47 and Prime.

I have a thing for odd numbers. I have an even bigger thing for prime. I see them as the purest of all the infinite, divisible by 1 and themselves, it doesn’t get much cleaner than that. So I have arbitrarily high hopes for this trip around the sun.

Last fall, we were told the kids would return to in-person school on 1/29/21. Instead, they have the day off from Zoom school. Which is weird. And I’d love to take them somewhere and make them do what I love (hike; go for a run along the Potomac; visit the Montgomery County dump) but it’s roughly -45 degrees today with wind gusts of up to 39 mph and while I’m ok with extreme weather, I am not ok with incessant whining which has been the soundtrack lately. So that’s not happening. 

Chances are they will further rot in front of screens and I’ll nervously stack shit. I am good at making piles of things that sit on other things until I run out of things that look ok stacked. I am a good stacker. I make nice piles. And things that don’t stack, they eventually end up in the dump. 

Mostly I just wish we didn’t have so much stuff to stack. I feel bad for all the stuff that can’t be stacked and the dump that will become its home. 

After a person reaches a certain age, any gifts gifted should be required to turn to poo. Since the dump is already way too crowded, gifts shouldn’t be stackable, they should be digestible.

So, I will eat sushi.

Tomorrow, we’re going indoor skydiving and then to see two of my oldest friends (in 3D, but from a distance); people I haven’t seen in well over a year and I know blue balls aren’t a thing but what about blue arms? I’m already frustrated by the inability to execute tomorrow’s hug. 

(What am I on about?)

Last year, all things said, wasn’t the absolute worst year on record but it also wasn’t the best. But since this one is prime and it’s already been deduced as much as possible in the minds of humans, there’s nothing left for me to do but see how this one plays out. And I’m cool with that. 

There’s no more stacking to be done with this one. 

But I *am* a good stacker.

January 6th, 2021. My Experience at the Capitol.

On January 6th, 2021, I woke up and thought, “I need to head into D.C. for the Trump rally.” I don’t know where the desire came from. I even tried to talk myself out of it. And when I broached the topic to Toby he responded with a simple, “You’re an adult. Just be careful. There is talk of a lot of violence. And don’t get COVID.”

My husband has been a vocal dissenter of Trump for years. Picture that person in your life who dislikes President Trump the most and then dial that up to ear-piercing, feedback loop levels and you have Toby. After four years of listening to him hypothesize about Trump and what his supporter base might be up to, I have, admittedly, stopped believing anything would ever actually happen. It’s not that I don’t believe Toby; he is the most trustworthy person I know. It’s that I have grown somewhat cynical. I don’t believe that most people—let alone an entire network of people—are capable enough, creative enough and driven enough to see anything large scale come to fruition. (Except for maybe the Russians. Heh.)

So, I did not believe that there would be any violence that day. I never would have gone had I known things would shakeout the way they did. I feel a little shameful for having been there at all. It’s something I’ve been wrestling with ever since.

In truth, when I left the house that Wednesday morning, I figured I’d end up spending the day surrounded by “crazy” Trump supporters. I figured I’d see some bizarre signage; t-shirts about how guns save lives; slogans stating that the election had been stolen. I figured I’d see MAGA flags and hats, socks and stickers, g-strings—and whatever else a person can slap a slogan onto and sell for profit. I figured I might get a couple of shots of the morbidly fascinating people I’d seen on TV at his rallies. I figured it would be much like every other protest or political rally I’d been to over the years. And, initially, that’s exactly how it was.

Knowing that the District had blocked off most roads to car traffic, I parked about two miles from the Capitol and walked. Since there were so few cars, the city seemed eerily empty. I joked with Toby about the lack of a crowd, knowing Trump loves his crowds. There were Trump supporters here and there, but I saw no crowd.

More people materialized as I reached Pennsylvania Avenue. I learned via text that most of the crowd was still off watching Trump give his “Save America” speech at the White House a few blocks away. I stood in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue and took some pictures.

Unsure of what to do and without a plan, I began walking toward the Capitol.

Toby continued to text me with information about what was happening, information he was learning from the news and not easy for me to learn while actually down there. He let me know when Trump had finished his speech. He would eventually let me know that the electoral voting had begun and how abruptly that would come to an end. Sometimes, the texts were a little ominous. I would read something from him, and then almost immediately see the side effects live and in person. For example, when he texted saying the crowd had just left the White House, I watched the people move in like high tide.

Between 11:30 and 1 PM, I took in a lot of information simply by listening to those around me. Numerous people, of all ages, could be heard saying that the Capitol belonged to them; that their tax dollars meant that they had every right to enter the building. That this was their building. It was alarming how many people used this rhetoric; people who had nothing to do with one another; people spread out all along street corners, in line for the porta johns, and at various points in time.

I wondered where that theme originated. Not that it’s necessarily original, more that the rhetoric was so similar, like rehearsed lines that were being fed to them from some central command center. I laughed at this idea, surely the byproduct from reading way too much science fiction or watching too much Homeland.

There was the near constant murmur of election fraud and how angry people were that the Democrats stole the election. I heard comments about stolen ballots, late mail-in ballots from Pennsylvania that never should have been counted and, in some cases, weren’t even from a living human being. I heard one man mention ballots from predominately pro-Trump military members that never made it into the right hands. This was a common thread and not all that surprising.

As the crowd moved down Constitution Avenue, a man on a bullhorn yelled out that they were there to fight for Trump. He explained that some people might die while doing so, and that that was OK because “when in war, some people must die.” They were all there for a purpose.

Many chanted in unison: “FIGHT FOR TRUMP! FIGHT FOR TRUMP!”

I watched a group of DC Police officers cycle their way down Pennsylvania Avenue, toward the Capitol. These very same officers would later be seen all over the news, grossly outnumbered, some beaten by rioters, all while still wearing their bike helmets. I look at this relatively boring footage now and with the knowledge of how things ended up, it just gives me chills.

I reached the Capitol steps before the bulk of the crowd. Everything was still pretty calm. There was another man on a bullhorn standing right at the gate leading up the steps. His messages varied, but his tone did not change. One announcement would be about leading groups in prayer on the Capitol steps. He would then make a joke about gathering in groups of 300 for a “tour of the interior.” One time he paged a Mike Nolan to come to the front gate as his tour was waiting. He also asked people to continue moving ahead and through the gates to make room because “we’ve got tens of thousands who are going to want to see this.”

This man wore a “STOP THE HATE” hoodie and he just seemed odd to me. I even texted as much to Toby while there. While he never said anything particularly aggressive and kept his tone jovial no matter what the message, he seemed almost too composed, as though he’d been taught to play a very specific and necessary role; holding a delicate balance between important instruction and mundanity. It would be easy to watch footage of him later and say, “See! He’s not saying anything wrong! He’s not inciting violence! He’s just some nobody guy being silly!”

And then there were people like the guy below. He was a lot more pissed off. That’s also right when things began to shift. That’s when the overall mood tilted toward hostile.

“I feel sick to my stomach. Nauseous.” I texted Toby.

I don’t presume to know how an animal feels moments before an earthquake or tsunami, but I think the unease and nausea I started to experience right around 1:10 PM is probably the closest I’ll ever come. Voices became louder. There was more and more military garb, so much so I mistook people for actual marines. Human movements became rushed and jerky, so I was finding it increasingly more difficult to guess how a person might maneuver their body. This is something that likely would have gone unnoticed at any other time in my life, but given we’re in the middle of a pandemic and almost every single person there was without a mask, I was doing my very best to avoid people. And, up until that point, I had been successful in maintaining a safe distance from others. But once that shift took place, I found myself ducking flags and backpacks, dodging arms and legs.

“Gonna leave soon. Shit’s getting a little scary.” I texted Toby.

Now, with the privilege of hindsight, and the luxury of information and overall outcomes, I think my unconscious picked up on how alarming it had been that we were all so easily able to walk right up onto the Capitol steps. Literally, anyone could have waltzed right on up there. There were only small metal barriers and hardly any law enforcement. The police were vastly outnumbered by the crowd. And I don’t think I was alone in that feeling of unease. I even witnessed some Trump supporters leaving, alarmed at how seemingly unmanned the whole situation actually was. I had a conversation with one older man from Baltimore County, Maryland. He’d taken the train in that morning to show his support. But when he saw how things were unfolding, he expressed his wariness. He ended up leaving a few minutes after we spoke.

At 1:24 PM, the loud booms began. I was standing at the base of the steps when they went off. There were two bursts of light and then some smoke. That scared the shit out of me. I had no idea what they were and immediately texted Toby letting him know, hoping he’d have some information. He did not.

“Two big booms from Cap steps. Fuck this.” I texted.

One woman cried out into her phone, “NO! Thank goodness my kids are not with me!” Another guy looked to a friend, and said, “I’m guessing those were NOT planned pyrotechnics?”

“Were those gunshots?” Someone asked.

“Was that a bomb?” Another mused.

No one knew for sure.

Worried, I began to move away from the front of the building, away from the crowd and saw two white buses pull up and a couple dozen riot cops (I think?) tumble out and run around to the east side of the building. Texting was becoming increasingly less reliable but I sent Toby what I could.

I smelled something acidic and wondered if it had been from the bangs. Seconds later I heard a man say, “Smell that?” His friend nodded. “Tear gas.”

I moved up a hill, along the north side of the Capitol just in time to see a group of EMTs rush away from the Capitol steps, pushing a gurney toward an ambulance. I took out my camera and starting taking pictures, not quite sure what it was I was witnessing. There was a shirtless man laid out on the stretcher, as his arms dangled lifelessly alongside his body. None of him was moving.

The EMTs lifted him into the back of the ambulance where one EMT straddle him and began administering chest compressions, slamming down so hard onto his chest.

SLAM! SLAM! SLAM!

[Hold a beat]

SLAM! SLAM! SLAM!

[Hold a beat]

I began to cry.

This went on for an uncomfortably long time, which was likely only a couple of minutes, but when something tragic is happening, the seconds that make up minutes feel hours long.

SLAM! SLAM! SLAM!

And then? Nothing. They just stopped. The doors closed. And the man did not move. There were no more compressions. No lights flickered on. No sirens blared. The EMTs climbed out of the back with no sense of urgency to get him off to a hospital, where he would later call someone and say, “I’m ok! That was scary, but I’m OK!” He would, in fact, never make another phone call again. This human life had just powered down. This man wouldn’t make it home at all.

It all just felt so damn sad.

“I think I just watched a man die. I’m a mess. Leaving.” I texted Toby.

The following day I would learn this man was Kevin Greeson and he died of a heart attack while talking to his wife on the phone right as the initial flash bangs went off. (I would come to learn about flash bangs, too.) I would learn that he’d written hateful things on several rightwing websites, that he was irrationally angry. I don’t condone his actions. But I have been having philosophical debates with myself ever since. And here’s the thing: had I NOT seen him in that state, I imagine it would be easy to read these stories about him and write him off as The Other, vilify him as a total monster. “He asked for it; he had it coming!” It’s so easy to dehumanize a person, especially a person who represents everything I am opposed. I reckon that’s what he did as well; why he became who he was and, also, what had brought him to DC in the first place—to fight all The Others.

But I’m unable to do that. I have been unable to turn him into a monster to make myself feel better about witnessing his death. (Believe me, I have tried!) And even if he was a monster, I can’t overlook the human vulnerability here and the straight up fact that we are all the same as we die—sacks of flesh and blood and organs that eventually fail. In death, we are weak and alone and wholly reliant on the compassion and kindness of others.

Kevin Greeson died alone and likely terrified. And if I’ve learned anything since that Wednesday, it’s that life is tricky and nuanced and things aren’t so easily tucked into neat little categories when it comes to personal beliefs, emotions or actions. I’ve been trying to pause a little more.

But I digress.

As Kevin Greeson died, a woman nearby began to pray. A man said something about a heart attack. I composed myself and turned to leave.

Right then, a group of rioters, dressed head to toe in military garb, ran by me, screaming, “They’re in! They’re in! It’s ON! It’s ON! LET’S GO!” They were all so angry. Faces hot and red with rage, years worth of pent up anger, running past me and down toward the Capitol. I would bet my life these same men ended up inside.

The further I walked, the more texts started to roll in from friends and family who knew I was there. They let me know that rioters had indeed breached the Capitol and that many U.S. representatives were hiding and under lockdown. Texts mentioned things like gas masks and violence and martial law as I listened to more flash bangs and shots of tear gas. Some people ran by me and toward the Capitol while others left just as quickly. The crowd was much larger now and so much more pissed off.

“Doesn’t seem like the cops are even trying.” Toby texted.

“They are totally outnumbered. They never stood a chance.” I replied.

As I walked the two miles back to the car, I watched more and more vehicles carrying military back up speed by me and toward the Capitol, sirens filling the once eerily empty streets. Finally, help was on the way. But it would be too late.

When I got home, and once the initial shock began to wear off, I admitted to Toby that never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that what took place at the Capitol that day could actually happen. I witnessed some of it with my own two eyes and I’m still having trouble believing it actually happened. Like, if you were a screenwriter pitching that plot line—the plot line of a movie called “January 6th, 2021″—to any decent director, said director would respond with a, “Are you joking? Why are you wasting my time? That’s way too farfetched. It’s completely implausible! Got anything else? If not, you’re fired.”

There’s no way all of that happened. There is no way it all took place. There is no way a man claiming to be a patriot beat a cop over the head with an American flag while on the steps of the Capitol. There’s no way some rioters carried Flex Cuffs in hopes of taking hostages. There is no way Marjorie Taylor Greene is a real U.S. Representative. There is no way there is a large group of Americans that believe there are politicians who are Satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles. There is no way rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol and called for the death of the Vice President in the name of the President. There is no way they did all of this while filming themselves for social media. There is no way the same group capable of believing that Bill Gates wants to inject them with microchips failed to turn off their location services.

There is no way a group of self-proclaimed patriots shit and pissed all over the inside of the United States Capitol.

There is no way all of this happened.

Right?


I uploaded pictures and videos (including one of myself right after I watched Kevin Greeson die) on Instagram that day and as things were happening. You can watch that by clicking here.)

Fifty Books!

Last December 31st, I made the entire family make a list of five goals they wished to accomplish or shoot for in 2020. On January 1st, 2020 I printed out each list and hung it on the wall in our kitchen. And come June, I would throw them all out.

Most of the items on our lists, during a normal year, would have been perfectly reasonable. (Although, Walter becoming a Jedi, maybe not?) But 2020 had different plans for most people. And so out of the five goals I had made for myself, ONE seemed possible to complete. And, by golly, I was going to make that happen.

Here were my goals:

  1. Plan a trip to Japan for 2021 (LOL ::cries::)
  2. Mail something to one person in my life every week
  3. Learn how to play guitar
  4. Lose 25 pounds (Sigh)
  5. Finish 50 books

The first goal was out for obvious reasons. And I worked hard on the second goal until late-March when I saw that many people were bleaching and abusing their mail and I worried my letters and trinkets might unnecessarily scare them. The third one, while still doable, would require online learning and I was sick of screens as early as May. Losing weight, again, doable, but for (at least) the first four months of the pandemic, I did nothing but eat and wait for life to start (or end). I lived somewhat existentially. I embraced the “Drink and be merry for tomorrow we shall die” mentality. And even though I had a breast reduction, weight-loss was NOT something I achieved this year.

So be it.

But, number five? I had control over that. And even though I found it damn near impossible to pick up a book for several weeks following the beginning of The Event, I was going to finish fifty books come Hell or high water.

Below is a list of the books I read in 2020 in order of completion. I rated them at the time of completion as well. The only one I changed was The Midnight Library. I had it ranked as a 4 and changed it to a 5 because I keep thinking about it, and not always about the actual story; instead, I keep thinking about the overall concept and while this very well could have do with the timing of it and how it relates to my life, I felt it deserved a 5 because it just won’t stop resurfacing. Sometimes a book does that and sometimes that book deserves a second look.

2020 Books

1. Wanderers …. 4

2. Talking to Strangers …. 2

3. Girl Walks Out Of a Bar …. 2

4. Born A Crime …. 5

5. Evvie Drake Starts Over …. 4

6. Hillbilly Ellegy …. 1

7. Recursion .… 3

8. If You Tell …. 4

9. Where The Crawdads Sing …. 4

10. A Man Called Ove …. 5

11. Earth Abides …. 2.5

12. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine …. 4

13. The Silent Patient …. 2

14. The Giver Of Stars …. 4

15. The Dutch House …. 5

16. Becoming …. 4

17. Unspeakable Things …. 4

18. The Things We Cannot Say …. 4

19. The Fisherman …. 3

20. Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic …. 5

21. Dear Edward …. 5

22. In Five Years …. 2

23. Nine Perfect Strangers …. 4

24. Hum If You Don’t Know the Words .… 4

25. Then She Was Gone ….. 4

26. Glass Hotel ….. 3

27. The World That We Knew …. 4

28. Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park …. 3

29. Take Me Apart …. 3

30. Writers And Lovers… 4

31. The Guest List... 4

32. The Overstory... 5

33. Why Fish Don’t Exist… 4

34. Olive, Again.. 5

35. The Chain.. 4

36. Greenlights.. 3

37. The Vanishing Half.. 4

38. The Searcher…3

39. The Power…2

40. Memorial...5

41. Long Bright River...3

42. I Liked My Life…2

43. Anything Is Possible...4

44. The Silence...2

45. Good Morning, midnight…3

46. The Children’s Bible… 5

47. The Midnight Library…5

48. Leave The World Behind…5

49. We Are The Same In The Dark...2

50. Mexican Gothic...3

51. Untamed*...0

(*Fact: I had returned exactly ZERO books to Audible until Untamed. I made it 3/4s of the way through and after discussing bad books with a friend who suggested life was too short to finish a bad book, I gave up. It was awful. I have no clue why and how it became a best seller. One word kept running through my head while listening to it: Insufferable. I actually said it out loud on several occasions. “This book is insufferable.” So, I returned it and got my credit back to use on a more deserving book, which was American Dirt and so far, so good!)

My Top Reads (in no particular order):

  1. Leave The World Behind
  2. Born A Crime
  3. Memorial
  4. A Man Called Ove
  5. Olive, Again
  6. The Dutch House
  7. Spillover*
  8. The Children’s Bible
  9. The Overstory
  10. The Midnight Library

(*Spillover [written in 2012] became increasingly more important to me because I finished it two weeks before March 15th when America shut down due to the pandemic. Life became super weird after that, and I often sit back in awe over the timing of it all. The book is about the spillover of animal diseases into humans and when and how the next big pandemic will hit. [Spoiler Alert: it’s not this one!] I found myself going back to this book for obvious reasons. Spillover had a lot to do with how I, personally, handled (and continue to handle) the pandemic. I only just started to put that together this past week, however. The timing was perfect. And I am grateful for that. I feel as though I approached this much more rationally than I would have because of that book. It’s difficult to explain, but the book, while terrifying in many ways, also lends itself to the whole “knowledge is power” mentality. I reckon this is a post in that of itself. I have a lot to say on the subject especially given the timing. Life is weird. I’ll copout and leave it at that.)

I listened to about half of the books above via bluetooth and my hearing aids and had hard copies of the rest. I would say it was about 50/50. (Though, now I’m curious and may go back and add a note for each one.)

I could write about each one in great detail, why I enjoyed some over others. But I sometimes enjoy going into a book without knowing much about the plot. I am, however, more than willing (eager!) to discuss any of them. I would love to, as a matter of fact. I would also greatly appreciate any suggestions for 2021. I just started American Dirt and World Of Wonders.

Happy New Year, friends and family!

Letting Go.

I have owned this wallet since 1999.

It’s traveled all over the United States. It’s lived in New York, New Jersey, California, D.C. and Maryland. It’s gone to Disney World dozens of times. It’s been all throughout Canada. It’s been chewed up by a dog. It’s been caught in the rain. It’s seen the inside of hundreds of pockets, restaurants, bars and stores. It’s been lost on many occasions, but never forever.

It even flew to Turks and Caicos before Turks and Caicos was a thing, before all the light pollution so it got to see the Milky Way.

Toby calls this wallet The George Constanza. He finds it sad. One time, in 2015, he bought me a new wallet for my birthday. It was super fancy, green and kept my cards all organized, in a beautiful array of tiered goodness. And so I retired the black wallet. I even threw it out that day only to dig it out of the trashcan hours later, wiping off coffee grounds and scraps of food. I placed it in my top drawer and covered it up with soft things.

I used the green wallet for months. And then one day, for no reason whatsoever, Murray, my cat, peed on it. I couldn’t get the smell out so I had to toss it.

This wallet came back out again.

Over the years, many people have asked me about it. “Why is that thing so beat up? Why don’t you get a new wallet?” Most of the time I just shrug it off.

One time a store clerk said, “That thing has seen better days.”
Indeed it has.

But given the time, and if a person seems up for it, I would say the following:

I purchased this wallet at a J. Crew. And that J. Crew once sat in the basement of the World Trade Center, at a time where everything seemed new and fresh and awesome, ripe with possibilities. I was young and in love and still a touch naive. This wallet came into my life before That Event and now This Event, before life became complicated and also a touch scary. Back when the only thing I had to manage was mending my own broken heart, and not in charge of keeping three others beating.

(And you can’t tell me it’s not been durable, all these 21 years later.)
Being so attached to this wallet, it doesn’t make much sense. It’s endearing at best, psychologically telling at worst.

But it’s mine. And every time I consider throwing it away, I become deeply emotional, like I’m letting go of something, someplace, someone I won’t and can’t ever get back to.

Tethered.

Maybe it represents hope.

Or maybe I just never got to say goodbye.

Maybe I never want to.

Our Year In Review. (Enormous Brain Dump.)

Last summer, we sold our home in Maplewood, New Jersey because our annual property taxes shot up to $42,000 one month after we moved in. We bought the home in 2016. Maplewood was reassessing every home in the area and decided ours was worth a lot more than it had been before. Though it was in excellent shape, the only update that had been done on it for decades had been done to the roof. We were shocked, but at the time, we still had what was known as the SALT deduction, which is where a home owner is able to deduct their property taxes from their overall income. (Let’s say you’re making $200,000 a year, and you’re paying $20,000 in property taxes. You were able to deduct that amount from your overall income, so your taxable income becomes $180,000 instead of $200,000. It worked out, though I admit that it’s a weird practice overall.)

Two months after we moved in, Trump won the election. Shortly after that, he announced he’d be removing the SALT deduction, capping the property tax write off to $10,000. There are very few areas where property taxes are higher than that and those areas are predominantly blue and voted overwhelmingly against him. He knew exactly what he was doing. He sent a very loud, aggressive and, frankly, cruel message to all the counties who had relied on that deduction for so long. We were livid. Everyone was.

Within four months of moving into our home, we went from relying on one take-home amount, to a substantially lower one.

We also overpaid for the home. We did that because we loved it and truly believed we’d be there forever. We were also naive and believed our agent was giving us solid advice.  But in retrospect, I would have done things differently—much differently. 

Ultimately, it came down to this: we absolutely loved the house. I still love that house. To this day, I rue the loss.

We had no idea 2016 would turn out the way it did and decisions were made both by us and the federal government that turned our forever home into one we’d have to leave. And not only would we have to leave, but given the taxes were raised so very high AND we lost the SALT dedication, we would have to sell it at a loss. After all, what person would want to adopt a home with $42,000 in property taxes? We certainly would not have purchased it with that price tag.

So we sold it. At a pretty substantial loss—both financially and emotionally.

The actual sale was also very difficult for us. The buyers were a well-off, young couple, newly pregnant with their first child. (Buying a six bedroom home.) They went back and forth and came and went to see it on many occasions, forcing the five of us and the dog to leave for however long they needed. They even showed up once without asking, simply walked right on in. Toby was on a call and the dog went ballistic. This couple was confusing from the start. We were never sure if they were actually going to go through with it, especially given they had been looking to buy a home for two years.

It also didn’t help that THREE of the people involved with purchasing the home were real estate agents, specializing in areas like Summit and Short Hills. The young woman, her mother and her mother-in-law were all real estate agents. We were outnumbered. They knew exactly what they were doing and never once let up trying to nickel and dime us beyond their already low accepted offer. But here we were, in contract, but with a clear out should they want it, three short weeks of the proposed closing date and we had yet to find a home to rent or buy elsewhere because we were unsure if they were going to go through with it.

We often wondered if they were flakey, privileged beyond all comprehension, cheap as hell, or just downright cruel. Maybe they are all of the above. I’ll never know. I never met them. I never want to.

A few weeks before the closing date, we took our chances and drove down to DC to look at apartments. While there, a double homicide took place on our street back in Maplewood. I woke up in a hotel room to text messages from Maplewood friends asking if we were all ok. I was confused. And not yet awake. I was told that police had the entire street shut off and rumor was the killer was still at large. A woman had been found outside on the street bleeding. She would later die. It was tragic. And the story would unfold while we were miles away from our home in Maplewood. Our quaint, little street became the center of a national news story. And that got us thinking: would this seemingly flakey couple back out of the sale? We polled friends and family asking them if such a thing would scare them off. Many said yes. (If I were to be honest, I might back out as well.)

We decided against signing a lease that weekend, opting to wait until we heard back from the buyers. A week went by. No word. Would we actually close?

Finally, they sent a letter saying how sorry they were for what had happened and their condolences if we knew the family.

Things were back on.

I called a moving company, booked a date and we started looking for a place to live.

About two weeks before we were to close and move, we got an email from their lawyer requesting another $2,000 to repair the ice maker in the refrigerator. We’d already agreed to a pretty substantial amount to repair a part of the slate roof and gutters, so Toby and I said no. We told our lawyer we were at an impasse and to kill the deal. We had had it. They had reached the end of our generosity.

We were staying.

Two days went by, the exact amount of legal time given between their needed response before the contract expired. They did this every single time. Maybe it’s a real estate agent thing to do? I don’t know. But they backed us into such a deep corner that when they finally wrote saying, “Ok, fine. We won’t ask for that 2,000 bucks after all.” we had less than two weeks to get out of our home (with three kids, a cat and a dog) and go find a rental.

We found a place in Bethesda, sight unseen. No yard at all. Three bedrooms and a finished basement, around 1500 square feet, not ideal, but it was in an excellent school district in a nice area, less than a mile from my brother. We’d make it work. It was a rental, after all. Not forever.

Somehow we managed to get everything out in time. That wasn’t easy. They bitched about a fridge in the basement. We had to find someone to remove it. They bitched about the paint left over, labeled cans for each room should they need to patch anything or buy more, something I thought was pretty standard practice. We had to have that removed as well. They bitched about the Bagster in the front yard, something we paid for to get rid of any leftover crap we didn’t need or couldn’t fit. The Bagster truck was scheduled to come on the day of closing, but that wasn’t good enough, so they wanted to hold $10,000 money in an Escrow account until the truck showed up. Every little thing was a headache.

I have so much residual anger leftover from our experience and toward some of the people involved. A seed was planted way back in 2016, but in 2019, it sprouted and moved all throughout my head. By that time, the anger and resentment started to take over. It was far from healthy. Sure, we no longer had the overhead of $42,000 in property taxes on top of our mortgage, but we had to sell our home. I could overcome the financial loss—in the end, it’s just money—but for some reason, I simply could not let go of the personal one.

After we moved here, I began seeing a therapist to try and wrestle that anger to the ground. I began learning coping mechanisms, ways to try and let all of that anger go. I began to work on a new life, try and love where the now would one day lead us.

The kids started school four days after we moved in. I was pretty excited. For the first time in 12 years, I would have days to myself—entire days! I planned on going to the gym. I looked into taking guitar lessons. I signed up for cycling classes. I would see movies. I would do things for myself. I would go to cafes. I would look for a job. Entire days would be mine again. I wasn’t sure what I would do with all that time.

Emory also immediately perked up. He loved his new middle school. The teachers were awesome. He reported back to us on how happy he was. He hadn’t loved his middle school in Maplewood, quite the opposite.

Walter started kindergarten and Elliot the third grade. Elliot had a rough time adjusting, but Walter dove right in. He was meant for kindergarten. He too loved his new school. But Elliot wanted to move back to Maplewood and cried nearly every day asking why we had done this to him. Sometimes I would wake up to hear him weeping in his sleep. It damn near broke my heart to see my child so deeply upset. We talked to his teachers and took him to see a therapist. He saw the school therapist as well. We even tried to justify sending him to a private school, one with a smaller class size so he could adjust better. We couldn’t afford that.

So, I made him a deal: I promised him that come February, right after the first semester ended, we’d talk about how he was adjusting and would consider moving back if everyone decided that is what they wanted. That worked. Elliot, more than my other two children, likes to have control over any given situation. This gave him that control. He calmed down a bit.

February arrived and by then he’d made some friends, one close one. He started getting invited to birthday parties, and staying after school to play soccer on the hill. Things were looking up.

On February 29th (leap year!), we threw Elliot a birthday party at a pottery studio in downtown Bethesda. His friends showed up, a meticulously curated few, and he had a good time. Even I had made a friend, one I adore. (An infectious disease doctor, isn’t that funny? It is so funny. Admit it!)

Yes, our house was on the small side for five people, and we mourned the loss of our once sprawling backyard back in Maplewood, but we loved the bowling alley, the mall and the local movie theater. Plus, the food here is amazing. Things were OK. We could manage.

And then.

March 16th.

Everyone was forced to stay home. We had to give up the basement to allow for Toby to work from home. He’d started a new job that requires nonstop calls. All three kids were required to have online zoom classes at different times of the day. Juggling computers and trying to figure out where to put everyone so Toby wasn’t interrupted was like spinning plates during an earthquake. Inevitably one would come crashing down and interrupt one of Toby’s calls. When the kids would get stir crazy, I would try and take them outside to run around the block with the dog. Our lack of yard space was growing increasingly more problematic. There was nowhere to put everyone. The walls were closing in.

The rock climbing gym shutdown. The YMCA. The bowling alley. The movie theater. ALL the playgrounds. Everything we’d come to love about living here shut down. My kids had the rug ripped out from under them twice in 7 months.

I go back and forth every single day wondering what life would be like had we stayed in Maplewood. Would we have a pandemic pod? Would my kids have friends to play with? Would they be healthier with a yard to run around in, trees to climb? Would I be happier being nearby to friends I’ve known for years? Did we make a terrible mistake? More importantly, in hindsight, given the chance to go back in time, knowing what I know now about 2020: would I have moved out of New Jersey?

Nope.

I’m having a rough time these days. Rougher today than yesterday as our school district announced there would be no in-person education until January 29th, 2021. And I’ll bet the amount we lost in the sale of our home that they won’t be going back then either.

I know I’m not alone. I also know that far more people have it so much harder than we do. We are lucky when it comes down to it. For now, we have a job and income. We have a roof over our head and we’re healthy. I have three amazing kids and a dog and a cat that make me smile on the hour. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that I wish all of this were happening in a place I know better, among friends I’ve known for years; a place where my kids could arrange play dates with the families that actually know us.

Sometimes I think that with every move a person’s life splinters into alternate universes, a bunch of parallel existences that manifest themselves as “what ifs”. On one level of our existence, we’re living at our yellow house back in Maplewood. We have a yard and the kids are often filthy from their trashcan water wars. They have a driveway where they can ride bikes and shoot hoops. We have room for one of those crazy above ground pools everyone seems to be buying. That alternate existence brings me a great deal of calm. The one we’re living in right now, the one I’m currently writing from, isn’t what we signed up for. We’re bursting at the seams, seams that were barely starting to come together when everything around us started to fall apart.

But that’s life, I suppose, at least it’s this one.

I just wish I could silence all of the other what-ifs.

Day Four. Post-Surgery.

I haven’t updated as much as I thought I might simply there’s not much in the way to update. I’m feeling pretty OK. OK enough to walk around the block with the kids. OK enough to not take any pain meds except for those couple of times right before bed. I have to sleep on my back. I’m usually a side sleeper. And the irony is, my back hurts now because I can’t sleep the way I normally do. So, sleeping is when I feel more pain. And so I have taken one pill every night. (Incidentally, the dose is four per day, which is INSANE. I can’t fathom taking that many of these things. I’d be zombie, a constipated zombie.) But I also don’t want to come to rely on any pain medication to go to sleep. So, I plan on stopping that tonight.

So, yeah. I feel OK. I won’t be running any time soon and the idea of a single sit-up sounds like pure torture, but I am doing OK.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel comfortable lifting anything over five pounds, and was told not to anyway. I walk very slowly. When going up and down the stairs I hold the railing and I take it easy. I have showered daily and that’s been… interesting. I don’t have much in the way of feeling on my torso right now, except for right underneath each breast which itches like crazy. I think it’s from the tape they put down to protect the stitches, which will eventually dissolve.

But holy Jesus. I’m itchy. And I have to refrain from scratching myself, like a dog or cat. I need a cone of shame.

I can’t wash my hair because I can’t lift my arms over my head in any meaningful way. (I am able to put my hair in a ponytail, so that’s my look these days; I rock the greasy ponytail full-time.) I can’t put on any over-the-head t-shirts, so I’m currently switching between a single zipper down sweatshirt and a button down pajama top. Toby runs the laundry every morning so I don’t end up smelling. Greasy head and dirty clothing? I have to draw the line somewhere.

There’s still substantial nerve damage from the work they did on my torso. I was warned about that. It also happened during the last two of my pregnancies, actually, though I had forgotten as much until the sensation returned. The right and left side of my tummy became numb when I was hugely pregnant. At the time, I hadn’t given it much thought, but now that I know it’s from nerves being temporarily severed, it makes sense.

I’m also SUPER black and blue. If I could move some of the color technique from my belly to my eyelids, I’d have a beautiful shaded look, one I’ve never been good enough to pull of. It almost looks fake, as though someone working makeup on a blockbuster about a boxer got a hold of me.

Also, sadly, for my boys, the leaking never really took place, nor did the skin farts. Instead, I peed nonstop, like every 15 minutes for two days. So Toby and I guessed the the fluid came out that way and not via the holes in my skin. (Which also happened post-pregnancy.)  So, no humiliation there. And at one point I felt like a failure. Why couldn’t I do that part of the recovery right? The fun part for everyone else.

“Come quick! Mom’s skin is farting!”

Nope.

A LOT of this recovery has reminded me of being pregnant, come to think of it, both during each pregnancy and those few months postpartum. My boobs hurt. My stomach feels numb and beat-up. I’m itchy. I have trouble finding a comfortable way in which to sleep, and I often wake up with parts of my body hurting or numb. There’s a constant threat of leaking. I smell strange. I stopped washing my hair, because who gives a shit. I walk slowly and as though I might fall over at any moment. I get tired easily. And I feel like nesting all the time, sitting in front of the TV and bingeing on junk food.

So, I guess I sorta prepared for this in some way. It doesn’t feel like my first merry-go-round. The difference is, this time there be no (baby sized) diapers or a string of long nights having to wake up next to a screaming baby.

So, I’m doing OK.

My Boobs, a Confession and WAY TMI.

It’s Tuesday. Day two, post-op. I am sore, but overall I feel pretty OK. Granted, there are probably still some narcotics left in my system and I know the lidocaine is still working because I’m numb all over. Or maybe that’s just nerve damage, which is supposed to happen. But I think yesterday went pretty well. So, prepare yourself for WAY WAY TMI.

I arrived at 9:45 AM. I checked in, and was shuffled back to a pre-op room where I was told to strip down, put on a blue gown, a blue hairnet, some booties and a pair of ill-fitting panties. (Yes, I’m opting to call them “panties” as much as I loathe that word because they were indeed very panty-like. I think I would have rather been given some granny-briefs, but I reckon the less material the better. Also, they need access to as much skin as possible. So, panties it is!)

I was given more paperwork. The COVID sheet was slightly terrifying. Basically, I had to sign away my everything, letting them know that I’m choosing to have an elective surgery done during a pandemic. And this is why Toby and I postponed the surgery twice before. It’s been the subject of many intense conversations, about the risks and likelihood of my possibly being exposed to the coronavirus while trying to heal from surgery. I don’t think either one of us were particularly worried about the possibility of exposure during the actual surgery; the team is tested regularly and they have their own surgical center and full-time medical staff (ie. it wasn’t done at a hospital). Plus, PPE seems to work well against the spread. It was the days following the surgery that we worried about. So we chose to postpone the surgery until cases here in Maryland dropped to an all-time low, while tests were being administered at an all-time high. The positivity rate is what we spent a lot of time focusing on. I was also dancing between hoping to get it done BEFORE Montgomery County opens up more (we are behind the rest of Maryland by two weeks due to having experienced higher rates of the virus) but after positivity rates had dropped.

So, I signed and I’m staying inside for the foreseeable future.

Confession time! I went back and forth on whether or not to share this part publicly. It’s deeply personal and I know I’m likely to get some judgement, whether silently or not so silently. But I also think that people are curious about wanting work done. And it’s been, what, 20 years of my oversharing on the internet? Why stop now? Judge away!

Here’s the skinny. Four months ago, when I went in for the consult, the doctor and I discussed the reduction and what my goals were. I wanted a B cup, but would settle for a small C. He felt this was doable. But then I questioned him about what my belly would look like once my boobs were smaller. And that’s when he brought up liposuction. I know. That’s what these cosmetic surgeons are trained to do—up-sell! And the thought of getting liposuction never, ever crossed my mind. In fact, I’d always been adamantly against the idea. I used to be a hippy chick. (I do still wear my patchouli and Birkenstocks with great pride!) I would learn to love my body no matter what became of it. I would be happy with aging and gravity and all that fun stuff. But things change. And people have babies. So people change. And I guess I’ve changed.

The doctor and I talked about post-pregnancy bodies and how often times, no matter how hard a person works at losing weight, stubborn belly flab never goes away. Skin loses its elasticity over time, and, well, then that’s what you’re stuck with. He told me that if I wanted to, since I’d already be under for the reduction, they’d give me a discount on the liposuction should I choose to add that to my order, like it was a side of fries. I told him I would consider it. I asked for two quotes, one with the Lipo and one without, and that I’d get back to him.

Weeks passed. I researched the ever-loving shit out of liposuction, combed through before and after pictures. I even googled “Celebrities and Liposuction” (haha! Dork. But it seems like us common folk don’t share this stuff as much?) I also googled something called J-Plasma aka skin-tightening. It’s incredibly safe and seems to yield satisfying results. And after 3 full-term pregnancies, my belly skin looks like an enormous, fully extended elbow.

The cost difference was nominal, solely because the same anesthesiologist would be utilized and I’d already be undergoing surgery for the reduction. I figured since I’d already be in pain for the reduction, might as well double down. So, after discussing it with Toby and getting over my prejudice, I said, “What the hell? Why not?”

I opted for the reduction, Lipo and J-Plasma. So, recovery is a bit more intense than I had originally planned.

Now that I got that bombshell out of the way, and hopefully not TOO many of you are shaking your heads in judgement of me, I’ll continue.

So, yeah. Yesterday.

The OR nurse walked me through everything I’d experience after the surgery. There would likely be a lot of leaking due to the Lipo. This is incredibly common. And the J-Plasma might cause some bubbling of the belly. She actually called it skin flatulence.

“Wait, like it makes noise? Actual fart sounds?” I asked.

“Yes.” She answered. “Two weeks ago my husband had Lipo done with the J-Plasma and his stomach made sounds.”

“OH MY GOD. I have three little boys. If my belly makes fart sounds, I’m doomed.”

I was scheduled to have two drainage tubes, coming out of each breast, which Toby would have to empty for me. (I did not end up needing either one.) I would not be allowed to lift a damned thing. I was told how to clean myself and to use a specific soap. (Uncented Dove.) She told me to put down a protective sheet on the bed due to the likelihood of leaking and all the belly farting. Thank goodness we hadn’t tossed out the king-sized protective sheet we’d purchased when the boys were little and would often crawl into our bed at night and then inevitably pee all over it. I texted Toby letting him know where to find it and could he please put it on before I got home.

She inserted my IV and left.

Next up, my surgeon popped by and proceeded to draw all over my chest and stomach with a black marker. Measurements were taken in painstaking detail. He drew a circle where my nipples would end up, if all went according to plan. He drew a dress-like pattern all over my chest. Dashed lines here, solid lines there. X marks from my sternum out toward each breast. I was reminded of the guy in Silence of the Lambs with the female body suit. (I know. WTF.) I watched him work his magic and made a mental note about how you can find art in everything. I felt like I was in very capable hands. (I chose him because of his work and stellar reviews. He has done many breast reductions and had the portfolio to back it up. His colleagues, equally as talented, seemed to have more augmentations.)

And then in walked the anesthesiologist.

Now, I am not sure if it’s just been MY experience with anesthesiologists, or if there is indeed something about the people who choose that branch of medicine, but every single anesthesiologist I have ever met seems to be a little bit cuckoo. I mean this in the best possible way. I really do. They have all been slightly off, but in a good way. They almost always had a wicked sense of humor. They often seem to be the most cherished among their fellow staff members. And this doctor did not stray from this generalization. I’d guess she was in late 60s, and unique in every possible way. She had the best laugh. She was clinical when it came to the details of exactly what she would be doing, but when it came to personality and just shootin’ the shit, she was positively goofy. Maybe it’s that an anesthesiologist, above everybody else, literally has a patient’s life in their hands, balancing a delicate chemistry between awake, asleep and, well, death. Perhaps that type of power requires a certain amount of humor? I don’t know. But I appreciate it. And I have yet to meet one I haven’t liked.

We chatted about mundane stuff for a while. (Due to COVID, each OR has to recycle the air several times over, on top of excessive cleaning between every surgery, so we had some time to kill.) She asked me about my life, my kids, my husband. She even asked to see my cake portfolio, which was awesome. And she LOVED my roach cake. And when someone “gets” the roach cake, I know I’m in good company.

And then, just like that, she segued into all the drugs I’d be given. Versed. Dilauded. And eventually Propofol, “The Michael Jackson” drug. A cocktail of drugs that would completely erase hours from my life.

And that was it. I was ready. I walked into the OR, laid down on the table and the next thing I know it’s 4:45 PM and I’m waking up while being informed that they are unable to reach my husband. I tried Toby from my phone. Nothing. It wouldn’t even ring, just dead air. (Later, we’d learn that T-Mobile had a nationwide outage. Go figure. Great timing.) I called my brother and I called my parents. I don’t remember what I said to them, but I apparently called them. Someone finally suggested I text Toby. And somehow that worked.

Next thing I know, I’m being wheeled out to the car and I’m on my way home.

So, yesterday wasn’t terrible pain-wise. But I was so unbelievable nauseated from the anesthesia. That was awful. I had no appetite and could barely stomach water. I probably would have thrown up had I had anything in my system at all. But alas: I had properly fasted. Thankfully, Toby found some Zofran left over from the time down in Disney when we all got sick with the Norovirus. And Zofran made everything better.

I’m still mighty numb and the bruising has already begun. There has been some leakage from the Lipo, but noting too gross or obscene. I was even able to shower. I do believe I am now a proper B-cup, but I’ll know more once the swelling goes down. And it’s going to take 3 to six months for things to really make sense. But my nipples are in the right place, and much, much smaller in diameter. (Long story and if you thought this was already TMI, that’s a whole new ballpark, my friend. Let’s just say this was something I have hated about my breasts since I was old enough to notice how different they were.)

Yesterday evening, the nurse called Toby with some interesting news. Apparently, they found a tumor while performing the reduction. It was removed and sent to the lab for further testing. They are pretty sure it’s benign, but it can’t hurt to test. I’m just glad it’s gone now. Who knows, maybe this reduction had another hidden benefit.

I regret nothing. I’d do the reduction again in a heartbeat. Scars or no scars, this was a great decision. I only wish I’d done it sooner. The Lipo? No clue how I’ll feel about that. But I’m sure to update as time goes on.

(Go easy on me, Internet. Go easy.)

The Last Two Weeks.

For the last two weeks, I have had to give up things I have come to rely on. Things I hadn’t realized how much I enjoyed until the the surgical nurse told me I had to abstain. Things like Advil, which I have been known to pop like Skittles. No Pepto. No Melatonin, (which I tried years ago and never touched again because it gave me horrific nightmares). No flax seeds or oil. No Vitamin E. No chia seeds. No alcohol. But when the nurse got to “no tea” I pushed back a bit.

“I can’t drink tea?”

I love tea. I drink it ALL the time. That was the difficult one. But there are so many herbs in tea, it was best to avoid it.

I was told to stop taking my vitamins since she couldn’t be sure what was in them. I realized later this was likely a ploy to get me to purchase their vitamins for $100, but I am a sucker. And Toby told me it was a scam. And I felt a little stupid for falling for it, but alas. Here we are. So, I have been taking their vitamins, three in the morning, three in the evening, for two weeks. And, I gotta say: my hair and nails look better than they have in years! My vitamins never did that.

So maybe that 100 bucks wasn’t such a bad splurge after all.

I’m so nervous. My surgery is scheduled for 10:45 AM tomorrow. I am to arrive by 9:45. I can’t have anything to eat or drink after midnight tonight. But I was told to drink “as much water as humanly possible” up until that point. (Apparently it makes for seeing one’s veins easier.) I usually go to bed at 10 PM and I’m usually up by 5 AM. So, I’m going to have to push through and stay up as late as possible so I can sleep in as late as possible. I don’t want arrive tomorrow hangry, nervous and faint. Also: how does a middle-aged, perimenopausal woman “drink as much water as humanly possible” until midnight and not then spend all night having to pee? Maybe that’s how I’ll end up sleeping in? I’ll spend all night running to and from the bathroom.

COVID Test: Complete.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I had a COVID test scheduled for noon. This is something every surgery requires at the moment. My surgeon scheduled the appointment a couple of weeks ago.

It was pretty simple. My drive thru appointment was at Suburban Hospital here in Bethesda, Maryland, right outside of D.C. In typical Michele fashion, I showed up early. I was the only one in line. So I drove right up. First, I was stopped by a security guard who asked for my name. He checked his daily list to make sure I was indeed on it. At that point, the cones were moved and I was told to pull ahead where an incredibly sweet nurse asked for my photo ID. She then instructed me to pull up to the next station where three more nurses/medical professionals waited. They all waved at me as she pointed in their direction. Everyone was so damn pleasant. I’m not sure why I was so surprised and grateful for that. I half expected it to me more militant in nature. Not, like, mean, but very impersonal, Kafkaesque. But it wasn’t. Not even remotely.

When I pulled up to the three women who would be taking the actual swab, they reconfirmed my name and made sure the vial and bag they held actually matched up with me. At that point, she handed me a pamphlet of information about COVID and ways to stay healthy. (Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Keep your distance. Basically everything we’ve been told since mid-March.) She then explained exactly how the test would go. I liked that. As someone who wants all the information, this was calming. Basically, she’d go in one nostril, then the other, swirl it for 10 seconds and then it would be over. No problem.

The first swab entered my left nostril and wasn’t a big deal at all. In fact, for a split second I thought, “That’s it? That was nothing!” I readied myself for the right nostril. THAT was a bit more intense. With that swab, she went in there and then in there some more. It just kept going! I shut my eyes and she began to swirl it around and counted to ten, slowly.

Midway through, I guess I made a weird face or a strange sound or something because she calmly told me to breeeaaath. I did and regained my composure.

Then, it was over.

I spent about 30 minutes afterwards that with a slight tickle in an area of my head that has never (and hopefully never will) see the light of day. It felt sorta like when you inhale a little bit of pool water.

The whole experience was easy and quick. No big deal at all.

Results will be sent directly to my surgeon for Monday morning’s 9:45 AM start time.

Still incredibly nervous. I will be updating here daily about recovery, pain, outcome—the works. It makes me feel better, writing. Like a therapy session. :]

I’m Getting a COVID Test Today.

I am getting a coronavirus test at noon. Not because I feel sick; not because I have been in contact with someone who tested positive. I’m getting tested because on Monday I’m having breast reduction surgery, something I have wanted for decades.

I’m nervous as hell, but I think I’m ready.

The surgery has been postponed twice due to the coronavirus. The first time, was because all elective surgeries had been put on hold. The second time was because I didn’t feel comfortable with how things were going here in Montgomery County, Maryland. I could not, in good conscience, potentially take a bed away from a critical patient at a local hospital. Although, I should add that the place I’m having this done has its own surgical center and private team of anesthesiologists. But I worried that should something go wrong, and I needed an ICU, I might take a very much needed bed away from another person.

I was also worried that since my immune system would be compromised by the healing process, and cases were still pretty high here, should I potentially end up getting sick while also recovering, it would be very taxing. So, after discussing this with Toby, we decided to put it on hold.

But things are looking up here in Maryland. So, it’s go time. (Did I mention I’m super nervous?)

I’m not sure why I’m writing about this online. I think it’s because I’m so damn nervous. I’m excited, too! I look forward to the day where I can run three miles and not end up with bloody, burn marks from my running bra. (True story. I even took pictures this past Sunday after taking part in a three mile virtual race.) I look forward to getting this weight off my chest.

I’m currently a D Cup, probably a slight bit larger, actually. I have asked to go down to a large B or a small C. But a B would be ideal. I know that’s a pretty huge leap, but I have always coveted smaller chests. I’m just tired of these things. I want to know what it feels like to run without this constant, heavy annoyance. I dream of that day, frankly.

I will likely update here, even if no one reads blogs anymore. (Ha!) I think it’ll be an interesting way to keep track of how things progress for me on a personal level. How painful will it be? What will the scars look like? Will I regret it? Will I think it’s the best decision I ever made? Will I wish I had done it sooner? I don’t know. But I’m ready to find out.