Lack of Appreciation

Do you ever feel like you should be more grateful than you are? Do you ever think, “I know I should appreciate this but…”

Right now my life is ok. Some cool things are happening at work, I’m reading and running a lot, and my family is mostly healthy. My house is still standing, we’re not in the path of a wildfire or hurricane, and we currently do not have a virus that could affect our health for the rest of our lives.

And yet…I’m sad and angry but with a few hours of happiness and contentment thrown in.

This afternoon, my son and I took a walk together and chatted about school, work, history and video games. His dark humor and laugh remind me of my brother so much sometimes that it either takes my breath away, makes me tear up, or brings me joy to see some of Phil alive in my boy.

But once our walk was over, I took another walk alone on our rural road to try and center myself. I just felt so out of sorts today. I can’t focus on much, my right hamstring was tight and achy, and I’ve felt the urge to cry all afternoon and evening.

Thoughts of my mother have been pressing on me all day. As I walked tonight, I felt suffocated by the lack of her presence. I miss her. She would often reassure me when I didn’t think I knew what I was doing as a parent. She would coddle me when I got hurt. She never stopped being my mom, even when I needed to become her parent.

And right now I just really want my mom.

But…I can’t have her.

Hence my long walk trying to sort my shit out and be ok with myself and the world and to find a little peace in nature and this rural life I lead.

Take care of yourselves, y’all. Virtual hugs to you. I hope you’re all at least ok, if not more than ok. I hope you’re well and happy and finding peace wherever and whenever you can.

Have you lost it?

Nearly everyone I know has slowly been breaking apart for the past five months. We’re extremely lonely or depressed or scared or frustrated or all of the above. And we’re the lucky ones.

I’ve had several “breaking points” over the past 5 months, but this week I just seem to have broken off a few pieces of myself and have no idea where to look for them. The overall morale of my staff, my colleagues, my friends and my family is bleak at best. I’ve said before how helpless I feel because there seems to be so little I can do for them, but I’ve come to the point where I feel just as helpless and hopeless as they do. I have many good moments, and that’s what they are–moments. Seconds. Tiny tidbits of light and goodness and laughter. And honestly that’s what I try to show everyone. Those smiling pics on social media? I am typically really that happy in that moment. It’s the next minute you don’t want to see. Or the next hour. Might want to wait until the next day.

The past few days have been seesaw days, up and down, light and dark. But my frustration level with my work has been off the charts. I’m so sick of cleaning surfaces and quarantining items and for a few hours I thought some of that would be lessened. But of course there is so little consistency in the library world when it comes to procedures that my little light of hope was dashed and I might have had a mini meltdown in a Zoom meeting filled with Maine librarians. My exhaustion and frustration bubbled over. Me being the “good girl” I am, I apologized and I really didn’t want to offend anyone, but for fuck’s sake! Can we get on the same goddamned page for just once?!? (no pun intended)

*sigh* There. Thanks. I needed that.

And, of course, the school plans are out. The school my son attends will have hybrid learning like many schools in Maine, which includes going to school for 2 half days and remote learning the rest of the week. Just a remote option is not currently available, but I did let them know I’d like that if it ever becomes an option.

Have I been judged by some parents for not homeschooling (or wanting to homeschool) my child? Yup. Am I mad as hell about it? Yup.

If you have the money or opportunity to homeschool your child, kudos for you. I’m happy for you. Really. If others are choosing to send their child to school OR if others have to send their child to school because they work outside the home and their child has already been home THE ENTIRE SUMMER without any contact with other kids except the occasional Discord or video game chat, then let them be, Judge Judy. As my lovely friend said to me this morning, “They can go fuck themselves.”

If you think any decision is simple or easy when it comes to my kid, you’re damn wrong. Don’t you think I’ve thought about all the consequences for both my son and my husband? What about the fact that I work in a public building and see 50 people every day? Don’t you think I’ve thought about THAT?

*insert deep breath here*

The thing is…I’m tired. I’m tired of being afraid, I’m tired of feeling like my head will explode from all the information and plans that change from week to week, I’m tired of wanting to feel numb so I can’t feel all of my feelings.

I know I’m preaching to the choir. I know many of you feel and think all of the same things I do. So what do we do about it? Hell if I know. I’ve done all the shit people tell you to do–exercise, eat well, laugh, talk with friends, etc. I also take an anti-depressant, rage at the universe, and occasionally drink until my brain quiets down.

Since we’re all in this together (which, by the way, I am so damn sick of that phrase), what do YOU do to not go completely insane or sad? Or if you’re already at that point, do you have any thoughts of how to climb out of that hole you’re in? Do you need a hand? I have really long arms, orangutan-length in fact, so just let me know.

I’ll leave you with a photo of the sky near my house tonight. There were dragonflies in the air, too, but you can’t see them so just imagine the magic.

How Can I Help You?

If you run or walk outside a lot in rural areas, you know there’s danger–people not seeing you or purposely trying to hit you with their cars, biting dogs, bears, you get the idea. I’ve had the misfortune to face all of those things. But tonight, as I took a pre-dinner walk to clear my head, I saw a truck pull over on the side of the road up ahead of me. First thought? This guy is going to try and hurt me. But I’ve got my phone, I’m not far from home and I can run. Then I hear a car coming up behind me on the other side and realize this guy is being incredibly courteous and kind. Once the car passes, the truck pulls back on the road and the driver gives me a big smile and wave. I yell, “Thank you!” because seriously, that shit never happens.

I continue my walk and can feel my eyes prickle with tears because I just want to sit down and cry all because of this kind gesture by a neighbor. But why is that? I don’t think people have been horrible to me lately, although there’s certainly judgments thrown around constantly and many by me. When I’m out with a mask, some people look at me oddly or with that frown. If I see you without a mask I know I look at you with that same frown. And it’s all just exhausting, isn’t it? I never thought of myself as being so judgmental before (although maybe I was?), but now I’m just….I’m really awful.

I’ve always had anger issues, but no one knew about them because I ate that anger. Just in the past decade have I been able to scream my anger out or sometimes run it out and occasionally breathe it out. I can (mostly) deal with it. But now? I feel so much anger and disgust and sometimes hatred towards people I never felt anything at all for before. Why do I care? Is it because their actions can hurt me or my family or my friends? Or maybe because they already have?

I read many of my friends’ social media posts and I feel so fucking helpless. I don’t know how to help them. Many of my friends are teachers and when I read how scared and frustrated they are, I just want to hug them and tell them this will work itself out and be ok, but I can’t. I physically am not allowed or able to hug any of them and this will definitely not work itself out. This will not “just go away” any time soon. Especially since no one can talk to one another if they have differing opinions on how to solve this mess. (Although it would be nice if we could all agree that facts are FACTS and not opinions.)

My friends who are parents, especially with little ones, are struggling just as much with all of this. Their posts and shared articles are just as fucking heartbreaking. I hear my friends that have adult children say how grateful they are to not have to deal with the education piece or having to stay at home and care for their child because they just don’t know how they could do it and still work.

Exactly.

How do you do it? Friends have cut their work hours, some have upped their anti-anxiety and anti-depressant meds or have finally begun taking them. Some are drinking more, eating more, crying more. (And I’ve done a little bit of all of these things as well as let my kid spend way too many hours in front of a computer.)

So what the hell are we going to do?

I don’t know. I wish I had some amazing piece of wisdom right here, but I don’t. I have sent wine to a few friends, cards to others, and messages or emails to some. If you own a business and want me to buy something, I’ll do my best to do that to help you keep afloat. If you need any of my librarian skills like pointing you in the right direction for forms you need to fill out or reading material to help you relax or what movie will help you cry then I can do that, too. But mostly I just listen. I don’t know what else I can do, but listen to you and truly hear you. I will respond if you want me to, or just nod my head in agreement and virtually hug you.

I do hope that some day, when the world is different but maybe feels a bit safer, I still like the person I’ve become. Right now I’m not so sure. I think at this moment I’m too selfish, self-centered and judgmental to really like who I am. Or maybe that’s the person I’ve become due to all the losses in my life. Either way, this pandemic has become a pivotal moment in our lives and it would be impossible to not be affected by it. I just hope that when all is said and done, I and you, too, will not have regrets about our words and actions towards others, and that we’ll be ok.

Let’s just be ok.

We believe…

I am sure we can all agree that this has been a really, really weird year so far. For many it’s been downright tragic, depressing, or scary. Or maybe a combination of it all. For a few introverts that truly hate to leave their home, it’s been a damn good year so far.

For some folks it’s been an eye-opening year–whether it be confronting their own biases and trying to educate themselves, or maybe watching others deny their prejudices or even embrace them. These biases and beliefs could be about the color of one’s skin, political party, or the sanity of dog owners. We have all watched our country become divided over and over on a variety of issues, but watching us fight over whether or not we should wear a mask to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 seems ridiculous to me.

Science is real. You understand that, right? It doesn’t matter if you like it or not. Does the CDC always have the answers? No, but they can recommend what is best over the research they’ve done with this virus and others. And it’s true they just don’t know everything about the virus, but if it’s POSSIBLE you could hurt or kill someone else by not wearing a mask, then why wouldn’t you wear one?

Please. Explain this to me.

And do NOT tell me that I’m seeing so many people not wearing masks because they have medical problems. That, my friends, is absolute bullshit. I have no doubt that some folks can’t wear a mask due to breathing issues, then try a shield. If you can’t do that, ask for help in getting what you need, or try wearing pool noodles on your head like they do at this German cafe to enforce physical distancing.

But I can guarantee you that most of the people I see without masks are not wearing one because they don’t want to. Simple as that. And if you’re inside a store and not wearing one, you can attempt to stay 6 feet apart, but what if you cough or sneeze and are unaware you have the virus? Did you just send someone to the hospital or maybe to their mother’s funeral? Or maybe their own?

You. Don’t. Know. So why are you taking the chance?

For my family, 2020 has been filled with many ups and downs, but to be completely honest this pandemic wasn’t the worst thing to affect us. When my own husband nearly died one month before our country shut down, by March we were all just happy to be alive and together. My son and I had watched Wal on a ventilator and in a coma, and amazingly he survived. But we also knew that if my husband got (or now gets) COVID-19, he will die. It’s pretty much guaranteed. So we hunkered down together this spring and were (mostly) happy to do so.

Now my husband and I are both working outside the home and we both wear masks wherever we go. Many of you know that we differ in nearly every aspect of our lives, particularly politically, but on this issue? We stand together. We often discuss how best to show folks that wearing a mask is a good thing or a needed thing. Dr. Shah of the Maine CDC has tried many tactics to convince the public.  Aside from the scientific FACTS that support masks are an effective means of containing the spread of COVID-19, one thing Dr. Shah told us was that wearing masks was a kind and compassionate thing to do. My husband scoffed at that because he knew many people just don’t care and they don’t want someone telling them to go spread some kindness. That won’t work.

This week Dr. Shah tried something different. He compared wearing masks to the speed limit on the highway. It’s not about punishing YOU, it’s about the safety of other people. But you know, maybe that’s part of the problem. We are extremely selfish people. No one wants to believe that wearing this item that inconveniences them could possibly help anyone anyway, so they deny it and say it’s infringing on their freedom and quote the 14th amendment–you know the one about not denying life or liberty. But I hate to tell you but the government has some leeway in protecting our health, so as long as the government has justification for some of its restrictions than it’s sufficient.

Look, I’m only writing this because in the past two weeks I’ve had various “discussions” via FB, Messenger, and in-person about the validity of wearing masks and I’m damn tired. I already know I won’t change anyone’s mind, but I might as well say what I feel and know. I could give more arguments and cases about young people with no underlying health conditions that have died like Nick Cordero who was 41, or the fact that people under 40 now make up the majority of COVID-19 cases.

But…none of that matters for some people, and I’m just going to have to face the fact that it will always be that way. Does it break my heart? Yes. Does it piss me off? Yes. Is there much I can do about it? I can thank people around me for wearing a mask. I can speak out about it as much as I can. For my own sanity, I’ll need to start cutting some people out of my life, too.

And I can wear a mask.

Be safe, y’all.

Doing ok?

I seem to ask that question a lot these days. I ask it of my family, my staff, my friends. I am asked the same question nearly every day, too. I think we’re all just trying to hold on and keep connected and check in to see if others are feeling as bad as you are.

How I feel most days…

Like you, there are good days and bad days, or rather good moments and bad days. Last week seemed particularly bad, at least at the end of the week. My son had a meltdown on Friday night, my husband snapped at me and his mother (over the phone) multiple times. (I had my screaming fits the week before so it was their turn.) Many folks here in Maine at least, seemed to have a similar reaction. It’s like we reached some breaking point of too many Zoom meetings or too much time alone or too much time with our families. Or maybe it’s because there’s talk of the “Stay at Home” order being lifted and we’re scared and we think it’s too soon.

I feel lost with little to no guidance. Nobody has definitive answers about much of anything. At my work there needs to be so many things put into place. Even if we can do some things like curbside service for library patrons, we are not ready to do so on May 1st. I feel like we put our pandemic plan into place in minutes, but we will not re-open as quickly. There are not enough supplies around to make us safe–masks, gloves, cleaning supplies–and then there’s the marking up of the library to stay 6 feet apart or counting people as they come in to make sure we’re not over the limit and do we install plexiglass or plastic sheeting at the desks? It’s all overwhelming and scary yet also seems necessary if we are ever to reopen.

And then there’s home. After being disabled, my husband is due to go back to work in a week. He’s already been warned that he may be furloughed. We already know our son will not be going back to school, so the online classes continue and the arguments getting him to do some of his work continue. Of course, then there’s just the uncertainty of it all. What will the future hold? What will our lives look like? Will the kids even be able to go back to school in the fall? Will the library be able to hold any kind of event this year? Will we all still have our jobs?

I try to not think of those last questions. I can’t. It’s a day by day world now, and I try so hard to live like that. As I’ve said many times, I’m not great at it, but my dad always tried to teach me to be patient. It’s ok to have plans, but know that they could all be shot to hell in an instant.


And just a little question for y’all. Have you gained any weight recently? I certainly have. At the beginning of March, I had pancreatitis for over 2 weeks and lost 11 pounds. (That was part of the 20 I gained last year and was trying to lose.) The day we closed the library was the first day I could start eating again. By the next week I had wholeheartedly begun stress eating. Fortunately I’m now running 4 times a week but the 11 pounds came right back anyway. And it’s kind of ok. I’ll continue to wear my fat clothes and occasionally munch on baby carrots, but a cookie or two a day is currently a must. The binging has finally stopped, but a little treat each day is my medicine–along with my antidepressant. 🙂

Stay as well as you can, everyone. Still looking forward to the days when I can hug you tight. ❤

Late to the Party

I am a librarian. I’ve been a librarian for nearly 23 years, with over 14 of those years at the Pittsfield Public Library. This library was one of the libraries I used as a kid (although I didn’t like it then). It’s close to where I grew up and it’s my second home–as it is to many people in the community. I used to be the Circulation Librarian, until a year ago when I was hired to become the director. It wasn’t a job I always wanted, but it’s a job I have become to love more than I thought possible.

On March 16th we had to close our doors to the public due to the health and safety concerns of COVID-19. Some of my staff and I cried that day because it was surreal and sad and our patrons are the lifeblood of the library. It’s not the building nor the books or films or programs. It’s the people. For a while we were still able to leave books for people in a secure location where we never saw each other (except by camera), then we did that by appointment only, and then we stopped it completely. Now tomorrow, April Fools’ Day no less, will be the last day the staff and I can go into the building. We will still be answering emails and conducting online programming and we’ll still be able to “see” and assist some of our patrons. But not all of them. So many of these folks we won’t be able to help again until we can re-open.

I’ve read a lot about grief over the past 3 years, and even in the past 2 weeks the articles about grieving what our normal once was. But I didn’t grieve quite as much because I was still going to the building where I worked. I couldn’t help as many people, but there was still a smidge of normalcy there. But tonight? Tonight I feel like I felt the evening before I went to say goodbye to my brother. Or that morning at 2am when I called my sister to tell her to come to the hospital because our father was dying. Or the morning when I was at work and the nurse called to say Mom was actively dying. Strangely enough, this really does feel like all of those awful moments. Those moments when you know your life is forever changed.

I know we’ll come out the other side. I am confident of that. What I don’t know is who will be there with us. Or who will be there with you.

But we’re here now, right? Let’s try to keep moving forward together. Reach out to those you think about, even if they just cross your mind. Those little moments of acknowledgement matter.

You matter.

So let’s be alone together. Just know that when this is over, I may be hugging you a whole heck of a lot.

This Sucks

For just a moment, I want to take a break from COVID-19 and tell you what my life has been like since my last blog post. If we’re friends on Facebook, more than likely you know much of this story.

On Groundhog Day, I took my husband to the ER where he was diagnosed with pneumonia and Influenza A. By the next night, Monday night, he could no longer breathe on his own. He didn’t want to have a breathing tube put in and put on a ventilator (he’s severely claustrophobic) but his only other choice was to die. I sat with him, holding his hand, and he said to me, “It’s so hard to breathe. I can’t do this much longer.” As scared as he was, I was afraid he would choose to die. But at only 52, and having me and our 12-year-old boy, there was too much life to live still. So he chose to live.

The next 2 weeks were hell. Once they intubated my husband, they nearly lost him several times that night. As the doctor said, “We gave him all our ‘Hail Marys’ at the beginning.” That was the only way to keep him alive. I spent much of that Wednesday in the hospital, holding his hand and crying. He was in a medically induced coma at this time. My son and I went to get tested that day and surprise! I had the flu, too. (My son got it the next week.) I was no longer allowed to visit my husband in the ICU until the following Tuesday. I was so angry at the universe and I sobbed and I just couldn’t believe all of this was happening.

Then each day his numbers got a little better. By that Saturday, they thought they might be able to take the tubes out and get him breathing on his own. But they couldn’t wake him up. They ended up doing a cat scan of his brain because he was just flailing and eyes rolling and he couldn’t respond in any way at all. Fortunately his brain was fine, he just couldn’t wake up.

The first day I was allowed to visit him, I stayed the entire day and played music to him and read and talked with him, held his hand, massaged his legs. I kissed him and got mad at him and loved him. It was a really long day. The next morning our son woke up crying. He just wanted to sleep and not go to school and not deal with this fucking nightmare anymore. And I completely understood, but explained we both had a job to do that day. He go to school, I go to work, Papa gets better. And you know what? That day my husband did wake up. Only for a moment, but enough to answer the nurse’s questions. (I called my boy’s school and the principal told him in person that his father had finally woken up. I truly love his school.)

Friday, Valentine’s Day, my husband’s breathing tube was removed and he was able to speak for the first time in 11 days. We had never gone more than two days without speaking to each other in nearly 25 years, so this was a pretty special day.

The next week and a half in the hospital was tough–he was really loopy for a few days and didn’t make much sense. But as he slowly started to get better, it was just difficult to see him so fragile and weak. He lost 40 pounds in four weeks, so his body was just ravaged. But then on February 24th, he finally came home. Those first 2 weeks home were a bit rough, too. He needed more help getting around than I realized and seeing my husband use a walker was really hard for all of us to see.

But now, three weeks later, he can walk for at least 3 minutes at a time with no assistance, can walk a flight of stairs, showers and dresses by himself–these are all huge accomplishments compared to last month. So he’s finally coming back to us.

And then COVID-19 happened. I know we’re all dealing with it–people are sick or dying, schools closed, some folks working from home, our area still in flux. My library is still open but that could change this week. My husband had planned to go to the store this week with our brother-in-law but I have told him he will no longer be allowed out except to the doctor’s office. He laughed out loud but then looked at my face. “Ok. I get it.” His immune system has been compromised and after the nightmare we just went through, I’m not losing the big lug now.

Oh, and did I tell you I have pancreatitis? I’m on Day 9 with no real food–water, jello, chicken broth and bullion and the occasional sip of Gatorade. I just need to keep out of the hospital because my husband still can’t drive and I need to be here. But my numbers are slowly getting better (my doctor is aware and I’m having blood drawn every few days to track this). The pound a day weight loss is nice but I am really freakin’ hungry. But if I can’t yet eat by Friday, the 2-week mark, then I may just have to go to the hospital. Here’s hoping I can beat this on my own!

So now for just a minute, I want to talk about COVID-19 and the effect it’s having on myself and my family. Besides being scared and desperately wanting to escape this dystopian novel, are you angry? I have been so, so angry at the whole situation. Not any person in particular–yes there were plenty of fuck-ups along the way but I’m not mad at a person. I am just feeling so battered and bruised and oh jesus what will happen next?!? We already cancelled our cruise with the help of doctor’s notes and a load of paperwork (I am so thankful for travel insurance and will never go without it again) and who the heck knows about our trip to Florida in April–yet I’m ok with that. If we can’t go, we’ll try again later.

I just want there to be a later. Right?

My family out to see Jim Gaffigan a few years ago.

That picture? That event? To be able to go to a large stadium or arena and listen to music or a comedian or see a play—that is what I want again. I am sure that someday we’ll be there, but I’m also sure our lives have changed forever. I know that after my husband’s hospitalization, my family’s life has changed forever. We have really enjoyed our time together since hubby has been home. He can still drive me crazy, but we no longer take each other for granted. And maybe this virus will do something similar. Maybe we’ll appreciate what we have a little bit more.

Or maybe we’ll go back to our old ways and be jerks to each other.

But I hope not. I hope we can get through this together–but 6 feet apart.

Stay healthy, y’all.