Slowly, Slowly

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how I felt as if the “shine” on my “new” life had worn off already and we were back at my baseline of meh. Well, it’s gotten a bit better.

Now, I am under no illusion that this time, the shine will stay forever, but I do feel somewhat better. Mostly because I chose to do something about it versus do nothing and stay in that uncomfortable place any longer.

Of course, we do not always have the ability to get out of a funk just by doing stuff. Sometimes, our environment and life conspire against us. But generally, I have found that doing nothing keeps me stuck – whereas doing something shortens the duration of my malaise.

So, what has happened in the intervening two weeks?

I got off my ass. Proverbially speaking, of course.

Despite a bout of the barfs hitting Cookie Monster and Gamera, because our weekends finally freed up and Hapa Papa was a peach and let me disappear for most of a weekend, I kicked ass and took some names!

I finished proofing and writing my ebook – as well as the action plan I tricked Guavarama into outlining for me. (Don’t worry. She gets credited and paid!)

I even got my first gig reviewing a product – so look out for that!

I scheduled a house cleaner to come by and give an estimate. And let me just tell you. This dour Eastern European woman came to my house and judged my squalor. Judge away, lady! Just take my money and clean my bathrooms and kitchen, please! The rest of the house can go to shit.

I finally got someone in to re-grout my shower – only to be told that it didn’t need to be re-grout at all. Only needed them get rid of and then re-seal something. YAAAAAAAY! And it only cost me $60.

Plus, I found an awesome new handyman who will get started on all my honey-dos as soon as I get him my list. (I have it. Just have to send it and perhaps buy things for it.)

But the best part is that now, I do not get irrationally angry every time I take a shower.

I even managed to read a book and two graphic novels.

So, despite the barfs (OMG the BARFS), and my having a really rotten cold, things are looking up.

I feel productive.

And really, I think that is the key to me getting out most of my funks. Sometimes, being productive can just be taking care of all my miscellaneous things. But since I was on top of that already, it no longer was a new sensation so didn’t give me that pop of YAY!

Anyhow, I know I’m slow at acting like a grown up. But eventually, I’ll get there. Hopefully, before my children turn into grown ups.

Super short post today, friends. I just wanted to give a quick update on the state of Mandarin Mama and my sadz.

How do YOU get out of your BLAHs? Let me know in the comments.

Somehow, I Thought I Would Be Better


Here’s the thing. I actually feel somewhat embarrassed admitting this, but it’s where I’m at right now.

I thought it would be different.

I thought it would be better.

I thought I would be different.

I thought I would be better.

But truthfully, although things got better briefly, better eventually just became the new normal.

You see, for years, my main pains in life were the daily minutiae of which a life is made.

You know the sort.

Cooking meals. Cleaning the house. Paying bills. Sorting mail. Keeping the kitchen table clutter free. (hahahahah! Like THAT is ever going to last or happen for longer than a day or two.)

And FINALLY, these past three months, I have been making big strides. I now cook the majority of my meals and a lot of my psychic pain revolving around meal times is gone.

I’ve given up on cleaning the house, but I have vacuumed a few times, and decluttered a few times (and I could really do it a few more times), and I am finally now considering getting a housecleaner again because my house is probably filthy I’m just accustomed to its filthiness.

I sort the mail and take care of any outstanding medical bills immediately (because those are the only ones that are not on autopay – despite my best efforts to make them so). I mean, gone are the days of being 90-180 days late for no reason other than not opening mail.

But after a few months (and likely a few weeks) of my new reality, the shine has worn off and now it’s just regular old reality and I’M STILL DISSATISFIED WITH MY LIFE.

Damn you, hedonic treadmill!

And last Friday, I was talking with Dr. T about how I feel unfulfilled and like I do nothing of substance all day and how I’m still not done with my ebook despite being 95% done and how I start things but don’t finish them and how I want to try for things but I am so afraid of failure and —

And you know what? I’m terribly worried that even if I do finish that ebook that a few weeks later and it will be my new normal again and I will go about feeling BLAH about my life again. 

The irony is that during the first or second session ever with Dr. T, she mentioned that she thought some of my feelings of stress and whatever was due to my not having a clear idea of what my identity was. That it used to be tied up in work or the things I did or accomplished, and now that I am a SAHM, I felt adrift and identiy-less.

At the time, I thought she was full of crap.

Oh, the crow I eat whenever it comes to things Dr. T observes. (Seriously, the only really good decision I ever made about Dr. T and her advice was sticking with her despite me thinking her kinda woowoo at the beginning.)

And now, here I am. TOTALLY FEELING UNIDENTIFIED.

I felt somewhat comforted the other day when I saw an old post of mine pop up in Facebook Memories. I guess this is how I feel every spring.

But then, I got bummed out because it seems that no matter what I do, no matter how many successes or risks I take, it all goes back to me being terrified of failure and being immobilized by it.

I start so many things only for them to end up abandoned and collecting dust in the wayside.

I have so many ambitions and yet so little follow through.

I feel as if life is passing me by and I can’t even get my shit together enough to homeschool my children.

I feel like a huge failure. 

I don’t know if it’s my Virgo-ness, my ESFJ-ness, my Type 7 Enneagram-ness, or something else entirely (FWIW, I hold very low stock in astrological determiners of personality), but there it is.

And it’s no use telling me how I manage to keep four children alive, blah blah blah blah blah.

In my wretched mind, if I can do it, it’s not that hard, therefore it doesn’t really deserve praise.

Truthfully, I don’t know what will make me feel better. And whether if something makes me feel better, whether the feeling will be permanent or just become the new baseline.

All I know is that I feel kinda meh and blah right now.

Maybe this is how I feel every spring. Restless and desiring bigger and better things. And then life crushes it all out of me.

Anyhow, there is no neat resolution to this post. I’m still figuring it out.

Dr. T asked me what I wanted, and again, I have no idea. Except maybe to feel as if I am doing something worthwhile. (And yes, raising four small humans is eminently worthwhile – but the end result takes SO LONG.)

I want to feel as if I am productive; making something of concrete value and worth. Yet all day long, I do lots of things and am productive but it is the stuff of life. You can’t just eat once and then you’re done. (And that is DEFINITELY not possible with cleaning or laundering or the folding of the laundry.)

And so, each day, it feels as if all I did was erased and swept away by the tumult and happy clamor of my tiny and forceful humans.

It is very unsatisfactory.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m  not depressed. I’m not UNhappy. Just not SATISFIED.

I’m positive Hapa Papa is feeling the same thing (except perhaps slightly worse since he’s not very happy at his job and at least I have more free time than he does and get to stare at all my adorable babies all day).

And before people start writing in with the comments about me needing Jesus or essential oils or both, thanks. I have both. In abundance. (Seriously, I have an entire DRAWER full of oils. And I suppose I have Jesus in my heart or something. So admittedly, that might be in less abundance because I have a cold, dark heart.)

Anyhow, no neatly wrapped bow on this post because that’s not the way life works. We just keep trudging along until one day, we’re on the other side (and hopefully, feeling less blah when I actively pursue the things I think I want).

Have a good Wednesday! May you find what you’re looking for.

 

 

Life in Piecemeal

It should come as no surprise to long time readers that I am an extreme personality. There are no half-ways in my world. There is either all or nothing. Feast or famine. All in or all out.

Perfection or Abject Failure.

It shows up in all aspects of my life and makes it difficult for me to ever feel as if I am living the life that I want.

I either bang out 3-4 posts in one marathon writing binge or radio silence for weeks at a time.

I disappear down the rabbit hole of blazing through thick, doorstopper type books or I accrue $12 in library fines because I haven’t gotten to the stack of unread library books by the bed.

I either have fits of Angry Cleaning wherein I scream at the kids and throw a bunch of their toys into the donate pile, or all their toys are strewn all over the floor and we live in the filth of our own making.

The kids either only subsist on chicken nuggets, pizza, and snacks while they wander back and forth from the kitchen table, or they only eat food I make quickly and in silence.

We either homeschool hardcore all day or the kids are left to Lord of the Flies themselves and figure shit out on their own.

I am either not mad or HULK SMASH WHY YOU NOT DO WHAT I SAY WHEN I SAY IT?!?

It is a hard life with no room for softness. And children (and I, I guess) need some softness. Something with which to cushion the hardness of life that can grind us into a fine powder if we allow it.

Plus, a life bouncing in between extremes is confusing for the kids and they never get the stability children crave and need. They never feel safe.

And truthfully, life is lived in the in-between.

I need to embrace what my friend, Not Another DB MBA calls The 差不多(cha bu4 duo) Lifestyle. (Cha bu4 duo means “almost” or “close enough.”)

It is possible to write a post at a time or even a few paragraphs at a time. Harder, but possible.

 

 

It is possible to read a book a few chapters at a time versus reading 1000+ pages in one sitting. Annoying, but possible.

It is possible to go back to a time when we all put away what we take out, and the house can resemble some state of happy equilibrium of “lived in-ness.”

It is possible for me to cook 95% of the time and then eat nuggets or pizza occasionally as pinch-hitting meals when I don’t have time or energy.

It is possible to homeschool a little bit every day and just let the rest go.

And it is possible for me not to be angry all the time (this one is super hard and I will be addressing this in a later post).

All these things are possible, I just have to suck it up and get used to living my life in piecemeal.

A life of spurts.

I also have to remember that just because I mess up once or twice (or a lot), that it doesn’t mean I just throw in the towel and swing to the other extreme.

That life allows for hiccups.

And so, I live a life in the constantly interrupted trenches of parenting small children.

Slowly, but surely, I am getting more okay with writing partial posts, sneaking in reading a chapter here and there, paying bills and sorting mail immediately, watching parts of shows, folding and putting away just a few items of clothing at a time, and washing a few dishes at a time.

It is hard, but chips away slowly at the giant mountain of THINGS I NEED TO DO. Of course, the mountain gets constantly added to, but I am satisfied with a sense of treading water with the occasional leisurely swim versus feeling as if I am constantly drowning.

Ok, that was an egregiously mixed metaphor but in the spirit of The 差不多(cha bu4 duo) Lifestyle, I am just going to point it out but not fix it.

Suck It Up, February


How is February mostly over?

2017 is 1/6th of the way done and I feel like all I did was blink and stare blankly at the page.

Anyhow, here is my monthly check in to see how I’m doing with my yearly goals, aka: My Year of Sucking it Up.

1) Take family and personal health seriously.

What does that look like? I want to:

a) Cook at least 5 meals a week. 

Still going on strong! I now cook almost every single day and have trained my children to if not like, at least mostly eat, the food I make. I am hoping this will lead to good dividends when we head back to Taiwan this summer.

My kids currently love any and all vegetables that taste like “nothing” once I cook them in my Instant Pot. (Nothing in the sense that the veggies end up mushy and soak up the flavor of soup. We are working on them eating veggies prepared in stir fry.)

I am also now very reluctant to order out. Why? Not because of any health reasons. But mostly because it isn’t any faster than me cooking at home. In fact, it often takes even longer and then I stress out about finding foods my kids can and will eat.

b) Be active once a week.

I have improved. This month, I went a few times with the kids and friends on hikes at local regional parks.

Of course, buy “hike,” I mean walk on paved paths. I’m not wandering through the wilderness or anything. Let’s not get crazy.

Plus, on occasion, we have walked to local parks to meet up with these same homeschooling friends. Cookie Monster actually really enjoys walking and hiking so I expect this to continue.

Of course, I still haven’t redeemed my groupon to Krav Maga. I think I like the idea of being a badass more than the work it takes to become one. I have until March 10.

c) Wash face and brush teeth twice daily.

Same as before. I think I will just have to adjust and say that I will brush my teeth and floss ONCE at night.

I’m sure it’s gross but TOO BAD.

d) Take vitamins and supplements.

For the most part, I have been good about taking my vitamins. I hate taking so many. (Seriously, the doTerra vitamin regimen has me taking approximately 15 pills a day.)

e) Go to sleep when the kids sleep 4x a week.

Although doing slightly better, I have been staying up later and later because I just want some time to myself. In silence.

Beautiful, beautiful, blissful silence.

f) No texting while driving.

Sob.

was doing so well. Then February hit and I slid back into my naughty ways. FOMO reared its ugly head with a vengeance. I found that my need to respond right away to texts returned.

So, here’s my reminder to kick my own ass and say, “Hey! My friends don’t need to me to respond, ‘HAHAHAHAHAHA!’ right away to their comments. They can wait the 15-20 minutes it takes to get to where I’m getting to.”

Also? LIKING SOMEONE’S STATUS ON FACEBOOK CAN WAIT.

2) Take my responsibilities as a grown up seriously.

Although I’m pretty certain I’ve still been adulting, I don’t think it stood out as much this month. Possibly because we didn’t visit the doctor much in January so I didn’t have to take care of any medical bills (and we all know that’s what ultimately kills me).

However, since we went several times in February, I guess I get a chance to apply this again in March.

Also? I think I forgot to do my receipts for homeschooling. So, um, whoops. I still have a day or so left in February.

Oh crap. Just remembered I still haven’t opened up additional accounts or changed my life insurance beneficiaries. Blargh.

I CAN DO IT.

I AM A GROWN UP FOR REALZ.

3) Write.

Due to Hapa Papa’s new job and him needing a lot of time on the weekends, as well as the craziness of our weekends this past month, I did not write much.

Truthfully, I also did not feel like it. Although, I did start a quick and easy new series, the 5 Minute Book Reviews. Those have made me happy because they’re quick and dirty to put out, I don’t feel pressure on having to have in depth and perfect reviews, and I am experimenting with posting videos of my children reading excerpts.

Why is that important?

Mostly because I have been semi-reluctant to post their reading videos up in case they’re not as good as I think they are and have people secretly judge me for their perhaps not as stellar as I think Chinese.

I worry because we all know that I am totally judging other kids’ Chinese. Which is stupid because as long as I can understand a kid, that’s the ultimate goal of learning language, right?

Also? What does another child’s success/failure with Chinese have to do with my own children’s abilities?

ABSOLUTELY  NOTHING.

Anyhow, I didn’t really have any new posts for about two weeks and I feel sucky about it.

Also also, I just realized that I set myself a goal of finally finishing my ebook by the end of Q1. Which is in a month.

What the hell, self?

However, I am proud of myself for two things I did writing-wise this month (in addition to the 5 Minute Book Reviews).

One: I submitted a speaker proposal to a conference I am attending this spring. I don’t think I will get it, but hey. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Two: I started some pitches that I want to do for my blog. I have since done NOTHING (such as submitting these pitches). but whatever. I DID a tiny bit of SOMETHING.

Alright. Thus ends my monthly check in. It was not as awesome as I had hoped, but at least my cooking is hitting it out the ballpark. If 2017 only had this to show for it, I would still be reasonably happy.

How are you doing on your 2017? Let me know in the comments.

Raising an Advocate

I remember in my high school civics class, our teacher said that in general, children start off with their parents’ political beliefs, become more liberal in college, and then finally, when they make more money and become parents themselves, circle back to conservative.

After all, once you have more money, you are less sanguine about ways to spend that money and once you have children, you are less permissive in your attitudes about sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll – or thus the thinking goes.

It’s the political circle of life.

I don’t know if that is still the case from 22 years ago (OMG HOW HAS IT BEEN THAT LONG?), but for me, that has certainly NOT been my experience.

I find that for most people, they react to having children in one of two ways:

1) Double down and because of fear, circle the wagons and retreat more and more into conservative values – be it on money, religion, sex, drugs, etc.

They worry that the world is going to hell in handbasket and that there is a cultural war going on against “traditional” values and they do all they can to make sure laws stay as conservative as possible.

2) Realize that they want a better future for their children and out of fear (usually because their kids are or might be one of the disenfranchised or oppressed people groups), become more and more liberal and inclusive in their values – be it on money, religion, sex, drugs, etc.

They worry that their children will be oppressed if they don’t happen to fit in the “traditional” boxes and do all they can to make sure laws become as inclusive as possible.

It is no surprise, dear reader, that you will find that I am in the latter group.

As soon as I had Cookie Monster, I began my journey to become ever more inclusive of all peoples.

I want to take credit and say it’s because I’m just that progressive of a person, but truthfully, it was a gradual eye-opening, and a lot of it was born of fear for my child and future children and not so much out of the belief of equality for all.

Isn’t that the way most of us who are not affected by certain types of discrimination begin caring about people who are not like us? When we are all of a sudden, personally affected by a discriminatory law/system/situation? (This is akin to celebrities or people caring only about a disease after it affects them personally. Not a knock – because that is the human condition. Just an observation.)

The thought of my children being treated poorly, mocked, harassed, bullied, whatever because of their sexual identity, their preferences, their abilities or disabilities, their ethnicities, their anything – THAT ENRAGED ME.

This fear and rage at the possibility of my children being mistreated then turned into rage and fear for my friends and then for ALL people.

I evolved.

I admit. Right about the time I had Cookie Monster, I found out that one of my dear, dear college friends was bisexual (which wasn’t really that much of a surprise and I wasn’t really phased about it because hey, I’m progressive like that) as well as polyamorous.

And it’s not that I judged him for being polyamorous, but I judged.

I thought he was going through a mid-life crisis. Promiscuous. Behaving dangerously. Justifying non-commitment.

Which, hey. It’s his life. He should be able to live it however he wanted. I got that and knew that. But still. A hidden part of me (and to be honest, I’m sure it was obvious to him how I felt but he was too kind and merciful to point it out to me) was like, “This is weird and inappropriate and keep it to yourself already.”

And then, a high school acquaintance on Facebook began to share more and more about her life in a poly relationship. She is bisexual and has two husbands and several children and has been very open about her life in her blog (now no longer there for likely, family protection reasons).

She shared how she has been affected and treated and all her family’s suffering and pain as well as their love for each other and just like that – I cared about the poly community (her family in particular), and my mindset was changed.

All because of her bravery and willingness to be vulnerable.

I find her amazing. My heart aches for her. She and her family are so deserving of love and acceptance and the chance to be left alone and just be without commentary. They deserve affirmation of their love and the beautiful family they have created.

And truthfully, I know I was swayed because of their “monogamy” and family values oriented lifestyle.

But you know what?

Even if she was a promiscuous person and her family was “broken,” they deserve to live and love as they choose (or not choose, as this is the case).

And thus, through relationships with people, through reading anti-racism blogs – through reading LOTS of blogs actually – I found myself caring more and more about all types of people. (Even farmers through another friend of mine – which is weird because I never knew about the issues farmers and agricultural people encountered until I read her posts on Facebook and on her blog.)

Look at me blathering all over the place today.

I’m not sure I have a main point or lots of tiny points all pointing toward a bigger point in their pointiness, but this is just to say that all this liberalness, all this gradual awakening and anti-racism and inclusive parenting – that is a direct result out of fear.

I fear giving my children a world wherein who they are, at their very core, is not accepted and not allowed to thrive and live and be.

I fear that to this day, even though I would love my child and accept them if they happen to be LGBTQ, I secretly hope they aren’t because life will be SO HARD for them if they are and I worry that my mother, who is super conservative, may reject them or try to “convert” them to “straightness” and then I will have to cut off my mother, too.

I don’t want to live in a world where I have these fears. I don’t want to be a person who has these fears.

And I certainly do not want these things for my children.

I want my children to be be shameless – in the sense that they are nothing to be ashamed of – regardless of who they are.

And thus, I have become ever more and more liberal. More radical. More everything.

I am grateful for friends who are further along the advocacy road so I can model myself after them and join my voice with theirs.

I am grateful for these same friends (Hi, Mamademics!) creating curriculum celebrating black history as well as creating Raising an Advocate series for me to join and Facebook Stalk and over-post in. (Can you tell that I lifted the name of this post from her series? It’s because she is awesome and her series is awesome and I REALLY WANT YOU ALL TO JOIN.)

I am grateful that I am homeschooling and can thus apply these things that I am learning so that my children can be brainwashed into advocates themselves. (I bought the first twelve months of Black History is American History and am looking forward to teaching it to my kids.)

Won’t you join me in this journey of self-discovery and dismantling what we have accepted for so long (and often, obliviously)?

Let’s create the world in which ALL our children are loved and accepted no matter who they are.

Suck It Up, January

How is January mostly over?

Somehow, I have a feeling this is how I’m going to feel at the end of every single month. In fact, I might just decide to start with that sentence variation every time because stupid things like this amuse me.

Anyhow, I thought I’d take a page from Wil Wheaton’s Life Reboot Series and do a monthly check in. After all, what’s the point in having a yearly theme if I don’t follow up on it?

So, without further ado, here is my first official check in (even though I’ve been actively trying to change my lifestyle since December 2016 when I came up with the theme).

1) Take family and personal health seriously.

What does that look like? I want to:

a) Cook at least 5 meals a week. 

Surprisingly, I’ve been doing quite well in this area. I have been cooking a lot more in the Instant Pot (affiliate link) – not recipes because quite frankly, I am not a fan of following recipes on a regular basis. I much prefer to dump a bunch of stuff in the Instant Pot and set it to soup or stew. I either add pasta or pour it over rice.

A corollary to this goal is to limit my eating out to at most, once a week. (As well as to limit my boba purchases because my teeth are rotting and who needs empty calories, I guess.)

Incidentally, what I define as cooking is to make something that is not prepackaged. (Dumplings or pasta count as cooking.) I am more trying to avoid having kids eat nuggets or frozen pizza or quesodillas or dried cereal as much as possible.

b) Be active once a week.

Uh, utter fail.

I bought a Krav Maga groupon at a local studio so eventually, I will make it there on a weekly basis.

I may just have to remove this goal because I’m not really into it. And I know that if I’m not into it, and that it’s just a token add, that I will not do it.

But maybe I will love Krav and then fork over the ridiculous amounts of money to go. (I doubt it, but I want to kickass and you can’t do that sitting on your ass, afraid to look foolish in order pick up a new skill.)

c) Wash face and brush teeth twice daily.

Um… 50% for effort?

I still can’t manage to do this in the morning. I’m sorry. I just want to maximize my in bed time.

However, I have much improved into doing so at night. YAY! (Also, I think I really do have several cavities that need to be taken care of.)

Also, I have been much relieved to hear from many of you dear readers that you, too, have difficulty remembering to brush and floss and wash your face.

Is it any surprise that you are all SAHMs?

d) Take vitamins and supplements.

I am a little more consistent at it. I think there is a good reason Sasquatch was my largest and fattest child and that my body has recovered faster than my previous pregnancies and births. It is all due to the supplements I have been taking. And the iron pills. And the calcium.

Here’s to hoping that my bones are not nearly as hollow as they were after having Glow Worm. I think he was the smallest (though fattest at the time) for a reason – I did not take good care of my body and four years of back to back pregnancies and breastfeeding did a number on me.

Even though Sasquatch is my last baby, I need to make sure that I take my health seriously. After all, when Mama’s down and out, Hapa Papa has to pick up the slack (like he did the back half of my pregnancy).

e) Go to sleep when the kids sleep 4x a week.

FAIL! UTTER FAIL!

I was doing pretty good about this in December, but ever since Sasquatch has been sleeping through the night, I have failed. FAILED.

Also, I blame adulting.

I have been doing very well in the adulting department. But as such, my “free” time during the day is now taken up by cooking, cleaning, bills, etc. instead of whatever mindless activity I am now doing at night.

No. It is not all playing Two Dots. Sometimes, I’m playing its sequel, Dots & Co.

I kid. I kid.

I’m not really clear as to what I’m doing late at night, but it involves food and reading (either on a screen or in a book), and sometimes, it also involves Two Dots.

To solve this for February, I have been trying to ease the kids into sleeping 30-60 minutes earlier. That way, even if I stay up a few hours after their bedtime, it is STILL early enough that it won’t kill me on lack of sleep the next day.

f) No texting while driving.

I’m doing AWESOME on this one.

Seriously. I never thought I’d get rid of FOMO enough to do this. But it turns out, I can receive (and skim) texts while they come in (my phone is on a stand on the dash) and NOT respond. I can also NOT READ them!

AMAZING.

2) Take my responsibilities as a grown up seriously.

You guys, you guys!! I HAVE BEEN ADULTING ON A REGULAR BASIS.

It’s sad that this makes me feel so proud, but I do something at least once a day! I’ve kept on top of bills and mail and doing things that are due on a more immediate basis vs letting it procrastinate and pile up and make me feel like crap due to guilt.

Dr. T is totally right.

For me, self-care equals taking care of my adult responsibilities instead of hiding from them and acting like my middle child, Gamera.

Also, HuffPo agrees.

Of course, this does cut into my ME time, but ultimately, I feel a LOT better about myself.

3) Write.

I didn’t write much in December, but I am slowly getting back into the swing of things in January.

Because I usually write at night or on weekends, I was limited by Sasquatch’s feeding schedule. But now that I am pumping consistently and Sasquatch is a little easier, Hapa Papa is cool with me leaving for about three hours at a time so I can write.

I have to be much smarter about my time as I write, but I think this is a good thing. Procrastinating will literally kill what little time I have to write so I am better about putting away distractions.

Incidentally, the side benefit of me sucking it up thus far is that I am far more conscientious of Hapa Papa, his feelings, his desires and needs (HE ACTUALLY HAS THEM??), and making sure that I am not taking advantage of him.

On the days that I go write, I try to make sure that I give Hapa Papa an almost equal (I am, after all, still myself so I am still more selfish than the average person) amount of time for himself to either spend on work, watch football, read sports, or do whatever it is that he does when he has alone time.

Also, I know it bothers Hapa Papa that we have freezers (yes, plural) full of “food” and yet I keep buying more stuff every week at Costco. So, in an effort to reduce spending (because I single-handedly keep Costco and Amazon in business), as well as cook more, I have resolved to follow in the footsteps of my friend, Fleur.

Instead of buying more stuff at Costco (other than the weekly barrage of fruit I purchase), we will be “shopping” in our freezer. I have already begun to use up the items in our refrigerator’s freezer. When we eat through that (I went crazy the other day and reorganized the whole thing so I could actually see what we have), we will start eating through our chest freezer in the garage.

I have a feeling we will be eating stuff that I bought 2-3 years ago.

It’s a deep freezer. It should be fine. (Likely, it is full of the green part of the watermelon rind because I used to keep those parts to put in juice. I know. I’m weird. I dedicate lots of freezer space to random bits of veggies and fruit that I will eventually put into smoothies. It has been YEARS.)

Also, since Hapa Papa bears the sole burden of providing financially for our family while I bear the sole burden of spending financially (and saving and planning and EVERYTHING ELSE), I am actually listening to his request to save more.

Now, we are already saving 20-25% of our income, so that’s not too shabby. But since I made the mistake of telling him that a friend’s family saves 50-60% of their income (seriously?? WTH, people??), he wants to save an extra 5% this year.

This would totally be doable if I weren’t addicted to doTerra essential oils and their supplements. However, as it is, I have trick myself into saving because I am used to seeing the cash level in our main account at a certain level. And I work really hard to spend our cash until I hit that level. (The sacrifices I make, people.)

So, I am opening up another account into which I will siphon off a set amount each month. Because I am an infant playing Peek-a-boo, if I don’t see it, it isn’t there. (And thusly, won’t spend it. I know. I am an ass.)

I would report on this monthly except that it isn’t anything I am actively doing. Once I open the account and set up the monthly transfer, I will never have to think about this ever again. (Except when trotting out the account at the end of the year as evidence that I do, occasionally, take Hapa Papa’s feelings and thoughts into consideration. I try not to make it a habit.)

Also, Hapa Papa has picked up a side gig consulting at another company and once I pay our property taxes and fund our IRAs (SAHMs, you especially need to fund your IRAs), I will put all his consulting money into this side account, too. (I swear, if you’re lazy like I am, the key to financial stability is to marry a workhorse.)

Anyhow, looks like Suck It Up 2017 is off to a great start. How are you doing on your goals for the year?

Morbid Thoughts

Trigger warning: Some graphic descriptions of the Holocaust, accidents, and anxious thoughts.

As many of you know, my brain is a jerk.

Often times, I will be minding my own business, peacefully driving on the freeway or showering or reading or texting or WHATEVER, and then suddenly, my brain will flash a particularly horrifying vision of my car flipping over and Sasquatch being stuck screaming and crying in the back of my car, hung upside down in his carseat, and me in the front, either dead or pinned with an injury so I can’t get to him and he’s stuck for hours and I have to either listen to him or did I mention that I’ve died and —

I have to physically wrench my brain away from going down that path and either start literally singing “LALALALALALALALA” or force my brain to think of something else. It will often take me a few minutes to wrangle my stupid brain from those horrifying images or thoughts because again, my brain hates me.

Recently, I read Maus by Art Spiegelman for my SFF/Graphic Novel book club. It’s a graphic novel depicting Spiegelman’s father’s experience as a survivor of Auschwitz. This won Spiegelman a Pulitzer Prize.

It was so horrifying.

At first, I didn’t like how Spiegelman drew the Jews as mice and the Germans as cats, but by the end, I understood. I think that due to exposure and education on the Holocaust, many of us have gradually become desensitized to even the more horrific images. But seeing it as mice and cats caused me to see everything anew.

I also learned (or was reminded) of new things that the Nazis did to the Jews. I didn’t realize that near the end of the war, the Nazis just decided to mass exterminate the Jews (as opposed to slowly killing them) as a way to cover their tracks. I also didn’t realize just how gradual the Nazis eroded the Jew’s rights until it was too late.

Too late.

Two particular parts have been ingrained in my mind.

The first, was during a community sorting where all the families and Jews in the Jewish ghetto had to line up and be sorted into two groups. One group was allowed to stay and the other was sent away on trains to the camps.

One woman with four children was sorted to the trains because she had too many children.

I stopped right in my tracks. I have four children. (I was reading this right after Sasquatch was born. Delightful post-partum reading, I know.)

That could have been me. And there would be nothing I could do to change this and protect my children.

I closed the book then and there and took a break.

The other was the story of how near the end of the war, the Nazis moved the Jews from camps as they retreated into Germany and in one of those places they retreated to, they gave up all pretense of even trying to keep the Jews alive. The survivors had to pile up their dead in the hallways and soon, there was no more room to walk and they would have to walk on top of the dead on their way to the bathrooms.

But because there were tens of thousands of people in these camps, the bathrooms soon overflowed and stopped working. And the only way people could relieve themselves was to do so on top of the dead in the hallway.

I just.

How do you recover from that?

It didn’t help that as I was reading, I kept seeing similar parallels to Trump’s ascendancy to POTUS. I know. I’m not unique in this observation, but it’s another thing entirely to read about the Holocaust and then see how it started and then see how history seems to be repeating itself.

Additionally, I came across a video on Facebook (shown below) that told of a woman who gave birth in a concentration camp and I was shocked because it never occurred to me that babies would be born and then SURVIVE the concentration camps.

But of course there were babies in the camps. Pregnant women were sent there. And if they lived, they gave birth there.

I just.

To survive – that tenacity. I hope I never have to find out if I, or my children, are made of that type of stuff.

So of course, my brain freaked out.

I thought of my four children and my husband and assuming we survived being packed into trains like cattle and given no food or water for the weeks it took to get to the camps, how would my children survive and fare?

I thought of Sophie’s Choice, and if I were put in a similar situation, who would I choose?

And a normal person, would then stop their thoughts right there. But not me!

My stupid brain decided to torture me with incredibly logical and brutal thoughts about my kids.

Because really, in this situation, what can you do except choose the child who will most likely survive and adapt? And what else can you do except choose to condemn the children who would suffer more and not be resilient enough or compliant enough to make it through the other side?

And this in no way victim blaming because FFS HOW COULD PEOPLE DO THIS TO EACH OTHER?

And so, I assessed my children.

I decided that Sasquatch is a baby so the odds were against him.

Gamera is too fragile and cries too much.

Cookie Monster is resilient enough and good natured enough and healthy enough and strong enough and usually compliant enough, but if he is pushed to do something that he truly doesn’t want to do, he will not comply at all.

Glow Worm is resilient enough and young enough to be adaptable to most all situations. He is also young enough to not remember as clearly how things used to be.

It would be a coin toss really between Cookie Monster and Glow Worm. They would be separated from me though because they are male – but hopefully Hapa Papa would keep them alive as long as he could. Given that, maybe I would get to keep Sasquatch or Gamera after all.

And then, if I survived, I would hate myself every single day of my life and want to die but live only because if I died, who else would my child have? (Well, I guess here’s to hoping that Hapa Papa also survived.)

OMG. I have to stop.

You see? My brain is an asshole.

How can I detachedly assess my children like this? WTF is wrong with me? (Truthfully, I believe in being prepared.)

And also? HOW COULD PEOPLE ALLOW 6-11 MILLION PEOPLE DIE?

Easily.

You know why? Because it is happening now. It has happened before. And it will happen again.

Because we think we are small and don’t want to make trouble and we are afraid – OMG we are afraid – and when I dwell on this, I AM AFRAID.

I want to say that I would be one of the “good” Germans who actively helped hide Jews. That I wouldn’t prey upon them and steal their jewels as they desperately offered their assets to buy their lives.

But you know what?

I have four kids. And I have eyes. And if I saw people being disappeared, I would be afraid that I and my family would be next.

I do not think I am brave enough in that situation.

I don’t know if Trump will bring us to another Holocaust. I know that the seeds of it are out there – and that Trump has fertilized the seeds and made it more acceptable to be “out.”

I know that if I speak out behind the relative safety of my keyboard that any moment, I could be doxxed (and since I’m a woman and a person of color, the odds of that are high), and that my children could be threatened and harmed.

I mean, odds are against it happening because I am totally small potatoes and who can say when and where a writer will go viral?

But it could.

And that possibility makes me afraid.

Not overwhelmingly yet. But if I let my brain run with it, it can.

So I tell myself to be brave now when the stakes are low so that I can train myself to be brave when the stakes are high. (God willing, this will not happen.)

That my bravery and courage are muscles: the more I use them despite my fear, the more I will choose the right thing for all peoples. And that truly, my standing up for all peoples will ultimately, make the world safer for my children.

And the more of us who do so, the less likely we will ever have to be brave and courageous when the stakes are high because hopefully, we will have stopped it in time. (Whatever that “it” is.)

So, my friends. To those of us who are afraid: be strong and courageous.

Let us practice being brave together.