2020-3-Week Twelve

It’s not mandated that we stay at home, but it’s strongly suggested, and it seems safer. Which means Week Twelve brought us a new normal that we weren’t fully prepared for.



I guess this was day one of “quarantine.”

The sun has started to make its presence felt more, and it’s been nice to get outside. It’s still cool, but we can bundle ourselves in coats and hats and breathe in the crisp, cleansing air. Brian loves the city pigeons and, much to some neighborhood chagrin, feeds them in our small backyard. I don’t mind; I like the pigeons, too. But the flock spooks easily and the sudden eruptions into the sky are less than graceful and a little too loud to not be annoying.



This big guy needed to get back to my brother (Bailey just needed pets). Dexter was staying with my parents during Steven’s snowboarding trip and they missed each other. There was half a day of anxiousness — how and when would they get reunited? Would stricter regulations be issued about traveling and social distancing that would keep them apart? What if the pup was stuck and Steven forced to remain in Boston? But a plan was quickly created and they met halfway.

My brother was a little upset with my dad because when they got out of their prospective vehicles in the empty outlet mall parking lot, my dad gave him a big hug. Steven had been through a few airports and was unsure what he’d been exposed to. Other than this excursion to get Dexter, he was self-quarantining to keep everyone safe. My dad said he didn’t care. But I don’t think he thought about how guilty my brother would feel if he ended up sick.



Not the best picture, I know, but it’s really hard to capture the love Sammy gives while trying to enjoy it. Sometimes on my way to the stairs, he runs in front of me and jumps from the floor to the chair and onto the desk, just so he can give me a hug. It’s the sweetest thing. And lately I’ve been able to let them last a bit longer, since I don’t have to scoot off to work or the gym.



While taking a walk, I looked up and saw the sky acting as a perfect canvas for the earth to draw the trees against.



I can’t take credit for this picture. It was passed from Dr. Erion through one cell tower to the next until it landed in my phone. His new home office. We’re all still adjusting…



This old, Catholic school, attached on the back side to a rectory, sits on our street but now sits empty. Something about this image — a beautiful, brick building that used to open its doors to children now sitting empty, abandoned, alone with an ominous sky lording overhead — seemed like a fitting image for this week. Schools are shut down, restaurants have closed, activities have been canceled… A storm is coming. But at least the pigeon on the cross has a good view of it all.



The view from my home office could definitely be worse. Although blocked from view in this picture are the three articles of clothing hanging on the chainlink fence that, for no apparent reason, juts out from our neighbor’s yard next door to the driveway of the house behind ours. Those three articles of clothing include a bright pink sweater and they’ve been there for months. WHY?

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2020-3-Week Eleven

Week Eleven. The week we got jolted into an alternate universe where toilet paper is a commodity and social distancing is a civic responsibility, not just the practice of introverts. We got plunged fully into this COVID-19 crisis and forced to confront our own vulnerabilities. Uncertainty was in the air while the news changed hourly. Our school anticipated remaining open a little longer, but things escalated faster than I could keep up, and by Friday evening the county declared a state of emergency and shut us down. It’s strange to look at these pictures and realize how ordinary the first few days of week eleven were. The threat was present, but at a distance. Then Wednesday and Thursday we felt it creeping closer. Friday we realized it hadn’t crept, it had sprinted.



This face says, “I want you to cuddle with me. Now.” And you must obey.



This is not an unusual sight. Brian in his studio room playing video games on the less comfortable stool after Willow has stolen his warm spot. Diva.



I showed up late to this training (which was held in my room) because I was running ELA state test tutoring down the hall with Hobbsie. I don’t think I missed much, though. Three years in and the mentoring program has become a nuisance. But it’s also a chance to hang with these two and with the other teachers who started in the district at the same time. Some of us are in separate buildings, so we don’t see each other on a regular basis. This picture is a complete set up. The activity was long over, but apparently Admin prescribes to the notion of “pics or it didn’t happen,” so Laura had us pose at different stations.

After walking in thirty minutes late, I caught the last few slides of Laura’s presentation then participated in her Kahoot review quiz. I’m sorry, did I say participated in? I meant won.



The tops of the trees look like they’ve been colored in with a golden crayon. Spring isn’t often the prettiest season to photograph. The snow has melted but the earth is in the transition process. It’s like it went to the hairdresser’s and got cut too short. It needs some time to grow back. Without the snow, things look bare. But in this picture, the sun was covering the branches the way snow or leaves usually do. And it was a nice thing to notice.



I take my civic duties seriously, but Sam doesn’t believe there’s any need for me to bother with the census.



I snapped this pic because I had a sneaking suspicion I wouldn’t get to see my classroom for awhile. Turns out I was right.



At school, Ben and Tomaino showed up coincidentally wearing the same exact shirt. When my mom came by bearing supplies for our county’s recommended quarantine, she was wearing that exact shirt (This is her Don’t photograph me! face). If we ever return to school this year, we’ll get to be triplets one day.

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2020-3-Week Ten

Maaarch! Maaarch! It’s March! (Sung like the line from Rent when Mark introduces himself to the Life Support meeting)

The year still felt quite young when I was able to label the posts February. March is the equivalent to turning 30. You’re supposed to have your shit together. The New Years resolutions are supposed to be habits by now and the yearly goals should be works in progress at this point, not just things you’re going to start working on soon.

But March snuck up on me, much like 30 did. (And then 31. And then 32… and so forth).

The good news is the week started and ended with mini-adventures, which means March started on a good note (literally — as you’ll see in a moment). It also started on a Sunday. Oh, how I love when a month begins on a Sunday.



Here’s the thing: Amanda is one of my best friends. I genuinely enjoy spending time with her and I like to make her happy. So sometimes when she asks me to do things, I agree without really knowing what I’m saying yes to. It’s just that she’s always got something going on. A birthday party for a niece or a Cambodian New Years celebration with family or a volleyball league game with coworkers… And while she’s one of the most understanding individuals I’ve ever met and does not usually get upset when I decline an invite, I also don’t want to be the type of person who’s always saying no. I don’t know why exactly, I just don’t.

Instead, I say yes at least half the time. This time I said yes three months ago and forgot about it until she reminded me a few days before. I’m always down for a concert, though, even if it is a Sunday night before a full week. And even if it is an hour and forty minutes away. And, apparently, even if we’re going with people I don’t know.

Amanda, her friend Caitlyn, Caitlyn’s boyfriend, Caitlyn’s boyfriend’s friend, and me all loaded up one of their vehicles and headed to Saratoga to listen Dermot Kennedy. I’d only heard one song of his before and after a couple songs I was blown away by the musicianship. Wow! This is so good! I thought. Five songs later I thought, Wow! These all sound the same! But I still dug it. I did get separated from the group when they failed to follow me cutting through the crowd for a better, less awkward spot (the Upstate Concert Hall is in an old shopping plaza and if you’re not careful you end up staring at a support beam instead of the performers), but I was okay with being on my own.



These cats. This is not a good look for Willow.



I go to the gym most mornings. And I love my gym. It’s truly a community. But recently there have been some additions to our 5:30 class. It used to be just four or five of us, but now there are fifteen to twenty most days. All nice people. But with so many new people at once, us OG 5:30ers weren’t able to properly acclimate everyone. In an effort to help them and teach them our ways, I wrote these rules and stuck them on the door. The rules have long since been taken off the door, but when I popped in Anthony’s office, I was tickled to see he’d put them up there. In case the picture isn’t clear:

  1. Calm down. It’s 5:30.
  2. Actually, it’s 5:34. We don’t start on time. Most of us are still making a left on red or scooting into the parking lot through the “one way” exit at 5:30.
  3. We start seated… usually in a circle-esque shape in which we swap groggy good mornings and employ stall tactics like telling stories or asking Anthony questions… anything to delay. At 5:34 we’re still not ready.
  4. Our warm-up is SLOW. If you find yourself finishing the recommended number of rounds, you’re going too fast.
  5. DON’T DROP WEIGHTS unless you’re over 80%. So loud.
  6. We jam to chill music. Ain’t nobody feeling Ja Rule this early.
  7. We’re all in this together. We wouldn’t be Crossfitters if we weren’t a little competitive, but I didn’t come here to race you or show anyone how strong I’m not. We encourage each other and work hard, but often…
  8. We forget to input our scores because who cares.

Sidenote: When we were doing benchpresses this week (something we rarely do), Nick said the millennial version of “How much do you bench, bro?” is “I’m just here to move.” As a millennial, I can confirm this is true.



Since this picture is through a windowpane and a screen, it’s not the clearest image. It also doesn’t give great perspective on the size of this little guy. He was tiny and adorable.



Sam didn’t understand why I was speaking with a British accent all day. Week ten was also Literacy Week at school. Just like I have the last two years, I informed my students there would be a substitute on Character Day, showed up dressed like Hermione, spoke in a British accent, and made them call me Ms. Granger.

There’s always one student who, when I tell them there will be a substitute — an awesome one with a really great accent — claims they’ve had the substitute before. This year was no different.



The first hint of warmer weather brought out these flowers. I know we’ll get hit with another snow storm before March is over; I just hope these survive it.



Week ten ended with my first wine tasting tour. For Judith’s birthday, we hopped in a bus and hit a handful of local wineries. Of the twelve girls, I only knew Judith and Kaitlyn, but it was a good day. Worth the slight headache.

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2020-2-Week Nine

Week nine brought us an extra day to live this year. What a remarkable thing.

Week nine also marks the first time I’m not including an image of a cat or dog. I am not sure if this is actually an accomplishment. Motivated by a desire to have different images to include this week, I happily filled my days with different ventures. But my original goal with all this was not to do things for the sole purpose of having something interesting to log. My goal was to see my world, my days, my moments, better and with more gratitude. I feel a little bit like a failure on the days I’m scrambling for a decent image — like I should have noticed more beauty throughout the day.

The thing is, I live in Upstate, New York. And it’s winter. And I commute thirty minutes by car to work. I do notice things like sunsets and cloud formations, majestic trees towering over fields, snow laden street lamps holding vigil over the parkway… but I’m in the car. It’s not exactly the most conducive setting for picture-taking.

So for now, finding images to help me talk about each day in a way that paints a pretty picture is going to have to be enough.



The Utica Zoo offered a free admission day. It’s a humble little zoo, but we enjoyed observing the baby red pandas as they pounced on each other in poofs of fur, the intimidating wolves as they patrolled their territory, and the otherworldliness of the lazing lynx.

And then we saw this guy. My old friend.

The emus used to be in a different enclosure, and every time I’d visit, this one emu would — no joke — scoot over making its weird gagunking belly noise. It would stare daggers into my soul before protruding its neck and head out at me in a clear “come at me, bro” gesture.

But I didn’t see hatred in his eyes this time. Look at them. I see… curiosity?



This sidewalk crack looks like Florida. Only inverted or flipped or whatever.



Like I said, driving is not the best time to try to take a picture. But it’s also the time I most frequently spot things I’d like to capture. This image does not do this view justice, but it’s largely symbolic anyway. As I rounded the hill and got to the other side, I took in the landscape beyond and wondered about what lies ahead for me.



The Nobe called to let me know the David Levithan book I ordered came in. While I was there I picked up a copy of Poets & Writers, but it turns out I needn’t have bothered. Kath (my friend from MUCC/the writing group) gifted me a subscription. The magazine I bought in the store was already waiting for me at my house!



Two of my coworkers came through big time after I sent out my coffee SOS. I was running late and didn’t have time to stop. This could have been tragic. But Judith grabbed me Utica Roasting from Maple Leaf and Loucy brought this amazingly gianormous travel mug filled with fresh real coffee (last time I sent out an SOS he printed a picture of a Dunkin cup and left that on my desk).



We do not own four recycling bins. But the winds of Cornhill have corralled our neighbors’ bins in front of our house, just as they sweep all the stray pieces of refuse from the street into our bushes. It’s not exactly a pretty picture, and the base of our porch doesn’t exactly look pretty littered with other people’s garbage. But when I walked outside to this in the morning before heading to the gym, I couldn’t help but chuckle. And being able to start the day with a laugh is kind of a beautiful thing.



Leap Day evening was spent at a girls get together hosted by Amanda. Here we see D’mila demonstrating something x-rated to Caitlyn.

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The Writing Prompt

The task was to write something using the word finest. That was the writing prompt. But that simply isn’t a word I frequently employ, either in my daily life or my writing life. Perhaps if the word were fine, I would have a hundred ideas for stories or essays, because that is a word I use excessively. Don’t we all? Aren’t we all fine or good every time someone asks us even if that’s the furthest thing from the truth? Don’t we often respond to requests with, “It’s fine. I can make it work,” even when the entreaty stresses us the fuck out? Isn’t it too regularly that we automatically answer apologies with, “It’s fine. No big deal,” even when we’re embittered or hurt?

But finest?? Only three things came to mind and none of them were things I was particularly eager to write about.

The first thing was pens. I like a good pen. I grew up in the era just before cell phones and computers became ubiquitous—we took and passed actual notes in class when I was in high school. And I bullet journal now. So I have favorite pens with the finest of tips. But does anybody really care to read about that? Do I really care to write about that? I suppose I could pull out my keepsakes binders and look back at the numerous notes my friend Jenny and I passed back and forth and find something worthwhile there. But I’ve written about her before. And we don’t talk anymore. And I don’t much feel like glorifying the way we talked back then.

The second thing that came to mind was the finest thing I ever owned. My silver trumpet. There weren’t a lot of presents under the tree for me that year. But that didn’t matter; I revelled in my gift. So I could talk about that. I could talk about how much I loved that silver trumpet and how much I loved being in band—concert band, jazz ensemble, marching band. I could talk about how supportive my dad was—how he literally got his bus driving license for the sole purpose of hauling our marching band equipment to Florida. Or about my trumpet solo in the Syracuse Carrier Dome during the New York State Field Band Competition. Or our trumpet section’s penchant for time wasting instead of rehearsing—sneaking into the corn stalks neighboring our practice field for a game of tag when we should have been reviewing our parts. But the silver trumpet seems to carry with it ten stories, not one.

Which brings me to the third thing. Which is not a thing at all, but a phrase. “He has the finest plastic surgeons operating on him.” Notice I said surgeons, plural. And they were part of an even larger group of doctors operating that day. When this phrase floated out of the depths of my memories, I knew it was probably the story I should write. But I didn’t want to. I couldn’t bring myself to. And really, can you blame me? Who would relish walking down that particular memory lane? Who wants to think about incisions that were made through my brother’s gums, in the creases of his lower and upper eyelid, and on the side of his cheek? Who wants the image of his swollen, bruised, and bloodied face occupying their mind? Who wants to sit with thoughts of the singular tear that ran down his distorted cheek as he responded to the question “Who did this?” with a small “I don’t know”? Besides, I’m not really sure it’s my story to tell.

In the end, to have something to share, I punched out these thoughts quickly and somewhat contemptuously, wishing for a better prompt. Not my finest effort.

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2020-2-Week Eight

Week Eight was February break, so I did a lot of lying in and on my bed. It was a productive spot for me, though. I read a book, wrote, got my BuJo March spreads done, and finished reading the first draft of my novel — which didn’t turn out to be as bad as I thought it was; there are at least 4,000 (of the 72,373) words worth keeping! I also tried to let my immune system kick the harsh cold I contracted the week before. Meds I’m on suppress my immune system, so my body appreciated the full nights of sleep and the leisurely paced days. When school breaks come around, people always ask, “Are you doing anything?” And for some reason it’s implied that not making extravagant plans is a waste. And of course I love to travel, travel, travel. But I also love coffee and cats and books in bed.



Shockingly, we’re starting this week off with a picture of one of my cats. Here we see him being his best self. “No, it’s actually not time to write,” he says.



Fishes (Amanda), had President’s Day off, too. We spent the day working on our March Bullet Journal spreads. For Christmas, she wanted me to make her a journal not unlike the ones I’ve been keeping for the past two years. I set up her Future Log, drew in the goals page she asked for, and added some inspirational quote art. Then I designed a January spread to help get her started. Now we get together to share washi tape and ideas. And my mess ups always feel less calamitous when I can laugh about them with her.



Well, I shoveled the driveway. He shoveled a spot to feed the pigeons. He did do the bulk of the shoveling last storm, though, and I enjoy the pigeons, too. Our neighbors? Less so.



The cardinal perched on the mirror of my mom’s car has been coming around my parent’s house for a few days (according to my dad). He casually pecks on the window of the car for a few minutes. When nothing happens, he flies across the street and does the same thing to the neighbor’s car. Back and forth. When no cars are in the driveways, he pecks at the house windows. Back and forth. We’re not quite sure why.



A screenshot might be a bit of a cop out, but this conversation cracked me up. And it’s pretty exemplary of our usual exchanges. A little context: My dad had his colonoscopy and was letting my brother and I know that all went well.



So here’s the thing… My car is leased. I’m one year and ten months into a three-year, 36,000 mile lease. I’m at a little over 32,000. This is obviously problematic. I switched vehicles with my mom for a few weeks when she was recovering from her knee surgery, but now that she’s back to work, I’ve taken my dad’s jeep and left Ozzie with him. He’s carefully calculated things; he’s retired and is up to the challenge.

And so I have his Jeep, which I have nicknamed Jay. Jay is a tall (literally — I’m 5’9″ and have to climb in), proud (it sports a dark grey, American flag on the hood), no frills vehicle, that my dad has stuck bullet hole stickers all over to cover up dents from the previous owner. It has standard transmission, not automatic, and, in fact, doesn’t boast anything automatic. Old school windows, no aux input, and certainly no bluetooth. But the real problem, as you might notice in the picture, is that the lights don’t automatically turn off and there’s NO WARNING when you leave them on!

I drove to the gym in the morning when it was still dark, came out and realized I left the lights on. Shit.

In the evening, I went to yoga. I came out and realized I left the lights on. God damn it.

The next night, I went to Barnes & Noble (or The Nobe, as I affectionately call it), came out, and as you can clearly see in the picture, realized I never turned the goddamn, mother fucking lights off. Son. Of. A. Bitch.

Think I remembered when I scooted over to the grocery store after?



Our cats are indoor cats. This is right outside our back door. The paw traffic from the street cats is real.

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2020-2-Week Seven

Week Seven was not the best week of my life. It certainly had some lovely moments I’m happy to be able to hold on to, but it was a week of failing to fight off a cold, feeling stressed at school, and falling off the healthy habits wagon… And symptoms of my autoimmune disease resurfaced, pestering me for attention.

But my pictures don’t capture any of that. It’s interesting to look back and see only happy moments—things that make the week seem not all that dissimilar to previous ones. No wonder so much of our lives becomes a barely remembered blur. I’m failing to see how this week was unique in any way.

Sure, there was the event with the community center kids—but there have been countless events with them. And while Ben and I ran a session together for Wellness Day, we’ve been partnered several times by the school for activities and presentations. My new Green Day record came, but it’s not life-changing the way previous ones were. And the time spent with my cats? That’s every day.

But maybe that’s the point? (I’m really asking) Maybe the point is that if we don’t slow down and appreciate these moments, we’ll completely forget about them. Perhaps they’re not singularly significant, but they do add up to our lives. So I’ll try to own them—to keep them. Otherwise I might not be left with much.



Chris, the OG MUCCster (Midtown Utica Community Center) invited my mom and me to the Utica City FC game with kids from the community center and a few other volunteers. Bank of Utica paid for special box seats at the Aud (Utica Auditorium… recently rechristened The Adirondack Back Center—which will never be what I call it). I drove to Morrisville to pick up Aung and then we enjoyed free food and free juice while watching our team kick Rochester’s butts!

There were several things I enjoyed during this game. I loved that the teams walked onto the field to Outro by M83 (the theme song to the show Versailles). I loved the goal celebrations. I loved that at halftime when they let the local AYSO teams play, the Charlie Brown theme song filled the stadium. And I loved watching with Aung and the rest of the MUCCrew.



I ran an errand for a friend; Allie needed special hotdogs from Wegman’s in Syracuse. My GPS led the way and took me by this building. I have no idea what this building is used for, but I wish I had more than the length of the red light to consider its art.



My new Green Day album showed up. I was a little nervous to give it a listen. It’s hard to explain why… I guess their music has meant so much to me in the past that I didn’t want to be disappointed. Which doesn’t seem very fair to them. They really have nothing left to prove to anyone and if they want to experiment with new sounds, well, they’re one of the few bands I trust to do so with integrity. I think I was just scarred for life by My Chemical Romance’s final album. But I gave this one a listen and while it’s certainly not my favorite record ever, it’s good. And really—there’s no such thing as enough new Green Day music. So rock on, friends. Rock on.



Dazzlerito (copyright credit: Guidance Counselor extraordinaire, Lu Kapps) was back at it again! Ben was asked to run a Wellness Day session on organization and I was voluntold to assist. I’d like it noted that this is Ben’s room. Ben, organize your desk!



I did not take this picture. Brian did. And I so appreciate him for it because the love I have in my heart for these kitties is VERY REAL.



Someone’s super excited to see me! I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to include a picture of this lovely little lady. I’d like to introduce you all to Bailey (also known as Bailey Boo, Poopy, and Who’s-my-sweet-Bailey-Boo-Poopy). My parents belong to her, and here she is greeting me when I stopped over for soup.



All. Day. Long. Sam did NOT want me to be alone at all. He also did not relish how much attention I was giving my computer screen when clearly I should only care about petting him, but I can’t pretend I wasn’t grateful for his companionship.

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2020-2-Week Six

While there were some low moments this week that weathered me a bit, I think the highs won out this time… or for now at least. These lows will keep tugging at me in the coming days, but this week a sparkling snow blanketed the world and covered the cracks and the dirt and the other imperfections. And while I don’t relish being another year older, I am grateful for what this birthday week brought me.



I had to read this in one day because even though I love reading and love being in a book club, any time I’m “assigned” something, I put it off. I was able to devote an entire Saturday to reading, though, and that’s never a bad thing.



We have a book club through the gym. Often, we read nonfiction books that I feel get a bit laborious and would be better served as podcasts, but we tackled an adult novel this time — a book titled The Silent Patient. It was a quick read and kept me interested, but in the end I didn’t love it. I’m not a huge fan of an unreliable narrator and I didn’t find myself rooting for any of the characters.

That being said, I did love talking about it. I tried to speak last, to ensure others had a chance to share their thoughts, and I tried to be concise with my review so as not to monopolize the conversation once it was turned over to me, but I still found myself apologizing in case anyone found me too verbose or excitable or generally over-the-top. That can happen. I’m a bit extra sometimes — a bit too much. But my fellow readers made me feel not just better, but good when they told me earnestly that they appreciated my insights and enjoyed my perspective.



All was quiet on my street. After a good, but long day, full to the brim with school, an appointment, my writer’s group, and yoga, I felt gratitude for the calm.



I was home with sleeping cats and didn’t feel like being by alone with my thoughts. Nick and Ashley to the rescue! I met them at Minar for Indian food. It’s good to have good people in your life.



Downstairs you’ll find a lovely little Italian restaurant right on the canal. The food is amazing and the service is great. It has beautiful exposed brick, but also tacky Italian decorations that should distract but instead just make the place exactly what it is — which is my favorite place for a special dinner. My parents treated Brian, Amanda and me to my birthday dinner at Aqua Vino. I’m not sure if two years in a row makes it a tradition, but I’d be happy if it became one.



20th anniversary tour of RENT came to the Stanley. Holy freaking shit. It was amazing! I might go so far as to say it was the best production of the show I’ve ever seen, including my first encounter with it on Broadway back when I was in high school. Brian had to work, so Amanda accompanied Judith and me. It was the first time either of them had ever seen it, and I loved experiencing it both through my seasoned eyes and their fresh ones. It blew me away. I laughed, I cried, I rejoiced. I wanted them to start over again as soon as they finished.


Snow day!!!



I pass this cemetery entrance most days in the wee hours of the morning before I’m fully awake. It’s eery and majestic and something you can’t not look at. Today, instead of driving this road at 5:15 AM on my way to the gym, I drove it in the afternoon on my way to the grocery store. I got stuck at what I consider the “stoptional” light that always seems to be red for no reason, and instead of sneaking through it, I decided to use the moment to get a picture of the gate in all its snow-covered glory.

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2020-1-Week Five

This week I mostly took pictures as an afterthought. It was almost a chore. And even when I wanted to take pictures, I felt kind of silly — self conscious. I felt like people were judging me. That girl has no idea how to take real photographs. Or maybe: Ugh. Another girl obsessed with posting her every move on social media. Or maybe I’m projecting. Maybe to see the world more clearly I need to let go of the fear of how others see me.

At any rate, I ended up with quite a few cat pictures again, a few of which you’ll see below.



My cat loves his routines. Every night, when I go upstairs, he runs after me— as if he’s been waiting all day for the end of our day. Admittedly, I’ve sometimes been waiting, too. I have to fill his bowl with fresh water so he can drink while I brush my teeth and wash my face. When I climb under the covers, he joins me on the bed, deliberately and delicately placing one paw after the other on my stomach and then chest. He hunkers down in slipper formation with his little face inches from mine and purrs away as I scratch behind his ears. After I’ve nodded off and my hand rests on his back, he steps down and curls up beside me. My little companion.



I joined a writer’s group. This is the outside of the old Uptown Theater where we meet. The sanctioned graffiti is very Neil Postman-esque. I appreciate it. And I appreciate the writer’s group! I’m by far the youngest — a few of the participants are well into their sixties — but I like the group more for this. All of them intimidate me a bit with both their writing experience and their life experience. But they’re kind people and it’s a practice in vulnerability for me, I guess.



My cats are ridiculous. Here we see what the bulk of their “fights” entail… which is Sam staring down at Willow with a “don’t you dare touch me look” and Willow poising her paw in midair, ready to reach out and touch him.



“A Night at the Museum” was billed as an evening for adults to “come and play” at the Children’s Museum. It was a fundraiser for a nonprofit that runs programming for underprivileged youth. My friends Jessica and Allie asked me to attend with them, and I readily agreed. I hadn’t been to the Children’s Museum in years. It needs some love. This is from its dinosaur displays. Seems a little too accurate to be appropriate for all ages. And the next display featured a dinosaur with its leg ripped off.



As I stepped out of the car, Tyson called to me and promptly ran over to get some love. I got that happy feeling only an animal excited to see you can evoke. I pulled out my phone as quickly as I could to snap this pic (which makes him look three-legged… he’s not). I knelt down while he was rubbing against my legs and immediately noticed something was wrong. I picked him up to get a proper look.

Directly behind his ear, not visible in this pic, was a blood-crusted hole oozing slime and puss. Someone had gotten into a scuffle and his inattentive family hadn’t noticed, leaving the wound to get infected. Don’t worry, almost a week has past and he’s doing fine. I brought him to his home, knocked on their door and spoke with the father. He’s been seen outside less since then, which is good. He needs kitty recovery time inside during this winter weather. And the few times I have seen him, I can tell the wound is being treated and getting better.

I wish I could give him the home he deserves, though.



I came home and spent the bulk of my evening here. I drank coffee. I read. I wrote. I worked on my journal. I pet cats.

The post 2020-1-Week Five appeared first on Messays.

2020-1-Week Four

Week four was bookended with lovely conversations I will cherish. The week started with two of my favorite people — people I don’t often get to see — and has ended with a new friendship (Though I have no picture representing that). My photos don’t fully capture these moments because I was too busy living them to bother trying to play photographer (Though, truthfully, I probably need to step up my picture taking game a bit), but I’m okay with that this week.



My mom and I traveled to Buffalo to see Taranne’s new home and new baby… And to spend some time with her two other kiddos because babies are gross, but I want to know her children. We’ve been good friends since freshman year of college, making her my oldest closest friend now — of course I want to know the little crazies who popped out of her. Playing legos and dress up with them is okay. But snuggling with them is kind of awesome. And Sunday night, I was kept warm by her seven year old dog sleeping on my legs and her five year old boy cuddling against my arm.



Where to start… this is my Dumbledore, my Atticus Finch, my Rupert Giles. College professor, philosopher extraordinaire, and all-time favorite human. We can have conversations that last whole days, so I’m not sure it’s possible to sum up our relationship in a short paragraph, but I shall try… It’s not romantic, but it is intimate. At least for me. I’m sure the feeling isn’t fully reciprocated, but so it goes. I could share anything with him; his is the opinion I value above all others, and in the sixteen years I have known him, we’ve never run out of things to say. Often I think people like me in small doses — I geek out a lot about things like authors and podcasts and can be a little extra at times. He makes me feel like someone worth spending five hours with at a coffee shop (A coffee shop which, I must say, had a pretty kickass playlist and patrons with respectable Harry Potter inclinations).



So much of my time seems centered around my students and the work I do, that I’ve felt compelled to get at least a few images of our classroom activities. However, usually I’m too busy actually teaching to snap pics — and even when I can sneak one, I can’t really turn around and post it without permission. So I think this will be the last of the students for awhile. The camera will just have to help me focus on other things that bring me joy. And honestly, it’ll probably be healthier for me to look for gratitude and peace in other areas of my life. Because even though a huge part of my identity is being a teacher, I’m a whole person who isn’t any one thing.



Mommazzito helped me re-attempt the vegan recipe I failed at previously. Turned out much better this time.



This is outside the building with the yoga studio I frequent. I just think the building has character. And I love the lanterns by the entrance and the way the city lights make the night look like the sunset.



There was a time in my life when ninety percent of my social calendar consisted of checking out local shows. Brian, seen in the obfuscating red light, is an incredibly talented musician. And our relationship has exposed me to the many artists and bands this area will never appreciate enough.



Kitty cam. Sam was contemplating life whilst lying on my lap. I thought I’d try to see things from his perspective.

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