December recap and shutting it down

The month started out with me having things I wanted to accomplish. There was editing work to do. I had fallen behind on my reading challenge, so I wanted to read at least six books this month. Plus, poetry. I wanted to use the down time to work on organizing my work and setting up a submission schedule. I also wanted to participate in December Reflections, an Instagram challenge that has become kind of an annual thing. And I wanted to work on the LifeBeat stuff. (Wasn’t it me who told myself to pare down!?!?)

The big task I needed to absolutely do was write a poem for my annual performance on the Star of India on the 18th. Plus there were several (three) trips planned to San Diego and helping Mom get ready for her cataract surgery on Dec 21.

So as I mentioned the month started out with good intentions to get all this stuff done. The first week, I kept up with my exercise routine, playing tennis and going for walks. On December 8, I got my booster shot. I had some fatigue, lightheadedness, and a sore arm. I don’t feel that I was really put out, although I was prepared to be. Part of me wondered if I was feeling more than was real – psychosomatic stuff. I lay in bed and watched “Rent” and went to bed early that day. Got up the next day and worked. Talked to Sandy that night (Thursday). Mostly tired, but again, couldn’t tell if I was using it as an excuse to not do stuff or if I really was having side effects.

On Friday, December 10, after I finished work, I drove down to San Diego to meet my co-workers for the first time in real life (except for the two I already knew, but them I hadn’t seen in at least two years). We met up at a restaurant in Del Mar, ate, drank, and had a White Elephant gift exchange. It was really fun, and I enjoyed meeting all these folks I’ve been working with for a year and a half. After the work thing, I drove to my high school friend Michelle’s house in Rancho Penasquitos to hang out with her for a couple hours and catch up. This was exciting! Getting to visit people! I’ve known Michelle 36 years (!), and we’re connected through our early history. We weren’t close for a few years there, but I’m happy that we reconnected. After that visit, I made my way to North Park to catch some of Randi’s Damn Jingle Ball. That would be my friend, Randi Driscoll, who lives in Nashville now, but who lived in San Diego and SoCal for a long time. She does an annual Christmas show and this year had come back to SD to do it. Jeff was also playing and some other friends. I got there around 9 pm which ended up being a perfect time. It was intermission. When the second set started, I saw Randi and Jeff perform, hugged Randi’s husband, and called it a night. I still had to check in to my AirBnB, which was in Mt. Helix like the last place I had stayed at the end of July (but a different place). Mt. Helix at night is no joke. It took a couple tries to find the place. It was a cute little studio tucked under a house. I don’t know if it was a storage area or what, but it was cozy enough for me.

The next day I made my way, of course, to the little French cafe for the coveted ham and cheese croissant.

Ham and cheese croissant and iced mocha

I absolutely adore that place (Cafe de L’Opera). I thought I’d work on my poem, but it didn’t happen. I did some editing work and some staring off into space. Then it was time to head to my next stop: Lindsay and Audrie’s house to hang with them and meet River!

She is a tiny baby! Mom and I had gone through my old baby clothes and gifted some of them to her. They seemed very touched to receive these now-vintage clothes! I hung with them for about three hours. It was great to catch up with Lindsay and see her mothering and just be there. After that visit, I went off to meet Mike. This meeting was impromptu, but I’m glad it worked out. We met up at Hooley’s restaurant in Grossmont Center for linner. It was wonderful to catch up with him, and the food was good too. I had fish and chips. By the time we were done, it was around 5:30 pm. There wasn’t anyone else I wanted to see or anything else I wanted to do, so I went back to my little AirBnB. (I’ll spare the drama with the place, but I’ll just say it wasn’t my favorite b/c they wanted me to do laundry – sheets and towels before I left, ugh). I spent the rest of the night under several blankets (it was cold even with the heater on) and binged “Reservation Dogs” on Hulu (which I don’t get at home). It’s a great show.

Sunday, I had some editing work to do so I headed to a coffee shop where I could sit outdoors. I landed at Santos in North Park. There had been a Santos near me when I lived in Golden Hill that I went to nearly every morning. That one isn’t there anymore, but this sister shop has survived. It was fine, although their ham & cheese croissant left much to be desired. One thing I had wanted to do while I was in SD was to go on a hike, but time and circumstances didn’t work in my favor. But that morning, I felt like walking and a quick glance at my map showed a wee trail nearby the Santos that went through a canyon. I put my stuff in the car and made my way to it. It was really quite lovely and a nice unexpected moment.

Switzer Canyon – Burlingame neighborhood

Then it was time to meet Julie and the Becky for lunch in Pt. Loma. It was a gorgeous day, and I had just enough extra time to visit Shoreline Park to get a beautiful shot of the SD skyline.

View of San Diego from Shoreline Park

I met Julie at Harbor Town Pub (the Becky ended up not being able to make it), and we had a great time catching up over lunch and beers.

Me and Julie (and some random dude) in front of Harbor Town Pub

The plan for the rest of the day was to meet up with Robt in Oceanside on my way north, but he canceled so I decided to just head home via a stop at Cravory Cookies. I got back to La Mirada probably around 5 pm. It was a very nice weekend away.

It’s now December 13, and I still have the poem to write, gifts to acquire and send, cards to write and send, plus books to read and poetry stuff to organize. And, of course, Mom’s surgery was imminent (her pre-op appointment was on the 14th) and two more trips to San Diego. It also started to rain. I was starting to feel the holiday pressure, plus with the weather, I asked Dante if we could take the rest of December off from meeting up to play tennis. He was cool with that.

Tuesday, I knocked one of the tasks off my list. I wrapped all the gifts for Sandy and family and got it in the mail. We also went to Mom’s appointment where she (on the urging of her ophthalmologist) decided to have both eyes done for cataracts.

On Wednesday, I headed back down to San Diego. This time for another work thing. This one was the larger marketing group get-together. It was held outside at Crown Point from 10:30 am-2:30 pm. I got there by 11 am. There had been a big in-person 2022 strategy meeting the previous day, where people had flown in to attend. They decided to maximize the opportunity with everyone in town to get together. I was excited to meet more people I work with, though most of the larger group I don’t interact with much. But it was nice to be recognized by the CMO with a nice hug and meet some other folks. We had tacos from a nice lady, and even though our wristbands came with drink tickets, there was no alcohol. There were games (cornhole, giant Jenga, giant Connect Four), and little sets of nice outdoor furniture. It got to be pretty chilly as the time went on. After the leadership talked to us and pumped us up for 2022, some folks decided to leave. I hung out a little bit more, and left around 2 pm. It was clearer to me after that I could have skipped this event and been fine. Being that it was a weekday and it is San Diego, I opted to wait until early evening to head home. In the meantime, I made my way to a coffeehouse to work on the poem. I ended up at Meraki Cafe in University Heights. I ordered a mocha and a cookie and attempted to write. At this point, I already had the epigraph, but that was it. I got a little bit started, the inklings of the first couple stanzas, but it wasn’t fully coming together. The cafe closed at 5 pm so I walked over to El Zarape for the best shrimp burrito in the world. I ate it in the taco shop which was not my preference, but I didn’t have many options. Eating it in the car is kind of messy. At this point, I should mention the COVID, the ‘Rona, yes, the lingering and still strong pandemic, is around and now has a new variant: omicron. So it’s like it’s been, but it’s dangerous again. Being vaccinated and boosted raises the protection level, but many people who are vaccinated are picking up the omicron. While it may not send them to the hospital, it’s certainly not an easy thing to deal with. So, eating inside was not my preference, but the tables were spread apart and there weren’t that many anyway. After I ate, I headed home and was back in less than 90 minutes.

On Thursday, I worked on the poem and got it to a point I was okay with and then I put it away. I’d finalize it the next day. I helped Mom register for her surgery facility. I got another gift figured out. I did work stuff. I finished one book. The Instagram challenge had started out okay, but, by this point, had pretty much petered out.

Friday, December 17 was my mom’s birthday! I went out early before work to pick up one of the gifts I would have to mail later. I worked. I finalized and printed the poem, then we left for San Diego with Lulu around 1 pm. We thought we’d get there early, check-in was 4 pm, but traffic “helped” us, and we pulled into the hotel around 3:55 pm. Whew. This is the same place we stayed when we came down in 2019 with Sandy. It’s bayside and across the street from the Star of India, where my performance was going to be happen on Saturday. We got to our room, I took a shower, then it was time to head to the restaurant, C Level, for Mom’s birthday dinner, the same place we had had Thanksgiving dinner back in 2018. It was a nice night, and our meal was good. Again with the indoor seating, and the place was full. Still, we enjoyed our food, and the views.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and just hung out for the night. On Saturday morning, we headed over to the French cafe for delicious croissants, of course. After, we walked down for a short stroll along 5th Avenue, then we headed back to the hotel. Mom was feeling a little chilly and felt like she may be catching a cold. She napped for a while and I wrote out some holiday cards for the folks I’d be seeing that night. Around 4 pm, we walked across the street for linner at Miguel’s. It was a nice evening, and we again, enjoyed our meal. Mom decided she would skip the boat because she wanted to be sure she wouldn’t be sick for her surgery. I respected her decision. I got ready and headed over.

It was great to see so many people I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic started. Plus, just being on the ship is thrilling. The staff made sure to check vaccination status of everyone boarding for the show. They required masks on the inner decks, but not on the top deck which is outside. I felt safe. Plus I was being careful, though I hugged many people (sometimes with masks, sometimes just with our heads turned). My friend, Julie, was there so it was bonus to see her again. I read the poem and got a great reception. I stayed for the show, and it was all just wonderful.

Me on stage performing my poem. Photo by Jimmie Lunsford.

Sunday morning, Mom and I got our stuff together and headed home pretty easily. We had a very nice weekend in San Diego, and the big task I had for the month was finished. The one big thing left was Mom’s surgery. But then, still looming was, well, Christmas, and more personally, the anniversary of the hospice bubble. Later that night, we found out that T, my nephew, was positive for COVID 😦 He is isolating at home and they’re being very careful. Thankfully Sandy and MT both tested negative.

By this time, the last time I’d purposefully exercised was when I went through that little canyon. I got my steps on Saturday night, but beyond those two points plus with all the rain we’d been having, my exercise routine has been non-existent. My food choices have also not been a priority. I have seen the results of these two things staring up at me from the scale, and that’s okay. It all makes me think of an episode of Friends where, for some reason, Ross and Joey are climbing down a fire escape. Joey mentions something about Ross being heavy, and Ross says, “I’m still carrying a little holiday weight.” That’s me, but I’ll call it “December weight.”

Mom’s surgery was scheduled for 10:30 am on the 21st in Laguna Hills. We drove over there, and I dropped her off. I couldn’t even go in the building. I headed to a Starbucks to wait it out. I got some reading done, some holiday cards done, and some more staring off into space, thinking about what had happened on this day four years earlier and hoping everything was going well with Mom. They called me a couple hours later to say that she was ready so I went to pick her up. The rest of the day was just about taking care of her, though she mostly just napped. She was wearing clear shields on both eyes. She couldn’t see well, but that was expected.

The next day, the 22nd, I took her for her post-op appointment where the surgeon (Dr. Chancer) said that her surgery was quite boring which was a good thing. He gave her some tests and confirmed that everything looked good. He told us to get her some distance “cheaters” (like cheater reading glasses but for distance) and sent us on our way.

Thursday was rainy, and I have no other memories of that day.

Friday was Christmas Eve. I had the day off. It rained. I finished another book (that makes just two for the month)I made chicken fettuccine Alfredo, a newish tradition we started (Sandy, too) because of the movie The Holiday. I was sad that day/evening, even shed some silent tears after we ate. All the big stuff was over except Christmas Day itself, but now we are in the hospice bubble time and some days it’s just all that I feel. I watched Scrooged that day, one of my favorite Christmas movies. This year, the Christmas spirit never manifested for me. I’m happy with the gifts I bought for my people. I enjoyed writing out my cards. I listened to Christmas songs and watched Christmas movies. Mom and I had a pleasant day on Christmas, opening gifts and hanging out. It was mellow. I made salmon from Blue Apron.

Even though my holiday was perfectly fine, when I woke up on the 26th, I was relieved it was over. Which brings me to today, the 27th. I had the day off again. I’ve been writing this blog post all day. Mom and I spent some time outside tending to some of our older geraniums before it started raining again. We had food from The Habit. Tonight I’ll watch a movie, which I’ve been doing quite a lot of lately. I watched Don’t Look Up which was devastating in a darkly comic and ominous way. I’ve watched some silly holiday movies. In the between times, I’ve turned back to my old favorite The West Wing. What can I say? It comforts me.

I’ll work tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday. Hopefully, I’ll get to my LifeBeat stuff and start planning for 2022 by preparing my new planner and also doing the Unraveling workbook by Susannah Conway, another annual tradition for the last five years. We’ll also go out to shop for food and one other Christmas gift for me from Mom. Hopefully, T will be over COVID and Sandy and MT will still be negative. Then it will be new year’s eve and 2022 and the anniversary of Dad’s death.

When I was in college and came home for Christmas break, for a few years in a row, I came down with a bad cold/flu/fever. My body simply held it together somehow until I could rest, and then it made me rest. Even though, thankfully, I’m not dealing with illness, I need to keep in mind that December, especially these last two weeks, is for resting, for taking things easy, for not worrying so much about what I’m eating or how much I’m exercising. And that idea of paring down is also really resonating with me again as I think about the new year.

If you made it all the way to the end, you deserve some kind of medal. I don’t have one, but I’ll give you my sincere thanks for reading this and any other posts you’ve muddled through. Until next time.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sandy Thompson says:

    When I saw the title of this post, I wondered if you were going to say that you are shutting down this blog, and I was holding my breath until the last period on the last sentence. Writing here can be fun, and it can also be super-challenging to find/make time for it.

    Your December was full. Rest now, please. Feel the feelings, unravel, plan, and dream.

    Love you so much!

  2. josefa wann says:

    Very complete recap, fun thing I was along for a lot of it! 🙂

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