BBL, Purwick, Halloween.

Sometimes when you spend a lot of money, you get all excited! I’m going to buy a new phone! A vacation! A piece of jewelry! A night at a famous restaurant! A Brazilian butt lift! You take a long time to think about it and carefully choose the color, location, designer, plastic surgeon. But yesterday I woke up thinking that I’d buy none of those fun things and that maybe I’d splurge on a $13 dollar grain and greens bowl at CAVA for lunch and by 6 pm last night, I was a new phone/vacation/piece of jewelry poorer. We took the van in for an oil change (the light went when we were about 1,000 miles from being home and we got to it only now) and it turned out we needed a new front axle and the 90,000 mile tune up. That was almost $1,000. And then the sewage ejection pump pumped its last load of poop from the basement to street sewage level and we got that professionally replaced. Also almost $1,000. Though I hate spending that money, I love both our mechanic and our plumber. We’ve used them for years and so many times, they talk us through the problems, tell us to save money or charge so little for routine work (I’ve had a plumbing visit come in under $50 for an hour’s worth of work and he insist that he did not need more than that) that when they come around and say – ummm, you guys really need to spend $1,000 now, we know we really need to spend $1,000.

I am enjoying some medical Halloween fun.

My ballot has been counted!

We spoke to Vince last night. He’s good. I was relieved to hear that he went somewhere with a friend – if only to the gym to pick up some swag they are giving away to celebrate the opening of it on Monday to students only. A friend! Walking to the gym! My bar is so low now. They are opening the gym to 10% capacity on a reservation only system. There is also a ChemE pumpkin carving contest that he was planning on participating in, trying to figure out how to get his free pumpkin. Also, they opened the lounges on the floors and there are little social-distancing gatherings this weekend and he’s going to try to attend the one on his hall. I stalk all the Davis instagram pages, so I found out that this little flurry of activities on Halloween weekend was spurred by the administration giving out grants for groups of students to have safe Halloween fun. And that the COVID testing had zero positives this week again. And that the Chancellor choice of a Star Trek costume is fun! He’s an engineer – so that’s good with the yellow jersey.

Friday, Silence of the Lambs, youtube.

Friday used to be my favorite day of the week. I enjoy the regular work/school schedule, but I extra enjoy the anticipation of the weekend. I love the Friday afternoon, early evening feeling starting somewhere at 4 pm when you finally give up and acknowledge that nothing else is going to get done and wander around looking for a good friend, or a good snack, or a good book. Even in my hardest working days where I worked every weeknight into the night and most days/nights on the weekends, I made it a point to never work on Friday nights. These days, I get sad on Friday. Another week passes and there is no difference between anydays. We have not made any forward progress. I’m sad realizing that maybe Vince’s second year of college will look like a no-friend isolation experience. Or that Edda won’t be able to meet her buddies at school.

I’ve been trading English/Spanish lessons almost every night with a friend (Ana) I met online. It’s slow going. When I’m in a good mood, I think it’s fun and it’ll be helpful in a decade. When I’m in a bad mood, I think that it’s not going to go anywhere because my brain is very good at forgetting and I’m unable to practice enough. Every once in a while, I’ll find a blog/story of a person who learns a language well without immersion at the age of 40 or even 60. And then I realize that they are learning their 4th language and they literally spend 15-20 hours a week working on it. We’ll see how it goes.

When I’m on top of the spanish learning, I’ll switch all my music (pop), podcasts (news) and video entertainment (easy spanish telenovelas) over to spanish. It takes about 4 weeks of constantly listening to spanish-only songs for Spotify to understand that the language switch is a real thing and start suggesting spanish only songs for you to listen to on their weekly lists. When I’m not on top of the spanish learning (90% of the time), I go back to my regular podcast listening schedule. I found a podcast called: Too scary, didn’t watch where they spend the whole time telling the entire plot of scary movies to people who are too scared to watch them. I listened to the one about Silence of the Lambs (which I did watch in 1991 and loved very much) and I realized that even though I kept my eyes open for 97% of it, the 3% of the time I kept my eyes closed, I missed key plot points that I’m learning oh, 30 years later. How did Hannibal escape exactly? How did Jodie Foster exactly kill the bad guy? I just made stuff up in my head which I was content to have made up and not question. I can no longer watch these kinds of movies. I can not add distress (even fictional) to my life. Only baking shows and bullet journal tutorials and asmr videos for me now please.

We cancelled our subscription to Disney+ and Netflix and signed up for YouTube premium. This means that I gave up unlimited movies for YouTube with no ads. Every person I mentioned this too gives me the eyeball and says huh? What can I say? The boys wanted the youtube. Jeremy and Vince both watch youtube the most. I watch nothing. We still have Amazon prime, so I’m limiting my movie watching to that single platform.

And now we enter the final weekend before the election. Jeremy has yet to drop off his ballot in a ballot box. It’s not that he’s procrastinating. It’s that he wanted to bundle it with an errand and I think he literally has not left the house in over a week.

Good, iPhone 12, Megan.

I’m feeling good. I know lots of people are feeling bad, but I’m feeling good. How can you not feel good when Biden is campaigning in Georgia?! The time to feel bad was about four years ago when one realized that we were headed down this crazy, destructive path as a country. Did I foresee exactly all the terrible things that were going to happen? No. But did I know that bad things would happen. (Also, I’m furious at RBG. She should have seen this coming and been smart enough to step down when she could have sealed her legacy. Now a lifetime of work undone in less than 3 weeks. A weakness in the ego there. Or the opposite, the ego was too strong.) Also, Ruby died on post-election-day one in 2016, so how could that not have been the worst day ever? Now we are just lying in the bed we made for ourselves, covered our own shit and just continuing to smear it all over our body hoping that someone (perhaps the voting public. perhaps aoc) will help us get out of this humiliating situation. I voted by mail. Vince voted by mail from California. Jeremy dropped his off at the ballot box. My parents switched their vote from Trump to Biden, information which my mother offered up at last week’s zoom family dinner after 3.5 years of not talking about politics. We had to cut off political talk because I needed to still be OK to be in the same room with them and my parents love talking about politics. And I didn’t want to be mad at my parents, but I mostly was sad because this poor judgement on their part four years ago throws all of their other judgements that they have made for me, about me, to me into questionable light. Maybe that should be a relief.

We got my parents matching iPhone 12s last week to upgrade them from iPhone 6s. The iPhone 6 came out in 2014, so they both used that phone until it was literally dying. We promised them the phones for their 50th wedding anniversary in August, but were patiently waiting until the release just now. My dad had called three weeks ago and said that his iPhone 6 couldn’t charge well and/or hold charge well. Then we realized that my parents hadn’t been backing up their phones for years (they don’t like paying for backup stuff), but they figured it out and started paying 1-2 dollars a month to back up to the iCloud and then the phones came last week and the transfer over to the new phones went relatively smoothly. During the three week phone-starting-to-die and the new-phone-release-period, my dad would sporadically text us, when is the release date? When is the announcement date? What about preorders? (Apple keeps the dates quiet for a long time). I want the red one. No I want the blue one. It doesn’t come with a charger?! Honestly, it was kind of cute. I had been irritated that I was spending all this money to upgrade them, but on the day that they got them and unboxed them on zoom and got them all working, I did get a rush of happiness. The same rush of happiness one gets from giving a 3 to 7 year old exactly what they wanted for their birthday. Also, during the unboxing of the phones, my dad casually mentioned he was admitted overnight to the local hospital 3 days prior for a stroke workup. I was like – a stroke workup?!!? You didn’t tell me? He replied, there was nothing you could do, so I didn’t want to bother you. (He has a droopy eyelid and went to the eye doc who sent him to the ED for possible stroke. They did all the imaging at the hospital. It’s not a stroke. It’s a droopy eyelid.)

I pestled through Edda’s medication mortar yesterday morning. Have I been giving Edda, along with her Keppra, a small bit of ceramic as well?

The CSA keeps on coming. Someone mentioned to me that she called the CSA bounty “her vegetable homework” which I took to immediately. Now I call all CSA vegetables my vegetable homework.

I went on a walk with Megan yesterday. Megan is Edda’s special needs teacher who has some time off for medical reasons (she feels great and is recovering well) and so we got to hang out mid-week, mid-day (unusual for both of us!). Maxi got to come along. Maxi was so excited to go to a new place. We also sat outside at CAVA for lunch where I saw masked ladies-who-lunch (of which I was one for the day) give each other big hugs and say “it’s been so long!!!”. Hugging is not part of social distancing. I had to give up hugging everyone, I do enjoy hugging as a greeting. But no longer. I only hug Jeremy. And Edda and I snuggle at night. Maxi found a bunch of uneaten food in the decorative planter next to our table and surreptitiously ate it while I was distracted by my lamb bowl. She seemed pleased with herself.

Sleep, math.

Jeremy and I have been figuring out our new routines without Vince around and with Edda’s homeschooling schedule. Our Edda-care did get compressed and rearranged a few times during the pandemic, but has remained steady for most of the summer and into the fall (although it is about the change again now). Edda has care for most of the workday (9-5), but it still is about six hours a day shorter (6-8) than we are generally used to in the normal running school year. The thing that is hard for both Jeremy and me is our ability to get enough sleep. We have the time, but neither of us sleeps as well as we’d like. Jeremy can’t fall asleep and I can’t stay asleep, though my inability to stay asleep is less severe than Jeremy’s inability to fall asleep. For me, the new thing I’m doing is I’m trying to get up at the same time every day. I had gotten into the habit mid-summer to “sleep in” on the days that I wasn’t working at the hospital. If I was working, no matter how bad the night of sleep was, I’d get up at 5:30 am. But on the days I wasn’t working, I’d try to sleep in until about 7 am to make up for all the bad sleep I was having. And this wasn’t working that well for me. So now I’m trying to get up by 6 am at the latest on the days I’m off. It’s better, though it means that I’m getting up earlier than Jeremy (who is trying to sleep in from not falling asleep until 1 or 2 am). I know lots of married couples have out-of-sync bedtime and waking routines, but not Jeremy and me. We’ve always gone to bed at the same time and gotten up at the same time (save for a few Sundays here/there).

Vince reported back that he got a 90 on his math midterm and the average was a 70. He is “feeling good”. Academically, Vince’s college experience has been eye-opening for me. It’s only now that I realize how brutal my own college academic experience was. Vince’s classes all have weekly quizzes to check on progress and comprehension. They’ll drop the lowest couple of quizzes. Two or three exams, no final. Maybe dropping the lowest exam. They tell you about the help you can ask for. Now there are so many resources, anonymous youtube teachers willing to walk you through a diff eq problem. On the other hand, my class experience usually concentrated down to a single midterm (maybe there were 2 exams and not just a single midterm) and cumulative final, each worth half your grade. I’m not sure what happened if you had a life crisis and couldn’t make that test. I never found myself in that situation or I never acknowledged myself to be in that situation. Oftentimes, I couldn’t figure out something and I was too shy to admit I didn’t know how to do something and then struggled a million years to figure it out. When I think back on the school part of college, I mostly think of it fondly because of course, I was competitive and I wanted it to be difficult and to work hard against a high standard, but I also remember pockets of being depressed a lot, having GI issues for weeks/months, and having a low grade cold all semester. I’m sure it was from not resting enough, or being too stressed out or whatever. I could recover from it all so well then! I had only myself to think about. I don’t think my heart was broken then, but my heart now is broken in a million pieces and I’m not sure I could survive now if you dropped my back in my old college routine. Maybe I could. Maybe I would be fine by taking it all less seriously than I did then and have a better time.

Bikes and reupholstery

Jeremy is still in a bike conundrum. REI refused to fix his bike (in a very nice way) because about two years ago, Jeremy left his carbon fiber bike leaning against a pole and a gust of wind blew it over and it fell on something that caused a tiny, superficial-ish nick in the frame. If one decided to call the manufacturer (and one did decide as soon as it happened) and ask if the bike was rideable, the manufacturer would tell you to 1) immediately stop riding the bike because the frame could catastrophically fail mid-ride and 2) they could send you a replacement frame for $1200. So Jeremy made an engineering cost/benefit/bike implosion probability calculation (gut feel) and taped over the nick and continued to ride the bike for literally 10,000 miles. So Jeremy ran into some bike issue recently that he needed a bike shop to fix and headed over to REI, casually mentioning the nick (which had been taped over and no one noticed). Then the bike tech (who I started calling Jeremy’s good bike friend (GBF)) contacted, themselves, the bike manufacturer who told GBF that the bike is completely unrideable, REI then said they (sadly) could not repair it because they have to certify that all bikes they repair are safe and completely rideable. Though GBF and the other bike techs spent a long time discussing the nick and all of them agreed that they would all totally keep riding the superficially nicked carbon fiber bike. So Jeremy and GBF broke up. Congrats for reaching the end of this bike story. This has been my marriage for the past 2.5 weeks. Oh there is more! Jeremy took the bike home and started ordering bike repair tools to fix it himself (which can be infuriating to him because all bike things (like fire pits, outdoor deck heaters, eight pound dumbbells and apparently pumpkin puree) are out of stock and price gouged). But he managed to order all his tools including this lovely metal dildo which he calls a “press fit bottom bracket bearing tool”.

Jeremy is happy doing bike stuff. I’m happy if he is happy doing bike stuff. He tells me there are memes or jokes about husbands loving their bikes more than their wives. The first question is- is your bike in your bedroom? And for Jeremy, the answer is YES.

I have retrenched my feeling about my n95 mask. I was frustrated that it seemed like I was the only one wearing it last week and I wanted to quit wearing mine, but this week, I took a look around and I decided that it was an even split among the staff. And I also discovered that our unit (COVID free) has boxes and boxes of my sized n95 masks in stock in a locked cabinet near the med room (I just have to ask the charge nurse). I’ve literally been wearing my 6 or so n95 masks since April (with carefully written dates on the front for use) and hadn’t seen any in stock for months. But I got three new ones yesterday. And my patients seem to be wearing masks more in their rooms. Family members too. I need to retrench for the winter. It’s going to be a long, hard winter. Our house is not going to be as bubbled as before – we are onboarding a new caregiver next week who has other families she’s working with and our caregiver now is headed back to her school, but will still be helping us out in the evenings.

The house is getting lighter all the time, we are fixing, throwing things away and rearranging. It’s incredible how just the three of us can use the entire enormous house. Every single room is used, every single bit of closet space is used. You know how usually there is a formal dining room or formal living room that is never used or a guest room you never go into? Not in this house. I’m working on replacing the upholstery on these chairs. These chairs were purchased during that fleeting moment where both of us had professional jobs, but no kids. The year or two that we floated out of IKEA furniture and wandered into a real furniture store of furniture made from real wood.

These are chairs that are constantly exposed to spaghetti sauce. I hope this pattern will hide it well. I need to buy a staple gun. Jeremy is trying to talk me into a pneumatic staple gun, but I think I’m going to go with electric. We have a manual one, but it doesn’t sink the staples in deep enough.

Vince seems OK. He seems good. He has not a single friend on campus which makes me sad, but I’m trying to not be too sad about it, because literally, what can you do about it? Nothing. Classes are good, California is good. He’s socializing with his friends from home.

Edda is doing OK. This one morning, she seemed particularly thrilled to be in school.

The darkness ahead.

I read about the uptick in positive cases and think about the small hospitals in the middle of the country who are taking care of those patients. What a struggle for everyone involved. For a lot of the time now, I can just live my life and I’m mostly content. Jeremy and I and Edda are settling into our triad life. Patents get examined apace and attorneys no longer spend extra minutes on the telephone telling me about their families in lockdown. Even at the hospital, I felt on Monday, it was allllmost like it was Before Times, with families milling about, asking questions. Not a single COVID patient on the unit. We had nursing students being precepted and the Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation was expected to show up on their annual surprise (and delayed) visit. (Listen for Code 100 on the intercom, that means that they are in the building.) The week here in Maryland was unusually warm and humid, but I’m waking up in the dark and can feel winter coming. This is why the flu is worse in the winter, right? We all crowd around the hearth, tumbling over each other, singing songs and laughing with each other keeping spirits up and sharing all our germs waiting for the warm, long days to reemerge.

Jeremy spends a long time thinking about his bicycles. I try to listen to him about them (it can be hours. and I retain very little. listening is really my worst way of remembering anything. i had to request breaks so I could do other things). One (of his two) bike is broken and has been in the shop for a week. He had long conversations with the bike repair person. I started affectionately calling this REI employee his bike friend. Bike friend loves talking about bikes. It was a nice to see, Jeremy having fun on the phone. But the relationship has ended. Jeremy took home the bike unfixed. He was grumpy about this yesterday.

Woods walk, fire pit.

I think I’ll be a very busy retired person. I could fill my days completely with non-work related things. Butterflies to be released, cakes to order, closests to reorganize, walks to take, absentee ballots to submit, laundry to fold, estate planning to do.

I’m back down to working one day a week at the hospital which is mostly a dream. But it’s also somewhat of a nightmare when I’m at work – ever so slightly. I’m not practicing enough at being a nurse at just one day a week. So every shift, I’m ever so slightly out of practice and then it whallops me, even if it is totally manageable. I’m the last person on the unit wearing the full PPE – n95, surgical mask and face shield. Most of my coworkers are wearing just the surgical masks. I asked my charge nurse, hey so are we not wearing the face shields anymore? (She was not wearing a face shield.) She told me sternly – you keep that face shield on! Of course, since I’m the only one left wearing my very old, very reused n95 mask, I feel like it’s a nuisance. Hard to breath. Hard to emote. I don’t want to wear it. And I think I might have backed off because almost 80% of our patients were tested, but now, just this week, they opened up the unit to visitors from 2-6 pm. So out of my five patients last shift, I had 3 family members visit and stay the whole time. Am I spending upwards to 15 minutes in each enclosed space. I feel like the n95/face shield allows me to not worry about distancing with my patients and/or their families which is basically impossible to do anyways. I do not want to get sick. I don’t think I’ll die (but you know, there is always that worry), but I don’t want to at all be sick for a long time, or diminish/damage my pulmonary/cardiac system – even by a little bit (I like my pulmonary/cardiac performance diminishing at the regular aging rate, it needs no help getting worse over time) and/or throw a clot.

As I’ve been working less, I’m happily taking walks in the woods with Alice and Sofi. And setting up fire pits. So many things about the pandemic! I bought a fire pit. Never in a million bazillion years would I have bought a fire pit. And we sat in the backyard. I don’t think we’ve ever spent any time in the last 12 years of living in our house leisurely sitting in the backyard until last night.

Cleaning up.

This is a really old IKEA chair. I sat in this chair watching the news about 9/11. I spent many hours nursing Vince in this chair. Since Maxi became part of the family, she’s taken it over as her bed at night. It’s really disgusting, but it’s hard to throw away something that someone clearly loves.

But it was time for it to go. We got Maxi to sit in the chair one last time this weekend.

And then we took it to the dump and threw it into a bottomless pit with old peed on rugs, and scratched and marred furniture. The van smelled really bad.

And now Maxi is the owner of a brand new doggie bed (which she loves).


I still feel inefficient. I felt like I was doing more before Vince left for college and I’m doing less now even though I think I’m as diligent as I was before and I should have more time now. But maybe it’s not true. I don’t know what is happening.

The house came with a super fancy master closet organizing rack/set. But it was poorly installed (like many things in the house) and when I went (in a pandemic inspired moment) to rearrange the shelving on the racks (after ten years of driving me crazy), I realized that all the racks were not screwed into studs, rather they were drywall mounted and because they weren’t that sturdy, they were pulling out of the walls. We decided to rip down the dry wall and put in extra studs and remount the original shelving system. We thought this would take two weekends. I think it took us over two months – maybe three. This meant that for three months, all the storage in our closet was strewn all over the bedroom. I could not find my underwear for three months, I kept buying more panties (now I have like 35 pairs of undies from Target).

We might have had some setbacks (arguments) during the “renovation”. Can I call it a renovation when the start and end look exactly alike? It’s what it means to be an adult, when you spend money and instead of getting something cool like a new sparkle jacket or a brilliant new gold bracelet, you spend money on a stuff that goes on behind a wall that you can’t even really tell.

We are very happy now. It looks exactly the same as it did before. But it works now instead of threatening to kill us by falling over every time we hefted a suitcase on the top shelf to store.