lessons from grief

(cw: death of a parent, grief, major life changes)

whenever I’ve spoken to anyone in person about my dad’s death recently, I’ve always turned it into some “here is what I have learned from this” kind of situation, so I figured I would share those three lessons with y’all to start off this week since I’m taking a moment to remember them and recenter myself.

  1. listen to your damn doctor(s). my dad was 51, healthy as far as we knew, active—not exactly a top candidate for a heart attack, but he still had one. we later realized that he had some underlying health issues that, if treated, might have led to a different outcome (or maybe not… heart attacks are unpredictable). with that in mind, I came back from Puerto Rico and called literally every conceivable doctor to make an appointment. going back to old doctors, getting new ones, running new tests, looking into prescriptions… and I doubled-down on this year’s goal to make better health choices so I can maximize my time and the quality of whatever time I have.
  2. say what you need to say while you still have time. a recurring theme during my dad’s funeral was the, “I never got to say ______________.” a lot of us hadn’t spoken to him in a while or, if we had, it had been about something inconsequential—we’d been dancing around big things that are now forever unsaid. so, if there’s someone in your life you need to make amends with, or someone you really have things to say to? do it now, while you can. especially since we’re social distancing—write the email, make the phone call, schedule the video chat. show people that you care… they need it now more than ever.
  3. life is too damn short to be miserable. as we recapped my father’s life in our attempt to write our own eulogy, my siblings and I realized that life isn’t a series of achievements/ accomplishments/purchases/travels—it’s about the connections and the way we touch each other’s lives and what we do with those achievements/accomplishments/purchases/travels. so we sat there and thought about our own lives. if we were to watch the montage of our lives flash before our eyes like some overwrought death scene in a film, would we like what we see? would we feel satisfied? would we feel like we did all we could and lived as well as possible? the answer for several of us—definitely for me—was a resounding no… and that answer has haunted me for the past couple of months as I tried to figure out what needs to change.

my dad’s death changed my life—not just because I lost him, but because his death forced me to confront and accept a lot of things that I had been talking myself in circles around for weeks and months and years. and now, in the midst of a global pandemic, these lessons seem to me more important than ever.

I guess that, in his own way, my dad’s still trying to guide me on to a better path. ♥

reflections, week 13

Photograph of two pages in a notebook, facing each other. The left page says "2020 @ a glance" and includes tiny calendars for the 12 months. The right side says "5780-5781 @ a glance" and lists the Jewish holidays for this Gregorian calendar year.
my yearly overview spread for my bullet journal.

had you forgotten about these? me too (kind of.)

let’s see how much we remember and when we’re at with stuff… I’m hoping this is a new baseline and that I can start getting back on track with stuff next month (but something awful has gone down every month so far so I’m not suuuuuper hopeful).

create a writing routine. as is obvious by the fact that I didn’t exactly blog for, oh, two months, this is totally something I haven’t been doing. I particularly have struggled with starting my dissertation as my life’s been falling apart over the past almost eight weeks. BUT, better times are in sight—I actually worked on chapter one of my dissertation tonight and should have a draft of it sent to my chair by EOB tomorrow, and I will be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo next month with my student teacher and our students. I’ve also been a lot more active on here over the past week and I’m hoping to continue posting at least once a week moving forward… we’ll see!

be responsible with money. this has been… a total mess. the madness of the past eight weeks required some unexpected spending in the form of flights and a lawyer’s retainer—so, several thousand dollars later, I had to sort of rethink my financial goals for the year. that said, I’ve officially paid off another credit account, I’m current on everything, and I’ve been true to my work of rethinking my relationship with my possessions and going through my closet/drawers/bookshelves with some KonMari magic. spending time going through memories and choosing to cleanse my space has actually been really healing… and I’m looking forward to sharing some more information about The Unfuckening™️—aka my big apartment makeover—as soon as it’s done in a couple of weeks.

(recurring cw for the THIRD goal: mentions/discussions of mental health [specifically anxiety, bipolar depression, ADHD], psychotropic medications, weight loss, food/nutrient/calorie tracking. if any of these could be remotely upsetting, please take care of yourself and skip that whole section! to make it easier to know what’s where, I’ve tagged mental and physical health in bold italics.)

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on being "productive enough"

okay, let’s take a moment and get real—we live in a capitalist hellscape and it’s made us hyper-focused on productivity and a global pandemic is probably a great time to shed that obsession… except, that’s not gonna work for all of us. some of us crave routine and structure; some of us have become the primary (or maybe only) breadwinners in our households due to the shelter-in-place orders moving across the country so we need to make it work.

so, then, what is being productive enough?

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a note from your flaky friend

Screenshot of a text conversation that reads as follows:
A: [9:29AM] I'm running like 10 minutes late because of who I am as a person but I am trying to hustle
B: [9:30 AM] Sounds good. See you around 1015
B: [10:07 AM] Just got here and sat down. See you soon!
A: [10:09 AM] I just parked and am heading on over!
yes, this is a real screenshot of a real conversation… sunshine is there to both protect this person’s privacy and highlight that they light up my life.

hi, hello, it’s me, your flaky friend. you might not have said this to me, or about me, but I’m sure at some moment I have canceled or amended plans at the last-minute and you’ve sighed and been like “yeah, that tracks.” I might’ve even called myself that in the multi-text message and prefaced it message with 35 apologies and some self-deprecating bit like because of who I am as a person in order to soften the blow.

the truth is, I’m not really a flake.

I don’t cancel because I don’t want to see you or because I don’t care about your time or because I think someone else is more important than you. I just have a bit of, a, cutlery issue and I run out of spoons very often. (not sure what I mean by that? you can read the Unified Cutlery Theory here, explained much more concisely than I could do it. no, really, go ahead. I’ll wait.)

so, how does the cutlery relate to me canceling plans? let me illustrate this for you…

(cw: mental health issues, particularly depression and anxiety; discussions of ADHD; mentions of societal fatphobia)

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what is a legacy?

to quote Lin-Manuel Miranda, “it’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”

(cw: death, absent parent, complicated feelings about grief)

A photograph of a beach during the sunset.
One of the beaches where I said Kaddish for my father while I was home.

I have not written on here for the last almost two months because February truly was the worst month of my entire life—so difficult on so many levels that I am still trying to process… most of it, to be honest. some of the things from the last seven weeks will continue to affect things as we move forward but, for now, I’m going to take some time to talk about my father.

my father died on the last day of January, on Shabbat. he was fifty-one years old and he walked himself into the ER with some shortness of breath—and then had a massive heart attack and keeled over. I got the call from my younger sister, who is twenty-seven, who had been called by my father’s widow. I didn’t understand what she said the first three times but, once I did, I switched into big sister mode and started trying to take care of her until the end of the call. I then called my mother and told her, and she hung up on me because she was so shocked, and then said she’d call my sister and figure out what had actually happened. I was at a Shabbat dinner with new people when my sister called—a group of lovely Jewish women of color—and they rallied around me and packed me a takeaway bag, got my stuff, called me an Uber, asked whether I needed them to book me a flight, hugged me, prayed over me… a really lovely moment where I saw how strangers can come together to care for one another. I then got in my Uber and cried on the way home, still a little shell-shocked.

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2020 reflections, week 2

hi everyone! I’m so excited to write the first weekly update of the year (although it’s the update for the second week, haha). I don’t anticipate that updates will always be this long, but since I did a lot of set-up work over the past week, I’ve got a lot to report!

create a writing routine. not a lot of progress on this yet—I’ve got some ideas and things are aligning for it, but I haven’t really deployed it yet (other than scheduling blogging time for Wednesdays, which I’ve been doing since last year). I have been good about logging stuff for my bullet journal and I did create a journaling/reflecting routine at least, so that should work moving forward. I’m hoping that this will improve moving forward, especially now that things are flowing with some of the other goals…

be responsible with money. this was a pretty good money week—things got paid on time and I was good about knowing what was due when. this will definitely be more of a long-term thing for me, so I’m waiting to see how things develop—but one of the things I wanted to do was to reduce the amount of times I got food delivered and I definitely did that! I’m also doing some inventorying in my closet right now and trying to schedule some time to slowly make my way through my room and start cleaning out the multitude of things I’ve accumulated but don’t use!

(recurring cw for the THIRD goal: mentions/discussions of mental health [specifically anxiety, bipolar II, ADHD], psychotropic medications, weight loss, food/nutrient/calorie tracking, intermittent fasting. if any of these could be remotely upsetting, please take care of yourself and skip that whole section! to make it easier to know what’s where, I’ve tagged mental and physical health in bold italics.)

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