Wednesday, May 25, 2022

America is lost

Before we can grieve the souls lost in one mass shooting, it happens again.  

Buffalo, New York, May 14, 2022, 10 Black elders gunned down in a supermarket by an 18-year-old white supremacist with an AK-15.

Uvalde, Texas, May 24, 2022, 19 fourth graders and their two teachers gunned down in their classrooms by a troubled 18-year-old with an AK-15.

And on. 
And on. 

It seems to me that when 19 police officers are too afraid to go in and neutralize a teenager with an AK-15 assault rifle and instead the cops stand around in the hallway for an hour, listening to gunfire as the shooter slaughters 19 children and two teachers on the other side of an unlocked door, then it's time to ban that weapon of war. Those cops put fear for their own lives above those Uvalde schoolchildren. Despite their oath to protect and serve, to be brave in the face of mortal danger, they let the babies die, many of them bleeding out as they dialed 911 again and again from their cell phones, begging the so-called good guys with guns to break through the door and help them. I cannot plumb the depths of their parents' grief. I can barely feel my own grief, I'm so blinded by rage. Anger is sorrow turned inside out.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Catching up

Here are some photos with no real post attached, just images from the last two weeks of my life, gathered before the doctor changed my Synthroid dose and I came back to the land of the living. The thing is, when I was in that dark hole, no one could really tell, because I kept to myself a lot, and impersonated normalcy when I didn't. Only my daughter really knew I was struggling, and she begged me to get help. I considered going back into therapy, and then I connected the dots and realized it was my meds that needed adjusting. I am astonished how many of you who read here have a similar low thyroid issue, and how well you all understood the dark place being insufficiently medicated for the condition can plunge one into. I wonder how many women are walking around in the depths of depression, not knowing they have a thyroid issue, and can get help. But I digress. I really only meant to post pictures today, for my own fond record.

My girl was in town last weekend to attend the bachelorette party for one of her longest-standing friends. These two, along with four other girls, became a tribe in elementary school. They called themselves The Six, and they have been faithful to one another ever since. They are like family, they argue and do therapy on one another, and most of all they love and celebrate each other through all the passages of their lives since they were four and five years old. There's a before picture of these two, taken on their first trip to the farm. I've posted it here before. I love it, because it shows so clearly the love that would sustain them as they grew. Weeks spent at the farm as a class were part of the curriculum at their liberal progressive school, where, as the founder put it, "differences were to be celebrated," and everyone valued for exactly who they were. 

At the weekend-long bachelorette party, held at an Airbnb in the Hamptons, every member of The Six was there, plus friends from other spheres of the bride-to-be's life, including a queer college friend who my daughter said flirted outrageously with all the other women, making the straight ones wonder if they were, in fact, straight. The bride eventually took her friend aside and said, "You have to stop. Everyone here is crushing on you." It was in good fun, however, a lovely reminder that we all exist on a continuum, and it is souls that love and are drawn together, as much as it is bodies. Here are a couple more photos from the weekend, swiped from social media. My daughter and these young women know each other as sisters. 

And here's another photo, this one of my son, exhausted after making his way across town to physical therapy, and back on the bus. "Why am I so tired?" he murmured before drifting into an afternoon nap. "You're healing," I said. And he is.

Tulips and packing

My niece Dani brought me tulips when she arrived back from seeing her sister graduate college in Orlando last week. She said the flowers were because she missed my birthday, sweet girl. I love walking down the hall and seeing them in that clean new kitchen, punctuating the green outside our window. We've now fully unpacked the endless boxes and set up the kitchen anew, and those nice empty counter tops are no more. It's a working kitchen after all, and my man doesn't do rooms for preciousness and show. Living spaces are for doing life fully, messily, joyfully, and so there you go. It's a relief to be all moved back in with everything functional. So many bags of stuff went out the door, and yet all the cabinets are once again full. At least I know where everything is for the moment. That will change.

Meanwhile, the man and I have remained symptom free for Covid, and have tested negative on two at-home tests, so I think we're out of the woods. Now I have to get my head in gear and start packing for our road trip to Boston, where we will join the family of my daughter's love in celebrating his graduation from business school. He now has two masters degrees, one in engineering and now an MBA. I am in awe of how his brain works, the things about data and operating systems he seems to understand. 

The last two years sure did go by quickly. The old cliché, seems like just yesterday we were moving them into their new campus digs. And now the young loves have another shared life experience under their belts that I trust will stand them in good stead in the years ahead, which they have expressed an intention to live jointly. I wish them the resilience to ride life's waves, the wisdom to rely on laughter, the equanimity to turn challenges into lessons, and the attention to recognize their many blessings in real time, which they seem to be building a good muscle for doing already.

So, what shall I pack to wear to graduation, and class day, and the brewery visit for grad families, and dinners come evening, and exploring the town that has been home to our young ones for the last two years, where they worked hard but had an enjoyable time and made many new friends too. Not so enjoyable that they're staying north, however. They'll be back in the city by the end of June. Those of you who know me well, know that I am over here trying to get my head on straight for four whole days of showing up. Sometimes, there's no question, though. You have the honor of being invited and you just go. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Life now

Saw this while roving the inter webs and it felt so true: “Blood makes you related. Love makes you family.”


Shan felt like family right from the start. She worked from our dining table last week while her love recovered from knee surgery on our couch. She attended a wedding in Cabo on the weekend, an epic affair in which she was a bridesmaid. After a Mercury retrograde plagued flight home on Sunday night, she spent Monday and most of Tuesday with us, but then she began to feel unwell and decided to go home just in case she was coming down with anything contagious. Today she tested positive for Covid, but is thankfully already on the mend, her worst most feverish day having been yesterday. She feels terrible that she likely exposed us, and I tried to assure her these situations are just an inevitable part of life now. I feel no angst about any of it, and even hugged her when she was leaving on Tuesday, though I knew she might have more than a cold. It's too soon to take a test ourselves, but we aren’t experiencing any symptoms so far. I trust the man and I will remain negative, as we're supposed to attend our daughter's love's graduation from business school in Boston next week. Our children have given us wonderful heart children who if all goes according to plan will one day co-parent our grandchildren. Already we couldn't love them more. 


I went to the endocrinologist yesterday, not the ancient one but another doctor in the practice who came very highly recommended as well. He did my blood work and adjusted my meds and I felt heard and validated. I'll see him again in a couple of months to further assess everything. The dire feelings have passed, yet I sense I’m in transition somehow, treading water, waiting for the next indicated thing to become clear. I might be a little numbed out, marking time till something sparks. Or maybe it’s just been a long two years, and Covid is rising again, and ten Black people buying groceries were gunned down in Buffalo, and I worry about the minefields my children and their loves must negotiate in this land Rebecca refers to as "Terrible America," and dear God I’m tired. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Sunday morning coming down

I have been doing a lot of reading on Dr. Google this morning and have concluded that I am under medicated for my low thyroid function. My doctor decreased my dose three months ago, and since then I have been extremely fatigued and sleeping fitfully, but the very worst part is the dangerously dire moods, the dark thoughts that swirl inside my head, and now I am remembering that this is exactly how it felt right after my son was born, and my thyroid went out of whack, and it took seeing four doctors before finding one who didn't dismiss my exhaustion, lethargy, drenching melancholy, climbing weight, constant chill despite it being warm outside, and hair falling out in perfect half moons at my temples, as simply post-partum symptoms. There was nothing simple about it.

When the last doctor I saw finally diagnosed me, and put me on levothyroxine, a thyroid replacement hormone, I felt back to normal within a week. But recently, after my current doc reduced my dosage for the second time, I began to feel as if I was moving underwater with lead weights attached to my limbs, and I was also weathering all manner of catastrophic mind fucks, and feeling unreasonably emotional about the slightest and possibly imagined shifts in the  air. (Maybe that's why all the kitchen reno decisions felt so hard.) Three days ago, I went back to my previous dosage because I still had some pills left and the difference in how I feel today is marked. No longer do I feel (as I said to my son) as if I had covid and didn't know it, but am now suffering from long covid. No longer do I feel as if my most significant relationships are crumbling and my marriage is on the brink of divorce. No longer do I feel, dear God, can I say it, no I can't, it's too extreme to write, so I'll use the euphemism: No longer do I feel like what is the point of it all?

I was going to call my doc and request that she reinstate my previous dosage, which I had been doing fine on. She'd lowered it based on the results of a TSH test, which is only one of five tests needed to get the full thyroid picture, according to multiple sources on Dr. Google. When I told my husband my plan, he said, "Why don't you just go see an endocrinologist instead?" Duh. So I began researching who might be good, only to discover that in 2018 one of the city's leading hospital systems opened a whole treatment center devoted entirely to the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders. They even take my insurance. 

And so first thing Monday morning, I will call to make an appointment with one of the doctors there, who specializes in thyroid, diabetes, and bone diseases (hello, arthritis and joint pain), and who has more than a hundred five star reviews. He looks ancient in his picture, but is apparently accepting new patients, so I shall endeavor to engage his expertise and see what transpires. In the meantime, I will continue taking the higher dosage of my thyroid meds, because not feeling like your presence on this earth is an affront even to yourself is reason enough. 

And that is my Sunday morning testimony.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Overcast, but light breaks through

I'm having such a moody week. My girl arrived last night, bringing her sunshine with her, and that helped. But the grayness inside me I can't quite seem to touch. I am so weary of myself, this physical and emotional body, but not of this life, which has so much sweetness at the center, so the darkness that encroaches, it must be chemical, no?  I did email a therapist friend at 3 AM on Tuesday morning, asking for a referral. Time to shrink this noisy brain again, soothe this turbulent internal sea, make peace with what is. Whatever.

But my daughter, what a bright light she is. She went into her new office for the first time today, outfit carefully chosen. "Do I look like I work in tech?" she asked her brother and me, modeling the white jeans, shell gray top, moto leather jacket, and fresh white kicks. I was reminded of when she was in kindergarten and picking out her own clothes. She would run into her brother's room with an item of clothing in each hand and chime, "Do these match?"

"You look great," I told her this morning. 

"You look like you're ready to kick ass and rule the world," her brother agreed from his leg-braced perch on the couch. 

"Cool," she said. "That's a good way to look on the first day of school." 

And darn if she doesn't already have a friend, a young woman she met in her first week of working remotely from Boston, who is coming in from Long Island today so they can meet in person. Her new workplace has a hybrid remote work system, and they don't seem to really care how often people come into the office. Before my daughter sailed out the door this morning, she and her new work friend were busy coordinating a subway station meet-up, so they could travel to southern Manhattan and walk into the office together. I think my girl is going to be okay.

And my son, he's going to be okay, too. He took himself to physical therapy across town and back yesterday, navigating on crutches all the way. He firmly refused my offer (demand) to accompany him, insisting he could do it on his own. When the man and I picked up our girl from the airport last night, she wanted to know how her brother was doing post surgery. 

"Is he very needy?" she asked. 

"Not at all," I told her, "he's the opposite of needy." 

"He cooked dinner for everyone last night," her dad added. 

Twas good, too, southwestern style chicken breasts with peppers and onions and caramelized roasted sweet potatoes. He's always been our "I do it" child.

Lying in bed last night, the lights out, I whispered to my husband, "We have two very capable children." "Hmmm," he murmured, drifting into sleep. I lay awake brooding for a long time, staring into the dark, taking some comfort in these two souls, both so dazzling to me, who chose us to be their parents. 

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Thankful for the good

I made coffee in my own kitchen for the first time in a month this morning, and it tastes sweet indeed. And my son, on crutches, made scrambled eggs and bacon for himself and his love both yesterday and the day before. This morning, he made himself oatmeal. It's so funny seeing the habits in our children that endure from childhood. He hated eggs as a boy, and only learned to enjoy them on hangover mornings in college. And so when he was growing up, on school mornings I would make him and his sister oatmeal with strawberries and blueberries and a cut up banana, sprinkled with crushed almonds and dried cranberries and drizzled with a little honey. That was my version of making a healthful breakfast for my children so I could think I was being a good mother. And now he tells me that oatmeal is still his breakfast of champions.

His recovery from the ACL surgery is going so much better than last time. The pain is manageable, and he appears to be in much less distress. He attributes this to his surgeon being more exact and precise in performing the operation, and therefore inflaming the surrounding tissue less. Last time, three days in, his knee was massively swollen and looked, as he put it, like grape jelly from the bruising. This time it is about two thirds less swollen, and the bruising is minimal. 

His dad took him to his first physical therapy appointment yesterday, and at home, he is faithfully doing the assigned exercises, and icing on schedule. The part of him that is fascinated by the body's ability to heal itself is rather enjoying marking his own progress. I cannot tell you how relieved I am by the way this is going so far. I pray it continues like this. Plus, he is great company, our boy. And next week, our daughter is coming to town for a few days to go into her new office for an in person day, and to attend the bachelorette weekend of one of her closest friends since they were four. My son's finacee will be in Mexico attending a wedding in Cabo in which she is a bridesmaid. It will be the  just the four of us in the house again, the way we started out. "I think the four of us balance out each other's energies," I said to my daughter. She guffawed and said, "Keep dreaming, Mom."


We're still slowly setting up the new kitchen, and trying to release a lot of excess stuff as we go, but here is a picture showing the under mount lights glowing softly from behind a strip of wood installed along the lower edge to shade the naked filaments from the eye. I think it works perfectly and am so happy that I pushed for it. The contractor came up with the most elegant solution possible, it simply looks as if the cabinets were made that way. He will be back next week to add some white wood filler to the seam where the new strip of wood meets the lower cabinet edge, to block out the thinnest bleed of light through it. I love that he is such a detail person, a soul after my own heart. Also, the backordered cabinet came in and was installed yesterday, as you can see on the upper left. 

Only the tiniest details remain now: one door is going to be replaced because the contractor says it is warped and can't be properly aligned with its partner, and the floor molding next to the new fridge needs to be squared off and painted. And then we are done! Despite all my hang wringing in the early stages, I judge the entire project a great success. Thank you, dear friends here, for holding my hand through this. I promise to stop trying your patience and bending your ear about it now. My mother would say I possess too little faith, and it's true, I do tend toward catastrophic thinking. In this case, happy to say, it was wholly unwarranted. But I still appreciate having been able to process it here.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

What obtains in my tiny corner (in the shadow of the unconscionable SCOTUS ruling)


My son and his love came over on Tuesday evening for my birthday, and since it was the night before our boy's knee surgery, and his dad was to take him to the hospital in the morning, he and S. stayed over. Yesterday, the ACL repair went well. When his dad picked him up from the Hospital for Special Surgery at six in the evening, he wasn't feeling much pain, as the nerve blocker they'd given him hadn't worn off yet. New York being the structurally inconvenient city it is, S. met him curbside and helped him upstairs while his dad went to park the car. He was feeling nauseous, and barely made it to the bathroom before puking violently. He felt a little better after that, and I fixed him a sandwich, as he now needed to eat so he could take the meds his dad had picked up for him earlier.

He had a much better first night this time that he did the last time he had this surgery, he thinks because he deployed the pain meds more strategically, staggering the two different kinds of pills instead of taking both together as suggested. I guess when you're a certified paramedic you know how to adjust these sorts of things. Now he's on the couch with a big brace on his leg, icing everything with a very sophisticated contraption that his insurance wouldn't cover last time. This time, as a member of New York's bravest, he has the best insurance in the world, and he's geeked by the whole technology of the therapy machine with a sleeve that fits over his leg, running icy water over the surgical area and timing everything as programmed. 

Last night, he reflected on how different his experience has been this time, how his medical care has been top of line at every step, and how frustrated it makes him that everyone isn't afforded this same level of care. He said his surgeon was excellent and that she told him the last ACL fix was poorly anchored and it was always going to be just a matter of when, not if, it would tear again. Thank God it didn’t pop while he was climbing into a fire, and that he has the good fix now. Recovery protocol is different this time, too. They told him to put weight on the leg immediately whereas last time they told him to stay off it for a week. He also starts home physical therapy exercises today, and clinic PT tomorrow. 

He's using crutches of course, but moving around quite well, and feels confident that ultimately, he'll be better off than he was before, and that re-tearing his ACL was a blessing in disguise. But it’s a nine month rehab process. He says he's going to use his time on medical leave to study for the fire department's Lieutenant's exam. As my husband always says of our boy, "He's the sort that when he climbs a mountain and gets to the top, he looks around to see where the next mountain is that he can climb."


Widening the lens to record developments in the larger world that affect us all, there was the leaked Alito decision from the Supreme Court, indicating that the majority of justices will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to be the sovereign of her own body. In some states, like Louisiana, there is already a move to characterize abortion as homicide, while the Supreme Court and Fox News are up in arms trying to identify and punish the leaker of the upcoming Roe decision. Yet these same people only shrugged at the revelation that the wife of a sitting Supreme Court Justice was instrumental in planning to overthrow our government before and during the January 6 insurrection. It's like we're heading back into the darkest ages of this American experiment with democracy, or maybe we're already there.


On the kitchen front, it is just about done. The contractor really pushed to have it in usable condition before my son arrived home from surgery yesterday. There are still fine-tuning fixes, like perfectly aligning a couple of the cabinet doors, and a few tiny touch ups to the molding. I am also contemplating adding a strip of molding in front of the undermount cabinet lights, as they are fully visible along the lower edge of the cabinets. My husband and the contractor actually like how that looks, but I have this notion that I want the lights to glow down softly from behind a thin facing of wood. My husband imagined task lighting while I was thinking mood lighting, and I suppose that's the difference. However, when the contractor brings the molding and holds it against the cabinets to see how it will look before installing it, if I find I don't like it better than the visible lights, then I am resolved to eat the cost of the already purchased molding. It will have been worth it to me to feel sure of my choice. 

The man and I also had a difference of opinion about getting a new fridge. It's wasn't too contentious, but he did exclaim at one point, "Dear God, is money burning a hole in your pocket?!" You see, I wanted a wider, counter-depth fridge that would fit the alcove originally built for it, which meant donating the perfectly functional Kitchen Aid unit he'd bought when our old fridge conked out on Christmas eve six years ago. The fridge he bought was much deeper than the depth of the alcove, and the door, when opened, extended far enough that it hit and was stopped by the front of the dishwasher. He rolled his eyes and capitulated, and now we have a new, double-door unit that fits the space perfectly and soothes my visual OCD. 

Last night, before his pain blocker wore off, our son stood on his crutches inspecting the new fridge, which had been delivered while he was in surgery that morning.  "This a really sweet fridge," he finally pronounced. "I'm sorry to tell you this, Pops, but Mom was right." My husband only grunted because he knows that I know full well that he really likes the new fridge, too.

Here's a picture of the kitchen taken a couple of days ago, before we started moving things back in, and another one showing the counter and backsplash detail. I do love how it all turned out, though I will now need to add my own touches of color. The new cabinets are less deep than the ones we had before, and overall, I think we have less total storage space, but I don't mind. Everything feels a bit more spacious, and we need to get rid of stuff anyway. 

My cousin in Orlando, when she saw this picture, said "I see pebbles on a beach!" Now that she mentions it, maybe that's what I was subconsciously reaching for. Those island memories live deep.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Dallas dispatch

My darling niece held the grand opening of her dental practice in Dallas this weekend, though she has been working out of the practice since its soft opening in February. But this weekend was the hoopla and fanfare, the balloon arch, the grazing table that looked like food art, the partnership with a local plant vendor whose greenery for purchase made the space look divine, the champagne and music and entertainment, all of it following the official ribbon cutting. 

All her siblings came, meaning her older sister and my son and daughter. Though my niece grew up in Jamaica, she and my children forged a full sibling relationship through the years, courtesy of summers together in New York and at their grandmother's home in St. Lucia. She had no idea my daughter and her love, and my son and his love, would be in attendance. They flew to Dallas from New York and Boston on Friday morning to surprise her. She was at work when they arrived at her house, but her husband, who was in on the surprise, took this picture and texted it to her, and that's when she knew they had come for her grand opening.

They all spent the weekend together, and my girl sent me random photos so I could share vicariously in the fun. 

I'm so proud of my niece, and the way she has marched to her own tune and become the owner of her very own dental practice. That's my niece with her dental assistant and front desk receptionist, all of them in their neon pink scrubs. My niece adores and cannot resist brightly colored scrubs, so she's probably in the right profession.

We watch our little ones grow and pursue their becoming, and yet so often, we don't quite grasp the full measure of their power in the world. And so they show us who they are, year after year, resilient, determined, and if not always sure, then at least resolute, imaginative, brave. I'm in awe of these young people, every one of them, and I love that they show up to support one another always.