on his part or misogyny. But if he’s not sitting at the table with a woman to share a meal, you can bet your ass he’s not having one-on-one meetings with women, period.
T*ump accused a woman (of color, no less) with zero evidence of committing a crime and at the same time says Bill O’Reilly didn’t do anything wrong.
The GOP voted to defund Planned Parenthood, T*ump ended the Fair Pay and safe Workplaces Rule, and the State Department cut off funding to the UN’s family planning agency.

I mean, that’s all in the last, like, two weeks.

3. I am busy. Work is steady, children have been sick, children have been busy, I will be helping to coach Michael’s soccer team once the weather gets better and we actually have games and practices. And so on. Life.

4. Finding an agent is time consuming.

5. I’m writing another book.

6. I don’t have any big life updates.

7. I don’t have anything I want to talk about (i.e. like a movie or book).

I feel, in some ways, at least in terms of things I usually write about on this blog, very much in limbo. Life is moving forward, and I *am* writing.

Just not here.

Random Wednesday and Other Band Names

The boy jumped out from behind a tree when I got home.

He wasn’t wearing a shirt. He had a giant rip in his pants, at the knee.

He ran around the yard, brandishing the handle of a shovel.

“Michael!” I said. “You look like a feral orphan.”

++

Wednesday was a surprisingly delightful day. I know that springlike weather in February is a sign of doom down the road, but the warm temps and sunshine lift my spirits despite my pessimism.

I knocked out a blog post for work within an hour. I knocked out some other work as well, before noon. We nailed down marketing plans and campaigns.

I learned my work is being recognized and rewarded.

via GIPHY

I knocked out more work, and went home, driving home while it was still light outside.

++

Changed clothes, cooked dinner for my children, chased down Kate in the neighborhood and told her to head home.

I went to meet friends and my husband at a local brewery, The Grist House.

OMG.

Here I was, going out to socialize on a random Wednesday.

Life happens after 40; life happens after children. Don’t ever stop moving, people. Do new stuff.

++

The Grist House is awesome. If you haven’t been yet, GO. Unpretentious environment, eleven taps of delicious beer, a food truck for vittles. Outdoor area. Babies and dogs. Delicious craft beer. (Oh, I said that already, didn’t I?)

Met two friends as planned, two other friends were there by chance, and met new people. Good friends, good drinks, good food. In the middle of the week.

This is oxygen.

goofy
Don’t leave your phone unattended.

++

Watch for the new, live release from Feral Orphan, Post Viral Cough Syndrome. If Michael is ever in a band, that’s its name.

Thank you, and good night.

How do you spend a random Wednesday?

On Not Attending a March

I didn’t go to a #WomensMarch today.

I have some feelings about it. I feel like I should’ve attended one, for sure. I consider myself a strong feminist, and I certainly support many of the issues for which women are marching today.

The pictures on social media have been inspiring. Thank you too all the marchers.

I don’t have strong reasons for not attending. I have excuses, mostly of the logistical variety. Dan’s in New York; I had something else on my calendar (specifically a deep clean of my daughters’ room among other things); I am struggling to balance my need to resist the current administration with self-care and self-protection.

Also: I’m kind of new at this “Fight the Power” kind of stuff, and my changes need to be incremental.

I have never been a protester or marcher. I don’t find anything wrong with them, I don’t question that they are valuable to the operation of our American democracy (such as it is). It’s just not something I’ve ever done for something I’ve believed in.

That will have to change, I recognize that.

But I wasn’t in a place to change it today.

Did you march? If not, why not? If so, do you find yourself in judgement of those who didn’t?

More Updates!

Someday, I will write a real blog post again.

Today is not that day.

Car Accident
It looks worse than it is. Maybe.

1. This happened a week ago.

I am fine. I was a littlest bit sore.

Thank god for insurance! Now I would just like to get my car back.

2. At some point last Saturday, I thought, “I need a pause button.” I need to stop time so I can catch up. I would use it to do chores: pause time while I grocery shopped, or cleaned the kitchen, or cleaned out my closet. (My closet REALLY needs to be cleaned out.)

Of course, at some point on Sunday, I thought, “Getting up and starting the day at 8 a.m. makes for a long Sunday.” We did a lot that day. When the children have CCD at 8:40 a.m., and then you go to church right after, Sunday stretches away in front of you.

Pumpking carving
Reason #598 older children rock.

3. One of the things we did was carve pumpkins. Technically, the children each cleaned out a pumpkin. Flora carved hers, but the design broke off, and before we could solve the problem (toothpicks!), she tossed it in the weeds in frustration. Kate carved hers, designed Michael’s, and then ended up carving his too. She even went back to Flora’s and carved a cat’s face in the back of the pumpkin! When that girl gets a goal in her head, she carries through.

4. Conversely to that pause button idea, it could just be November 8 already, and voting could be done. I am ready for this election season to be over. It’s torture. If Pennsylvania were an early voting or mail-in ballot state, at least my part would be done by now. But instead, I gotta wait to go to the polls. It will be exciting to vote for the first woman President!

5. Michael is doing math. And reading. He actually sits down and sounds out words. He says stuff like, “10 + 10 + 3 = 23” out of the blue. I distinctly recall Flora refusing to sound out words. That girl wants to be good at something the first time she tries it. (I DON’T KNOW WHERE SHE GETS THAT.) But Michael seems to have no self-consciousness about trying stuff or being good.

Of course, he thinks he’s good at EVERYTHING. So.

5. Things just keep rolling along. Parent-teacher conferences went well; Halloween is around the corner (Flora, werewolf; Kate, Harley Quinn; Michael, Killer Croc); flu vaccines are onboard. Pretty soon, it will be Flora’s birthday, and I’ll still be like, “pause button, where are you?”

6. Last night, as I was driving from work to home to the pediatrician’s office to dinner to Rocket Fizz (flu shots mean Rocket Fizz), I was half thinking, when does this part end?

And I realized, it really doesn’t. As much as I think, “Oh, when soccer practice ends for the year, my weeks won’t be so crazy”, or “We’ll get through the holidays and then get a break,” I’m deluding myself.

This is it. This is the ride we’re on called life. I may have a slow week or two when soccer practice is on pause — that depends on who is going to play indoor soccer this season — but other things will crop up. I will have to run to the store, or attend a school concert, or otherwise be busy.

And that’s okay. It is what it is. I will keep doing what I need to do to keep my sanity.

7. Still struggling with the date night thing, though. Dan and I just can’t seem to figure it out. It’s really disappointing. That is one area that needs work, and that I can’t be blase about it. Again, a pause button would be helpful.

Do you have date nights? How? Enlighten me!

Seven Things: A Quick Update

1. School started! Flora and Kate have re-acclimated quickly, for which I am entirely grateful.

Flora in car.
This is the best picture I got on Flora’s first day of school.
K and M, day 2.
A very blurry picture from Dan of these two on their second day of school.

2. Flora is definitely becoming more mature and responsible. She comes home and does her homework. She helps Michael if he has homework. She seldom complains about cleaning the kitchen. She remembers to empty the dishwasher more often than not.

3. Kate is not on the same page as Flora — and as I am often reminded, she is two years younger. She is one of the reasons I have adopted my mother-in-law’s phrase, “Do it right or do it twice.” Let’s just say that Kate’s strengths are elsewhere (making friends, primarily; also, doing handstands). She is very sweet. She asks Dan and me almost every day how our days were, and she really listens to our answers. She values interaction over just doing stuff.

4. Michael… *sigh*. Michael has already lost a backpack and a lunch box. We are already dealing with another boy who is bullying him on the bus (OH NO, HONEY. THAT WILL NOT STAND.) If asked directly about school, it’s “boring,” but if given space, he’ll cheerfully chatter away about his day. He tells me about Go Noodle, computer games (that are sneakily teaching him the location of letters on the keyboard), and other little events about his day. So, a little uneven.

5. Taking the tablets away was definitely the right move. It forces them to focus on what needs to be done; it sparks their creativity in play. Now if I could get them to *read books* I would feel even better. Kate and Michael will play together sometimes; they will also do gymnastics in my living room, which isn’t awesome. Flora will draw. And draw. And draw. She wrote a short story recently (I haven’t read it yet), so maybe I can encourage more of that.

How do I encourage them to read actual novel-like books? The girls, I mean. M and I do his sight words every now and again; I could get better at doing this. But the girls seldom crack a book at home.

6. (I am an actual paid blogger. My job is going gangbusters. You can check out some of my stuff here.) (I’m whispering because I don’t want to jinx anything.)

7. Dan and I need date nights. Like, not just social nights out as a couple. We did a lot of seeing people over the summer, attending events and get-togethers. But we stopped spending time together as just a couple. The dinner date thing isn’t really doing it for us either. I’m trying to find other stuff for us to do, not too expensive. I’m thinking one month (or even every six weeks) he’ll pick and plan our date, and the next time, I will. For the record, I am thinking this may be fun. We like exercise, booze, and music, basically.

What’s going on with YOU? Oh, and if you have ideas about getting my girls to read, that would be great.

Copyright for image: markusgann / 123RF Stock Photo

Random Thoughts: The Not One Word Edition

I didn’t post here once this week before today.

It’s usually poetry day, but I haven’t been good about that, either.

Mostly, it’s because of time and technical difficulties.

1. The books I am reading — currently Toni Morrison’s Home, previously… oh, just check my Goodreads account — have me thinking about bodies, and the way certain bodies are uniquely vulnerable in the society we live in. The default representation in our culture is the white male body.

And everyone else is expendable.

I will attempt to expand on this when I get a chance. Between the World and Me pretty much is based on this entire premise. He’s not wrong.

2. Uh. Yeah. Lots of this going on. I get started on a thought, and I don’t have time to sit with it — through my own choices, my own scheduling.

Plus, we’re currently snowed in, and Dan just started the original Star Wars (Episode IV, A New Hope) for the children. So I’m a little distracted. As per.

3. I am finally getting around to setting limits with the children and their Christmas tablets. Those things really took over their lives — when they are at home, it’s all they want to do. I waited until family dinner last night to put the boundaries in place so Dan and I would be on the same page. Weeknights: one half hour after chores and when I am home; one half hour after dinner. Presumably, they are doing their homework at Bella’s when they arrive home, and if that stops happening they lose the tablet for a day. They are not allowed to watch them after bedtime in their room — this has been a limit from the get-go, but they still try to get away with it. Weekends: two hours, tops.

We’ll see how it goes from here.

4. I may take further advantage of being snowed in by plugging myself into my music, and into my borrowed laptop, AND WRITE SOME MORE OF MY NOVEL. Sheesh. I just gotta get it done already.

Happy snow day! What are you up to?

Snowy backyard sunrise.
Backyard sunrise. It’s not not pretty, but I prefer not driving in it!

Random Thoughts: The Fighting a Friday Funk Edition

It’s been a rough week, and I caught myself nearly crying in my car this morning as I drove to work. Nothing terrible has happened, but I’ve got the blues. I am feeling very helpless in my ability to affect my life to get on with better things. I feel heavy-hearted.

Plus, I am tired. I’m tired because I’m sad; I’m sad because I am tired. It’s a vicious cycle.

I’m tired because I’m going to bed too late, and I’m going to bed too late in the service of a worthwhile project (NaNoWriMo), so that’s not going to change anytime soon.

It’s toward the end of the day, and I’m on the cusp of Thanksgiving vacation, so let’s talk about some things that are helping me not go into the bathroom and cry.

1. It’s my father’s 70th birthday today. I called him from the car while we were waiting for Kate’s bus, and she sang happy birthday for him. Michael also wished him a happy birthday, but more quietly than Kate. I hope it kicked off his day right.

He’s a good dad. I’m glad he’s 70. I hope to make many more happy birthday phone calls to him.

Dad, Kate, Mom
My dad (plus Kate and my mom). He’s a good egg.

2. I am going to this event tonight to meet some fellow Pittsburgh bloggers and have a beer. If you’re bored, you should come on out.

3. A visit to my chiropractor made me feel physically quite a bit better. Vintage Black Keys on the ride back to the office on this sunny day helped too.

4. I do have a long vacation coming up shortly. We will be leaving for North Carolina on Sunday. Let’s hope a week of writing, rest, and family and food helps lift me out of my funk. Bonus: New baby snuggles.

5. I truly do have the best husband in the world (for me). He texted earlier today, insistent that I go see Mockingjay tomorrow with my friends. I still don’t know if it’ll happen — I’ve got writing to do, plus I’d like to get in a workout, cleaning, and packing so we can hit the road early on Sunday. PLUS: New hairs Saturday night. Oh, and Mass. But how funny is it that my husband basically has to force me to go have fun. He’s such a jerk.

Dan and Michael
Dan snuggled up with M in the woods last year. Look at what a jerk he is!

6. I have one little niggling worry about next week, and it’s the fact that I have to find a place and steal the time to write. I know that Dan has my back.

Mom and Dad, I hope you will understand too. I figure I’ll do it early, with coffee, and be done early.

It’s pretty serious. It means a lot to me. I’m finally writing a book!

What gets you out of a funk?