Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sweet Sunday

I used to play this board game (pictured above) as a kid with my grandmother and also my cousin. Because of it, I often think of the phrase "Sweet Sunday" on Sundays and I try to take the day as a time to both prepare for the week and also to rest.

My nerves are all over the place today. Sweet Sunday is more of an idea than an accurate feeling at the moment. I go back to work tomorrow. I don't want to, but I'm choosing to go in. I don't feel safe, but I've got a game plan for what I can do tomorrow to be productive while minimizing my contact with others. I will take it day by day. 

Really, I'm just waiting for the lag in reporting covid-related data to catch up from the holiday weekend. Surely, by the end of this week or next the numbers will unfortunately show massive spread. Then maybe we will all work from home.


So that major worry and brain dump aside, I am doing my best to enjoy my time off.


Thanksgiving was a success! Well, Thanksgiving was weird and sad, but we made the best of it. It was also good and enjoyable. After two years of eating a vegetarian meal at his sister's house, my boyfriend and I were determined to cook a turkey this year with all of the traditional sides. We were also determined to make enough food to have leftovers. And we did! Delicious mission accomplished. I didn't take anything about the holiday for granted—the food, our health, the roof over our heads, and the love in our home.

I even started a new tradition for us: leftover cranberry sauce turnovers. As you all know, starting new holiday traditions as a childless woman can be a big deal! So I am definitely celebrating that. Last night I enjoyed the whole process. I mixed thawed raspberries with my leftover cranberry sauce. Then I added some sugar and vanilla and a little bit of cream cheese. I used frozen phyllo dough that I brought to room temperature. After brushing melted butter on the layered sheets of dough, I put two big spoonfuls of the cranberry mixture in the corner and folded up the dough into medium-sized triangles. They baked in 15 minutes (pictured below). It was fun and easy and festive. And delicious! Next year we are going to try making savory leftover turnovers as well.

And on Friday I bought us an artificial Xmas tree. We didn't put up a tree last year and I missed it. There wasn't any room so I just put up stockings. This year all of my stuff is still in storage about four hours away. But I got online, found something cheap, and it will be delivered this week. I bought some inexpensive lights and ornaments too. Just when I told myself I was going to stop spending money... :) But I see it as an investment in our mental health. These pandemic holidays are weird and hard and I think we will enjoy the Xmas tree and lights all month.

And speaking of my plans to stop spending money... There were so many online fabric sales on Friday! Aaaahhh. Hahaha. So I was strategic. I didn't buy *everything* I wanted. Instead, I bought fabric I needed to complete a couple of patterns I already own. I bought a quilting ruler and a quilt kit I wanted. I also found some fabric that will be perfect for my mom. So, you know, I shopped. 

But now I'm done. ;)
I will await my riches (Xmas decorations and fabric) in the mail. 


So I'd say I'm doing a fairly decent job of distracting myself from what's really looming over me. I am extremely stressed and scared about going back to work, but, you know what, I was extremely stressed and scared about going through fertility treatments. During my treatments, I reminded myself that I didn't have to do anything I didn't want to do and that I would take everything one step at a time. I will apply the same advice to myself with regard to my current job situation. I will get through this. 

I'm thankful for all of the hard lessons I've already learned from all of the awful shit I've already been through. I'm thankful for my inner punk that will never let me forget that nobody is the boss of me.

I'm thankful for Sweet Sundays where I can do what restores me.

Work In Progress: My latest quilt top! 
(In The Woods fabric collection by Loes Van Oosten,
Josh's Star block design by Missouri Star Quilt Co.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Missing My Children

I woke up missing my children today. The feeling was unrealized, lurking just below the surface. 

I was scrolling through posts on my phone and saw a cute picture of someone else's toddlers in a blanket fort in a living room in Somewhere, USA. It wasn't anyone I knew. It was some repost from a children's author or an artist or some account like that... 

But suddenly, I felt a visceral longing in my heart and being that will never be filled. My son or daughter never got to be a big brother or big sister to my other son or daughter. They didn't get to build living room blanket forts, play together, and antagonize each other. I didn't get to hear them laugh and bicker. And I felt profoundly sad. 

It's true. I never got that and I never will.

At the same time, I know if things had gone as planned my children would be way past that stage now. As their mother, I know I would still be sad. I know I would still have that longing in my heart for those days, those times. But I would be comforted by my memories and photo albums and the joys of the new little things in the present moment. It would be bittersweet but not tragic.


It's important that I recognize these moments when they happen. It's important that I let myself feel the hard stuff when it surfaces. My losses are significant. I am allowed to grieve.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Mental Respite

I took the whole week off from work. 

I had to use PTO and get a doctor's note, but getting a break from having to be around unmasked people has done wonders for my mental state. I get next week off too. Then I'll reevaluate. I've decided I will no longer work around unmasked people, but I don't know what happens next. 

I'm lucky. Fortunate. Privileged. I've never felt unsafe at work before.
But I definitely feel unsafe now.

I travel across the district in my position. I work at multiple campuses, constantly in and out of classrooms and meetings. As of three weeks ago, the district had no way of contact tracing me. (When I realized this, I immediately submitted a lengthy list of my weekly contacts.) Currently, half of the students and staff at one of the elementary schools is quarantined. Overall, ten percent of my caseload has been quarantined at some point this semester. There have been documented positive cases at the preschool, the middle school, the high school, and most of the elementary schools. Did I mention they don't wear masks here? It's not safe.

And yet I got yelled at for requesting a zoom link for a meeting last week?
Insanity. I cannot trust these people. We live in different realities.

I'm mad.
I'm sad. 
I'm scared.
I'm tired.

I succeeded in doing almost nothing this week. On Tuesday I fell asleep at 4:30pm and slept for thirteen hours straight. Let me explicitly state: "That is NOT normal."

I don't know if I'd feel so resolute in my decision to no longer work around unmasked people if it weren't for my experiences with infertility. It sounds so basic and obvious, like, absolutely not--nobody should be forced to work with unmasked people. But... It is so easy to feel intimidated by an employer. It involves money and contracts and control. I remember not speaking up during my recent horrendously toxic experience in graduate school. There was a power differential. I didn't want to fail a class or get kicked out of the program. So I stayed silent.

But now? Well, unlike my younger self, I still try to keep my comments to myself haha, but I definitely no longer live how others expect. I no longer bow down to what others think I should do and how and when. My life is so fundamentally different from everyone around me. If I did what everyone else thought I should do, well, I wouldn't be living MY life at all.

And if I listened to my current employer? Well, I might not even have a life to live...


Please be kind to yourself. 

Give yourself lots of grace and lots of breaks. 

For so many reasons, enduring this pandemic is really, really hard.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Before My Brain Breaks

I am in a mental space I've never been in before. 

For someone who's learned to manage pretty intrusive anxiety and depression over the last several decades, that says a lot. I don't take my mental health for granted. So when I felt like I was at my breaking point last week, I listened to myself. And when I say breaking point, I mean it literally. I felt like my brain was starting to crack. I felt like it was only a matter of time before I just... Broke.

I was processing slower, not comprehending as much. My head hurt. I was dizzy. I wasn't hungry. I was teary. I couldn't think straight. It felt like I couldn't get anything done at work. What I did get done wasn't that hard and took much longer than usual. I felt like my brain was slowly... Shutting... Down...

I don't want to get covid.
I've spent enough energy in my life on a chronic illness (infertility). I'd like to avoid another.

I don't want to spread covid.
I don't want to cause others' suffering, especially when I could've just stayed home. 

Hell, I don't even want to have an accident!
I can't need to go to the hospital because the hospitals are getting full!

The fact of the matter is they don't wear masks here. They say they do, but they don't. I sit in meetings all week and I am the only person wearing a mask. (They think it's fine if everyone is seated and not moving around. I do not share this belief.) My younger students do not wear them and I'm not allowed to ask them to wear one while with me. (Yes, I asked and, yes, I was told no.) My older students do not wear them properly (they're almost all under the nose) and a lot of teachers wear bandanas or neck gaiters (ineffective coverings) and pull everything down to talk. All the while, the number of cases in our county climbs. 

There was a community parade a couple of weeks ago, a potluck at work last week, and my boyfriend and I walked by a packed (standing room only) restaurant this weekend. I'm incredulous and I'm angry. How can people continue to live their lives like things are normal when I'm scared just to go to work? I asked my boyfriend, "Am I overreacting?" He immediately replied, "No. You're not overreacting."

I wrote about living in The Twilight Zone last June before I moved. I wrote about feeling gaslit two months ago. It's only getting worse. The Twilight Zone, the gaslighting, the virus. I know family and friends with travel plans. I see so many people around me living in denial of covid's existence, of how contagious it is, of how varied and potentially long-lasting its effects can be. This will not end well.

The bottom line is I don't feel safe at work. The risk of exposure is too high. The stress of being hypervigilant and monitoring my every interaction with people because I'm the only one consistently taking precautions has started to take its mental toll. I can't do it anymore.

I'm using a sick day to not go into work today. I feel like I'm doing something radical when all I want to do is stay safe. I don't know if I will get in trouble or what will happen. I'm taking it one day at a time. I'm hoping they move school off campus and fully online. I provide a valuable service to my students, but it's not like I'm saving lives here. In fact, I could actually be saving lives if I just stayed home. 

I'm angry I'm even being put in this position. It is their choice to not wear masks. It is my choice to not be around them. However, *their* choice is going to cost *me* money or maybe even my job.

In one way, it's a really hard decision about whether or not to go into work.
In another way, it's not hard at all.

I need to stay home to protect myself, to protect others, and to preserve my mental health. 

Going through infertility really drove home the fact that nobody is living my life except me. 

I can get another job. I can't get another life.


And now for a brain cleanser on a completely different topic...

I finished another quilt. I used precut strips for the quilt top (so easy) and a furry fabric called minky for the back. It has my favorite colors, it's soft and furry, and I love it.

Time to start a new one! 

Below is a picture of the new quilt and a couple of quotes I enjoy. 

Stay safe and take care! 💚💙💜

(Art Credit: The plate is by UK anarcho-craftivist artist Carrie Reichardt, 2018.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Surviving Right Now

I'm still here; I just haven't had much to say. More precisely, I've had plenty to say but haven't felt like saying much. I feel like I am cycling through the same tired topics in my head. It's much like... Y'know... Infertility...

Some things don't have a definitive ending. They happen over time and change your life forever. It can take years to figure out how to live again within your new reality.

I think that's how I'm surviving right now. I'm relying on what all I learned while surviving infertility. Establishing boundaries. Practicing acceptance. Cultivating gratitude. Enjoying the little things.

None of it is easy, but what is the alternative? If I'm miserable enduring something and I'm miserable while working to change it, well then, sign me up for the work. I may not be able to change anything that's happening around me, but I can always work on myself.

And I say "work on myself" lightly. I don't have much left over these days. I go to work, I run my limited errands, I do my laundry, and I sleep a lot. But that is enough. Especially right now.