Category Archives: silver linings

what’s saving my life right now

A couple of the blogs I read (Modern Mrs. Darcy and Carrie Willard) do the “what’s saving my life right now” post right around this time of year – earlier this week we celebrated Imbolc for the pagans, St. Brigid’s day, Candlemas, and for the rest of us, the halfway point from the winter solstice to the Equinox. The darkness hasn’t bothered me so much this year, but it’s undeniably nice to know that every day we are turning back to the light, and on days like yesterday, when the sun is out and bright, I just want to sit in a sunbeam and soak up some vitamin D.

So what’s saving MY life right now?

  • Reading – I am bouncing back and forth between an “airport novel” – which is what I call the bestsellers that always seem to be on the racks at airport bookstores – fast paced, adventurous, usually with a spy or a team or agents of some kind. They’re an indulgence – this one is a James Rollins “Sigma Force” book called “The Seventh Plague” and somehow I am already halfway though it. Anyway, I’m bouncing between that and “The Happiness Equation” because one of my goals this year is to read more nonfiction and although self-help isn’t really what I had in mind, absorbing more suggestions on how to be even 5 or 10% happier is just fine.
  • Being off Facebook right now. Yup. I took my own advice and took a sabbatical from Facebook and Twitter – I stayed on Instagram because it is a much more beautiful and soothing brand of social media for me. My feed is full of beautiful pictures of Norway, of Japan, Europe, cats and birds, my alma mater, handmade things and my happy places and beautiful rooms. I need these things to stay alive and right now I don’t need to steep myself in the live feed of the unrelenting negativity of Donald Trump’s administration and the divisiveness that is causing in our country.
  • Podcasts. In particular I just love My Favorite Murder (stay sexy, don’t get murdered) and Thinking Sideways. I’m also immersed in the archives of You Must Remember This and just worked my way through her series on Charles Manson’s Hollywood.

“My Favorite Murder” has some pretty funny merch, too – I think I need one of these mugs for our staff meetings.


  • Finding a brief moment of hilarity at work. One of our coworkers recently returned from a long illness and he was greeted by this actually very creepy Elmo balloon, which has arms and legs and is probably four feet tall. (Why do people buy Mylar balloons still? This balloon will be clogging up some whale’s intestines long after I am ashes and dust. This stuff doesn’t biodegrade.) Over the course of a few days, Elmo began to drift aimlessly down the aisles, bouyed by rogue air currents, and I would frequently turn around to find it staring in my office window. When the GC was out one day, we decided he could be her temporary replacement.


  • The snug life with this little guy – with a hot water bottle under the blanket and a movie from the Lucky Day section of the library on TV – and below that, a throwback to my favorite little human’s early years, provided at random one day by my brother, who found this snap on his phone and shared it with me. ❤



  • A gift that I gave myself, for my evening tea, a reminder of a childhood best friend.


  • And lastly – the bonds of trust, respect, and affection that I share with other people in my community. This was demonstrated eloquently during the Multicultural Night that was hosted by Miss L’s elementary school. On a purely voluntary basis, families and organizations came together for a night to celebrate the beautiful diversity in our community. Children from all grades (including Miss L and several of her besties) volunteered to perform, to sing songs and show what they’ve learned on different musical instruments – maracas and recorders and Indian and African drums. Some children dressed in costumes representing their ethnic backgrounds and families brought all sorts of food to share. The halls, gym, library, cafeteria, and art room were packed – the turnout was amazing. Miss L and her friends ran all over the school making memories together, doing crafts like Chinese lanterns and Roman mosaics, having their wrists henna painted by the mothers and grandmothers of some of our Indian students, and watching Irish dancing from a local dance school. There wasn’t a single political comment made, but the entire evening, which is an annual tradition at the school, spoke volumes and made me so incredibly proud of our community and our public school. We are truly blessed.

Happy weekend, all. xoxo


blunt force treatments and glass boxes.

magic in the city.

magic in the city.

It started out as a small patch that itched and felt like a heat rash. By yesterday midday, it had grown to a fist-sized area of maddening vesicles surrounded by a bruise. I walked into the Assistant General Counsel’s office to ask her about something and before I could finish my sentence, she was eyeing me.

“What the fuck are you digging at on your back?” she demanded.

I hadn’t noticed I was absently scratching while I talked to her.

“Lemme see,” she said, and I shut the door so I could lift up my shirt and show her the patch.

“Yeah, that’s shingles,” she said. “Call your fucking doctor and get in right away, cuz if you’re not already in terrible pain, you will be soon.”

And lo, I found myself at my old familiar Urgent Care. It seems to be exclusively staffed with eastern European doctors who are prone to viewing my ailments as invading armies that must be stamped out and annihilated with blunt force. No delicate sophisticated treatments for them; they prescribe me antibiotics the size of horse pills, a scorched earth strategy of leaving no small writhing germ behind. I like that.

In retrospect, it has been a pretty stressful summer, both at work and on the romantic front, so it’s not surprising that I find myself in bed dizzy and drowsy with antivirals, slathered in lidocaine cream. There have been scandals and sackings at work, investigations and interviews with stone-faced executives who tell you later behind closed doors that they just wish someone would take this cup from them. And on the romantic front, a meeting and a break up and a make up with someone that I am frighteningly fond of, and all the complications that arise from that.

Dating at my age and as a divorced working mom is an adventure and not for the thin-skinned. The men I’ve met have also been divorced and with children, only they’ve been divorced for much longer than I have. They seem open to having a relationship, to letting someone in, but being on their own has hardened them somehow. They say the right things, they do the right things, their hearts are right there, but closed off somehow, in a glass box. I can see it, but I can’t touch it. They know they can do it on their own, they have made homes and a family for their children, they are wary and protective of having that disturbed, even positively, by another factor to balance.

And I completely understand it because I feel the same way. I know I can survive. I love my home, I know I can make it on my own and be happy with Miss L and my job and the blessings that I have; I want more, but that ‘more’ will have to be pretty incredible, and it won’t come at the expense of what I’ve already earned through blood, sweat, and tears. However, I’m still flexible, and open, and the men I date, their glass boxes have grown heavier, shatterproof. I see that and I don’t want to become that. I don’t know how you date and not grow increasingly protective and closed off, but it seems that at some point, you have to be able to let things penetrate, even if it’s scary and hard.

So I have been spending time with a man that I really like. It’s a challenge, there have been stops and starts and many feelings of ‘this is too hard’ for both of us. But so far, we have struggled through it, and I am hopeful that our friendship will last. I’ve let him into my house, which is a huge step for me, to let someone see the flaws and beauty and small chaos where my private heart lives. A couple of times, I’ve had to tell myself, ‘I’m really proud of you, this is a big step, I know that everything isn’t perfect but it’s okay to let someone see that’. Deep breath, open the door, let someone in.

It’s nice to have someone to go for walks with and sit on the porch with, and see movies with. I don’t know if it will be more than that, but time will tell if we’re able to continue the process of letting each other in. I feel good about going slow with that. It’s hard enough to trust a single person, and incorporate them into your life; we have to know we can do that before we start with other aspects. I hope our glass boxes slowly dissipate, but for right now, it’s enough that we can meet in the middle and know we can survive.

“If clouds are blocking the sun, there will always be a silver lining that reminds me to keep on trying.” ― Matthew Quick, The Silver Linings Playbook

11.2014 whiteout

**warning – this post is full of utter misery and feeling-sorry-for-myselfedness. you’ve been warned.**

For the past year and a half, I have tried to focus on the silver linings, and choose good cheer and optimism over being glum, but some days are just plain bad and there’s nothing you can do about it. For example, yesterday.

Yesterday, Miss L woke up sad before she was even out of bed, still all warm and cuddly and sleepy and – sad. Cheerios cheered her up, as did her new fur hat that makes her look like a teddy bear, but when it came time to drop her off at pre-care, she just didn’t want me to leave. And there were tears, and there was her visible struggle to be brave, which is a terrible thing for me to witness, watching her draw her six-year-old self up and face things when I wish I could just take her home and put her back into pajamas and save her from having to face anything. Then there was me crying in the car on the way to work and being late.

My boss told me that I have to give a presentation to the same committee that saw me fail horribly a couple of months ago, and although I didn’t even twitch, just stoically said, ‘No worries’, on the inside I was stamping my foot and screaming “WHAT?!!” I just wonder what the fucking point is. I know everybody has to do things that they hate and fail at and despise every day of their lives but DAMN. You would think blatant, visible failures would at least have the silver lining of not having to do it AGAIN but I guess the universe has a little more humiliation and degradation to expose me to, so I will turn the other cheek, dress up, and get my ass kicked by my own self YET AGAIN.

Yesterday, my stomach felt a little unsettled before lunch but I thought it was just the lingering aftereffects of an emotional morning, so I went and tried to work out anyway. I gave up running after a pathetic mile and got on the elliptical with a roiling stomach and my friend came in and got on the same treadmill and busted out many miles at a sprint pace with no visible strain and I wondered how I can possibly call myself a runner.

By 4.00 I was full on nauseous and had my space heater on full blast, but still found myself shivering. Outside my office window, the snow scoured the bare lot and the polar vortex came down inexorably, and there was a whiteout on the drive home. I got home, and after having only juice and an apple all day, I dumped some Cheerios and toast into my protesting stomach and climbed into the hottest bath I could stand.

My bathroom is sunny and is the home for most of my houseplants, partly because of its exposure and partly because it has a door I can close to keep Emmett and Sarge out. This weekend, one of them got into the bathroom and chewed up one of my plants and barfed it back up and made an enormous mess; I’d blamed Miss L for leaving the door ajar. (“WHAT!!” -Miss L. “You must have, the boys can’t open the door themselves!” – Me. “Sarge can open the door!!” – Miss L. “That’s ridiculous.” – Me.) Well, as I shivered in my bath Sarge meowed violently at me from the hallway, and then proceeded to open the bathroom door and saunter in. (“WHAT!!” – Me.) This is a bad thing, Sarge figuring out doorknobs.

I was in bed by 6.30, freezing and sweating, and by 8.00 the Cheerios and toast had come back up (sorry, graphic, but true.) Emmett had knocked another picture off the wall so I’d locked the cats out of the bedroom and Sarge opened the door at 10 and brought up a section of the rubber basement flooring to gnaw on contentedly. I had fever dreams of being in Paris and then getting ready to run a race somewhere wind-torn and barren, and not wanting to see someone that I knew would be there; I woke up soaked in sweat but finally warm.

I suppose the silver lining is that I am home today and after a mostly liquid diet, broth and ginger tea, I was able to brush my teeth, which is a huge improvement, and it looks as though I will finish Tana French’s “The Secret Place” today as well, which has been a really great book. (I love Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad.) And maybe tomorrow will be better. No, tomorrow will definitely be better.

11.2014 duck stream