12/12/17

And so today’s moment of happiness despite the news.

After yesterday’s difficult decision over whether I should use the blip of time I had for writing or for meditation, I was relieved to find an easier time of it today. My writing time was spent over coffee with my publicist. By the time I got home, I had twenty minutes before my first evening client. So…I meditated.

I don’t go for the sitting-in-the-lotus-position meditation. When I first started, the person who encouraged me said, “I meditate in my recliner. Meditation requires comfort.” I applauded that, and since then, have always meditated in my recliner. Most of the time, I am under an electric throw blanket, turned on high. I’ve learned that warmth and comfort lead to bliss. At least in my world.

So. Headphones on, blanket on, feet up, I began to listen to the drone of one of my favorite guided meditations.

And then…I plunged asleep. No fall. This was a steep dive over a cliff. There one minute, gone the next.

The sleep was bone-deep. It was a sleep where I was aware of my own unconsciousness. I knew I was out. And I was okay with that.

And then I dreamed. The warmth became a living being. I watched as the blanket became two red-robed arms, majestic arms, and then they wrapped themselves tightly around me. My memory is thick now with the sensation of my head tilting, my cheek rubbing against the rich material, and oh, the heat. Not the burning-from-the-inside-out that I’ve been experiencing with the anti-cancer medication, but just the most profound warmth. The comfort. There is no other word for what I did: I snuggled.

And then I woke up. My heated throw was up to my chin and there was a purring cat on my chest. My guided meditation finished, the timer told me, fifteen minutes before. I was now five minutes late for my client. Which led to a frantic scramble as the cat was tossed to one side, the blanket to another, and I tried to climb back to clarity and my computer screen.

My client wasn’t upset. And the class I taught tonight was superb. Through it all, I held onto that embrace. Warmth was in my veins.

Hold on to small graces.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

My meditation spot.

 

12/11/17

And so today’s moment of happiness despite the news.

I am a bit of a neat freak. I like things put away and tidy. My counters cleared. My bed made. Files filed, books on shelves in alphabetical order, things right where they belong.

In a sense, I’m like that with my writing too. Not with the writing process itself, as I’m very much a write-down-whatever-comes-into-my-head kind of writer. I don’t outline. I don’t plan. When I have a thought for what might happen further down the road in whatever I’m working on, I jot it down in a notebook next to my computer. Sometimes I return to it, sometimes I don’t; it depends on what happens between now and then, which could be anything.

But…when I write, I like to finish a scene before I’m done for the day. It’s kind of like having a real mess behind my cabinet doors and closet doors. On the outside: neat and tidy. On the inside: pandemonium. On my page: scene ended, complete with its little set of asterisks (****). In my head: oh, don’t look there.

Which leads me to today, when I faced a horrible decision. I’m back at work, finally, on the novel-in-progress, which is tentatively titled If You Tame Me, based on a poem by Antoine de Saint-Exupery:

But if you tame me, then we shall need each other.

To me, you will be unique in all the world.

To you, I will be unique in all the world…

You will become responsible forever for what you have tamed…

I started in later than usual for me, something which got under my neat and tidy skin and itched. And then, when it was time for my daily chauffer-run, I wasn’t at the end of a scene. But it was 3:05 and I had to:

*pick up Olivia from school and drop her off at home,

*do the studio’s banking,

*pick up Michael from the grocery store,

*get my daily mega-dose of caffeine from Starbucks.

So I patted my computer, promised I would be back, and left. I thought I’d be back in plenty of time for what I planned for the afternoon/evening: meditate at 4:30, then shift into teaching mode, with clients at five and six, an online class from seven to eight, and then reading student manuscripts. It was 3:05 – I’d likely be home by 3:45 and have a full 45 minutes to finish the scene.

Yeah, right.

Just-turned-red stoplights. Longest line ever at the bank. A teller who had to run her finger over every string of coded numbers on every check, then do it again while whispering softly to herself and then setting each check down with a “Hmph.” A not-so-long line in the drive-thru at Starbucks, but a woman in front of me who ordered drink after drink and one of every food item on the menu (okay, maybe not, but it seemed like it). Then, finally, home.

4:15. Not enough time to finish the scene if I meditated. Not enough time to meditate if I finished the scene.

As of today, I’ve meditated at least once a day for 636 days in a row. Usually, it’s twice a day – once when I switch from writing back to teaching, and once before bed. It’s important to me. I was the world’s biggest skeptic about meditation for most of my life, and now I’m the world’s biggest believer. But…but…not finishing a scene?

Sigh.

I stood by my desk, looking from my computer screen, where my character Audrey waited, and at my phone and headphones, where my – well, what? – my sense of peace and relaxation waited.

And then…I chose who I am, by my own intense definition, way down at my core. I wrote. I sat down and finished the scene. I will meditate an extra ten minutes before bed to put my world back straight on its unique axis.

Audrey cheered. And oh, it was one hell of a scene.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

I chose me.

12/10/17

And so today’s moment of happiness despite the news.

Sometimes, the nicest moments of happiness come from nothing at all.

For the majority of my day today, I was home alone. Michael was at work at the grocery store (he’s given his two weeks’ notice). Olivia was out laser-tagging with the boyfriend.

The house…was quiet.

The television wasn’t on.

No one was calling my name.

No one asked me to do anything.

Doors weren’t being slammed.

No cat threw up.

No dog made a mess.

There was no ticky-ticky-tick of pacing toenails on our concrete floors (the pets’ toenails, not ours).

The studio phone wasn’t ringing. No one calls on a Sunday.

The home phone didn’t ring either.

My cell phone didn’t ring.

There weren’t even any sirens or train whistles.

I sat at my desk in the silence and I worked. Not on my own stuff, admittedly, but on the work of my students. There were no interruptions. There were no distractions. It was just…quiet.

In a life that is chaotic, at the end of a year that took Chaos and gave it a capital C, this just doesn’t happen very often.

Later, of course, Olivia and the boyfriend came home and doors started slamming again. The pets woke up and the dogs made messes, though as of this writing, the cats have not thrown up. My cell phone rang and I had to go pick Michael up from the store and then, ironically, since he also did the grocery shopping, I had to go fetch the dinner.

During supper, I told Michael that I didn’t have anything to write for my Moment Of Happiness. “I didn’t do anything today,” I said. “I didn’t go anywhere. I just worked. It was quiet.”

“Who’s to say quiet can’t be your moment of happiness?” he said.

And I considered that. Really. Who’s to say?

Shhhhhhhh.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Shhhhhh…

12/9/17

And so today’s moment of happiness despite the news.

Christmas shopping today. Ugh. Christmas shopping does not help me to feel any better about Christmas, really. Maybe if I had the benefit of the mall all to myself, it would help. I don’t do well in crowds, especially noisy rowdy crowds. But I don’t like to do all my shopping online either. I like to support local businesses. So I braced myself, girded my loins, and went out.

It took me a half an hour to find a parking spot. A half an hour. That really didn’t start the afternoon well.

Much, much, much later, I stood in line at the Starbucks kiosk. I needed my grande cinnamon dolce latte, with only two pumps, and I needed it right that minute. There were already trips out to the car to drop things off. Things were scratched off on my lists. Michael and Olivia were off doing their own shopping. There was just a little more for me to do. I was tired. I was grumpy. My back hurt. And I was really, really, really sick of the Christmas music that was playing everywhere. If I heard “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” one more time, I was going to have to throw a rock at a Christmas tree. And maybe Santa.

And then, in the slow line at Starbucks, I heard a little voice.

The song playing at the time was Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” The little voice singing along was very young and I turned to trace it. Behind me, there was a little girl, about four years old, hanging on to her mother’s coat and swaying with the music. She wasn’t paying attention to anyone, she was just singing. She wasn’t singing to perform; she wasn’t aware of being watched or listened to. She just SANG. And she knew the words! I wondered at a little one who knew this song from 1984.

Santa was in his throne just across the aisle, but she wasn’t looking at Santa. She wasn’t looking at all the lights and decorations. She didn’t pay a bit of attention to the noise. It was just not there for her. She was blissed out on the music. It was a glorious bubble around her. She swayed and she sang.

So I joined her. Just as the song shifted into its lyric of Feed the world (let them know it’s Christmas time again), Heal the world (let them know it’s Christmas time again). She looked up at me and she beamed. She smiled like she sang. All heart.

So did I.

When we finished the song, she giggled and began to twirl. I nodded at her mother, who looked as tired as I felt before the song, and I said, “You have a beautiful daughter. Merry Christmas.”

Then I covered the tab for her latte and the little singer’s juice box.

Hope and joy can be found in the strangest places. In a Starbucks line, where an impossibly young little girl sings earnestly about feeding and healing the world.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Should you not recall the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBwkzix0aIE

Old photo of little Olivia in front of the Christmas tree I used to decorate with antique ornaments.

12/8/17

And so today’s moment of happiness despite the news.

This morning, there was a message on the studio’s voicemail. Someone wanted to talk to me about a class for her granddaughter. “She really likes this writing stuff,” she said in her message, “and she just finished a class in school and her teacher said she’s good.”

So I called. We ended up talking about this girl and the studio for quite a while. “She writes all the time,” the grandmother said. “All the time. Sad poetry. Stories.”

I remember someone who used to write sad poetry. Stories. That person’s creative writing teacher said, “You’ll never write deer and flowers stories.” He was right.

There’s nothing wrong with sad poetry and stories. This grandmother recognized that.

I explained the AllWriters’ Teen Writers Workshop. And then I asked the grandmother if she’d like to give the workshop to her granddaughter for Christmas. “I can have a gift certificate made for you and emailed this afternoon.”

“Oh…” the grandmother breathed. “Oh, that would be nice.”

She explained that money was tight. She was raising her granddaughter. And I said I would register the girl now and reserve her seat and she wouldn’t have to pay until the class begins in January. “That gives you time to get it together. It’s a ten-week class and it’s $70. Will that work?”

She agreed. And I offered up my faith that the spot I reserved for this girl would indeed be filled. I usually require payment at the time of registration. But not this time. I needed to do whatever it took to get this girl into my door.

Because of what this girl needed. She needed to come in my door.

I remember somebody who needed a door, a door just like mine.

I asked the grandmother what high school her granddaughter attended. “Waukesha North,” she said.

I felt myself light up. Have you ever felt that? Where you feel the glow on your face? “Really? I was just there a few weeks ago,” I said. “I spent the whole morning, talking to kids about the writing life.”

“She came home that day,” the grandmother said. “Told me an author came to the school. She didn’t say writer, she said author. The way she said it! Told me she listened and then she suddenly felt like she could do just what she wants to do. And she put this big note on the refrigerator, asking me to check out the place where this author works.”

“That would be me,” I whispered. “That would be me.”

It was me, who stood in front of the groups of kids that day. But you know, it was also me who needed someone to tell me that I could do what I wanted to do, so many years ago. Who needed to know that it was okay to write sad poetry and stories. There wasn’t an AllWriters’ then. But I did have a teacher who lifted me up. Who offered me every door he had. Who made me feel that the life I wanted was possible.

I believe strongly in giving back. And I am so grateful to have the chance to do so.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Teaching.

 

12/7/17

And so today’s moment of happiness despite the news.

When I started this blog, I committed to writing it every day for a year. In that time, I’ve only missed one day.

October 4, 2017. The day Michael came home from the job he loved, which he’d only had for six months, and told me he was let go. Two weeks of severance. 27 days of health insurance.

I couldn’t post any moment of happiness that day. I could have posted about the reverberations of fear and shock that shook us both. We’ve experienced job losses before, and insurance losses as well. But not since my diagnosis of breast cancer.

It’s been 65 days. Today, I was able to announce that Michael found another job. Insurance begins in 30 days.

Last Friday, I went in to see my doctors for the first time since treatment ended. It’s pretty rattling to say “doctors”, plural. It’s still hard to accept that I need more than one. But cancer comes with a handful of medical personnel that clasp hands and form a circle around you. I came to really appreciate that circle. Last Friday, two of my doctors, the medical oncologist and the radiation oncologist, informed me that I am just fine. Bloodwork: clear. Radiation: out of my system. Healed.

Cancer: gone. New job: acquired. Relief: profound.

I’d like to say that maybe now, my family’s lives can go back to the way they were. But I don’t think that’s possible. We’re all different. We’ve all been affected. I know that I’ve learned a lot.

I always thought that people in the arts were more compassionate, more humane, more sensitive than the world at large. Yet Michael was working in the arts when he lost his job. It was a small professional theatre that let him go. They were aware of the breast cancer. And it was these artsy folks that flatly said no when I asked for mercy, to please at least let us have three months of insurance to help us out while Michael looked for a new job.

So maybe not all people in the arts are compassionate, humane and sensitive.

However, as news of what happened spread, I was amazed at the response. From friends and family, students, the writing community, the cancer support community, and from absolute strangers. People I hadn’t heard from in years stepped forward. People I never would have expected to help did. And they came from all walks of life.

The end result? I didn’t lose faith in all humanity. I gained it. And I gained faith in the individual, from the police officer who didn’t ticket me for driving without a seatbelt when I told him I was receiving radiation and the belt irritated already hurting skin to the women who gazed at me through a window and gave me fist pumps when I completed a walk at a labyrinth outside a cancer center.  I don’t look for kindness only in the arts world now, but in the world at large and in the faces of everyone I meet. And I am well aware that in all facets of our world, with no exceptions, there is some darkness. No place is all light. But boy, do I ever appreciate the light there is.

I bask in it.

I am free of cancer. Michael has a job.

Whew. I think I can breathe now.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Back at it!
Photo by Ron Wimmer of Wimmer Photography.

12/6/17

And so today’s moment of happiness despite the news.

Once upon a time, well, maybe not so very long ago, I watched as my daughter Olivia walked into her kindergarten classroom for the first time. It was also the very first time she walked into an “average” classroom, an “everyday” public school classroom, after three years of attending a special early childhood program offered through our school district. We knew, soon after Olivia’s first birthday, that she didn’t do things quite the way other people did. There was nothing “average” about her. There was nothing “everyday” about her. She didn’t speak until she was past three years old, and when she did, the first word she uttered was, “Dumbass!” When she was three, we learned that the non-averageness and the non-everydayness placed her on the autism spectrum.

But to us, it just made her Olivia. Anything she did that was not so everyday, we placed in a category we named Livvyonian. And despite all the talk about spectrum, we expected great things. We placed her on the great expectrum.

When I returned that first kindergarten day to pick Olivia up, I stopped in the early childhood classroom to say hello to her teacher of the past three years. I told her, from what I could see, this first transition to kindergarten went well. I told her how, while Michael and I hovered that morning, Olivia looked up at us, waved her hand like a queen, and said, “You can go now.” And then I said to this teacher, “We expect everything for Olivia. We expect that she will go on to college and she is going to lead a full and happy life.”

This teacher, who worked with my daughter for three years, who saw (I thought) the tremendous leaps she made, pulled me into a hug. And then she said, “Well…we can always dream.”

I wish I could tell her how utterly devastated I felt that day, as I walked out to my car with my little girl trotting beside me, her backpack bouncing. My little girl who was never supposed to talk who was now chattering nonstop about her first day, using words like “fabulous” and “extraordinary”. I wish I could tell the teacher how both Michael and I spent the next little bit of time wondering if we were living in a state of denial. Of hallucination. If we just didn’t want to face the truth.

But we shook ourselves out of it. We knew this child better than anybody. And we were more amazed by her with each passing day. She was high up on the great expectrum.

Today, I went in to Olivia’s high school for a meeting with her guidance counselor. It was time for the junior conference, where the counselor would help us determine what Olivia wanted to do after graduation next year. The counselor turned to Olivia and asked her what she thought she might want to do.

My daughter calmly and confidently answered, “I want to attend a four-year college. I’d like to go to either Mount Mary or to the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay. And I want to be an art or music therapist. And a writer too.”

And then the counselor told us about Olivia’s GPA – just under 4.0 – and how she is in the top 13% of her class.

Dear Early Childhood Teacher: In a way, you were right. We CAN dream. We DID dream. And our little girl dreams too. She dreams BIG and what she dreams, she does. She makes her dreams reality. There is nothing “average” about her. There is nothing “everyday” about her. And we wouldn’t have her any other way.

But you know what, Early Childhood Teacher? You were also wrong. And I am ever so glad we didn’t listen to you. We listened to HER. We listened to every syllable uttered in Livvyonian. We always will.

Am I a proud mama? Oh, yeah.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

She faced the world with a level gaze then…
(one year old)
And she faces the world with a level gaze now.
(junior year)

 

 

12/5/17

And so today’s moment of happiness despite the news.

I had coffee today with my high school creative writing teacher. I have to say right off the bat, I love being able to say that. I’m 57. But my high school creative writing teacher is still in my life.

Since we both work on a local book festival together and there was a meeting later in the afternoon, we had a bajillion things to talk about. But I knew, with him, the hook was coming. The hook as in “he never lets me off the hook”.

“So how’s the new book coming?”

Hooked.

I explained that I was back at it, after what I was afraid was a permanent exit during radiation. That working on it one day this week, I actually stopped and thought, You know, this book is pretty good (for non-writers, it’s an amazing thing when something you thought was going into the trash ends up not being trash at all). And that I was doing something different this time, something I’d never done before.

I’ve always barreled through first drafts. I don’t look backwards, not until I get to the end and then start Draft Two. I don’t know what’s going to happen in a book or a story until I get to the end and it doesn’t make sense to me to start the rewrite before I know what fits. But this time is different. Radiation knocked me off my feet and out of my writing chair. I lost track of the book, pretty much the same way I lost track of myself there for a while.

“I’m uncomfortable with this,” I said. “But I’m doing it this way. I had to go back to page 1. I had to go back to when the book was just the book, and not the book being written by someone with breast cancer.”

Honestly, having to go back to the beginning made me feel a bit like a failure. Not a bit. Like a failure. I don’t sew, but I imagine it was like making a mistake and having to rip everything all out and start over.

He saw it differently. “You’ve always done that,” he said. “It’s not new. You’ve always done whatever you have to do to get the story out.” He nodded. “Good job.”

Suddenly, I didn’t feel like a failure anymore.

I told him I just had the first formal essay I wrote on the breast cancer experience accepted for publication. He asked me if it was difficult to write. I appreciated his word choice. He didn’t say hard. He said difficult. He wasn’t talking about the writing.

“Yes,” I said, and felt my eyes well up.

He sat back in his chair and clapped. For me.

Having someone in my life who believes in me, has believed in me, and will always believe in me is a positive force I treasure. While he believes in me, there’s one thing that takes it even further: he refuses to expect anything less than what he believes I can accomplish.

In high school, I joked with him from time to time, calling him “sir” when he made demands. Once, I had assignments in two separate classes to write a short story. I asked to be able to write the same story for both classes. My high school creative writing teacher was the one who made the decision, while my second teacher waited in deference. “No,” my teacher said. “You’re more than capable. Write two stories. And knock us both dead.”

I didn’t think I could do it. But “Yes, sir,” I said.  It was what he expected of me. And then I did it.

Today, he told me I could and would write this new book, even if I’m using a different process than ever before.

“Yes, sir,” I said. It is what he expects of me. And I will.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

🙂

12/4/17

And so today’s moment of happiness despite the news.

I think of all the roles I play, the most difficult is as a parent. I’ve been a parent for almost 34 years now and you would think I would have gained some confidence in my ability. Well, not really.

I felt like a horrible failure today. A little over a year ago, I bought an old Volkswagen Beetle for my daughter Olivia. She’d been in love with the little buggy car for years; her entire room is decorated in Beetle – posters, artwork, rug, model cars, and she owns every Herbie movie. When it came time for Olivia to learn to drive, I jokingly said (okay, I was dead serious), “This girl is NOT going to learn how to drive in my cars.” So I found this Beetle. Olivia promptly put pink eyelashes on the headlights and named her Starlight Lashes.

Today, Starlight Lashes was towed away, pink eyelashes and all, as a donation to Rawhide Boys’ Ranch.

In the little over a year since I bought her, I put more money into Starlight Lashes than I paid for her. She broke down. And broke down. And broke down. She was broken down more than she was running. She broke down when she was holding absolutely still with her key hanging on a hook in my kitchen. The final straw came on the Saturday after Thanksgiving when she wouldn’t start and her warning lights went crazy, flickering and jumping. ALL of her warning lights.

So the donation. Off she went to Rawhide. I saved, for Olivia, the little vase with the flower in it that all Beetles have. And the Starbucks keychain I gave her. And I promised her that there will be another Beetle soon.

But here’s the bigger thing. Olivia still isn’t driving. Not through any fault of her own. She wants to drive. But as the sole driver in this household, I didn’t have any time to take her driving. 85 hours a week of work sort of puts a crimp on your free time.

So. I am the one who bought the lemon Beetle without having a mechanic look at her first. And I am the only one who can take Olivia driving and I can’t. It’s my fault that my daughter’s car was towed away today. And it’s my fault that she’s still not driving.

I have three other kids. I took them driving and I provided them with beater cars that survived until they killed them. But I didn’t have my own business then. I didn’t work 85 hours a week then. Thirteen years after my third child was born, Olivia came along to a life with an older mother. A more established mother. And a more divided mother.

So I was feeling pretty awful when I left today to do errands. On my way back home, I had to pull over for at least a dozen blazing police cars. As I waited for them to pass, my phone pinged with an email from Olivia’s school. It was on lockout. There was a “situation” in the area and no one was allowed to leave the school or come into the school, no matter what.

All those police cars.

I didn’t know whether to barrel to the school, where they wouldn’t let me in, or barrel home and try to get information from the local news channels. Finally, I barreled home – and found no information at all. Thirty-five long minutes later, another email from the school declared an all-clear. I don’t know if it’s possible to hold your breath for thirty-five minutes, but damned if I didn’t try.

So Olivia came home.

When she climbed into Hemi, the first thing she asked was, “Did they take Starlight away today?”  Yes, I said. She stared hard at her lap. I thought about loss.

My girl came home today.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Fancy photo of Starlight Lashes. (photo by Darrick Sewell)
Olivia washing Starlight last summer.

 

12/3/17

And so today’s moment of happiness despite the news.

My search for feeling okay about Christmas continues.

The experiment with the shiny silver aluminum Christmas tree failed big-time, due to the backs of beagles. I was excited about the tree, excited about bringing back a magical moment from my childhood: lying beneath an ugly silver aluminum Christmas tree, watching it turn impossible colors due to the crazy color wheels, and looking up into the utter impossibility of a tree that went from orange to green to blue to red. I found and purchased the tree, ordered way too many red ornaments, bought garland and a tree skirt, and even found, online, the color wheels. The tree went up and I was delighted. It was ugly, but who cared? It was unique and it brought back a lot of Christmas magic.

And then the tree went down. And it went down again. The result of the two cats? No. They liked to sit beneath it. While they chewed on the branches, they didn’t hurt the tree – they just flossed. But then the beagles felt that if the cats were under the tree, they should be too. Despite the fact that they were too tall. Donnie, the beaglier of the two, could have made it with only brushing the limbs. But Blossom, long-legged Blossom, a mix of beagle and coonhound, brought the tree down. Twice. And wagged while she did it.

The tree is now back in its box, along with the ornaments, the garland, the tree skirt, and tucked in the trunk of my car. The color wheels are unopened and in the trunk as well. It made me sad.

So I’ve worked at picking myself back up. I brought out the little tabletop tree from Walgreens I purchased last year and we set it up on the island between the living room and kitchen. That helped. And then yesterday, while working at my desk, I kept glancing at my hibiscus, brought inside for the winter. I popped up the idea of maybe decorating it, with lightweight lights and ornaments. And then I thought of the Starbucks ornaments I’ve collected for years. Starbucks puts out little ceramic miniatures of their cups to hang on your tree. I’ve never done that – I had them hung on my wall for a while, until I collected too many. They’ve been stuck away in a credenza for a few years now.

So I brought them out. And now…I have a Starbucks tree in my office. I might get some lights too. It’s helped.

Today, as I drove toward home, I noticed all the trees appearing in people’s windows and the outdoor lights that have gone up. Bessie, the gigantic dairy cow statue I wrote about a while back, is sporting a Santa coat and hat and a lit wreath around her neck. All the glitter and light made me think of The Grinch That Stole Christmas. Despite the Grinch stealing everything away from the Whos in Whoville, they still celebrated Christmas. They were still happy. They still rejoiced.

Kinda like Asshat, I thought. Over and over, he is beating this country down, most recently with the worst possible tax reform which is going to leave many of us crippled and broken. But despite that being all over the news this week, along with the constant deluge of dirty old men, we are putting up Christmas lights. Christmas trees. We are setting up Nativity sets and lighting the menorahs. Kids are practicing for holiday concerts. Santa, the very same Santa that my daughter has visited for all of her seventeen years, is waiting at the mall. He waved at me the other day. I know he’s waiting for his visit. Olivia, while she shrieks that she’s seventeen now and while her Christmas list is filled with t-shirts printed with feminist slogans, will go to see him just the same.

We’re just like the Whos. And that made me hurry home to my teeny Walgreens Christmas tree and my Starbucks hibiscus. And my family.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

My Christmas Hibiscus Tree, decorated with Starbucks ornaments.