Let’s be honest: are we really talking about possible anymore? Is shutting down an entire country possible? Putting a school system online in three days? Closing the majority of the airport because there aren’t enough flights to keep most terminals open? Cancelling the Olympics? We are far beyond impossible now. My Fellow Humans of 2020, we have all gone through the Looking Glass. On this side, ‘why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’
And one of those impossible things is that I would be able to survive for weeks on end without Ever.… Read more
A lot has changed in the past two weeks. Every day I check the RIVM (Dutch version of the CDC) for current information on the alarming rise in covid-19 cases. Although they make it clear the number is an extreme underestimate, since testing is limited to at-risk people with serious symptoms, and only one per household. No, who am I kidding. I check it multiple times per hour, even though I know they only update it once a day around 3pm.
On Thursday the Dutch government limited gatherings to under 100 and told everyone to work from home if possible, but–crucially–did not close schools (or restaurants, bars, etc.,… Read more
To put it rather gently, I have tendencies towards anxiety. Of the health-related sort. I have never related to a fictional character more than when the 16-year-old protagonist of John Green’s novel Turtles All the Way Down is finally kissing the boy she likes but can’t stop being distracted by thinking about the resulting transfer of millions of bacteria between their mouths.
I have learned to manage this issue pretty well through a combination of good scheduling, deep breathing, positive self-talk, guided meditation, weighted blanket, CBD oil, acupuncture, baths, and numerous other forms of self-care. I know how to recognise unhealthy thought spirals, and have a strict rule of never, ever Googling my symptoms–a rule that I am fairly successful at keeping most of the time.… Read more
I have been thinking about this impending birthday for quite awhile. I’m not sure why 40 is the age that’s really making me take stock of my life. I looked back at a few blog posts around when I turned 30, and apparently that was just another birthday, and didn’t even merit a mention. Maybe it’s because I was in the thick of raising small children (and goats and chickens), and just generally recovering from the Great Recession and the mess it had made of our business and our move to Italy. I was dealing with too many external crises to manage an internal one too.… Read more
Since the big DNA reveal last week, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my Sub-Saharan African DNA. I have a sort of sense that it is rare to find out something so completely new about oneself at this stage of life. One thing that makes it strange is the way it invites me to recall and then rethink hundreds of little moments in my past. For instance, the fact that ever since I was a child, I’ve been asked over and over again some variation of this question:
Why are you brown? People usually didn’t put in precisely those terms, but it was always what they meant.… Read more
Ever since DNA testing got big a few years ago, I have had a sort of (morbid) fascination with it. I especially gravitated towards stories of mistaken identity, revealed family secrets, and reunions of long-lost relatives. Last year I watched in vicarious delight as Tony’s cousin—who had grown up as an only child—discovered and reconnected with the brother she never knew she had. I was pretty sure nothing like that could happen to me, since my family has been Mormon for generations, and is therefore peppered with more than its share of amateur genealogists.
I retain a healthy scepticism of any genealogical line purporting to go all the way back to 525 A.D.… Read more
Our Christmas holiday this year was a sort of revelatory experience. In opposition to our usual packed, busy, sightseeing holidays, we rented a little countryside cottage in Normandy and did nothing but what we liked over Christmas and New Year. Of course, predictably, what I liked was plenty of sightseeing, and you could say I’ve been dragged kicking and screaming into a relaxing holiday by saner elements of the family. But we had two weeks, so even with my adventure planning there were a lot of down days too, occupied by a pleasant mixture of reading, playing games, and taking walks on the windswept, empty beaches not far from our house.… Read more
I am still trying to wrap my head around this being the beginning of a new decade, as well as a new year. My approach towards New Year’s resolutions is basically nonexistent, since I am apt to reinvent myself on the spot whenever I feel the need, which tends to be multiple times in a year. However, I do love telling stories. In fact, the only possible way for me to ever make sense of my life is by telling it back to myself. Not once, but a thousand times. Memory is a funny thing. Our brains are constantly arranging and rearranging the past to make meaning out of it; reinforcing the parts that fit our own internal narrative and discarding the other unhelpful bits.… Read more
We hope 2019 has treated you kindly. Once again we feel grateful for the many wonderful moments we have shared this year. We are still living in Amsterdam, and feeling more rooted all the time. I write this from Normandy, where we are spending the Christmas holidays curled up in front of the fire eating cheese and drinking apple cider.
In February we drove to Alsace for our first (and very possibly last) ski holiday. The kids were soon flying down the slopes while I teetered along behind them thinking about how much longer it takes to recover from injuries in an almost-forty-year-old body.… Read more
Tony and I didn’t decide to stop attending the Mormon church until shortly after The Book of Mormon Musical came to Orlando (yes, Orlando; which I didn’t yet know at the time was the perfect destination). So we didn’t go, because–although they do receive ecclesiastically-sanctioned talking points for using it as a conversion tool when it comes to town–good Mormons do not attend the Book of Mormon Musical. That means we’ve been waiting five years for the BoM Musical to follow us to the other side of the world. And this fall, finally it did. We bought tickets the very moment they went on sale, and anxiously awaited the musical we’ve been hearing our fellow ex-Mormons talk about forever.… Read more