May 13, 2020

There is a piece of me that is enjoying every moment at home with my daughter.
We watch tv together. Eat breakfast together. Workout together. She shows me a game she’s playing on her phone that is just like FarmVille, and gave me a tour of her “campsite.” (I pretended to be impressed, but wasn’t really impressed until I read AOC plays the same game. Now I’m a little impressed and kind of confused.)
I asked her to look at my LinkedIn profile, and listened to her feedback about potential career paths.

She talks to me about her relationship, takes great delight in hiding condiments when I don’t put them away, plays her flute at midnight, and bakes at one am.

I know this is abnormal behavior, but who, anywhere in the world is behaving normally right now?

How do I know if something is wrong?

I wake her up each morning, because schedule is important. We exercise, because movement combats depression. I’ve been lenient about time on her phone so she can stay connected with friends.

I do not have a clue what I’m doing, or what all of this is going to do to her.

I’ll be fine. I have some leads on new opportunities. Sophie keeps my feet warm, and Sheldon is building me a garden in the back yard.

But what kind of scars will this leave on my daughter, and will I ever stop missing my son?

This is the season of not knowing anything. I’m a mom, and the stuff that I know isn’t that helpful right now.

Should I give her more space, or insist she does her homework in the living room?
Do I check on her grades, or let her know I trust her to that chemistry homework takes precedence over carrot cake?
Do I say something about the fact she has macaroni every day for lunch, or do I stock up on Annie’s?

I’ll try not to give into buying a $300 Nintendo to make things better, but it’s tempting as hell.

Arrrghhhh.
Julie

On Day Fifty Four, This Helped.

Today, I had to get off a zoom call because I needed to drive my daughter somewhere. I was worried about a friend of mine diagnosed with the virus, overwhelmed by LinkedIn, and exhausted by trying to come up with something to say- here, on the phone, or to my husband during dinner.
I’ve always used music to lift me up. I dance with Katy to the Latin music of Zumba, drag Sophie for endless walks, earbuds tucked, volume up, and play classical guitar on Google home to fall asleep.
Today, I needed more than the radio.
So I got in my car, plugged my phone to the auxiliary jack, pulled up Spotify, and searched for Bruce Springsteen.
I put on his playlist, and turned it all the way up.
I sang so loud my vocal cords ached. I wailed to the sound of Clarence’s sax, whispered about Billy down by the railroad tracks, and believed, for about three to four minutes, in a promised land, and that I, or we, will find our way there.
It’s nice to get swallowed up by headphones, jump around the living room with Katy, and lean into sweet melodies as I drift off.
But sometimes, I need to sing along, as loud as I can, to the music I’ve loved forever. I need to know the notes and lyrics, remember what it was like to be sixteen years old, and sing like no-one is listening.
Find your music, and make some noise.

 

There were squabbles about dishes, “tone of voice”, how long ten minutes actually is, who Sophie likes best in the afternoon, when stores should open, the Cuomo’s, and a heated conversation about Zoom versus FaceTime.

At the end of it all, I don’t anything any of us remembered anything that was said.

What my family did this weekend was argue, over anything, and then retreat to our rooms, the woods, the shower, or gaze for an extended period of time into the refrigerator, and sulk.

It’s Sunday night. Katy and I worked things out with conversation, and a plan for the week ahead to help us communicate better.

Colin came downstairs and offered me some cold French fries and kissed me on the cheek. He then asked if I could feed them to the birds. I explained to him the birds are sleeping and gave him an icy look. He put the leftover potatoes away, and said “Good night, mom, I’m turning the tv down now.” For some reason, I believed him, though his behavior on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, would indicate this will be a challenge.

Sheldon is downstairs flipping through every tv channel because he is still working on understanding the concept of TV OnDemand. He offered to come upstairs and help me carry my water class, and eyeglasses to our room. He is lonely, and would like assistance with the remote.

This is a time for chocolate, technology, yin yoga, helping your neighbor, coloring the sidewalk in rainbow pastels, planting a garden, and spending time with the people and animals we love.
We have a lot of time with these people, so sometimes we might get a little, or a lot, irritated with them.
But this is not the time to hold a grudge.
Life’s too short, and sleep is hard to find.
Sweet dreams, my friends.
Love,
Jules

Day Forty
There is nothing like the moment in the kitchen after the dishes are done, when I’ve left a zoom call with friends, and I’m waiting on my daughter to come downstairs to watch tv.
I wonder why Colin’s so quiet? I
I wonder why Katy’s taking so long?
Is the dishwasher making a weird noise?
Does Sophie look more tired than usual?
These moments are when I think, I really need to do yoga or consider drinking more wine.
We’re on Day Forty, my friends. I”m still looking at Facebook, waiting on Kate, which is what I was doing quite a bit of the time before all of this.
I should go see what Colin’s up to.
He’s probably making masks out of surgical tape and medical gauze or cleaning the linen closet.
I’m going to check, anyway.

Today, I was part of a conversation with some amazing women who do amazing things. My mom even said, when I told her about them, “you’re lucky they have chosen you to be part of their lives.”

I am blessed to know so many amazing people, and that these amazing people return my calls, laugh at my jokes, include me to their zoom meetings, and will invite me into their homes, for holidays, dinners, games, and just because. They have good wine, better snacks, and we get each other, in a way I haven’t felt in a long time.

But, sometimes, it’s hard to know where I fit in.
I’m currently not working at Quincy College, currently unsure what my next steps are going to be, or where I want them to take me.

I bring to the table funny stories about life with Colin, and heartwarming anecdotes about Katy still letting me into her room, even flop on her bed, and sometimes, talk to me, (this morning, she told me I needed a shower. I’d just hiked the Blue Hills.) I bring to the table good table manners, excellent taste in music, a sometimes irritating and occasionally helpful cheerful demeanor, muted first thing in the morning for most of my friends, and I’m willing to be the one who decides which restaurant and what time- Not critical skills at the moment.

I know it’s not good to compare yourself to others, the doors that have closed will open to amazing opportunities, I have a house, a husband, beautiful kids and the very best dog.

I know all of us have been pretty close to where I am now, at one point or another.
I know this, in my head.

But in my heart, I feel like I”m running the Boston Marathon and, somehow, find myself alone, lost in Cleveland. Everyone’s talking about Boston, and I’m wandering around Cleveland hoping to get home for the

byForty-One Days- and not the best of them.
(The flute recital, not mentioned, which should have been mentioned, was amazing.)

Today, I was part of a conversation with some amazing women who do amazing things. My mom even said, when I told her about them, “you’re lucky they have chosen you to be part of their lives.”

I am blessed to know so many amazing people, and that these amazing people return my calls, laugh at my jokes, include me to their zoom meetings, and will invite me into their homes, for holidays, dinners, games, and just because. They have good wine, better snacks, and we get each other, in a way I haven’t felt in a long time.

But, sometimes, it’s hard to know where I fit in.
I’m currently not working at Quincy College, currently unsure what my next steps are going to be, or where I want them to take me.

I bring to the table funny stories about life with Colin, and heartwarming anecdotes about Katy still letting me into her room, even flop on her bed, and sometimes, talk to me, (this morning, she told me I needed a shower. I’d just hiked the Blue Hills.) I bring to the table good table manners, excellent taste in music, a sometimes irritating and occasionally helpful cheerful demeanor, muted first thing in the morning for most of my friends, and I’m willing to be the one who decides which restaurant and what time- Not critical skills at the moment.

I know it’s not good to compare yourself to others, the doors that have closed will open to amazing opportunities, I have a house, a husband, beautiful kids and the very best dog.

I know all of us have been pretty close to where I am now, at one point or another.
I know this, in my head.

But in my heart, I feel like I”m running the Boston Marathon and, somehow, find myself alone, lost in Cleveland. Everyone’s talking about Boston, and I’m wandering around Cleveland hoping to get home for the afterparty.

I have the sense of direction of a ninety year old drunk from Medford, waking up alone in Los Angeles, who lost his glasses on the flight.

But I am determined as hell, so I’ll get there.

And if I don’t, I’ll jump on Katy’s bed until she makes me laugh or figures out how to throw me off.

Love,
Jules

Yesterday was the “progressive dinner” of high school college fairs in this area of Massachusetts. If you’re not familiar with the term, a progressive dinner is one where the participants move from one houses to enjoy different courses- the Jennings for cocktails, the Gorbenski’s for apps, Jenny and Rob always serve the roast beef, you get the idea.

I had to be a Milton High School at 8 am, followed by Braintree at 9:30, Blue Hills Regional Technical School at 1, and Randolph at 220 pm. I had a lot of company, about fifty to sixty other colleges attended, some from as far away as Florida. We all wore comfortable shoes, lugged portable suitcases stuffed with tiny phone chargers, stress balls, little notebooks, flyers, viewbooks, pens, inquiry cards, invitations, business cards, pop up signs and polyester table runners in school colors.

We walked from the parking lot thru Milton High School’s front door like we’d been there before. (I have actually spent a lot of time walking in and out of Milton High School’s front door. My son was asked to leave three months before he was to graduate.) Yesterday morning, I was there to speak to his classmates about coming to school at Quincy College while Colin played NBA All Star Draft in his room.

Admissions representatives don’t speak to each other much, at least that I’ve noticed. Walking in and out of the high schools, we’re rushing, to get to our tables, hoping for coffee, trying to get our display set up and inviting before the first class descends into the cafeteria or the gym, trying to find our car to get to the next college fair, or home, or to a hotel. We are rushing from one place to another, phones in one hand, suitcases dragging behind us. We save our smiles and conversation for the prospective students, that want to us to tell them that Criminal Justice is a terrific major, there are careers for people that study Art, or that they’ll get into Nursing School. I try to be as honest as I can when I speak to the teenagers.

It’s easy for me. Quincy College, where I work, is affordable, so it’s a good fit for most seventeen year olds without a clue. And most seventeen year olds are without a clue. Even if they think they have a clue, they really don’t. Not about the future, anyway. But they do have a hell of a lot of time to figure things out. Not as much time as my son, but they’ve got time, especially if they spend a year at Quincy College, where tuition is affordable, and they can save on housing costs by living at home.

As an Admissions representative, I don’t say much to my colleagues because I’m saving all of my energy for the conversations with the seventeen year olds. I have tired conversations about how Monday’s suck with friends, how irritating work politics can be with people the next desk over, how much I hate the morning with my daughter every morning. The teenagers at the other side get to see Julie, the empathetic, interesting, and interested version. And I get to listen to them, and remember what it was like to be seventeen with the whole world, and a whole life, spread in front of me.

I imagine a few years ago, Admissions representatives might have spoken to each other on the way back to their cars, after the first fair, on their way to the second about the best way to get from point a to point b. But now, we all have phones, with apps like Waze, Google Maps, good ol’ Suri, to guide us to the next stop of the route. So we walk to our cars, separately, calculating if we have enough business cards, summer schedules, and pens for the next stop. In between, Suri does the talking.

During the events, we listen, ask the right questions, and thrust inquiry cards at the students, saying- just fill out your name, email address, high school, interest and date of graduation. The cards they give back are hard to read, and a lot of the time, the workstudy who enters the address gets it wrong. Soon, we’ll have tablets. Soon the inquiry cards will be as automated as our directions.

I’m grateful for Suri. I can’t find my way to the corner store some days. My work study will say a prayer of thanks when we start having prospective students type in their information on a tablet.

Hopefully, there isn’t a technology waiting in the wings to take over the conversations with juniors. They look me in the eye, they listen to my answers. They tell me their plans, they tell me their other plans, sometimes, they tell me they’ve got no plans. I could spend all day going from high school to high school, five days a week.

 

In Sophie’s Opinion

April 5, 2018

    It’s my last semester of school, and one of the assignments is to write two to three times a week in a Communication Technology journal. The idea is for us to recognize the day to day impact technology has on our lives, and the way we relate to each other.

    For the record, I’m pretty aware of technology, and the impact it’s had on human interactions. I own two teenagers, and work at a college, where I am surrounded by many, many teenagers, all looking for chargers, lost headphones, or the wifi password. I work at a place where colleagues and I will email each other information when sitting less than three feet from each other. I work at a place that has about twenty times more screens than books, and understand, that is the way things are now, so I don’t need to be reminded that technology is the almost the norm in most day to day conversations.

    I sound grumpy about this, and I’m not. Technology has allowed me to share my essays and poems with an audience that doesn’t consist of Mom and my friend that just lost his job and will to listen to anything. It’s an easy way to remind someone to clean their room, without having to listen to the response or the lack of one. I enjoy crafting a well written email, I appreciate always having a camera, (I never had a camera, or if I did, I could never find it. Now, if I can’t find my camera, I can call it.)

    My own issue with technology is once I’ve started, it’s hard to stop. Right now, I’m wrapping up this assignment so I can go downstairs and spend some time with my dog, Sophie, the Most Significant Child, because she will remain one. But I just noticed a text from a student on my phone, my laptop is already open. If I answer the text, I’m going to end up on the website. If I look on the website, I’ll spot an incorrect date, or remember I was supposed to email the woman from Madison Park about a tour. Once I email her, I’ll remember I haven’t called my mother yet today, because the woman from Madison Park is named Cindy, and Mom is Sheila, and I really do like talking to my mom. She’ll ask me how Sophie is, because she’s afraid to ask about the kids this late at night, she’s a worrier, and I’ll feel guilty because Sophie will be downstairs, waiting, and has been since I started this entry.

    So, I’ll prove myself wrong, and just stop. It is hard to walk away from technology, but at the end of the day, I’d rather spend some time with Sophie, the Silent. She’s aware I’m spending too little time at the park, and too much time chattering, one way or another, on screens. Sophie is not a fan.