Tuesday, August 4, 2020

I would say normal parenting confessions but probably not

I just had a conversation with a couple of friends about expectations of ourselves and each other as parents during this stupid stupidtime and the futility of making comparisons with other people and in the spirit of keeping things real would like to provide you with a balanced account of how we are doing here in this last week before we transition from fighting about nothing to fighting about school.

1. The kids watch a ****-ton of TV. It has been on since 7:30 this morning. It is a hundred degrees outside and everyone is sick of each other and the only thing that keeps them unified is the carefully developed system they have for who chooses the show. Every time I turn it off my day gets a lot harder, so why mess with it, I say.

2. Last night the two big kids went outside to play at eight o'clock at night. I didn't want the little kids to go out with them so that meant I had to find them something to do. What I *had* been planning was to put everyone to bed early so that *I* could have control over the TV and let's be honest the wine. We pacified them by getting out the Mexican Train dominos for a game and then that turned into listening to Texas country which turned into teaching the little kids how to Two Step. Naturally this fifteen minutes of super-parenting ended up on social media.

3. At quarter to ten I texted a neighbor to see if she knew where my kids were.

4. I spent an hour today reading correspondence from the primary kids' teachers, adding items to our shared calendar, and making a Google Doc with all of their zoom information.

5. After this I turned on the Gilmore Girls and went facedown in a bag of Mint Milanos.

6. And then the piano tuner came by for a quick repair and while I was holding open the top of the piano for him (mask on, hands completely over my head, holding something sort of heavy and delicate) I was whisper screaming over my shoulder at the children to STOP HOPPING AROUND ME MANIACALLY AND SOMEONE PLEASE GO CLOSE THE DAMNED DOOR.

6b. It is hard to communicate via whisper screaming while wearing a face mask.

7. One of my kids tortures another one by singing a song from our closing campfire in Maine.

8. The kids and I binge Gilmore Girls together. It is not appropriate by my pre-pandemic standards, but this is not pre-pandemic time! We all love it.

9. We are going to drive-through communion tomorrow, together as a family. If last week's drive in church is any indication I will need a second round of communion before we get back on the highway.

10. I started paying James a nickel a glass to drink water.

11. I had school supplies delivered in a timely enough fashion that I did not have to overspend or panic buy.

12. I remember my login information for zero of the kids' learning management systems.

13. And the story I will forever use to win every parenting conversation ever: Once my impeccably dressed backdoor neighbor came over to apologize profusely to me (wearing pajamas at 9:45 in the morning) because her dog seemed to have escaped her yard into mine and there dug up "one of our old pets" and dragged its SKELETON back through the fence into her yard. She was terribly sorry. I assured her that everything was fine, said my goodbyes, closed the door, and then turned around and yelled at a kid "I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO STOP BRINGING HOME SKELETONS!" 99% sure she heard me.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

I will miss this formless schedule void when we go back to zoom school next week

We've been back for a week and the impending start of "school" in seven days has me instinctively wishing I could wear jeans and cardigans even though the temperature is forecast to reach a hundred every day this week. August is always such a confusing and disappointing month. It's the hottest month of summer, but everyone is sick of the pool and watermelon and popsicles and EACH OTHER. It will be much more confusing this year since "school" will be not so much a place that we *go* as a thing that we *do*. Together. In our game room. Did I mention together? Because TOGETHHHEEEERRRR.

There will be no morning rush (except for the teenager who will now have to wake up before lunch), no friends, no away time, and most importantly, no adorable pleated skirts.

It feels like a different lifetime that we ever had lives that were separate from each other and I honestly can't even picture what it's like to have a job outside of the home (I remember something about clean hair and wearing accessories?). I had a flash of panic this afternoon when I remembered that I am starting a MASTERS program in a MONTH. One that I imagine is pretty intimidating in completely different way than my last grad school experience was (fewer differential equations, I'm guessing, probably no soldering).

The good news is that the blind panic I was feeling in the spring regarding home school has mellowed into resignation and the other good news is that our nanny is free two days a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays are my new favorite things).

The first week home from Maine was an absolute trainwreck as expected. No one was happy to be home, the house felt like a dark, dirty prison (my house accumulates a biblical amount of dust if we don't sweep daily for reasons I don't understand/a ghost), we couldn't invite friends over, and since they had spent two weeks away from the computers I felt like the sum total of my interaction with the kids was to argue about computer time. And one of my best/worst qualities is that after ending any given day in a heap of despair, I always resolve to pick myself up and do better the next day. I am nothing if not persistent. Sometimes this is good. Sometimes this causes unrealistic expectations. Often this causes unrealistic expectations. Returning from the high of Maine into a quarantine prison is not the time for high expectations, I know this now.

Bright spots!

Mary tried out for the year round swim team Charley and James are on and she did SO GOOD. She is in! Can I just say that I want to be Mary when I grow up? She is FEARLESS. The coach asked her in soft voice if she knows any of the strokes and she replied simply, "I know ALL the strokes." Don't underestimate the six year old in the adorable cherry swimsuit. She can start as soon as they can add more sessions, since they can only have three swimmers per lane right now. Hopefully soon?


We went to celebrate with drive through donuts and then walked barefoot (anyone else's kids stop wearing shoes) through an empty lot to eat them under the town water tower.


I accidentally bought eight dollars worth of key limes in my curbside order on Monday and I am determined to use them all. Wes and I made this amazing key lime cake that I carried around the house with me all day so they wouldn't sneak it while I wasn't looking. It made it to dessert and was delicious.


Friday we tried out a new hike and bike trail along a river near us. Only it started out overcast and as soon as we got to the end of the trail 0.9 miles from the car the sun popped out and it got oppressively hot. When we finally got back to the car I texted a friend "The next time I tell you I'm screwing up the kids remind me that I carried an eighty pound child on my back for half a mile while cheerfully singing "Father Abraham" the entire time when it was a hundred degrees outside." So that went well. Fun hike though! (We drove straight to Sonic where I ordered a round of ice waters in addition to their usual slushies because I thought we were all about to perish of dehydration. This resulted in a WILDLY IRRESPONSIBLE amount of styrofoam and I am awaiting Greenpeace's strongly-worded letter).

We have one more week of freedom before we're all going to be on zoom for six hours a day. Fortunately the kids start a month before me and I am optimisticly thinking I will use this time to develop some kind of sustainable routine. Stop laughing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Because it's important to your mother

Every once in a while something happens that makes me think, ill-advisedly, that I should give trucker hats another try. Everyone looks so chill and relaxed and fun in them! In Maine I took a gorgeous, Insta-level picture of Mary wearing one.


And I thought, eh, maybe?? So I put on one of Wes's, a hat I sort of covet because our kayak guide gave it to him last year and he doesn't wear it very much.



It will remain a mystery to me how to wear a trucker hat without looking like a member of the Coast Guard Auxilary or like I should be slinging clams down at the wharf.

On our last day in Maine I was lamenting our impending departure with my friend C and she asked me if we had any rituals to mark the occasion. I responded snarkily that to celebrate the end of a wonderful two weeks we get up at 2 AM and cry all the way to the airport. This is both sarcastic and true. But she got me thinking that maybe some kind of fun milestone to mark the occasion might be a good idea. And since my kids have a Cubmaster and an almost-seminarian for parents, they are pretty used to us geeking out on traditions and other kinds of Forced Family Fun. So I scribbled down a small ceremony to be performed during our planned campfire Thursday night. This plan worked mostly because we withheld s'mores until afterward and enlisted the cheerful participation of the teenager by threatening the loss of electronics time.


I thought we would start by yelling silly words, both to get buy in and also because we can't go five minutes without yelling "penis". I thought by me encouraging them to do this that it would be less elicit and exciting and I think it worked.


For the next part we got handfuls of dried seaweed and threw them into the fire after saying out loud something we will miss. This was a RAGING success and went on for nearly fifteen minutes. The kids were running all over the beach looking for more seaweed and the more upset they were about a particular thing, the bigger a hunk of seaweed they threw into the fire. The fire got HUGE.

Burning our feelings

And then we all sang a parody song about Maine I'd slapped together that morning to the tune of "Take Me Home Country Road" that accidentally made some of us cry. Then Ryan told a story about a bear and a chipmunk from some Scout thing and then it was time for the closing song, "Mmmm, I Want to Linger," which we used to sing at camp during our closing campfires. Earlier that day I had played the song on YouTube and tried to teach it to James and Mary and James refused to learn because "MOM. This song is TOO SAD."


At last it was time for s'mores.



S'mores time was fun and silly as always and then Ryan and I weren't really done singing, so we kept singing "Linger", the parody song, and then, to really twist the knife, a haunting song about barges slipping into the night that we sang in harmony because we are the Griswolds. Apparently we overdid it because both little kids abruptly burst into tears. After lots of hugs Ryan got them calmed down by offering to take them swimming in the dark.

Leaving Maine is HARD, friends. Every year I feel like I am doing something harmful by bringing them back home and this year, knowing that there will be no birthday parties, no school, no afternoons at the pool with friends, it makes it feel so much worse. We are settling back in at home, though, and eventually we will be out of this mess and be able to do the things we love again. It is still tempting to pick up and move across the country, even for just a few months, because why not, when everything we do is online (confession: I literally tried to make this happen, but finding a furnished apartment on a week's notice for a reasonable price is hard!).

Hours after our closing ceremony (at 2 AM) we got in the car and drove to Boston to get on the plane. The kids chattered happily all the way there. We left all our sadness, temporarily, on the beach, in a pile of charred seaweed.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020


Several of you kind people commented on my last (three month old) post that they hoped I was doing OK since they hadn't heard from me in a very, very long time. One comment really got at the root of the problem, which is that everything, including blogging, showering, and feeding ourselves, somehow feels extra hard and overwhelming when we find ourselves inside this neverending news cycle of despair. And that is really the only explanation for the long absence: Quarantine got me down.

If the constant scary national and global news and the constant threat of disease wasn't overwhelming enough, there is the constant presence of my family. And I mean constant. And I LOVE my family. And I love being with them. But everyone is (was, I will get to that in a minute) cranky and hot and exhausted from missing our people. They take it out on each other and me. Ryan has gone back to in-person work and I am (was) doing endless days of nonstop family time with no breaks, no real options for out of the house fun, and no community outside the computer. And, it goes without saying, absolutely no privacy. You may remember that I was in the midst of a little career transition when we last talked. Those things require time to think and reflect and process (and for me, community community community) and I have had few opportunities for any of those.

It has been an absolutely exhausting summer, mentally and physically.

My rowing club opened up in June with very strict requirements for handwashing, mask wearing, boat washing, and distancing and I took a leap and signed up for a lesson on a single (we also cannot row boats of eight people because of distancing guidelines). It turned out to be a terrific link to sanity for me. I went Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays for a few weeks and felt great. I was getting better and faster and more skilled at not embarrassing myself in the tiny boat. And then the protests started and the one in my town frequently and unpredictably shut down the highway that I take to get to rowing. Since I go down early in the morning, when it is still dark, just a few blocks away from the protests, and since I tend to run on the more anxious side of normal, this felt unacceptably risky and I took a longer than intended three week break from rowing.

When I realized how much I was missing it, I signed back up for a few more rows and they were great! I felt strong and capable! I had time to listen to podcasts and sing in my car on the way there and back (this was huge)! I had time alone (HUGE)! And then the city shut down all the parks and with it, the rowing club, because of the massive surge of cases we were experiencing. That news... I did not take well.

It has not been all bad, but it certainly has felt very heavy and hard. Little things like keeping the house neat and making meals that normally give me so much enjoyment and pride felt monotonous and burdensome and, truly, pointless given the fact that there were four (sometimes five) undoing everything I did all day long anyway. 

Some of the brightest bright spots in this entire experience have happened this summer. One, my fortieth birthday was in June. I had dreamed for several months of renting out a brewery and hiring a friend or two with guitars so that I could have my own Beer and Hymns, but that became impossible because both gathering in breweries and group singing, AKA my favorite things, are now potentially deadly, so I told Ryan all I wanted was to have really good food and to at least hear from my friends. BOY did he deliver. The day before my birthday my neighbor invited me to have a glass of wine in my front yard, which is not unusual. We sat in chairs ten feet apart and toasted to each other (we share a birthday). I didn't think anything of it when she suddenly remembered a quick errand she had to do inside her house and took off. Ryan came outside and asked me to move my chair to the end of the driveway, which was weird, and when I did, I saw one of my good friends driving down the street towards my house. The next hour was a constant parade of people coming to say happy birthday and air hugging and throwing cards from a couple yards away. After a months long people drought, this was the best birthday present ever. My parents and sister stayed and Ryan got takeout fajitas from a great Mexican restaurant. So thoughtful and sweet and perfect.

The best decision we made this year was to continue with our plans to go on our annual trip to Maine.  With fully refundable airfare and a free place to stay, we made the arrangements and then remained noncommittal all the way up until the day before we were to leave when I broke down and let the kids pack. We told the kids not to get excited until the actual plane was actually taking off. I was nervous about every aspect of the travel, but a couple of things worked out in our favor--one was that they canceled our flight into Portland, which meant we had to fly into Boston instead. This was great because it eliminated a three hour layover at JFK that I had been dreading for covid and other reasons. There was a two week mandatory quarantine for out of state visitors in Maine, so my aunt grocery shopped for us before we arrived and left everything in the empty house. Ryan scheduled covid tests for us for the Monday after we arrived. We stayed in the house and the yard for three days, took the tests, then spent another few days in quarantine before getting our negative results (you can come out of quarantine with a negative test). We took a celebratory (masked) trip to the grocery store because we were painfully low on butter by that point (because I didn't want to admit to my aunt that we need three pounds a week). Since then we have maintained a pretty limited schedule, with limited trips to the grocery store, one or two takeout sandwiches, a hiking trip (in masks when within sight of other people), and a boat trip to the harbor for ice cream and hot dogs (outside with masks on). Aside from generally not taking the kids inside any buildings other than our house, this is the most normal anything has felt since March and I can tell the kids are feeling it too. They are so happy and relaxed and much less irritable than they were before we left, when I was truly wondering if they would make it through this experience with their mental health. I realize how lucky we are to have this opportunity and am grateful for all the things that had to work out just right to get us here. Maine feels like home for us. I wish we could stay forever (my friends hate when I talk like that!).

So that's the rundown of what's been going on around here! The kids and I are all doing online school starting sometime in August and since it's going to be a thrillion degrees when we get home I am prepared to jump back into the great hunkering (as my friend calls it). Hopefully having some structure to our days, even if it is on zoom, will help with the boredom and restlessness that were driving us all crazy.

Here are a couple of favorite pictures from the last few months before I go. I promise to not let another three months go by. Thanks for checking in!


























Wednesday, May 13, 2020

A litany of weird ways I have injured myself this week

I am here to tell you that the good attitude about this neverending situation?  It comes and goes.

One minute I am contentedly ripping weeds out by their roots in the back yard, chattering happily with one of the kids.  The next I am texting friends things like "If this kid doesn't start remembering deodorant I'm going to move to Peru."

Yesterday I asked a child to stop texting during a class Zoom meeting and said child made aggressive eye contact with me as they continued typing a text.  Lucky for that child I had spent that very morning brainstorming ways I could respond to their undesirable behaviors in a less asshole-y way.

I went downstairs and made a nice hot lunch for me and Ryan and then fed them peanut butter and jellies.  And hid the phone.  Passive aggression at its finest.

In good news for everyone, my rowing club has opened back up on a very limited basis with a tight schedule to ensure as few people as possible in one place, strict boat and hand washing protocols before and after a row, rowing in single boats only, and wearing a mask until you are out in the middle of the lake.  I hesitated in signing up for a reservation, because that all sounded too hard and confusing, but I finally went out on Saturday as a pre-Mother's Day treat for myself and then immediately signed up for two more spots because it was apparently the missing piece to the mental health puzzle.

It feels SO good to get back out on the water.  To leave the house.  To exercise.  And I am learning a new style of rowing since we can't take out the eights (too many people).  This requires lots of concentration, which means there is no time to worry about silly things like recessions, infectious disease, or the prospect of never again dropping my children off at school.  This also means that I absentmindedly bite my lower lip in concentration so hard and for so long that it's kind of red and numb at the end of practice.

Also on Monday I tweaked my lower back and today got my hands mixed up, slammed my right oar handle into my left hand, and accidentally reopened a huge cut on my finger that had JUST started to heal.  Bright side: now I can say it is a rowing injury rather than an onion-chopping injury.

Ryan made Mother's Day very special by making lots of amazing food and a huge pitcher of sangria.  Breakfast was eggs benedict and french toast casserole, dinner was honey lime sweet potato black bean tacos with fruit salad and cilantro lime rice with brownies for dessert.  I spent the morning on various devices for church and Sunday School and the kids' Sunday School and the rest of the day reading on my front lawn with a glass of sangria.  So really it was the perfect day.  Or as perfect as it gets around here right now.

Last night the Cub Scout year-end slide show made me cry because of all the happy pictures of the kids DOING THINGS TOGETHER, like camping and canoing and racing derby cars and it reminded me of how sad I am that we are missing so many fun things we normally look forward to in the spring and summer.  I used to chastise myself for being sad about things like that given the fact that we are healthy and financially secure, unlike so many others, but it's OK that it sucks a little, even given those things.  Turns out I should have tried to hold it together a little better because when I rubbed my eyes I got poblano pepper residue in my right eye.  The firey burning was immediate and I had to walk blindly up the stairs, poblano-laden tears rolling down and stinging my face, and into my bathroom where I used my shower as an eye wash station for five minutes or so until I could actually OPEN the eye.  And then I felt very very silly.  But at least I could see!

Today the kids don't have school and I had big plans to plant a bunch of new groundcover in the front yard and maybe some bushes, but I also have a rather large stack of unread books and some kids that are reasonably quiet and engaged with something (video games).  Dinner tonight is church supper and I have plans to have a conversation with a friend.  Pretty pretty good.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Sometimes the universe smiles on you in the form of berries

In college I had a friend who had a shirt that said "I need attention" and at the time I thought it was hilarious and now I think "Huh.  That is kind of awesome."  Sometimes we all need attention and I love that I now have enough life experience to ask for it when I need it, like in that last post.  And you guys are awesome.  Thank you for the texts!  And the emails!  And the comments!  And one of my friends had cookies delivered.  I keep them on my desk and feel loved every time I eat one (which is multiple times a day).  I feel encouraged!  And sometimes a little silly, but when you are locked up with four children and have this much work to do some days are great and some days are not so good and it's OK to reach out on the not so good days.

Today is Wednesday, which is the day none of the kids get new work.  They are supposed to use this day to finish work assigned on Monday, but they don't have any Zooms and it is much more flexible time.  Currently Wes is playing a video game and the little ones are making boats out of foil then floating them in the bathtub to see how many coins they will hold.  I wonder if I can count this as an inquiry based learning professional development exercise.  The teenager, who we all call "The Bear" in the morning (as in "Don't poke 'The Bear'"), is still asleep, and probably will be for a while because it is cloudy outside and his room is super dark.

20200422_084906 (1)

I have two concurrent meetings at 10:00, a drive-by birthday party at 12:00, church supper pickup at 4:30, and possibly a streamed chapel service tonight.

I have done some brainstorming and figured out a few things I can do to stay sane during the quarantine:  I made a playlist of music that is fun to sing and also meaningful to me and I play it in the car when I get to go places like the grocery store or pharmacy.  Monday I went to a restaurant to buy chips and dip and then to the pharmacy.  And then I went past my house and took a couple laps around the middle school because I had so much fun singing a song from last semester's choir repertoire that I had to do it a second time.  On Sunday I let myself watch as many streamed church services as I wanted and didn't let myself be self conscious about it.  I've been giving the kids a little longer leash and have been using the saved time to tick some things off my to-do list.  Which was great until I got an email to let me know one of the kids was goofing off during a class zoom.  And yesterday I asked if Ryan would supervise/enforce lunch so I could use that hour to do one of the bigger items that actually required some concentration.

Monday night, fresh off the thrill of using an expired jar of enchilada sauce without dying, I decided to finally try out some dubious skincare products I impulse bought from Trader Joe's about eighteen months ago.


I've also made sure that we have plenty of popsicles because the kids never fail to be absolutely thrilled by them and it is fun to make them happy.

Yesterday I zoomed with my students while sitting on Mary's bed because it was the quietest place that had a good wifi signal and now my students probably think I sleep in a twin bed with a picture of ducks hanging over it. 

Finally, there was a mixup with our curbside order and we ended up with ten nondairy yogurts in various flavors and a BOUNTY of fresh berries.  Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.  I do not know what to do about this, since they probably do not want us to bring them back to the store.  I don't think we paid for them, I think the two bags just got mixed in with ours.  What to do?  I am thinking of calling to explain and offering to pay for the extra things, but will that make their lives more complicated?  Easier for everyone to just let it go or just me?  Recipes that involve raspberries?  Because there are a BUNCH of raspberries.  SO MANY berries that I would have thought were way too extravagant to buy for ourselves are now in my fridge.  I may have to call and pay for them, but either way, it feels like a gift to have so much beautiful fruit in my fridge.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Slow unraveling

This morning I sat morosely at the kitchen table with my coffee and when Ryan came over to ask what I wanted to do today said "Go to a swim meet.  Go to Central Market for a sangria and watch the kids play until it's dark.  Go to church.  Hug someone."  And then I walked back upstairs and got back in my bed.  So quarantine is going well. I miss my people, friends. I am spending more time than ever talking to people on various digital platforms, but I really just need to be in the same space as people. I miss incidental conversations with my work friends. I miss chatting with strangers at the grocery store. I miss physically being in my church. After this INSANE school year and all the things that have happened, I was really clinging onto my routine. And now it's gone. I have the role of "encourager" in a couple of areas of my life right now, not least of which is the kids and their online education. It is a role I enjoy and feel like I am reasonably good at, even now, but I feel like I need my own encourager. Ryan is a good encourager. But I have built a solid network of people I find encouraging and made sure I checked in with them often. And now I can't do that. I really need to look another person in the eye. Hug someone. Have a conversation that does not require a calendar invite. Have someone who gets it squeeze my hand and tell me to have a good week. It seems like such a small thing that could easily be replicated via video chat, but I am not finding that to be the case. Being an adult with healthy social skills and boundaries is hard when you just want to say "can you please pat my hair and tell me I'm going to make it through this?"

Yesterday we finished home school for the week at 2:30, so I loaded everyone up in the car and we drove to a park to go on a socially distanced hike with our masks on.  As I told a friend later, I think that will be one of those experiences that the kids remember fondly and I remember as a stressful, labor intensive, bickerfest.  They fought in the car, groused about masks, argued about which trail to take, my mask kept falling off, my glasses were so fogged up I finally just took them off, which meant I was holding my glasses in one hand and phone in the other (no pockets) and trying to keep my mask on with no free hands and blindly trying to keep four grouchy children together in the woods.  When I was able to put my glasses on, and when they were not foggy, it was quite pretty, and I could almost see that we were having fun.


We stopped in our little downtown to pick up some extra good pizzas on the way home and the kids watched Arthur in the car while I waited in line. We ate good pizza while they had a Sponge Bob marathon and I dug into a book I bought twenty years ago and used to read at least once a year. I love rereading books that I loved during a different part of my life and this one has been excellent. I remember how challenging it felt then, and now it is just as inspiring, but in a deeper, knowing way since it is a story of sisterhood and mothering, things I have experienced since my first reading when I was NINETEEN. The friend who suggested I reread it encouraged me to read it because I had expressed to her how lost I was feeling without my community. She said she loved the idea of the Red Tent in the book, how during times of difficulty, the women had the Red Tent, this place of privacy and community and bonding. I have something similar in a group text right now, but what I really want is to SIT BY these people, together, in one place.


In lighter news, I had been putting off getting a haircut for about six months before we got locked down and now that I'm not blowing my hair out and at least making an attempt at making it look nice every day I got so sick of it I asked Ryan to give me a haircut. He tried to get out of it but I finally convinced him by threatening to do it myself. I sat on the kitchen island with a glass of wine on a group video chat with some friends while he carefully trimmed my hair, occasionally referring to a YouTube video of a woman cutting a CHILD'S hair. He was super nervous but as I told him, I do not care what it looks like, I just wanted it to STOP TOUCHING MY NECK. I actually am really happy with it and am wondering why I usually spend a hundred bucks for a haircut (it's because they give you wine and a head massage).



Mary fell off her bike the other day and James ran to get her a popsicle and when he couldn't find any, made them both ice cream sundaes.


James and Mary think it's pretty great to be quarantined with their best friends.


He went with a new look for his class Zoom on Friday.


Ryan and I have big plans to TV it out today while both of us catch up on some work. There are ELEVEN DAYS left in my semester, friends. Eleven days left in my academic career. Less than two weeks until the Great Jumping Off Point. I have very mixed feelings about this reality. Am I glad to be done with this particular job at this particular institution? Am I thrilled about the next step? Am I sad about leaving academics? Am I SUPER NERVOUS about it finally all being here and no longer an abstraction? All yes! As I said before, being an adult with healthy social skills and boundaries is hard when you just want to say "can you please pat my hair and tell me I'm going to make it through this?"