Tons of Steel

Hey there, old friend. I need to write just to give myself a check and for my own personal sanity. It’s always been that way, but here I am, returning to my worn and beloved space, where I am safe and I can take a second to get my bearings and focus my eyes. It works better here than crying under my desk.

DAMN things are rough right now. From the outside, it’s fine, but man…the crackers are crumbling inside. Tomorrow I register for my last semester of law school, if you can believe that insanity. It also feels like I am a blown-out steam engine with seized wheels on a bowed track dragging about eighteen-thousand tons of steel. I may make it, but it’s not going to be pretty.

This semester, over a year into a global pandemic, on isolation, while taking care of my family and maybe sometimes of myself, I also will have pulled off 38 units of law school, by some miracle. I am tired. I am…so…tired. Because of pandemic *waves hands around* we didn’t have breaks or holidays, we just buckled in and went for it. I will never know what law school is like for other people, but for me and my cohort, it’s been something. Would I have picked it? Hell no. HELL NO. But like nearly everything else in life, what else are you going to do when things go sideways? You just keep going. (and sometimes you crawl under your desk and cry)

I keep mentioning that, but it’s not hyperbole or affect. I really do get under my desk and cry sometimes, when I don’t know what else to do. Once, before my doctor gave me some anxiety meds, Jeffrey crawled under there with me and just stayed next to me, making calming noises and waiting for me to stop crying. Did I mention it’s been a hard year?

This weekend, along with all of my regular reading for Monday’s classes (it averages about 100 pages a night of cases and opinions over Constitutional Law II, Federal Courts, Criminal Procedure, Legal Profession, Immigration, and a seminar course) I had to edit a couple of articles for the civil rights journal, tweak my own piece, contribute to a moot court opinion due Sunday afternoon, pick all my classes for fall not knowing what the logistics are going to be with in-person v. remote learning, contact my supervising attorney for my summer internship, and work on my outlines because finals are in 5 weeks. I also have a 20-page draft due next week I haven’t started yet, and Jon and Abby’s respective 50th and 15th birthdays are between now and then. And then regular life, like kids’ school demands and meetings, groceries, meals, pets, and family stuff. I think I am supposed to sleep in there somewhere, but law school is really not meant for people with families—or at the very least, it’s super harder if someone else isn’t managing the needs of the family and preparing delicious meals for you.

I’m so tired.

Eternal caveat: I chose this. I picked law school. I knew I had kids. I am fortunate. I have a stable home and am not at risk for housing or food insecurity. I have in the past experienced all of those things, and trauma has some long legs, and things can still be acknowledged as hard, even when I know they could be worse and I am privileged.

Last night, after hurting myself trying to fix the dog crate Dingus keeps finding ways to escape from (I screwed my thumb while twisted up at a weird angle inside the crate) I wandered into the kitchen to get a piece of key lime pie I made. I got out the canister of whipped cream, and was placing the pie on a paper plate, when the dog spooked the cat, he knocked into the metal stool which startled me, and I dropped the fork and metal canister—it’s the old-fashioned kind you fill yourself with cream and CO2. Whipped cream sprayed everywhere, hitting Jeff and the wall and the door, the cat tore off, digging his claws into my foot and leg in a panic, and I yelped some choice words before leaving everything and running upstairs to stand in the shower and cry. I could hear Bean downstairs, “THAT WAS AMAZING, LIKE THE BEST CARTOON EVER!”

Today has been better.

I hope your world is calmer and holds more sleep than mine. Onward, right? Onward.

7 thoughts on “Tons of Steel

  1. My dear friend, we’ve shared many conversations about how heavy life is right now. I don’t have any new words of wisdom for you. I do have continued love and support, prayers, and hope that you remember to take care of yourself (a comment I find myself making to my John) – taking a moment to breathe, yes, even crawling under your desk to cry. I am no longer surprised at what makes me cry, and now just allow the tears to fall, no longer hiding them from my kids or John. Letting them fall doesn’t change anything in the moment, but it gives me the moment to grieve whatever is happening in the moment.
    Tracy, you are unbelievably strong, capable, and your children are learning how to persevere and how to do hard things. I love you dear friend! I love your family.
    I am always a phone call or text message away (thank you for technology despite our distance).
    Cry, breathe, and take one moment at a time.
    Love you always!

  2. You are one of the most amazing people I know – even though it’s only online. You are also one of the strongest, and you can do this. It’s hard, but you can and have done hard things in the past, and you have more back up now. Also, don’t forget to get help from above, it’s there. Hang in there!

  3. I love how caring Jeff has grown up to be. My son and he were born about a month apart. I feel like I juggle a lot, with full time job, and a very Ill husband. I can think of a few occasions where things like the whip cream incident happened. I just started to unravel, thinking I literally cannot deal with one more thing. But, that’s where my son has stepped in without being asked,and cleaned up the mess, the break, the spill. I am so grateful that he gets me, and understands when I have absolutely had it. I’m sure he would crawl under the desk with me too,if it came to that. How blessed you and I are to have these young men in our lives. Anyway..you are amazing my friend. I can’t believe it is your last semester. CONGRATS! We are all so incredibly proud of you. We can’t wait for you to ring the bell, or cross the stage, or do a zoom graduation. Your future is bright. You have got this!

  4. I just checked in between classes to see all these kind comments. Thank you–each of you. It’s been another rough day, but I’m just going to keep going. Thank you for being so good and for sharing small bits of your life and wisdom with me. xoxo T

  5. Two Tons of Steel is a popular American country and Texas folk rockabilly band, from San Antonio, Texas. The band started out as the Blue Mountain Boys, but later became Tons of Steel. The musical style of this band has remained consistently interesting over the years. A good Tons of Steel record can be had if you find them at an online site that sells re-orders of CD’s.

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