Claire’s

Sofi texted me on mid-day Monday and asked if I could take her to Montgomery Mall to do some gift shopping for her dad. I cleared my afternoon and we headed out. Sofi and I walked into the mall, masked and ready with a cash budget of $22. I asked Sofi if she wanted to see anything for herself and she headed straight to Claire’s. She had gotten her ears pierced three weeks ago and was ready to change them out. I wanted to buy her whatever she wanted and I pretty much did. I also bought a cute avocado case for my AirPods. Then we headed to the Amazon 4-star store (which easily was the most crowded in the mall) and bought a nice gift for Mike that came in at just under $22.

Scarlett & Covid Christmas #2.

We are long-term dog sitting Scarlett again. I was so-so about Scarlett. I think she’s a bit bland, but Vince loves this dog. They will spend a lot of time on the floor together, playing. Also, Scarlett is the only dog who has ever consistently kept Edda company. Yesterday, she licked Edda’s hands and then crawled up onto her lap to try and lick her face. Then she’ll find a spot by Edda’s feet to lay down and settle into a nap and Edda purposefully will stick out her feet and start rubbing Scarlett’s back. So this dog is growing on me. If you are in with my children, you are in with me.

Omicron came upon us so quickly, I’m grateful we were able to have a relatively normal Thanksgiving. The timing of my parent’s fancy dinner felt, in retrospect, fortuitous and that we squeaked that in under the wire. Last night, at our white elephant Christmas dinner/gift exchange with the DC Martins, we found out that Sarah had had a close contact last Thursday. Of course, she’s testing all the time, negative, but we reinstated mask wearing and eating in different areas with our own pods. Sarah didn’t eat and feels fine. I wish I had more rapid tests. I have only two and they are sold out everywhere now. We decided to keep Edda home from school and aftercare this week before our trip – we are trying to go to New Mexico by plane, bringing 4-5 households together from the eastern seaboard and Sweden. We were also suppose to do dinner with my parents and uncle from Texas before we leave, but that is unsure now as well. I’m doing one more shift at the hospital tomorrow before the trip and I’m getting texts from other nurses about patients testing positive from our non-covid unit in the past week. I might have to reinstate my face shield. Argh.

Alice

My neighbor and dear friend Alice passed away on Thursday night (Dec 16th) at about 11 pm. She had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer (non-smoker) in the summer of 2019. We went on countless walks and talked about countless things – through miracles (Tagrisso) and misery (three different courses of chemo which included two clinical trials). She had been in hospice since Monday the 6th. I had been able to cook and feed her her last meal (I didn’t know it was going to be the last time she really ate a meal. it was my favorite – scrambled eggs with melted cheese) on the morning of the 6th. Mike and I drove her to hospice later that day when the pain became too great. I visited her most days she was in hospice – one of her last gifts to me was that I got to know many of the people who love her (and we talked about on our walks) as we visited her at different hours of the day. I hadn’t spent the night with her, but I decided to go on Thursday night and as I lay there in the dark on my cot trying to go to sleep in the room, I heard her take her last breaths. And then the room was silent and I held her hand, told her that I loved her and will miss her terribly.

80!

As I get older, I realize that one can be a set of contradictions. I can be both happy/sad, generous/stingy, creative/rigid, expansive/restrictive. And that it’s ok. I was deliriously happy last night celebrating my mother’s (and father’s) 80th birthdays. That they are happy and well and live 15 minutes away from me seem like a miracle of miracles. That we get along (mostly) also seems extraordinary and intensely comforting to me. My parents can be both cheap/extravagant. There was my dad’s Christmas birthday party at McDonald’s a few years ago and just a few days ago, they took a very old TV from us (that we got as a hand-me-down from Vickey – so now twice hand-me-down) because their TV broke and they didn’t want to go to Costco to buy a new one.

In the summer, my father insisted that we find a fancy restaurant for my mother’s 80th birthday for him to host. He’s like – we need to find a fancy restaurant that we can sit outside at – we are not comfortable sitting inside to eat with other people. I was like – we can not sit outside in November and I thought to myself no high end restaurant will have outdoor seating. I looked and looked for something suitably elegant and pandemic-safe and finally settled on Pineapples and Pearls – 2 Michelin stars in 2017 “worth a detour” – who was offering an at-home dining experience. We booked this in early September for last night (a nice discount for having it on a weeknight) and Vince would be home!

I had taken off the entire day from work to clean/declutter the house. Jeremy cleared out everything from the kitchen counters. The coordinator told me there would be 2-3 people coming, but 5 people came! Four chefs and one server. Two of the chefs were in training, so that’s why we had so many people. Everyone wore masks (we did too as much as we could while eating) and over the course of the night, we found out that everyone was vaccinated and boosted so that was comforting.

Just a mention of the wine – so the restaurant doesn’t have a Maryland liquor license, so they couldn’t provide the wine for us. They sent us a wine list to be paired and I started to try and buy them, but it’s not like ordering from Amazon. I had to go all over the web to try and find them and I was getting frustrated – sometimes there were ordering minimums and sometimes you can ship to NY but not MD or whatever. So, Noah (who I learned through this whole thing has his own “wine guy” on frequent text), helped me and bought the four bottles for me (I paid him back!) and they were great. We are not big drinkers. Often we have dinner together and only sometimes have wine, but we’ll only drink half a bottle between the four of us. But last night we did happily finish all the bottles (I think it helped that Jeremy didn’t need to drive) and we were all contentedly slightly tipsy by the time dinner was finished. But OMG, by the time Jeremy and I were going to bed a few hours later – we were both already hung over, headache & a little nauseous. We are too old to drink so much wine at once more than once in a blue moon.

Alice.

Alice has been in inpatient hospice since last Monday, the 6th. I try and visit most days, she’s on morphine and Ativan, sleeping and getting slower. I thought I had more time with my friend. She decided to stop treatment around Thanksgiving time. I thought she was going to go off the chemo and then feel better for at least a month or two (when the chemo flushed out, but the cancer had not yet had the chance to advance) and we could eat food together that tasted good (she always complained bitterly about how food tasted terrible on chemo – so we never ate together) and go to Roosevelt Island together on a 70 degree day in December (Doris, we can’t go when it’s cold! I’ll be too cold! – I said – I’m sure there will be warm days in December and we’ll go on an adventure) with the dogs. I hadn’t seen Sofi since Monday when her dad and I carried Alice down the stairs into the van to drive her to hospice. But I got to see her outside yesterday and give her two great big bear hugs which made me feel somewhat better – but still terrible. I have been sleeping well generally this past week even with everything going on, but I woke myself (and Jeremy) up last night screaming – Jeremy described it as a scream at the top of my lungs.

Edda was a close contact with someone at school last Wed. How close? Close. hahaha – f*ck me. And she’s been having a runny nose. So we’ve been rapid testing her every morning and then PCR test on Sunday – everything is negative. PCR tests are still f*cking hard to schedule – all full all the time. We are two years into this, I don’t understand so many things like why I can’t get a PCR test 5 minutes from my house every 5 minutes. We wore masks in the house when we were with her. Jeremy complained about the mask wearing – when can we stop? She is testing negative all the time! (He’s the only one not used to wearing a mask for 8 -12 hours at a time.) I was like – can we please just do this to save Christmas? Vince came home from school on Saturday night. He landed in a crazy windstorm that, thankfully, I didn’t think clearly about until after he was on the ground when he texted – I’m on the ground, a scary landing I thought the wing was going to hit the runway, but we made it. I mean, the car was being blown around on the Dulles toll road when we were driving to the airport, why I didn’t freak out about the plane landing is beyond me. It’s nice having him home – though he’s (per usual) asleep all day and awake all night. We are playing Pokemon Go together and I’m at a higher level than him. Hahahaha. I’m going to kick his butt. He gave me his childhood paper book Pokedex. Yesterday, he came downstairs feeling a bit under the weather – which, of course, always happens the week after finals – all that pent up stress relaxes and then you get sick. He protested a bit – I don’t have covid, I was tested just a few days ago at school! I looked at him. He looked at me. We looked at Jeremy. So we rapid tested him (he looked at the nose swab and was like – this is a nose thing? I’ve only had to do the spit thing. (UCDavis invented their own in-house spit thing – less than $6 a test.) Why that isn’t available every 5 minutes 5 minutes from my house is also mysterious and incredibly frustrating) – negative. I’m trying to be sure we save all the Christmas plans – including an incredibly fancy dinner party tomorrow night (4 wines. omg. who are we?) for my mom’s 80th and the holiday trip that starts with air travel and ends with a U-Haul truck rental next week. I want to wear a mask all the time until the end of the season honestly, though the fact that everyone is still getting runny noses despite mask wearing doesn’t give me super confidence in mask efficacy.

I’m behind at work (obviously).

Ups and downs.

There is so much happening this weekend. I’m afraid if I don’t write it down, I won’t remember years from now. (I won’t remember because I have the worst memory for my own life.) Please be patient with the vague blogging. I had to take someone to the hospital on Friday in the middle of the day, everything is fine (mostly) and they are home, but still the thing is not gone and is still frustratingly mysterious. Then, on Sunday, there was a car accident and the passenger died and then the driver was seriously injured. I did not know these people in the accident, but there was crying, almost wailing in the house.

Jeremy rode a lot this weekend. Loves his new bike.

We had the best Sunday night dinner in a while. We had a head measuring contest which was hilarious. Here are the rankings:

  • Jane 59
  • Colleen 59
    • Eric 58.5
    • Gene 58.2
    • Jeremy 58.1
    • Christine 57
    • Seth 56.8
    • Sarah 56.4
    • Bette 55.5
    • Doris 54.5
    • Edda 54

My precious.

Jeremy bought his new bike yesterday. He put 25,000 miles on his last bike (which he still loves). This is a weekend of bike geeking out. The bike market is still very tight, he had to put a generous deposit on this bike a while ago, wait about 2 months for it and then test ride it for 15 minutes and then no returns after you’ve ridden it for an hour. He thought about this bike for many, many years (even before it existed) and now he delights in this. He carefully saved up his fun fund and birthday/christmas/new year’s money to be able to afford this. I pray to the bike gods to keep him safe and to have a lot of fun on this bike. Right now, he’s happily taking the bike apart, degreasing things, waxing things, and adjusting things.

Music and games.

Spotify did their year end review and again – my most listened to artist was Taylor Swift. Ha ha. I love Taylor. I’m one of Spotify’s heaviest users – logging about 2 hours every day. Which seems low! I stream it all day at work.

I’m trying to reclaim my headspace and I’ve given up Instagram and Facebook for over two weeks now. Will it stick? I’m not sure. I try to not check the news except for the daily 15 min NPR update. Also, I got rid of my most beloved games on my phone – the nonogram and 1010! – which I think I would spend a lot of time on. I do want to replace it to something else, but something a bit less mindless? – I’m trying Pokemon Go (mainly because I have a friend who is really into it) – which is somewhat self-limiting because I run out of pokeballs and then I can’t do anything else and in order to get more pokeballs, I need to go on a walk outside. Which seems like a good idea. Maybe? Or maybe it will be terribly addicting? I’m not sure. I think it is addicting for certain people. Is it terrible to be addicted to going on a walk? Maybe I’ll be taken over by wanting *all* the Pokemons? If it crawls over to the additive side, I’ll have to delete it. I’ll show you a photo of my (virtual) pet:

Because I started Pokemon Go, I ran a different route on my run yesterday (Pokemon Go is about exploring the outside world), and I was rewarded with this incredibly outrageous front lawn display – and also more pokeballs. lol.

Vince is headed into finals week. It’s stressful for him. I talked to him last night and tried to soothe his nerves. He’ll do great. You can do it, V! And I can’t wait to see you soon. <3, mom.

Holiday blues.

And as I turned the page on the calendar to December, as always happens every year, I get sad, annoyed and critical. Jeremy asks, what’s wrong at dinner? And the answer is mostly nothing. I’m prone to Sunday night blues which, as a shift worker, can happen on Tuesday night, so I know I’m also prone to holiday blues. I’m actually quite grateful for things in my life right now and I’m a lucky, lucky person. I’m trying to focus on that. Ha ha. We’ll see.