Last Dance

It’s President Trump’s final full day in office. While he is publicly silent due to a social media ban, I imagine he’s busy behind the scenes pardoning people and tweaking laws before he goes. He is said to be heading to Mar-a-lago, his club in southern Florida, but my understanding is that there is a no residency law in Palm Beach that his neighbors generated years ago. If I were him, I’d flee the US and never look back!

I’m also embarking on my last dance in my condo. I’m busy getting it ready to be staged to sell. My realtor is posting a “coming soon” to local realtors today, and it will be live on February 1st. By then, I will be settled in at my friend Heather’s condo in Waterville Valley, NH, where she has graciously offered for me to stay with Nermal while my condo is shown and hopefully sold. I’m looking at it as a staycation while working. I think a change of scenery will help. I’m also contemplating booking a long weekend down south – somewhere sunny and warm – because my depression is flaring up right now due to the cold and dark. It’s like clockwork. I go through this every year. Last night was the worst. I cried for about an hour – sobbing – and then my face was so dry and my eyes hurt. I took a hot shower and felt better. I woke up this morning to see Nermal by my side, and it helps.

I’ll continue to remind my friends and family who read this. I’m in the midst of some of the biggest life stress right now – good things, but regardless, stressful – and I ask you to be gentle with me. My time isn’t my own right now – when I am not asleep, I am working or packing or cleaning or planning. I haven’t had a lot of down time and as a result, I’m drained. Be kind.

January Blues

Like clockwork, come January, my depression & anxiety are always escalated. This year I’m trying to tackle it with vitamin D and a “happy” light plus snuggles with Nermal when she allows it. Oh yeah, and snuggles with Ted too 🙂

Throw in a pandemic, planning a wedding, selling a condo, and still getting sea legs at my job….and it’s chaos in my brain. Oh, and did you hear the one when the Neo-Nazis stormed the Capital and our President basically egged them on.

It’s enough to make us all have the January Blues!

This is the time to focus on self care. I just got a new iPad, so it’s been fun setting that up. I’m working hard to get my condo ready for staging & photos, so it’s nice to declutter. I’m trying to be gentle on myself with my job, too.

As they say, this too shall pass.

Happy 2021!

Happy new year! I think it is pretty safe to say that most of us are happy that 2020 is now behind us. As I’ve said before, 2020 wasn’t so bad for me as I got engaged! And, my mom finished her latest round of chemo, and seems to be doing fairly well managing this chronic illness that she unfortunately contracted.

I’m officially on my “sell my condo” mission, concurrently working with a stager, Painter, realtor, and fiancé! I am looking forward to the next chapter, which is living with Ted and the kids. I went over there today to see them, and I just enjoy my time with the three of them. We didn’t do anything special, just had dinner and I watched them play video games.

On my way home, I stopped at Whole Foods to pick up some fun food items to cook tomorrow for an early celebration for Ted’s birthday, which is on Monday. On Monday, the four of us will have dinner together. And this is my family. No one said you had to give birth to kids to feel like they are part of you. The love I feel for them and Ted is very deep.

I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful weekend and happy new year!

Emotional Support

It’s been a whirlwind week and it’s only Monday. I pulled the trigger today on selling my townhouse so my realtor & I are in full force “operation sell condo.” It’s a good time for sellers so we’re moving ahead. We hope to stage my place at the end of Jan and sell it mid-Feb! #wishfulthinking

I’ll need to vacate for a few weeks with Nermal and then we’ll go from there. So big changes afoot.

It’s not easy having the cat as I navigate this journey but we are each other’s emotional support. As Ted has said to me, her whole life is within the three floors of my condo. I’m about to change a lot of that, and it’s going to be very disruptive to her. At the same time, it is going to be very disruptive to me. And I need her by my side through this process. I truly understand the meaning of having an emotional support animal. I have been very open about my depression and anxiety on this blog, and I truly believe that she is an additional RX to me. Just like I need my medication and my talk therapy, I also need my emotional support animal by my side. I am also her caretaker and I take that role very seriously.

I don’t really think I understood the role of caring for an animal until I took on taking care of Nermal. Sure, friends and family mock me for my “Obsession“ of my cat, but I know the truth. She is my companion. She depends on me, and I’ve never had anyone or anything depend on me before. When I get home, she greets me at the door. She nuzzles and cuddles with me in the morning. You have to remember that for the last 25 or so years, I have been living completely alone. Suddenly, I am taking care of another living being. Remember, I am not a parent, so I’ve been just keeping myself alive all these years.

It’s a bit frustrating when people in my life don’t understand the relationship I have with the cat. It’s namely the friends and family who don’t suffer from mental illness who have the most difficult time understanding the connection that I have with her. A cat is an uncomplicated being, and it has just a few requirements in life, which include being fed, having a clean litter box, and being loved. They don’t really ask for much, but if they’re missing one of those three things, they are lost. I can provide those things for her and it creates a meaningful relationship for me.

Clearly, I am engaged to a wonderful man and will be the stepmother to two rambunctious, amazing step kids. The relationship I have with them is completely different as we are humans. While we all depend on each other for love and support, for the most part we can take care of ourselves. Nermal, on the other hand, completely depends on me.

Skeptic? I would appreciate you read this article to help you understand.

PS about five minutes after I wrote this, she hopped up on my lap and is kneading me now!

Basking in the Glow

I haven’t felt this happy in a long time. There’s just something about someone proclaiming their love for you by giving you a sparkling ring. It’s a symbol, perhaps, but it just makes me giddy.

In case anyone is interested, I’m working on a wedding website at:

theknot.com/joannatedtietheknot

Eventually it’ll have our registry and wedding details. We went to Bloomingdale’s to register and holy shit, it was ridiculous! We noticed $250 for one fitted sheet! So, we removed many of those items & will be actually registering at Macy’s after the holidays. No interest in visiting a mall now! I know lots of people have been asking my mom about it so check back on the link above in Jan/Feb.

In the meanwhile, we’ll enjoy our birthdays (mine, Dec 19. Ted, Jan 4), Christmas, & ushering in 2021 – the year we get married!

I’m a little sad because I decided not to go visit my parents. I was talking to one of the physicians today from my job, and he basically told me to stay the heck away from my parents until we’ve all been vaccinated. I need to listen to him. They’re both vulnerable, and I would never forgive myself if they got sick because of my visit. So, alas, we continue our zoom relationships.

Ciao for now!

We’re engaged!

It’s official! Ted asked me to marry him during my family zoom on Saturday evening – so 2020, right? We were at his parent’s home on the Cape and the kids were with us, so we were surrounded virtually and in person by our immediate family. Thanks, Ted, for asking!

It’s been incredibly moving to see how many people have wished us well on social media. I think there was a collective sigh of joy for some good news versus more Covid stuff. Speaking of, I found out today I should be getting my vaccination sometime between April – June via my job as I work for a medical center. Feels like good timing as we hope to have a bridal shower in late spring/early summer in NJ.

And my 46th birthday is Saturday! So it’s a week of celebrations. (Isn’t he cute?) 👇🏻

Thank you

Thank you for the outreach from my post yesterday. I heard from many friends and I truly appreciate it! I think when you have a “people pleaser” personality you worry about how you can please everyone. The truth is, no matter what, you just can’t please everyone. So just know I’ll be doing my best! 🥰

My 3 life lessons

There are 3 life lessons I try to always live by:

1. The Golden Rule

2. Always be honest

3. Invite everyone to the party*

* It’s this 3rd one I’m struggling with right now. If Ted and I had our wedding tomorrow, we’d probably be able to have 10 masked attendees sitting 6 feet apart. If it was in a few weeks, it may be just us, a camera, and everyone else watching via zoom. But, if everyone gets a Covid vaccination by the summer, as the experts anticipate, we may be able to expand our list to 75, which includes immediate family and a handful of close friends. Every time we consider another “layer” it increases 10-20 people.

To be honest, I have zero interest in a big wedding with a poofy dress + all that stress. We hired an event planner to eliminate my stress. I’m taking Ativan tonight just thinking about it.

So, if you’re reading this, please know that it’s going to be a small affair. That doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate together over dinner or at a wedding shower or via zoom now. It just means that Ted and I want a small event that costs our guests minimal money (travel, gifts, new clothes) and maximum enjoyment. And dare I say, it’s our day & we don’t want a ton of fanfare. We just want to celebrate our love with some good food & our closest loved ones. Nothing more.

We went over to Bloomingdale’s on Sat to register and honestly, it was upsetting to me how expensive everything was. Why should we have the chutzpah to ask people to spend $1,000 on a set of knives? We left a few items on, but honestly, at our age, we know we’ll likely not need “fine China” or champagne flutes. We need new sheets when we move, and we can always get them ourselves! We’re creating our own registry on The Knot with quirky and interesting items that we like. If people feel like purchasing them for us, awesome. If not, we’re ok with that too!

My point is: I don’t want anyone to be hurt or upset if we can’t include them on our wedding day. We will have a lifetime to celebrate with you! By then, we’ll have a new house so come over for a Ted-cooked dinner. If you’re not local, let’s meet up for a weekend after Covid. Consider 2021 our wedding year and then we’ll have plenty of time to toast with everyone! Deal? 🥂🥰

PS thanks!

A quiet vent

Last August, I went to a local appliance store to purchase new appliances for my condo, thinking that it was a good investment if I either sold or rented out my place. I picked MA tax free weekend – August 30th. My salesperson told me it would be about a month, that mostly fridges were delayed, and they could go ahead and install the microwave in the meanwhile. I paid for everything, including installation and delivery.

And I heard nothing. As the end of September creeped up, I reached out to the store via phone and heard nothing. I texted them, as instructed, and was told, “Nope, not in.” I texted again and heard nothing. I called a few more times. Nothing. I asked for an alternative set of options, and they sent me a list of items that would cost an extra $550. I asked them if they could get me all of the same brand (the re-do wasn’t). No response. I texted and said that if they didn’t respond, I may have to report them to the BBB. I got a nasty response and then told them to cancel my order.

I reached out to my former (and future realtor) and she said I really should get the appliances, and to keep the order. She called the owner of the store and he said he’d reach out to me. He found a new set of options for an extra $300, so I said ok. We scheduled the delivery. I asked them if they could help me get the microwave installed, several times. It is still sitting in the box on my floor. The fridge was too tall. I sent them measurements. They sent over another one, stating I said it was 68 inches (my email said 63), and it was too tall. Each time, they charge me for “unboxing.”

After my original costs, I’m out another $600.

I currently have 1/2 white old appliances and 1/2 new appliances.

I am not mentioning the store nor any names but I can tell you that I would never work with them again…ever…ever…ever. I told Ted I am so scarred that I never want to purchase appliances again. I am out so much money and it has been so stressful. The salespeople and owner have been ok but I am sure they call me all sorts of names privately. I just want to get my fridge and never have to walk in that store again.

Yes, I understand there is a shortage of appliances and the like, but I think this may be the worst customer service experience I have ever had. It has given me unnecessary additional stress and I want to scream really loudly! So, this is my form of screaming.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Phew. Thanks!

P.S. I have also spoiled a ton of food moving it in and out of the old/new/old fridges. Argh!!

Dancing

It was a wonderful weekend with Ted. On Friday night, he cooked us dinner and afterwards, we danced to different songs that we’re considering for our wedding song. I think we picked a winner.

I played a song for him that I used to sing with my dad at the piano as a kid. Mom would be getting ready to go out, putting on her makeup, and we’d sit on the piano bench, playing & singing while we waited for the babysitter. I started dancing with Ted to this song and started weeping. It was an ugly cry, likely a culmination of the stress and joy I’ve been feeling, as my mom finishes chemo, we plan a fall 2021 wedding, and I think of my sweet dad taking it all in.

We danced for about an hour – maybe longer – and we laughed as we snuck in a few other songs, like disco & of course, Erasure. I tried to convince him that the acoustic version of Always would make the “perfect wedding song” but we both knew it wouldn’t. “This is so 80s,” he said.

We awoke on Saturday and headed to downtown Boston where we met with our jeweler, who is designing our ruby ring, in remembrance of mom’s side of the family. The surrounding diamonds come from a ring that mom gave us – our own heirloom. When the ring is done, Ted will pick it up & formally propose. I think it’ll all feel real then.

I cooked Saturday night after a long nap, and then on Sunday, we cleaned out my fridge in prep for my new appliances coming this week. With a fresh coat of paint, my condo will soon be ready to sell, and off we’ll be on our next adventure: cohabitation when we find the right home.

Everyone keeps commenting on how shitty 2020 has been, but if you ask me, it’s been pretty remarkable on a personal level. Mom is healing, I have a great job, and if the timing works, I’ll be soon engaged to the love of my life at the age of 45. I’m not trying to be flippant and say that it’s been a great year on a global scale, but my point is that it has been good for me. And let’s not forget that I’m going to be a stepmom to two remarkable boys.

Here’s to more dancing. 💃🏻

When to ask for help

There are lots of wonderful changes happening in my life. Ted and I are working with a jewelry designer on a ring, we’re looking at purchasing a house together, and in short, we are merging our individual lives into a family. As my dad would say, it really is a beautiful thing. I have a great, meaningful job. Mom’s health is in check. Overall, things are good.

But there is this underneath malaise. My muscles are tied in knots, I am eating more sugar than I have in years, I wake up at 2am and 4 am every night, and apparently, I have cracked several teeth during the night from teeth grinding, causing potential future issues. So, why am I reacting this way to all that happiness? Well, there’s Covid. And the election. And while I am thrilled at my new life, it means saying goodbye to much of my current life, including my home and solace. I’ve been living alone my entire adult life. In 2019, I added plants that remained alive, and then I added Nermal the cat into the mix. Phew, all still alive! Now I’m adding in husband and stepsons, plus new home, new routines, new commute, a lot of newness all at once. It feels exciting and scary all at once.

It’s natural to feel this way, and trust me, I have zero interest in changing anything (except maybe the whole Covid thing, the mom illness thing, and the Trump thing) but in terms of my own life, I like the direction it is headed. But it is a lot to process and I’m seeing some reverting to bad old habits, like overeating and overspending. I want to nip those things quickly. So I reached out to my longtime therapist today and asked if we can meeting weekly for a while. I am aware enough to catch things before they escalate. Her compassion and encouragement to take care of myself really helps. There’s no judgement, but rather, she points out patterns, trends, and is quick to remind me to be kind to myself. I need that right now.

So I’m writing this to get out my thoughts but also knowing that my many subscribers will also be reading this. It’s ok to ask for help.

2 more weeks

Election Day is coming up in about 2 weeks.

I don’t say too much on my public social media, but here, I can be free to speak my mind without the repercussions of backlash.

I am secretly praying in my head that Trump loses the election. He is very worrisome to me. I truly believe he is a crook, bigot, and chauvinist. I have deep rooted fears that he has been secretly tricking our government by not appropriately paying taxes like the rest of us (or some of us, at least). I think behind closed doors he says racial slurs and comments about women. I know he also says them in public! Do I think he believes them? Some. I see footage from his campaign rallies and I believe he is telling lies, such as that he believes Covid-19 isn’t that bad (I think he believes it is THAT bad but doesn’t want his followers to think that). I bet he even talks smack about his followers behind closed doors. A friend of mine posted on FB this morning that he believes the Trump family is secretly funneling money to places where they can’t be prosecuted by the US. It is a conspiracy theory that I buy into, despite trying so hard to be very disciplined in only basing my comments in fact.

But, if I can watch Dateline or 48 Hours, and see that one man is able to convince 8 women to marry him and steal all of their money, then anything is possible.

I have another friend who recently said she’s a Trump supporter. There’s something I admire about my friends who can do that. I want her to vote for the person she supports. It’s the people who secretly will vote for Trump that bother me more. If you’re going to support him, speak your mind and tell me why. If you make it seem like you’re undecided but you know you’ll vote for Trump, for some reason, that bothers me. It’s not right – I know – because no one has share their vote. It’s a right to privacy. But I want to know why people are voting for Trump (or for Biden).

Why did I vote for Biden?

  • He has a long track record in politics. I like that he is experienced.
  • He recruited a very capable VP candidate who I believe is smart, fair, and wants the best for the country.
  • While he was VP, he had a bit of a reputation of being loud and passionate. I like that. But I’ve also seen that he can be thoughtful and mind mannered, which I also like.
  • He is not as liberal as Bernie Sanders. He believes in capitalism over socialism. So do I.
  • (although…) He doesn’t want to get rid of ACA, which I DO believe in. Why? Because I’ve utilized it when I needed insurance. I’ve gotten free healthcare as a result.
  • He is committed to getting us back on track as a good neighbor and partner with our ally countries. He is not a nationalist, but he does believe that immigration reform is important. I agree; I am all for welcoming everyone to our country as long as they do so legally or apply for protection as a refugee. Just because I am a 4th generation American doesn’t mean my family didn’t begin as immigrants in this country. Who am I to keep people out who want to be here?
  • He’s lived through some serious hardships, like losing his first wife and a child, and then losing another child to illness. He also has a son with substance abuse issues. He has overcome a disability of his own. This likely makes his more sympathetic to the plight of others. He is also not afraid to show how far he has come through hard work and perseverance.
  • For some reason, I trust him. I don’t think he’s lying about his taxes or squirrelling money away if he loses the election.

I mailed in my ballot last week so technically, I voted. But the above are some of the reasons why I voted for Biden.

Thanks for reading! I have absolutely no problem if you disagree with me. Just my thoughts!

It’s our turn, Claire!

I’m watching the season premiere of The Bachelorette on Hulu, and I got a bit teary when Claire, aged 39, said she’s been on the sidelines, rooting on her friends and it’s now her turn.

I said the same thing to Ted this week as we talk seriously about taking the next step.

If you consider we start dating around 15, I’ve been rooting my friends on for 30 years now. Granted, I’ve dated but other than my college boyfriend, nothing has been as serious as my relationship with Ted. I’ve never felt jealous or threatened about my friends’ relationships. I’ve always embraced their joy, rooting them on as engagement and marriage came for them.

I dated a flurry of decent (and not so decent) guys but no one serious. When Ted and I first dabbled in marriage talk, like “small or big wedding,” I realize that I had subconsciously given up on meeting “the one.” I had no secret wedding dreams or ideas about rings. I hadn’t thought about where I’d reside with my husband. I had quietly come to peace with my life – being a single, independent career woman and “auntie.”

And now, what am I? Not single but otherwise, still career oriented, independent, and the best auntie out there! But now I’m more. I’m future step mom. I’m independent and part of a couple. I’m now also a home cook and someone’s partner. I’m still me but my priorities have naturally shifted.

It’s my turn. 🥰

Goal weight

I just saw this article on Rebel Wilson and it says she’s “6 pounds from her goal weight.” And recently, when a friend heard I had gastric sleeve surgery, she said that she too had it and asked me if I had reached my “goal weight.”

So, really, what is a goal weight? Is it the amount of weight you should be based upon your BMI? Or, perhaps the number a diet program tells you where you should be? Or, an arbitrary number you create in your head?

Ok. So say you hit your “goal weight.” You could be 2 pounds away, go to the restroom, and – surprise! – you’re there. Or, you could take off your jeans, put on shorts, and “eureka!” You’ve made it.

Listen, I’m as goal oriented as the next gal, but putting a random number out there in the universe isn’t always the best strategy for weight management.

When I’m asked about goals for my surgery, I simply state that I had no specific weight loss goal, but rather, I wanted to help set my body up for success as I age, by lowering my blood pressure, reducing the amount of weight on my fragile, arthritic knees & ankles, getting out of the “prediabetic” scale, and much more. I’ve ditched my cpap. Yes, I lost roughly 75-80 pounds but more so, I can walk up a set of stairs without panting. I can walk up the stairs period!

This is why I don’t love the concept of goal weight. It’s really hard to stay one weight. And what happens if you creep back up, as bodies tend to do until they’re at the “set point” for your body chemistry at that moment in time. No one ever says, “oh, look, you’ve gained weight!” Unless you’re recovering from an eating disorder.

When I gained 80 pounds, no one complimented me or asked me if I hit my goal. “Yes, I’ve had a sufficient share of ice cream and pie this year! Thanks for noticing.”

Probably best just not to ask or comment. Poor Rebel Wilson. What’ll page 6 says if she gains it back? ☹️

10/12/20

It feels as if 2020 has been going on forever! Happy Monday, all.

It’s Columbus Day today, or as it may be known in the future, Indigenous People Day. I like that concept.

My office never closes so when it is a holiday, we have to use ETO (earned time off) so alas, I’m working (or taking a break, and writing this post). I’m in Panera for a few minutes to grab a coffee and work a bit before I head to lunch with some colleagues. My wonderful cleaners come on Mondays now so I try to get out of their way if possible. Poor Nermal sees their vacuum cleaner and immediately bolts for the basement, hiding behind my very dusty washing machine. After they leave, I gently call her name and like a good little cat puppy, she comes running up the stairs, skeptically but hopeful that the evil vacuum cleaner is gone.

As I look out of the window, it’s a dreary day but the leaves are almost fully changed to beautiful shades of orange and red. It’s always a bit sad when they fall to the ground because then I know that winter is upon us.

Mom is doing well. She has (hopefully) one more round of chemo in November, and then they will discuss the next course of action, which we all hope will be a break from chemo. Unfortunately, NJ has been removed from the list of “approved” travel states via MA so if I go there now, I will have to get tested before and after I visit, and then quarantine at home – alone – for 2 weeks. I don’t know if I can be alone for 2 straight weeks right now so Thanksgiving plans are up in the air right now. It may be a Zoom Thanksgiving this year 😦 I am sure I am one among many who will have to do that this year.

Perhaps the most exciting news is that Ted and I are talking about getting married. Like, for reals this time. We’ve looked at some rings and have the names of a few jewelers that we’re going to visit. Since we’re not kids and don’t care too much about tradition, we’ve discussed getting me a ruby ring. My mom’s family are the Ruby’s, so it is a nice homage to my grandparents and my own roots. It makes it feel a lot more special, like the blending of our two worlds. With no end of Covid-19 in sight, we’ve discussed having a small wedding, perhaps in his parent’s backyard, and very low key. I am so glad because I never wanted a big wedding where I have to spend so much time planning and worrying about everyone else. I want simple, low key, and it to be focused on us. We’ll likely do something later on via zoom or small group gatherings. And, we are hoping to move in together in 2021 after we find a house that we like (and can afford!). I may hold onto my condo for an investment, but it is a little daunting to think about being a homeowner times 2!

That’s the latest news. More to come!

Prez has the Covid.

President Trump has Covid-19. I woke up at 2am and saw the news. I went downstairs, had a spoonful of ice cream, and climbed back into bed.

I don’t like the guy but it doesn’t mean I want him to have Covid. I feel as though our country is unstable enough that we don’t need this on top of everything else.

I can’t help but feel like we may stabilize a bit if Trump doesn’t win the election. I am so fearful he’ll win again and we’ll have 4 more unstable years.

Mom said there are theories that Trump is making it up. It’s possible. CNN said he had a fever. Who knows?

All I know is that I’m going apple picking tomorrow and that’ll be nice! 🥰

Undecided

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts this morning, The Daily, from the New York Times, and they were talking about undecided voters.

It’s so hard for me to think of someone being undecided in this year’s Presidential election. I feel like they’re both pretty different in terms of their political views. I guess one could be undecided if they agree with some of Trump’s and some of Biden’s choices, or vice versa – dislike a little of each, so they’re stuck in the middle.

I had a lively and fascinating conversation a few weeks ago with a Trump supporter who is also a very dear friend, and frankly, someone I admire. Her points were valid. She said she likes how Trump supports Israel, which is very important to her, and she likes how he has helped the economy. According to the Daily, Trump leads when voters asked about the economy – he definitely has a lead when it comes to financial perceptions. That’s when I like to see the numbers. Perception is that he is a businessman, and therefore, he has helped the economy. But he also bankrupt many companies and real estate, which is usually only discussed by the “left.”

I told my friend that she should absolutely vote for Trump since he is her choice. But, I told her it is very simple for me. I could never vote for Trump because of how disrespectful he is to women. I never got over that Extra video of him behind the scenes with Billy Bush when he talked about “grabbing by the p….” That was it for me. I don’t care if he was being “playful” or “silly” or “braggadocios.” It offended me to the core.

I don’t want him to win, but I also want Americans to feel like they can vote for whomever they want. It’s one of the reasons I love this country – our freedom to vote, to speak openly, to oppose openly, and to be who we are. And this is why I can’t ever vote for Trump. I am watching him slowly eliminate some of these freedoms.

I wish I could talk to some of the undecided voters and find out why they haven’t decided yet. If you read any good articles on this, please post them in the comments below.

What if…

There are all of these “what if” scenarios bopping around in my head so I thought it would be fun to think about some alternate universe situations. It’s good to sometimes write these things down to get them out of floating in my head!

…Covid arrived in a non-election year.

Do you think President Trump would have handled it differently with the public? Do you think he would have encouraged people to wear masks since he wasn’t trying to put on re-election rallies? Or. would he acted the same way, downplaying how bad this pandemic actually is? Would the other Democratic nominee hopefuls – Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Pete, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, etc – have withdrawn their candidacy against Biden when they did? I assume President Obama called them all on the phone and told them they needed to come together as a party. Would that have happened so soon, or would it have dragged on longer?

…Covid never happened at all (big picture)

Let’s be honest. The entire world has been forever changed due to Covid. How would it be if we never experienced this pandemic? We’d still be commuting, traveling, socializing. Schools would have started a while ago in most states, and kids would be dragging those huge backpacks on their backs through the hallways, on route to their lockers. Likely many unhappy marriages would still be dragging on due to lack of quarantine where they realized, “I can’t anymore!” The economy would probably be trucking along with a healthy stock market. Many restaurants that have closed in 2020 would still be in business. The supply chain would still be functioning, and there wouldn’t be a lack of Clorox wipes throughout the country. We probably wouldn’t be seeing toilet paper brands written in Spanish in our local CVS because there be plenty of Charmin to squeeze. And nearly 200k (and counting) people may still be alive (some may have died regardless of Covid) here in the US. And 956k people may not have died worldwide.

…Covid never happened (in my world)

Work:

I may have started my job sooner than mid-May, so I’d be further along in my progress. I’d be working in the office, so I would know my colleagues much better, but I would also likely be more caught up in the gossip and drama.

Home:

I’d still be stressed about when I would be able to find the time to clean, do laundry, organize my guest room – all things that happen(ed) as a result of Covid.

Relationship:

I don’t think it would be any different. 🙂

@JoannaAfter40

I probably wouldn’t have the time to make my videos, which have become so much fun for me and I love making them!

So, here’s what I’ve learned. My life has been A-Ok during Covid. I’ve had good health and happiness regardless. I like my new job and despite the gossip, I like it and the projects I’m working on. Plus, many of my colleagues are awesome (there are a few mean girls, but ignoring them).

The rest of the world? Not sure it’s A-OK!

Unrest

Just put on CNN for 5 minutes & had to shut it off. Hurricane Laura is coming, the Republican National Convention speakers keep referring to Biden & Harris as “socialists,” and another person was killed by police (and caught on video), this time in Kenosha. Holy shit.

No wonder no one is sleeping. This country is in a state of unrest. Oh, and did I mention we’re still in the middle of a Covid-19 pandemic.

I keep wondering how this period of time, how 2020, will be remembered in terms of our nation’s history. Will we look back and reflect on this era as we do with the Flu Outbreak of 1918 or the Great Depression? We think we’re so much more advanced now with our technology and vaccinations but in the meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people – in first world countries (and others, mind you) – are dying.

There’s been a series of articles on BuzzFeed about college students complaining on social media that they aren’t getting proper meals delivered to them at NYU. Um, you’re in the middle of NYC. Put on your mask & step outside your front door. There’s a world of cuisine there for you. I understand it isn’t a cheap city but people on low incomes make it work. Figure it out. I just get so annoyed by this helpless mentality. How are these kids going to survive in life if they can’t figure these things out?

I seriously sound like a crotchety person! But it’s the unrest that’s so unsettling. Speaking of, I think my doctor and I have figured out the root of my insomnia so let’s hope that one tiny glimmer of hope is on the horizon. 😉

Thanks for giving me a safe space to kvetch! Onto brighter & happier days ahead! 👍

Tired.

It’s 8am and I woke up tired. I’ve been dealing with a bad episode of insomnia. I’ve been trying everything to conquer it: OTC medication, baths, new curtains, unplugging early, you name it. Last night, I was in my living room around 3am just wandering around. My cat is very confused why I am awake during her “day.”

The next step is to try my CPAP again. Ugh. Before I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, I was very restless and even think I dozed off while driving to work. At least now I’m at home. Honestly, besides the stress, I think I’m just too sedentary. I need to go outside & walk. Even though I’m technically “quarantined,” I think I need to do this for sanity purposes!

How do you get a restful night’s sleep, assuming you do?

DEI

Today, I participated in several conversations about racism and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). I was late in learning about the term “DEI.” In fact, I remember the first time I was heard it. It was at last year’s She+ Geeks Out conference here in Boston, where, quite frankly, much of the conference was devoted to this topic. It was also the first time I received a name tag that asked me to also include my “pronouns.” At first it felt strange, but then, there was something empowering about it. I felt like it would be helpful to see other’s pronouns so I was able to address them appropriately. Now, I’ll be honest, I initially thought it was such a “Millennial” or “Gen Z” thing to encourage. But, like I said, I bought into it as could see the value.

A few months later, I had to participate in our annual sexual harassment training at work. I thought the video they asked us to review was actually quite helpful. It very clearly defined what sexual harassment in the workplace is, and it also clarified the differences between “sex” and “gender.” It also gave a clear overview on what non-binary means, and again, I really understood the importance of knowing someone’s pronouns. I have several acquaintances with children who have transitioned from male to female at a fairly young age. Again, knowing their pronouns – even now – are super helpful to be inclusive and respectful.

If you’ve been following along on my blog, you’ve probably seen my early post about my unsettled feelings about the burgeoning racial tensions happening here and abroad. I find some of the things I’m hearing and reading a bit off putting, a sort of “crowd mentality” towards equity. Did people always feel this way, or did they just on the bandwagon since “everyone is doing it”? You remember – I had a hard time with the whole “black square” thing on Instagram. It felt like lip service. I’ll simply put this black square on my instagram and now I’m woke. It just felt like empty promises.

From 2004-2007, I worked at our local aquarium as the manager of volunteer programs and internships. I interviewed either in person or via phone over 2,000 people each year for about 1,000 opportunities. I had to learn quickly about HR best practices, which were somewhat applicable to volunteers, but more importantly, I had to educate others partnering with me on the “dos” and “don’ts” of interviews. I still remember coaching a new manager on how he could not discriminate against an applicant because of her age. “But she may not have the physical qualifications,” he said. I asked him to reconsider that comment and judge her based on her abilities. She ended up being an excellent volunteer. Around late 2005 or 2006, I was asked to co-chair a new initiative at the Aquarium: the diversity council. I accepted the position, and began to work with a diverse group of colleagues on how we could do a better job of hiring people other than white men in all of the senior roles. They’ve had female CEOS since then. We also wanted to advance our outreach so that our audience reflected the community we were serving. We expanded our marketing, employment and volunteer recruitment outreach. We moved the needle a bit.

But, that wasn’t my first foray into thinking about inclusion. In fact, I wrote an article on this very subject for my high school newspaper back in 1993. My friend shared it with me recently. I blurred out the racially-insensitive word that apparently, in 1993, you could still print as a “quote.” But I’m just not comfortable putting that word on my blog, so you can infer. Anyhow, here goes:

1993. Let that sink in for a moment. When my friend shared this photo with me, I realized why I was feeling so unsettled. A: not much has changed in 27 years, and B: this shit’s been bothering me for at least 27 years! So pardon me if I am annoyed with this bandwagon mentality. I am not saying that I am not supportive of moving the needle a LOT MORE in support of DEI, but my point is that I’ve cared about these important issues for 27+ years.

Ok, so you’re reading along and you’re thinking, “Well, isn’t that self righteous of you, Joanna? You’ve cared for 27 years. So what? What have you done to help?” And in some ways, you’re correct. I can admit there have been times I may have been complacent in my “white privilege.” But I think I have been sensitive to these issues because of the anti-semitism I experienced in middle school and high school, & the sexism I experienced in the workplace (as recently as last year).

There have also been things that have made me raise my eyebrows, though, in other aspects of my life separate from work.

Back to today’s conversations about DEI. I’m now working for a fantastic medical center, affiliated with Harvard, and we’re working hard to take what’s going on in the world seriously, besides finding a cure for Covid. I’m pleased with what I’ve heard so far on how thoughtfully the leadership are handling things.

My final thought is this: we’ve been going in circles. Let’s do better this time. Let’s progress to the point where we really feel a significant change. I wish I knew concretely what that change is, but I am committed to helping to be part of the solution. If you made it this far in this lengthy post, I salute you. You may completely disagree with my thoughts and that’s totally fine with me. As I said to my dear friend this week, we’re all handling our reactions to Covid differently. We certainly can react differently when it comes to a charged topic like DEI. We tend to react based upon our own experiences, so mine may be WAY different than yours. I’m open to your feedback so please share in the comments or privately.

Veep

At some point during yesterday afternoon, Joe Biden announced his running mate – Kamala Harris. I know very little about her so far. I told Ted that I didn’t want to get into a discussion about her until I research and learn more. I haven’t had time to do that yet other than listen to 2 podcasts this morning – Up First (NPR) and The Daily (NYT). These are more left-leaning so I need to find some more middle of the road resources in order to learn the facts. I have such a hard time finding those these days – the news tends to be so polarizing. I don’t want to go to Fox News or the like as those will be too right leaning. So, where do I go? NPR says doesn’t lean one way or the other, but in my opinion, it feels a bit more liberal to me.

I’m going to be upfront and say that the likelihood that I vote for Trump is 0.0%, so Biden/Harris will get my vote, but I want it to be educated. I don’t want to be one of those people who votes “against” Trump/Pence, but rather, I’d prefer to say I voted “for” Biden and Harris. It’s all semantics, really, but in my heart and mind, I want to know that I made a decision that sits right with me at the end of the day. If you recall, I unaffiliated with any political party a while back because I was so fed up with choosing a side, but I do tend to connect more with the Democratic party in most ways.

With that said, I prefer to be a voters based upon policy rather than party, but there isn’t much choice out there these days. And while I don’t verbalize this publicly, I am deeply concerned about the state of affairs in this country under Trump’s leadership. While I understand that you need to have a healthy ego to run a country, he appears to be a Narcissist, which is a mental disorder that doesn’t provide much thought towards others’ well being.

But, I do want to address something to my readers who are hopeful for a Biden win. It is very clear to me that, despite a downfallen economy, the rich are still pretty rich under Trump. Even I moved into a new tax bracket twice under Trump. Listen, my colleague just told me that her daughter received a lot more in unemployment than while she was actually working full-time. If there is any hint that the stimulus money – whether it be for small companies or individuals – will decrease under Biden, trust me – he will lose the election. People – in VERY general terms – often vote with their wallets. So I just want those of you who think there is no way that Trump can win again may be in denial. Just want to be real. I do not want him to win, but he may if he positions himself correctly at his fundraising dinners. So, if we want Biden/Harris to win, we need them to reinforce that they will continue supporting Americans and American companies financially as we pass through this Covid-19 crisis. By all means, if you disagree, put it in the comments. I really want to hear your thoughts.

And while you’re at it, if you can recommend some non-biased reading material on Harris, please send me links or ideas!

We’re all in this together!

I am feeling very lethargic today. It’s likely because I really don’t think I slept too much last night. It may be the extreme heat, or the general malaise that is blanketing the entire world population due to Covid-19. Numbers are up ticking slowly but it has caused some necessary delay in progress. For example, my friend from New Zealand said that because of 4 new cases there, they’ve taken a step back towards lock down until they determine the cause of the new outbreak. This virus isn’t a joke!

How do I deal with it? I try to focus on what I can control within my life. Ted is coming over tonight and tomorrow, so that’ll be nice to have his company. Tomorrow night, my neighbors will join us for an outdoor, socially-distanced BBQ, and then a group of us from college will reunite this weekend for some strategically-planned festivities, namely outside. I will then be taking another Covid test so I can go visit my parents. My mom is in the middle of monthly chemo – and handling it quite well – so I will visit them a bit and work remotely from their place in NJ.

In my spare time, I’m busy making videos for JoannaAfter40. Here is a link to the channel if you want to take a peak.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_zEmTfbi0OUEdnfsZlCOfA

(Let me know if that link gives you an problems – it’s a little wonky from my end to test it out).

My new job continues to go well. I’m getting busier, and feeling more connected to the team, despite on-boarding virtually. My colleagues have been very welcoming and helpful, which is always a delight. I’ve been keeping up with my colleagues from my last job as well, which is great because they’re such a lovely bunch of people!

So that’s it for today. I hope wherever you are, you and your family are hanging in there! Remember, as much as it sucks, we’re all in this together!

Our New Normal (?)

When I first starting writing about Covid-19 on this blog, I seriously thought it would be “over” by now. It’s been about 6 months, and we’re still dealing with living during a pandemic. It is such a strange time. Sometimes I describe it as feeling like an alternative universe. I know I’ve written that here before, but it just feels so appropriate.

The current dilemma is making decisions about whether or not to open schools, or just continue to home school children to keep them safe from catching Covid, or spreading it to others. I think Ted’s kids’ school is heading towards a hybrid-model, with a mixture of in-person and online learning. While it seems like a great option to keep kids socialized, I imagine it is scary for parents and teachers (and the kids) to think about being together in a classroom. They’ll wear masks, which will help, but it sounds like a very stressful situation all around. Then again, if students are home all of the time, many parents will have to work remotely with them at home, and I’ve heard lots of people may need to quit their jobs in order to be a parent. It’s a messy, unprecedented situation.

I have to say that I am really glad that I live in Massachusetts, as I have been continually impressed with the level of mask wearing among the public, and the leadership that our governor, Charlie Baker, has demonstrated. As you know, I voted for him, and I’m very glad I did, as he has been doing a really terrific job navigating these uncharted waters. My parents live in NJ and they seems to be doing a good job there, too, so that’s reassuring.

I visited with Ted’s friends (well, technically now, our friends) last weekend in Rhode Island, and I noticed that we were among the only people outside wearing masks. And, wouldn’t you know it – residents are now banned from visiting other states without a Covid test. I am not surprised. The masks work. I know, broken record!

More thoughts on this to come!

Herman Cain, where was your mask?

“Herman Cain died,” my brother told me earlier this afternoon. I searched around my brain for a recollection on who he was. My brother then said, “From Covid. He was at a recent Trump rally.”

Then I said, “Wait, the doctor who ran for President?” My brother nodded.

My immediate response was: “This shit is no joke.” If you’re in your 70s in a crowded auditorium without a mask, you can contract this virus and die. Hell, you could be in your 20s or 40s, catch it, and die.

This whole mask wearing thing is not a hoax. I’m so frustrated that people are politicizing it.

“Being told to wear a mask removes my rights. Being told to wear a mask means I’m a Democrat. Being told to wear a mask is silly; they don’t help.”

No, wearing a mask can help save the life of others. I witnessed a crowd of people today aggressively trying to get their Greek food order before the other people on line. If we didn’t all have masks, who knows how many of us could’ve contracted the virus by the close proximity? I sadly will not frequent that food place again because of it. Not worth the risk.

Why didn’t you just wear a mask, Herman?

Updated on 8/6/20:

Herman Cain was not a doctor, but rather, he was a businessman. My apologies for the error.