On Time & Resurrection


This year was such a rollercoaster. Really high highs, and very low lows. Several plot twists—a few we were prepared for, a few we weren’t. I’m disoriented, grateful, sad, hopeful, tired, restless.

When I started this year, I was really struggling at work. I had just been tossed into a new role, and was trying to find my way without much guidance or support. Somewhere in the middle of the year I felt like I found a rhythm, albeit a high-tempo, can’t stop no matter how tired or unsure you are, rhythm. It was a huge challenge that helped me grow in my professional life.

And then, plot twist, I got laid off.

We made big financial goals this year and succeeded at several of them – we PAID OFF a student loan, and we saved up for a REAL EUROPEAN VACATION that we always wanted to take and never thought we’d be able to. We faced a major medical emergency (Matt’s seizure in March) and we were able to take it in stride, financially speaking.

Oh yeah—MATT HAD A SEIZURE for the first time in nearly 20 years, and for a few heart-wrenching seconds I thought he was going to die, but he didn’t, and we slowly found a new normal. My goofy, kind, handsome, loving husband is still with me. To say I’m grateful would be the understatement of a lifetime. For nearly six months between March and September our schedule was a monster because he wasn’t allowed to drive, which meant that I drove us everywhere—physical therapy and doctors appointments, work, errands—but I can honestly say that all of the time stuck in a car in rush hour traffic strengthened our bond. The fact that we survived such an unexpected obstacle made our Europe trip all the sweeter when we finally got to go.

My favorite moment of this whole year was sitting in a tiny, closet-sized bar in Hamburg, Germany, while my husband talked to the locals about how his father’s family emigrated to America from Hamburg in the ’50s. We got tipsy and walked backed to our hotel room full of joy, high on life.

And then we tried to unsuccessfully to get pregnant this fall. I know most people don’t talk openly about this stuff and I normally don’t either, but I need to today. Because not talking about it has somehow made the gaping hole in my heart feel even bigger than it is. I finally felt ready for the adventure of parenthood, after years of processing my mother’s death and learning how to take care of myself and be an adult. I dared to name what I wanted out loud, dared to hope that it was finally time. And then everything fell apart. There was this week, around the end of October and beginning of November, where I thought I was pregnant. And then I took a test, and realized I wasn’t. My body was just faking me out, I guess. And then a couple weeks later, I lost my job.

The end of this year felt like a cruel joke.

And it has felt like a return to a truth that I wrestle with: time is a circle. Life is a series of seasons, some harder than others. Nature, even time itself, is a rollercoaster. The bad and the good both come around, again and again.

I started this decade camped out on my mother’s deathbed. In the intervening years, other parts of myself died. Some were reborn. I grew and I changed and I learned how to hope again. 

A resurrection that fundamentally shifted my understanding of resurrection itself.

I always thought of it as a return to a previous state: the dead thing becomes undead.

But that’s not exactly it, is it?

Something dies, decomposes, and eventually something new may emerge. 

It’s not the same flower coming back over and over again.

It’s the same plant, but a new bud every time.

A descendant of what was, a fruit born from seasons and soil.

Familiar but different.

An ordinary miracle, if such a thing exists.

It’s a painful process, and I feel like I’m going through it again—a death of a plan. A hard winter that I know how to weather, because I’m from Michigan, but right now I resent it. I don’t want to be good at this part. I don’t want to slow down. I don’t want to wait. I don’t want to start over.

But if I’m being truthful, and today I am, I don’t want to be the person I used to be, either. I don’t want to return to who I was a decade ago. The process hurts, but it’s vital part of growing as a person. There are no shortcuts.

And so I’m in the midst of an excruciating season, but I know that another one is on its way.

Someday, a resurrection.

Maybe the same hope, but a new plan.

tiny daily gratitudes


I had my first session with a new therapist yesterday. Afterwards, I felt incredibly tired, as though I had traveled a thousand miles on foot, in the snow, uphill, while dragging something heavy. (Is that not what happened?)

My therapist said that studies have shown that people who make time to write down a list of things they’re grateful for at least once a week are 25 percent happier. (How do they measure these things? Who’s in the control group, and who’s in the test group? Is anyone from the study unemployed, or terminally ill, or recently divorced, or grieving the death of a loved one, or trying to salvage what’s left of their life and their home after a natural disaster, or living in poverty, or any of the other daily tragedies that can one hundred percent negatively impact one’s sense of happiness?) Anyway, I’m skeptical, but I’ll give it a try.

Things I’m grateful for today:

  1. All of the people who have reached out since I was laid off to show love and support: friends, family, colleagues. I know that I’m not alone, and it means a lot.
  2. My severance package. I’m unemployed, but I’m not facing immediate financial panic. A privilege I will never not be aware of and grateful for. I’m so fucking lucky. 
  3. Time. It sucks being unemployed, and I hate unstructured time especially when it isn’t something I’ve chosen. But, I’m grateful I have time to look for my next opportunity, time to grieve the loss of a great job and a great team and work I enjoyed, time to reflect on what I’ve learned, time to rest. 
  4. Books. I’ve read a lot in the past few weeks. My favorite was Lindy West’s new book, “The Witches Are Coming.” She’s so brilliant and funny. Her anger comforts and inspires me.
  5. Daily walks with my dog, Samson. I don’t ordinarily have time for this every day when I’m working, but I’ve made a habit of it while I’m unemployed and more than anything else it’s grounded me. It’s good bonding time for Sammy and I, and it helps me feel connected to the world and to my body.
  6. The ivy plant in my bathroom. It’s thriving in its little corner. I’ve counted three new leaves in the last week—a gentle reminder to be hopeful and committed to my own growth.

The Economics of Happiness

I’m unemployed.

For the first time in my adult life, I have no job to go to.

I got laid off from my job a week ago in a series of company-wide layoffs in which “nonessential roles” were eliminated to “keep pace with client expectations in a rapidly changing economy and technological landscape.” Or some bullshit like that.

I get that it happens to people every day. I grew up in mid-Michigan in the 90’s—company layoffs were as seasonal as lake-effect snow and spring mud. It wasn’t like this 100% of the time, but the years when both of my parents were gainfully employed were few and far between, and that was in addition to the bitter reality that my mother had terminal cancer. Financial instability was the norm.

My life up until recently wasn’t much better off. I graduated at the height of the Recession and although I was one of the lucky few who found a full-time job in my field, my wages barely covered basic life expenses, let alone my mountain of student debt. Even when I was employed by the alma mater that gave me my degree. (side-eye emoji)

And then about 18 months ago, I found a new job, and first of all, it was an amazing opportunity to grow my skills in my chosen field (digital marketing) and work with really smart, kind colleagues who let me learn so much from them. But also? That salary changed my fucking life. I started saving money for the first time ever—not just a couple hundred dollars that hung out in my account for a month or two; the kind of savings that could buy a house one day. I PAID OFF A STUDENT LOAN. I was able to be generous with loved ones who needed financial help and causes I care about. Matt and I saved up for a vacation for the first time in our ten years of marriage. We started trying to get pregnant.

And then I lost that job.

I keep thinking about that scene in “When Harry Met Sally,” where Harry Burns is sitting with his friend Jess at a football game, absentmindedly doing the wave along with the crowd while explaining that his wife has just left him.

“And do you know, I knew?” says Harry, “I knew the whole time that even though we were happy it was just an illusion and that one day she would kick the shit outta me.”

It wasn’t necessarily that I knew I would lose my job in a company-wide layoff less than two years after I started. It’s just that when I was sitting at a cafe in Hamburg, Germany, with my husband a few months ago, on our first real vacation, drinking Duckstein and eating schnitzel in the early autumn sun, I was so acutely aware of how perfect the moment was, how grateful I was to be there, how lucky we were to be in a position to take this trip, how it never would have happened if I hadn’t gotten this job. And how we could lose all of in a moment.

I never, not even in my happiest moments, lost my fear that the stability and happiness was an illusion, and one day it would kick the shit out of me.

Being grateful and aware of your blessings and privilege is one thing; feeling like the grim reaper is quietly following you around and standing in the corner of every happy moment is another. I’ve spent years in therapy trying to detangle all of the trauma of growing up in a financially unstable home with a parent who was terminally ill, only to have the exact thing I was afraid of—losing my job—happen.

I worked and I planned and I saved and I therapied and I vacationed and I still, after all of that, lost my job and landed back at square one.

Yesterday I fielded a call from a recruiter for what is 100% a pyramid scheme to get unsuspecting young professionals to sell cable TV to innocent shoppers just trying to buy toilet-paper at Walmart, and another call from an online apparel company in which all of the models look like Tomi Lahren in a Hallmark Christmas movie for neo-nazis.

And it’s hard for me not to feel like it was my fault, for believing that I could be happy in the first place, or for daring to say out loud that I wanted anything at all.

I know I will be fine. I have a great resume full of amazing experiences and I’ve already interviewed with a recruiter for a staffing agency (a real one, not a scammy one) and there is an opportunity out there, waiting for me.

But right now, today, I’m resentful and tired.

Not just because job searching is stressful and I may be facing a pay cut or a substantial lapse in regular income, but because as a woman in the workplace, a job change in this stage of my life resets the clock on how long it may take before I’m in a financial position to pursue all of the other things I hoped to do in my early 30’s, like have a baby. Buy a house. Pursue a master’s degree.

It’s not even just about my own needs and my own dreams, but about the systemic economic injustice that exists for all women. Because we make pennies on the dollar compared to our male colleagues. Because when healthcare is tied to our employment, we have to be almost supernaturally strategic about waiting until we’re eligible for benefits to try to have a baby, but get pregnant soon enough that they won’t legally be able to eliminate our jobs when Q4 sales take a nose-dive. Because you can’t admit that you’re trying to get pregnant to anyone at the office without risking that promotion you’ve worked so hard to earn. Because maternity leave, in the United States of America in the Year of Our Lord Two-Thousand Nineteen, is still not federally mandated. Because employers can still choose not to cover medical benefits for our transgender siblings or fertility treatments for queer couples. Because even if they do get healthcare coverage through their employer, for black and brown women, that care is often subpar and life-threatening.

(Elizabeth Warren, if you’re reading this, please let me come work for your campaign.)

Anyway, if you need me, I’ll just be over here thinking about income inequality and the economics of happiness. And I guess, for the first time in quite awhile, writing. I suddenly have a lot of time on my hands.

Going Home.


The last time I went to visit your grave was two years ago. That Michigan summer was cool and rainy, the evening overcast and humid. I drove alone to the cemetery with a potted plant to place beside your headstone. But when I got out of the car I was greeted by a thick cloud of mosquitoes. Even through my jacket and leggings I could feel their stings. Frustrated, I turned around and dashed back into the car. I stared at the plot from my window for a few minutes before I turned the key in the ignition and drove away slowly.

Dad got married that summer. Jacob got married later that fall. We went home at Christmas but I didn’t come back to your graveside then either. It was a long time before I went home again. I said it was because we were trying to save money, and because we had too many other obligations. It’s not untrue, it’s just not the only truth.

The truth is you can never go home again.


It’s a breezy morning in April when I finally come back. The Monday after Easter. It’s my first trip home in a long time. We don’t stay in the house where I grew up. We don’t have the same big family gathering for holidays anymore. There are different places and new people and a whole life that we never imagined living when you left us, most of it good but all of it bittersweet.

I plant a tulip beside you.

The tears I thought weren’t there are on my cheeks suddenly, as if they never left me.

I am not fine.

I am fine.

The thing I thought would eat me alive has not, but I feel every tiny sting.

I come to you a version of myself that I’m not sure either of us recognize, but I’m all me just the same.

Hi, Mom. I missed you.

Skip the Greeting Card, Call Your Senators.

This weekend is Mother’s Day. And other than the fact that my mom died five years ago so this holiday is already hard, there is this other thing I’ve been struggling with in the last few years, and I’m sharing about it now because it’s weighing really heavily on my mind this week.

Matt and I want to start a family someday soon, but we don’t have the financial stability or the adequate insurance and benefits to make this possible. People who love me say all the time, “honey, people have babies with no money all the time” or “if you’re waiting until you have all your ducks in a row, you’ll never have kids” or something similar. It’s not that what they’re saying is untrue or ill-intended; I know these people love and care about me and they want me to stop worrying so much. It’s just that the sentiment is really naive. I don’t know, maybe we haven’t been clear enough about just how much financial stress we continue to endure.

But it seems like people assume that money, insurance, and healthy pregnancies are a given for everyone. They’re not.

I was listening to NPR on the way to work this morning, and I heard this report about the rising statistics of maternal deaths in the United States. Among several heartbreaking stories, one man describes watching his wife, 9-months pregnant, die suddenly in their own home due to an undetected heart condition. I was crying by the end of it.

I mean, read this:

“The ability to protect the health of mothers and babies in childbirth is a basic measure of a society’s development. Yet every year in the U.S., 700 to 900 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes, and some 65,000 nearly die — by many measures, the worst record in the developed world. American women are more than three times as likely as Canadian women to die in the maternal period (defined by the Centers for Disease Control as the start of pregnancy to one year after delivery or termination), six times as likely to die as Scandinavians. In every other wealthy country, and many less affluent ones, maternal mortality rates have been falling; in Great Britain, the journal Lancet recently noted, the rate has declined so dramatically that “a man is more likely to die while his partner is pregnant than she is.” But in the U.S., maternal deaths increased from 2000 to 2014. In a recent analysis by the CDC Foundation, nearly 60 percent of such deaths are preventable.”

And now think about this: the version of the American Health Care Act that the House of Representatives passed last Thursday would eliminate essential health benefits. This means that states can apply for a waiver to opt out of most of the regulations and consumer protections that were included in the Affordable Care Act. Insurance companies in those states wouldn’t have to cover maternity care if they didn’t want to. Or they could make the premiums for maternity care extremely high, higher than they are now.

So imagine this scenario:

I, a healthy young woman of child-bearing age, want to have kids, but:

1. we have $60K in student loans
2. we have no savings (see #1)
3. we have limited financial assets, and we rent our housing (see #1, #2)
4. we’ve only just started investing in life insurance and 401K’s
5. the AHCA gets passed, and suddenly maternity care is a luxury for the wealthy

If anything goes wrong, what do you think would happen to us? If my pregnancy wasn’t healthy, if I or the baby developed health complications, how would we be able to deal with this financially? If I don’t survive, what would happen to my husband, especially if he suddenly found himself a single father?

What would this scenario be like if we were talking about a woman who has even less of a safety net than me, she and her family are living in poverty, and because of the AHCA, she doesn’t even have access to reproductive care from places like Planned Parenthood?

This is the shit that keeps me awake at night. 

Here’s an idea: if you’re willing to contribute to someone’s GoFundMe when they suffer from preventable pregnancy complications, then you can deal with socialized healthcare. Because that’s basically what a functioning healthcare system is: crowd-sourced healthcare on a macro-level. We take care of each other, because we value human life. It doesn’t prevent death, but it dramatically decreases the likelihood that we’ll die of something stupidly preventable. But the reason some people can’t accept this is because socialized healthcare is available to everyone, not just the people whom they deem worthy because of their skin color, their economic class, their body type, their respectable lifestyle.

This weekend people all over this country will be celebrating their mothers, their wives and partners, their sisters and daughters and saying, “Happy Mother’s Day, we literally wouldn’t be here without you and we owe you everything.” Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington believe that men shouldn’t have to contribute to women’s prenatal care. They’re deliberately trying to create a healthcare bill that will make it harder for families to care for mothers and babies. And for some families, it will cost them their loved ones and their livelihoods.

If any of this matters to you, then please call your senators and tell them to reject the AHCA. Do it in honor of the mothers who gave you life. It’s better than a greeting card.


P.S. Read this beautiful post by D.L. Mayfield on her son’s second birthday, and then listen to her podcast interview about their traumatic birth story.