What is this strange feeling? Could it be…hope?

So I woke up at 5:30 a.m., drank my coffee, planned what I had to do today, and then I listened to my morning podcasts. I start my day with a huge mug of coffee with half and half, no sweetener, and The Rachel Maddow Show podcast. Rachel and Lawrence are my news shows in my ears. When I take the dogs out I tell them mommy needs her earbuds so she can listen to your Auntie Rachel, and they wait until I’m ready.

Don’t judge my crazy; it’s been a long fucking year of this shit.

I don’t watch news in the evening. I need to sleep, and for a while there I got waaay too worked up, even in morning podcast form. But this morning there actually was GOOD news!

As I’ve mentioned before, both my daughter and son in law work in special education. They are behavioral professionals, not classroom teachers, but that means they spend their days among students of various ages, sizes, and behavioral issues from all over their schools. There are damn few students who are capable of wearing masks, and far more students who melt down and express themselves in a way that certainly spreads a lot of aerosol droplets. So, between the two of them, I think at least once a month of this school year one of them has had to come home and isolate after a confirmed COVID exposure, then get tested and go back into the fray. They are not eligible to be vaccinated in Florida. Our governor has focused the vaccination efforts on rich retiree Republican strongholds in a way that hasn’t been subtle.

So, yeah, they’ve been on the front lines with fingers crossed since last August, when they were forced to go back to the classroom or potentially lose their jobs. This meant my granddaughter also had to go back to in-person learning, but fortunately, her school is in a rich enough neighborhood that a lot of parents could opt for online learning, and they’ve been fairly unscathed by the virus.

But this morning I finally caught up on the news that the Biden Administration is basically doing an end run around governors like ours, and is rolling out a federal teacher vaccination at actual warp speed. My daughter and son in law could both be vaccinated by the end of the month. I shared this with my daughter, and like me, she’s withholding her excitement until we see whether Gov. Florida Man will find a way to fuck it up. My guess is he won’t: he’ll just find a way to claim credit for it.

And the rest of us could be vaccinated by the end of May. Pinch me.

If this doesn’t teach those “Both parties are just the same,” dipshits a lesson and prove that “politics” has a very real effect on actual people’s lives and livelihoods, nothing ever will. But I do have a lot of faith in the younger generation – I think the cohort that is younger than my own kids, down to the ones who are in high school now, are going to save this country’s ass if we can get the fossils out of the way and let them.

Wednesday Escape.

The Flower and Garden Festival opens next week, but the topiaries were up:

I don’t remember this little Tinkerbell! She’s in the lovely garden behind the UK pavilion. (Pro Tip: Grab a pint at the pub across the street and drink it back here in the quiet. I was the ONLY person in that garden for a while on Wednesday.)

There are WAY more topiaries than these, of course, this is just a random sampling.

I walked around the World Showcase and the endless construction barriers in Future World. The exhibit buildings/rides are all open, but the entire center behind Spaceship Earth is being demolished and rebuilt. I saw the new entrance to the park and totally approve. The old version had a lot of concrete and those monument/pylons with tiny engraved images of people who immortalized their visit by buying an image. My granddaughter loved to play hide and seek in them, generally when the adults were really freaking tired and trying to get her the F out of the park before one of us, possibly Grandma, had a meltdown.

A quick search of my personal photos only brought up this picture. There was a forest of those pylons with teeny, tiny metal plaques. It only mattered to the people who paid to be on them. They weren’t scrapped, just moved. The new entrance is much nicer.

As with any changes at the Disney Parks, the redo of the Epcot entrance was met with wailing and rending of garments, but damn, I really, really like the new version. It’s greener, more colorful, and when the trees get a year or so to get going, it’s going to be shadier and much cooler.

So it was a lovely day free of the gas-filled home office. I had but one mission: I promised my daughter I’d bring her a school bread from the bakery in Norway. (I tried to get her to play hooky with me, but damn, she’s a responsible professional adult and had to teach a training.)

I shared the link to Disney Food Blog because it has a great description of the pastry itself. I of course got two, and ate mine for breakfast yesterday morning, because it is perfection with coffee. It’s not an ooey-gooey sticky -sweet pastry, despite its appearance. They are such a thing to their fans, I hiked back to the bakery, then hiked my tired ass all the way to my car juggling these two plastic containers in the hot sun. They survived the trip home just slightly worse for wear. It was worth it. If I had the time I think I’d make this trip once a week.

The white things on top are an Olaf white chocolate decoration that were not part of the original, until Anna and Elsa moved into the former Norway ride. Totally unnecessary.

It was a good day, and I really would like to do this once a month. If only I had paid time off. I worked extra hours to make up most of my “day off.” Because this is my life.

Escape from the Room of The Farting Dogs.

[Gidget objects to the title of this post, and would like to point out that she doesn’t fart. She’s so tightly wound, she poops tidy little marbles most of the time.]

She’s probably right. I believe we have only one suspect in the fragrant atmosphere in which I toil, doing a job I loathe. Sophie relapsed again the other day.

Thursday night at 2 a.m., to be precise: we had another poopsplosion. She’s a very good girl. Despite being blind, she managed to get 95% of it onto the potty pads, which was quite amazing, considering the..output of the explosion. 2 a.m. Yeah.

So I called her doctor, we talked, and I spent another $75 on medications (we added an antibiotic) and it did control the diarrhea, but couldn’t CONTROL THE FARTS. OMG, I’ll be in an online meeting, I can’t leave, and yeah, OMG.

So what can you do when your job sucks and the dog is asphyxiating you with noxious emissions?

I’m going to take a damn day off and go to…you guessed it…Disney World!!

I’ve tried to do this for several weeks, and damn, we’ve had a ton of rain lately. I scheduled and canceled this day three times. I did manage to go to Animal Kingdom with my daughter and granddaughter on Super Bowl Sunday, and it was amazingly uncrowded. We had a lovely, laid back day. We chilled with the gorillas. This is Gino, he is 40 years old, which is around 80 in human years.

Gino has two wives and young children. He is totally over this young family shit. While we were watching, his baby daughter Grace (she was in the shadows, so no decent pictures) was swinging on a rope, doing a totally human, “Daddy? Daddy? Watch me Daddy!!”

Gino humored her for a moment, then moved to another area of their huge, lush habitat. Fatherhood at the equivalent of over 75 is never a good idea.

This time I’m going to Epcot between festivals – The Festival of the Arts ended yesterday, and Flower and Garden doesn’t start until next week – but that’s fine. I have to get the fuck out of this room, I’m getting stabby. I’ll take pictures, eat snacks, browse the shops, and just spend some time out of my freaking gas filled office in the sunshine.

I Am a Crazy Succulent Lady.

Why, yes, I am losing my mind at this point. I’ve been working from home going on a year now, I have no other life to speak of, and I’ve become obsessed with my succulents. My daughter bought me cute little owl planters and a few starter plants for Christmas. I’m not good with plants. I have a pothos on my kitchen bar area, it is the only plant I’ve actually kept alive for any period of time*, but otherwise, plants in my care don’t have a great life expectancy.

*I actually nearly killed it. I knew it was horribly pot bound, but managed to ignore its woes. While I was becoming obsessed with succulents I realized it needed repotting, and DAMN, is it ever grateful. It is sprouting new leaves daily.

So, my daughter gave me a few starter plants with these adorable little pots, but couldn’t find enough tiny succulents at Home Depot for all six pots. I discovered that you can buy succulents on Etsy! I had no idea they had live plants. Some of the succulents are super expensive, but I bought a small pack of teeny, tiny cuttings from Queen of Succulents, figuring if half of them made it, I’d be set for plants, right? I bought a small rectangular planter to use as a succulent nursery, and a bag of cactus/succulent potting soil. I followed the advice from Queen of Succulents, and figured hey, if half of them survived it was money well spent.

They’re all alive and thriving.

After a lifetime of haphazardly murdering innocent plants, I’ve found succulents. I like them, and they like me.

By now I was becoming obsessed, and still had two empty owls that needed plants, so I found another Etsy shop with a good price on a string of pearls and a string of dolphins.

Unfortunately, the string of pearls broke as I tried to pot it. I took the broken bit and stuck it in an owl, to see if it would survive. It has.

2/16/21
2.18.2021
2.20.2021

The original String of Pearls is thriving.

The String of Dolphins (look at the leaves, they really do look like leaping dolphins!) took off like wildfire, and it is now in a Tinkerbell mug. I’m going to have to figure out a hanging plant situation soon. Plant parenting is complicated.

So I had to buy more pots. Some of the original owl plants are crowded and need more room to grow, and some of the wee babies are ready for an owl.

Apparently succulents are my thing. Who knew?

About the Impeachment.

Yes, I get that people are pissed that he wasn’t convicted, but honestly, he wasn’t going to be. I’m taking a break from Twitter until people stop rending their garments and wailing that all is lost, and what does impeachment even mean anymore, and woe is we. And IF ONLY there had been WITNESSES!! OMG!!! WHY???

No. No. No. The Democrats knew going in that the fix was in, that the Republicans are a spineless bunch who were planning to acquit a man who sent a mob after them in an attempt to overthrow the government. Witnesses wouldn’t have changed a goddamn thing, it just would have resulted with the former “president’s” shitty lawyers dragging out the proceedings with more lying and bullshit. Republicans gonna Republican. Yes, it sucks, but where have you been? That’s who they are.

And please, don’t buy into the headline writers’ spin that “The Senate acquitted Trump.” 57 Senators, including 7 honest Republicans, voted to convict; the standard for conviction in the Senate is 2/3. That was never, ever going to happen. But now the whole disgraceful, treasonous story is in the record, and every single one of those spineless Republicans who voted to protect Trump will be living with that verdict forever.

Now it’s time for the state courts, (the ones that could actually send him to jail) where members of the “jury” won’t meet with the defense counsel to plan strategy and assure them that no matter how they disgrace and embarrass themselves, the fix was still in. So don’t feel bad about the outcome. This trial was for the historical record, not the outcome.

Within half an hour of the verdict, E. Jean Carroll tweeted: “Hold my beer.”

Time to think about 2022. I have a couple of shitbag Senators and Governor Florida Man to get rid of. Let’s focus on fighting voter suppression, register new voters, and GOTV.

Quarantine Two, The Sequel: Shit Just Got Real.

I started writing this post the other day but the post just never would gel. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t put my thoughts together, and I realized it’s because I literally could not see an ending for this crap.

And today there was an announcement at the place where I work: the return to the office has been postponed until June at the earliest, and September for the bulk of the work force. I’m “the bulk of the workforce” because I can do my job just fine from home if I have to, so, yeah.

We were sent home from the office in mid-March, and all of us figured it’d be weeks, a month or two at the outside, and now, 18-ish months?

The sheer endlessness of this COVID clusterfuck is getting to a lot of us – at least to those of us who are still paying attention. I’ve gained weight, I’m crabby, I’m having trouble concentrating, I’m online “comfort shopping” too much. And you know what? I realized today that I don’t give a fuck, because I need to do what I can do to stay sane through this.

Actually I very much do give a fuck about the weight gain, because my clothes have to fit. Hot weather is looming, and I can’t afford to replace the shorts that now won’t button. I need to get control over my diet and exercise, for a multitude of healthy reasons. And also because I’m on a mission to fit into all of my shorts and tanks, because they’re all perfectly good and weren’t cheap and it’s going to be 90-fucking-degrees in a few weeks.

But the rest of it? If trying new skin care products and buying yarn and pretty stationery and growing succulents helps me not stab anybody, I refuse to feel guilty.

I need a game plan, or I’m going to outgrow my entire wardrobe and forget how to communicate with words. I’m afraid that by June I’ll speak only in technobabble, acronym and spreadsheet. Oh, and dog baby talk, because my dogs are the cutest little babies ever and deserve ALL the treaty-treats, don’t they? Yeah, I’m a bit starved for fun, non-work conversation.

Blogging about it really does help, and I will do it more often. I appreciate the feedback for my intermittent posts.

As I’ve said, I’m not really “quarantining” like the cool bread baking and indulging in creativity people, I’m more like “imprisoned” in a home office doing a job I fervently wish I could afford to quit, but alas, retirement is still a few years away for me.

So I’m going to put together a game plan to get me through 2021, because this shit ain’t anywhere near over.

February Is the New January.

This post has been marinating for a couple of days, and may have had a few edits.

So, we’ve reached the end of the first month of 2021, or the 13th month of 2020, depending on your perspective. I took stock of my “accomplishments” of January, and the use of quotation marks is deliberate.

We are at the end of the first month of the new year, and my diet and exercise situation is pretty dire. I have gained approximately 12 lbs. of quarantine/stress weight, nearly all of it since I began stress eating in the lead up to the election, followed by boredom/stress eating through my work days, and accompanied by only sporadic exercise.

This situation is now truly dire. This is Florida, and summer pretty much begins in March. NONE of my shorts fit. I haven’t tried on my “office” clothes yet, but the odds are I’ve eaten myself out of them too. Changes must happen.

Here’s the BIG thing: I will not snack all freaking day. I will drink tea all freaking day, but this wandering to the kitchen for a small handful of nuts or maybe a few crackers or WHATEVER must stop. I will track my food with Lose It! and I will get my butt out of my chair and walk daily, not sporadically. I will do some sort of yoga every day, even if it’s just a quickie 15 minute wake-up stretch. I’m back to waking up at 5:30 again, to ensure I have time for a large mug of coffee before I get moving. *Update*: I’m three whole days in, and I’ve done yoga every day for three days in a row. I’m aiming for 100 days. I’m really curious about what it will do for my body if I really do develop a daily practice.

All of this is non-negotiable, because summer will be here for real in about six weeks, give or take, (Punxsutawney Phil does not cover this zone) and all those shorts have to fit. They’re like new, they weren’t cheap, and I’ll be damned if I’ll go buy cheap “until I lose the weight” shorts to “get by”. Experience has taught me that I’ll be wearing the cheap, just for now shorts all summer if I don’t get my shit together NOW.

I will exercise, watch my calories, drink gallons of water and tea, and above all, quit the boredom/stress snacking, because yes, my work days are both boring and stressful. I have a stressful and challenging job, just what a brain aneurysm survivor a few years from retirement really wants! Yet, here I am.

Most days I am truly Lucy in the Chocolate Factory, responding to engineers and others with project updates (chocolates), except that all of the chocolates have to be reviewed and custom wrapped and routed to the proper customers with explanations. It’s Same Shit, Different Day, until someone calls me with their hair on fire about something I’ve never fucking heard of, and their emergency becomes mine. *Update* Today I actually got to give a random emergency to someone else. That has never happened before and it was truly a warm and fuzzy feeling.

So, what’s good? I’m knitting again! I’m knitting an easy-peasy, “TV and wine” skill level shawl, but I’ll take it. I’m also suddenly obsessed with growing succulents, and bought tiny clippings on Etsy and rooted them in this adorable wee planter. It’s a really skinny little thing and I’m using it as a succulent baby nursery, and it’s working out very well. Meanwhile, the original plants my daughter gave me in the owl planters are thriving, and a couple really could use larger pots, so I had to get bigger pots. These are really gorgeous and impressively heavy and well made. I might not be able to grow herbs for shit, but so far, succulents love it here. It’s nice that something does.

Decompression.

It’s not hyperbole to say that a lot of us are feeling PTSD right now. That feeling that we don’t dare hope that things really will get better, because the last four years were so profoundly horrible. We’ve just escaped an abusive relationship, and can’t quite believe it’ll all be okay. We are afraid to feel hope, even for a second, because it might be taken away – it can’t really be over, can it?

I thought it was really amusing to see Lindsey Graham all in a huff, insisting that if President Biden wanted “unity” he could just pick up the phone and “stop this impeachment”! Lawdy, what a SNIT!

I know this was performance art for the base, because Graham’s not an idiot, and he certainly understood separation of the branches of government in the pre-Trump times. If anything equivalent had happened under Obama, he’d have been all indignant that the President would even DARE to interfere with Congress! He fucking knows better, but he’s still doing this shit. The stuff they have on him must be quite bad.

But that’s how crazy it got in four years. The idea that Biden could “do a Trump” and just treat Congress like his minions is now supposed to be accepted as the norm. Or maybe it’s just Lindsey, who spent four years as Trump’s lapdog. He must miss his master.

Watching the Inauguration I was struck by how large and loving the Biden/Harris/Emhoff families are, and also how I don’t ever need to learn any of their names unless I want to, because they will leave their parents/grandparents/aunts and uncles in DC to do their jobs, and they will go home to their normal adult lives. Nobody’s loser kids will be grifting off their parents’ positions. Though I do think Kamala’s stepdaughter (See? I’ve already forgotten her first name) may become somewhat of a fashion icon whether she wants to or not; the coat she wore got a rapturous response on Twitter.

I was overjoyed on Wednesday, dividing my time between the TV and my desk, and yesterday, we had a work team meeting online and we were all laughing and sharing favorite moments from the Inauguration, and we’d all stayed up too late to watch the fireworks. It was the first time we’d ever referred to anything remotely “political” in a work context, if loving a young poet and Lady Gaga’s performance and fireworks counts. None of us got much work done, and we laughed more on that call than we ever have. It felt joyful, and those calls never feel joyful.

Today the exhaustion hit me. This has been a long, hard slog, and the last two weeks were especially fraught, to put it mildly. I felt tired and irritable and had a hard time concentrating. I recognized this, because this is not my first time having to decompress from a situation where I felt tense all the time, hyper alert for the next bad thing.

Accordingly, I have declared this weekend Zero Responsibility Weekend. I will walk with an audiobook, bake cookies, read, knit while watching escapist something, and regroup. Decompress. The good guys won, and intelligent, experienced adults are back in charge. Everybody take a breath.

President Biden. Vice-President Harris.

Today was so beautiful and so healing. Like a lot of people I was apprehensive about the Inauguration ceremony today, after the terrorist attack on the Capitol just two weeks ago, but God, it was just what we all needed.

Lady Gaga’s version of the National Anthem had something it rarely has – JOY!! It has majesty sometimes, it gets butchered many times, but it’s mostly a difficult song. She beyond nailed it.

And holy shit, when she turned and gestured at the Capitol behind her, that was POWERFUL and so positive – she was perfect.

And her gown was perfection: So Gaga, but not entirely crazy. I felt for the young Marine escorting her down the steps, and imagined he was thinking: “OMG, I CANNOT let Lady Gaga trip on that huge fucking dress; I’ll never live it down.” But when she started to sing I felt it: JOY!! She sang a very awkward and difficult song with such brio, and her powerful voice and visible JOY set the tone for the entire day. Positive, strong: America is BACK.

And I’d never known we had a Young Poet Laureate until today. Amanda Gorman is incredible. I’ve listened to it three times, and am just stunned. “If only we are brave enough to be it.” Amen, child.

And now we have Vice President Kamala Harris. Daughter of immigrants, Black and Asian, and also just freaking brilliant and highly qualified to BE President. I was Warren during the primaries, but I was sick when Kamala dropped out, because she was my other favorite.

President Biden was actually around my FOURTH choice, but when he got the nomination I happily voted for him, because by then I’d realized he’s the calming, soothing, but wise and firm, grandfather this country needs now.

He’s also extremely experienced, he knows the GOP assholes he’ll have to deal with and knows how to get shit done with them, so I was totally on board.

And then ALL the shit hit the fan on the 6th, and I have to say he is the PERFECT President for this horrible time. His speech today was perfection. He emphasized moving forward, fixing all the shit that’s broken, but didn’t shy away from all the things his awful predecessor did. And yet he did it with such positivity, confidence in the goodness and strength of this country, and we WILL get on course and move forward again in the right direction. I saw his speech compared to FDR, and I agree.

But I realized in the last few weeks how as a nation a lot of us have PTSD. I still can’t quite believe the nightmare is over. After a few weeks of not having to give a fuck what any Trump says or does, I’m sure I’ll recover, but yeah, right now this almost doesn’t seem real.

OMG. It’s just….

So, I’m still healthy. I’m losing my mind, but that’s a separate story.

My daughter had a confirmed COVID exposure on the job and was sent home to isolate. She didn’t develop symptoms and got tested and was cleared to go back to work as of yesterday. We are all still healthy.

I’ll spare you the rant about how fucking stupid our Governor Florida Man is. He’s dangerously fucking stupid.

I’m still shaken and outraged about January 6th. I’m scared for the Inauguration next week. We have a lot of crazies among us, but they’re organized in a way they never were before. They’ve gone from swapping batty conspiracy theories in chat rooms to actually organizing insurrection, and this is fucking terrifying. Add that it appears that some Republican members of Congress were in on it, and holy shit.

I’ve known we have a dangerously crazy white supremacist underground for a long time. I’ve lived in FL for a long time, in a fairly upscale zip code (I am one of the poors) and I’ve always known that the “toothless redneck right wing nutjob” was inaccurate. There’s plenty of racist right wing wannabe Nazi types in golf club neighborhoods. I live among them now.

I’ve lost friends – more accurately, I backed away from friends when their crazy went from an occasional questionable take on a topic to stuff too crazy to overlook. A long time friend, a woman I’d known for decades, went full racist and Trumper in 2016. I didn’t realize it until we got together for one of our occasional “wine and cheese and talk about family and bitch about our jobs” sessions in my living room, and she veered off into ranting about her black neighbors. She used every racist trope, “Their trash is full of fried chicken and watermelon…” and by then my jaw was openly sagging. She saw my face and said, “I don’t care, I’ll say it, I’M A RACIST, OKAY?”

I’m thinking, “Yeah, yeah, you sure are, because you are renting on a fucking golf course in a very nice neighborhood with excellent schools, and I’m willing to bet that your black neighbors are more educated and have better jobs and have a lot more class than you’ve ever had, and THAT’S why you can’t stand them.” (BTW, if you are thinking she was a Floridian or some Southerner raised to be racist – she was born and raised in New York.) I was honestly surprised that she grew up middle class in NY, because she drove a pickup and had tattoos and just seemed like a redneck girl who made good. Hell, I trained her for the job she has now, making more money than I do.

I wish I could say that I responded with something pithy and cutting or clever, but I was truly dumbstruck. I’d known her for around 20 years and never heard anything like that from her before. She realized she’d gone too far and pulled herself together,we made small talk for another ten minutes, (me being awkwardly polite, hinting that the evening was over) and she made her excuses and left. We’ve never spoken since.

That’s the thing about being an older white lady in this area – people just start talking like they expect me to understand/agree, and when I don’t respond with, “Oh, I know!” conversations get awkward and then end.

The place where I work has told everybody in state capitals and the DC area in particular to work from home next week, in anticipation of violence.

I’m not sure where I am on praying. I was raised Catholic, but “fell away” by the time I was 14 (I was skeptical by the time I was 8.) I tried going back to Christianity a few times over the years but it just won’t stick. I’m not an atheist, I’m probably best described as a lazy sort of Unitarian/Buddhist/Whatever. But I hope God will accept my prayers for the entire Biden Administration, from Joe and Kamala and their families to the White House staff, including the porters and gardeners and everybody in between, and especially the Secret Service. I fear that we are in for a hell of a ride.

ON THE PLUS SIDE:

The NYT reported that President Biden plans to hit the ground running with Executive Orders reversing a lot of the incredibly stupid/racist/vile Trump moves. The US will be rejoining the Paris Accord, undoing the racist Muslim ban, and work to reunite the children the Trump Admin kidnapped with their parents. The vaccine program will be organized and functional. Unemployment and financial support will get real. It’ll be months before life is anything like normal, but we will have grownups and doctors and economists and scientists in charge again. Even semi-normal is going to feel weird. We moved so far from normal government in just four years, it’s going to take a bit to wrestle it back.