change change change

this week, I:

  • Signed up for Greenpeace alerts about environmental issues.
  • Contacted all my legislators at the national level about the importance of pollinator protection laws and regulations.
  • Contacted Rep. Elise Stefanik about my concerns about the Trump administration’s transition team and unqualified Cabinet appointees.
  • Put Stefanik, Gillibrand, and Schumer’s Watertown and Syracuse office phone numbers into my contacts for easy outreach.
  • Signed petitions and contacted appropriate offices via online campaigns in support of the presidential election recount efforts in Michigan.
  • Shared as widely as my network reached the need for donations to our campus food pantry.
change change change

I decided this morning that i’m setting myself a weekly challenge: On Fridays, I will share what I did this week to promote the issues I care about and shape the world into one I want to live in.

So.

This week, I contacted Rep. Jason Chaffetz asking when the House Oversight Committee would begin their investigations into the President-Elect’s conflicts of interest.
I signed and shared a Change.org petition demanding that New York taxpayers not be held financially accountable for the Trump family’s decision to live in NYC.
I purchased a subscription to the New York Times to support credible journalism.
I signed up to attend the Atlanta Women’s March on January 21 to demonstrate my support for women’s rights.

What did you do this week?

The Tiniest Capen

Hi

I lie down next to a sleeping Gwyneth, and in adjusting the pillow we share I wake her. Though I can’t see her, I can feel her waking up, her rumpled confusion in the dark. Instinctively, hoping to soothe her, I say “hi.” She answers, without hesitation, a chirpy “hi!” that belies her not-awake-ness. Realizing my mistake, and hoping to redirect, I calmly say “I’m going to sleep.” With equal calm she declares “I wake up.”
And then she burrows into my shoulder and falls back into unconsciousness. 

insert emoticon here, The animals, Uncategorized

King Jack


I’ve spent 15 years with Jack by my side. I nursed him from the dying kitten I found at PetSmart into the asshole young cat who stole pizza off my plate to the cranky middle aged cat who sat on Miles and tried to eat his face off to the old cat who wheezed like a freight train and yowled like a maniac but always purred when he slept on my pillow. All along I fed him clavamox every 6 months or so, knowing that someday it would be an upper respiratory infection that killed him. An upper respiratory infection (with extra bonus renal failure) is killing him. I’ve been waiting for this day since the vet told me my 2 pound kitten had lost nearly a pound and was going to die and reluctantly told me I could try to save him but I would end up sad. I saved him. I syringe fed him warm ham and beef baby food for days until he perked up and decided to live. When he got sick again three months later, then three months after that, then six months after that, well, I knew what life with this cat was gonna be like. 

And I didn’t care. 

My ex husband hated Jack. I should have known. 

Justin loves Jack, and Jack loves him back. They sleep together, many nights, with Jack against Justin’s side, head folded into Justin’s hand. When it’s a bad migraine day, Jack stays by his side, a silent sentinel. Justin has been syringe feeding him, and running his IV fluids. 

But this is it. He’s not getting better, despite those measures. The heartbreak is here. 

It was a good 15 years. Thanks for sharing them with me, buddy. 

The Tiniest Capen

Tiny Siren

Find the common thread:

  • the One Cup Of Cider rule
  • wearing a shirt
  • sharing building blocks and design control
  • hairbrushing
  • turning off Daniel Tiger
  • the No Snacks If You Reject Dinner Entirely rule
  • bedtime

If you guessed “things Gwyneth has had screaming angry tantrums about today,” you win a set of raw nerves and a headache. 

I gave in on the shirt, because who the hell cares. But the rest… it’s a wonder she has a voice left. 

I’m assuming we’ve reached “threenager”. I could do without it. Fortunately, she’s remarkable the rest of the time. It really does make up for it. I think the snuggles and kisses and conversations and play are like the hormones that flood your body after childbirth – they fog your mind to the reality of the preceding moments and make it possible to do tomorrow. 

Sitcom life, The Tiniest Capen

Once upon a time there was a being, and it met a girl named Felicity Brewer.

The Being needed Felicity, so she chose him for her own. And her love made The Being grow so big, that the Brewers had to leave their home. The Being’s the best friend anyone could know. “He’s the greatest thing ever. I really think so. The Being’s so loyal, he’s there when you call. I love The Being who sought me out!” So they packed up the family car and the Brewers left the city. They moved to Birdwell Island and found many new friends waiting there to greet The Being and Felicity. “The Being’s so much fun, he’s a friend to us all.
I love The Being who sought us out!”

So, that’s obviously a story pitch for a feeder from another dimension who met a girl, confused her with a perception filter and began eating her emotions, then as it gained power convinced her to move to a remote island where the whole village, drawn by its power, came out to meet them and were assimilated as prey.

Or it’s the theme song to Clifford, the Big Red Dog, with names changed to protect the innocent. Your call.

insert emoticon here, The Tiniest Capen

On Tuesday night, Justin and I left Gwyneth with Kyle (where she happily played hide and seek for at least 2 hours, repeatedly hiding under her bed, which made Kyle’s job a lot easier…) and went out to dinner and a movie. We had a great meal, laughed and clapped at Dr. Strange, and talked. We talked about the Venn Diagram of urban fantasy and space opera themes, and how our various favorites fit into them (the diagram seems to have the following categories: Romance and Sex, Weapon/Fight/Ship porn, Worldbuilding Depth, Metaplot, Character Depth). We talked about Kingdoms of Novitas. We talked about parenting. We talked about life.

We also talked about how I’ve recently increased the dose on my antidepressants, and it seems to be helping. I’m still worried, but I’m acting, whereas for the last few months I was pinned under the anxiety, fully aware of the issues I was facing and unable to find solutions. On Monday I started solving things again. So hooray!

Except then the election happened and the electorate betrayed my belief in who we are as a country. And I spiraled down again, late Tuesday night, after we came back from a perfect evening. I curled into Gwyneth’s bed with her, arm wrapped around her back, my cheek on her head, and wept. And whispered apologies into her sleeping ear. I’m so sorry that I brought you into this world. THIS world. I’m so sorry.

And on Wednesday, having not really slept, I stayed home from work and dealt with myself. I meditated. I did yoga. I went grocery shopping. I cooked. I read. I pet my dog. And I thought.

Here’s where I’ve landed.

Facebook no longer has a place on my phone. If I’m going to check in, I’m doing it sitting at a computer. The echo chamber and the reality channels posing as news are no longer getting pride of place in my personal time. They aren’t going to live in my pocket.

I will do what I can, where I can. That means my family, my friends, my community, and my elected officials. And I will be intentional and thoughtful about voicing my opinions, sharing my concerns, and agitating for change where I can. I will fight for my world. I will fight for my daughter’s world. I will listen to my friend Jill, who is reminding us that social change is possible at the local level, and that the local conversation is what informs the national one.

I will direct my energies in my library into fostering freedom of speech, building an understanding of our governing processes and our history of protest in our student body, and ensuring that everyone — and I mean EVERYONE — feels welcome in Crumb provided that they adhere to actions that support our mission.

And I will not dwell in the horror of what I see in the American people right now. I will remember that Italy has survived Berlusconi, if only barely. I will remember that the Civil Rights Movement was effective. That the Suffragettes succeeded. That feminism is not dead, and that equality is possible. Love can win. I will dwell in that place. Hope is the thing with feathers, and as long as I breathe, I hope.

The Tiniest Capen

This morning during daycare dropoff, as Miss Molly and Miss Elaina cheerfully managed the slightly special needs kid in Gwyn’s class, I walked out with that kid’s grandma. We both stopped in the office to compliment the teachers to their boss. And then we talked outside for a minute.

The grandma told me how grateful she was that the teachers integrate her grandkid, instead of placating or ignoring the “problem” that he can cause. I told her that when Gwyneth recites the list of children she’ll play with at daycare, she includes him in the list. The grandma said “which means they’re *friends*. He has *friends*.” with wonder in her voice. And then went on to say “sometimes he’s just so far ahead, and sometimes he’s really hard. But if you write him off, you’ll miss out. He won’t miss out. But you will.”

Gwyn’s not gonna miss out.

The Tiniest Capen, Uncategorized, working mother

9000 eternities

Time asleep before I was awoken: 4 hours? Maybe 5?

Time spent calmly talking about how it is nighttime and it is time for sleeping to a balls-to-the-wall hysterically screaming toddler who wanted daddy, a show, to sleep on the couch, Maggie, Daddy, and also another show: 45 minutes? An hour? An eternity? 57 eternities?

Time spent observing same toddler as she eats a bag of popcorn while staring off into space like a zombie: half an eternity. 

Time spent adjusting the zombie toddler’s sleeping arrangements to her satisfaction: 2 eternities. 

Time spent trying to remain calm and comfortable at the toddler’s bedside while she busily tries to stay awake in the face of zombie-level exhaustion: 7 eternities. 

Time at which I finally was horizontal on a soft surface in a silent house: 4 am. 

Two nights running. I can do hard things. I do hard things every day. So let’s do this hard thing. Thursday, watch the fuck out. I have eternities of practice patiently waiting out crazy. 

gratitudejournal, insert emoticon here

Justin has Lyme Disease. (We believe; his doctor does, too, and there’s lots of circumstantial evidence like 3 other people testing positive from the same camping trip, but his test came back negative.) That means that for the last two weeks he’s felt absolutely awful. Exhausted, in pain, feverish, and generally sad and frustrated.

As a side effect, I keep wondering in the dark of night if I also have Lyme Disease. Or maybe mono (which has also been diagnosed in one of our Pennsic companions). Or cancer. Or a heart problem. (I LOVE my late-night anxiety.) Because I’m just tired. So tired. Tired from working, from parenting (Gwyneth is flatly opposed to daycare this year), from taking care of my sick husband, from having my household transition (Maggie went back to college, Zara moved in for the semester), from having my work transition (students are back!), from my own pain issues (bad shoulder times). Just tired. I took a sick day yesterday to take care of Gwyneth so Justin could rest, and I ended up taking two naps — one unplanned for an hour because G wanted to snuggle in the morning, and then in the afternoon while she slept. Both times she got up, and I didn’t even notice. Apparently the second nap she came and told me she was awake and I should wake up and I have absolutely zero recollection of that. I slept straight on through. So my exhaustion means I wonder if I’m silently dying. Thanks, brain.

But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Last night Justin didn’t have much more energy, but he seemed like himself again. He was laughing. And making sweet jokes. And just… he was there. He was present. He was more than a sad, sick man. He was my partner. My Justin. This morning while I was at the chiropractor he got Gwyneth dressed for school, tortured her with a hairbrush for a while (let’s discuss toddlers and curls, shall we? NO. Let’s not.), and fed her breakfast. And I came home to a kid who was ready for daycare, and a husband who was smiling at me. He still feels like shit, but he’s back.

And just in time; today’s our wedding anniversary. We’ve been married for three years, now. I was 4 months pregnant when we got married, though we’d decided to get married well before Gwyn was conceived. Justin was the most patient partner I could have asked for during my deeply neurotic bouts of worry and concern and perfectionism while I was pregnant, and during my postpartum phase where I was even more uneven. He is an amazing father, and this life is what I wanted. And I have it.

There were the years before we got married, too, though. Those matter, too. We met in 2003, shared a circle of friends for years. We got together romantically in 2009, after the dissolution of our previous relationships. We were both pretty fragile, deeply frustrated, and uncertain about where we were going, at that point — lots of “anywhere but here” in our lives. But there was a whole lot of chemistry, and a whole lot of convergence of values and dreams and goals. We built this relationship on those three pillars, and we’re still building.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. It’s our wedding anniversary, but the three years since we got married are just a small part of who we are and what we mean to each other. It’s a marker to celebrate, though, and it represents the entirety of who we are to each other. And I can’t express clearly enough how glad I am to see my Justin emerge from his illness. I missed him. He’s crucial to my well-being. Just being with him and knowing he’s there makes me feel less tired, and less anxious. And that… well. I couldn’t ask for more.

I love you.