Social distancing ad inifitum

We are fully two months into the pandemic. Everything has changed and at the same time, not much. Many states (Texas included) have decided to reopen, often based on data that was incomplete, flawed or outright manipulated. Individual counties are trying to keep people safe, but fighting a losing battle because apparently, white people think that wearing a mask to protect themselves and others is some kind of oppression. I’m fortunate to have a job that I can work from home, and a management that is doing the right thing by delaying our return to the office and following CDC recommendations.  We’ve been told that when we do start going back to the office we’ll have staggered schedules and building occupancy will be capped at about 20%. So that’s one less thing to worry about.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a little bummed out. Being an introvert and voluntarily not socializing is one thing, but being cut off from family and friends is different. Under normal circumstances I would have gone out of town for my friend’s wedding (now delayed until September or next year), had a random weekend outing with friends, visited my in-laws, gone to family church service and brunch for Mother’s Day, and be heading to the family cookout for Memorial Day. I’d be looking forward to a plate full of ribs, grilled veggies, and baked beans; ignoring sports talk; and Taboo, charades, or some other game. Sure, I can grill out at home but a cookout for two is basically pointless.

The acceleration of the retail apocalypse caused by a desire for apparel stores to remain relevant when most people don’t want to leave their homes has resulted in a lot of good sales, though. I got a badass swimsuit for whenever it’s safe to travel again. Normally I hate traveling. Actually being someplace new is fun, but the getting there and back usually sucks. Having the chance to get acquainted with every wall of my home has made travel seem MUCH more appealing. I’m not an out and about type of person, but I’m ready to be out and about!. . .

Not at the expense of risking my life, though. So until something changes, I don’t know what, I’m going to be at home.

Notes from the field

 

It’s Day 11 of the quarantine. The hardest part for me is staying on task with working from home and not being glued to the news all day. The upside is that I no longer have an excuse not to make time for working out. We use one of the spare bedrooms for a home gym so all I have to do is go upstairs. I only exercised once last week because #lazy, but if I stick to my schedule going forward I will definitely come out of quarantine in better shape than I was before. I worked out today and yesterday and it has helped me feel less anxious.  Something about tiring out your body physically really helps distract you from worrying. Probably those endorphins the runners keep talking about.

Everyone’s excited about the possibility of getting relief checks. As a tax attorney I know that it’s going to be slow in coming, and most of that money will probably get taxed right back. I support getting money to people in a time of need, but I’m not counting my money before the check clears. There is also some nonsense floating around about creating what is essentially government bitcoin, and a new central bank where the relief checks will be distributed via app. The plan is to eventually replace all cash transactions. I feel like they need to walk before they can run. How about we get the ability to file taxes online directly with the IRS before we jump into cryptocurrency?

Yesterday, Dallas ordered shelter in place until April 3. Houston followed suit this morning. I don’t think the activity is likely to die down, especially because the president wants us to get back to work to boost the economy. I guess we’ll see what happens.

Life on Lockdown

It’s day 10 of quarantine. Okay, “social distancing” or “self-isolation” would be more accurate, but quarantine sounds better. Suffice it to say that “life comes at you fast.” Since I last wrote, I had a bittersweet but relaxing Christmas season at home. My in laws were out of the country and I missed my family terribly, but it had been a busy summer and fall and we both needed the time to recharge. I went on my first ever girls’ trip for my birthday in January with a couple of work friends who are now officially real friends (seeing each other naked at the day spa while not entirely sober will do that, LOL).  Last but not least, my big sister had a baby so I’m now a new auntie. I actually got to visit them just three weeks before life came screeching to a halt under the threat of coronavirus.

Speaking of which…this has been crazy. I’m an introvert so the quarantine itself isn’t hard for me, at least not yet. I like to spend time at home. We only go to the movies once a month, and have friends over once a quarter. Even though we order plenty of meals out, we only sit down to eat in a restaurant once every six weeks. So other than working at home, the terms of the quarantine haven’t radically changed my life.

The issue is the uncertainty of it all. I have zero faith in an administration that fired a qualified pandemic response team just because it was created by Barack Obama. The president’s obsession with eradicating his every accomplishment speaks to either an endless depth of racism, or a deep seated envy and bitterness that he’ll never be as attractive, intelligent, or well liked as Obama. It’s probably a bit of both. Regardless, it only adds to my anxiety that our Commander in Chief is an incompetent liar. The fact that I’m high risk (I have asthma and coronavirus can cause permanent lung damage) doesn’t help, either.

The economy is tanking. The quarantine orders get stricter every day because there are always some idiots who refuse to be told what to do. At first we were told things would get back to normal in two weeks, then a month. Now I’m seeing reports that this could go in waves, with restrictions being lifted in June and July and shutting back down for cold and flu season. Other, more alarming reports say that at the rate we’re going we will be stuck inside until August. It’s crazy.

Hubs pointed out that I like to spend weekends at home but that’s not the point! Between now and August I definitely was going to go to brunch and possibly visit to a friend’s lake house. I was playing with the idea of taking a weekend trip to Galveston to visit the beach, walk the pier and get some fresh seafood. I wanted to drink bubble tea at the outdoor mall on the other side of town, the one where I can buy handmade bath bombs and body butter that I don’t need. I had plans dammit!

Of course, all that takes a backseat to my health and that of the greater good so I”ll be complying. It’s just scary to have a virus that is so contagious and yet asymptomatic. It’s not like you get a rash first and have three days before things really start to get bad. All I can do is pray and minimize my risk. We’re still getting takeout, less than usual but several times a week. We’re both still getting paid, fortunately and I keep us to a budget anyway. Our concern is getting a complete quarantine order, because at that point there will be a mad rush to the grocery store and who knows when we’ll be able to restock. So we stocked up on groceries, mostly frozen and dry goods that we can ration out.

Feel free to comment with your quarantine routine, survival tips, complaints, comments or concerns. Do you have toilet paper? Any funny stories about hand sanitizer theft? (A whole case disappeared from the supply closet at my job.)

 

What’s wrong with basic?

“Bad Bitch Support Group” on HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show

I saw this sketch back when it first aired and it got me thinking. What’s so bad about being basic? I admit to being guilty of using the word right up until I realized that maybe I wasn’t as bougie as I thought. Yes, I’ve had better, but on a day to day basis I genuinely enjoy Starbucks coffee. I watched the entire run of “New Girl” starring Zooey Deschanel and though most of it was pretty funny. I have to avoid Target unless I have a defined shopping list or I’ll end up with a cart full of (fun, but) unnecessary goodies. And while I don’t particularly enjoy pumpkin spiced lattes, I love almost everything else about the season they represent. I, too, am basic.

ba·sic/ˈbāsik
adjective
1. forming an essential foundation or starting point; fundamental. “Certain basic rules must be obeyed”

Oxford English Dictionary

I spent a good chunk of my childhood wanting to be That Girl. Once I got older and realized how much work being a “bad bitch” really is, I didn’t want that lifestyle even though I spent a few years wishing I did. That archetype is celebrated as the feminine ideal, while “basic bitches” make up the majority of your stay at home wives and soccer moms. The stereotype is that they don’t do anything but go to yoga/pilates/barre class, go to mimosa lunches, shop, and take care of their families. I don’t know about you but that sounds like my kind of fun!

Nobody ever said basic chicks were unhappy.

– Me

I’ve turned into a basic suburban wife and it’s everything I ever dreamed of. But I like getting up on Saturday mornings, drinking coffee and making breakfast while my husband mows the lawn. I like leaving work to go to a quiet home on a quiet street. I don’t even mind cleaning up as much as I used to because for the first time, I own my residence. I may not be living the most exciting life but I am truly the happiest I’ve ever been.

All things considered, I live a pretty conventional life. I went to college, straight on to law school, married my college sweetheart, moved cross country for his career and bought a house. It worked out for me but the traditional patterns of adulthood are just that, traditional. They aren’t the best path or the only path to adulting. In fact, soul singer Chrisette Michelle makes a great case for why she needs to live the nomadic single life for now and possibly forever. And it’s great that she knows herself well enough not to force her life into a shape that suffocates her.

I’m a modern woman and my career is important to me. I love the legal profession and the never-ending opportunities for learning that it provides. But at the end of the day, legal work is enough excitement for me. I thrive in domesticity and I’m content with the choices that brought me here. I wish everyone the same peace and happiness, however it may come about.

Happy Fall, Y’all!

I’m gonna be honest: I’m not a fan of summer. The heat is brutal, and in Houston is coupled with a humidity that means I spend June-September feeling sticky every time I step outside. Kids are everywhere since they’re out of school. And it’s also peak litigation season. I’ve been practicing law for five years and dabbled in several different areas but uniformly, every summer my case load increases. So while everyone else is posting beach selfies and having cocktails at rooftop bar happy hours, I’m stuck at my desk drafting motions and cajoling clients into settling before the other side figures out their case kind of sucks. But as of September 22, all that is over. We are officially in the best season of the year!

Sweater weather, warm spiced beverages, Renaissance fairs, holiday season just around the corner…I LOVE IT! Doubling my joy this year is the fact that I’m a homeowner. I’ve been making trips to Target, Marshall’s, etc. just to revel in all the harvest themed home decor (and okay, to buy some apple cinnamon and vanilla pumpkin scented candles). This is the first time I could look with the intent to buy because I never wanted to put the time, money, or effort into fully furnishing any place that we rented. Now I finally have a permanent place. Anyway, this past weekend I needed to buy a gift for a coworker’s housewarming so I headed to Ross. Of course it ended up being a gift for her, Christmas gifts for my siblings, and four gifts for me.

I got an ADORABLE mug because coffee and tea are a comforting ritual and they just taste better from a cute mug. Next up is an art print that’s going to hang in the bathroom over my tub, with a woman reading a book. It really spoke to me. I kind of agonized over it because like most black people, I have a policy of only displaying art that is black or at least race neutral (e.g. landscapes or quotes).* There was a similar print with an obviously black woman but she was drinking wine, and I don’t really drink like that so it didn’t resonate. In the end, the woman in the picture I bought was juuuust dark enough that I can pretend she’s just really light skinned, like Meghan Markle, so that makes it okay.* I got a set of three serving bowls with Bible verses on them for $17! They’ll be awesome for holiday dinners. My last prize was a #12(!!!) multi-server. It can be used as a cake stand and cover, a punch bowl, or a chip and dip. If we have a dining room set by then, I just might host New Year’s day dinner!

*If you’re not black and confused right now, let me assure you that this is absolutely A Thing that black people do. Hundreds of years of slavery, segregation, and less than equal rights mean we are constantly exposed to societal conditioning that says we are less than or at the very least, other. So we want art that reflects us the way we see ourselves. And yes, this policy extends to my Christmas decorations and tree ornaments!

If you know me or have been reading this blog for a while, you know I love fashion. So of course I had to get a few new items for my fall wardrobe. First up, I saw the black and white dress and added it to my shopping cart without hesitation. It’s work appropriate and I still get to channel my inner Wednesday Addams. The second dress is a floral and houndstooth pattern in a beautiful red and orange color palette that screams fall. I stumbled upon these heart-eyed skull print leggings when I was browsing Torrid at my local mall (sold out online, similar style here). They’re a super comfy sweater knit and even though I’ll only ever wear them in October, they were $10 so it doesn’t matter. Last but not least is a retro style buffalo plaid cape coat. I was eyeing it on the Eloquii website last year but it sold out before it went on sale within my budget. Luckily I found it for a fraction of the original price on Poshmark! (Sign up here with code WIFEYJD to get a $5 credit.) It’s pretty lightweight and will be great for the mild Texas winter.

Fall is only a few short weeks so I’m going to get back to enjoying it. Time to light a scented candle and curl up with a book and some Trader Joe’s harvest blend tea. But hit me up in the comments and let me know if you prefer Hot Girl Summer, pumpkin spice season, or another time of year? Ta-ta for now!

Sands Through the Hourglass

Lately, I’ve been feeling uncomfortable. On paper, my life is great. And I’m self aware enough to recognize that I am blessed to have everything that I need, and more than a few things that I want. Still, I’m unsatisfied.

At 31, I came to really grasp my own mortality. The knowledge that one day, my life will inevitably end has me asking myself, is this all there is? What can I do that will bring my life meaning and purpose? What are the things that will haunt me if I die without accomplishing?

“Father Time” by Alex Stone http://www.alexstoneart.com/

Heavy thoughts, I know. I guess my midlife crisis came early. But as a result, I just don’t have patience for things the way I used to. I’m much more aware of my relationships and the value that add (or don’t add) to my life. I’m heartily sick and tired of being everyone’s rock. The one that they call when they need a shoulder to cry on, but don’t contact when there is good news. The one that they call for business or legal advice, but don’t ask me if I’m doing okay in the wake of a death in the family. The one who keeps a level head and listens to everyone else’s crazy drama, but can’t get a word in edgewise the one time I need a listening ear. I’m the one who sends surprise birthday gifts, holiday cards, or at the very least can be counted on to call you and say happy birthday personally.

In the past year I’ve fallen back on all of that. Relationships aren’t tit for tat, but the exhaustion of almost always going the extra mile and almost never getting it back takes a toll. I’ve been told that some people just have a smaller cup to pour from, and they’ll never be able to give as much as I do and I have to meet them on their level. Well, fine. I hate being parsimonious with my affection, but what I hate more is giving resentfully. So I’m going to be selfish, until I can be generous again and mean it.

Then there’s my job. Civil legal aid is my dream job although you could argue it’s thankless. It certainly requires me to give a lot mentally and emotionally. But most of my clients are pretty darn grateful, and that helps. Maybe it’s because I tend to handle thornier issues (tax debt, fraud, bankruptcies, foreclosures) but a good 90% of my clients actually say thank you when I wrap up their case and are pretty gracious throughout the process. My job fatigue stems almost entirely from the dysfunction of my nepotism riddled organization. Nobody in an executive officer position has practiced law within the past 20 years. Our director of IT almost old enough to draw Social Security benefits and refused to cede control of anything but computer and phone setup for new employees, despite the fact that there are four other people under her who are more than capable of assisting with security, web development, etc. My job is funded by three different grants and it creates so much extra paperwork it’s not even funny.

On August 7, 2018 I posted on my Facebook the following quote: “I’m ready to become a bestselling author so I can quit my day job.” This morning, I stumbled across a beautiful poem by a high school friend of mine. We were both bookworms and aspiring writers. She followed her dreams and majored in English, did her master’s in literature at Oxford College in England, and just last year published her first book. As for me, I took the practical path. I don’t regret it because if I hadn’t gone to Georgia Tech, I might never have met my husband (or might have met him much later), and he’s been nothing but amazing to be around. Law school gave me a profession that will always allow me to make money on my own terms. But maybe the lawyer phase of my life should be coming to an end. One of my Mercer classmates quit her day job to become a fitness instructor and personal trainer. And Toni Morrison, bestselling author and Nobel Prize winner, who passed away on August 5, 2019, didn’t publish her first book until she was 39 years old.

There’s still time. But not enough to waste.