Tuesday, January 31, 2017

bullet with butterfly wings

2017 is turning out to be an even ranker dumpster fire than 2016, no? Jesus Christ on a bike, everything is horrific. I'm going to try not to talk about it too much because it's exhausting. I've made more calls to elected officials in the past eleven days than in my entire life preceding this disaster. In the interest of giving my brain something else to do, here are some things that have happened that aren't governmental apocalypse-adjacent. I'm re-reading Harry Potter for the first time since the last book came out. I used to re-read all the prior books each time a new one came out, but I didn't have time after Order of the Phoenix, so I haven't read any of the early ones since then. I'm almost through Azkaban, which I suspect will remain my favorite. It's nice because now I hear all the actors' voices in my head doing the characters' lines. After this I might try to re-read the Lord of the Rings trilogy since it also feels like it would be extremely timely. I'm also thinking about a re-read of Watership Down in remembrance of the author, who died at the end of the 2016 celebrity massacre. When I read it back in 2010 I loved it, so it would be nice to revisit it.

Nico has blossomed into a confident reader, and it completes me. He recently got started on the Magic Treehouse books and can read one to himself in about twenty minutes. He likes the companion research guides as much as (if not more than) the stories and has apparently been reading the Tonight on the Titanic research guide over and over in his free time at school. This has led to a barrage of questions, such as why weren't there enough lifeboats? Why did they say women and children first? Why did the Titanic break in half? It's all making me wonder how in the world the author managed to spin this as an amusing adventure for Jack and Annie while avoiding all mentions of horrible death. I guess I should read the book for myself.

I heard about bullet journals when they first became a thing, watched a few videos, and decided I was too much of a perfectionist to attempt one. Then all last year I was dissatisfied with my planner choices and lack of organization. In December as I looked at planner after planner that didn't meet my specifications, I found myself thinking, if only I could find a planner with daily pages plus pages for all my to-do lists, all in one book. Then I realized, hello, this is exactly what bullet journals are for. So I spent an evening looking at pictures and videos online and browsing Pinterest, decided on a few hybridized layouts that I thought would work well for me, and gave it a shot for the month of January. So far it's working out fantastically well for me, so below are some photos. I do wish I'd left myself six pages for Navigators to-do lists, because I filled my one allotted page by the third week of January and it annoys me to have to add another list section on a non-sequential page. Turns out perhaps bullet journaling is also going to be good therapy for my relentless Type-A tendencies. I only use it for personal life stuff, since I have an Outlook calendar and a separate daily planner at work. I also did not include a full monthly calendar page or spread because I use my iPhone calendar for all of that. I only list important or oddball events on my monthly page. I used a journal I've had lying around since before I got pregnant with Nico, because I didn't want to put any money into this project and then end up abandoning it. So far this journal has been perfect for my needs. Also, because this seems to be a thing people want to know, I am using a black Uniball Jetstream pen and a red Pilot gel pen right now. But I found out last night that Jetstreams come in red, and I plan to get one this weekend.

For fun, an update on Nico's hair situation, for lo, it is fabulous:

Reading:  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Playing:  The Crane Wife by the Decemberists. I forgot how much I love it, and I bonded with some Twitter friends over our shared appreciation of it the other night, which is one of my favorite internet things.

I participated in a local rally and march on Inauguration Day. This was my sign.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

To my sons, on the last night of the republic

Little boys, I have so many things to say, and more things I don't know how to say. I'll start with I'm sorry. I'm so sorry there weren't enough of us adults who cared enough for you and your future to keep this from happening. I'm so sorry that we haven't yet figured out how to stop the hating, stop the fighting, stop the dividing and the judging. I'm sorry for any failing on my part that contributed in any way. I don't even know what I could've done differently, but I'm sorry for not knowing. I am equal parts heartbroken and furious that you may never remember America as it was under President Obama. While I do not think he was without fault or failing, I was proud to vote for him twice, and honored to call him my President. While the promises of his first campaign didn't all come to fruition, the message of hope took root somewhere in my being and carried me through eight years of progress and promise and the feeling that maybe we were going to keep our arc moving toward something better.

I've long been conscious of the weight of the responsibility of raising you to be good men in a world where those sometimes seem in short supply. Of raising you to be kind when assholes and bullies constantly get ahead. Of raising you to respect and protect girls in a culture that strips them of dignity in a thousand small ways every day. Of teaching you how to use your privilege as an umbrella to shield others rather than a weapon to subdue them. Now this weight has increased tenfold. It sits in my chest like a stone, it tightens my throat and makes my actual heart hurt sometimes. How can I carry your sweet spirits unbroken through the minefield of four years of the worst man, the biggest bully, being held up in front of you as an example of leadership and deserved victory?

I have always been an optimist, a pollyanna, a person who believes everything will be okay, but I'm scared. I'm scared and worried and angry and I feel helpless. I can feel my purpose diverging, splitting into two contradictory shapes. First, I can feel myself drawing in, circling up, pulling you close and wrapping anything I can use around you to shield you from all of this. It's my job to keep you sheltered and safe as long as you need me to do so. It's my job to let you be kids who don't have to worry about their country falling apart around them. I'm going to do everything I can to keep showing you the beauty and the good in this broken world, anywhere I can find it. Equally, I need to learn how to stand and fight. I am smart and pretty organized and really good at multi-tasking. I am not brave. I am not good at confrontation or argument. I don't like to rock the boat or tell other people what they should believe. But I owe it to you to figure out how to do and be all these things. I owe it to you to stand up for what I can, when I can, even when - maybe especially when - it seems pointless.

I have had my share of worries since becoming your mother, though admittedly less than most. I have had my share of doubts that I know what I'm doing, though also probably less than most. I have had my moments of fretting over the challenges facing you in the world as you grow up. But I never imagined I'd have to worry about this. I never realized I should fear the landscape of our country shifting beneath our feet, changing into something dark and frankly pretty terrifying. And for that, again, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I didn't see it coming. I'm sorry I didn't know how to fight, or even that I should be fighting.

I still cling to a fierce hope that we will be sheltered and shielded from the worst of what's coming. I have to, to get through the days. I promise to do my best to carry you safely onward, to shield your hearts with mine, to shore up the foundation where it crumbles. No matter what happens, know that I love you both more than anything. You have made me and changed me and carried me, just as I have made and changed and carried you. Tomorrow I'm going to take your small hands in mine, and I'm going to face the storm, and I am not going to let go, no matter what.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


My Nico is seven, and seven feels like a big number. He is tall and lanky, and has lost all his baby features. He hasn't had a haircut in just over a year, by his request. Thank goodness for freckles across his nose and his gappy little kid smile, because he looks more like a teenager every day sometimes. He is a confident reader, and has recently developed a love for Magic Treehouse books, which he can read quietly to himself. He is mostly nice to his brother, though not always of course. He's still sensitive and a little bit quirky, but has definitely grown out of a bit of both. He's good company and gives great hugs. I'm so happy to be on this adventure with him, and would like it very much if the remaining years of his childhood would pass by very slowly.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Less than this.

I've taken advantage of two weekends mostly at home to start the year by tossing stuff out of this house. First I went through my own dresser and the stuff piled on / around it, and found five medium-sized diaper boxes worth of stuff to throw out, donate, or take to the consignment shop. Today I took the whole day to clean every bit of the kids' rooms. I even moved their beds and dressers so I could dust and vacuum underneath and washed the curtains. Going through their things yielded another diaper box of clothes to sell and a kitchen-size trash bag full of stuff to throw out. I finally repainted Nico's wall where I patched it before Christmas, and then while I had the paint out anyway I put a coat on the nightstand I bought to refinish for Elliott when he was a toddler. I keep finding stuff and more stuff and asking myself "Ugh, how much x does one family need?" and the answer is always "less than this." I'm not really a minimalist and I never got into konmari*, but it does feel nice to start the year with some divesting.

I roped MB into hanging up the corkboard I put together for the boys' state park pins and National Parks junior ranger badges, a print that has needed to be put back up in Elliott's room for at least a year, and a curtain rod so I can put a cute curtain up over Elliott's blackout curtain. He was efficient if not enthusiastic.

(Yes, Elliott still sleeps in a crib. He can't climb out, and also : last baby.)

On NYE I combined a painting and a frame that I bought on separate occasions at my favorite consignment shop and convinced MB to hang them in the dining room. I love this very much, even though I'm giving up on remembering to take a picture during the day without the lights reflected in the glass.

* I did co-opt one konmari thing - I refolded the kids' shirts so that they can see everything. I'm hoping this will result in them wearing more than a rotating three or four of their obscene number of shirts.

Reading:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I used to re-read the series every time a new book came out, but then I didn't have time once Order of the Phoenix came out, and now it's been years. A twitter friend is reading them for the first time and tweeting as she goes, and it's utterly charming and inspired me to pick them back up again. It feels like a comfortable cozy blanket to be back in these stories again.

Playing:  Hamilton, still.