I am here. I am fine. We are all fine.
We are all also totally, absolutely, five billion percent not fine. You know how it is these days.
I never understood bloggers who just one day, out of blue, stopped updating, you know? At least announce that you’re closing up shop or pivoting full-time to TikTok? Post some kind of goodbye entry, farewell, The End?
Now I get it. You don’t always plan to stop. In fact, it can be the exact opposite – I just needed a break, I told myself. I needed to find my sense of humor about…oh, ANYTHING, EVER, AGAIN. I couldn’t bring myself to document the days—the endlessly-bleeding-into-each-other days, full of a million tiny parenting microfailures and cliched complaints and inconveniences. I just needed to shut up about myself and let others drive the conversation for a little while.
Plus, for three full weeks, the most recent photo on my phone was one I took at the grocery store, on the day when Clorox Wipes finally came back into stock.
I told myself I would write something when I had something to write about, something I WANTED to write about. And sure enough, eventually I’d find myself writing a blog post in my head while brushing my teeth, while staring at the ceiling while wide awake at 1 a.m., or while making a rare, thrilling, terrifying drive to shop at a store that won’t deliver, for gods’ sake, why won’t you deliver??
(Our liquor stores do not deliver. Leaving us with no choice but to regularly risk our lives for red wine and bourbon. But maybe don’t tell the Internet that? I’d think, and then delete the post from my brain.)
But then every time…something would happen. Something small, maybe, another part of life and normalcy lost to the never-ending Pandemic Grief Parade that sapped my motivation. Or something big, like in the news, and I’d decide that the timing was off, and I should let another Big National Conversation happen without me. Like maybe that wasn't the best time to jump back in with a "hilarious" post about how I ran out of deodorant and had to use an ancient expired stick of Tom's of Maine that somehow survived the Deodorant Wars.
We are all fine.
Even with all that baking and sourdough, I lost 30 pounds. At some point in late October, my hair started falling out in chunks. (Hence the headless strategic cropping on my Last Post That Wasn’t Supposed To Be The Last Post.)
The night of the election, I went to bed sobbing uncontrollably from stress, and allowed myself one (1) bloodcurdling primal scream into my pillow before falling into a deeply medicated sleep.
The next week, we all developed symptoms (you know, THE symptoms). One of Ike’s neighborhood friends spiked a fever, and his doctor told his entire family to go ahead and get tested. Jason and I spent two-and-a-half hours waiting in a drive-thru testing line and then four to five days waiting for our results.
We are all fine. It was just a cold.
By Christmas, my hair was growing back. We had a great day at a tree farm and selected our “Best Tree Ever,” according to all the kids. (A far cry from last year’s clusterfuck of a family outing.)
We gave Noah the "Best Christmas Ever" by tracking down the original theatrical, non-special-extra-CGI-editions of Star Wars and a (kinda) functional VHS player, both of which we (kinda) led him to believe were beyond impossible to get anymore for less than many hundreds of dollars.
(Turns out you can get a brand-new, still-shrink-wrapped VHS box set of the trilogy for under 20 bucks on eBay. A working VCR turned out to be the more difficult item to procure.)
For my birthday, Jason got me a proper little desk and a happy yellow chair (and the happy yellow family portrait you'll see at the end of this post). I gave him my office “temporarily” last March since I wasn't working full-time yet and hahaha we all know how that turned out. I spent seven months working full-time from bed with my computer on my lap.
(In my sad sack depressed person's defense, it was the only place in the house I had 1) a door to close, and 2) the lowest chance of accidentally appearing in the background of somebody's damn Google Meet or Zoom Whatever while braless and still in my pajamas.)
On New Year's Eve we baked poop emoji cookies and burned a 2020 scented candle (complete with a wee wax dumpster on top). And I dyed Ezra’s hair a bright happy yellow.
I thought maybe the first week of January was a good time to write about some of that stuff. Maybe even if it was just our small little victories and a couple photos. Even if I selectively edited out how Ike was failing all his classes (including LIBRARY, come ON) and crying every day over virtual learning...or how Noah rarely ever left his room and only interacted with people he yelled at in multiplayer video games…or what all this crushing isolation was doing to them, to ALL of them...maybe I could find enough good stuff to fill in around the blank spaces.
And then January 6th happened, and my hair all fell out again. The blank spaces and bald spots were just too big to write around.
We are all (mostly) fine.
Ike went back to school on March 1st, four-and-a-half days a week, on the recommendation of literally everyone who works with him. There are currently just two other kids in his classroom, and every morning he has the entire school bus to himself. Noah and Ezra will go back two days a week, but not until April. They are so bored. Ezra is so lonely. They are all so strong and uncomplaining and resilient, every one of them.
My mom got both doses of the vaccine. Jason and I are still two phases away from eligibility in our state, so…a few more months? End of summer? Maybe make it a family thing on Noah’s 16th birthday in September? (Yes. You read those last five words correctly.)
We are currently estranged from other family members who are refusing it, who call it the so-called experimental “vaccine” in scare quotes, and who have fallen deep into various Internet conspiracy rabbit holes, and who probably now consider me part of the Deep State for working at the FDA, pushing my radical leftist agenda on them, even if all I do there is SharePoint. (MICROSOFT! BILL GATES! SEE?!!? IT’S ALL CONNECTED!!!!!)
It makes us very, very sad and frustrated and tired.
At least once a week, Jason and I watch The Prom with Ezra and Ike, because it’s fun and makes us happy. (Noah opts not to join us, but thank god for WandaVision, which got him out of his room and deeply involved in our nightly obsessive family theorizing.) It eventually morphs into a singalong dance party, and Ezra specifically wears the sparkly, glittery rainbow Chucks of his dreams, the ones I couldn’t find for him but a wonderful blog reader and Facebook friend did. I was planning to save them for Christmas but on November 7th she texted me GIVE THAT BOY HIS SHOES!!!
So I did.
If things Get Normal, we’ll be able to take them to see The Prom in person in 2022, along with all the other canceled shows I still have our 2020 tickets to tacked up on the fridge. I don’t know, though. That will be weird, right? When we as a nation will have to confront our collective PTSD about Inside Things With Strangers’ Spew-y Face Holes?
We’re fine. We’ll all be fine.
Every Sunday night is Dad’s Homemade Pizza night where everybody gets a pie with the toppings of their choice, a truly delightful tradition we probably wouldn’t have hit on otherwise. We take turns attempting to keep the cookie jar stocked with homemade cookies, although the kids’ unwavering loyalty and preference for basic-ass chocolate chip cookies is driving me to new heights of boredom. I still make a family dinner every weeknight and pick something new to try out each weekend. The best thing I baked all year (but forgot to take pictures of) were the mock McDonald’s apple pies from BraveTart, and the best things I learned how to cook from scratch were tamales and Ethiopian food.
Once a week, though, I take a dinnertime for just myself and eat it in front of the TV alone. I put on a movie I’ve seen a hundred times before and make what the The New York Times’ Cooking section calls “Perfect Instant Ramen.” It's really just a comforting bowl of high-sodium processed trash food, and that’s okay. It’s fine.
It's actually perfect.