where wildly different is perfectly normal
On the first day
On the first day

On the first day

It was Thanksgiving before I had a chance to take a deep breath and realize just why things felt so out of control. Because they were out of control.

2021 was a bad year for so, so many and The House of Chaos was no exception. Like 2011, crap just kept happening at us, only now it was on a global scale and everyone was suffering.

I started the year teaching middle school band remotely, while Tom was furloughed and the boys did school online; Andy his freshman year of college and Jack his junior year of high school. It’s no exaggeration when I say I barely made it to June 16th, the last day of school. It felt as though I was face down on the pavement, inching myself forward with bloodied feet, determined to make it at any cost. It took two solid months before I even began to feel like I was healing from the hell of remote teaching; my teacher friends returned to the classroom at that point while I continued to job hunt. And this is when the treadmill sped up.

Mid-August: Oh shit, Andy moves to college in five weeks and we are in no way prepared for this. Commenced frantic purchasing and packing while getting Jack into his senior year of school and Tom started rebuilding his career.
Mid-September: Move Andy way the hell away to college; while gone I learn I’ve moved on to the next round for an internship. Commence frantic writing and preparation for said internship.
October: I started the internship (unpaid, BTW), Jack had a business trip to Florida (for real), we commenced the frantic oh holy crap he’s a senior we really gotta get him into the post-high school planning frame of mind but hooooooooly resistant batman!, the internship didn’t match the posted description and was goosing my stress levels back into teaching online in a pandemic levels, Tom had a business trip to South Dakota and (breathe, Jen, gotta remember to breathe) came down with a breakthrough case of Covid right before Halloween. I quit the internship and instantly my stress plummeted.
November: Two weeks of quarantine in our bedroom for a pretty sick Tom. I brought all meals up to him, masked and as distanced as I could be. I slept in Andy’s room and discovered firsthand just how bloody cold his room is in the winter. While Tom was laid out, Jack and I went on two different college visits, I played my first band concert since March 8, 2020, I attended an online job fair, I did all the things and hoped he’d heal. I interviewed for a job, got it, started a week later. A vertical learning curve but I’m much happier. Tom finally healed enough to return to travel, including a music conference and the Macy’s parade. Andy came home for Thanksgiving, and…

I finally had a chance to sit and breathe and realize that I was utterly quanked. By the time we got to Christmas I’d been working for well over a month and Tom had been on the road for most of that or recovering from his Covid booster (I swear he’s immortal now with the antibodies he must have). It’s no wonder I started my own personal NaBloPoMo and only made it five days; I was doing so, so much and nearly all of it on my own. I’d get to the end of the work day and only have 90 or so minutes left in my tank for anything before I was done. Like, put me to bed and read me stories levels of done. That’s when the holiday madness hit and here we are.

There’s no lesson or moral to any of this, just me putting into print just what the hell hit this year. And this is the shit I can share, I won’t even go into the library of stories that aren’t mine to tell. 2021 was hellishly long and I’m glad it’s over.

So what’s on tap for 2022? I have no idea. Anything I’d plan would inevitably get ground into the pavement by this never ending fucking pandemic. Jack will graduate high school and hopefully head off to college. That would make us empty nesters, something that doesn’t seem quite real. I joke that I started fantasizing about it when Andy was 6 weeks old; don’t judge, he didn’t sleep as an infant. But he’s also considering a gap year like his brother did, so who knows.

All I know is that I started 2022 with my body composition at roughly 9% cheese and I should probably do something about that. And I will, once the cheese in the fridge has been properly and reverently consumed. Pass the crackers.


  1. Denise

    I relate, I laugh, I hurt for you, I hurt for all of us, I laugh more, I get scared and I want to hug you.

    Then I got to the second paragraph.

    Hoooooooly smokes, Batman. You deserve, well, less than THAT load of garbage.

    Fingers crossed this year is a step up.

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