There Are No Good or Simple Answers in 2020

I wanted to write about COVID, because I haven't in a while. I haven't written anything in a while, actually. No here, not in my bullet journal- which for months was basically just a regular Dear Diary journal, because I had shit to keep up with.

But it's been over 4 months...a quarter of a year...and it's still a thing.

Personally, I am...okay. I am afloat, and okay. Not great, not as terrible as I was two weeks or a month ago. Maybe better than I will be in another two weeks or a month.

I am trying to take the long view, which I had a feeling would be needed in March and still is and will continue to be...for COVID and for systemic racism and for sexism and for all the ways things are shit, because it is better than it's been and every mile gets you there in a marathon, even if some are shamefully slow. I'm hopeful and cautious...tired and sometimes crying. Also going through the list of things that get me out of a funk, making myself take steps because even if it feels like treading water, that keeps me from drowning.

Like a shit ton of other people, I'm blaring Folklore by T. Swift. Used to think she was overrated, and now I'm pretty much committed to buying anything she puts out.

Side note- also checking out

Watching Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, because Emmanuel Ocho is facilitating some amazing conversations. Subsequently realizing that literally every argument about the Black Lives Matter social justice issue has already been answered by Black people, and white people are just too damn stuck in their bubble to bother listening (including myself for the majority of my life).

I think what is so ridiculously fucking frustrating about 2020 is that...there are no good or simple answers.

And some people just refuse to face that truth.

There's no clear answers to COVID- yes, the news changes every day because we don't know shit about this virus.

That means there's no clear answers to how to interact with each other- nicer to stay in contact and refuse to let something invisible divide us? Or nicer to play it as safe as possible and not risk the health of those you love? Who gets to decide what amount of risk is acceptable...the sick grandparents or the healthy young adult who will survive physically, but know they potentially played Russian Roulette with a loved one...which is the most cruel, or the most loving? There is no good answer.

Of course kids should be in school, we have a system for a reason. But a wrench was thrown in the system, and it's not a simple as just pulling it out. Do we pivot, or do we bulldoze? Both come with consequences...there is no good answer.

Of course our country was built on racism...no one can deny that. How the hell you untangle those cords? Buy from black business owners (how do I find a "welcome garden flag" from a "black owned business" because Google has been confused...and how long do I have to try before I'm not racist for giving up and going to Amazon, even though yeah Bezos has too much money and by all accounts is a D-bag?)...read books by Black authors (every other book? How guilty should I feel reading a white author? Follow Black bookstagramers- what if they only post pics of books?!)...I deactivated my Facebook- am I socially required to join again so I can post about systematic racism and reach people I purposefully don't have on Insta? Or is it pointless because the only people bothering to watch those videos anyway are doing it due to confirmation bias and everyone else is just going to ignore in-person conversations because they assume I'm a left-wing liberal SJW idiot? Vote, even if we only get to do that a few times a year and the whole system is corrupt? All of the above, but also be sure to not burnout and be even less helpful to BIPOC? And yes this is some white fragility shit, but also...some people (white & Black) say there are steps and this is my step one.There are no...well, I don't want to say there are no good answers here, because some are obviously better than others even though none are perfect. There are no simple answers.

Essentially, I am Chidi all 2020.

Mostly, this one.

via GIPHY

But also this one.

via GIPHY


There are no good simple answers.

So let's do the best we can. Let's survive.

Let's work our lists, and take steps forward...or tread water...or run a marathon towards the few fundamental truths. Let's do one and then the other and mix up the order.

There are no good answers.

When I was dealing with some family drama recently, my husband said literally the only thing that could have made any sense. He said, "Do what you can live with."

Take in a all the information, but don't get overloaded with it. Make the best decision based on the information you have at any given moment.

That's what I'm trying to do, anyway.

There are no simple answers.

That means we are going to make some bad decisions, or at the very least...make some decisions that have bad consequences (again, one thing COVID has clearly demonstrated- no man is an island).

I know, that's part of the human condition. But I grew up with the idea that there is always a very clear right and wrong, and everyone who didn't clearly see it was a piece of shit.

That's wrong. It's taken me over thirty years to know that intellectually...and I still haven't internalized it fully.

But if there is anything 2020 has taught me, it's that I just gotta get on board with the idea that I'm going to fuck up. Probably a lot.

Doing nothing pisses people off. Doing the wrong thing pisses people off.

There are no good or simple answers.

Do what you can live with.

July 2020 Check-In

Hello again, world. My blogging is super inconsistent right now, and it just is what it is.

I'm doing okay. My family drama is still going on, but it's slowed down slightly. Of course, when it comes to health problems for the elderly...that can change at any moment. Do I feel like the rug is thisclose to being pulled out from under me at all times? Yes. Has it been still long enough that I'm almost lulled into a sense of security? Yes. It's a weird way to live life.

NC is still in Phase 2 re: COVID. This was originally projected for maybe the 3rd week in June, and will now extend until August. I'm not mad, I'm resigned. TBH, the worst part of this is me trying to figure out how in the world the holidays will work in the middle of a pandemic. Because I'm not counting on change until we get a vaccine, and even then...probably another two months. If it's easily available and affordable...which I'm not sure it will be in the US. That being said, I'm grateful for NC's mandatory mask order. I've been mostly doing it anyway, but this is getting some attention and I'm grateful. I hope that everyone worried about the economy realizes that this is the easiest and best way to get back out there. Did I order at pack of Old Navy masks specifically to get one in my school colors so I could color coordinate when I finally get the directive to go back to work? Damn straight I did. Mask fashion is totally a thing now, and I'm down.

Re: systematic racism...I'm trying to educate myself. I've made it a priority to read books by Black authors, and have been on a reading streak TBH. Making it a priority again. Following more Black people who are willing to educate and share resources via Instagram, and I'm so thankful for them. TBH, that's about it right now because I'm still semi-quarantining. Have had a few conversations with family members, small potatoes though. Call your local politicians and let them know this shit has gone on for two long. Listen to those who are experiencing it. Find a long-term way to be an ally. Or at least...that's what I'm doing. Hope it amounts to something.

Oh, and I'm following via Insta because I deactivated Facebook. Semi miss it for the local COVID updates from my governor, and my workout group. But, overall, it was the right decision. It's easier to love people when I don't have to see everything they see and agree without actually thinking about it. Fully believe there is a reason God didn't make us able to read each other's minds.

My aunt offered us a desk and bed for Babycakes from my cousin, who is getting an upgrade now that she's out of high school. Said yes before I realized the problems getting it to our house from my parent's house, three hours away...since we don't own a truck. Hubs said I should have turned it down, but I didn't even consider the issues until it was already moved. FML.

Speaking of vehicles- apparently we may have to shop for a new one about a year earlier than we hoped. My hubs thought his breaks were off, but it turned out to be something else...and they've stopped making the parts for his vehicle. The mechanic is literally trying to call salvage shops for a part. Apparently most people don't keep cars for 10-15 years...but we do. We had plans to be debt free within 1-1.5 years, and that will be pushed off if we have to purchase a new vehicle. It's completely doable, just not preferable.

I may have had a margarita for lunch. I don't binge by any means, but sometimes a good stiff drink really does help. I have few vices in this world, mkay?

Show Us Your Books Link-Up: July 2020




Hello! How is everyone? Personally...I'm still riding the 2020 roller coaster. It's a mess. I have hope it is a rough season that will end, and the good times will come again...but definitely a roller coaster right now. 

Possibly to deal with that, I'm getting back in a reading groove. At one point my Goodreads yearly challenge was showing a deficit of 6 books, now it's down to 2. Which is definitely manageable. 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

This book...I love it. The Mothers is one of my all time favorite books, and I was almost scared to read this one because sometimes a sophmore attempt just doesn't quite spark as much as a debut. But this was amazing. It discusses confusing and difficult topics, but in such a beautiful and relatable way...it goes down smooth. Reading it was like eating cheesecake- slow and smooth and delicious. 
★★★★★

A Wedding Thing (The One #3) by Shea Serrano, Larami Serrano

Full disclosure- I got this confused with another book (The Wedding Date). I figured out pretty quickly that it was a different story altogether, and enjoyed it...and then it was over! I didn't realize that it was part of a series, The One. But I'm definitely going to finish, because I enjoyed this so much and really love the idea of small, true love stories. 
★★★★

The Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane 

I feel like I remember seeing this a lot a while back...it's fairly popular on Kindle Unlimited. Either way, it was a cute enough little love story. I wouldn't say it's a must read at all, but (to quote Steph) it passed the time just fine. 
★★★


The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

This was one of the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards- History & Biography. It was...good. The writing wasn't exactly the most engaging, and it could have been shorter IMO. That being said, I enjoyed the reality of looking deeper into the lives of people who were, essentially, written off as "one thing" in the media (in this case, prostitutes). Hearing of the riots and sensationalist news and poverty and health issues...it made me both incredibly tired and also somewhat hopeful. As I said in a previous post: Disease- protests- poverty- family drama- looting...it is both hopeful and depressing to realize all these years later, for all our progress, we still have the same issues. To different degrees, and in different places, but humanity struggles on. The absurdity of the human condition.
★★★




What have you been reading lately? Link-up and let us know!
Life According to Steph

Things That Are Helping

Hello, world. 

It's been a rough few months, we all know that. Literally everyone I know is struggling. Anxiety, depression, general blah-ness...we're all under a bit of a cloud. And fucking rightly so- I don't say this as a diss on anyone. 

I've heard it said and it's worth repeating- we are living history. 2020 is literally going to be one for the fucking history books, and that takes a toll on people.

I recently read The Five, which TBH wasn't my favorite book but I can't stop thinking about it so it was a very timely read. It talked about the different victims of Jack the Ripper, but what really struck out to me was the culture of the time. There was a lot of discussion about class and poverty and alcoholism and morality policing...basically, it was just a big reminder that humanity always has struggles and frustrations and suffering is a part of the human experience. That doesn't make me feel better in myself, but just looking at all the shit humans as a whole have endured makes me feel like...there is hope. Even when I don't feel it, even when it feels like the shittiest Groundhog Day ever...humanity survives. We survive more shit than feels possible. 

Anyway. This is sounding more negative that I really meant to get. Weirdly, that last paragraph inspires me.

The human spirit is indomitable. And that pushes me to go through the motions. 

My husband has been on a...weight loss journey, I guess, is probably the most well-known term. But that doesn't really feel like it describes it. Life-change would be better, but ugh- doesn't that sound pretensious AF? Anyway. He's lost like 50 lbs in the past year. And his mantra has been "Discipline over motivation." Because he realized early on that while he had days that he was feeling good and really inspired, there were also days when he didn't want to put in the work. And it has been work. But, a year later, he's blown past his original goals and inspired lots of people. Not because he's been constantly motivated, but because he's consistently put in the work. 

The last few months have been a roller coaster, and my carefully balanced routine was pulled out from me. I've floundered a little and my mental health has suffered. 

Something I heard Dax Shepherd say a long time ago on his podcast, and something that I have seen in practice both in my lives and the lives around me, is the idea of a list of things to keep oneself on the right track. For Dax, it's in terms of addiction- he's been open about his participation in AA and sobriety, and he says when he is having a tough time or not feeling right that he has a list of actions he checks. Has he worked out, called a friend, etc. in the last X days. 

I haven't been working my list. 

But I'm coming back.

Things I'm doing that are helping:

Made myself a morning routine list. It's been real tough to adjust to working at home- first with Babycakes, now with her at back to daycare, then a co-worker had a family emergency so I took over some of her responsibilities...it's been a roller coaster. And more days than I care to admit, I've been in my PJs at noon and never "got around" to brushing my teeth until after lunch. I KNOW- it's gross. But the past two days I made myself a list, with time-blocks, and it's helped me feel somewhat more like a normal person. 

Reaching out to friends. I don't love doing this, it's hard over the phone, but again- everyone is struggling right now. Miscarriages, deaths in the family, general parenting woes...a lot of life is on pause, but a lot of shit keeps on coming. It hurts to see people hurt, but it also breaks down some walls of "I'm fine." Be real with your people. Whoever they are, family or friends or whoever. And be sure you are giving them space to be real with you.

Deactivated Facebook. I'm not going to say nothing good comes from social media- it does. But the bad was overwhelming the good for me. I personally find it easier to love people when I don't have access to every thought that enters into their head. Especially because you can "share" something with literally not even 2 seconds worth of thought. I don't think Facebook profiles always represent a whole, thoughtful picture of a person...but I also don't think they encourage thoughts. It's complicated, and it wasn't helping me.

Acknowledging what I can control and what I can't. This is hard...I have control issues, and guilt issues, and together those make it hard to chill the fuck out. We joke that my husband is the all-or-nothing personality, but lately I haven't been good at respecting "good enough." There is a huge social justice push right now to stop complicit silence, and demand...what feels like perfection. I get that. It's fair. But I've internalized it to a place that is not useful. I can't be 100% of everything all the time. So I'm working on realistically working on what I can do. There is a parable (story) in the Bible where Jesus talks about a farmer sowing seeds. Some seed never takes root; some takes root and grows but is choked up by weeds; some grows and is able to be harvested. All I can do is live by my morals and stick to my convictions. I cannot hand plant every single seed of everything in the garden of every person. And what I do probably won't be enough in some people's eyes, and it will be too much in other's. 

Be realistic about what I put myself through. After a lot of emotional turmoil, I recently went back on my anxiety medication. I had weaned off earlier this year and had not planned on returning so quickly. However...2020. It's been a motherfuck. And I was crying and talking to Hubs about how I wasn't sure if I should take it or not...and he made some great points, and said a lot of things I have said to him in the past. When I acknowledged through my tears that he was right- and he definitely was being fair and supportive and logical in a way that I couldn't be- he asked if it was frustrating for me to hear. He said when he was in his dark times, it was frustrating to hear me be logical. I wasn't frustrated. I was sad. I was sad that I had to be told what I already knew, sad that I was putting myself and my family through this...just sad because life is fucking sad. And right now, my life is hard and people I love are hurting and...life is sad. I've also made my first ever appointment for therapy. I've been considering it for a while because...while the medication has been an amazing thing that I'm so grateful for, I also want to do the mental work. I think realizing our mental patterns and coming up with defenses against those are very worthwhile and beneficial goals. 

Watching Say I Do. I used to cry all the time when I was younger. Around my mid-20s, I stopped. And I truly believe that somehow that repression is tied to my anxiety- because even while my husband in Iraq, in a literal war zone- I did not feel like I have felt during my anxiety periods. I think part of it deals with giving myself permission and time to feel my feelings. So, I watch cheesy shows to help me cry it out. Also, I fucking love seeing all these men being loving and respectful and in awe of their female partners (so far, it's been all straight couples). It's literally an anecdote to all the negativity currently abounding in the world. 


What has been getting you through lately?