In December of 2020 I saw a call for submission to submit to an anthology about the immigrant experience. I wrote an essay that had been brewing in my head juxtaposing my experience of being away from my daughter for three weeks when I was in hospital bed rest when I was pregnant with Charlie while migrant families were being torn away from their children and flashing back to my own experience being separated from my family when my parents migrated to the US while my siblings and I were left behind in the Dominican Republic. My shitty first draft was as messy as that last sentence. I sent it in at the last minute without getting another set of eyes on it. I’ve never shown such writerly audacity!
I was elated when Reyna Grande chose my essay for the anthology. Writerly audacity sometimes pays off! She was a terrific editor and helped me focus the essay to where it is now.
PS Marya Summers, a member of the Long Beach Chapter of Women Who Submit used the term #WriterlyAudacity after getting rejected from a bunch of top-tier journals (that’s a good thing, it means she’s submitting her work). I love the term and want to give her credit for it.
PPS I have my work forthcoming in two other anthologies for a total of FOUR anthologies getting published in the same year so I am calling myself the Anthology Queen.
Charlie tested positive for COVID! Yes, my worst fear came true! We all needed to get tested because there was an exposure at daycare. I thought we dodged it because none of us felt sick. I spent Saturday, January 15 scouring the internet for a test because in order for Charlie to go back to daycare, he needed a negative test. I posted a facebook rant about how hard it was to get an appointment.through one of the city’s testing sites. I got emails from well meaning friends offering me rapid tests and one friend told me about a private testing site at the airport. We went the next day, tested and went home to quarantine expecting a negative test for all. Eight hours later the results came in; Matt, Hudson and I tested negative. Charlie’s was the last test that came in and it was positive.
That was the last blow to an already crappy beginning of the year; My dad spent most of December and early January in the ICU in the Dominican Republic and I found out on social media that my maternal grandmother passed away. It would be nice if the grief junkies gave the family time to relay the news to other family members.
Because I tested negative and had no symptoms, I was to go back to work the next day. Matt stepped in and did Zoom school with Hudson and kept Charlie entertained for the 10 days of quarantine. I contacted the kids’ pediatrician, she gave me detailed instructions of what to watch out for. Remeber, Charlie is my premie, born at 28 weeks with chronic lung disease.
I am so grateful that he was asymptomatic. I know there’s a lesson in that silver lining. I have spent the majority of this pandemic preocupied and anxious at the possibility of one of us getting COVID. I have not been able to sleep well since my dad was admitted to the hospital. He is now in his house and getting better but my anxiety and insomnia have skyrocketed. My kids are back in school, we are all healthy and yet, insomnia visits me nightly.
Not how I wanted to start 2022 but here we are. By early December, my January calendar was full of celebratory events and outings starting with a wine down on the first, followed by dinner with Women Who Submit Leadership on Dia de los Reyes, a screening of Bye Bye Birdie with Ann Margaret on 1/13, brunch on 1/15, Matt’s birthday on 1/18, a birthday party, a concert (not cancelled yet but I’m not going to risk it). With the rise in numbers due to Omicron, the plans have been responsibly cancelled and will be rescheduled. The Bye Bye Birdie screening is now taking place on Valentine’s Day.
Daycare is requiring a negative Covid test for Charlie, we have an appointment tomorrow and who knows when we will see the results. I’m OK with it and keeping both kids home until it’s safe to do so. Hudson has her 2nd vaccine appt. on Friday and I don’t want to risk her getting sick at school before she gets her vaccine.
We spent a couple of days in San Diego, it rained while we were there, I had plan Bs all figured out and spent our time museum hopping; six museums in three days. The kids had a blast and loved staying at the big hotel. We did our best to keep our distance from people including eating the majority of our meals in our hotel room. I’ve enjoyed these last two weeks in our little bubble but it’s time to enter the world – safely.
Two weeks ago Charlie developed a cough at daycare. I went into prevention mode with albuteral breathing treatments, Vicks vapur rubs all over his chest (can’t deny I’m Dominican) and Zarbees cough syrup. Luckily, it was the day after Hudson’s Christmas performance, I’m glad we were all able to attend but with the virus still on the rise, I thought about how crowded the church was even though we were all masked. I was nervous but decided to take a chill pill and remain calm and worry only if he developed other symptoms, which he didn’t. Two days later on Friday, Hudson got her first dose of the vaccine, on Saturday she got the cough and by Monday, Matt had it too.
On Tuesday evening we stood in line in the parking lot of Long Beach City College and the family (minus me) got their first COVID test.
18 hrs later, the tests came back negative. My sister in NY tested positive for COVID. My sister here, booked a big job and one of my nieces had a cold. To be safe, we celebrated Christmas on our own. Alone again, two Christmases in a row! I miss my family and all I wanted was for my house to smell like Christmas. I mopped the floor with Fabuloso, made pork, moro de gandules, potato salad and beef empanadas. Matt took the kids to the playground and I went to pick up a drive up order at Target. When I came home and opened the door, I smelled Christmas.
Filing this one under #ShittyFirstDrafts – essay on longing for Christmas past.
I am exhausted! glad to say that Matt and I are boosted and Hudson is getting her first dose next week. Work has been busy, life has been busy with all the school activities, trying to write, trying to work out and not doing either because I’m an anxious mess. I need to chill the F out but that’s hard to do when Matt and I don’t have much of a support system. My sister lives 30 miles away and I know I can count on her but she has her own kids and her own life.
Last month during one of our monthly meetings, my boss did an excersice, he asked us to partner up and write down how we cope when work is stressful. “I look for the good and like Mr. Rogers said, I look for the helpers” I wrote. The person I partnered up with was new and wrote the same thing I did. we bonded over that and spent the time connecting on what we had in common, which I think was the point of the excersice.
There’s been an over abundance of helpers and good things going on at work. The most poignant was a little girl from the Caribbean who was born with a heart condition that if left untreated, she would die. There is no pediatric heart surgeion in her country, the hospital teamed up with the World Pediatric Project to bring the six month old to California and perform the surgery free of charge to the family. The doctor and the hosptital did not charge the family. The baby went back home last week and she is doing so well. That really touched my heart and made me so grateful that my children are healthy.
Yesterday, the hospital hosted the annual Winter Wonderland event where each department puts together gifts for the children who are in house. I’m glad that a modified version of the event was able to take place these last two years. Some of the kids that came through were so sick and yet they smiled and appreciated the time away from their room. One little girl was nonverbal, (she was there for an appointment and not hospitalized), her enthusiasm was contageous, she reminded me of Hudson when she gets excited. She pointed at what she wanted and jumped up and down when her mom picked it up. I heard her loud and clear.
I’m hoping to get some writing done. I recently wrapped up a six week writing class, I need to make the final edits on my essay before I send it out to NYT Modern Love.
I hope to post one or two more times before the year is over.
Yesterday we went to Hollywood Forever to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos and introduce the kids to this beautiful Mexican tradition.
Eating $10 chicken tamales at the tomb of Douglas Fairbanks Sr. & Jr. #OnlyInLA
These altars are a bittersweet reminder of how much I miss my mother, my Godmother and my friend Michele. Last year, I created my first altar honoring them as well as my in-laws. This year I could not get it together. I’m taking a writing workshop on Mondays and work has been super busy. I did manage to get most of my kids’ Christmas shopping done so that’s a win for me.
In a few days it will be seven years since Mami passed away. I have lived so much life in those seven years, I won the infertility struggle and am a mother twice over. I spent three weeks in the hospital before giving birth to Charlie and he spent 70 days in the NICU. I feel like my mental surge capacity has overflowed more times than any person should have to go through in such a small period of time. Throw the pandemic on top of that and I am grateful to be alive and healthy.
For the last two – three months I’ve been waking up listening to merengue and dancing my way out of a deep depression. I am in a better place than I was a month ago. I am grateful for the compassion of the few friends I’ve told; they reach out to make sure I’m OK. I have no choice but to be OK, I can’t do that to my kids, my husband and myself. I am getting through this with grace and self-love. I feel my feelings and dance the sadness away. I am working on an essay about emotional surge capacity where I’ll go into detail about my struggles.
I recently read the book WHEN WE MAKE IT by Elisabet Velasquez. The last book I read was MEAN by Myriam Gurba when Charlie was a baby. I don’t know if it’s hormones, mom brain or adult ADHD – watch the video so my enthusiasm for this great book can rub off on you too.
And just like that! My baby girl is five and finished her first week of kindergarten.
Some friends my age are posting pictures of their kids’ first day of college! Some are starting high school and some are still in elementary school but I am for sure the “old mom” but I don’t feel old. I am anxious AF but I don’t think that’s age related. Eighteen months in a pandemic, still wearing masks and it doesn’t look like this virus and its variants are going away any time soon.
I’ve been so worried about my family, making myself sick with anxiety over the unknown; How fast is this thing going to spread? Am I doing enough to keep my kids safe? Is it OK to send Hudson to Kindergarten?