My last final of fall 2020 ended at 5:00 on Thursday, December 10th. I sat staring at the wall for 17 minutes before I realized that she’d changed the time and I didn’t have to submit until 5:30. You haven’t seen quite the panic-reaction like me logging in and pulling my submission and frantically typing for 13 minutes to try and scrape up the random points I left on the table because I thought I was out of time. Perfect ending for a cursed semester in the gobsmackingly hellish year of our Lord 2020. Regardless of what may or may not have been salvaged, it’s done.
This is the first real break I’ve had since school started for me 18 months ago. I have moved from crying every night in the shower thinking, “I made the worst mistake of my life, I am too old, I am not smart enough, this is so hard,” to crying under my desk once or twice a semester, still feeling pretty stupid, but mostly just plugging on anyway because while it’s still so hard, I’m more than halfway there, and also, law school does this to literally everyone. So what do you do? You keep going.
(p.s. when they say it gets easier, it’s a lie. you just get better at managing it and lowering your expectations for the rest of your life. not healthy. but true.)
So what does my anxiety-fueled, sleep-deprived, cortisol-saturated brain decide to do as soon as I have a break in the structure of externally imposed academic rigor? Besides waking up panicking because I am sure I have missed a non-existent deadline, it’s apparently Trauma-revival time! Hooray! While I have done years of work on trauma, recovery, and dealing with the emotional baggage I haul around as a Gen X kid who left home too early and had to finish raising herself, and who then lost her spouse and best friend to drugs… It turns out there are still bruises hiding in places I hadn’t found yet! Meanwhile, Jon, ever-patient and stable, arcs an eyebrow while kissing my forehead. He’s a Good One. Anyway, trauma’s got some long legs, y’all.
Learning a little bit about childhood trauma too. One of my kids was asking how it is things they don’t remember could hurt them, and we are learning about research on pre-memory and how it’s in there, even if the conscious memory doesn’t access it. While my children never experienced any physical abuse, they did live through years of incredible stress and instability. They did experience the loss of a parent, first to drugs, and finally to death. I was powerless to prevent or protect them to a certain extent, and their stored trauma belongs to them, both linked to and also outside of me. It’s hard to examine, and it’s really important that I focus on what they need to grow and mend as people, and how I can support them in healing. Anyway. Working on it. (because who needs a whole week off without something hard to do? i wonder if that’s a trauma response too? i have to look it up…)
The holidays around here are going to be small and quiet. I suspect this is true of most folks this year. Or really, it should be, for the sake of everyone. My family-member physician who is intubating Covid patients all day says to STAY THE HELL HOME. None of us are seeing each other this year, just like we didn’t at Thanksgiving. We are all tired of it. We all miss each other. We all want things to be normal again, but the God’s honest truth is that our wanting it doesn’t make it so. So because we take our responsibility to each other seriously, and because we have work that allows us to stay safely home, we will choose to continue to lower the burden on our neighbors and the folks who must leave home for work by sitting tight. It’s not too much to ask. The vaccines are coming. In the meantime, we wait.
A few mostly-silly things I have discovered during the pandemic that I like, that you may already know about but are new to me: First, Wood-wick candles—I love the little popping and crackling noises they make. Second, I am giving my hair a break from heat processing and allowing it to revert to its hellishly curly state, which makes me feel like a hot mess, but what’s more apt for this year than that? Third, a tiny space heater under your desk is just about the best thing in the world if no one in your family has your I’m Cold All The Time gene. Fourth, gel nail polish—with the lockdown I had to stop going for manicures–I know its silly and vain, and I don’t care, but I do care enough to stay home. So I ordered a set of gel polish online and I’m very bad it it, but the colors are pretty and its lasts for weeks. Finally, while there are stores I miss (oh my thrift stores…please be okay, I miss you SO much) the grocery store isn’t one of them. Online grocery delivery is a safety issue for us right now, but I suspect I will likely be a staple going forward. As with so many things we’ve started using as a society during the pandemic, delivery services are getting better, are more efficient, are broader, are serving a larger segment of the population, and are huge plusses for disabled communities. Please continue to support the inclusiveness afforded by delivery services and remote work.
I’m going to go make cinnamon rolls. Mostly because cooking makes me happy. I missed both general conferences this year, so we’re going to have 3rd Advent Cinnamon Rolls Today. Edited to add: I did not make cinnamon rolls, I got distracted and I made chilaquiles and then Claire Saffitz’s apple tarte tatin. Best laid plans, eh?
Tomorrow I start to work on writing an article for a civil rights legal journal. My proposed paper is on the intersection of the juvenile criminal justice system and the special education system. You will likely not be shocked to learn that there’s a correlation to a state’s funding of education and disability programs with children who are turned over for juvenile crimes into the justice system, and once in the system it’s often almost impossible to extricate a child, and when you overlay poverty, racism, and the structural history of a given geographic area, the statistics are damning. Also? Congress has never (not ever) fully funded IDEA. And that matters too.
The cat has taken over the house.