But CAN you let that pass without comment?

Can I just tell you that now that we have adopted a puppy, all of my targeted social media ads have turned into ads for cute dog-related shit? I am here for it. Show me all the puppy ads.

In worse news, apparently our garbage disposal is broken and leaking and there’s water all under the sink and leaking through to the other side of the island and are we supposed to have someone in to fix it? Can we even have someone in to fix it? What if we can’t use our kitchen sink anymore? Worse, what if we (“we”) have to attempt some kind of DIY home repair??? I am feeling panicky just typing that out, so let’s move on.

Another thing that makes me feel …agitated right now is all the “I would never X” and “I can’t believe people are Y” that I’m seeing online. The advice keeps changing every day and everything is so conflicting. I’ve got people who can’t believe folks are getting carry out on the one hand and others who can’t believe folks aren’t getting carry out on the other hand. The germs! The local businesses! The virus isn’t food borne! The containers are germ vectors! Local restaurants are dying! And that’s just one of many issues. WHAT DO WE DO.

No, never mind. Don’t tell me.

I have been gathering some fun stuff for the kids’ Easter baskets and putting some key food and drink items in our grocery order. I’m not a person of faith and don’t celebrate Easter in a religious fashion, but I do like to celebrate spring, candy, cute animals, and Bloody Marys. So I mentioned to my spouse that I had been secreting away some Easter items and he started to launch into some commentary about how he doesn’t care about Easter and wasn’t even thinking about it, which I promptly interrupted with, “It will be something to do and I have stuff planned, so.”

My point: this is your biweekly reminder that if someone else cares about, enjoys, or is simply planning to participate in something that you don’t care about, don’t enjoy, or don’t plan to participate in, you can let that pass without comment.

Harry the Dog

Hi, so, yeah, we adopted a puppy. Technically we are still fostering her for a couple of weeks but we’re planning to make it official as soon as we can.

Her name is Harriet and we also call her Harry. We think she’s about 3-4 months old and she’s kind of on the large side, so she’ll probably be a big one. There’s likely to be some pit bull in her (almost all mixed breed dogs at the local shelters and rescues seem to be pit mixes?) and something with a short tail. Who knows.

She’s super sweet and comes right up for pets and hugs every time she gets out of her crate. She is eating meals and sleeping in the crate and will usually be happy in there for short stints during the day when we need her safely contained.

It only took us about 14 days of quarantine to bring a puppy into the mix, heh. It may seem sudden, but actually we’d been talking about adopting a dog for several months now, just sort of waiting for the time to be right. We thought maybe after our spring break trip, or maybe during the summer, or maybe after our summer road trip…but of course no one could have foreseen that we’d suddenly find ourselves working from home for several months. With everyone home, what better time to adopt a puppy, right? We don’t have to worry about coming home to walk her during the work day, or whether she will tolerate being crated while we are gone for hours at a time. We are simply never gone. We can walk her as many times a day as she needs it, and we can gently crate train her and can be here with her as she gets adjusted to our house and learns the rules. It’s gonna be great. Just a little bit of happiness during this weird, sad, and scary time.

It’s been so long since I have trained a puppy. I had sort of forgotten how some of the elements can be unexpectedly frustrating, like when you’re walking them outside and they just won’t go and then they promptly pee on the rug five minutes later. Just as an example and not to call anyone out, ahem. We’ve made some progress on nighttime crate training just by moving her crate into the bedroom at night. She seems comforted to know we are nearby and in the past two nights (that’s as long as she’s been in our room) she hasn’t whined at all. She’s also so eager to learn! We have been working on “sit” and “down” with some good success. As L is now fond of saying, “it’s going well.”

I’m here.

Good evening. It is Tuesday; my children are asleep in bed; I am done working for the day. By my count, it’s day eleven of social distancing for my household.

My husband and I came home from a spring break trip basically the very day this was widely advised. Things happened fast that week— when we left on the trip, we’d been advised simply not to travel internationally or to go on a cruise. By the time we were returning, things looked pretty different.

Classes at our university went online after spring break and at this point it’s been declared we will be “delivering instruction” remotely for at least the rest of the semester. I will let you guess what i think of that phrase. I assume this will continue through the summer, too, though no one’s said so on the record. The kids’ daycare was open last week, but a state mandate required them to close Friday. We were choosing not to send them in, anyway. We are still paying tuition, which means their teachers are still getting paid, thank goodness.

So. We’ve been redesigning our courses for online instruction, teaching and meeting online, and caring for two loud and demanding four-year-olds at home. What a time to be alive.

The kids are getting a lot of time to do artwork and “workbooks” (e.g. alphabet and counting practice), have been enjoying various story times via instagram live (@oliverjeffers is the best!) and have been spending a lot of time riding scooters in the cul-de-sac while we adults talk to our neighbors from a safe distance of at least six feet.

I’ve discovered the joys and pains of Walmart grocery curbside pickup: I can get a whole week’s worth of groceries without having to enter the store? But alas, the avocados and bananas were overripe and they will not sell you wine or beer unless you come inside.

I have no idea how I’m getting any work done. There are not enough hours in the day for grading papers or creating digital content. There are far too many hours in the day to keep two small people entertained and happy. Today I hired Elsa and Anna to babysit for one hour and forty-four minutes so I could grade midterm exams.

I’ve been enjoying seeing a lot of your faces more online recently— Instagram stories and Marco Polo, mainly (message me your number if you want to chat on there). And reading your words, too. Thanks for being here, friends.

Year In Review: 2019

I’ve been doing this annual questionnaire for so long now that I don’t think I’m allowed to quit it.

Previous years’ answers are available here: (200720082009201020112012201320142015, 2016, 2017, 2018). Over time I have modified and deleted some of the original questions, but here’s what I’m working with this year:

1. What did you do in 2020 that you’d never done before?

Started powerlifting. Stopped at a portapotty in the middle of a 10K race. Almost served on a jury for a murder trial (got eliminated from the pool at the final stage, after 3 days of voir dire).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year, I wrote, “I don’t have a real resolution. I am going to sprinkle a few monthly challenges into my year, including Dry January (currently going on right now, yay?), a month of daily blog posting, a no-spend month, a run streak month, a decluttering month, and more to be determined later. My leisure reading will focus on the voices of women, people of color, and LGBTQ writers.”

I did pretty well on these. The only monthly challenge mentioned above that I didn’t complete was the run streak. This year, I have a few similar goals: Dry January is happening again (we have been doing it yearly for a while now); I’d like to run a half marathon without getting injured in the middle of the training cycle (eyes on Magic City in November); and I plan to work with CW to organize our garage, donate some old furniture, and make better use of our third bedroom.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Internet friends and work friends. And another local friend is due any week now!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No.

5. What places did you visit?

Atlanta (for shopping and the aquarium), Iowa (family visit), Sioux Falls (friend visit) and Mississippi (friend visit). We have some bigger travel plans happening this spring — more on that later!

6. What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?

I’ll repeat last year’s answer, which is still true: “A sane president, mainly. I would also appreciate more time alone and a more organized house.”

7. What days from 2019 will you always remember?

Nothing comes to mind as I sit here. I may think of a day later, but if I do, it wouldn’t really qualify as a day I’ll “always remember,” so.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Lots of little daily achievements involving mundane exercises in patience.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I kind of mentally checked out on myself in a couple of areas of life and wound up feeling like I was constantly playing catch-up or trying to figure out what I needed to do that I’d forgotten. I’m trying to stay more present and intentional now.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Plantar fasciitis crept up on me in the midst of a half marathon training plan and kept me from running the race. I was so sad about it.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

We finally upgraded to a king-size bed with a new Casper mattress and it is just divine.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My husband has been a pretty awesome member of the team this year.

13. Where did most of your money go?

Daycare. I’ll just keep repeating this answer every year until they start kindergarten.

14. What did you get really excited about?

Designing the new course I’m currently teaching. Running in general.

15. What song will always remind you of 2019?

“Water Me” by Lizzo. My very favorite running tune this year.

16. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? same
b) thinner or fatter? fatter
c) richer or poorer? same

17. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Racing.

18. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Getting injured. Emotional eating. Spending money.

19. How did you spend Christmas?

Sandwiched in between two different family visits, we had Christmas at home just the four of us. It was great.

20. What was your favorite TV program?

The ones that stand out to me are The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Schitt’s Creek. Other shows I enjoyed: Atlanta, Shrill, Big Little Lies, Sharp Objects, the final season of Game of Thrones, and the return of Veronica Mars.

21. What was the best book you read?

The Lager Queen of Minnesota — J. Ryan Stradal

Here are some other highlights from this year:

  • Evvie Drake Starts Over — Linda Holmes
  • My Sister the Serial Killer — Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • The Carrying — Ada Limón
  • Good Bones — Maggie Smith
  • There There — Tommy Orange
  • The River — Peter Heller
  • Becoming — Michelle Obama

22. What music did you get excited about?

Lizzo and The Highwomen

23. What did you want and get?

A new bed, a Garmin, and an Impeachment trial.

24. What did you want and not get?

A new car. I don’t need a new car. I’m just jealous of my husband’s new car. His pretty, pretty new car.

25. What was your favorite film of this year?

Nothing stands out as a clear favorite, but some highlights were: BlackkKlansman, A Star is Born, Always Be my Maybe, Booksmart, and Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker.

26. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Went with the family to Krispy Kreme on the way to work/school, ran 12K (an almost-yearly tradition on my birthday) and got a manicure. [ed note: I did these exact things last year, too!] I also had brunch with my husband and cake with my family. I turned 42.

27. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2019?

Stretchy.

28. What kept you sane?

Last year I wrote, “Coffee, running, and Twitter,” which is still true.

29. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Maggie Smith. The poet, not the actor.

30. What political issue stirred you the most?

The Democratic primaries, I suppose. (Team Warren.) I mean, and the whole impeachment thing.

31. Who was the best new person you met?

My powerlifting coach?

32. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2019.

You cannot take your body back in time to make it something it was in the past. It will never be its past self again. And, as I say every year, qui patitur vincit.

33. Quote a song lyric or poem that sums up your year.

“Rain, New Year’s Eve” by Maggie Smith

The rain is a broken piano,
playing the same note over and over.

My five-year-old said that.
Already she knows loving the world

means loving the wobbles
you can’t shim, the creaks you can’t

oil silent—the jerry-rigged parts,
MacGyvered with twine and chewing gum.

Let me love the cold rain’s plinking.
Let me love the world the way I love

my young son, not only when
he cups my face in his sticky hands,

but when, roughhousing,
he accidentally splits my lip.

Let me love the world like a mother.
Let me be tender when it lets me down.

Let me listen to the rain’s one note
and hear a beginner’s song.

Today

The twins have been doing really well on their “sleep goals,” so this week they earned a trip to the movie theater (“moobie feedoh”) to see Frozen II. I don’t particularly care for animated movies in general, but we enjoyed this one.

Afterward, we came home and watched the Iron Bowl, which was honestly completely bonkers! We won, but even better than that was this moment when the fans started to rush the field:

And last but not least, I have completed NaBloPoMo, a month of daily blog posts. Come over here for the rushed, nearly content-free writing, stay around for the daily repetition thereof. Maybe something interesting will happen eventually.

 

Dahoo Dores

We slept in Christmas jammies last night and woke up today ready to decorate. Holiday stuff has always been fun for me, but now it’s even more so. The kids, for example, have been wearing last year’s Santa socks for a full 24 hours.

But as every year, we get out the holiday bins only to find key light bulbs have burnt out and all the ornament hooks have tangled up and we are out of the tiny, battery-powered LED tea lights. Just for example. So apparently we’re going to have to go pick up some replacement items this weekend. Hold me.

As a counterpoint: the Hanna gnome PJs are a bit faded but they’re still rocking and rolling on their third year of wear:

2017
2018
2019. The only picture so far this year, to keep it real, entails cranky, reluctant morning snugs and reaching for my phone.

Like the pajamas, I also have this amazing candle that I only burn when we have the tree up (it’s there to create the illusion of having a real tree in the house, just because I want to) and it cost what felt like an absurd amount at the time but I’ve had it for three or four years at this point and it’s still going strong and smells incredible. Recommended.

Pictures tomorrow, maybe?

Thankful

A cozy home

A safe and happy family

Neighbors who welcome us to their houses and celebrate with us

A little red wagon for transporting hot food when you only have to carry it next door

An abundance of pie, symbolic of other abundances

Children who had a busy day and fall asleep right after bedtime

A snuggly old hound dog, a fuzzy blanket, a programmable coffee maker, and so many small comforts