My Behavior is the New Norm

While many are starting to grow weary of the shelter in place and altered American life, I am realizing that not much has changed for me. Having a RA and asthma, my life changed with my RA diagnosis.

Weeks before the shelter in place, I started to make a plan on how to limit my contact with people and how to protect my family. Until recently, I was a civil servant with daily interactions with a diverse population. I realized that I had to alter my behavior. I was an early adopter of social distancing. I disinfected my desk, my office, my cars, and warned my child that I wouldn’t be hugging her as soon as I got home. I needed to change and wash up because I didn’t want to bring anything into the house that could get anyone sick. And those were the biggest changes of my day to day life.

Given the fact that I am prone to infection, I had been pretty religious about sanitizing things for a few years. When I touched handrails, I pulled down my sleeves to avoid touching whatever goop was on them. Disinfected my hands after being on public transit. Opened doors with the disabled access switch in public spaces using my elbow.

My social circle was small. I didn’t like crowds anymore. I rarely wanted to be in the throngs of humans. Crowds were only when necessary. I would only sit down to eat in half empty restaurants.

I was wearing a mask when whooping cough reappeared in California a few years ago. I had some N95 masks to use when we had forest fires because it increased my asthmatic response and I still needed to work. But the forest fires actually sent me to the ER three times in a month. Then I was just told to stay home and run an air purifier. I was home for a week and half before I got the all clear to return to work.

I am always avoiding sick people. If you have a cold or the flu, I tell you I love you and see you when it’s over. The idea of a cold scares me. I have a few bad ones that took me out for a couple weeks.

I can see how this would disrupt other people’s lives. But for me, this is just an extended flare. I am having a bit of trouble mentally with the isolation, but it’s not a new feeling because chronic illness altered my life years ago. I can’t wait until everyone gets to get back to a new version of normal life. No one should have to feel like people with chronic illness.

No Helicopter Parenting Here

If you take responsibility for yourself you will develop a hunger to accomplish your dreams.

Les Brown

My daughter lives a very charmed life. A life for which she can often be ungrateful and dramatic about. I wouldn’t take away the charm. I am giving her a bit of what I did not have as child. And, I couldn’t be more pleased with my decisions. She has the good fortune to be a talented dancer who dances 3 times a week, participates in competition dance and doesn’t want for much. Which is why sometimes, it’s important to remind her of the responsibility she has to me and more importantly, herself.

A few months ago, my daughter went into a rebellious phase. Rebellion for my seven-year-old included saying no frequently, crying when she didn’t get her way and not wearing her dance shoes to class. The dance shoes are always a point of contention in our home.

For a competition dance studio, the studio’s dress code policy is far more lax than the one I remember for my niece. So, she would make it to dance class and refuse to put on her shoes or simply leave her shoes in the car. I could have been mad, but I chose to resign this to a choice she could make.

Well, it didn’t take too long for me to get a nice little slip from her competition dance teacher that she was failing dress code. She was marked down for not wearing her shoes. I had to sign it to acknowledge I had seen it.

The conversation on the car ride home went a bit like this, “One more note like this. That’s the end of competition dance and the end of ballet. Period, end of story.”

That worked for a while, but then, she decided not to dress for tumbling. Again, better fights can be had so, I allowed her wear her defiance. After two weeks of weird ensembles, my daughter’s tumbling teacher came up and was detailing what my daughter had worn to class. I listened, but my daughter had chosen her tool of defiance. When she was done with her speech on proper tumbling attire, I simply said “Okay”. The tumbling teacher hesitated a moment and I just stood up and walked my daughter out of the studio. Since this was a new violation of our parent-child contract. I again reminded her of her promise to be properly attired for dance or tumbling.

But what bugs me is the tumbling teachers attitude. I think she was expecting an apology or explanation, but there was none to give. The contract my daughter signed with her dance studio talks about proper behavior. She’d broken the contract I made her read and sign late last year. Her contract is at the dance studio with all the other competition forms. So, it is her responsibility to ensure she is keeping her end of that contract. I provide the proper attire. All she has to do is put it on.

I reminded my daughter of that that night. I will not apologize for daughter’s failed responsibilities or try to make it right for her. While she is seven years old, she needs to remember the contracts she makes, even if I have to remind her. I will not fail to make it clear that fulfilling one’s responsibility leads to bigger and better opportunities.

Separation Fallout

Without realizing it, I had forgotten that after my divorce was final in a few months, I would finally be single. I would no longer have to check married or separated on forms anymore. I wouldn’t sit in the doctor’s office thinking, “If I critically ill today, he can say what happens to my world.” Finally, the little black cloud with my ex’s name on would stop following me around just to remind me it could rain on my parade if it wanted to.

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Judge Much?

Judgement (noun)
-the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.

This began as a thought about political discourse in this country. Then I begun to explore that idea in the larger society. Thinking about societal norms are changing and perhaps not for the better.

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Nobody Knows it but Me

You could ask my heart,

But like a jigsaw puzzle, it’s been torn all apart

Nodody Knows ~ Tony Rich Project

It was a causal thing that he and I had. It was never meant to be serious or have a name. But it doesn’t mean my heart didn’t shatter into a thousand pieces when I found out how he’d been lying to me for three years.

They say that God works in mysterious ways. I have to say, I think I finally understand it more than I ever did before. My ‘support’ on filing day ended up being the very man who would have me listening to break up songs on repeat. I never thought that letting go of him would turn me into a puddle of emotions.

The day of my filing, my friend was there. He and I had something between friends and a full-fledge relationship. Every time we got close to defining what we had, he would switch course. I should have run away the first time it happened, but I was confident that some day he would have as much invested in me as I did in him. (This is the very thing I warn my friends about believing.)

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I sat down next to the self-help center and looked across the hall because I could hear the faintest chuckle. There he was. Sitting on the bench giggling at me and shaking his head. I walked over and took a seat next to him. I asked why he was there. He was veiled in his response , but as my usual course of action, I didn’t press. I told him that I was there for the divorce workshop. After a few minutes, he told me that he was there for the same. It seemed weird we hadn’t spoken of this before since we speak almost daily. I was taken back. I didn’t even know that he was married. I didn’t ask who he married he just offered up his daughter’s mother’s name as his wife. I didn’t know what to say. I mean, it was all new information for me. But still, I was glad he was there. Had he not been there, I am not sure I would have made it across the threshold into the classroom to work on the divorce paperwork. My knees literally buckled at one point. He was behind me and just kept me moving.

What happened next was either divine intervention or pure curiosity. We had both dropped our paperwork in the after hours drop box to have them recorded at the courthouse later as the intake windows closed an hour prior. A few days later I check for my filing number and then checked for his. I check for his to give him a head’s up it was recorded. I mean the excitement of it being real was eating me up. I imagined he felt the same, but the shock came when I saw the respondent’s name to his divorce. It wasn’t his daughter’s mom. It was the name of the ex that had come up every time things between us became serious.

There were options. I could just ignore it or I could confront him with what I knew. I chose the latter. He begun explaining with ‘I’m sorry, but I didn’t want anyone in my business’. Was he for real? He’d been in my house, in my bed and part of my child’s life for three years. How was I already not part of his business. Then he said the one thing that could hurt me, “My daughter doesn’t know I’m married”. The tears broke the dam. What kind of man lies to his child? Even a lie of omission is a lie to me when it comes to children. How was the omission to protect her. It was about his ego. All of it was about his ego. She and I meant so little that honesty was something he didn’t believe we deserved. And so, it ended. I told him I was done with him.

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The problem now is getting over him. We were friends for three years. A little piece of my heart will always be with him, but the lies are too much to bear. No looking back in the rearview.

Fake A$$ Knight in Shining Armor

The first time I heard his voice, it felt like home, the accent of Long Island in a deep tenor. He knew the lexicon that others in my life couldn’t understand. He was college educated and was a man making his own way in his career. He was attentive and always let me know he was thinking of me.  I couldn’t have felt more special if I was actually living one of those story book romances. It made me question if I had always been looking in the wrong places for the quality of man I wanted.  We quickly planned to meet for a date on a Saturday.

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