Monthly Archives: February 2017

Something Good

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1. #RememberingTrayvon. Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, “whose extrajudicial murder sparked a global movement to demand an end to state-sanctioned violence against Black people. Trayvon — who was profiled, stalked, and killed in his neighborhood of Sanford, FL, by vigilante George Zimmerman — is remembered by his family and friends as kind and gentle. Zimmerman’s acquittal and the subsequent police murder of Michael Brown and public uprising in Ferguson, MO, catalyzed the Movement for Black Lives and the Black Lives Matter Global Network.” This post shares links to educational resources and ways that we can continue to help support this movement. In related news, Remember Trayvon?

2. ‘Get Out’ movie controversy? Film called ‘anti-white’ and ‘racist’ by some viewers. I can’t wait to see this film, which has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes — unheard of. When I shared the link to this article on Facebook yesterday, I included the caption: They say “anti-white” like that’s a bad thing. We should all be “anti-white” and if we aren’t we need to investigate what whiteness actually means. In related news, Chance the Rapper hosted a Q&A about the movie.

3. Native Nations Rise, which has all the information you need about the upcoming Native Nations March on Washington, including how to donate.

4. Intro to Body Image Work from Isabel Foxen Duke.

5. How Long You Can Freeze Everything, In One Chart. A very helpful graphic.

6. Google Just Dropped $11,000,000 to Make Sure #BlackLivesMatter.

7. Fluidified. Years ago there was a streaming station called “Beach House Radio” that I loved so much. This YouTube channel totally reminds me of it, playing “chilled, deep and atmospheric electronic music. Genres include chillout, downtempo, garage and others.” In related news, Moby Has Just Released Four Hours Worth Of Free Music Designed For Yoga And Meditation.

8. An entire Manhattan village owned by black people was destroyed to build Central Park.

9. A moment that changed me: lashing out at a man who opened the door for the newly thin me.

10. Losing Alberta: Gentrification in Northeast Portland. A really good short documentary.

11. Stop Using Women And Girls To Justify Transphobia. “The safety of women and girls is at risk, but certainly not because of trans people.” In related news, Transgender 101: A Guide to Gender and Identity to Help You Keep Up with the Conversation.

12. Recipes I want to try: New England Clam Chowder, and 30-Minute Chocolate Donuts (Vegan + GF).

13. Play Social Media Bingo!

14. Pages Matam performing his poem “Black Joy, Uninterrupted.” Holy wow.

15. This Agency Created an Obstacle Course to Show People What It’s Like to Be ‘Black at Work.’

16. The Rise of Roxane Gay. “A career decades in the making, Gay’s literary stardom looks more sudden than it is.”

17. Day 22 of Investment in Black Lives: The Ferguson Response Network. Michael Moore just launched a website to keep traction of actions happening around the country — problem is, Leslie Mac and the Ferguson Response Network have already been doing the exact same thing for three years now. Black women were already doing the work, and what Michael Moore should have done is: 1. his research, and 2. give the credit where credit is do and direct people to the resource that ALREADY exists instead of building a copy. As Leslie Mac herself said, “research before you build.”

18. Why work doesn’t happen at work, a great TED Talk I recently rewatched. “Jason Fried has a radical theory of working: that the office isn’t a good place to do it. He calls out the two main offenders (call them the M&Ms) [**Spoiler Alert!!!**: managers and meetings] and offers three suggestions to make the workplace actually work.”

19. The only bookstore in the Bronx.

20. 34 Books by Women of Color to Read This Year.

21. To America, written and performed by Danielle Ate the Sandwich, featuring videos submitted from fans across America.

22. This Day in History, a really fun page from The History Channel.

23. Author: ‘Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat.’ An interview with Stephanie Covington Armstrong, author of an important memoir, Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat. I just finished it, and it was so good. As far as I know, this book was the first of its kind: a memoir about disordered eating written by a black woman.

24. Fake News, Misinformation, and Propaganda. A guide from the Harvard University Library, that “offers a brief introduction to the spread of misinformation of all kinds and tools for identifying it, and reading the news with a more informed eye.”

25. Why Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand Black Life.

26. 13 Empowering Photos Show There’s No ‘Right’ Way To Be A Boy.

27. Documentaries about amazing women: Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, and Toni Morrison Remembers, and Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth.

28. Write Unafraid, Without Fear Of Failure from Chuck Wendig. Also from Chuck, The Many-Headed Hydra Of Republican Hypocrisy.

29. School Asks Teachers To Take Down Pro-Diversity Posters, Saying They’re ‘Anti-Trump.’

30. What Ever Happened to all the Old Racist Whites from those Civil Rights Photos?

31. A Town Hall with Constituents but No Senator.

32. A Guide to the Basic Anxiety of Life.

33. When Society Breaks Your Heart from Lodro Rinzler.

34. When Things Go Missing.

All of this is made more precious, not less, by its impermanence. No matter what goes missing, the wallet or the father, the lessons are the same. Disappearance reminds us to notice, transience to cherish, fragility to defend. Loss is a kind of external conscience, urging us to make better use of our finite days. As Whitman knew, our brief crossing is best spent attending to all that we see: honoring what we find noble, denouncing what we cannot abide, recognizing that we are inseparably connected to all of it, including what is not yet upon us, including what is already gone. We are here to keep watch, not to keep.

35. When A Woman Deletes A Man’s Comment Online. “To be able to take issues fundamental to the health and safety of millions of people and turn them into sport where winners and losers are decided by talking points requires some level of insulation from the negative impacts of the outcome in order to enjoy participating.”

36. On Dylann Roof and the Expectation of Black Forgiveness.

This range of emotion — grief, horror, rage, forgiveness given or withheld — ought to be woven into how we tell the story of one of America’s darkest days in living memory. It isn’t only Roof who’s on trial. It’s also America’s sense of itself. We can’t afford to write off this crime as an unfortunate but exceptional incident. History has taught us that this isn’t that — that it’s never been that.

37. I’m a Silicon Valley liberal, and I traveled across the country to interview 100 Trump supporters — here’s what I learned.

38. Don’t Burn Out or Numb Out: On Pacing Myself for Long-Haul Resistance from the always amazing Jena Schwartz.

39. US Holocaust Museum’s “early warning signs of fascism” sign is going viral.

40. President Trump’s First Month Approval Survey. I will absolutely be filling this out, and you should too.

41. Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson, And The Normalization of Slave Rape Narratives.

42. Love for Graeme and Jasmine. These women do good work, and they need some help as they find the next place and way they’ll continue doing that.

43. How Dieting Makes You Gain Weight. “The diet industry doesn’t want you to know it (because it would mess with their bottom line), but scientific research has proven it.” And **Spoiler Alert!!!*** “Chronic dieting actually increases your weight over time.”

Wild Writing: Watermelon Dream

Written in my Wild Writing class, inspired by two different poems: “A Prize Watermelon” by James O’Hern and “Prayer on National Childfree Day” by Abby E. Murray.

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I’m in the watermelon dream. As a kid, even though my grandparents had a farm and we had a large garden, we didn’t grow watermelons. Maybe it was too wet in Oregon, or there wasn’t enough sun. Watermelons were the stuff of picnics, barbecues, special occasions in summer, something you bought at the store. I don’t remember ever buying a watermelon for us to eat at home. Maybe they were too expensive, or maybe my parents didn’t like them, or maybe I just don’t remember.

As I got older, lived on my own, I never thought to buy a watermelon, unless it was for a picnic, barbecue, or special occasion. I didn’t think I particularly liked watermelon. But then I moved to Colorado, and they grow watermelons here — crispy, sweet melons that are local and in season for a month towards the end of every summer. The first year we bought one for no special reason, just to eat, it was so good we ate half of it immediately, standing over the kitchen sink with two spoons, eating straight out of the melon, juice running down our arms. We obsessively ate watermelon that summer, couldn’t stop, never felt satisfied no matter how much we ate, even when we made ourselves sick to our stomachs from eating so much.

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Then one year, as our garden got bigger and bigger and we had to come up with more different things to plant, we decided to try watermelon. At the end of the summer, two tiny green striped melons sat in our garden. We picked them, so excited because everything else we’d ever grown proved to be better than what we could buy in the grocery store — we gobbled tomatoes right off the vine, standing in the sun, the fruit still warm, and I ate whole cucumbers raw. But we cut into those first watermelons and they weren’t even pink yet, a pale fleshy white dotted with black seeds, wholly inedible.

We tried again the next summer, had more fruit, but still none of it ripe. Maybe our growing season wasn’t long enough in the north? Last year, we tried one more time, researched how to know when they were ripe — you had to wait until the little curl at the end turned from green to brown.

Blessed are the poems you scratch into the ground. The watermelons, those round green poems scratched into the ground. Our mistake in years past was picking them too soon, even though everything else in the garden was done — except for the tomatoes and strawberries, which slow down for sure but as long as there is sun and the nights didn’t get too cold, they’d keep going. We learned we had to wait, until the tiny green curl at the end of the fruit turned brown, and then they’d be ready.

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This year they were bigger, maybe a different variety than we’d tried before but we’d lost the tag so couldn’t be sure. There were six of them. It was very late, summer practically over when the first curl turned brown. We took the melon inside and set it on the counter. We were both skeptical, didn’t really believe they would be any better than before, but when Eric split it in half with the knife, the flesh inside was deep pink and juicy. He leaned in close, took a deep breath, and said, “well, it smells like a watermelon,” but neither of us really believed the fruit would be tasty, anything we’d want to eat.

We each took a bite, our eyes widening as we chewed, smacking each other on the arm before our mouths were empty enough for words. It was good. It tasted like watermelon. We moved half the melon into the sink and another spoon so we each had one, and like that first time, ate half a watermelon standing over the sink, spitting black seeds into the compost container on the counter, the dogs hovering by our feet, begging for a bite.

A watermelon, from my garden!

We could hardly believe we’d done it, that there were five more huge watermelons in our garden that would soon be ripe and ready to eat — their seeds were poems we’d scratched into the ground, our garden yielding the watermelon dream.

What we remember, what I write might all be fiction, but it’s also the truth — pink, juicy, and full of seeds.

Gratitude Friday

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1. Spending time with lovely humans. My favorite kind are the ones who are curious, smart, kind, creative, and funny, and I got to hang out with a couple of them this week.

2. Good food. Linden Street Cafe (formerly known as Cafe Ardour) has some seriously yummy food and drink. Eric has also been cooking some really good stuff for dinner, which means I get the bonus of some amazing leftovers for lunch too.

3. Having a short car. Seriously, yesterday was a sloppy mess with no signs of stopping, and I really really needed a spot in the parking garage so I didn’t have to clean my car off again, but there were only two faculty spots left: one was for an electric car and one for a short car.

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4. Ringo Blue. I love both my dogs equally (for different reasons), but the adorableness of Ringo is sometimes more than I can handle.

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5. Sam. That being said, the sweetness of Sam is often just as hard to handle. Whenever my three boys get back from a walk, he’s the one who always has to come find me right away, check in. And in the morning, after he gets breakfast and goes potty, if I’m still in bed, he jumps in, gives me a kiss, and then curls up next to me. How hard he tries to protect me, even when he doesn’t need to. How patient he is. How he hides from the washing machine. How he runs out of the room if someone sneezes or coughs.

It's hard to get a good picture of a black dog.

It’s hard to get a good picture of a black dog.

Bonus joy: Some really good documentaries, a good week at work, pay day coming soon, snow (even though I’m kind of over it and need some sunshine), my “new” bathroom (which is over a year old now), snow tires, wool socks, clean sheets, soaking in a tub of hot water, laughing, really good writing, the technology that allows me to connect with people I love even though they are far away, knowing I’m good at what I do, being able to say no.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: It’s not good to get comfortable in knowing. Just because I know something doesn’t mean I should stop learning, allow that knowledge to become fixed, solid, unmoving. Getting comfortable with what I think or believe makes me stagnant and dumb. Things are constantly changing, as they always and will continue to do, and good people are doing research, finding and sharing new information all the time. I must stay open to this, curious, because if I stay stuck in my current state of knowing, eventually I will be wrong.

2. Truth: Resisting change generates suffering. Resistance to new wisdom eventually turns aggressive, violent. Holding on too tightly to what I want to be the truth, wanting it to remain even when its nature is to dissolve and fall away hurts. And depending on how tightly I cling, how violently I resist, I can become a danger to others too.

3. Truth: Not knowing is better. There’s a teaching in Buddhism, “only don’t know,” which recommends cultivating a state of not knowing, of curiosity, and resting there. The poet Rumi describes it as a field, “beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing” and says “when the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.” Pema Chödrön says,

Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.

One wish: May we cultivate a state of curiosity, opening ourselves to new possibilities for compassion and wisdom, letting what we knew, what we were so sure of, so certain about, fall away without resistance.

Something Good

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1. This Day Brought Me to Tears from Jena Schwartz. This blog post brought me to tears. Jena at her best is like…I can’t even think of what, because there’s just nothing like her at her best.

2. 25 Famous Women on Dealing With Anxiety and Depression.

3. Attention white women: The Primal, Unyielding, and Dangerous Ego of Missy Anne, and The Decolonization of White Feminist Consciousness, and The Subtle Linguistics of Polite White Supremacy, and Befriending Becky: On The Imperative Of Intersectional Solidarity, and Decentering Whiteness, and 20 Black Women You Should Be Following Right Now.

4. Knocked down by the election? Here’s how to move on. Because this, “I had to stand at the exact same moment that I could not stand.”

5. Lemonade Didn’t Win Album Of The Year Because White People Don’t Know How To Not Be White People.

6. New Platform Promotes Images Of Black People Engaging In Acts Of Affection. In related news, Artist Addresses The Racist History Of Photographing Men Of Color.

7. Renowned programmer pulls out of tech conference hosted by Shopify. “Toronto developer, who teaches coding to women and minorities, says Ottawa firm’s relationship with Breitbart puts it ‘on the wrong side of history.'”

8. Accidental Racism, Intentional Activism.

9. Stephen Miller is the latest insufferable liar and bigot on Team Trump.

10. Museum removes every piece of art created by immigrants.

11. Another great black history month reading list.

12. Edmonton photographer wins World Press Photo award for Standing Rock coverage.

13. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club,

It’s ok to want things that don’t make sense to others, dear friend. It’s ok to be content with a simple life, to pass up on things that others find tempting, to walk a path that is not often traveled…maybe even a path that has never been traveled before. Please don’t get caught up in the confusing, hurtful and destructive belief that you are somehow obligated to live the life that everyone else seems to think you should live. Please listen to YOUR heart. Please shut out the opinions, advice and voices of “reason” that make you feel so uneasy, confused and inadequate. Be with your truth….be with the source of that truth. Get quiet and listen listen listen to your heart. Your path is your path….the very path that you were created to travel. Your decisions are your decisions…the very decisions that your Creator will help you to make. Go where the peace is….in your life, in your relationships, and especially in all of your decisions. Make choices that bring you the most peace….even when those decisions don’t make sense to the outside world. You have what it takes to hear your truth, beautiful friend…and you do not walk alone.

14. Social Justice Intensive: Spring 2017. “Join us, Desiree Adaway, Ericka Hines and Jessica Fish as we create a brave space to explore issues of race, religion and gender. We will analyze these issues through a lens of power, privilege, and binaries while helping you develop your social justice muscle and critical observations on key issues occurring in our world today.”

15. Trump Supporters Receive “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey” Moments After President Slams Reporters. Blergh.

16. Let Van Jones Explain How Mass Incarceration Led Directly to Trump’s Win.

17. When Did Compassion Become Partisan Politics? from John Pavlovitz, a wise and compassionate voice.

18. Recipes I want to try: Carrot & Chickpea Veggie Burger, and Melting Sweet Potatoes, and Asian Noodle Salad, and Roasted Veggie Salad, and Chocolate Mug Cake.

19. Turns out Black History took more than a month? Ashley Nicole Black investigates. Some good advice from people who have faced this before.

20. We Need to Start Telling the Truth About White Supremacy in Our Schools.

21. The 20 Funniest Tweets From Women This Week. You know what I just realized? It’s someone’s job, at least in part, to spend the week reading Twitter, just looking for funny tweets from women. Probably an unpaid intern, but still, not a bad gig.

22. Help Us #Resist…Better. Put your money where your mouth is.

23. The most powerful art from the #BlackLivesMatter movement, three years in.

24. Glenn McCoy and ‘The New Problem’ With Racism.

25. Amazing street art blended in with nature.

26. ‘Eating disorders are black women’s issues too.’ “Georgia suffered from eating disorders through her teenage years. Thinspiration Tumblrs inspired her to lose weight but that spiralled to starvation and bulimia. Now recovered, she wonders why black women are rarely identified as having eating disorders.”

27. 5 Ways Teachers Are Fighting Fake News.

28. Watch the Debut Episode of Revolutionary New Web Series Brown Girls.

29. ‘There Is No Good Card For This’: What To Say When ‘Condolences’ Isn’t Enough.

30. I Wish I’d Known… Me too. Meeee toooo.

31. Ken Nwadike spreads love to everyone through “Free Hugs.”

32. Is Reverse Racism A “Thing?” “There is no such thing as reverse racism and here’s why.”

33. 50 Ways People Expect Constant Emotional Labor from Women and Femmes.

34. 12 Black-Led Podcasts To Listen To Now.

35. American Masters – Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise. The first feature documentary about Maya Angelou’s life premieres nationwide Tuesday, February 21 at 8 p.m. on PBS. In related news, the documentary The Talk premieres on PBS tonight.

36. Art21. “Art21 is a celebrated global leader in presenting thought-provoking and sophisticated content about contemporary art, and the go-to place to learn first-hand from the artists of our time. A nonprofit organization, Art21’s mission is to inspire a more creative world through the works and words of contemporary artists.” Their video series is really cool.

What I’m Doing: Fat Acceptance

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This blog started with my “life rehab.” After years of a toxic work environment and two significant personal losses, I looked at my life with a new clarity and realized I wasn’t happy. As I dug a little deeper into the “why?” I realized I’d been in a long term abusive relationship — with myself. As I untangled the “why?” there, I discovered self-aggression directed at my body, which manifested as disordered eating and overexercise, a self-loathing that at times turned suicidal.

I started therapy, directly focused on the disordered eating but which uncovered deeper suffering still. I worked a lot with Rachel Cole. I read a lot of books, did research, took classes and went on retreats. I stopped dieting, quit starving myself. I stopped working out with my trainer. I became a yoga teacher and meditation instructor. I did a little more therapy.

I started making choices about what to eat and how to move that were about feeling good and overall wellbeing, rather than about a number (weight or clothing size or BMI) or how it would make me look. I embodied what it meant to love myself. It’s been a lot of work, effort and energy and attention, and I’m still not all the way “there,” (whatever that means).

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What I realized the other day is that because of the work I’ve done for myself, it’s natural for me to advocate for others who suffer in similar ways. Because of my increased awareness and sensitivity, I see things other people might miss. I understand suffering and love in a way some people won’t even allow themselves to consider. They choose instead what is easy, embodying willful ignorance — pettiness, hatefulness, bigotry.

Take this video, for example. Someone shared it on Facebook the other day, with the caption, “Inspirational ❤ .” I watched it and had a completely different reaction. I felt sick to my stomach, then I cried. The more I thought about it, the angrier I got — white hot rage.

The video was made by Edeka, the largest supermarket corporation in Germany. As I write this post, it’s had 2.6 million YouTube views, and on their Facebook page it’s been viewed 33 million times, been shared close to 450,000 times, and the reactions range from like, love, and “haha.” There are 16,000+ comments on the Facebook post, and many are in German, so I didn’t spend time reading them and can’t really tell you exactly what people were saying.

The video is blatantly fatphobic. It portrays fat people as lazy, satisfied with eating the same gruel day after day. They eat lunch at their desk as they work or while waiting for the bus, and even their pets are fat. They dress in muted dull colors and are shown restricted to the city, with its concrete and lack of nature. The clear message in this representation is that fat bodies (people!) are lazy, boring, joyless, unhappy, and essentially immobile.

At a key moment in the video, a young boy notices a bird outside the window. Seeing it fly gets him excited about the prospect of flying himself. We all know humans can’t fly unaided by the technology of a plane, or at the very least a hang glider. No matter how thin you are, a bunch of balloons or a pair of cardboard wings won’t enable you to actually fly. And yet, the video shows differently.

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The boy tries everything he can think of, but always fails, clearly because he’s too fat. Then one day, he sees the bird eating berries, so changes his own diet to berries. I’m sure you can guess what happens next. It’s pure “body transformation = happiness” porn. The boy looses weight because of his new diet, and makes a pair of cardboard wings that allow him to fly just like the bird. The final scene is of him relaxing in a lovely lush meadow, “finally” happy in his new thin and therefore apparently magical body, popping a single berry in his mouth. A caption in German reads, “Eat like the person you want to become.”

The message is clear: fat = unhappy & unhealthy. And to change yourself, simply change your diet. There’s so much wrong with this that I don’t even have space in a single blog post to dismantle it completely. What I do know is “the cake is a lie,” (essentially, your promised reward is merely a fictitious motivator). There are plenty of studies, books, articles, and research that debunk this simple formula, and even more personal stories that make it clear that diet and exercise don’t automatically lead to happiness or health.

Eating good food is a choice, but more importantly YOU get to decide what “good” means. For me, good food is what appeals to me, satisfies my eyes and nose and mouth and stomach, tastes good and makes me feel good — sometimes that means I feel more energy, sometimes it means I feel more relaxed. Sometimes that means eating a kale salad, but sometimes it’s a slice of cake, and none of my choices have anything to do with my worth as a human being, because what I eat isn’t about morality. Same goes for movement — I do what brings me joy and feels good to my body. It has nothing to do with trying to chase a number or manipulate the way I look. It has nothing to do with being pleasing or acceptable or valuable to anyone but myself.

The bottom line is this: One’s choice to treat others with generosity and compassion, to be a sane and wise person in our dealings with other people, should be based in our common humanity, NOT the way our pants fit. I guarantee if you turned your effort and energy towards loving people, towards easing suffering in yourself and in the world, you wouldn’t have time for all this other nonsense.

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Some resources that might be helpful:

Gratitude Friday

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1. Kitchen counter love notes. Even though I’ve been home for the past week recovering from surgery, Eric has still managed to sneak a couple in.

2. Good food. Bran muffins with dried raspberries, smoked salmon, avocado, sour cherry juice, big bowls of fruit salad and green salad, ice cream sandwiches.

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3. Paid sick leave, along with good health insurance and the ability to work from home, as well as a boss who would never give me a hard time about needing the flexibility and two awesome interns who can keep things running while I’m away.

4. Time to rest and heal, not needing to be responsible for anything, getting to read and watch TV and take lots of naps. I’m healing specifically from my surgery, but I needed this time for other reasons too.

5. My tiny family. There’s a picture I took of Eric last week that as I was taking it he was laughing and saying “do not put this on social media.” You are just going to have to take my word for it that it’s both adorable and hilarious. He’s been taking such good care of me, and Ringo and Sam have been being so good, keeping me company.

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"Can we haz lunch now, Mom?"

“Can we haz lunch now, Mom?”

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He was falling asleep like this.

Bonus joy: That the human(s) who got into our cars the other night didn’t take anything of real value or do any damage, the sunshine, clean laundry, a hot bath in a clean tub with clean water, going to the grocery store (which is a big deal when you’ve been housebound for the past week) and having it not be very busy and the shelves newly stocked, lots of comfortable and clean pajamas to wear, friends who text to check in, Voxing with Justine, sending a surprise present to someone, talking to my mom on the phone, Valentine’s Day, love, laughing with Eric, my knee getting better as it gets rested by default as I heal from something else.