of bell jars and laurel wreaths.

I’m inordinately excited about my new stationery. People like to do nice things for me and I like to thank them via snail mail, so now I have note cards on which to do this task, like a proper human adult. If only my 21-year-old self could see me now. Spending all my Christmas money not on clothes and whiskey, but on design work for a new personal logo, then letterpressed notecards and a tiny keychain stamp featuring said logo. The future is wild, 16-year-old Tess. Simply wild.

We’ve reached that part of the winter where you feel like you can’t face one more gray day and you’re just certain that spring will never come. This is why it’s extra fun to be around a baby because they have no idea it’s winter, or what winter really even is, and they can’t remember what they’re missing because they were so tiny the last time it was above 70 degrees. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to spend more time outside with Morella than the 20 seconds when I rush her through the sleet from the house to the car every morning, but in the meantime we’re content to play in the nursery and work on her ring-stacking skills. Spoiler: she can stack all the rings, guys. Genius baby.

I’m just coming off of a full week of solo parenting. It was intense, but not bad. Dan was away for work, and his trip ended up getting an extra day tacked on. Certainly juggling baby, work, and all the basics like hygiene, housework, means you (1) have to relax your standards and (2) have zero time left over for anything else. This isn’t a bad thing, though. It’s rewarding work. And idle hands are the devil’s workshop anyway.

I missed having someone to just hand the baby off to for a minute — “Here, take her so I can go do something real quick” — but in some ways, life was easier. Being alone after her bedtime meant a bit of extra time to catch up on stuff without having another person around to have to be charming for. You just hurtle through life the best way you see fit. Life by brute force.

Anyway, all of that rambling just to say that I feel very free and confident now. I didn’t feel un-confident before, or like I had anything to prove. But having spent an un-catastrophic week alone with a baby, I’m feeling pretty invincible.*

Highlights (beside infinite baby snuggles) of the week included going to the Church Hill Irish Festival with the family, and having Lianna and Susan over for drinks. Lianna concocted a delicious cognac cocktail, and we toasted to our enemies and talked until the wee hours. The most satisfying evenings are the ones where I catch up with friends over drinks and snacks and feel adequately “social” without having to leave the house. Introvert for life.

In other news, work has been great. Busy, but that’s because I’ve been working on a lot of positive projects that I’m excited about. I took some pictures around the office recently as well. Here’s me with the crazy clowns I call “my team.”

Today I had the day off since I work on Sunday, so I cleaned out the refrigerator, prepped some food, rearranged some stuff in the cabinets to make way for baby plates, put some grown-out-of baby clothes into bags to give away, and a bunch of other chores that really don’t need to be typed in order to confirm their existence. All while watching the live stream of tedXrva and doing what feeble amount of live tweeting I could muster. At happy hour o’clock I met up with Lianna and Jordan at the Rogue Gentlemen, a new cocktail place in Jackson Ward, where we each had one fancy drink and ate tons of super rich food.

The final speech made at tedXrva today is still rolling around in my head. It was by one Dr. Danny Avula, and he talked about moving with his family to Church Hill about a decade ago, specifically for the purpose of meeting and loving his neighbors. He got into the porch chill culture, got to know his neighbors, and became “woven” into the fabric of the community. And it felt uncomfortable to him at first. He had grown up in a typical suburb where relying on other people was a sign of weakness and as he said, “Every time one of my neighbors did something for me, it highlighted my inability to manage my own life.” But he acknowledged that “Every time I allowed myself to be helped, I was pushing past those surface relationships with my neighbors.”

I relate to all of that. Boy, do I. The irony of waxing rhapsodic about feeling invincible after spending a week independently taking care of an infant, and then talking about the idea of intentionally embracing dependence, is not lost on me. But it’s a challenge to me. I very much want that togetherness he has with his neighbors and community, and in some ways, I do have it. But I think it’s still on a pretty “surface” level. I talk to my neighbors when the opportunity presents itself, but I don’t really go out of my way. And I want to! And I should. I’m just not quite sure how to go about doing that in a bold but safe manner.

Photo by the amazing Sky Noir on Flickr.

One tiny step I’ve taken is to corral some of my neighbors’ efforts to have others on our block over to their house and funnel it into a Facebook group just so we can all keep in touch. It’s cool so far; we all shared old pics of the neighborhood and snow pics and stuff. And I volunteered to host another gathering at our house this spring, which I’m really excited about. But it’s all still just piggybacking off of other peoples’ efforts. I am so horrible at initiating neighborly interactions. And considering utmost hospitality is a main life goal for me, that is lame. But here am I, Lord. Putting one foot in front of the other.

*Famous last words.


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