where wildly different is perfectly normal
Just a flip of the calendar page
Just a flip of the calendar page

Just a flip of the calendar page

It’s been quite a decade

A student and I were talking about the flaming dumpster fire we call life these days and I shared my tinfoil hat theory. When scientists clicked on the Large Hadron Collider, it quietly nudged us onto an alternate timeline. We didn’t notice at first because it was so subtle, but like the frog in the pot, things just got worse and worse and here we are. She liked that one, but managed to one-up me with her own theory. Y2K actually happened 20 years ago and now we live in a simulation a la The Matrix. Gotta admit, that one’s pretty good.

Regardless of the nutso dystopian theories my student and I concoct, tomorrow is a fresh start. A new month, year, decade. Yeah yeah, that technically happens every single day, but there’s something about a year that ends in zero. Like a deluxe car wash or a hard reboot, there’s a sense of renewal that only comes every ten years. And oh lort, pretty much everyone I know desperately wants and needs a hard reboot fresh start.

For me, personally, this decade was a rollercoaster from start to finish. Since 2010 we’ve moved twice, my husband changed jobs four times (with multiple pay cuts), we lost a dog and adopted a cat, and I reluctantly homeschooled a complex and out-of-the-box kid all the way through high school. Ironically, we still have the same vehicles. But that same kid, a frustrated Cub Scout back then, eventually went on to earn his Eagle Scout. That same kid, the one who struggled in school because schools don’t know what to do with complex and out-of-the-box kids, earned state and national recognition in computer information technology, then earned a highly coveted internship that turned into a gap year full time job. That same kid, who was so more when younger, is learning to harness that more-ness to his own benefit, so watch out, he’s gonna make a difference in this world.

In the last ten years I’ve gone from sobbing myself to sleep to an unexpected expert of sorts on the needs of G2e parents and their self-care. In the last ten years I learned that if you try to “fix” a G2e kid you will fail, because there is nothing to “fix,” but if you meet them where they are and work with them as partners they will astonish you. And in the last ten years I’ve learned that chronic exhaustion is not normal, and if you don’t set and maintain sensible boundaries (even with yourself…especially with yourself) you will crash hard and repeatedly.

A decade ago I did not have anything resembling a career. It wasn’t possible. The boys were in elementary school and so much of my time was making sure they got what they needed, and then being available when the shit inevitably hit the fan. I was a stay at home mom, scared and frustrated and frankly I think I’ve mentally blocked out a lot of it; reading old posts here sometimes has me hyperventilating and with good reason. Now my career greatly resembles a ball of yarn after a litter of kittens got through with it, with one book under my belt and another I’m allegedly working on (sigh…), presentations at several conferences, successful flute students, and an unexpected return to the classroom. That doesn’t even include other writing, online presentations, video, and who knows what else I’m forgetting. It’s been a helluva ride.

2009 Jen would have had a very very hard time believing the life 2019 Jen had. I never thought I’d leave Colorado, never thought I’d homeschool, never thought I’d write a book, never thought I’d return to being a band director, never thought I’d see a number that large on the scale, never thought I’d reach this level of tentative contentment. If I had to say there’s one thing the last decade has taught me, it’s to NEVER SAY NEVER.

So what’s next?

2019 Jen would love to have some sort of idea what’s on deck for the next decade, but the world is so <vague waving> screwed up out there I can barely predict tonight. Well, I mean, tonight there will be cheese and sausage and drinks and the couch and watching ABC7’s entertainingly horrific Chicago NYE coverage after the east coast ball drop. We party hard here in the House of Chaos. But ten years hence? Best I got is that I’ll be 56 (hoooooooly shit) and that’s it. Hell, that’s not even guaranteed. What would I like to happen over the next 3000+ days? The boys to head off to college to eventually be happy and successful in their lives, able to provide us the good nursing home, the one with the sommelier on call. Tom and I hit another decade together. We finally pull ourselves out of the financial abyss the last decade threw us into (and then covered with cement, guarded by rabid platypuses, and ringed with tiny poisoned LEGO), and not only miraculously save enough for retirement (bwahahahahahahahahaaaaa) but the occasional vacation as well. The current societal dumpster fire is put out, and the glowing coals deeply soaked so as to not snap alive again. Calm stability. Is that too much to ask?

Ten years ago I was writing this blog. This year I struggled mightily with writing this blog (I counted…25 posts in 2019, two of them guest posts…I’m displeased with myself). Ten years from now I want to be writing this blog. Even though I frequently feel as though I am writing into the void, that what I say doesn’t matter nor reaches an audience, I want to still be writing here in 2029. It has brought me lifelong friends, opportunities, and altered my life in so many ways that I cannot imagine being without it.

So cheers (and more than a little GOOD RIDDANCE) to the past 3000+ days, and a hearty hip-hip-hooray to the next. May our champagne be chilled, our celebrations be joyful, and our futures be bright.


  1. Jill

    Happy New Year! I’ve been reading your blog for all those ten years I think. I don’t keep up Pook and Bug anymore- I didn’t know how to shift as my kids started to demand privacy to a place that was still fun. Talking about my dog got old. But, I’ve found that like you, while things change without always getting better, I can adapt. So, adapting I am. I’ve started the last chapter of child rearing and I’m trying to prepare for what comes next. So, keep writing. You have an audience.

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