We watched Soul last night. I had to resubscribe to Disney+ because we had given it up for subscribing to YouTube without commercials. Sometimes I’m like we subscribe to too many things! And then Jeremy & Vince look at me and ask is there anything else to do this year? No. I loved Queen’s Gambit. I hated Midnight Sky even though I love sci fi stuff. I loved Away. I loved Gravity.

We made it outside for a bit as a family. This never happens. It was a delight!


I had a lovely Christmas working at the hospital. I like that it’s a bit slower than usual, I like that I get to say Merry Christmas to loads of people. I helped people to the bathroom, I fed people, I lotioned up dry skin. People who needed narcotic pain medication the shift before found that their pain was better and they needed only Tylenol for their pain during the day. I laughed with my coworkers. I like that there is a lot of pie in the break room & free lunch at the hospital. I don’t really feel separated from my family, rather, I feel connected to my greater community which is a very Christmas-y feeling. It’s no secret that I dislike Christmas. Crappy things happen all the time, but somehow when the same crappy things happen that happen during the year just happen to happen over Christmas, it makes it so much harder because it feels like you are supposed to be happy or that everyone else is happy and here you are, something terrible happening. There are many people (OK, three people I’m especially thinking about) I love that are having an especially hard Christmas and I want to support them and help them and it never, ever feels like it is enough. So I go and put some lotion on some dry skin and get people some OJ because their blood sugar dropped, I recharged some hearing aids and tried to figure out how to insert them into ears, I got packages from families in the lobby and delivered them to the rooms upstairs and then I had some coconut cream pie (three slices, mmm, I love that coconut flavor and Jeremy doesn’t like it very much, so we don’t often have it in the house). And that was Christmas.

Vaccine-wise, my lottery number is 4246 out of 5878 employees. I honestly was disappointed in this number because it meant that I (and all the nurses on my unit) was categorized as a person who does not need a n95 mask for my job. I was hurt because, well we all did 2 months on COVID units and also they are mandatorily floating us to COVID units now. Of course, I want all the people who work on COVID units to get the vaccine first, but the inevitable happened on Friday which was a person who I work with tangentially (not a nurse) excitedly asked if I had gotten my vaccine yet because she had gotten hers the day before. I said my lottery number placed me back in line and that I wasn’t anticipating getting it until the end of January. And I then I said kind of lamely that I hadn’t worked with a COVID patient since May and she said – oh! I never work with COVID patients and continued on happily with encouraging me to check my email. Gah. I had to stop seeing pictures of people getting vaccinated on my social media accounts because it makes me feel bad. At least I’m not a Stanford resident. I know, I know…I’m happy I have a number. Lots of people don’t even have a place in line yet.

It’s lovely having Vincie home. He gave himself a mullet.

And then he cut it off.

We celebrated the family Christmas on Christmas eve. We gave him a chemistry set (that he asked for). We had a delicious lamb and latkes dinner on Christmas eve, Vince can make delicious latkes.

Jeremy rearranged the books.

Dress, cookies, seizures.

Jeremy likes to wait until mid to late December to do any Christmas gift shopping. This used to drive me crazy because I thought I couldn’t buy things people who are on “his list”, but over the years I’ve just started drawing up the lists and buying the gifts right after Thanksgiving (esp this year since shipping is taking longer than usual). So all there is left to do is to buy me a gift. We are not really a gift giving couple and Christmas is not my favorite holiday. But Jeremy tried to order me a gift a few days ago and found delivery dates that slid into mid-January. I was OK with that. But then I suggested that he buy me something at Whole Foods so I could ceremoniously open a gift on Christmas. He’s like – is that OK? would you be OK with that? I mean, it’s the only place I ever go, so it would be super convenient. I said – heck yes! I’m OK with a nice cookie and gourmet cheese for Christmas! Bring it on. I think he found me a dress at the grocery store.

We spent Friday night cooking three types of cookies for the school holiday teacher gift exchange. We made iced sugar cookies (my favorite), gingerbread cookies (Jeremy’s favorite) and a mint chocolate chip because all cookie assortments need chocolate chip.

It was lovely to see Mr. Pat and a classmate during our outdoor gift exchange.

I spent a lot of Sunday making chicken and dumpling stew. This took me more time than I thought it would. I can cook if I want to.

Mirepoix and everything.

We saw a neurologist on Friday for Edda’s increased seizures. This was a new neurologist at Children’s. Our regular one didn’t have an appointment early enough. I think we aren’t going to do anything yet, no med changes, no 5 day admission to Children’s for an extended, unmedicated video EEG. I think we’ll consult with Jeremy’s old college friend who runs the Rett Clinic at Children’s Hospital in Philly.

Vince is home! He wore his n95 while traveling, hopefully that will be OK. Here we are introducing him to the guest room where he’ll be.

He managed to make it to Baltimore during one of the worst snowstorms on the East Coast in years. Vince was like – uhhh, I’m really used to California weather now. It’s cold here. Originally I was going to pick Vince up from BWI, but Jeremy generously volunteered because he knows I’m a scaredy cat driver. Though Jeremy said – I haven’t driven in months and the first day I drive it’s going to be in the terrible snowstorm. It took him a long time to get there, but he made it (pretty much on time, coinciding with Vince picking up his luggage from baggage claim) and by the time they were headed home, it had turned mostly to rain. Jeremy had a jam-packed day at work (work is good! busy bc of the new administration) before the pickup (which was why originally I was going to drive and pick Vincie up), so Jeremy was exhausted by day’s end. But we are all together again.


Jeremy moved his office from the guest room into Edda’s bedroom in anticipation of Vince’s return home from California. Jeremy *loves* his work at home setup. He’s always trying to figure out how to get more screen area. He really needs a nice office chair.

We have not done any Christmas decoration except for the Zoom background, which I showed you earlier in the guest room, but now has expanded and exploded in Edda’s room. Can you find the menorah? How about the german nutcracker?

I attended the zoom meeting today discussing the administration of the vaccine at my hospital. They are getting the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine either today or tomorrow (975 doses) and then there are three waves within the hospital. The whole hospital is getting first priority generally speaking, but the first wave are folks whose job requires an n95 mask, the second wave are people who are required to wear a regular surgical mask and the third wave are people who can do their jobs remotely. Then within the first wave, there is just a simple lottery system. We’ll get emails on Friday with our lottery number, there are about 7,000 employees in the system. When it’s your turn, you get a few days to decide to take it or decline it. And if you decline it, you get to go to the back of the line. From the survey they sent out, about 2/3 said that they were definitely or very likely to get the vaccine. 1/3 said they would be unlikely or for sure never getting the vaccine. The first clinics will begin next Monday. I haven’t taken care of a known COVID patient since May, but yesterday, we had one day nurse and two night nurses float to COVID units. I think my turn to float is soon. Of course, everyone hates floating in general, they don’t tell you until you get to work. I mentioned that it would be a shame to get floated to a COVID unit and get sick like the week before I could get the vaccine and a friend mentioned, you’d be like John Laurens in Hamilton who died in a battle after the war was over.

I always have trouble being productive the day after a shift, but today I’m extra anxious for a few reasons. Vince is on the move starting today from CA back to Maryland. (He did such a good job this term, making the best out of a lousy situation. He kept friendships going online and he enjoyed California and did well in all his classes. All a big deal. ) There is suppose to be a big snowstorm in the DC area – but we are right on the rain/snow line. We booked a flight out of Oakland so it’ll be a direct one, but it means taking a train and staying at a hotel overnight. Of course, the travel makes me nervous. I mean, travel in general makes me nervous, but add on top of it both the snowstorm and covid and I’m a bundle of nerves. I’m trying to not bug Vince too much about masking, though I mentioned to him not to eat/drink or remove his mask on the plane and he was like – oh yeah, that’s right.

And lastly, I update on our dear Edda. She’s had a rough 2-3 days. On both Sun and Monday, she suffered through three or four pretty strong seizures. And this morning (when we were taking in the car for service), she had another strong seizure. We are systematically (desperately) trying to get her appointments at Children’s, but her regular providers are booked for weeks/months. But we are figuring it out. The seizures have been ramping up again slowly over weeks, she’s been on the 1000 mg Keppra BID since early Sept, but I think we need to look at something else. We have an appt on Friday with another neuro on the “team” – someone new (recommended by our consulting doctor). Poor girl, sometimes she seizes and then bites her tongue enough to bleed. It’s hard to watch. But we’ll manage. She still has many many happy and contented moments. Overall, I think she’s ok and enjoying her life. She is still eating well and enjoying the extra Christmas sweets we are making in the house.

I guess I’ll update the car? We had a “check airbag” light flash on/off probably 8-10 times in the past month, but nothing now for a few weeks. Our regular repair guy said – I don’t touch airbags, you gotta go to the dealer. We went to the dealer and they ran the computer on the system and it says – intermittent faulty driver’s side airbag. Do you know how much a new airbag costs? $1500. Oh! Also, the windshield wiper on the drivers side wasn’t wiping that well, so I ordered a new one and installed it and I drove it to work yesterday in the rain and it still wasn’t working well – smearing the water all over. Was it worse than it was before? I was grouchy about it. I was almost about to order a windshield surface treatment liquid from amazon after I parked at the hospital, but then my entire Amazon ordering is in Spanish (because I converted my phone over to spanish) and I was too tired to deal with a Spanish shopping cart transaction (you think you don’t really read the repetitive things on websites, but you really do read all the things on a web site even if you have ordered thousands of dollars, somehow ordering wiper fluid at 6:10 am in a parking lot in a foreign language wondering if you are going to spend the day in a covid unit just seemed a mountain too high to climb) And then, later that night, I complained about it to Jeremy and said what I wanted for Christmas was a well wiped windshield and we went to sleep. And then he drove it today to take it to the airbag analysis appointment and then laughed his head off at me because I had failed to take off the bright yellow protective cover packaging from the blade. Jeremy was like – it was bright yellow?! how could you not notice? I said – I thought it was yellow to be “cool”. Maybe all windshield wipers are yellow now I blurted back. lol. Sometimes I really am not very with it.

Another album!

I do love Taylor Swift. Wow, that girl is super productive – 2nd album during the pandemic. That might be what I admire most about TS.

I’m wrapping gifts this year. After years of leaving presents in the shipping boxes they came in (we’d just declare a certain day to stop opening boxes which sometimes resulted in Christmas gifts of windshield wipers or fiber pills), I’ve decided this is the year to break out the wrapping paper and ribbon and actually wrap presents.

Shuffle dance

Jeremy and I spent a good 5-10 minutes last night trying without much success (ok, without any success) to learn this dance. I think it is possible, but it would require many hours of practice. So many things are possible with many hours of practice. Jeremy is drawn to tiktok. This is his mindless scrolling habit he picked up just a few weeks ago. I have to say, learning tiktok dances is quite a workout.

Pickles, metrics, vaccine.

After I get the vaccine, I look forward to a few things. I look forward to “browsing” in stores. I know that when some people say “browsing” – they mean hours of meandering down aisles and looking at things, picking things up, putting them down, trying on clothes, etc. I don’t mean this kind of browsing. I mean the browsing where I can spend 5 extra minutes looking for something without feeling like I’m going to catch covid from some random other shopper and then get really sick. Like today. I’m trying to find a particular type of salty pickle at the Chinese market. At the Chinese grocery store, there is a whole enormous, endless aisle dedicated to various pickled things. And I couldn’t find the right one (I think it’s in the tin below), and as I stood there looking for it, I got more and more agitated (probably 2 minutes) until I just had to give up without asking anyone and run away from the store. I would like to get my eyes checked and my lady parts checked.

Also, for some unknown (well, known to us, but not clearly explainable to outsiders of our marriage – that means you!) reason, we now have 90 pounds of rice in the house. Ninety pounds! Well, we are set for calories (but not nutrition) for like 45 more years. Brown rice, white rice, short grain, long grain, jasmine, weird intermediate brown/white rice. Now if we only had the equivalent amount of toilet paper.

Also! I did a crazy thing and converted my phone over to Spanish. I wanted google maps to start giving me directions in Spanish, but in order for that to happen, I had to convert the whole phone to Spanish. I’m not quite sure what Google maps is telling me anymore, but it’s OK. It’s a little incongruent that it’s in Spanish but giving me distances in the English system. I could convert the phone over to metric at the same time, but then it might be too much of a mind melting experience, I might just never drive again. Oh yeah, I basically never drive now.

They just approved the vaccine!

Do you need a label?

My dad wanted to know if we had a label maker. I said yes! And we checked to see if it was working. And then my dad placed an order for three labels for pickup on Friday. Jeremy took one look at the label maker (which we’ve had for years and has probably made only 18 labels) and said – I hate that label maker and practically growled. I did not understand such a strong feeling towards an inanimate object from my husband.

We are dealing with some possible household covid exposure. Everyone’s feeling pretty good, but we are waiting for test results to come back at the end of the week. Fingers crossed for *neg* results. (I can not believe that we are still operating under 2-3 day wait for results.) If it comes back +, first, that’s scary and we’ll have to expand the household testing and 2nd, it’ll mess up the already messed up return of Vince from college for the holidays. I’m not happy bringing him home during this mess. But they are literally shutting the dorms down (deactivating everyone’s key cards) and even though we have many people he could stay with, if he’s not coming home to us, then are we really going to foist him onto another family? Mostly likely, he’ll be home, but it’s not without changes in plans (changed from a flight with a layover in Las Vegas/Phoenix to a direct flight, but it means it leaves from Oakland and not Sac which means a longer Uber ride and a night’s stay in a hotel in Oakland which is under stay-at-home orders, ugh which is better? It’s hard to say. I guess I’m saying the direct flight is better.) and back ups in place for him to stay in CA if we think he should lock down there.

Spanish and Chinese

I started taking Spanish lessons about early summer and I gave those up because I wasn’t practicing and reviewing and I was dreading each lesson. Then in mid-summer, I found an online friend in Mexico who I’ve been exchanging English/Spanish lessons on nights we are both free and that has been nice – even though I also, for the most part, felt unprepared each time. But it’s been enough to remind me that language learning is something that I want to do. In the past few weeks, I found some inspirational language learning channels on youtube and I realized that I needed to touch the language more often. So slowly over the past month or so, I’ve switched over my music, my Netflix watching, my Instagram/Twitter (you know how to decrease social media use? Just switch it over to a language you can’t really understand) and my podcasts over to Spanish. So when I’m at my desk working, I listen to Spanish music and pay almost no attention to the lyrics (though the most used word is corazon (heart) which seems on par with English pop songs), when I’m doing laundry, feeding Edda or reupholstering, I listen to Spanish podcasts (usually geared towards Spanish learners, though I have a few about minimalism, running and current events – those are challenging) and then when I have time (hardly ever), I pay attention to Netflix spanish language movies. This is not entirely relaxing. Sometimes I’ll go back to all English stuff because, man, you just need to watch/listen something with no brain cells – Taylor Swift (again at the top of my Spotify 2020 wrapped list) and I watched My Octopus Teacher on Netflix which was wonderful. There is so much Spanish available to listen to and watch. I use Language Learning with Netflix (chrome extension) to have both Spanish and English subtitles, and then I use the Toucan extension in chrome to replace words in English websites over to spanish, so, for example, I’ll be reading NYTimes articles and 3-5% of the words are replaced with Spanish words and I can click them off saying I know them and they’ll start replacing harder and harder words. I’m not sure how long this will last, I can’t decide if this is sustainable. But I’m rewarded. I had two Spanish speaking patients on Sunday, I stumbled through basic things, I’m starting to conjugate verbs, I can make jokes about the commercials on spanish language channels. It’s fun. And extremely useful. I still use the translation phone a lot.

Then I was like – oh, I should just listen to Chinese podcasts too – just a few minutes to improve my Chinese. My Chinese is in a strange place. I almost always learn something on the beginning levels – I have trouble with some transitional phrases – “approximately” or “day after tomorrow” but I understand 90-95% of the lesson. On the pre-intermediate levels, I can understand about 80% of the lesson. Yesterday I learned the word for Spam and, of course, there are words that can’t translate over to English, so I learned the word for “affectionately made” sandwich, which is the sandwich I get everyday I’m at the hospital. (Jeremy always wakes up with me on my hospital shift days and makes me lunch. On Sunday, he warned me that there wasn’t much food in the house, but when I finally got around to opening the sandwich at 4pm, I saw that he had made a PB and J sandwich with the crusts cut off and then sliced into quarters – this was an “affectionately made” sandwich…<3). Once I step into the true intermediate Chinese levels where they start explaining the Chinese using Chinese, I’m lost. lol.

I feel like with Spanish, as I learn more, the learning should accelerate because I can close into the language. But with Chinese, even though I have a head start, I feel like the language will just explode open because I have no anchor to tie me down – and you can just start going down the reading/writing path which is also its own enormous monster.