Thursday, November 29, 2018

Thursday Thoughts - I see them, round the front way and I know and I know I don't want to stay

1. Stage of cold I'm in: blowing nose with toilet paper because I used all tissues and forgot them at both of the grocery stores I went to last night, taking every available vitamin in cabinet regardless of what it's for, eating everything Vitamin C I can get, not very liked by coworkers, asleep by 9 pm, reluctant to leave the couch even though I have very little clean underwear left and laundry does not do itself.

2. Yesterday I had a Wednesday morning that was totally Tuesday-ish. I missed my train because there was an overturned truck on 95 and all the 95 traffic was being routed through my train station. The way I come in, there is no stop sign. The woman driving like she was hellbent for election to get back through to 95 almost hit me and was stomping around outside our cars screaming at me until she realized I had no stop sign. She STFU very quickly then. That bullshit delay had me hauling ass to the platform only to miss the train by 30 seconds, after which I said fuck it and turned around to go back home but couldn't actually get out of the train station in a timely manner so I went back to the platform. The shuttle buses weren't running so I wogged a mile and a half with bags before 8:30 am.

3. Things were looking up by 10 after I unjammed the printer right before I hit Office Space levels of frustration. I had a productive meeting then dropped some stuff at UPS, mailed something I sold on Ebay at the post office, saw that news van - I get so fucking excited when I see the Action News van in the wild - and walked to the library to pick up books which is of course always the best part of the week.
4. New to me nail polish: Cirque Colors in Sapphire. I hope it comes off as easily as it went on given that it has flecks of glitter in it.
5. Bruce and Bender went to the vet Monday night. They were a riot. Bender has roundworms so he's being treated for that, but otherwise he's fine, just needs to fatten up a little. The dog listed as 17 lb in his description is not even nine pounds. When he was picked up this dog had parvo and wasn’t neutered. He was surrendered because there were too many animals in the house. I am envisioning a hoarder situation with zero vet care. He's doing really well in our pack, and the energy is more balanced. Bruce is still insane, but since he has a youthful partner in crime, he tires out more easily. He's also not obsessed to distraction with me, which is good for him.

6. I don't know if I have it in me to go to the shore this weekend, but I left quite a few things there that I need.

7. Something to think about as we examine ourselves - read the entire post here. As white people, a lot of times we don't see things because we don't want to see them. White is the norm, the baseline that everything else is based off. That's all we've ever seen. Until we can see it from another perspective (and once you see it, you can't unsee it), we will continue to have unrest and divide. It's up to us as white people to break this shit down even when we benefit from it.

8. A few more thoughts related to the post I wrote Tuesday:

9.  Reminder:

10. E-card of the week:


What appears after the hyphen in Thursday Thoughts is a song lyric to whatever I'm listening to when I start to write the post. This week is Yellow Ledbetter by Pearl Jam.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Things I meant to do this year

Consistent skin care at night

Holiday cards

Paint trim in house

Makeover of built in bookshelves in the basement 

Swap bedroom with spare room in front of the house

Stop arguing with people on the Internet about basic human rights issues trying to get them to be human

Eat more salads

See once a month spot pics and monthly seven list all the way through

Purge basement storage room 

Replace two shore air conditioners

Those are things that come to mind without much thought. Whenever I think about what I didn’t do that I intended to do, I realize I did so many things I didn’t have in mind for myself. I never feel bad or like a failure for not doing stuff and I hope you don’t either  - if I didn’t do something, it’s because my focus was required elsewhere. As long as I’m not hiding from the world paralyzed by fear or indecision, I’m doing fine. I love crossing things off the list but I’m not going to break myself to do it. 

I always tell friends to give themselves grace. I’d be a fool not to take my own advice. No guilt and no regrets. It’s all about balance, recognizing limitations of time/energy/money, prioritizing, and working with what you have, where you are.

What made your not this year, maybe next list? 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Not in the mood

For this political climate
Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon for Reuters
To argue with people defending teargassing children in any way. The correct response is “that is wrong” full stop - no but or any type of qualifier or waxing poetic or strutting around like the only voice of reason in existence - children, tear gassed, there is no reason. Shut up unless you are speaking against this 
Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon for Reuters
To cite sources for others on what immigrants do and don’t get for “free,” the situation in Honduras and how it was created by the U.S., or any other information that is available in a library or on, you know, fucking Google
Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon for Reuters
To listen to people rant about how immigrants are taking jobs/resources/opportunities and THEY WILL NOT PAY FOR THAT be totally fine with limitless corporate welfare and tax cuts that feed the rich and kill the middle class and be completely unable to connect all of these things and how they actually work

For people being so fearful of brown people coming in while okay with mass shootings and domestic terrorism by white men
Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon for Reuters
To see one more person call thousands of exhausted, hungry, poor people who have walked 2,000 miles for a better chance at safety for themselves and/or their children an “invasion.” Get the fuck out of here with an invasion.
Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon for Reuters
To see people value what they think of as legality above all else, including morality. How did that work out for Nazi Germany, when people valued what was the current law over what was morally right?

To see "maybe they should try legal immigration" one more fucking time - do you have any idea how outrageously expensive and bureaucratic our current immigration system is? Most of our poor Irish and Italian ancestors would not have been able to pay their way through that

To listen to people say they just want immigrants vetted but not say a damn word when their government sent 5,000 military personnel to the border instead of 5,000 agents to process applications

To need to convince others to remember common decency and basic humanity for all people
Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon for Reuters
To listen to bullshit from anti-abortion people who are A-OKAY with these real, live children living like this

For people who cannot acknowledge the lengths they would go to to keep their kids safe, the laws they would break, the miles they would walk

To meet anyone in the middle when they are coming from a vile, hateful, fearful place

To be nice about any of the above, even frivolously, to remain civil. Not in the fucking mood even a tiny bit

Also, all of this copied from a public status of Alex Schiller on Facebook:
It is less expensive to fast track the vetting, court cases, and processing for asylum seekers than it is to separate families and detain them.
It is less expensive to feed, clothe, and house every member of 'the caravan' than it is to mobilize troops to defend our borders from people who have just walked 1000 miles with no food.
It is less expensive to create a public works project, and let migrants and asylum seekers build bridges and roads, than it is to spend taxpayer dollars on 2,000 miles of wall to keep them out.
It is less expensive to deal with imbalanced tariffs than it is to allow 98% of the soy we would have sold to China rot in a field, and watch GM lay off 15% of its workforce.
The amount of money spent by super PAC's on disinformation campaigns supporting Kavanaugh, the tax breaks, ACA repeal, and a host of other attempts by billionaires to rally public support for whatever benefits their bottom line (while the GOP held the executive and legislative branches, and had the votes to do all of this themselves) could have rebuilt half of Puerto Rico.
The ruling party, the one of God and financial responsibility and conservatism, takes every opportunity to spend the most money possible to solve the least pressing problems in the least efficient ways; all while signaling their own virtues of faith and family, decrying the financial mismanagement of past administrations, and turning a blind eye to the sea of open corruption they so painstakingly crafted.
I never imagined such an innovative and intelligent country could be so easily manipulated into doing the most harm at the highest cost, all in the name of defending ourselves from ghosts.
My Republican friends... whatever it is you think your party is now, you're wrong.
Whatever it is you're scared of that allows you to so hypocritically support such a hapless, inefficient, and often cruel administration; I assure you it does not exist. And if it does, these perceived threats are nothing compared to the real world problems we're both creating and ignoring.
It's probably time for you to wake up, because "gassing children at the border" is the type of headline that we would normally go smack the shit out of another country for doing... not something my friends and relatives defend on the fucking internet.
For giving Tuesday, try to give a shit about people.

Monday, November 26, 2018

TWTW - the one with the Thanksgiving

Wednesday I spent the day relaxing, reading, taking 470 photos of my dogs, practicing walking four dogs alone, and painting my nails (OPI Black Dress Not Optional). When MFD arrived we ran to the pet store to get John Bender something that fit, then to the grocery store. If you have to go food shopping on Thanksgiving Eve, make it in a shore town. The store is empty. Back at home I read and we ordered dinner from Piccini and called it a night early. 

Thursday Thanksgiving dawned clear and cold AF. We saw the sunrise, relaxed with coffee, and split the Thanksgiving cooking duties while watching the Philly and Macy's parades followed by the Dog Show and after dinner Woman Walks Ahead. Have you ever seen the European Vacation where all the food ends up in front of Audrey in a dream sequence? That was MFD. Excuse the non-tablescape, Thanksgiving at the shore is not a fancy affair. Aubrey, Stephen, and the kids arrived around 8:30.

Friday Stephen and Aubrey went to the Flyers game and my Dad, MFD, and I took Lola to the beach with all the dogs while Carol waited for Baby Stephen to wake up from his morning nap. Lola loves the beach even in the cold, and splashed in the water and played with the sea foam and asked a ton of questions and walked the boardwalk with my dad. John Bender enjoyed his first time on the beach.
Afternoon naps and quiet time then Christmas in the Downtown where Santa appears on the top of City Hall and comes down on a huge ladder. I love it like I was a little kid still. There was a strong Santa chant this year and that was amazing. Aubrey and Stephen made it back from the game just in time to see Santa. Holiday miracle! Donuts and ice cream and early to bed.

Saturday Bruce was bugging to run early so we were on the beach by 6:15. My dad made breakfast, then Aubrey, Stephen, Lola, MFD, the dogs and I went to the beach to burn off some energy. Mae sat immobile for much of the time except when Bruce was dragging her around by her sweatshirt. Lola and Aub jumped in the waves with their boots and aside from the wind it wasn't bad out. MFD headed to North Wildwood to help his mom move after that.
After Baby Stephen's morning nap we did some small business shopping at Blue Lotus on Asbury, then went up to the boardwalk to play in the arcade, get pizza for lunch and candy at Shriver's, and sit in a rowboat with Santa. We all ran down when we saw there was no line as if we had never seen Santa before. We made it home before the torrential rain and Carol got a pic of me walking all four dogs. I look like a lunatic, as I suspected. I was asked five times if I was a dog walker. Leftovers and fresh hot roast beef on Bennie's rolls for dinner plus a ton of photography by Lola. Bruce was BEAT from all the activity, he didn't move all night and didn't even go out one last time.

Sunday One perk of a crazy rain storm is a phenomenal sky and thundering waves the next day. Such a tremendous morning I'm sharing nine photos of it, zero of which do it justice.
Dad got donuts and we sat around for a while before heading to the playground. Mae and Bender looked out for Lola and Baby Steve from the bench while Bruce sat with me. Bender found refuge in Carol's lap soon though. Gus watched the Eagles with my dad and brother, then everyone cleaned up and left, I did a little work, and MFD and I took a bike ride on the boards, watched the surfers at 7th Street and the ocean at the Music Pier, talked to a 96 year old WWII veteran, and got popcorn before heading home to pack up to go back to Philly. To say I didn't want to leave is an understatement.

Thankful for a weekend with my family especially my niece who is so smart and funny and my nephew who is so sweet and daring, lots of time with MFD (actually have some material for a Shit MFD's been a while) and the dogs, and some time by myself as well in the place I love the most. I missed being with Debbie and Lori and Jack up north but the combination of snow and new dog and lots of driving meant it was not meant to be. 

Also not meant to be: lasting peace given news of asylum seekers being tear gassed at the border with part of the border being closed. That is not normal. None of this is normal. 

Of course it was Queen Gween's birthday this weekend as well - happy birthday Gwen! Love you!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Tell me about it!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

November 2018 Recommendations

Free recommendations this month as in free info from me to you and free because none of them cost a damn thing.

1. Google Keep List App - Love love love love. I have used Wunderlist and AnyList. This is awesome. You can color code and reorder and move things and insert photos and take notes instead of lists and it's awesome.
2. On Native Land App - Assumptions make an ass out of U and Me, but I am going to assume everyone knows that the story we were told of the first Thanksgiving and knowing what we know in this age of information about colonialism and the brutalization of indigenous people is not how things actually went down. This week as we dream of succulent turkey and count our blessings, take a minute to step outside of white is everything and everything is white and learn about whose land you are actually on, what they were like as a people, their traditions and beliefs. This is great for travel too. It's a work in progress (see site here). In both Philadelphia and down the shore, I am on Lenape land. The Lenape homeland included all of New Jersey, northern Delaware, eastern Pennsylvania, and southeastern New York. Whose land are you on?
3. Magnesium Supplements - Melatonin doesn't help me sleep, nor does lavender, but magnesium supplements taken with dinner? That's the stuff.

4. Letting go of things that no longer serve you, big or small. When you hold on, you have no room to become. I saw this on Micah's instagram and I dig it.

What are you recommending this month?

I think I might share a books I'd buy people post tomorrow. I'm not good at gift guides generally but I might be good at that.

Monday, November 19, 2018

TWTW - the one mostly in the car oh and the new dog

Friday I drove down to the shore at lunch and worked from there the rest of the day. I was supposed to go down Thursday night but the unexpected snowpocalypse delayed me. I ended up working until about 9:30 that night as I'm in a busy period with breaks for a family beach walk, Bennie's Breads tomato pie for dinner, and nails (OPI Meet Me on the Star Ferry).

Saturday there was no pretty sunrise but Bruce still woke me up to go to the beach at dawn. I've been waiting for Deadend to open since early summer so we hit that - good bagels and spreads all made in house - then took a gander at the bay at low tide. Reading and relaxing before a long family beach walk down in the South End where there is a lot of erosion from the storms a few weeks ago. It's nice to have my husband back and do things together.
I packed up and left, getting home by 4:30. We went to Katie Muth's victory party in Pottstown - friends in PA Senate District 44, you elected a woman on fire to serve you - she is a fierce feminist and 100% for people over profits. She's the real deal. 
We visited Aunt Carrie & Uncle Jim for a bit after and narrowly missed Gail & Shawn. We were yawning like old people and made the 45 minute ride home where I finished this. Oh, my heart. Read it. 

Sunday Up and out by 8:15 to meet my knottie girls AEB & Alicia and their girls for breakfast at The Hattery, where we always meet. I had a hamburger. Then I went to pick up a turkey coupon from Sarah & Mark's mailbox, home to let the dogs out, to Marshalls to get a bowl, to Giant to pick up the free turkey, home to cycle laundry, etc. Then MFD and I drove to Horsham to pick up John Bender, our newest adopted family member. This dog is 1/3 of the size we were expecting - he is seriously small - but once we say we're taking you, we're taking you. You'll be with us forever, buddy. His first day was better by far than Mae's. I spent a few hours working Sunday night and threw Mexican stuffed shells in the oven from the freezer.
Weekly food prep: breakfast is burritos from the freezer. Lunch is taken care of via a meeting Monday and leftovers Tuesday. Off the rest of the week. 

I feel like I have fifty tons of shit to do in a very short amount of time this week. We were going to go upstate for Thanksgiving Wednesday to Friday then drive four hours to the shore Friday until Sunday but with all the snow they got up there and this tiny new dog, we're going to just spend the whole time at the shore. Now I must assemble what i need to take to make Thanksgiving happen down there. You?

How was your weekend? 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Thursday Thoughts - I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd, but when they said, "sit down," I stood up

1. When you're living through a really intense period, it's hard to step outside of it and see how much of yourself you're losing and what you're gaining because you're just trying to get through the gauntlet. When life is stressful for prolonged periods, I have a tendency to operate on autopilot through it and blank a lot out. This year has been a blur and I feel like I've lost time. I'm looking forward to spending time getting reacquainted with myself because I'm a lot different than I was in February. I thought a few weeks ago that I might not feel back to normal after Election Day because I had gotten comfortable being uncomfortable and would have to forge a new normal. I was right. Chelsea shared the image on the left the other night on Instagram and I loved it. Both images are from Morgan Harper Nichols. In those times when everything around us feels different and we have to poke ourselves to see what's changed and what's the same, it's nice to read words like this along the way.

2. In addition to enjoying being more anonymous and getting to know ourselves and each other again, we are trying to get our house in order, go through all the shit that has accumulated over the past year, and get back to a better financial place. It's a lot, and all that plus the time change has me wanting to do this most nights.

3. I still love you, but I'm not doing Christmas cards this year. The additional energy required to do the cards and full on decorating and things I typically do related to Christmas but do not actually enjoy is not energy I have to spare at this time. I'm also not going overboard with gifts because no one needs anything anyway. My holiday plan is to chill out, enjoy my people and my time, sing fucking kumbaya in a circle of peace, and feel zero pressure or guilt about anything.

4. Our new dog allegedly arrives Sunday and I have not heard when I can pick him up, etc. I am not well with it. It's Thursday! I need to make plans. I did already pack him stuff for next week. He will he introduced to our traveling lifestyle quickly.

5. There is still a firestorm coming out of D.C. daily (California criticism, missed Paris WWI 100 year anniversary, no wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Election Day, unconstitutional appointment of unqualified un-vetted temporary Attorney General, violation of the First Amendment kicking Acosta out, showing our ass to allies,  etc etc etc, please follow Amy Siskind's Authoritarian List) but there are some fucking awesome things coming out of DC right now too. Like watching these women go. I want them to keep being real people representing real people and forcing action from people who have been in office too long and talk a lot but don't do a damn thing.
6. Mae spends a lot of time paused on stairs because Bruce likes to wait for her at the top and she hates that.

7. Inhabiting the same space at the same waking hours as MFD again means Game of Thrones is constantly on. I don’t even watch the show yet have seen part of most episodes four times. Send help.

8. We’re headed to the shore tonight to work from there tomorrow and drop stuff off for next weekend since we’ll be going there from upstate on Friday. Packing a week in advance, may the odds be ever in my favor that I get it right.

9.  Reminder:

10. E-card of the week:

What appears after the hyphen in Thursday Thoughts is a song lyric to whatever I'm listening to when I start to write the post. This week is Growin' Up by Bruce Springsteen - I have listened to the Columbia Records audition at least 20 times this week.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Five years of sobriety - a check in

Monday marked five years sober for MFD. He knows four dates: his sobriety date 11-12-13, his birthday, my birthday, and our anniversary. His sobriety date is most important. It is the bedrock of everything else and takes priority over everything else. That's how vitally important sobriety is to his existence and our existence together.

Six years ago, if you told me we'd be here, I would not have believed you. Six years ago I was preparing myself for divorce. Five years ago I was certain I was headed for divorce. But the days went on and MFD worked his program with commitment I had not seen from him before. I offered no encouragement. I sat back. I waited.

About six months into his sobriety, I kept my eye on the door and waited for the other shoe to drop. Nine months in, I exhaled. A year in, I felt my shoulders move down from around my ears. Five years on, we have problems and challenges, of course. Everyone does. But nothing like we did before. Five years of sobriety for MFD is a good place for us to be, marriage-wise. He is as committed today to maintaining his sobriety as he was then, and know that it is a daily commitment. I don’t worry about it because I have always known that it is up to him and him alone to grab it, live it, and maintain it.

People do recover.

Five years of sobriety is also a weird place to be. The weird place has to do with external forces entirely: people making light of something our life is contingent upon, most of them probably not even realizing they’re doing that. Our life, in the sense that there is no marriage without his sobriety. His life in the very real sense that he'd likely not still be alive or living outside of prison if he didn't get sober five years ago. That’s how serious this is. I’ve come to understand that people who are not sober or close with someone who is are unfamiliar with what sobriety is and what it means.

I distinctly remember someone many years ago telling me he was sober and me being like What? Oh. Okay! Well if you change your mind, there’s beer here. I cringe when I think of that now. I was an idiot who still thought drinking was part of life and everyone did it some just more than others. I didn't understand sobriety and how much it meant to someone to say they were sober, to live that. How hard it is for people to get to that place and then to stay there. How sacred sobriety is. 

I never fully understood what it meant and the commitment it took to be sober until MFD got sober. I'm sharing it with you so you also know and maybe won't respond like I did once upon a time - like it was no big deal or an option that could change day to day, minute to minute. When we ourselves don't have a problem with substances, it can be hard to understand that there are people who do, and that it is a big fucking deal. It is life or death to them. 

Five years in, people have started offering Michael drinks, like they forgot he is sober for a reason. Lots of sober people are private about it. He is not, so it's not like it's an unknown thing. This summer someone who has known us for YEARS implied Michael got sober five years ago and became religious so he could use it as his political background story, that he didn't really NEED to be sober and was just doing it for attention. And then my favorite, the people who talk about how much more fun MFD was when he was a drunk, usually said in an effort to shut him up on something he's passionate about.

Yes, tons of everyone who didn’t have to deal with the fallout of someone systematically destroying themselves and your life as an unfortunate side effect to their struggle. If anyone who has ever said anything like that lived through some of the nights I've lived through they would know saying he was more fun when he was a drunk is less a knock on him and more wishing direct harm on me. Five years on I still feel like tearing people from limb to limb when I hear it, it's that visceral of a reaction.

These comments roll off of MFD - his sobriety is his responsibility to maintain. Someone else's opinion of it simply doesn't matter. He doesn't get upset or angry with people. That's all me. Some things don't change. I am 100 times more protective of our life post-sobriety. If you knew how hard I’ve fought to keep things together through everything, you just would never.ever.ever be so casually cruel.

I think it's easy for people who aren't living right up against substance use disorder to make thoughtless comments. I’ve been that person. Once you live inside the belly of the beast, you're not so flippant. If your life depended on your sobriety, it would never be a joke to you or a remark you'd toss out. When you do, you’re not just slagging the person who has this issue - you’re invoking harm on everyone close to them who is an innocent bystander if things fall apart. We’ve been through enough, trust me.

Yesterday I read something Glennon Doyle wrote and it struck me. 

When I first wrote about addiction, I realized it couldn't be off-limits anymore because we can't end the stigma of addiction if we don't talk about it, all of it, including old behaviors and attitudes that aren't something to be proud of and what it’s like to live with it from a family perspective. I want to be really clear that when I write about this (it's only the second time in over seven years, but I am planning on not avoiding it anymore) it's not a look at what he's done/look how strong I am/ look what we've made from a pile of shit - this is a we're here, with you, you're not out there alone if you have this in your life, no matter where you are in the spectrum of addiction. It's not shameful and it doesn't have to be isolating. And since it's me and not MFD writing, it's specifically about being a loved one who has been through this. This is a huge part of my life, so not writing about it because it’s not “mine” is not showing myself. It’s not letting people fully see me so they can be less afraid if they feel alone in this. Anyone out there living with or closely related to an active substance abuser, I see you. I was you. You are not alone down here. People living on the other side of it, I’m here with you now. All of us: we can talk about it. This is the substance abuser’s story, certainly, but it is our story too. If you want or need to be heard, I will listen. 

As for me, I still drink, and I think that surprises people sometimes. It shouldn't. I don't have a problem with alcohol. Michael can be around people drinking and not drink - it's a concept that is lost on many because people use alcohol as a social lubricant. He simply removes himself from the situation when he feels uncomfortable or gets tired of it. We don’t keep alcohol in our house but we don’t avoid where it is.

What I don't do anymore is romanticize drinking or elevate its importance. I actually hate when people say they can't get through something without alcohol, like they won't survive the day or homework or an awkward or stressful situation or whatever - because you can, and saying you can't feeds into the drinking culture and there are people out there that will spend years without a drop of alcohol to preserve their very lives, their sanity, their health. THAT is survival. Not clutching a wine glass to make it through new math. You like your wine. You’d survive without it. There’s a difference. That's my thoughts coming from where I am now. Experience and perspective of living with an alcoholic has changed my thoughts on a lot of things related to alcohol.

Five years of sobriety for someone other than myself has been one of the most unexpected gifts of my life. I’m thankful for it daily. As with the first time I wrote about this, if you would like to talk privately email me at And as with the first time, I am okay, I’m just writing. I am happy to help you find resources for support or to just listen and support you in any way I can. 

Happy birthday to Melissa today and happy anniversary to my brother & Aubrey!

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