For all the twinkle-light-festooned festiveness going on this time of year, I feel like the December doldrums have arrived as predictably on my doorstep as the Amazon-box-ferrying UPS guy.

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s pitch black at 4:37 PM, or the freezing valley inversion weather we get in the winter where the cold and fog settles in for weeks at a time and you can’t remember what it’s like to pet the cat without sending a dramatic Tesla coil lightning arc into the air. Or maybe it’s the influx of sweet treats which are irresistible to me thanks to a complicated neural jangle of nostalgia/sentimentality/raging sucrose addiction and mostly serve to send me into an endless loop of delight and regret. Or maybe it’s the aspirational nature of all the holiday trappings: the creeping sense of comparison that you know goes against the entire point of everything and yet here you are, hitting “personalize” on that pretty Minted card, and marveling at how the tasteful perfectly-lit placement family image looks about a thousand times better than your badly framed cameraphone crap and why didn’t you get a single decent picture of all four of you this year, WHY?

Well, and there’s been a little … *gestures inadequately with wiggling fingers* going on. A little, I don’t know, questioning of purpose. My volunteering has been kind of going off the rails lately, lots of showing up to do a thing and no one needs me for the thing but they forgot to inform me about their lack of a need for the thing, so there’s mostly frustration and a sense of not being super valued that department. I used to love to help in the kids’ schools but this year it just hasn’t panned out, the middle school doesn’t utilize parents the way the elementary school does, and Dylan’s teacher hasn’t taken me up on my offers. John works from home now (did I mention this? His department was shut down at the start of the summer, and although they gave him an offer to relocate we did not want to move back to Seattle, so his side gig business is now the all-in gig) and so I am not at all needed, parent-boots-on-the-ground-wise, in the way I once was, and it makes me feel pretty strongly that it’s time for something else, but … well, what? I scour the job listings and am reminded that I am unqualified for a great number of things and weirdly over-qualified for a small number of other things and I live in a college town with a ton of competition for an extremely limited number of relevant positions. I sit down to try and write and the environment isn’t quite right, the words won’t come, I’m overwhelmed by the scariness of sucking at the one thing I’m supposed to be good at. The kids are about to be home for over two weeks and there is a sort of Edvard Munch scream going on in my head in anticipation of the noise and chaos taking up all the air in my increasingly tiny world.

I feel like a plug looking for an outlet, I guess. My self-critical nature makes me doubt how much juice I actually have to give, but I know it’s not nothing. December, with all its bustle and jolly espresso cup designs, has felt like one mostly-nothing day stacked upon another.

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Thank you for the med-taking suggestions. I think the pillbox/app reminder combo ought to do the trick. Maybe I can even also remember to take, like, a vitamin! I mean while OBVIOUSLY I have an incredibly varied, seasonal, nutrient-rich diet (last night I had seven pieces of Swiss cheese for dinner followed by a spoonful of peanut butter) a little supplementation can’t hurt.

:::

A TINY STORY ABOUT HUMAN KINDNESS

I was in line at a craft store the other day, one of those Jesusy mega-stores that rhymes with Swabby Knobby, and I was sort of staring off into space and switching my basket from one arm to the other and mentally whistling idly when the couple I was behind suddenly turned around and said, “Oh! We aren’t in line.” That’s when I realized they were just looking at a display, and in fact there was no line whatsoever, and the nearest cashier was quite a ways away. I was just … standing there, creepily close to a couple of strangers, emanating a vaguely impatient vibe like maybe they needed to hurry up and decide already if they wanted the twinkle light mason jar or the novelty chalkboard stickers.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know why I thought there was a wait!” I said, flustered, waving my hands in a weird interpretive-dance manner that I guess was meant to artistically indicate that my behavior couldn’t be helped on account of the spinning seal I have in my skull instead of a brain.

“Well, we just looked like we were in line,” the woman said, reassuringly.

:::

Dylan got his first Incident Report at school this week, a serious enough offense that his teacher emailed me about it and he had to have a discussion with the principal. Apparently everyone was getting ready at the end of the day and even though it was several minutes before the final bell rang, Dylan and another kid bailed. Just walked out the classroom and left. I’m fairly convinced that he didn’t do it mischievously or even purposefully, I think he saw another kid leaving and he was like, oh, okay, must be time to go home. We did lecture him about not, you know, escaping from school grounds before the teacher has given the okay, and maybe being more aware of context clues such as empty hallways and no one outside and no buses having arrived and and and (I realize this is a pot/kettle situation given the above story), but overall I am kind of enjoying the combo of horror and delight he’s been going through ever since the INCIDENT REPORT. On the one hand, he’s a good kid who never ever gets in trouble at school and that was clearly distressing for him, and on the other, he seems to also be feeling a teeny tiny bit like:

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