When everyone is that Facebook friend you want to ignore

Saturday morning I opened my eyes and the first thing I thought to myself was, “Huh. Well. I didn’t think that would happen.”

It’s not that I thought the world would entirely blow up in the middle of the night but I went to bed Friday evening with such a heavy sense of dread. What would come next? I had no idea.

I spent Friday in a fog, alternately working and scrolling Facebook, in a state of utter disbelief and refusal to fully entertain the thought that America done messed up. Big time.

And I don’t know what to do about that besides keep showing up. Keep making phone calls. Keep working to make my world better.

It’s hard because everywhere I go, there is so much negativity to consume. I’m tired. I’m frustrated. People say, “Just wait and see” without fully understanding that for many of us, waiting doesn’t feel like something we have the luxury of doing.

I am scared. Sad. Confused. Angry.

I am worn out.

I am so worn out.

Every day it’s something new, something awful, something “IS THIS FOR REAL?” Every day I have to force myself to rise above it, scroll beyond it, not absorb too much of the negativity and instead push push push to do what I can to make change where I can, and leave the rest of it behind.

I just want to be a better person. I want to raise good children. I want to see a bunch of stuff while my eyes still work. I don’t want to feel afraid all of the time. I don’t want to feel angry this often. I want to be kind.

Everything is just so hard right now. And I’m so tired.

month at a glance

I haven’t posted in over a month. The hiatus wasn’t really intentional – I was in the midst of changing over blog hosts but my life is such a cluster at the moment that it took me that long to do it.

Work is busy – insanely so – with lots of projects, most of which will wrap this week or next and have resulted in my brain being a pool of melted cheese for the most part. Some of what I do, I do with extreme confidence… some, less confidence.

I find lately that I’m letting things get to me too much – things that shouldn’t. Trying to work on keeping perspective and being kinder to myself.

I’m…not so good at that.

I wrote a blog post for OWN THE EQUINOX, the campaign to create awareness for Usher Syndrome – and I shared it, publicly. The response was overwhelmingly supportive and positive. Today, my mom forwarded me the email from someone who claims to have had experience working with people who have Usher – and the email said that I need to learn sign and I need to learn braille and, well… I got a little angry.

Hope or GTFO, people.

I’ve been running. I’m not very fast, but I did run 6 miles morning for a total of 15 miles this week. I’m training for a 15k in October, and honestly, the thought of running nine miles IN A ROW makes me want to throw up a little – but then again, I never thought I could do six and HERE I AM CRUSHING IT (slowly).

So, more of the same and a whole lot of nothing. But I just went through a whole lot of trouble to move this blog over so I guess I better write on it.

 

So….

 

Hi. How are y’all?

A Belated Christmas Letter Because In Blog Life Like Real Life, I’m A Little Behind

Dear Family & Friends and Strangers of the Internet,

Merry Christmas…two days later. As I type, Pumpkin sits on the couch near me watching “Elf” and The Princess is making hot chocolate for all of us in our matching mugs. Maybe she’ll add a candy cane to mine – I hope she does. In a whirlwind month of bacon wrapped jalapenos and cookies and more cookies and things dipped in chocolate, I am so tired of excess and yet the warmth and sweetness appeals to me, a bit of comfort in my mug on a chilly Sunday night.

I’ve always hated the traditional Christmas letter – the braggy missives that made me feel inadequate and though I don’t know that I’ve ever had a year that might inspire that feeling of inadequacy among those who are reading, I’ve never had the desire to actually write and send a letter with my holiday cards. Instead, I sent cheap photo cards I purchased online. I didn’t even sign them personally.

This year has been a challenge for me and I feel like I’ve said that for the past several years – this year feels like it just may be the hardest year in my life. One year, I got a divorce. The next, my beloved grandfather died. Last year, I lost my job and found a new one. This year, I was diagnosed with first retinitis pigmentosa and then Usher Syndrome and all the baggage along with that – like finding out that yeah, my eye sight is going to get progressively worse and you know, that just doesn’t make for a very good year, no matter how hard you try to accelerate your grieving process.

I’m afraid people have taken my sadness personally this year.

I am afraid some people don’t realize just how scared I am about my future.

I am afraid I haven’t been very joyous to be around most of the time and that it seems like I’m not trying.

And so it goes.

I will say that by the end of the year, I spent a lot less time crying than I did the first half of the year and to that I raise my mug of cocoa and I toast progress because for what it’s worth, I’ll take the baby steps forward when I can recognize them, and hope to replicate more of the same.

My children are ridiculously wonderful. They are talented and they are bright and they are lovely and they are loving. And that’s pretty amazing.

Chris, too, has been strong when I have not been and has been my cheerleader when I probably just needed a kick in the pants. Someone who loves you in your ugliest moments is a blessing, indeed.

I went to California with the three people I love most and had so much fun sharing the ocean with them and tonight I looked at the pictures and realized that maybe in 2016 we need another adventure. Maybe California again.

And winter hasn’t been winter yet and for that I’m grateful though the forecast for tomorrow looks scary and ugh, you know, I guess that’s about as appropriate as any way to send out 2015 – sliding on a patch of ice, I guess.

SO how do these letters work, anyway? I mean, I’ve already failed to make you feel like your year was a dismal failure… you’re probably feeling great about yourself right now. I’m not sure what the next year will bring (perhaps that’s my post for later in the week?) but I know that this year was not what I expected when midnight hit on New Years Eve and my god, we all survived so that’s a good thing.

Anyway.

Merry Christmas.

There’s a lot going on in the world and it makes me want to punch people in the face a little bit

I’m not going to talk to you about politics or Paris or refugees or the heavy stuff. I am not going to talk to you about the light stuff. I am going to tell you I am so tired and that every day I feel like I start moving and I keep moving and I have stopped drinking water at work because I don’t much have time to pee and I come home at the end of the day and I am so tired but my day isn’t over yet because there’s more mom taxiing to do and it’s dark in the morning and it’s dark when I get home and oh, this time of year, it’s a bit brutal, isn’t it?

And there’s a lot going on in the world and people are sharing their thoughts and so much of these thoughts are steeped in ugliness and I wonder how we became this world where everyone is ready to lash out at each other for seemingly no reason. I saw a woman yesterday roll down her window at a traffic light to wave her middle finger at the woman in the car next to her – screaming and flying the bird until the light turned green and why?

Why do we feel like we need to air the every thought? All the hate, all the ugliness?

People, man.

I’m tired and tired of it.

Thursday Ten: I don’t want to have to use my AC edition

1. The humidity. Oh the humidity. I’ve had to break down and turn my AC on. It’s not the heat is the UGH UGH UGH. Actually, it’s both. When I can, I leave it off but honestly, I’m more concerned with the pup getting too warm during the day. It’s only June 11, though and I’m already kind of freaking out about my electric bill if I’m using the AC already.

2. Spring and fall. Spring and fall. Those are my seasons. You know, the short seasons that last about five days each.

3. I finally used Apple Pay for the first time which was oddly exhilarating and far too easy and did you know you can Apple Pay RIGHT THROUGH THE SEPHORA APP? And the Starbucks app? And wheeeee, I just ordered some new Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick because best. color. ever. (And Apple Pay.)

4. For nearly 24 hours, my Fitbit wasn’t working and I died a little bit inside. I’m addicted. Also, I’m absolutely positive I walked 18,000 steps that day and I guess we’ll never know. (It’s working now. Oddly, I was registering an almost complete charge but I gave it a whirl and left it on the charger for a few hours and then it was working again. Hallelujah)

5. You guys are nice people. You are.

6. This is not going to be a retina blog. Because I can’t have this place be a retina blog. Oh, and because I started a retina blog somewhere else. Gotta compartmentalize sometimes.

7. School’s out for the summer and with that comes the summer schedule with the girls spending half the time with me and half the time with their dad. It’s always a tough adjustment. I’m used to having my people around and it’s a bummer when they’re not.
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8. I miss my daughters.

9. I still tell myself every night to go to bed earlier and then I still never do.

10. I admit. I’m grasping at straws for ten things this week. I mean, how on earth could I top my broken retinas?

A letter to my daughter on her thirteenth birthday

My sweet Princess,

The other day, I stood in the card aisle of the grocery store, scanning possible birthday cards to give you – as I picked up cards and read them, I could feel my eyes welling up with tears. What on earth is wrong with me? Why are your birthdays getting harder for me? I love seeing how you change each year, I am so excited for each year in front of you – but oh this is feeling old, sweet girl.

Time is moving so quickly.

When I went to your parent teacher conferences this year, several of your teachers told me such wonderful things about you. Your science teacher, your social studies teacher, math – and all of them echoed the sentiment that has rattled in my head for quite some time: “I am so excited to see what she will become. She can be anything.”

(No pressure.)

So while I am a bit emotional about your birthday, I hope you know just how much I am enjoying see you be who you are.

When it comes to gymnastics, you are a hard worker. Even after all these years, to watch you when you compete is a joy. You exude this confidence and charisma – particularly when you do your floor routine. You are so fun to watch. When  you master a new stunt, your excitement and your pride – it’s contagious. I don’t know how you do the things you do. A balance beam is only a few inches wide – I tried last year to stand on the beam. I was terrified. On that beam, I realized not only how narrow it is but how high up it is – and you, YOU are jumping, cartwheeling, executing turns, and moving from one end to another with this ease. It’s so hard and yet when you are up there on the balance beam – it looks effortless. I am in awe. Always.

You are a lovely soul.

You are kind. Everyone tells me how kind you are.

Your sense of humor is beyond your years and often the snark level matches my own and you are dry and you are witty and oh god sometimes you crack me up. I got a blister on my foot the other day – I went walking in flip flops – two miles in flip flops, even the good ones, is not a great idea. The next day, i was complaining of the pain and you said to me, “Yeah, I had a feeling that wouldn’t turn out that well.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I replied.

“Because I realized that sometimes it’s better to keep my opinion to myself,” you said. “I just haven’t exactly got it figured out when those times are.”

I don’t know. It made me laugh.

When you had to do a social studies project about Grand Rapids – you messaged me and told me that you’d arranged to interview several people – could I drive you to these interviews? You had sent such professional, self-assured emails to these people, asking for their time, for their insight – and they did – they gave you their time. I couldn’t believe your initiative. Your drive. It is a common theme – I am not sure I was as focused as you when I was your age.

I barely remember thirteen.

It was the year my family moved to Michigan. Eight grade. I had bangs. I moved here and I felt like I was a fish out of water.

I don’t know what this year holds for you. I know that thirteen years ago tonight, I was in a hospital waiting to meet you. I had been so ready to meet you for so long. When I found out I was having a girl, I knew right away what your name would be – and I had, for months, been driving to and from work, having conversations with you – just to hear your name  in the air. You were born at 9:03 p.m. and you are still my night owl. (Oh, how I hate to wake you up in the morning. It’s neither easy nor fun!)

And tonight, I’ll be watching your school choir perform and you’ll be singing a solo and oh, to think about it, I get the kind of goosebumps that make my scalp tingle.

Your texts are some of my favorite to get. I like when you heart my pictures on Instagram.

You steal my Chucks and my turquoise pants.

You are vibrant. Emotional. Sassy. Prone to hangry-provoked tears. Loving.

(Lest you go getting a big head, I will say that sometimes you and your sister argue and it drives me absolutely BONKERS. I thought y’all were supposed to be best friends. Ah, maybe someday.)

So.

Thirteen.

And eight grade next year.

It really does fly. Oh, how it flies.

I’m not perfect, far from it – but I think we’re doing okay. Because even those moments – those trying moments – I look at you and I look at your sister and I can’t believe how blessed I am, how amazing you both are.

And today, I celebrate you – it’s your birthday. Thirteen years ago today I saw your face for the first time and it’s still one of my favorite faces on the planet.

I love you with my whole heart and I’m so very lucky to be your mom.

Love,

Momma

Thursday Ten: Getting Caught Up edition

1. They’ve said that it takes women somewhere in the neighborhood of five years to get financially caught up after their divorce but I am giddy that I finally have gotten rid of lingering “process-of-divorce” debt this week – yes, that credit card bill for the lawyer’s retainer fee is finally paid. Also, the dog’s very expensive emergency vet bill from back in the day. I kind of really hate credit cards and am not a “carry a balance” kind of person. So BIG-RED-LETTER-DAY. Boom.

2. The Princess and I only have four more episodes of Gilmore Girls left before we’re done with the entire series. It’s about time for a reunion right?

3. Nearly 65 degrees on Monday so I went for a long walk. Registered over 17,000 steps on my Fitbit – eight miles! – for the whole day. I’m ready for spring. Could sure use more days like that.
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4. Filled out my bracket yesterday. I almost didn’t – but we do an office March Madness thang so I figured I might as well. Not gonna tell you who I picked to win but I tell you, I think my streak of kicking butt at brackets ended last year so I’m not so optimistic. It’s okay. I’ll survive.

5. I am fighting off a cold. I think. I thought it was allergies but for the past day or so, I have felt the flames in my face of my body trying to fight a fever. Who has time to get sick? NOT THIS GIRL.

6. I can TOO call myself a girl. Even if I’m nearer to 40 than 30.

7. That moment when you want to treat yourself to something so you browse Sephora, Birchbox, Amazon, and yet… can’t. I’m not great at just randomly spending money, I guess. It’s the kind of week where I need retail therapy but I’m SO BAD AT IT.

8. I’m finally adjusting to the time change but I still think the time change thing is stupid.

9. Remember a week and a half ago when I wrote about how busy I was? There was supposed to be a follow up post. I’ve been too busy to write it.

10. Seems like it was just March 1st and now the month is about 2/3 over. Which means the first quarter of 2015 is nearly over. Whoo. Zippy year.

Another year is nearly gone

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Usually by this point, I’ve created my list of all the high lights and low lights of the year in order to recap them in some way – the songs that defined the year, the moments, the things I accomplished, and the things I hope to accomplish in the year ahead.

And instead, I’m a bit stuck.

In an exercise the other day, I recounted the things I didn’t mess up in 2014. The list was longer than I would have thought and perhaps that is why I don’t feel this huge rush to kick 2014 to the curb. Instead of relief, I’m more so looking forward to what’s ahead. I’m looking forward to continued progress towards… towards I don’t know what. Towards getting on my feet again, towards making plans again, towards letting go of some of the stress and blah and insecurity that still plagues me far more often than it should.

I was just thinking this morning about how much I’ve enjoyed watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix with The Princess and how grateful I am that they’ve never resorted to tacky flashback gimmicks and then the episode I’m watching as I type this is filled with flashbacks, of Lorelai’s pregnancy and Rory’s birth. Go figure. Anyway. I look forward to watching the rest of the series and finishing it up in 2015.

And then moving on to Friends because HEY FRIENDS IS COMING TO NETFLIX SOON!

Anyway, I have a few days left so I can wax poetic about 2014. And I probably will – I love New Years. I love the symbolism of a new start, a new calendar, turning the page. Somehow, I feel that shouldn’t pass without me having some thoughts about it.

For now, though, the closing credits are rolling and I’m ready to curl up in bed to read Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please” and think about how I might spend the day tomorrow. I took a few days off this short work week, and so I’ll be spending the last few days of 2014 spending massive amounts of time with my daughters and cleaning my house so that I’m ready for a fresh beginning on the first.

Twenty

There’s something about realizing that twenty years ago right around now, I was just beginning my freshman year of college. I got a flash of memory lane over the past weekend when Chris and I made it to Ann Arbor for a Michigan football game (Go Blue!) – because twenty years ago, right about now, I was attending my first game at the Big House as a student there.

And I have a flash of that all being twenty years ago because my 20-year high school reunion is in two weeks and the invitation is sitting on the bookshelf in my bedroom and as of today I haven’t RSVP’d nor have I declined the invite.

They all have husbands and wives and children and houses and dogs, and, you know, they’ve all made themselves a part of something and they can talk about what they do. What am I gonna say? “I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How’ve you been?”

I’m pretty sure I’m not going. I mean, originally, I was all, “Oh yeah, I’ll be there!” but now, I don’t think I’m going and the reason I’m pretty sure I’m not going is that the RSVP deadline passed two weeks ago and I’ve also ignored a text asking if I was going and I am filled with this…weirdness about it all. A weirdness that I am not even really sure comes from any reasonable place that I know, but I’m choosing to listen to it and to not ignore it, because I do know myself.

And I know from knowing myself the way that I know myself – whether my sense seems to have any rhyme or reason (or not), it is what it is.

Everybody’s coming back to take stock of their lives. You know what I say? Leave your livestock alone.

I actually didn’t mind high school. I wasn’t a popular kid. I wasn’t bullied. I was a nice middle-of-the-road kid, good grades, nice to most. I’m guessing I didn’t register with enough people to be much disliked, though I guess I could be wrong. When I look back on those years, I am not filled with the dread or loathing that some have when they remember high school. It was…okay. I wasn’t tormented. I wasn’t miserable. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t wishing the years away.

Oh but how I couldn’t wait to fly away when it was all over – couldn’t wait to find my wings – couldn’t wait for life to start. While I was there, while I was in it – I enjoyed myself.

I passed notes in class. I made legendary index note cards for chemistry exams. I played the flute badly in band. I wore a scratchy peach dress in our high school’s performance of “Oklahoma!” It was a fate worse than death to be home on a Friday night. I went places. We drove around town, yelling “Beer!” if we passed a car with a headlight out (I later learned that most people say “pediddle”? I have no idea. It was what they did so I did). High school dances. Slipping notes in locker vents. At lunch eating square pizza seated at round tables.

I just find it amusing that you came from somewhere.

In the age of Facebook, I know how most everyone is doing. I know what they do for a living. I know if they’re married or not. How many kids they have. What sports teams they root for. What side they prefer when they’re taking their facebook profile selfie shot. If they have pets or not. If they like pumpkin spice or not. I know what sports their kids play. I know their political affiliation. I know who has heard of Snopes and who hasn’t.

In short? I know more about these people now than I ever did.

And many of us didn’t go far – I don’t mean that in the metaphorical “What have you done with your life?” way, but geographically? Most of us are STILL. FREAKING. HERE.

I went to my kids’ open houses – and ran into a good portion of my graduating class. And I’m not saying that like it’s a bad thing – but it seems to me that it used to be that reunions were to bring people together that lost touch and now? You can’t lose touch. Social media has you so extensively IN TOUCH that good luck trying to cut yourself off from the world.

Not that I mind. Because I like knowing what they’re up to and what they’re doing. I do.

But. Sigh.

Hey Jenny Slater. Hey Jenny Slater. Hey Jenny Slater.

And you would think, “You know these people. You went to school with them. You’re connected with them on Facebook! This should be fun!” But.

I’m still an introvert. I’m still socially awkward. I’m still me.

I am the me that – while I cannot imagine that there is anyone who harbors any lingering hatred towards me – also cannot fathom that there is anyone who would cross a room to speak to me. I have this vision of sitting at a table eating my overpriced plate of rubber chicken and not talking to anyone. And – that’s somewhat humiliating to admit. I’m not the type to cross a room to start conversations.

And say someone did approach me – how do I want to explain the years since I saw them last at our ten year reunion? Stabbing the President of Paraguay with a fork would be infinitely more amusing than the reality which is that life has happened since I saw them last – life with its ups and downs and divorce and job hunts and finding my way and finding a job and finally finding a little peace again and that’s awfully deep for a conversation over rubber chicken and it’s not a conversation I want to have with anyone. And I don’t want to talk about the weather.

Some people say forgive and forget. Nah, I don’t know. I say forget about forgiving and just accept. And… get the hell out of town.

I wish them all well. I do.

And maybe I’d feel differently if I hadn’t just seen over half of the expected attendees three weeks ago. Maybe I’d feel differently if I had a big personality and was less of a wallflower. Maybe I’d feel differently if I truly believed my glory days ended twenty years ago.

And so it goes.

I’m making other plans, plans that don’t involve rubber chicken and a cash bar. Plans that don’t involve sucking in my gut and forcing myself to stand up straighter for hours on end.

Maybe in ten more years I’ll feel up to it. Right now, I’ll just plan to get the hell out of town.

Happy Birthday. I Miss You.

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Dear Grandpa,

I have had a lot of thoughts in my head over the past few weeks – well, over the past year even, if I’m really being honest – and as today drew closer, I found myself overwhelmed with an odd mix of extreme sadness and determination that I would not let today get the best of me. It’s early yet, and time will tell, but I will do my best today to honor you in a way that would have made you proud. Perhaps, I’ll duct tape something.

It seems unfair to have to endure both your birthday and the anniversary of your death within a 48 hour span, but perhaps that’s just a way to rip off the bandaid and get all the truly hard hurting done at once, and then find a way to put one foot in front of the other until the next hurdles – holidays.

Which is not to say that it’s only difficult on those big days – but those are the days it’s worse.

Most of the time, though, when I think of you it’s with love and I am able to put away the sadness of a year ago at this time. The sadness of saying goodbye.

Most of the time I think of things like potato pancakes and duct tape, of you shoveling the driveway even though everyone offered to have it plowed for you, how you always had Lifesavers in church, and how you pronounced my youngest daughter’s name funny. How you were so proud of them. How you were so proud of me. How you sent me postcards when I was a kid living in California and when we’d talk on the phone we’d race to say “Gotcha!” to each other. How you taught me to start my car with a clothes pin. How you were such an awful driver (you were. Grandma said one day, as we sat by your side during those last weeks, that she always figured you’d perish in the car – those were her words: Perish in the car. She followed that with, “Not that he was a bad driver” but yes, yes you were). The sound of your voice singing. When you called grandma “babe” when you were planning to renew your vows on your 60th anniversary.

You were and are so very loved – and I miss having you around. I hate that you’re not here. I wish you could see my daughters. I wish you could see that my life is coming back together. I’m glad you got to meet Chris and he got to meet you and these are all things I probably said last year right around this time but if I say them twice I must really mean them, right?

You were the glue that held us all together and since you’ve been gone there have been so few occasions where everyone’s been in the same place.

We didn’t get together on Father’s Day but we were all heart broken.

The thing is, you were so amazing. You were so strong for us. You were funny. You made us smile. You – just by being you – captured a permanent place in each of us and without you, it’s very clear that something’s absent.

And I don’t want to fill that void – but I don’t want to be sad either.

Sad feels ungrateful.

Some people are never as lucky as we were. Never as lucky as I was to have had someone like you in my life for so long (I’ve forgotten, grandpa, how old I am – isn’t that the funniest thing?).

We were blessed.

We were loved.

We miss you.

I miss you.

Forever grateful to have had you in my life.

i still love you.

Love,
Sarah