2019: It never really got any easier

I’ve thought about posting here a lot of times in the last few months. I started a few posts. Once, I started writing, deleted it and then went on a fruitless rabbit hole search for a different journaling platform online and then ultimately decided that wasn’t what I wanted either. I no longer know what purpose this serves, by and large.

But what I know today is that I want a place to put my reflections about the past year and the past decade and this seems like a good place to do it. Maybe it will be the beginning of a blog renaissance, perhaps I won’t be back for months, or even until 2020 is about to end. But for today, I’m here.

January 2019

After 2.5 years of being a stay at home parent, but close to a year of working towards the goal of not being a stay at home parent and getting the shaft left and right, L scored a part time job at the local LGBT center as the training manager. On one hand, this was awesome! L had come to hate being home with the kids all day and was growing increasingly resentful of the job. They were also beginning to feel hopeless about finding a job and it was taking a serious toll on their self worth. As you might expect, this also wasn’t great for our relationship or home life. Of course, it also came with a shift in the logistics of our family that was super challenging. We had to figure out childcare that was affordable and also allowed Ansel to continue attending outdoor preschool. It meant negotiating things like who takes which kid where and what happens when one of them is sick – answers that had defaulted to L before. We continue to patch things together week to week, month to month, and I spend at least a few days each month in a semi-panic about childcare, but we’ve improved our systems, and having a spouse who is being appreciated for their brilliance by other people is a very very worthwhile trade-off. +1 for January.

This is no longer how I visually manage my anxiety about our schedules. I keep it in my own planner now.
Baby Cobain

February 2019

  • It snowed SO MUCH in the Puget Sound which mostly made me fucking grumpy because it meant school was closed for days on end. But I do like snow on occasion so it wasn’t all bad.
  • I went to Portland and spoke in front of hundreds of people who were actually just there to see my friend Nadia talk about her new book. It was super fun to be famous adjacent for a night but also weird because once upon a time, Nadia was just the tall, intimidating woman in my Writing for Religious Studies class in college, and then my friend and then my pastor and now she’s like, well, kind of famous – like, legit got stopped on the street famous.
  • Finally started truly realizing that the concerns we had about Ansel were legitimate enough to begin investigating more fully. One of my turning points was watching them in preschool basketball practice and seeing just how differently they responded from everyone else. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew something wasn’t quite right. Even as we came to this realization, we struggled to get the pediatrician to get on board and provide the referrals we needed. Things definitely felt like they were building to a point of crisis. We took them to be evaluated by ChildFind and got results about delays in fine motor, language articulation and some social-emotional and knew we needed to seek out other intervention and evaluation.

I’ll call February a 0 because a lot of it sucked but then some of it really didn’t so, you know, a wash.

March 2019

  • Angus got his second set of stitches on the face in less than 3 months. We hear he’s likely to grow out of the stitches but they do make him look like a serious bad ass right now. Also, babies on Versed are hilarious.
  • Ansel turned 4 and had an amazing My Little Pony birthday party which included a very lovingly made Twilight Sparkle costume, created primarily with felt.
  • Ansel started developmental/peer inclusion preschool through the public school system, which was ultimately a really really great thing.
  • We ponied up a lot of money and had a very well regarded Child Psychologist assess Ansel. She gave us a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum disorder which felt so fucking hard but also started the process of understanding Ansel better and starting to understand how to support them.
  • My brother was a super asswad to me and we stopped talking to each other.

I think we’ll call March a +1.

April 2019

  • I spent a lot of hours of my life fighting with the insurance to get services covered for Ansel.
  • Knowing what’s happening for your kid is great but also it doesn’t magically make things easy and April was good proof of that.
  • We got to appreciate the majesty of this place we live on a visit to Orcas Islands and we spent a whole weekend with the people who really are our best friends in Tacoma and that was lovely.
  • Mostly things just felt impossibly hard in a million tiny little ways that I couldn’t define if I wanted to. But here’s a picture of my family in matching shirts.

April, -1.

May 2019

  • My mom got diagnosed with oral cancer (Get your kids vaccinated for HPV, and yourself too if you’re under 40!) and it seemed like things might be scary for a while but then one surgery got all of the cancerous cells and it was sort of a non issue.
  • Ansel started identifying as ‘both a boy and a girl’ which is still the primary language they use to describe their gender.
  • Things between Laurie and I were feeling pretty consistently shitty but again, not in a hugely definable way.
  • I went to San Francisco for a weekend for work.

May: Pretty mediocre but let’s call it a 0.

June 2019:

  • Saw Brandi Carlisle, Emmylou Harris and Neko Case at the Gorge with blog friends and ran into, like, 6 Colorado queers. Felt a cool breeze and didn’t have to think about children and got a little drunk and felt free for the first time in so so so long.
  • Went to a lot of pride celebrations.
  • Life was generally hard on a day to day scale and now I’m getting tired of recounting a year that felt impossibly difficult but for no discernable reason.

Ok, I’ll give June a 0 too, but only because Brandi and Emmylou sang “A Case of You” and I cried about it because it felt so true and good.

July 2019

  • Tacoma Pride was pretty amazing
  • We only had to take the kids to one place for daily childcare which made like 1000% easier.
  • Women’s World Cup Homecoming Game (-1/2 point because Rapinoe didn’t play and we had shitty seats)
  • Had a breakdown about having another baby even though there was really no reason to (+1/2 because the storage fee bill that set off this manufactured crisis ended up being covered by insurance!)

Okay July, you get +1.

August 2019

  • Angus turned 2!
  • L and I started being more intentional about giving ourselves and each other time to do things that filled our hearts and souls. We also started unpacking the ways parenting an autistic preschooler and a very self assured toddler had taken a toll on our relationship. Things 100% got easier in this space, though we could still use a little more work.
  • The above was helped by a pretty incredible 3 days in Las Vegas where we saw Janet Jackson and had a lot of sex and got a lot of sleep.
  • Upped my commitment to helping Elizabeth Warren get the 2020 Dem nomination because she is a fucking dream of a candidate. Started feeling a modicum of hope about the world after November 2020.
  • Made some more significant commitments at church and started to feel more fully a part of that community.

August gets a +2 because I started legit trying to deal with some of the BS that 2019 brought my way.

September 2019

  • Went for some hikes in the rain and realized how much more I need to do that because it heals my soul to be in this primordial deep green forest with just God and my thoughts.
  • The dog of my heart died after 15 years of being my constant companion and I didn’t know how to exist without him for many, many weeks after.
  • Got a severe case of posterior tibal tendonitis and decided that I was going to do whatever I had to in order to pay the $9000 to try the only thing that might work to end my pain without surgery and further complications.
  • Went to Hawaii with my parents which was simultaneously so lovely and so so difficult. It was so wonderful to see the kids swim and love the ocean, feel deep excitement about seeing Mickey and Minnie, and spend time with my parents away from my childhood home and it’s baggage. But seeing how my parents have physically aged and how limited they are in their ability to get around was heartbreaking. Seeing in action the way my mom treats Angus differently from Ansel and Liam (my nephew) was unfuriating but also deeply hurtful. Continuing to mourn the lack of the family I’ve never had felt exhausting to do in ‘paradise.’

Fuck right the fuck off, September. I know I should be grateful for the vacation but it cost a little too much emotionally, so -1.

October 2019

  • I turned 38. Mostly this is just a statement of fact, because I feel kind of neutral about it.
  • Started the process of getting my exosym which was exciting and terrifying but definitely fully on the road to AMAZING.
  • Things with Ansel started to level out, behavior wise, and we started seeing a LOT of success and improvement.
  • October is, in general, the most beautiful month of the year. This remained true in 2019.

October, I’ll give you a +1.

November 2019

  • Got my exosym. Walked without pain for the first time in 5+ years. And then ran without pain. And then did box jumps without pain. Did obstacle courses without pain. #magical
  • Things were, like, mostly ok and that felt like it was a huge accomplishment because things had felt mostly shitty for a long time.

+2 for the life changing magic of dynamic carbon fiber.

December 2019

  • We did a lot of fun holiday stuff, particularly train related holiday things. Xmas Tree Train & Polar Express were awesome.
  • Ansel was sick for what felt like weeks (but was probably just . . .nope, it was actualy 2 weeks) with maybe the flu and then definitely a stomach virus. They missed SO MUCH SCHOOL and for a week + we woke up each morning hoping to send them to school and then inevitably having to decide who would stay home or frantically text/call people we knew who might be willing to hang with a sick kid. Angus also had some barfs, though it didn’t last. I got a stomach virus and spent 24 hours in the toilet kingdom. All of this happened during one of the busiest and least flexible periods of my work calendar.
  • Because of Ansel’s autism and food based sensory stuff, loss of appetite from the maybe-flu and then barfing from the definitely stomach virus made them extremely anxious about eating and resulted in them, well . . .NOT eating for days at a time. This led to severe stomach cramps and then leg cramps from dehydration which ultimately landed us in the ER on Xmas eve/morning. Luckily it wasn’t anything more serious and L’s mom was in town to hang with Angus.
  • The day after Christmas, L took our dog Cletus (the dog of her heart) to the vet for a senior check up and to ask about weightloss and during the process of taking urine, they discovered a mass the size of a softball in his abdomen. The most likely case was a malignant tumor in the intestine, which would be inoperable. The second option was a tumor on his spleen which could, in theory, be removed but they couldn’t know if it was the former or the latter until they were inside and, anyway, the vet wouldn’t recommend surgery anyway due to his age and breed. We made the very difficult but also very clear decision to put him down. Which means we lost two dogs in the space of 3 months, and both L and I lost the dogs we loved the most.
  • Probably because of the lack of consistent routine + Christmas excess + sadness, our normally feral children have been wilding beyond measure and we are both beyond tender and exhausted and struggling.

So fuck you too, December. -2

2019 gets 4 points total. I don’t know what the total possible score is because I sort of changed the rules as I went, but I think my original thought was 1 point per month . . .let’s stick with that and call the couple of times a month got more than +1 extra credit. 4/12 is definitely an F though.

So, come on 2020. I’m hoping for a year where things just stop sucking a little bit more.