Fireworks

Every year the neighbors have the usual fight on NextDoor about fireworks. On one side are those who say that setting off fireworks in a residential area is selfish and inconsiderate because it frightens pets, wakes babies, triggers war veterans, and is a serious fire danger in the dry summer in Texas. On the other side are those who say fireworks go boom!

It might sound from this that I’m on the side of the former group, but I’m actually not. When you live around other people, you can’t expect to control everything they do. I’ve lived in dense urban areas for much of my life and people make continual ear-splitting noise doing unfathomably bizarre things around the clock. By comparison, the suburbs are so peaceful, it’s astonishing to me that people could possibly bitch about two noisy nights per year (typically always wrapped up by midnight). People move to the suburbs for their children, and kids like fireworks. Get a white noise machine, put some earplugs in, walk your dog before dark, and be grateful there is no one living above your bedroom who likes to get high and practice their clog dancing at 3am on a Tuesday.

I don’t personally care much for fireworks. I feel like once you’ve seen a fireworks display or two, you’ve been there, done that. Too, if I am watching fireworks, I’m inevitably getting absolutely demolished by mosquitoes at the same time. And finally, I’m just not especially interested in entertainments that don’t have a plot or some sort of narrative. But I don’t begrudge others their enjoyment. Indeed, if everyone only did what I personally enjoyed, we’d all live in a bleak world. I’m sure Edith is going to want to singe her eyebrows off with a Roman candle at some point; it’s a quintessential American experience (although not one I ever participated in).

Meanwhile, last night, we cranked the noise machine and while I could still hear the explosions booming in the background, they weren’t distinct enough to wake Edith. I’m not sure if that was just the warmup and tonight will be more intense. She is having the four month sleep regression right now, anyhow, and was up four times through the night fml.

Deer Again

On my run yesterday (well, actually this one was a walk), I saw the little fawn again, but this time he was by himself.

“Where is your mommy?” I asked, and then I watched him graze around and then skip back and forth, and then he disappeared into some trees and I couldn’t see where he came out on the road.

And then I burst into tears and sobbed for awhile because I had decided he was now an orphan fawn, and this means I am either overtired or getting depressed or both. I have always had a crying in public problem. It’s less of an issue now that I no longer live in a big city, because I’m usually crying somewhere without a lot of population density, at least, or in my car rather than on the subway. Not that I cry that much. Except now that I’ve had Edith, absolutely anything having to do with babies or kids makes me weep like the world is ending. Which is appropriate anyhow, because it seems likely that the world is ending.

Insert Dos Equis meme here that says, “I don’t always burst into tears out of nowhere, but when I do, I do it in public.”

Grocery Store, Masks

I went to the grocery store today for the second time in over a year. During the pandemic, I didn’t feel comfortable going inside because I was pregnant, so I had all my groceries delivered. And since the baby’s birth, my Mom had been doing the grocery shopping because she likes to (and also she cooks and I don’t).

One day about a month ago, I stopped in. It’s been remodeled since I last was there and it felt like an event just to walk around and look at things. In part, it felt like an outing because I’d been heavily quarantined for a year, and in part, it felt like an outing because I had a newborn at home and was not used to doing things without someone attached to me and usually screaming.

Today, I went for actual groceries since Mom is not here (Chex mix and canned wine). My local HEB isn’t really bougie enough for me; it caters to suburban families and not vegetarian single ladies who don’t cook and like to live on fancy little snacks and pre-made vegan wraps. But it’s never worth it to me to drive further into Austin to go somewhere else, so I spend a lot of time and money at this grocery store (or I did). I am happy to be able to go back and browse and to use my own bags again.

I am still wearing a mask inside places, but very few other people are. I am fully vaccinated, but I’m wearing one mostly because other people don’t know that I’m vaccinated, and I want for immunocompromised people and people with minor children to feel comfortable rejoining the world again also. But this seems like a pointless gesture as nobody else is wearing them, so I will probably stop soon.

I think it’s reasonable to still be wearing a mask, because there has been a lot of contradictory information about whether or not vaccinated people can transmit the newer variants, and so people aren’t really sure what they should do. I also think it’s reasonable not to wear a mask, because from everything I can tell, vaccinated people can’t actually transmit the virus and it’s fine to stop wearing them. I don’t think it’s reasonable to get mad at other people for wearing or for not wearing a mask in this part of Texas right now, since either choice seems reasonable at this point.

But I am aware (thanks to The Internets) that some people are very angry at those of us who are still wearing masks. They feel that wearing a mask at this point is either due to sheer stupidity and sheepish media-driven fear, or is an obnoxious attempt at virtue signaling, or both. It’s never made sense to me to be angry at people for wearing masks, since even if it’s not necessary, it doesn’t harm anyone. Why the fuck do you care if someone else wears a mask? Maybe they just don’t like the way their face looks, what’s it to you?

I like mask wearing because it relieves me from the pressure of smiling at people, it covers up my jawline acne, and I don’t have to worry about my breath. But I don’t like it because it fogs up my sunglasses and is uncomfortable. I will probably stop wearing a mask soon, but I imagine I will still wear one on planes when I travel again. I always get sick after a flight, and K-pop singers and others have been wearing masks for travel for that very reason for long before the pandemic. I don’t know why it took the rest of us so long to catch on.

Park

There’s a lovely little park a block away from my house. It has a red dirt trail and lots of shady trees and benches and rocks and a playground and a wildflower meadow and landscaped flower beds and flagstone paths. It’s nearly always empty.

It’s been too hot here to take Edith on much of a walk most days, but I feel like it’s important for her to get outside at least briefly, so we’ve just been going down to this little park and sitting in the picnic shelter until we can’t stand it anymore (usually about 20 minutes), and then we check the mail and circle the block home. Sometimes it’s even too hot to just sit in the shade. As we sit, Edith stares at the park, inscrutable, and I browse Twitter and worry about climate change.

Today, there was a man and his two-year-old daughter playing in the park, and we had a conversation! I was so excited to talk to another adult, a parent! We talked about the ridiculous real estate bubble in Austin and the pandemic and remote work and the merits of the neighborhood.

Then, as Edith and I were coming home, my neighbors across the street were in their front yard, and they asked about Edith and we chatted for a short while.

Two conversations with live people! In one day!

I was so happy! I can’t imagine having been thrilled by unexpected small talk two years ago. In fact, I would have gone out of my way to avoid it. I’m not sure if this complete 180 in my personality is due to the pandemic, or to being a parent now and really wanting to get to know other people so Edith can eventually be part of a community, or some combination of both. I wonder whether it will last.

This little walk was the day’s high; after that, Edith and I didn’t really know what to do with ourselves all afternoon.

Deer

I’m lucky to have a large park within jogging distance of my house. It’s along a rural-ish (although increasingly busy) road, and I often see deer there. The other day, a mother and her fawn were eating right in the park, and were completely unperturbed by the joggers and cyclists going past. I took this video of them grazing:

They headed down to the road after, so I followed to see if they got across it ok, and took this video of them wading across the creek on the other side:

A couple of days later, I was jogging along a path outside the park, and a doe sauntered across it right in front of me. I was close enough to touch her, but she was completely unconcerned and took her time. I think it was this same doe.

I really enjoy seeing the deer, but it also saddens me that they are caught in the middle of this rapidly developing area. There’s not really much woods here for them to live in, and they are frequently hit by cars (I also see remains on my runs, which is less charming to mention in a blog post). This city is currently building up this area, cutting down trees and expanding the road, and adding more four lane roads to intersect with it. I don’t know where the deer will go.

On Birthdays and Water Picks

I have a reputation for being anti-adult birthday. This is not entirely true, but it’s close enough to the truth that I have leaned into it, since overall, I’m more anti than pro. In actuality, I mostly just feel that it’s unseemly for an adult to make a huge deal out of their birthday or to be especially demanding about it. Specifically, I feel it’s weird when an adult insists that their birthday be observed on their actual birthday, rather than, say, the following Saturday. It’s not polite to insist that everyone get babysitters and be out late on a random Tuesday just because you’re turning some unremarkable age like 36. It’s also weird when people insist they cannot do something important on a certain day because it’s their birthday. Just observe your birthday the following week, who gives a fuck?

For my birthday this year, I received a combination electric toothbrush and water pick, because I asked for it. It was not, therefore, a surprise. I don’t really understand adult presents, either, because most of us have our own money and can just buy anything that we want for ourselves. But every year, my parents ask me what I want, and usually I don’t have an answer, but this year, I had just gone to the dentist and they told me I needed an electric toothbrush and a water pick, so I said this. This was the first time I had been to the dentist in two years, and they told me that I have receding gums. They said I needed some sort of spraying treatment and that my insurance would only pay for them to do half my mouth at a time, so I had to go back again a second time. I don’t know if any of this is true — they could have just been making all of it up, how would I know? But anyway, I got the spraying treatment.

One thing that annoys me about going to the dentist is that you have to get x-rays. I have never had a cavity in my entire life, and I am never going to have a cavity, so the x-rays are always entirely unnecessary. I understand that the dentist cannot possibly know that in my case, they are unnecessary. They can’t just take my word for it that I’m not going to have a cavity. I tell them every time and they act smug about it, like “we’ll see” and then I don’t and they see also that I never have, and they praise me and say there is no one like me. If there is a hygienist present, usually the two of them will exclaim to each other about how excellent my teeth are, and how superior I am to their other patients.

One time a dentist told me that if I ever died in a fiery crash, they would have a hell of a time identifying my body, because my teeth are perfect. I think this is my favorite compliment I’ve ever received, the perfect combination of macabre and awkward.

Thoughts On the Pandemic

I don’t have much to say about the pandemic that has not already been said, but as things start to open up again in my neck of the woods (acknowledging that they very much are not many other places, and recognizing my immense privilege here, although I suspect it might be temporary), my lasting takeaways on the entire experience thus far are: 

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Black Lives Matter

I don’t really know whether I should post about this or not; it seems redundant to do so, as I’m sure no one needs me to tell them what’s going on or what to do about it. But it also feels not quite right not to say anything. So, I’ll just limit my comment on the matter to encouragement to my fellow white people to give money like we’re paying the reparations we all owe. If you’re not sure which fund to give to, this one splits your donation amongst a number of community bail funds, and this one splits it between a variety of orgs that combat police brutality (among other things). Get recurring with it if you’re flush.

Shutting your mouth and opening your wallet is always an excellent idea, but I think it’s an especially appropriate policy for white people to follow right at the moment.

Bunnies In Quarantine

I’ve been thinking about what all of you are going through — and let me be clear here, by “all of you,” I am talking about my fellow privileged knowledge workers whose primary problem right now is that they’re all losing their minds from the extreme isolation — and it brings to mind the time I took my pet rabbit on a long road trip. 

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Nativity Set

My grandparents lived in Bethlehem, PA, which is probably the most Christmassy place I have ever been, and is also where I spent the majority of my Christmases as a kid. My Nana had a nativity set I especially admired, because it had probably three times the amount of animals of most nativity sets, and it did not discriminate as to topical suitability (“look for the skunk in the nativity set,” my dad would mention on the car ride up each year). I spent a lot of time looking at it.

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