Category Archives: Just Sayin’

Seven

View of me in the laundry room

View from a meeting

This week my coworkers watched me do laundry.

I’d love to say that the display of domestic prowess was intentional, but alas – no one has been begging me to demo my epic dryer lint trap removal skilzzz.

Seven Months.

That’s how long it took me to have a visible snafu.

Seven Months of working from home while pretending to be a 9 year old during playtime, and a principle, Para pro, lunch lady and IT rep during school time.

Seven Months of plotting meal after meal after meal that people will eat and won’t get bored of.

Of fighting back the clutter that comes with ALWAYS being here. Of date nights that consist of sitting on the front porch with The Mr. like it’s the balcony of a resort, watching the neighborhood.

Of doing a bajillon different jobs all day, and getting up 3 times a night with the geriatric dog I am honored to be hanging with as he ambles through the darkening twilight of his life.

Of falling asleep with a glass of wine at like 7:15 and forgetting that the dryer is full of clothes that still need to be hung up and put away.

For 4 nights in a damn row.

And of constantly trying to squeeze one more little thing that COULD be getting done into a few minutes when you might be able to step away from your computer and listen to a call. And accidently hitting the camera button on Teams. And giving everyone a lovely view of you fighting to get the bin where you store the extra detergent down off the high shelf, while your coworker tries to IM you, but you don’t notice because it’s 2020 and the universe is not here for your dignity, silly insignificant little human woman.

(I didn’t notice until now – but I shifted away from first person writing that. Evidently I still need that distance from it.)

Also since 2020 – I totally lost it when I realized that I was the dumbass who was wronged by technology on a large call, and did what you should never do, and had a breakdown on the phone with my boss.

It wasn’t even about the multi-tasking really. Not when I thought about it more (and you KNOW I f*cking thought about it more. And more. And then also some more.)

It’s the vulnerability, I think. That they all saw me, trying desperately to just keep up with my own life, and kind of failing. I am a leader – they come to me with their problems (no really, it’s true!) When they ask how things are going with Jr’s remote learning, or my sister and BIL doctoring away on the front lines, or my M.S., I am supposed to project confidence and calm.

Aren’t I?

But I can’t.

Because it has been Seven Months.

It has reshaped the entire world. (If you feel the effects less or whatever you choose to call it, good for you – this probably isn’t for you.)

Here I am – every day – blessed to have a few people left around me who will let me cry over a really stupid video conference move one day, but make sure I can laugh about it the next day over Zoom happy hour.

Seven Months ago I would have probably written about this as a hilarious guide to Zoom Etiquette or something. Oh well. That Keri is down in there somewhere, hibernating I guess.

I will say this though – we are Seven Months in to this, people.

Let’s make a pact – if your coworker is making damn fool out of themselves on a call – how about a little throat clear or something to snap their ass out of it?

Seven months is a long time – we need some back up, yo.

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More Muffins.

I don’t bake.

That is, I don’t bake anymore.

When I left culinary school, it was largely because my pastry chef assured me that I could indeed, NOT, bake. Like, AT ALL.

So I left school, and I went to work for a coffee shop, where I went in each morning at 3:30 a.m. to work. And what did I do, you ask?

I f*cking baked. And that chef was WRONG because I was good at it.

But I never liked it one bit. The recipes and rules and precision of it all.

Keri. No. Likey.

I love to cook. To riff. To toss things in a pot and see what happens.   My roast chicken coping method is the closest I come to a rule book, and that my friends, is an ART.

Baking is math. I hate math. (Sorry boss…  I know you don’t like me to admit that.)

It’s just not me.

Except that now it is.

March 15th I had to do something.  I looked across the room, at my son sitting on his tablet, content for the moment but concerned about what was then his “extended spring break,” and I needed action.

In the kitchen I had bananas. I had ancient flour in a good airtight container in the depths of the pantry.  I had baking soda.  I had mayo. (yep. Mayo. Google it.) And I had these dudes in my house who were just going to BE THERE like, for WHO KNOWS HOW LONG (ok… they are my family, and they live here, technically – but still…. WTF!?)

So I took out some stuff, and I took out my big ass mixing bowl that gets like, NO action, and I started baking.

I kind of haven’t stopped since those first banana muffins.

muffins

those first banana muffins

Because right now, in the face of absolute chaos, the rules of baking feel good.

I can follow a recipe and if I do it just as they say, it comes out just as it should.

We can’t say that about anything right now. You can follow everything they say and still end up sick, or jobless, or mourning or whatever other shitty thing might randomly dump on you.

Baking is control. In a time when we have no control.

Judging by the amount of #breadporn pics blowing up every time I open Instagram now, I am far from alone in this.

Incidentally, I have mad respect for the bread effort – it was very specifically what I think of as “the French bread incident” that finally drove me out the door of culinary school forever. So if you have bread skills, I salute you.

So I stick with what works. Goodness knows these boys can put away some muffins, and so there is a constant demand from the (albeit fairly captive) audience around The Casa.

Outside of my kitchen, the world, and sometimes even other parts of my house, are saturated in unpredictability. (Seriously, what the hell kind of art project/Tasmanian Devil impersonation is going on in my living room right now!?)

But back in the kitchen the warmth from the oven is making me feel toasty and safe, and the well-loved big ass mixing bowl now has a place of honor in the front of a convenient cabinet, ready to help me restore the order in my mind and in my soul – at 375 degrees, 18-20 minutes at a time.

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Tomorrow you are 9

Hi Jr,

9 years ago around this time I was curling my pregnant self up on my favorite futon, Pillow Pet wedged under my bump, Potter zonked out at the other end wrapped around my feet, full of Pasquinis and ready for some sleep.

8 hours later we were off to the hospital to meet you, because your habit of waking mom up pre-dawn had to start somewhere.

I have a terrible/wonderful habit of taking a selfie of us after you doze off the night before your birthday. When you are quiet and still, and I can still see hints of the little face I first saw peering back at me back then.

Sorry, not sorry

Sorry, not sorry

 

 

I know this birthday isn’t what we thought it would be. I know it isn’t fair and everything is strange and sometimes scary right now and that it really sucks, buddy.

I hate it – believe me, I want the world and the sun and the moon for you… I want a million bajillion things for you and none of them look like this.

Here is my promise to you, now and always, my sweet silly strong amazing son: Whatever we face, I will work with you to make the best of it. Tomorrow for your birthday (don’t you worry, doodle, mom’s got some tricks up her sleeve,) and the day after that, and all of the days to come. Your dad and I, and your NeNe and Pop, and Gaga and Grandpa, and all the Aunts and Uncles and Cousins will always help you find the good in the world.

But then again, that is easy with you around – because you are an unending source of good – you find it and multiply it, wherever you go.

And I am so sorry you and all the other kiddos around the world are experiencing this, and that the normal we all live right now is so far removed from the world you knew just a few short weeks ago.

We will get back there, friend.

I am so proud of how you are hard you are trying and finding ways to adapt and still be funny and energetic and creative and loving; and I am proud of how you value others in the world and see yourself in the greater picture of our town, our state, our country, and our world. You have a big, brave, WONDERFUL heart. We are just the luckiest ever to have you as our son.

You are a beam of light, and where you go darkness runs to hide.

You illuminate all of the goodness in the world for me. Burn bright always Jr.

See you tomorrow (comically early as always, I am sure,) birthday boy.

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Today

Each day I am wearing a shirt that reminds me of someone I care about. Today is a SeaQuake Brewing shirt from my awesome coworker.

As I write this – I hear Jr in the basement, giggling at the FB Kids Messenger game he is playing with the neighbor kid from down the street.

Two weeks ago, FB Kids Messenger was not a thing that my kid needed access to in my opinion.

Two weeks was another damn lifetime. What did I know two weeks ago?

I have struggled already through massive highs and lows, and started posts for each of them – somehow never able to finish the thoughts. Which is fitting, really, because I can’t finish a single thought in my head anymore either. It is a constant swirling whirlpool of worries and responsibilities and checklists and hope and fear and disbelieve and realizing and over and over and on.

One day I am Super Mom – ready to Mom Up and handle the whole household through this time of crisis with a smile and understanding and a solution for every issue that arises.

The next I am despondent, concerned for my team at work, watchful and worried about my family here, and paralyzed with fear for Dr Sissy, Dr BIL, and all the other doctors, nurses, and others on the frontlines of this war.

Some days I go back and forth. A lot.

I am not a person I know. I am a stranger to myself, moment to moment – learning to be a person in this world.

So now I listen to my son on his video chat with the kiddo he would typically be riding scooters with out in front, and he is laughing.

And I am so effing grateful for that.

And that I guess, is today.

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Imposter

Let’s talk about Imposter Syndrome, shall we?

I say this knowing that, to be honest, even talking about Impostor Syndrome triggers feelings of Impostor Syndrome in every fiber of my being.

“Ugh Keri, you have to be important enough to not feel worthy enough of not feeling worthy and important, and you aren’t so just stop.”

So yeah.

It can be tough to combat that feeling of fakeness if you can’t understand that you are even in the place you would need to be in order to be faking something.

(Wait, What? Are we in a Friends episode Right now?)

they dont know that we know

But here we are. Here I am.  I have felt it SO much in all aspects of my life recently.  I feel it here, with my content and it makes me think “you are not a real-enough writer and people don’t care, so just stop embarrassing yourself.”   (Clearly this voice wins in stops and starts.)

It creeps into my family life — when it takes me 3 days to reach out to Jr’s school administration to voice concerns because “they  know what they are doing and you are just going to look like that dumbass mom who is up everyone’s butt about everything, Keri.”    It whispers in my ear every time I make a choice that is different than other parents, every time Jr says “all the other kids get to do ___________.”

When I make choices about my family finances or food or fun or ANYTHING, there is the quiet echo of “who made you boss? What do you know?”

Don’t even get me started about the professional life stuff –  eight years into the process of growing an amazing team , and a few months into a new promotion,  AND  hot off a review that included lots of amazing and constructive feedback from colleagues, there is still that voice that says “WHO are they talking about!? It can’t be you.  You can’t make these decisions, you can’t lead a team like they say, tomorrow you will surely show your entire shitty hand and it will all go to pot.”

 

Here’s the thing. Magical thinking is awesome in books and movies. But in 2020 I made it my goal to combat all kinds of untruths with facts.  With the knowledge that others already come to me and I DO these things every day. I make these decisions. I know what my kid needs. I built this team from one person (me) to a whole big-ass team.

And whatever I write, even in the times when someone isn’t paying me, makes me a writer.

They don’t know that I know that they know, but I know….

I got this.

 

 

 

 

 

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