A is for this attempt to gather my story of the past 6 months or so (this past year?) in my version of an abecedarian list, prompted by writer Suleika Juaod at the Isolation Journals this weekend, so that I can finally post a blog update and jumpstart my blogging.
B is for my beautiful, wickedly funny, & kind ROW teammate, Brigid, who passed on Thursday. This is truly heartbreaking, but I consider myself so blessed that I knew her these past 7 years–and that I grabbed a number of really cool memories of her with my camera.
C is for celebrating 10 years with our super special boy, Bleu.
D is for declaring the 2021-2022 school year to be the absolute worst. It was a dumpster fire–a complete, total, exhausting mess. An unsupportive, demoralizing, and toxic school administration. Teaching a freshmen AP Human Geography class where students had the social maturity level of 6th graders rather than the higher achieving, college-striving mature students I expected. A personal life overcommitted and stretched too thin. At least 16 different doctors appointments or medical procedures to attend and/or make up after COVID lockdown protocols put many of my non-emergency appointments on hold. Living in a community where too many people are on high alert, ready to react at nuclear level if anything goes wrong. Living in a country that seemed/still seems to be falling apart at the seams.
E is for learning to embrace the changes of this new 2022-23 school year–and there have been quite a few–while…
F is for finding my way out of the quagmire of this past year. It is happening, slowly and unevenly, but it is happening. I’ve already advocated for a major schedule change for myself and won, so I will definitely see that as a win for me and progress!
G is for grateful to have spent time during the last two weeks of my summer vacation able to travel with Terry to the Upper Peninsula, visiting the Monastery, and to have joined my family for a weekend celebrating my mom’s 80th and niece’s 22nd birthdays. Loved that my parents and Barb were able to make a quick visit into Chicago in July and that I was able to make a quick visit into Michigan to just hang out with my parents this weekend–just because I can (and to help celebrate my dad’s birthday! :-)).
H is for taking a hiatus from ROW. Back in the day, I raced on sailboats. I crewed on sailboats on Lake Charlevoix and Lake St. Claire in Michigan; on Lake Michigan out of Chicago (even crewed on a boat for the 1998 Chicago to Mackinac Race); and out of Long Beach when I lived in Los Angeles. I loved it, but when it started to feel too much like work, I backed off and stopped racing. When I wrote Little Did We Know… and Heading Back Out on the Water about ROW in the Spring, I was in the midst of trying to make sense of how hard my dumpster fire (see above) life had seemed to have become, while coping with COVID and medical appointments and wrapping up the insane school year and before I knew it, I was taking a break from ROW. It just sort of happened.
I is for investigating the Chicago Public Library’s audiobook system and getting hooked into the Libby app. I’ve listened to at least a half dozen books in the last month–all with my handy dandy little iPhone!!!
J is for just driving in my 2013 Subaru Crosstrek to pick up a pizza, a week into our summer break, at dusk, and being t-boned by another car, driven by a woman ignoring a stop sign. My car was totaled, but I was ok for the most part, aside from bruising and a hairline fracture of a rib that was painful for a couple of weeks. The drama, however. What a crash course in the craziness that exists in regards to Chicago’s (often illegal) towing companies!
K is for kilt and celebrating how one of my favorite senior students is feeling comfortable enough in his own skin that he wore a kilt (not the norm) to school last week.
L is for loving my new car! In the 20 years I have known my husband, we have bought a total of 4 vehicles–2 of those 4 were purchased this summer. I bought my new (used) car a week after my car was totaled and less than 3 weeks later, Terry, 15 years to the date of buying his FJ Cruiser, the day before his July birthday, sold the FJ and bought a new (used) truck. For the first time in over a decade, we both have a vehicle with less than 100,000 miles on its speedometer (and solid warranties to ensure that both vehicles will be in working order for awhile). The independence this affords us is huge!!!!!!
M is for mourning the loss of the Cottage 6 years ago. This year has been one where I have desperately wanted to run away to the Cottage by myself, so that I could just ‘be’ for a time…without responsibilities, angry noise or those pesky expectations that I have found so unreasonable.
N is for needy. I have never experienced so many needy humans in my world–both inside and outside the classroom–as I did returning full time to the classroom for the 2021-22 school year, needs that I was often hard pressed to be able to fulfill.
O is for okay. As in, I’m feeling ok today. 3 weeks into the 2022-23 school year and I feel ok about where I’m at for now.
P is for the panic attack I had on the way home after my last day of summer school at the end of July. Not sure if it was fear that I had COVID again, thanks to one of my students being sick, and that I wouldn’t be able to run away to visit the Monastery or simply the fact that I still hadn’t had any real time to decompress from that dumpster fire of a school year or my car accident, but I ended up having Terry take me to urgent care rather than going to see a Chicago Sky game. The short story: the blood pressure came down, the tests showed that I was physically ok, and I safely traveled to the the UP.
Q is for quest. My panic attack was a wake up call. It made me realize that I was not in a good place. People who are in good places and are using their coping tools effectively, generally don’t have panic attacks where their blood pressure jumps to concerning levels. So, I’m on a quest to get healthier. Not sure yet how that will exactly look, but I am very consciously doing some things to get to a better place. Thank you, Abigail at No Half Measures for the book review of The Choice, by the way. I already have my copy and am thinking about using it in my classes. For me, writing this blog piece is part of my process, but so is looking for a new therapist, like my fairy godmother, Rebecca, who has retired since I lucked out when she was recommended to me 10 years ago, while we were in NOLA.
R is for remembering that I live less than a mile and a half from Lake Michigan (a beautiful Great Lake where people go on vacation!) and making sure to enjoy it! Prior to 2020 and access to the parks along Chicago’s Lake Shore being halted because of COVID, I made a point of stopping regularly at the Lake, sometimes just to sit for a few minutes, whenever I had the chance. COVID kind of halted that practice. I went here and there for walks when things opened back up in 2021, but then I stopped going regularly this spring. That has changed now that I have my own car again!!!! I am going at least once a week for a walk with Bleu and absolutely loving it!!! Part of my quest!
S is for stroke seat. With my ROW hiatus, I missed both the spring and summer water sessions. I didn’t realize just how much I needed the break–or how much fun I would have returning on August 18 for the fall water session! I’ve had so much fun being back in the boat with my team and reconnecting with my teammates! And I have also gotten a kick out of being thrown right away into stroke seat (the seat everyone follows) 3 of the 4 times I’ve been out, rather than starting in the engine room (middle of the boat).
T is for the trauma that this past year created in my world. As I’ve mentioned before, I was ok during much of 2020 through summer school of 2021. By teaching virtually and then hybrid, I felt a certain sense of protection from COVID exposure and simply liked the experience of teaching virtually, from home. I felt more control, frankly, in managing the pandemic by teaching from home. The additional ‘me’ time and being able to attend cool programming related to my teaching and non-teaching interests was the icing on my cake. Last year, however, was traumatic because that sense of control was completely wiped away and I am still struggling to put it into context.
U is for ugly cries. I’ve sure had a few of those the past 6 months.
V is for archivists at the National Archives. Proud that my Masters in Public History allowed me the opportunity to do an internship with the National Archives at Chicago.
W is for wine. Simply put, I’ve been drinking too much of it as a coping mechanism and I am very consciously backing off on my intake.
X is for anxiety. As in, I hope that this post isn’t making you anxious! Instead, if you, too, have been feeling an increased anxiety level, I want you to know that you aren’t alone and that I get it!
Y is for yes, this post is almost done!
Z is for wrapping up this zig-zagging post with a thank you for reading!
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Sorry it took so long to find this post. Very enlightening and there were many things we did not know about. It’s good for your parents to get inside your head once in a while! Glad things are improving! We are always proud of you! Also glad you are getting some new coping skills!