pandemic diaries: the souvenir nobody wanted

After two years of being pretty darn careful, even for heightened Bay Area standards, COVID caught us. The pandemic diaries have officially been renewed for a third season! Welp. I'm fairly certain my son, and maybe I, brought it back from D.C. (I hinted at a follow-up post in my recap here; not the encore we wanted). And we were being pretty careful there, too—everyone was vaccinated, masks were required everywhere except when outside, if not particularly crowded, when eating and drinking, and in hotel rooms. But there was a fair amount of unavoidable indoor dining and nobody has successfully figured out how to eat and drink and keep a mask on at the same time (maybe these goofy things which, in hindsight, don't seem so silly now). 

When we returned home on Sunday evening, middle of the night east coast time, I was exhausted and had some irritation in my sinus passages and upper back portion of my throat. I chalked it up to the trip, the dry circulated air on the plane, etc. I woke up the next day to more cold-like symptoms (definite sore throat, runny nose) and news that at least one traveler had tested positive for COVID upon returning home. Crap. Elias and I did rapid home tests that morning (it was spring break and I am still 100% WFH so we were already effectively on a sort of ongoing lockdown). Negative. But because I was symptomatic I scheduled PCR tests for both of us just in case. Also negative. Could I have picked up a cold on a trip with folks who picked up COVID? Technically, it's possible. There are certainly other viruses circulating. I managed to work through Wednesday, taking just a half sick day on Monday to catch up from the trip (I cleaned two bathrooms and the litterbox and did a little vacuuming...this is what I do even when I'm not feeling well) and go to the drive-thru PCR test appointment. 

Wednesday evening Elias seemed more tired than usual and right around bedtime looked flushed and was very warm. We took his temperature and sure enough, he had a fever of 102. He did another rapid test. Hella positive. I took another rapid test. Still negative. We locked it down through the weekend, canceling numerous plans (I'd taken Thursday and Friday off already but I'm still trying to sort out if I can swap those for sick days instead!). Daphne and I both tested negative on Friday; by then I was feeling mostly better, aside from a lingering cough I'm still trying to fully kick. Neal started to feel a slight sore throat on Friday night but waited until Saturday to test since testing too early can result in a false negative. Hella positive. Like, seriously, the line was so thick and dark it put the control line to shame. 

Our house is really too small to effectively isolate anyone, and we don't have any friends with, say, spare condos in the area, but we jacked up the air purifier, wore N95 masks as much as possible, and, while it was summer-like for a few days late last week, opened the windows and turned on the fans. So far, Daphne continues to have no symptoms and test negative. Elias had the faintest of positive tests yesterday so he's still home from school today. We only have 2 home tests left so I'm tempted to just keep him home through the weekend; he can return to school on Monday either way. And I'd say he's about 95% recovered as far as symptoms go.

That's that. For now. A total of 6 negative tests later, I guess I'll never know if what I had was COVID, which is annoying when you think about a possible 4th booster in the nearish future. Do I get it or wait until any possible natural immunity wanes? But if I didn't have it, am I more susceptible during that period? I did find one article that might explain my experience, but who knows. As far as catching COVID after 2+ years of avoiding it, it's tempting to feel like a failure, but I'm grateful we got it after the vaccines and the boosters. I'm also grateful we didn't catch it in the fall or even winter because I think I would have felt a lot more shame, guilt, even fear, and anxiety, and that's a real drag on top of everything else. It's too soon to say our cases won't develop into long COVID but I will say we've all had worse bugs. So at least there's that. But this thing sadly ain't over, folks.


5 days in D.C.

I recently chaperoned my 8th grader's class trip to Washington, D.C. When Omicron started to surge right after the New Year, I worried the trip would be canceled as it had been the two years prior. But I think we just managed to squeeze in between the Omicron surge and whatever BA2 is going to do. Sort of. But more about that in a follow-up post.

I should preface this by saying that when the school started discussing this trip, and the need for chaperones, in the fall, I knew I'd probably want to step forward. I love traveling, increasingly longing for anything to interrupt the tedium of the past two years, and I genuinely enjoy chaperoning school field trips. I haven't chaperoned any middle school field trips, mainly because there haven't been many (none since the first half of 6th grade), so I decided that if my 8th grader didn't object, I'd volunteer. I think he may have been motivated by the false hope that I'd be able to smuggle his cell phone to him in spite of a no cell phone policy, but either way, he said he wouldn't mind so I filled out the form. 

We saw so much over the course of our nearly five days in D.C. I already posted a list on my newsletter, which you can check out here. For this blog post, I thought I'd flesh out that itinerary with some images and reflections.

Day 0: redeye flight from SFO to IAD

Neal and Daphne drove us to the airport on Tuesday evening to meet up with the other families, in particular the other students in our chaperone group. I was partnered with a teacher, which was great, not only because he was great, but because it was nice to have a parent-teacher combo. The kids were overall really well-behaved, engaged, respectful, etc., but sometimes it takes a teacher to get their attention and cooperation. Together we were responsible for 8 students, including Elias. The only challenge here was that chaperone groups didn't necessarily match friend and/or room groups. The kids got along well enough but they got really tired of my repeated attempts to get chaperone group pictures to text to their parents. 

Anyway, we made it through security to the gate without incident and had plenty of time for everyone to get dinner, fill up water bottles, etc. The kids were pretty quiet on the flight so I assume most got at least some sleep. Elias and I were prepared with neck pillows, eye masks, and ear plugs, but it wasn't exactly a great night of sleep. I was so tired when the plane landed in D.C.

Day 1: National Museum of the US Army, Monuments & Memorials on the National Mall, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

The redeye flight was just a little over four hours from takeoff to landing, so no matter how you slept on the plane, you were operating on a sleep deficit for the first packed day. From the airport, after freshening up a bit, we met our tour guides and bus drivers (2 of each for the duration of the trip). Our Bus, Bus B, was cursed, as we'll discover why a little later on. From the airport we drove to our first stop—the National Museum of the US Army—by way of a cluster of fast food joints for breakfast and, most importantly, caffeine. We had a couple of hours at the museum before lunch at the Pentagon City Mall and on to the National Mall to walk around the monuments and memorials. 

From there we moved on to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History plus dinner at a restaurant on the way to our hotel. 

I lucked out and got upgraded to a single, private room, and honestly, that was a total game-changer. If my daughter goes to the same school and I chaperone her trip (or any other like it), I will pay extra to have a private room. That said, our first night at the hotel was a late one, since we got checked in relatively late and still had to debrief as a chaperone group, something we did every night after the kids were all tucked in in their rooms. I slept so soundly those first couple of nights (but still woke up tired!). My strategy was to get up and be partially ready before I had to wake up the students in the room I was responsible for (different than my chaperone group). That first morning I snuck down to the hotel breakfast before the kids did and, not to be a food snob, but let's just say I walked across the street to Starbucks every subsequent morning. The waffle maker, however, was a big hit with the kids. Later that second day I bought a giant blueberry muffin that served as my breakfast for the following two mornings, alongside a soy latte and a banana. I'd also brought some vegan granola/cereal bars. After the first breakfast, I smuggled a banana to Elias each morning (what hotel doesn't at least have bananas?).

Day 2: US Capitol Building, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Inner Harbor for a Dinner Cruise

The night before, upon discovering that the tour company had not in fact secured us group tickets to the Museum of African American History and Culture, as requested, we decided we'd try as a group to get enough individual tickets for everyone when that day's tickets were released in the morning at 8:15 a.m. And we were successful! But first, we drove to the US Capitol Building for a photo op in our matching red t-shirts.

From there we moved on to the museum. It was packed. We spent so much time waiting in line first to get in, then to get to the bottom half of the museum, and again for lunch at the cafe. I mean, what else can I say, it's heavy stuff. And a few hours is not enough time. One also needs time to take in the building, both from outside and within. The cafe is excellent. I recommend spending a full day there, with a lunch break at the cafe in the middle.

We stopped at a general gift shop on our way back to the hotel, where we had an hour or so to freshen up for the Inner Harbor dinner cruise. Not gonna lie, this was not my favorite part of the trip—especially given we didn't leave the harbor due to choppy water—but the kids had a blast. A thunder storm was moving north of us so that provided a cool, if slightly concerning, backdrop to some upper deck outdoor photos before they sent us inside again. 

The party was extended for Bus B when it was discovered that Bus B had a flat. Another late night settling in to the hotel. Mind you, we chaperones also had to fit in phone calls to parents once or twice a day for each of our 8 "chapees," as we affectionately called them. We took advantage of the extra time on the boat that night to do just that.

Day 3: George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Arlington National Cemetery, The White House, and National Harbor

I was really looking forward to Mt. Vernon since this was one of the stops on the itinerary that I hadn't visited before (I lived in two D.C. suburbs—Springfield and Manassas— for 2nd and 3rd grades, and we returned as a family in 2019). As with almost every place we visited, I wished we'd had more time to explore. We spent way too long waiting in line to use our lunch vouchers provided by the tour company, and apparently if you order a veggie burger with a meal voucher they refuse to "dress it" with lettuce or tomato. Worst meal of the trip. The gift shops are nice but they were so crowded. And one thing I learned on this trip is that I am not ready for crowds! I may never be.

From Mt. Vernon we drove to Arlington National Cemetery. We walked around with our tour guide, observed one of 31 funeral processions scheduled for that day, and spent about ten minutes (too long) watching the guard pace back and forth before the changing of the guard ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We observed him interrupt his pacing to firmly request silence and respect from another school group chatting and giggling as they sat down on the steps, so that was exciting. Our group of students was collectively quiet as a mouse after that!

After Arlington National Cemetery we took a quick detour to the sadly fenced and barricaded White House for a few photos (hard to see the janky barricade from the photo above but let me tell you it is sad and janky and totally blocks the view of the bottom half of the building and grounds). When we got back to Bus B, we discovered that cursed Bus B wouldn't start. Bus A had already departed so the plan became this: get Bus A to the National Harbor—a 30-minute drive—before returning to the White House area to pick up the occupants of Bus B, the battery woes of which would be remedied while we too ate dinner and explored The Awakening statue in the very cold wind. 

It was a relatively early night back at the hotel where kids who wanted to could fill out postcards to send back home and to their fundraising donors. I was delighted by the size of the stack produced that evening in the breakfast area of the hotel.

Day 4: Thomas Jefferson Memorial (and cherry blossoms!), Arts + Industries Building, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

First stop of day 4 was the Jefferson Memorial and a short walk around part of the lake to check out the last of the cherry blossoms (wish I'd known about the bloom cam before...although, it would have been about 6 a.m. west coast time when we were there!).

From there, we'd decided the night before to check out the Arts & Industries Building

This was probably the only place we visited where I felt like we had enough time to look around. It was fun to see the kids engage and interact with so much cool stuff. The other thing I liked about this day from this point on was the walking to and from destinations compared to hopping on and off the cursed Bus B (the only downside to this is that middle schoolers are apparently not very good at staying to the right half of a busy city sidewalk; they're like liquid, filling whatever form they collectively occupy!). From the A+I building we walked to L'Enfant Plaza for lunch. After lunch we walked to the Holocaust Museum. Apparently there was another mixup with tickets, with only about half of the tickets provided by the tour company for the afternoon slot we all wanted. So earlier that day a group of chaperones had again snagged some individual tickets online (most D.C. museums are free but you still need advance tickets and total number of tickets at each location are limited each day). But this meant some groups, including mine, had to wait a bit. Perfect opportunity for my kid to call the other half of our family back here in Oakland; with all my energy focused on making sure the other kids in our group called their parents each day, I'd completely blanked on having Elias call home the previous two days! 

The Holocaust Museum, like the Museum of African American History and Culture and some of the monuments and memorials we saw earlier, is extremely somber. And we did not have enough time, despite allowing an extra hour or so beyond what was originally allocated on the itinerary. I like how both museums kind of move you through the space according to the narrative arcs of those histories. After the museum, we sat on the grass near the Washington Monument to decompress and debrief in reflection circles. We had dinner at Uno Pizzeria and checked out the MLK Memorial a little after sunset before returning to the hotel for our final night in D.C.

Day 5: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center + flight home to SFO!

The cherry blossom 10-miler happening in D.C. on Sunday meant we had to omit an item or two from our itinerary, but honestly, I'm so glad we did. I think everyone was feeling the effects of our whirlwind pace by that point. We had about an hour and a half to wander around the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center on our own (everywhere we went, depending on the location, we were either "tight" with our chaperone groups or "loose" and free to wander around until a specific time to return to a meet-up point), with a check-in break at lunch (Firehouse Subs lunch boxes on the benches outside the Museum), and just enough time after lunch to watch one of the IMAX movies. We all thought we'd have a ton of time at the airport, leaving the museum around 2:30 for a 5:55 pm flight, but it was nonstop until it was time to board. Sorting 100+ boarding passes takes time, as does getting that many kids and adults through security. To add to the chaos, once my group got to the gate, excited that we were finally not the last group to arrive somewhere, we discovered our gate had changed and, this being IAD, had to take one of those weird, wide buses over to an entirely different area of the airport. Which was a real bummer because our original gate was in what appeared to be a much nicer, newer part of the airport with better dining options. But wait, there's more! On top of all this, when we got to the correct gate, one of the students in my group announced that he'd left his backpack on the bus thing. Fortunately, we were able to retrieve it but let's just say I clocked a lot of airport steps that day. I had just enough time to hit the bathrooms, refill my water bottle, and grab a veggie sandwich from a deli chain I can't recall the name of now. I also bought some chocolate I intended to enjoy with some red wine on the plane as a little reward to myself, but United's "contactless" method of payment is way too fussy. I watched Spider-Man: No Way Home, slept for about an hour, and we were home. I've yet to have that glass of wine, but again, more about that in a follow-up post.

Overall, I had so much fun. I didn't really know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by how generally pretty great the kids were. They were well-behaved, quiet and respectful when they needed to be, polite and friendly when they were separated from their friend groups for one reason or another, a little goofy as this in-between age tends to be, which I love, never complained about all the walking, and thoughtful and reflective in ways I think they'll carry with them for a long time.


the race that took me 2 1/2 years to run

In my last running-related recap, I mentioned the Alameda 10-miler I signed up for to help kickstart my eventual (re)training for the 2022 Oakland Running Festival (having deferred to the in-person option in 2022 versus a virtual race after the 2020 festival was canceled due to the pandemic). I wasn't terribly well-prepared for the 10-miler, having by then plateaued at a couple of 5Ks around the lake each week, but I ran it anyway, and actually had a pretty good experience. I walked a couple of miles overall, but I finished within my goal and it was really lovely to run a race with other runners and all the usual fanfare. As I mention in this more recent post, I then started to have knee issues that I thought might be a meniscus tear but an MRI eventually ruled that out. Just some lowkey arthritis in my right (and probably left) knee(s). After a 3-month hiatus, I started running again in January. I hated it for about a month but I did eventually get over the hump (it always takes me about 3-4 weeks to get back into running after a break), but not really with enough time to properly ramp up for a half-marathon. My longest training run was just six miles. Welp. I seriously contemplated skipping it altogether. But considering, if you think about it, that I've been preparing for this race for two and a half years, I knew I'd regret it if I didn't at least give it a try. There's also something really powerful about—finally—checking a goal off one's pre-pandemic to do list. I was feeling pretty bummed out about the whole thing, about this feeling of loss and reflecting on how different my life is now compared to two years ago, in both good and not so good ways. But I did it. In the end, I just fucking did it. It wasn't the race it would have been two years ago, but it's done. At last! And it felt really good.

But, let's be honest, it also felt kinda bad, at least from about mile 11 on. Kids, do not try this at home! Do as I say, not as I do! Etc, etc. Ideally, I would have spent 10-15 weeks ramping up to a final long training run of about 12 miles. But I also knew that once I got over the return-to-running hump (I didn't hate it, I wasn't in constant pain, and my lungs didn't feel like they were going to burst into flames a half mile in), it was at least partially a mental game to finish 13.1 miles. And with a generous course time limit (about 15 minutes per mile) I felt fairly confident that I could finish in time even if I had to walk half of it.

And obviously, when you go into something like this with a mindset of finishing versus owning it, that changes your experience of it. One of the best moments of the entire race was just a couple of miles in. A woman who had run the 5K earlier was on the course, proudly wearing her medal, cheering other runners on. She said all the usual things—good job runners, you're doing great, you got this!—but she also said, "enjoy it!" And you know what, I really did have a great time. I'm not sure I've ever enjoyed a race, or even a run, as much as I enjoyed yesterday's event. Some highlights along the way:

I loved this runner's shirt. I stayed right behind her for several miles but at some point I lost sight of her. I'm pretty sure I was still behind her, though, so I was that runner, slower than the self-proclaimed slow runner.

Dude, I ran through fire! Again

The Paramount marquee welcoming the Oakland marathon.

The bling and the fam. I actually wasn't expecting them to be there at the finish. Not that they weren't cheering me on in spirit, but we didn't talk about meeting up at the end. I figured they'd go about their day, I'd drive myself home, take a shower, collapse, and we'd celebrate later. So it was such a nice surprise to see them. I may have cried a little.

But celebrate later, we did (with, among other things, my favorite red blend from Farmhouse Wines). You can see a few additional videos of the entertainment along the route on my Instagram post here

Amir Aziz via Twitter

Some say the Oakland Running Festival is the best race in NorCal. I've only run a few, so I don't know about that. But it's definitely a great day to be in Oakland.


give chickpeas a chance

Well, folks, I did it. I survived Dry January. I survived Veganuary. I survived the combination Dry Veganuary! I know a lot of folks pooh-pooh these sorts of month-long self-imposed challenges as examples of toxic diet culture, but the reality for me is the period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas saw me bending my usual rules and limitations around food and drinking more than I’d like. And I didn’t feel great about it. I was starting to feel - once again - like I wasn’t in control of my relationship with food, and using food and alcohol as a vice or crutch or reward more often than I’d like. The New Year presents a fresh start, a departure point for hitting the reset button and maybe implementing some longer term positive changes along the way. As I’ve written about before, I’ve been “mostly vegan” since May 2020, when we went totally vegan for one week. I’ve had fish a couple of times since and continued to eat eggs and a little bit of cheese, plus some non-vegan candy with popcorn during Saturday movie nights. But about 90% of the time (that is a totally unscientific estimate) my diet is 100% plant-based. In January 2022, other than one sip of a smoothie my daughter made that included cow’s milk yogurt (she assumed all the yogurt in the fridge was non-dairy), I ingested neither alcohol nor animal products.

And it really wasn’t that hard. When you’re already “mostly vegan,” going totally vegan for one month mostly entails cutting out foods you shouldn’t be eating too much of anyway, like cheese and candy. The dry part was even easier. I listened to this NPR Life Kit episode for some tips (the social part is still, nearly two years into this pandemic, kind of moot).

We had some seltzer leftover from our holiday delivery driver snack basket and I’m not usually a fan of seltzer, but it was nice to have something other than water to accompany dinner every now and then. I really only missed that glass of red wine with pizza toward the end of the month, but what I didn’t miss was the inevitable sleepiness that would no doubt follow for the rest of the evening but not necessarily translate into an early bedtime or a good night of sleep. Not drinking, on the other hand, did not alleviate the increased joint aches and pains I’ve been experiencing on the weekends. Maybe I need to cut it out of my diet for more than a month? Maybe two extra hours in bed and skipping my weekday morning workouts isn’t great for the mild arthritis in my low back and knee?

So other than the seltzer sub, what did I eat? Probably more than I should have! I definitely fell into the trap of “if it doesn’t break the rules, it’s OK to eat!” more than once. Oreos are vegan and alcohol-free but maybe not a great afternoon snack? With that, here are some highlights of the month:

My favorite weekday lunch is a leftover burrito bowl. Rice, beans, “meat”, some vegan cheese and sour cream, topped with avocado and a handful of corn chips. All vegan.

We get donuts for a weekend breakfast once a month. I love Dick’s Donuts for classic and Donut Savant for fancy but neither are vegan. This is where Vegan Donut Gelato comes in. They’re a bit of a drive compared to our usual non-vegan spots, but so worth the extra time it takes to fetch these.

Veganize it! You don’t need to follow only vegan/plant-based recipes (although there are a ton of really good vegan cookbooks and Instagram accounts one can follow for recipes and ideas). Many recipes are really easy to makeover fully plant-based, like these peanut butter white miso cookies from New York Times Cooking. I used Miyoko’s vegan butter (the best!) and a flax egg and they turned out perfectly.

There are some really good non-dairy ice creams on the market now, so if you’re into that sort of thing and you’re nervous about cutting out dairy, don’t be! This is a newer flavor at Trader Joe’s, but my favorite is any and all Ben & Jerry’s plant-based flavors. The 8yo, on the eve of her 9th birthday, is requesting ice cream sundaes for her birthday dessert and approved the B&J’s vegan flavors I purchased. They're that good.

So, yeah, if there’s a lesson to be learned here, it's don’t be chicken! Be adventurous, try new things. Like plant-based “chicken”. If you haven’t already, but you’re plant-based-meat-curious, you simply must stop by the Don’t Be Chick’n food truck. The family meal is a pretty good deal but the chicken strips are my favorite.

Try the vegan portion of the menus at places you already frequent. If you're into plant-based options, let the world know it! I really think as demand for vegan options increases, so will supply, and honestly that’s when cooks get hella creative. Like Senor Sisig’s extensive vegano menu. Hello plant-based crunch-wrap supreme with vegan queso dipping sauce!

One of the non-vegan staples in my otherwise “mostly vegan” diet was scrambled eggs with cheese. It took a minute to get used to it, but I’m totally content with a JUST Egg patty (you can buy these in bulk at Costco and pop one in the toaster to warm it up!) and a slice of Daiya cheese melted on top. I don’t plan to ever go back to real eggs. The vegan muffin from Arizmendi, delicious as it is, is getting a little boring, though, so whether or not I sneak in the occasional non-vegan scone from time to time remains to be seen (and in case you’re wondering, I long ago switched to Silk half & half in my coffee).

The other weekly staple is non-vegan candy with popcorn on movie nights. This one was tough, not gonna lie, partly because we had so much candy and chocolate leftover from the holidays going into January. We still have peanut M&Ms and an entire box of See’s chocolates that I will, now that January is over, have to polish off. But after that, I’ll try to stick with the vegan alternatives I discovered over the course of the month. Some of them are not cheap (but the Unreal peanut gems - not pictured above - are so good!), but, y’know, I probably shouldn’t be eating too many of them anyway.

So, clearly, lots of hits here, and it wasn't that hard. Any misses, you might ask? In two words: vegan bacon. This non-vegan food is best forgotten altogether!


putting in the work

Today is the one-year anniversary of the day I transitioned from part-time vendor to full-time employee at my current day job. When the possibility of going full-time came up in the fall of 2020, right around the one-year anniversary of when I took on the then part-time role, I already felt like I was working full-time because of the pandemic (working 24-30 hours a week stretched out to 8, 9, or even 10 hour days when interrupted so often by kids not in school or summer camp). The transition was gradual, but even so, when my supervisor at the time encouraged me to complete a growth map or sign up for a "reach your potential" workshop, all I could do was respond honestly that I was barely staying afloat.

Now that the kids have been back at school since August, and my days are more focused on work, at least until about 3 pm, when it gets a little choppy, I will say I'm starting to feel just a tad restless. I eventually did sign up for that reach your potential workshop (I mention it briefly in my latest pandemic diaries update) and finally completed the first phase of a growth map. I find myself looking at things like program management certification and, who knows, maybe even data visualization. I do feel like where I work is the kind of place where day jobs can turn into careers. It's pretty swell in many ways. I remember after my second kid was born and I was debating whether or not to revive my Etsy business, continue to be a default stay-at-home parent or, y'know, get a "real" job, my husband mentioned something about feedback. Being a parent is really hard from a feedback perspective. When it's rewarding it's amazingly so, but there are days—weeks, months, entire phases!—when you're not really getting a lot of constructive or positive feedback, if you will. Or the feedback you get makes you feel, well, like a shitty parent. Couple that with the relentless rejection one faces as a creative person and it can really wreak havoc on your mental health. I've encountered this more than once in my thirteen plus years as a parent. I dare say I'm always dealing with this on some level.

The job I got at that juncture in my life didn't ever really provide me with the kind of feedback or outlet I was craving to balance out the demands and difficulties of other areas of my life. It was a great job in many ways, but not a great fit for where I was in my life at that moment. My current day job, while a bit farther removed from my creative interests (this relationship between the work we do for pay and our creative practice is exactly what I explore in my podcast), has been a much better fit in other ways. I've found that I'm the kind of person that does better creatively when my paid work is pretty different than what I'm doing in the studio. Call me jaded and resentful, but it was really hard for me to work at a college of art and design, but in an administrative capacity (I wanted to teach!). At my current day job, I guess you could say my ego is less of an issue since I'll never be the one doing the sexy stuff, nor do I really have the desire to. I'm a little more okay with being the person who organizes the mess behind the scenes. If you want to read more, I've written a little bit about the transition and what I do at my day job here and here.

All that said, I must also acknowledge that what I need as a creative person and what I have less of now is time. I had a pretty good thing going pre-pandemic, getting most of my work done Monday-Thursday while the kids were at school, and saving Fridays for, initially, training for the Oakland Running Festival, and longer-term, once the race was over, for studio time. If only the pandemic had never happened. If only part-time jobs came with things like: benefits, paid time off, saving for retirement, pathways to promotions and job growth, etc. If only. For now, I celebrate another year at a pretty decent gig and approach this new year with an open mind about things like "professional development" and "my career" balanced with a continued commitment to my creative practice and identity as an artist, even if it's only 15 minutes in the studio here, 20 minutes there, even if I never show this current body of work (but I'd really like to so if you have a space in the Bay Area, feel free to give me a show!).

P.S. I've had, to date, well over 15 jobs over the past 25 years, depending on whether or not you count things like TA-ships and Etsy shops (honestly I've kind of lost count). I've written about most of them right here on this blog as part of my ongoing "burning bridges" series.