Saturday, January 18, 2014

I Just Can't.



I came unhinged last Sunday. 

I came face to face with something I thought I understood—the same way I thought I understood how big a deal marriage was.  I was incredibly wrong.

I thought I understood Cheryl Strayed when she talked about the tremendous grief she felt when her mother died. Or rather, I thought that I could understand how the loss was excruciating and how terrible it was to watch. I thought that the people who told her that her grief was too extreme were a little pushy and didn't recognize how people experience grief differently (and perhaps how they didn't love their mothers as much as she did). At the same time, there was a part of me that "tried on" her grief to see if I would react the way she did. Try heroin? Have an abortion? Fuck everything in sight? Leave the man with whom I was madly in love? Each thing she did was as alien to me as the moon. I found myself thinking, rather quietly, that perhaps her grief was odd and a little extreme. 

But my mother has MS, which, among so many other things, affects the muscles’ ability to work. Ever since my mother’s diagnosis, our doctor has warned us that one good upper respiratory infection could kill her. The distress would be too great for her lungs to work against and would become paralyzed. In effect, she could suffocate to death and very quickly.

The day after New Year’s, my mother entered the hospital with Type A flu and atypical pneumonia. My father was also sick with the flu, so I became the person in charge as he recuperated at home. The day she was admitted, the ER was so slammed that I helped the nurse with the foley. It was my job to talk to the doctors, to the nurses, to call my sister and tell her that our doctor didn’t think she was going to make it, that a ventilator would probably be necessary. But in a turn of events I still don't understand, none of that happened.  She didn't go to ICU, and I was able to leave after the nurse said that her oxygen levels were very good, but I was back the next day to sit beside her. 

For the next 5 days, I was with her 12 hours a day, listening to her cough, pushing pillows under her behind to ease bedridden aches, folding blankets under her calves to keep her heels from being in constant contact with the bed. The more of these little things I did for her, the more I was reminded that she couldn’t do them for herself, would never again be able to do them for herself. And despite the nurse's assurance and an improvement I could see for myself, I was sure I was watching my mother die. It was exhausting. I was exhausted. Emotionally drained. And when 9 or 10 pm rolled around, I left usually in a slump to go home, to sleep, to do it all again tomorrow. 

There was no relief to be had. Daddy was too sick to be here, and my siblings are too far away. When she did fine the first night, I told them not to come. I could handle it. She would be fine. We would be fine. I broke down a couple times on the phone with my sister, but mostly I held it together. I had to. There was no one else to do what I was doing. Until this, I had never understood how isolating hospitals are. How grateful you are when your friends show up with a bag of snacks or a sandwich and hot soup. How much you wish they would come again and bring you wine and hold vigil with you. How much you wish you weren’t fucking there yourself. This is a time when, added to the worry for your mother, you realize you didn't do what your friends needed you to when they were in similar devastating, terrifying situations. But that could be its own post, I suppose.

After several days, the doctor declared his amazement at my mother's improvement—with a warning that it could be and probably was artificial, thanks to the massive steroid and antibiotic intervention. But, she was released to the rehab hospital which was close to my father but not to me. It was too far away or felt too far away with the winter break over and me up to my ears in teaching 3 different novels and an additional prep for 3rd quarter. I couldn’t make the drive out every night, even though  at the back of my mind was the doctor's words about how she almost died. My mother almost died. My mother almost died, and I was going to work, teaching, grading, like she hadn’t.

My husband assured me of course that she was not going to die and that I wasn't to think of it because I would think of it enough in 30 years when it did happen. But it burned at me. Hissed. It slithered around inside of me. My mother almost died.

Now, I have a relationship with my father which, for many reasons which are none of your business, is by turns uneasily contentious and perfectly sympatico, but suffice it to say that I love him deeply. And he sometimes cuts me to the bone without ever knowing it. I watch some destructive behavior patterns as they continue to happen and I feel a rage. I want to say horrible things like, if you're so sure you're going to die soon (and he thinks in no more than 5 years), why don't you go ahead and Death of a Salesman it so that we can get on with our lives. In the same breath, I don’t want that at all, could never imagine wanting it. I want my father. I want my father here with me with every fiber of my stupid, mixed-up being. But the fury sneaks up on me. In those moments where he hurts me and doesn’t know, he makes me crazy with his decisions that make life harder on me. With his wild inefficiencies that he doesn't acknowledge.  With these habits that are going to kill him. But these are things you don't say at our house.

This past Sunday, I went home to do a deep clean so that when my mother finally came home, the house would be spic and span and her lungs would be as protected as I could make them. Griffin and I set about putting away the Christmas decorations while Daddy puttered in his workshop. The anger I’d been feeling started to well in me, and ripple. Why hadn’t he done any of this? Even the slightest little bit of it? And while we were at it, why didn't he ever help set it up? Why had he never helped set it up? I seethed. I became inarticulate as I carefully put away the Christmas village and the manger scene. I took a Xanax because the rage was building up. I could feel it in the back of my throat closing off my esophagus. Why was I here putting away their shit when he was off fooling around in the workshop? Why was I always here taking care of their shit so he could be off fooling around in the workshop? Here’s the problem, though. It's not actually a fair argument and I knew it and that made the anger so much worse.

When I visit, most every Sunday, the first thing he greets me with is a litany of things he has done so that I didn’t have to. In fact, every time we talk on the phone, I get the list of things he's accomplished that day. It's so irritating. I want to say, I don't freaking need to know that you loaded the dishwasher this morning! It’s taken me until now to realize that he’s not trying to make small talk, and this is the best he’s got. He's telling me he loaded the dishwasher because I always grit my teeth when I see him handwashing because why is he going to all that effort, all that time, when the dishes would be a lot cleaner if he'd just use the dishwasher. What I now realize is that in these sometimes mindless conversations, he’s trying to tell me what he’s done so that I won’t scold him for everything he hasn’t done. The floor that didn't get swept. The towels that didn't get folded. The clothes that didn't get put away. I’m ashamed to write that. I’m ashamed to acknowledge that I’ve become the kind of person who only sees the cup half empty. I’m ashamed that my daddy, with multiple spinal fusions and two hip replacements, feels like he has to defend himself to me, his daughter, his 100% healthy daughter whose own house is frequently a train wreck and who could do more if she weren't so busy. That he wants my approval for something, anything. When did I become that awful person? How do I fix it?

Once the breakables were safely ensconced in their packing, I began cleaning with a detailed fury I learned from my mother. She would have seen the danger signs as I used my finger and a rag to wipe dust from the individually routed edges of the bottom of the buffet and the china closet, as I closed the rag around the rungs of the dining room chairs. She would have known I was ready to blow when after Griffin mopped the hallway floor, I went to my hands and knees to get some marks my husband had missed. 

That evening, my father came in and started working on dinner. Sensing all was not well, he offered me sugar. I tend to be evil when I get hungry and that, rather than hunger pains, is usually the indicator I need food. I repulsed his attempts at feeding me through clenched jaws, and with a wisdom earned from 40 years of marriage, he let me be. 

Griffin, Daddy and I made it through dinner. I added a prodigious amount of rum to my Coke. Three times. 

As we were cleaning up dinner, the dam broke. Dad was standing there when I started crying in a way that I haven't cried in years. It was a sobbing hack that came from the pit of somewhere I didn't know was in me. The fear came out. I poured it out. Questions I never knew I had poured out of me. How would I ever have a baby without my mother? Who would walk me through pregnancy? What would I do without my father? How could I raise my kids without their grandparents? I tried to say things that I had only half-realized I felt. I tried to tell him how I worried I was about him, about Mama. He put his arms around me and comforted me some. I managed to get it together and then Griffin and I left and started home, Griffin driving. I tried to text my sister to tell her how awful the day had been and the sobbing started all over again because what was wrong was more, even, than what I had said to my father.

Who would I be without my mother? How would I know who I was, without that tether to life? Who would love me like my father does? How could I go on without him? How can you live without your parents?

You have to understand that these are not questions I ever asked myself. You are who you are. I made me me. I'll always be Mena. But Mena never didn't have a mother or a father. With all their health problems, with all the crazy of the last 10 or so years, the thought my parents could die had occurred to me loads of time. That thought that my parents would die had occurred. But I’d never thought it would happen. I don’t know a way to explain that trite statement any better or more clearly than that. I had never stared their deaths in the face, never seen their weaknesses so clearly. Maybe they would die, but it wasn’t nowHow could it be? I didn't even have babies yet. I wasn't ready. Parents’ dying before their kids is the natural progression. But as far as I was concerned that was never actually going to happen because my existence is fundamentally linked to theirs. 

 And so I came unhinged. The depth of Cheryl Strayed's grief didn't seem extreme to me at all. I could fully imagine going completely wild in the face of reality ceasing to be real. How can you know anything to be true when the reality is, your tie to life, the reason you exist in the first place is gone? How would I be able to sit at that dining room table across from my mother’s empty seat, day after day until the man sitting at my left hand was gone too? How could it be that a world exists in which my parents aren't immortal? 

I’m still struggling with this. I have these moments where I am absolutely drowning in grief and anger, where I cannot breathe because my parents are going to die and that nothing I do—no amount of vacuuming or grocery shopping or dogwalking or floor mopping can make it not happen. I’ve been to more funerals in the past 3 years than I have in the past 15 combined. At each of them, I was struck by the loss, struck by how all those people were going to have to put on their pants every day. Brush their teeth. Decide what to make for a perfectly ordinary Tuesday night dinner while living with knowledge their loved one has died. Their dad or grandmother or friend were never going to walk through the door again.

I just can’t fathom it. I just can’t.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Don't Stand with Phil Robertson

Chick-Fil-A’s chicken minis are quite possibly the best breakfast food on the planet.

But I don’t eat them. I don’t drink Chick-Fil-A's freshly-squeezed lemonade or eat their pickle-juice soaked sandwiches. I don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A anymore. Period. Their political position on gay rights is repugnant to me.  Chick-Fil-A gives money to organizations that actively work against equality for the LGBT community, and that makes me angry. So I refuse to eat there. I don’t spend my money in their establishment. And on mornings when I think that maybe, just maybe I could get away with a 4-piece, just this once, I remind myself that my brother had to go to Montreal to get married. Don’t get me wrong—it’s a beautiful city and we had a wonderful time. But my country and organizations like Chick-Fil-A don’t think that my brother and brother-in-law have the right to say  “I do” to one another.

It’s not practical for me to become an ex-patriot, and my becoming an ex-patriot wouldn’t help the problem anyway. I have to stay here to fight the fight. I’m not leaving my country, but I can—and it’s easy to—avoid Chick-Fil-A. So I do.

By not eating there, I haven’t affected their right to donate to whichever organization they please.  They can still give as they choose. But I’m not going to give them any more money to violate my principles with, and I wrote Cathy Truett to let him know.

On Facebook today, there are lots of people writing that they believe Phil Robertson has the right to say whatever he wants. They’re appalled at A&E’s quashing his freedom of speech, and I think this is ridiculous. When an organization or a person has strong beliefs that they want to trumpet, then I think they should go for it. But when a person is given a platform by someone else and uses that platform  to voice beliefs that are contrary to the giver-of-the-platform’s principles, then the giver has the right to say that that person’s words are not condoned by the giver and that the giver no longer wishes to be associated with that person.

This is not taking away Phil Robertson’s right to anything. This is A&E saying that Robertson does not represent them. This is A&E avoiding guilt by association. This is A&E taking responsibility for their content and deciding they are not going to be the vehicle from which ignorance is blasted nationally. This is A&E saying that speaking words of oppression is not acceptable. This is A&E saying they refuse to be complicit.
The following is an excerpt from CNN.com:

[Robertson] said, “"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men." And this, “Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers -- they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."

So, my gay brother is just one slippery-slope step away from raping his dachshund. I’m surprised Robertson didn’t also include the frequently feared, “What’s next? Incest?” question. But let’s not stay with gay. Let’s move into even more murky ground: how black people were just so happy before the Civil Rights Era:

"I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash. We're going across the field. ... They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, 'I tell you what: These doggone white people' -- not a word! Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues."

You can read it all for yourself here. There are no caveats in his statement to suggest that he recognizes that black people in this country weren’t universally happy. The way he posits his experience suggests that it was universal, that there’s just been much ado about nothing when it comes to civil rights.  That separate but equal was fine. That racism isn't a problem. That discrimination doesn't exist. 

I don’t stand with Phil Robertson.  And I don’t hold with the idea that A&E’s putting the show on hiatus is somehow a violation of Robertson’s first amendment right.  He said what he wanted to say, and A&E has responded.

He’s white trash, he says? I quite agree.

A&E didn’t inhibit his right to free speech. They exercised their right to freedom of association.

I stand by A&E. 


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Parenting



Do you know what kids don’t have? Any sense of the trauma their parents went through trying to get them here.

Here, as in born. As in alive and whole. 

 As children of parents, we are all so fucking selfish. We don’t think about how we almost killed our mothers trying to get into this world. We don’t think about how she hemorrhaged in an overheated van while her husband went looking for help.  Hemorrhaged while her other two children slept in the back, hot but oblivious.

We live our bitchy little lives, sighing and gritting our teeth over every imposition, every voice mail, every piled up email, every “When are you coming to visit again?”, completely blind to the fact that our birth was terrifying and exciting and looked forward to and feared, and we sit there smug about how big we are now, and how not like children we are, when in fact the act of saying we’re not like children is what makes us so fucking childlike.

We think of our obligations and our inconvenience and their ridiculous habits and points of view and never once question the way her body changed, the swelling, the hunger, the bills they feared, picking beans out of chili and making brown gravy even for pancakes, the sleepless nights driving round and round the block, the endless fight with doctors who don’t believe in you the way she does. The people who teach you to speak and walk and to function.  

They shrug and call it parenting. I shrug and call them trouble.

The realization that I suck is as baffling as it is true. The realization that my parents will always be excited when I come to visit, that they will always look forward to getting hugs and kisses from me—me a grown-ass woman of 31. Too proud to hug and kiss. Too smart and impatient. Rushing them off the phone because I’m busy (and I am so fucking busy…but too fucking busy for the people who made me possible?).

We take our very existence for granted when our parents know how delicate and fragile a process it was getting us here. Here, as in born. As in alive and relatively whole. While we tear down the highway. While we skydive and join the military and insist on breaking our own hearts over and over again. They watch. They worry. And we scoff.

And that’s being a parent.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Very Good Thing

Griffin was in the bedroom putting clean sheets on the bed, a chore I detest in some crazy exponential inverse of how much I adore clean sheets. I'd taken my wedding and engagement rings off to do the dishes, but as I walked from my bureau back to the kitchen, I saw him standing beside the bed, his arms full of comforter.

I thought, I married him. I actually stood before God and our loved ones and he is mine until the end, and I'm his. And I know this because I have the pictures.

And it was this crazy moment that I'm going to go ahead and say I bet a lot of women feel. Maybe it's more the women who've been sad before, who've lost hope that they'd find their Griffin, or thought they had found him but instead had a Lacoste or a Cool Water. Women whose wedding days blur with the passage of time so that the wedding itself doesn't feel real even though every moment in their everyday lives sings of that joy. Or maybe it was just me, bemused and grateful that Griffin was home and clean with a belly full of what I had cooked and who was in that moment, in all likelihood, thinking of nothing more complicated than which end of the comforter is up--these are the moments in my marriage that fill me up so fully I don't know how I ever lived without it. I recognize that I thought I had it before, but the reality of missus is so unknowable until it happens. I think about all the married women I know, all of whom kept this secret, keep this secret: you feel the preciousness of your marriage in clean sheets, that check in the bank, the fence he built. 

I think about all the married people I know who are happy, and I can't believe they never told me about how safe they feel, how loved, how responsible, how even in the humdrum-don't-know-what-to-make-for-dinner of the everyday, your heart keeps getting refilled with the thought: I married him.

It is a very good thing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dust

I was looking for a mailing address today when I came across an old email that said this:

I wonder if you reach this stage of brokeness, when you know you cannot be any more broken because what you are is already glass-dust, if this is when the God-lightning hits and melts everything back into something new and beautiful and (please God) whole? I wonder how much of me will blow away before the zapping?
---
I realized as I sat here that I don't think there ever was just one zapping that put me back together. And I recognize from the sadness of that email, from the despair that had broken me all the way down, that without the friendships I had and the love those people showed me, and how they held me to the light even when I just wanted, thought I needed, to be let go, that we have to stand by one another no matter what. I wouldn't have made it through 2009 without that love. And I'm grateful for it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The War on Women


Well, I guess I was wrong. It appears there really is a war on women, on our daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts...

I do not believe in abortion as birth control. I do not believe a woman has the right to choose not to carry a baby she and a man made through their mutual desire for one another. This is a more complicated story than that, though. A much scarier one. This story is really about slavery, about denying human rights on the basis of...actually, I'm not sure where some of these people get their authority.

This is an election year and I usually consider myself to be nominally Republican. I believe in smaller government, a strong military, tax cuts, and any other of a number of things that mark the Republican platform. But as I keep reading different sources online, the take many Republican men have on reproductive rights is astounding to me.

Sitting in an airport the other day, one article linked to another which linked to another, and so forth, and I ended up at the Huffington Post. Now, I know that the Huff Post isn’t necessarily considered the most unbiased news source in the world, but this post by Soraya Chemaly has set my head on fire. I think you should read it too. In it, she outlines and links to some of the most horrifying lawmaking I’ve read about, ever. Georgia Representative Terry England, for instance,  thinks women should carry dead or dying babies until natural term birth occurs because cows and pigs do it all the time. As Elizabeth Czukas points out, a procedure that takes the dead baby out of the mother should not be considered abortion. While carrying a stillborn child until labor starts might not hurt the mother physically, there's the chance that it can. And what about her emotional health? What person in their right mind thinks a woman should have to walk around carrying her dead baby just waiting for it to finally miscarry? Why does this man, and others like him, want to risk women's health over a baby that has already passed on? Why should that choice be taken away from women and qualified healthcare givers? But sadly, that choice has been taken away. The law passed. Democrats managed to make some modifications, but read the article. How much do those changes really mean?

Todd Akins thinks women have a magical anti-pregnancy mechanism in their uteruses which prohibits reproduction after a rape (and this is after we give him the benefit of the doubt for misspeaking “legitimate” instead of “forcible” rape).

Virginia, Texas, and Iowa want to enact a law requiring abortion-seeking women to have an internal ultrasound so they can see the baby before going through with the procedure. To be clear, women wouldn't have a choice in this. And again, let’s be clear about what this means: a wand between 6-8 inches long would be inserted into their vaginas in order to show them the baby.

I don't believe in abortion as birth control. But I do believe my body and the bodies of all women and girls are sacred and no one should ever have to submit to rape. Rape? you say. This is just an ultrasound. Yeah, put on your paper dress, spread your legs, and rethink that.

 If someone wants to take something 6-8 inches long, cover it in a condom and put it in a vagina without the owner of the vagina's uncoerced consent, that IS rape. [The states] are calling it a woman's right to know, but it sounds a lot more like a state's right to rape. These states want to force women to have this ultrasound. Having had an internal ultrasound before, let me assure you, it sucks. Someone has a joystick in your hoo-ha, and they move it around, up and down, repositioning, in and out. It’s the unsexiest sex I’ve ever had and certainly the most humiliating—and I was there willingly trying to figure out what was causing me almost incapacitating pain. My technician wasn’t mean. He didn’t jeer at me. But it was awful. Really awful.

I don’t believe in abortion as birth control. But as a life-saving procedure? As a uterus saving procedure? 

I believe life starts at conception, I do. But I don’t believe in always letting nature take its course. Forcing women to carry dead babies until labor starts naturally? Charging a suicidal pregnant woman with murder after she survives but the baby doesn't? Denying women medical treatment that would save their lives or their organs? Kansas wants to deny pregnant women chemotherapy. Will the next step be denying women who may possibly become pregnant chemotherapy because of damage her uterus might incur? Religiously affiliated hospitals not only deny treatment regularly they don’t even have to tell women treatments are available OR refer them to another hospital or physician. What about women with severe mental disabilities? What happens if they're raped and conceive?

It makes me sick.

In an election year where there’s been so much talk about the economy and jobs and insurance, where all the politicians sound the same and point fingers at each other and excise truth and fabricate fact, I’ve decided not to participate. I’ve decided that I can’t tell the difference in monetary and financial political-ese. The jargon and doubletalk has pushed me down and pushed me away. I’m not an economist.

But I am a woman. A woman with a brain and a uterus.

So, this year, I’m going to vote on something I do understand. My vote will be about me. About women. About girls. About victims of rape and incest. About my right to choose myself over my uterus. I don’t think it’s selfish. I think it’s liberating. I don’t believe in abortion as birth control. And you know what? I don’t think a lot of people do. This subject—a woman’s right to choose—it’s about me, and my conscience, and my body, and my mental health, and my rights as a person. It’s also about yours.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Plateau


I’ve always been waiting for the next best thing. For example, I hadn’t hit high school a minute before I wished I was already driving. I didn’t start driving before wishing just as much to graduate. Didn’t graduate before I wanted my degree. Didn’t get the degree before I wanted to get married. You see the pattern.

I’ve always had a plan, see. High school, college, marriage, babies, 30. Now everything but the babies has happened, though we’d have to transpose marriage and turning 30. Enjoying the moment was difficult-to-impossible because I was always dreaming about the future.

Elizabeth Gilbert talks about how driven we are to achieve in her book Committed. I think she touches on it in Eat, Pray, Love too. But basically she says there’s this order of things we do, especially women, and if we don’t do them, or if we take too long to do them, there’s a sense of inadequacy. There’s a fierce societal pressure to follow certain paths in a certain order, and to choose your own path (or in my case, have it feel like someone else was doing the choosing on a completely willy-nilly basis) serves as a rebuke to those who followed the path and now people judge you because they think you’re judging them. Or something like that. It’s stressful. Having to leapfrog from accomplishment to accomplishment, from joy to joy, or even tragedy to tragedy sucks.

Griffin and I have been married for awhile now, and it’s lovely. The biggest thing on our horizon right is surviving this semester since I’m not working this year. That’s stressful, yes, but it seems like the pace has slowed down tremendously. I feel like I’ve hit a life plateau, and I’ll be idling for at least the next several months.

The relief I feel is huge.

While some might equate hitting a plateau with being in a rut, I don’t. For us to de-plateau would require us getting pregnant, being deployed, or moving (I refuse to entertain the idea of anything negative doing so) and none of those things are happening in this year (when I say year, by the way, I always mean school year, not calendar year—occupational hazard). We have nothing to look forward to, and I hope you can hear this with the relief I feel instead of a quiet kind of desperation you might recognize if someone else made the pronouncement. We have a whole year of just being together to enjoy—something we’ve never had.

Never had? you ask. What about the year you dated before you got engaged?

Well, long-term readers would not have been shocked by the first paragraph of this post. It's so incredibly Mena.So consider that I spent the whole year before our engagement wondering first, Is he the one?  Then, Oh, he is the one! Does he think I’m the one? Then, It seems like maybe he does think I’m the one—so, when’s he going to propose?

It’s an exciting time, filled with thrills that roll your stomach and clench your toes but it’s not exactly restful. And I don’t know if I’m the only weirdo out there, but my love life’s in control of a lot of things. A fight could make me pissy all day. The high of new love makes me giddy and restless. I’ve never been good at compartmentalizing enough for my love life not to affect my everything-else life. So now that we’re married, even though he still puts butterflies in my stomach, even though I wake up every day with a smile on my face because he’s beside me, I am enjoying not having relationship stuff being in charge of my brain’s concentration. He will be home when I get there. He will be there when I wake up. He will sit at the table and eat the dinner I make.  He will be there. Pretty much guaranteed. Never had that before. Loving it.

I have heard from friends about the post-married doldrums. The excitement of planning the wedding is gone. The anticipation of the honeymoon has been met, and I’ll admit I was sad to come home from our whirlwind big city and beach tour. However, when Griffin comes home, I no longer feel it’s necessary to pounce with some new quasi-emergency wedding issue, and I don’t feel put out that he’s watching YouTube instead of helping me write shower thank-yous. There’s a year of relative peace ahead of us, where we can both concentrate on school and each other, maybe renovate our house a little bit. There’s no pressure bigger than our little bubble.

So, we’ve hit a plateau. Thank God.