I have a very ambitious reading list. I, like others I know, have not been able to make my brain read since 2016. I envy the people who are not having this problem.

I managed to read a good chunk of Jen Howard, Clutter: An Untidy History (Belt Publishing) and the first bit of Joe Allen, People Wasn't Made to Burn (Haymarket Books). And then got fidgety. I dipped in and out of Martin Aston, Facing the Other Way (The Friday Project) and Sasha Petraske, Regarding Cocktails (Phaidon Press). I'd like to read Mexican Gothic (hey! Fiction) and I have a long reading list from an agency we partner with as well as some stuff from a funerary customs class I'm interested to take (but fear I'll be overwhelmed).

So there's my theme, isn't it? I feel so overwhelmingly incompetent all of the time. I'm not sure when it started or how to break out of it. I sometimes think "oh, if i just commit to [giant project], that'll do it," but I am a little smarter than that. I don't know--maybe I could do with a therapist.

Once I had a therapist and it was extremely helpful. Once I had a therapist and it felt unnecessary. Once I had a therapist and it felt like a complete and aggressive waste of time. I feel almost like committing to another one is the same issue of not being able to accomplish anything.

The buzzword in philanthropy these days is "Time, talent or treasure" which of these do people give, to whom, how much, why? I've lost the ability to apply either of the first two and my means for the third are limited. Not just where philanthropy and service are concerned, but also where life is concerned. 

Or perhaps I'm just tired. Perhaps if the rhythm of life gets back to more swithcing among home, not-home, home, society, solitude I'll get capacity back.


It feels like most of the people I work with are 15-20 years younger than I am. You know the term "digital native" to describe people who grew up with ubiquitous personal computer technology? I think of a a lot of these folks as "emotional intelligence natives"--although maybe they're more like the Gen X pre-digital native who were already adolescents with the culture tipped to the point where digital nativity became possible. 

A lot of the language they use and habits they adopt can feel sort of woo and squishy. Starting meetings with pronouns and a check-in queation is still a bit unnatural to me (and in the hands of some people, invasion or eye-rolly!). But there's something about the "duh! obvious!" reaction they have to memes like "if you hate everyone, you're hungry. eat something. if everyone hates you, you're exhausted. rest" and vigorous nods to the truisms of "hurt people hurt people" and "put on your own oxygen mask before helping others" that just feels like a more critical mass of people internalizing the emotional health component to a functioning society than people my own age or older have done.

I'll contrast the "put on your own oxygen mask before helping others" of the slightly younger folks with the "you are not required to set yourself on fire to keep others warm" of my contemporaries. Both recognize the necessity of self-care. But the former contextualizes it in the context of a collective action: help yourself so you are capable of and competent to help others. And the latter stops at reminding you that it's okay to have a duty of self-care. The latter leads to the former as a founding principle.

I was thinking about it the other day in the context of what a lovely world it will be when the majority of people approach life, work, problem-solving, system-designing, other humans from this understanding of emotional-well being as just another aspect of life. But I did not get far into articulating the concept of a native in this mind set. I'm not one, but I know many people who seem to be.

I hope that means little boys grow up giving each other non-ironic hugs.

It's a thing I'd like to talk about with some of my smart friends. 


A friend Instagrammed her journal, mentioning how much she hated writing in it but how much her therapist insisted she do it. 

We had a very big win at work today. But everytime I try to think about it, I put my head down and cry. My organization is good and does good things. But I don't. My last personal project to bear fruit was two years ago and since then, my projects have floundered.

It's the nature of the work and the nature of the field, but I find myself unable to start over with the next thing. I'm making small--if sometimes meaningful--contributions, doing routine and necessary--but not compelling--tasks. Wanting the important and interesting projects to gain traction, but certain I'm incapable of them--regardless of whether I was before.

There's a lot of thinking I need to do here but that's more than I have in me.

I love you.
Also, if you are contributing to the good things your work is doing, you are still doing good things. You have the ambition to do more good things, and to make some under your own banner, not as someone else's vassal - and you do, and you will ... but being part of a group effort is still effort, and helping make a good thing go is good.

I've been sleeping like the dead. This hasn't been the case since the Violent Traumatic Event which almost killed me when I was 20. I don't like it.

It's funny because I had just told a few friends about my theory that people only have one or two dreams, over and over and over again. I say this because I only have one dream--or as far as I can tell I only have the one dream. So I figure we all repeat our dreams, and sometimes we remember them, but focus on the strange details that count as variation.

This week I've been having dreams that bear no resemblance to the dream I always have. It's disconcerting. They are rage-filled, anxious, and full of dead people. None of that is unusual, sadly. But they have unfamiliar settings; unfamliiar features; people I don't see in my dreams. I don't know what to make of it.

Waking up is like coming out of sedation. And that is unusual and also disoncerting. 

I'm not fine, but I'm fine. 


Definition of triage

1athe sorting of and allocation of treatment to patients and especially battle and disaster victims according to a system of priorities designed to maximize the number of survivors

bthe sorting of patients (as in an emergency room) according to the urgency of their need for care

2the assigning of priority order to projects on the basis of where funds and other resources can be best used, are most needed, or are most likely to achieve success


2021 will be harder than 2020, I think. I've had so many friends making earnest plans for the spring, even more with the vaccine approvals. And it's been easy to understand the desire, but I've not been able to wrap my head around the belief that we can have schools, and bars, and museums, and parties, and shops, and social lives again, given the people in charge and the systems in place.

I have a handful of relationships which will be okay, but I don't expect anything else. I don't expect to ever ski again. Or travel again. Or find a new job. Or make a new friend. Or throw a party. Or eat in a fancy new restaurant.

I expect to miss all the celebrations and funerals. I expect to wake up in 2022 older than my mother was at my age.


Bought myself a new Kindle (I know) because the old one won't hold a charge anymore. I still can't concentrate enough to read, but I have a reading list from a colleague (a heavy terrible reading list, but there it is). Of course, those mostly won't be available from the library for e-readers.

Otherwise. It's a new year. 304 days since I've been in a bar or restaurant or museum. I've managed to see friends and family in the park. We've done take out and I've ordered online and picked up in local shops. But otherwise, I've been to the grocery store and the park.

I miss the CTA. I miss my friends. I miss my parents. 


Spent time online last nightwith my Dummies. Spouses (surviving--hi! Grim joke!) hopped on and off, but mostly it was me and these two wonderful friends. 

Today, Spouse and I did very little. Some laundry. Some video games. Food. TV. I signed up for the #MakeDontBreak mailing list, but did not notice it until I was too far into the Glogg to make today. 

Like many, I'm trying not to place too much weight on the new year--nothing, after all, has changed. I'm not putting any pressue on myself, honestly. I've made it this far; that's good enough.

I'll try to do more yoga. Try to walk more. Get back on my bike (even without replacement fenders). Get back into making sure my budget numbers are reconciled each month. Be more kind. Be more patient. Get my vaccine as soon as I can.


I've been sad today. Finding everything stressful. 

Our 25-year-old car finally needs a repair that costs more than it's worth. We can afford to replace it, but it also does not feel worth the cost. We had not planned to replace it, knowing it was going to be beyond repair sooner or later. We really only use it to drive to my parents' (and then when it's only us, my sister and her family) and for heavy errands. But pandemic--and going to the grocery once a month or less--has made all errands heavy.

It seemed more cost effective to take cabs or Lyft back from the store or do carshare or rentals for the holiday trips to my parents. But cabs are a no-go right now and the pandemic has already caused a major decline in train service to my parents' house from the city.

And this is all making me cry constantly, which is ridiculous. And so over the top. Seriously. We're fine without a car. We're fine if we decide to buy one. We're fine. We're so much more fine than hundreds of thousands of families.

I am just exhuasted. And sad.

12/19 '20

I did not see it coming, but the pandemic has forced me to learn how to use Instagram. I was already using it--posting pictures, tagging people, following people, liking things. But the stories? The messaging? The hows of all the ways you're supposed to use it were non-intuitive to me. Even off-putting. You know, in the making me feel Old and like technology is a demon, hey you kids get off my lawn way.

I'm not enchanted. And I'm still not making my own stories. but at least I know how to communicate with people there. And it's good because I miss people.

12/18 '20

I haven't donated blood since February. I stopped because my doctor told me because of some iron deficiency issues. I'd always just sort of dealt with it through supplements, but she wanted me to stop, or at least only go half as often. Then COVID, i haven't donated in almost a year, which is the longest I've gone in a long time.

I feel guilty about it. Donating blood has always been such an easy thing for me. My office is right next door to a hospital which is always having a blood drive. If I remember to drink enough water, I fill the bag very quickly. My veins are uncooperative, but the folks at the Red Cross where I donate are very good at getting the needle in easily. I had even managed to work out my supplements and diet that I was only getting rejected for iron every couple of tries, instead of every other try. I was generally managing four donations or more a year.

I did it because it was so easy for me and because it's meaningful to the community. High impact, low effort. It always made me laugh as a vaguely gruesome application of my basic maxim: that our duty in society is to share our excess (time, talent, resources) with others.

I expect I'll start again, post-pandemic. But in the post-commute world, I wonder how frictionless it will be.

12/16 '20