The coronavirus diaries, Day…who even knows anymore

Among my FB memories the other day was a post about coming out here — an hour’s drive from my old apartment — to have dinner with my parents, even though gas was nearly $4 a gallon. I remember those days. I very nearly bought a moped to ride to work because gas prices were so high. After picking up the groceries this week, R filled up my tank; with Kroger Plus card points, he says it came out to around 50 cents a gallon. Years ago I was on the road daily, and often put gas on a credit card so I could also afford food. Now we go nowhere, and gas is cheaper than it was when I was in high school.

I have reached the stage in quarantine/menopause/life where I pull out pajama pants that fit me two years ago and marvel that my butt was ever that small. Yet I stubbornly hang on to boxes of even smaller clothes that I’m going to fit back into someday, I swear. Whether those clothes will still be in style by that point is another matter entirely.

Recently I provided masked tech support to my mother, who needed help installing and setting up Zoom because her infectious disease doctor wants to conduct her checkup virtually. (But we’re opening up everything else. Makes sense.) My mother’s hair is longer than I ever remember seeing it; when I was 6 months old, she had her nearly waist-length hair cut short, and she’s worn the same hairstyle ever since. I think the longer hair looks good. Softer.

Speaking of hair, I trimmed my son’s a few weeks ago. Mostly I was just imitating what I saw his hairdresser do last time, but I think it turned out okay. I read some articles about it after the fact, and I did everything I was supposed to; it’s just that he is 5, and wiggly. The other day I asked if he would like a trim, as it’s getting in his eyes again. “Longer is better,” he told me.

It is summer. Not according to the calendar, or the stars, but because the weather says it is. If you’re trying to neatly divide the calendar into four seasons, May is firmly in Spring territory, but Southern summers are famous for overstepping their bounds. We went from weeks of gorgeous, unseasonably cool days to muggy, sweltering (swuggy? meltering?) early summer in the space of a weekend. In response to the heat, we got the sprinkler out Memorial Day — my suggestion, as the splash pad did not open this year because of the coronavirus and the kids were lamenting that we did not buy the house with the pool. (Truth: after seeing how our fish tank looks week to week, I refused to buy a house with a pool.) Then I saw a rash of IG posts from people who’ve recently purchased above-ground pools, including one with a pop-up canopy over part of the pool. Which, if you are a freckly, sunburn-prone person, is brilliant. So now I’m considering buying an above-ground pool and a canopy. Shh…don’t tell the kids.

“Mama, there’s a spider!” my son said, for the third time that day. We had pest control spray quarterly at our old house, because otherwise we’d have been overrun by the Aragog-sized wolf spiders that summered in the woods fringing the backyard but preferred to winter indoors. After we moved here, I waited a few months to determine whether we’d resume pest control, but since the spiders I saw were few and small, I decided against it. We had the house treated for termites shortly after we moved in, so it’s possible that was the reason for the lack of insects; this year it’s spiders a-go-go around here. I’m not crazy about them either, and usually I rescue my son from them, but Mama’s got things to do. “Get it yourself!” I reply, “Or ask Anya to!” Anya sucked up the offending arachnids(!), then told me it was not one spider, but two — and one was eating the other. Not sorry I missed that.

I’m ending the week in a state of mental and physical exhaustion. The pandemic, of course, colors everything. And then there’s George Floyd, the latest in a too-long list of infuriating assaults on African Americans. Brian Sims’ video about the PA House Republicans was confirmation that things can indeed get worse, and do, and are. I’ve recently discovered Hannah Gadsby, and I love her but damn did she stir up some bad memories. Homeschooling, even on the lighter schedule I came up with for this summer, has been a struggle, and I find myself alternating between feeling that I am doing ok and wondering how I can suck at it so badly…sometimes several times within the same 5-minute period. I keep trying to fill my cup, but some days it drains faster than I can fill it. Which is so not the note I was aiming for with this post, but I am also aiming for an authentic record of this time.

This time sucks.

It is not devoid of hope, however, so I will close with this photo of my son, which I snapped just after he handed me a dandelion seed — a wishing flower seed, he called it. So I could plant it and grow more wishes. I could do with a wishing garden, and more smiles like this.


Not all of us have time on our hands

I find myself in an odd dichotomy in the face of the coronavirus, in which everything and nothing is different. My jobs continue as ever. My husband works for FedEx, so he’s also working, and long hours at that. We cannot see my parents, but we couldn’t see them before this virus hit; Mom’s had pneumonia for a few months now, and we had the Plague of January, so we’ve been having to limit contact since Christmas. Our weekends are spent inside, but between the cold and now the rain (our yard squishes when you step on it, and has for weeks now), we were already housebound. Really, the day-to-day differences in our lives with coronavirus and our lives at the end of January are subtle:

  1. I have two kids at home, not one, until at least April 24, and am under intense pressure to be educating them as well as working. (From everyone except my daughter’s teacher, I should add — she’s not pressuring anybody. It’s mostly the people without young kids in the game posting all the “helpful” educational activities. Wish there were a Facebook filter for those posts. I have more educational resources at my disposal than I have hours in the day, thank you very much.)
  2. I cannot just pop out to pick up necessities, but must check online to see which stores have what, and hope that anything they’re out of will be replenished before we run out. Then I have to figure out a way to procure everything without putting my family at risk. Filling the pantry has become an RPG-level quest.
  3. I really have to stay on top of the laundry and sanitizing, as one of us is not just out amongst them, but dealing with thousands of packages from all over the germy world.
  4. I am overcome with worry that, despite our best efforts, one of my loved ones will get sick and die. (Even more so than I mentioned in my last post, because the world just keeps upping the stakes.) For added fun, I get to defend my actions and admonitions to kids who think I am being ridiculously overcautious.

The last one is the straw that is making the camel’s back creak. The kids have heard me bang on about germs and hygiene and precautions since my mom was diagnosed with RA, and they’re not really sure why this is different. I’m trying to explain to them without terrifying them. It’s that last part that’s so hard. Here the world’s health authorities are imploring us not to touch our faces, and I have a son that likes to lick his hands and a daughter who picks her nose and eats her boogers and they will. not. stop.

Honestly, I think they have virus fatigue. Between Mom’s RA and the annual flu warnings, they were burned out before this. I’ve tried to explain how this is different, but they are confused. Same, really. It’s just so much to take in.

I tell them that the reason they’re getting such mixed messages is because we all are. That in my lifetime, I have never experienced anything remotely like this — which is both a good thing and a bad thing. The bad, obviously, is the virus. But the timing does provide a silver lining: I can’t imagine what life would have been like if this pandemic had happened 20 years ago. Or even 10 years ago. Now it’s relatively easy to hermit up. In 2010, they’d have blown through all three Netflix DVDs in one afternoon, and it’d have been a LONG five days waiting for the next batch. 2000 was just after the whole Y2K panic, when we were convinced that the world would come to an end because the odometer flipped. In 1990, we’d probably have starved to death.

But make no mistake: This ish is hard, even with Amazon Prime, grocery delivery, Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. I collapse into bed exhausted every single night, and awaken even more tired the next day. I have nothing left by the time the weekends come around — and two kids who are stir crazy from being in the house all week, fed up with the gray and soggy sky, and falling all over themselves to get a piece of Mama. When I do get a moment for myself (Truth: It’s usually in the bathroom), I open social media and am inundated with ideas to fill all this free time.

What free time? I have less now than I did before, and I had almost none before.

I’m happy that so many people have time to Kondo their spice racks. Believe you me, if I were currently not working, I have a laundry list of household tasks that I would love to attend to — and a 6-shelf TBR bookcase for less productive days. I probably won’t have that kind of time until their teens, though, so please stop finding things for me to do. I’m stressed enough as it is.

Now would be a bad time to reread The Stand

The flu visited us this year. Anya, then Daddy, then Kai. Actually, it went more like this:

  • sheldonAnya gets a mystery virus.
  • Kai gets it, too.
  • Anya gets better.
  • Kai gets better.
  • Anya gets the flu.
  • Daddy gets the mystery virus.
  • Mommy washes All The Things and coats them in Lysol.
  • Anya gets better.
  • Daddy gets the flu.
  • Mommy Lysols the house again.
  • Daddy doesn’t get better. Daddy gets a sinus infection.
  • Kai gets the flu.
  • Mommy starts washing bedding every other day and wanders the house with a can of Lysol and the Chlorox wipes, debating if it’s in the budget to stay in a hotel until they all get well.

And yes, I vaccinate. This is with the flu shot. And Tamiflu. This ish does not play.

We’ve had illness cycles before, of course, but this one’s sucked me dry. I haven’t been to the gym since the first week of January. I’ve gone entire weeks without making it to the end of the driveway to get the mail. I spent an hour ironing patches on Anya’s Girl Scout uniform only to have her miss the event that required the uniform because no one could take her. Today I’m taking my still-sick son with me to the parent-teacher conference. Which was rescheduled from last week (when he wasn’t sick, so I could have had someone watch him for me) because the teacher had the flu. That’s where we’re at right now.

Actually, I’m starting to think Girl Scouts is too time consuming for us. The troop has set a sales goal this year of 400 boxes per girl. PER GIRL. There goes every weekend for the next month and a half. I work two jobs and have a husband who works weekends. It’s not exactly single motherhood, but I’m very short on free time. I didn’t sign her up to be a Girl Scout to learn to sell cookies; I wanted her to make friends and have educational experiences. I’m starting to think that I might be better off looking elsewhere for that.

Four hundred boxes? Are you kidding me?

Sorry. I’m just so very tired. And my hands are scabby and my to-do list is growing exponentially and I haven’t had more than 6 consecutive hours of sleep in a month because I’m constantly cleaning.

Speaking of which, time to wash the sheets again. I don’t have time to catch this stuff.

So what if it’s Maybelline?

Now that I am of a certain age, the internet sees fit to bombard me with age-positive posts and pages. Which mostly I like, because growing up I didn’t have a lot of aging role models. But I’m seeing a certain disdain for women who color their gray hair in these posts and it’s annoying the crap out of me.

I found my first gray hair at 16. It’s possible that I started graying earlier than that, as I was still coloring my hair red when I was 16. My dad had a gray patch at 15. I found my daughter’s first gray when she was 7, and her brother’s the day he was born. We’re a family of silver foxes, and our gray cred goes way back.

As you can probably understand, I’ve never felt that grays made me look older. I’ve occasionally colored my hair out of boredom, but never to hide my snowy roof. I’m even kind of proud about how my salt-and-pepper is turning into a gray streak. I think it looks awesome, especially in sunlight.

However, I’m less jazzed about how it’s altering my coloring. Now that my bangs are predominantly gray, my makeup and clothes aren’t quite…right anymore. So I’ve taken to coloring my hair. I even figured out how to do my roots myself — a major barrier to home coloring in the past, as my hair grows stupid fast. (By my calculation, somewhere between half an inch and one inch per month.) I don’t have the time or the funds to go to the salon every three weeks, but so far I’ve been able to find 20 minutes once a month to patch myself up.

I don’t feel that I’m betraying “the cause,” because I I grayed loud and proud for years. And once it’s snow white I’ll probably let it go gray again, if for no other reason than I’ve better things to do with my free time than stain my hair. For right now, though, I’m dying my hair because I want to feel good about how I look, and I happen to think I look better with dark hair. I also happen to think I look better with a little eyeliner, some concealer, and a swipe of lipstick — something none of the gray pride pages seem to take issue with. I mean, where do you draw the line?

It sure would be nice if, once and for all, we could stop judging each other. Just sayin’.

The pain is getting to me

I’m having a hard morning.

My lower back and abdomen hurt. I hurt so bad that it awakened me from a sound sleep. (That happens pretty much every day, tbh.) The pain is bad enough that when my daughter dropped a box of oyster crackers earlier — why, of course upside down! — I couldn’t help her clean them up. And snapped at her for dropping them. I hurt bad enough that I have to hold on to things to sit down and stand up. I can hold a plank for three minutes, but can’t sit on the toilet without bracing myself.

And there’s more. My belly is flat now, but if I consume anything other than tea, anything at all — a smoothie, a snack, a meal, a sunflower seed — by evening it will be resting on my thighs like I am pregnant. My legs swell. My face. My skin itself is stretched and itchy, and is marked with grooves left by the loosest of clothing. I can’t tell you exactly when this all started, because for a time the symptoms blended in with the endometriosis symptoms and I simply wrote them off. But I can tell you that it’s been going on for several years, and that it’s only getting worse.

I wish I had faith that the nutritionist will help me, but I don’t. If the ER docs and the GP and the GI all got it wrong, can her blood tests do any better? And if she can’t help me, who can? WTF is going on, and what brought it on, and how do I stop it?

I’m healthy. I’m in good shape — not the best shape of my life, perhaps, but fit. I eat a healthy diet. I take care of my body. I’m older, but not old yet. Why do I feel so bad?

You can see in my kids’ faces that we’ve been through this so much, they’ve adapted. Their voices soft and solicitous, they bring me blankets and give me gentle hugs that do not involve contact with my abdomen. They squabbled for a second earlier, but now they’re calmly watching a tablet and waiting for the storm to pass.

They know it will pass. I know it will pass. But I’m tired of having something that has to pass.

I know that hope will return, but I’m tired of dealing with the lows between.

I just want to feel better.

Happy birthday, [insert relationship here]

Anya is sick, but may be well enough to attend a friend’s birthday party tomorrow, so I ventured out in the icy rain to buy the child a card. (We have the present already, but forgot the card.) And it was so hard. I’ve purchased birthday cards for family, for friends, for my children, for acquaintances, but never for a child from another child. Would a child buy a card for another child that states the age that child is turning? No. Would a child buy another child a card calling her a princess? Not likely.

That eliminated the entire kids’ section.

Almost all of the not-kid cards mentioned womanhood, alcohol, old age, farts, or boobs. Those that didn’t were *very* specific about the recipient or giver. To: Mother, daughter, aunt, niece, grandma, sister. From: Sister/brother/mother/grandma/all of us. My selection at the local Walgreen’s thus dwindled to two cards I considered appropriate that might also appeal to 7-year-olds. I bought the one with the most glitter.

I thought this was going to be an easy purchase. I underestimated how specific greeting cards are. Were they always this way? Why are they this way? Is it for the convenience of the giver — to narrow down the selection, thus making the card aisle less intimidating? Is it somehow more personal if a store-bought card acknowledges the relationship between the giver and recipient?

It feels very preachy to me. Like social media preachy: Smile more, worry less. Live, laugh, love. Savor the moment. Give experiences, not things. You know. You have social media too. Well, this feels like that. No longer can we give a greeting card without getting super personal. “Happy 55th birthday, Second Cousin Twice Removed!” “You’re 88 years young, Step-Grandmother!” “Happy 8th birthday, Daughter of My College Roommate!” Anything less than utter accuracy is intolerable.

Or perhaps my local Walgreen’s is simply not a good barometer of the available pool of greeting cards. That’s also a possibility.


The doctor’s visit that wasn’t

Last Friday, I was beyond ready to see my GP. The day before, I’d taken my daughter for allergy testing, which was so traumatic for the both of us that I indulged myself with a small order of fries. I realized at the time that what I was doing was akin to “treating” myself to overindulgence in alcohol, as my younger self was wont to do, and the outcome was every bit as pleasant: I awoke in the middle of the night that night in excruciating pain, and that pain didn’t loosen its grip on me until the following Tuesday. (So, yesterday.) Because apparently all I have to do is eat food that has touched something that touched gluten to react. Sheesh.

Friday morning, I got up, knocked out my freelancing (fwoosh), ate, dressed, fed me and my sick little boy (whoosh) and buzzed on down to the doctor’s office, arriving a mere 3 minutes late (zoom). Only to be told that I had no appointment that day. My appointment was Monday. I had two confirmation emails stating that I was right and they were wrong, but whatevs. Could I come back Monday, when they had me down?

No, I couldn’t. I had extra work scheduled on Monday — it’s one of the reasons I opted for the Friday appointment in the first place. Nor could I come Wednesday at 9, or Thursday at all (Thursdays are my insanely busy days, and like Monday, I was also covering for a coworker). And that was it. They had no other openings in the coming weeks. They tried instead to get me in with one of the nurses. Who I like, don’t get me wrong, and I’ll gladly see if I have a sinus infection or something. But this is a bit bigger than that. So no, I’ll pass.

I was livid by the time I got home. What the hell good does it do to make an appointment if they refuse to honor it? I love my doctor, and his nurses, but this was pretty much my breaking point. I’ll just find a new GP.

But that doesn’t help right now; I’m not breaking in a new GP on this. I decided instead to skip straight to the dietitian. I spent an hour and a half researching local offices, reading reviews, and then confirming coverage with my insurance…only to be told they won’t see me without a doctor’s recommendation.

“But I can’t get in to see my doctor,” I told the lady, after she’d put me on hold for 10 minutes with some of the worst hold music I’ve been stuck with in my life. “He diagnosed me with idiopathic chronic constipation back in April; does that help?”

More hold music. A few minutes later, I hung up in disgust.

So. Now I don’t have a GP or a viable dietitian option. And I’m still hungry.

I’ll sort it out. I always do. It just would have been so much easier if I’d had medical help.

But no more fries for me. They are simply not worth it.

When does the hair positivity get here?

I have naturally curly hair. Some days it looks good…


Other days…not.


I live in the Memphis area, so I have a lot of not days. Especially in the summer, which lasts roughly 9 months around here.

I didn’t grow up curly. My hair was curly as a toddler, but it changed to silky straight around preschool. Then somewhere towards puberty, it started waving and frizzing while simultaneously becoming thick and coarse:

Yep. That’s a goat.

I wore it in a ponytail for a few years because I didn’t know what else to do with it. Finally I cut it off. That was a bad idea. Grew it back out, and discovered hot rollers, which at least helped me control the poof. Then I dialed the frizz up to 11 by bleaching the crap out of it for a few years, because it was the 80s and everyone else was doing it:

I do miss the red, but the price is too high.

When I stopped doing that and let it do its own thing, I was stunned to find that it was curly. I don’t mean a little wavy, beachy, whatever. I mean seriously curly. I grew it out, thinking the weight of it would turn the curl to waves. Um, no:

Pulled straight, my hair was down to my tailbone here.

So…it’s curly curly. Over the years I’ve constructed a hair routine that isn’t exactly in line with what’s recommended to curly girls, but works for me: I wash it at night, put some mousse on it, and try not to crush it too bad when I sleep (on satin pillowcases, because tangles). In the morning, I wet any fuzzy sections, then straighten my bangs with a curling iron.


I still have bad hair days, but that’s what buns are for.

I used to straighten my hair (or have my hairdresser straighten it, because she’s better at it) for any and all photographable moments, but in recent years I’ve come to discover that I prefer my hair curly. When it’s straight, I just don’t look like me. So you can keep your flat irons and your blowouts; I might straighten my hair on a whim, but most days I go twirly.

Then today I saw two things that made me sad and horrified. Horrified because…well, just go look at that. Here I thought it was bad when I applied bleach to my head every 4 weeks to be pretty, but jayzus. Sad because I grew up watching people — guys and girls — apply all sorts of chemicals and products to their hair to look good, wondering what they thought was wrong with it in the first place. Then I spent 20 years hating my own hair, at times frying it with various implements up to and including a clothes iron, because I fell victim to the fashion bandwagon. Now the pendulum’s swinging back the other way, and I feel sorry once more for the girls who will douse their head in chemicals to try to look like someone else.

I see a lot of body positivity these days, but we’re still screwing with our hair. Can we stop that, please?

Look. I’ve had straight hair, curly hair, short hair, long hair, red hair, dark brown hair, and salt-and-pepper hair. It all had its good days and bad days. But overall, my hair looks best when I don’t mess with it too much. My mother taught me that; she’s worn her hair the same way since I was 6 months old. It works for her. I think most people are that way — we tend to look best with what we were born with.

You do you, I tell my kids. Nobody can be you as well as you can. That goes for your hair, too.

What’s in a name?

I did a lot of research on last names before my first marriage. (Which was 15 years ago, for those playing at home.) I was starry-eyed at the prospect of matrimony, especially given my track record of failed engagements. I’d been planning my wedding in my head for years, it felt like. I also had some actual wedding plans; I had an engagement fall through six months before I met my first husband, and while I fortunately hadn’t paid for anything yet, I’d made a lot of the decisions already.

I was so ready for everything married. The ring. The dress. The registry. The name. Being Mrs. Somebody. I’d been through the whole dating-engagement-breakup loop so many times that I was all but daring someone to actually go through with things for once.

But I was also attached my my own name. All of it. My first name is derived from my uncle’s middle name, my uncle who was killed at the age of 14 in a car accident when my mother was 6 months pregnant with me. He used to rub my mom’s belly and call me Little Tommy. Not wanting to saddle me with Thomasina, she opted for the feminine version of his middle name, Nicholas.

My middle name is the second half of my maternal grandmother’s name, Anna Marie. I never met her, either. She passed away from cancer, three months before my parents were married.

My last name, obviously, came from my dad. Who got it from his dad, who I also never met. (Yes, most of my family is dead. A great deal of them died before I ever was.) He died when Dad was 5. Dad was the only child of my grandmother’s first marriage, and I am an only child, and while I know the name Brown is hardly going anywhere, I felt like I ought to at least carry our little vein of it on a while.

What to do?

After much hemming and hawing, I decided to slide everything over a slot. My first name became Nicole Marie. Both my mother and grandmother have double-barrel first names, and I liked the symmetry. My middle name became Brown. My last became my husband’s last, which I won’t mention here because he’s one of like 4 people in this country with that last name and I don’t want to make it any easier for him to cyberstalk me. (He’s kind of a creep.) I didn’t make anyone call me Nicole Marie. But I did sign the full thing on all legal documents. Which was quite a pain in the ass, to be honest.

A year and a half after we married, we got divorced.

It took me a while to change everything back over. It wasn’t that I thought we were going to get back together (I kicked him out); it was more that the whole process of changing your name is exhausting, and I just didn’t have it in me to go through it all again so soon. Anyone who’s gone through the whole name change saga with anything more than a driver’s license and a bank account knows what I’m talking about here. But finally I did get everything changed. (Confession time: I didn’t get the last credit card updated until I was changing it to my new married name.) And swore I’d never go through that mess again.

But then I fell in love again.

As you may know, I did things in a socially unacceptable order this time around: I had the babies first. So I had to decide what to do with my name long before we married, as I wanted my children and I to have the same last name. After much research into the legal issues, many discussions with my baby daddy, and much reading up on societal norms, I decided that Anya (and, later, Kai and I) would take both of our last names. Perry Brown. Not Brown Perry, because R and I agree that sounds dumb. And not hyphenated, because I wanted the option to use just Brown professionally. (At 28, I had fewer than 5 years of professional experience on top of my degrees. Now I have 20.) Way back when I was researching the matter for my first marriage, I read that when you have two last names and don’t hyphenate them, legally you can use either. That sounded great to me.

What does it matter what order the names are in?

Answer: It doesn’t matter at all unless you live in a small Southern town.

The clerk at the first DMV I went to told me I couldn’t change my name to Perry Brown. Couldn’t. Her supervisor concurred. (I am not a “let me talk to your supervisor” kind of person, but sometimes you have to be.) I told her SSI had no problem with my name. (Or my daughter’s or son’s name, though I didn’t drag them into it.) She told me changing my name with SSI wasn’t legally changing my name, that I’d need a court order to change it to anything other than Brown Perry.

‘Scuse me?

I had to go to two DMVs to get my license updated. The second clerk, at an urban DMV, merely asked if I wanted a hyphen or not.

The credit cards were all changed quickly and easily. Nary a raised eyebrow. But the bank employee was taken aback. “You’re taking his last name as your maiden name?”

Let’s pause here for a moment.

There is no law stating that you have to list your birth last name before your spouse’s. None. In fact, many people do it the other way around. Secondly, the term “maiden name” is a bit antiquated at best, offensive at worst. (Case in point: I was not, by the presumptive definition, a “maiden” when I married the first time.) Brown is my family name. My name. In recognition of the (legal) expansion of my family, I have added my husband’s name to my name, in the order most pleasing to us both. (We did discuss him taking the same name as me and the kids, by the way. Lots of people do that. But he’s named after his father, so his name is as important to him as mine is to me.)

So why does it matter what order the names go in? Well, best I can figure, it’s a way of tracking ownership — figurative, of course. (Or is it?) Before a woman marries, her father “owns” her, as evidenced by the label of his last name. When she marries, she is “given” to her husband (who historically bought her — literally — with a dowry, and in modern times proves he can afford to take care of her by buying her a stupidly expensive ring), and adds his last name to her father’s last name so everyone knows her owner history. Thus is patriarchal lineage traced. (Yes, I realize that’s a very simplified explanation, but I’m not wrong.)

Well, nobody owns me. And it’s not really important that anyone be able to readily tell who my father is — what, are you going to tell on me?

As I kept telling the clerk at the first DMV, first nicely and then more emphatically, it is my name. You can’t tell me what it can’t be. Some people pick a new last name — a mix of each spouse’s last name, or something all together different. There is no wrong answer here.

I do realize I’ve created confusion for future generations tracing the family tree. I apologize to them. And to my children, who have one hell of a moniker to fill in on bubble forms. Everyone else can deal.

But I’ve finally changed everything over. Well, mostly. I’m still updating doctors’ records. My dental appointment reminder came to Nicole Brown Perry, even though I was careful to point out my new name on my new insurance card so they’d submit the bill properly and the claim wouldn’t be rejected. Oh, well. I’ll eventually get everyone on the same page.

A side note: This is such a hetero issue. Can you imagine someone arguing with a gay couple over this? How would you possibly determine which last name “should” go first? But I would be willing to bet that the clerks who balked at changing my name would have had more issues with the gay couple themselves than the order in which they blended their names.

Rainy Sunday, with snotty raisin

I meant to open Fitbit to log my breakfast and opened my blog instead. So I guess subconsciously I want to write. Or I’m just sleep deprived and typing on autopilot. Either way, here’s the haps:

  • Kai shoved a raisin up his nose last night. He tried to sneeze it out, to no avail. I tried to suck it out with the nasal aspirator, and also tried to blow it out by closing his other nostril and giving him mouth-to-mouth, like the internet told me to do. I can see the raisin, but I can’t dislodge it. So I’m waiting for the clinic to open so someone can pull it out with tweezers. The only thought keeping me together while I wait is “at least it’s not a battery.”
  • I’m having some pretty serious endo pain this weekend. And also hot flashes, so I’m unsure that I will start my period and thus get relief from the pain. It’s…pretty depressing, to be honest.
  • The Medrol the dentist gave me for my oral virus (did I mention that? I have some sort of mouth crud that has made everything from toothpaste to food feel like broken glass on my tongue for two weeks now) is contributing to the hot flashes and giving me red clown nose. Also blinding headaches. But I ate almonds today for the first time in days without wanting to cry, so I will deal.
  • Here is life with this two-year-old: He was, just now, screeching like a banshee, at glass-shattering octaves. “Kai, can you please not do that?” I ask, wearily. “Okay, Mommy. Sorry.” And he stops. I’m torn between pride that I can have a conversation with my son (I didn’t have intelligible conversations with Anya until she much older) and frustration because he’s proven that he hears and understands me, but simply chooses to ignore me 90% of the time.
  • I have had very little sleep. I stayed up later than usual last night because I was in desperate need of me time. Then Kai’s snoring awoke me in the wee hours, which is when I was able to confirm that his congestion included fruit. Wasn’t able to get back to sleep after that, because I was too busy Googling “Toddler raisin nose removal” and trying to find a sleeping position to place him in that would prevent him from inhaling the raisin into his lungs.
  • Anya is all dolled up, but will not be going to the minor med with us because boredom is her kryptonite and I can’t handle two crazy babies on 4 hours of sleep. She is going to Mimi’s. She’s cool with the arrangement for now. But I wonder if she will remain cool when I drop her off and leave with her brother.
  • My bright spot right now is that Kai will very likely doze off on our way to the clinic, so I can have a little break from the terrible almost-threes.

Think good thoughts at me. I need them today. And a swift and minimally traumatic raisin extraction.