Ten(+) Things I Have Learned Living in a Farm Town.

I’ve learned many lessons in the five years since I moved here. I grew up in a suburban town that I thought would be similar to this small rural town. There are similarities, but also significant differences unique to rural life. I’ve written and re-written this post over several months. There was a section about guns I am editing because that can be a separate post.

  1. On the community Facebook page- when people post pictures of cows or horses that are in their backyard with the caption “Did some one lose a cow?” They are not joking. There will be a flurry of responses and tags e.g. “John Smith looks like Betsy…?” “Maggie Smith tell John Smith that looks like Betsy” Eventually John or Maggie Smith may pop on with a picture of Betsy home safe and sound in her barn and many thanks to the community for helping them find her. I did not know people could lose horses and cows. But they do. More frequently than you would think. Vice Versa people post pictures of animals that are lost…I have been credited with identifying a lost duck and hens that were in the wetlands area across the street from me. A thankful owner drove up in their van within ten minutes of me replying to their “Lost duck” post and hopped out and retrieved the duck and hens.
  2. I can be friends-ish with Republicans. It takes a lot. From both sides. And let me qualify this with a hell no to Trump Republicans. But if I didn’t at least play nice and polite with some Republicans…well that cuts out about 4,000 people of the 7,000 total. Of note Biden won by 8 votes in the last presidential election in this small town- which gives me some hope.
  3. I have to work harder to find my people and the families I want the boys exposed to. It’s not impossible and I’ve met some incredible people and amen for the other lesbian couple in town who have boys the same age as mine. I also have attended some of the town Democratic committee meetings which helps.
  4. In that vein- I have never lived somewhere with a majority Republican government and I am continuously impressed with the persistence of the Democratic committee. They are never defeated even as they are always defeated. They show up to all town meetings and enter candidates into every election possible. I have come to truly admire their dedication in a seemingly hopeless town populace. They have also taught me the importance of Democrats showing up even when there is Republican majority.
  5. You will get stuck behind tractors while driving. You will also know multiple people who own tractors. There will be many discussions about said tractors, as well as rides on them, and inevitably one of them will have a tractor that has no brakes. This will be a known fact and yet people will still use the tractor. With no brakes.
  6. You must have a generator.
  7. Farm towns have significant racism and homophobia. What’s interesting though is that most people are still willing to have a conversation with me and be neighborly or friendly. There are hateful people. Make no mistake. But there are also people who will in this rough shodden sort of way be accepting of me as a person. I had a client once who had a neighbor who was transphobic and after a few caustic interactions they ultimately developed this bizarre friendly banter that I now understand. Every morning she would walk out for her paper and the neighbor would be working on his car and he would look up and wave and say with a grin, “Morning Tranny,” And my client would respond, “How ya doing you bigot?” Then they would both laugh with neighborly affection. That is the best way I can describe farm town life. It’s like we know we are all different but there is also this loyalty that develops and protectiveness among people who live in rural communities. I’ve been forced to challenge my own black and white thinking around human relationships and differing political belief systems in big and small ways.
  8. There are incredibly indigent people in farm towns. People who are suffering, whose homes don’t have working heating systems, and who are food insecure and housing insecure. I volunteered administering COVID-19 vaccines in town last year to homebound individuals. I saw incredible poverty in some of the homes I visited. But also strength, dignity, and pride. It was an eye-opening and humbling experience for me. There was poverty in the suburbs I grew up in, but not like this honestly.
  9. I can’t let my gas tank get as empty as I used to because I won’t make it to a gas station. We are not in the middle of nowhere per se but it takes a few miles to find a gas station. And at least ten miles to find a grocery store. Traveling a minimum of 20 minutes to a grocery store was a new experience for me. I do not like it.
  10. Growing up on the shoreline I was used to salty air, salty breezes, and generally a fresh feeling from the water. It is still weird not seeing the water every day. But the longer I am here the more I have leaned into the woods, the open fields and valleys, and what my cousins who are geologists refer to as “elevations” but what the locals call mountains. They are petite mountains. There are beautiful sunsets over the valley, and I’ve traded the nasty smell of low tide for the warm wafts of manure in the Summer time. There are cows a few houses down, and ducks and hens the other direction. Horses across the street. The landscape is hard to beat and I understand why people stay. It’s a rough sort of beauty that creeps under your skin. After being away for a few days this past weekend I drove through cities and suburbs to get back here, and I breathed this sigh of relief as I saw the haystacks and the tractors. Then I thought there was something wrong with me for being relieved by haystacks.
  11. I have a friend from Wyoming, she lived in California and now on the East coast. She says there’s a saying that people on the West coast are nice and people on the East coast are kind. Meaning, on the East coast and especially in New England we are likely going to be rude AF to your face. BUT…with an annoyed sigh or no eye contact at all we will hold the door for you, and we will dive into the street when you drop something and then yell at you as we run after you to give you the dropped and recovered item. Kindness with a gruff exterior has never been more real to me since living rural. People who may be seen as “mean” have helped me drag Christmas trees to my car and house, and they have helped me stack and cover firewood the day before a hurricane came, they have shown incredibly kindnesses to my sons and I in many ways. I get warning texts about bobcats and coyotes from the neighbor who once argued with me about the sense of putting a BLM sign in a town “Full of white people”. I have found that as long as I don’t overtly try and change any one’s opinions but firmly stand for my own…we find this central sort of peace. I have experienced true kindness in a town that is about 1/3-1/2 homophobic.

I moved here five years ago. And especially after the divorce I thought I would leave. But the longer I stay the harder it is for me to imagine living somewhere else. The love that people have for the land here is contagious. And the loyalty among rural neighbors is hard to describe and not truly appreciated until you experience it firsthand. In a liberal state I never expected to land in a majority Republican enclave. But it’s made me appreciate the drive and fortitude of the Democrats who are here so much more. I thought that maybe I’d have to compromise who I am to live here, but if anything it’s cemented who I am because while others may have different beliefs there is still a level of acceptance of me and what I stand for because there is admiration of the fact that I am standing for something.

Since I moved here I see a rainbow every Spring and Summer. Usually two or three. In fact I’ve never seen so many rainbows before I moved here. I’m taking that as a sign that I’m where I am supposed to be. And who knows? Maybe along the way some one’s viewpoint will shift and that by me being here the next presidential election the democratic candidate will win by more than eight votes.

p.s. We didn’t know Biden won our town until three days after the election because the registrar and town clerk were both out sick and we had to wait for them to come back and count the “boxes in the office” for the final count. Yup. That happens apparently in rural towns- boxes of ballots in an office that only one person has the keys for.

p.p.s. I am looked down on for paying for a trash service. Apparently we are all supposed to bring our trash to the dump and then complain the dump is only open banking hours.

I searched the town FB group…this was the first of MANY in the “lost cow” search results
mom of boys

Christmas Without Christ

I grew up going to church. Until I was confirmed and somewhat older and realized there were a lot of holes in this Christianity situation.

My ex was raised in a more conservative and cult orthodox church. So when we had kids, we were both fine with not bringing the boys to church. I did like the community aspect to church and the community support. Growing up we became very close with many members of the church- I in a healthy way, my ex in a cult-like depend on us and only talk to us and no one else ever type of way- but regardless- it provided connections to people.

In terms of the holidays it provided context and some structure and fun events. There was always a kids pageant and then an adult run nativity pageant that was done outside. With real sheep. The sheep got loose one year. My Dad was a Shepard. It was hysterical.

Now I’m raising boys who have never been inside a church. It’s weird. They ask random questions about God and I try and explain and it usually devolves into us getting into a fight about whether God is a man or woman. I had finally sort of explained a genderless concept of the Christian God. Preface to this next bit- I also had explained sperm donors and that you need a piece of a man and a woman to make a baby. Trust me that is important.

Up goes my nativity scene that was handcrafted by my Dad (who died in 2019). I am looking at it rather nostalgically and one of my sons asks who the people are. I start to explain the story of the birth of Christ. It went something like this, “In the Christian religion there is a story of the son of God being born. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the son of God. Mary, right here, is Jesus’ mom. Then Joseph is his, well, sort of stepdad I guess, and then these are the wise men, they are three kings who travel far to see the birth of Christ, and then here are the shepards with the sheep, and they all meet up in a stable where Mary gives birth…” “But why do they have to have a baby in a barn?” “Well there are many people, bad people, like bad kings, who are threatened by the birth of Christ so they are kind of in hiding, and there is also no room for them anywhere else,” “Bad kings like Donald Trump?” says one of my sons. … “Um, I don’t think I have ever described DT as a bad king…so kind of not like DT, but, okay, so then,” “So Joseph is the dad?” Me- “Well no, Jesus is the son of God.” “But Mama, you told me that God is not a man.” Me- “Correct.” Skeptical eyes regard me, “So if God is not a man and you need a piece of a man to make a baby then who is Jesus’s Dad?” … “Um here’s your stocking. Why don’t we hang up your stocking?”

Apparently Christianity understands how whacked their story is because they prefer to indoctrinate people from birth. Because my kids questions were all totally solid. And honestly, if you’ve read Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, well the whole birth of Christ story is a bit hodgepodge. One linear narrative would have been very helpful. And the whole “The spirt of the lord came upon her” is just not a satisfactory explanation to a seven year old and in fact is kind of creepy post the whole #metoo movement.

I never thought the story of Christ was creepy before I had to explain to a 7 year old boy though. I also never thought I would have to be the one explaining it. I guess I assumed I would raise my kids in a church. I don’t regret not doing it but it makes religious based conversations rather challenging. There are concepts and storylines I just accepted because I was raised from birth hearing them. But when they are being explained for the first time perhaps at age seven…when I’ve spent the first seven years educating them in a very logical, science based, concrete way…well it gets interesting.

I’ve tried comparing God to Santa Claus- not that God is like Santa Claus, but that we believe in Santa and we have faith he exists, and that’s sort of how people feel about God. That we have no evidence He exists but that many people have faith that He does. “But Mama, you said He’s not a boy,” “I did say that yes, I just revert to calling Him ‘He’ sometimes because that’s how it’s referred to in the bible,” “So He’s a boy?” “Well no, He was written about by boys though in a way to subjugate women, so it makes sense that they gave Him a more masculine presentation…” Then they stare at me.

Listen parenting is hard. Explaining the concept of God to an adult let alone to a black and white concrete thinking 7 year old….it’s rough. There is a part of me that feels they are missing out on an experience by not being raised in a church. But it also feels hypocritical to partake in Christianity when I believe it was a religion made for very political purposes and the holidays are clearly based off Pagan holidays and paganism was women driven. I probably should not have attended a religious college because the deeper I studied religion the more skeptical I became.

If my kids grow up and attend church and engage with religion though I will support them 100%. Unless it’s one of the cults. Then I’ll be moderately irritated and likely have to infiltrate the cult in order to produce an expose documentary which will include saving my children from the cult.

In the meantime I do the best I can piecing together the stories of Christianity, interjecting Pagan traditions, and trying to educate myself further on Judaism. Because enter a discussion about Chanukah. “Mama, can we celebrate Chanukah?” “Well we generally don’t because we are not Jewish.” “But we don’t go to church and we celebrate Christmas.” …. Touché my children. Touché. I have a year to study up. I told them it would not mean more presents. They seemed okay with that proclamation and were more focused on wanting to see a menorah lit up.

This year I anonymously ‘adopted’ a family of three children from my town and the boys and I went to Target and overfilled two carts with Christmas presents for the three kids. Throughout the store the boys had to be reminded a couple times that we were there to help a family who needed our help and this was not a shopping trip for them. When the total rang up the boys asked if I would have any money left to get them presents. I told them even if I didn’t they should be grateful that we are helping out a family. They helped me wrap the presents, it took awhile, and a lot of gift bags and tape, and a list of what was in all the bags…and then I got an email there are a few tags left that had not been taken. I brought a check with me to cover at least three more tags along with the presents for the family we shopped for.

I did all of this rather quietly but those boys see all. Flash forward three weeks to this morning, Christmas morning, we finished unwrapping our presents and one of my sons said, “Mama, you know those families we helped, I bet they are happy too. And they don’t even know who we are and we don’t know who they are! That’s so weird.” I smiled, and hugged him, and said, “Weird but good right?” He smiled back and said, “Weird but very good. You helped people and that’s what Christmas is all about; that and being grateful. I’m thankful for my family and it only matters that we are together.” And it’s those moments when I think, you know what? I’m doing okay.

Divorce and Separation · politics

“What Are You Looking For?” On Every First Date Ever.

You ever do the dating apps? OH and I had to replace the damn fresh cut tree (yes I also did a second freaking cut when I got it home…asked literally every person who ever has gotten a live tree)…but I’ll get to that.

I’ve talked about my dating misadventures in previous blogs. To summarize: men suck. So do women. My dating experience has been limited to: men who live with their parents, men who are super passive even though it says in my dating profile not looking for passive…because that doesn’t go well with me. Literally had a guy say at a second date “You’re going to have to slap me in the face to make anything every happen.” First off…I don’t even know what that means but I won’t be slapping anyone in the face. Thanks. There was no third date. But there was a text that he thought we could be good friends. Puke.

But I digress. With all the bad dates. And there have been many. Many. I’ve had to think about what would make up a good date. Or perchance a good relationship. Because what I thought was good in my 20’s landed into not good in my 30’s with my ex. So I’ve thought a lot about this. What is a good relationship? And the cliche first date question is “What are you looking for?” I have a response now. I just am not sure that it exists. In one person. Maybe I’ll have to go poly.

I’ve whittled it down to two short paragraphs. The first is from The Line. You ever listen to the podcast or watch the documentary on AppleTV? I’ve done both. Blew my mind both times. Because I normally do NOT side with Republicans. In fact I still feel mind-fucked to even be considering their side. But that’s not really what this is about. It’s about the wife of Eddie Gallagher. Eddie killed an Isis soldier and then was arrested and charged for it. I know. It’s counter-intuitive. He was in Iraq to kill Isis soldiers. But there’s a whole documentary about it- war crimes, etc.

Eddie is generally unlikeable on the podcast- he is more likable or perhaps more understandable on the documentary. But I’m not looking for an Eddie. I’m looking for the loyalty his wife and his brother show him. I mean, talk about a partner having to literally give their all for their partner. I generally find Andrea (his wife) unlikeable. But, even I can admire her tenacity in fighting for freedom for her husband. So when some one asks me what I’m looking for? That. I’m looking for a partner who would move the sun and the earth to fight for me. And some one I would do the same for because I believe in them, in us, so hard that I’d do anything for them.

It’s hard to put that into words though; especially if they have not seen the documentary or listened to the podcast. But I guess loyalty, love, and a fierce protectiveness.

My second metaphor or analogy or whatever is a look. It took me until I was in my late 20’s to recognize a look of lust. I’m kind of dense. It also took me until my late 20’s to realize some one is flirting with me. But now in my late 30’s…I get it…I still may say something awkward like “Ooohhh you’re flirting!” Then they get embarrassed. Then I walk away.

But the point is; I recognize it. It still surprises me because, I’m generally looking exhausted running around with my kids, but I do recognize when it happens.

The other thing I’m looking for in a partner is the look you give and you get when you make eye contact across the room and you just know you want to hop into the nearest closet/car/bed and rip their clothes off. And vice versa. I want to be wanted and I want to want some one else that badly. Some could say passion has led to some bad decisions in my life. But that doesn’t mean I should give up on it. I want the lust as much as the love.

The problem with me saying that to a guy…is they think I want to hop into bed. On the first date. Because as I said…men suck. But so do women. So I’ll be single. With my pup. And my two cats. And the damn Christmas tree.

I got a fake one. The real one died. Literally died. Needles everywhere. Ornament transfer. Dragging dead tree out of house…that’s it. That’s the end. Love. Lust. Loyalty. Republicans. And a fake Christmas tree.

Nursing · politics

A B*&$H About Benzo’s

I watched Xanax on Netflix. It’s a documentary about anxiety and Xanax.

I had a lot of feelings come up as a prescriber.

I think the commentary on the mental health system and race was good and certainly accurate. I think the commentary on why we as a society are anxious is also good/accurate. But it misses why Xanax is a problem.

Benzodiazepines are meant to be used short term. The psychiatrist does say this. She does not go into why though people end up on them long term.

There are a number of reasons; starting with there is a shortage of mental health prescribers. Primary care physicians and APRNs end up bridging this gap. They are comfortable starting some one on Xanax because they are actually taught to do this in school. The line they give is “I’m going to prescribe you a 7 day supply, and give you time to find a mental health prescriber.” Now, it takes more than a week to get an appointment. At my practice we are booking out 2-6 weeks depending on provider. The prescriptions then may get extended and by the time a patient lands in front of me they have been taking Xanax daily for six weeks. As prescribed by their primary.

This is not meant to knock PCPs. They are doing the best they can in the system we exist in. But there is no education about it. There is likely no discussion about what will happen when they see a mental health provider- aka we are not going to continue it daily and we are going to recommend a daily antidepressant medication. And once you’ve had xanax- well Prozac just does not feel as nice. Thus begins a person chasing the “calm” aka “high” that Xanax induces and being really angry at the mental health prescriber who won’t give it to them.

The documentary then spent less than ten seconds on the pressure on prescribers to do what the patient wants. And at the end of the day- that’s what matters- because without that pressure prescribers would have the balls to prescribe safely and ethically. I had to leave a top hospital in our country system to prescribe safely and ethically. Let that sink in. I had to leave a top hospital in the country to be a good and ethical prescriber.

Here’s why.

You ever hear about Press Ganey? It’s a company that puts out those nice little surveys all patients get after a hospital stay. My raise and reimbursement and ability to advance in the corporation was dependent on my Press Ganey scores. Yes, much of my present and future career at the hospital was based on feedback from patients. I worked on an inpatient psychiatric unit and usually half my caseload were hospitalized involuntarily. Then about 1/8 of those people had to be medicated involuntarily through a hearing with a probate judge.

Guess how many of my patients gave me and my team good reviews? Potentially half. The other half, well I was lucky to not be sued by them; which was threatened daily.

Let me tell you a story. Patient X is on Methadone 120 mg, Xanax 1 mg TID, Quetiapine 800 mg nightly, and Lithium 450 mg ER BID. Patient X is admitted on this regimen for depression and suicidal ideation. They are noted at the table in the morning eating breakfast falling asleep. Legitimately falling asleep. Food falling out of their mouth mid-chew.

They are now a choking risk. And within six months of me starting I had some one on Methadone choke, and need to be resuscitated due to their airway being completely blocked. It’s a real thing that happens.

Me being the responsible APRN I am, consult with my Attending MD, they agree, we need to lower their sedating medication especially AM dosing when they are eating right after. We also review the EKG, shows significantly prolonged QT interval- due to Methadone/Quetiapine combination- prolonged QT interval can lead to Torsades which leads to sudden cardiac death. Again- kind of a big deal.

We go sit with the sedated patient, who barely responds to us verbally, and tell them we are going to start tapering their Xanax and Methadone. VERY SLOWLY. We will not put patient into withdrawal but it is unsafe how incredibly sedated they are. Patient mumbles as food falls out of their mouth.

Next day. I walk onto unit. Patient screaming about doses being lowered. Thus begins a very unhappy week for myself and our team and our patient. But. They did not die, they did not have any observable or measurable withdrawal symptoms. And they were able to actually be awake for mental health treatment by 10 AM and engage in groups and therapy. They left on lowered doses of Methadone and Xanax with a lower QT interval and not a choking risk. But they gave me a complete crap review and wrote a novel about how we sucked.

I had to have a sit down with my manager about that case not because of the inappropriate prescribing done by their outpatient team, or the good job in looking out for their respiratory and cardiac health- and preventing another preventable choking potentially fatal situation on our unit- but because I got a bad review. I had to review the chart with my manager and go over the case step by step defending my actions along the way. Amen for my stellar documentation, the withdrawal measures (which were all negative), and the objective data provided by group leaders, EKGs, vital signs, etc. that showed patient had a decrease in depression, decrease in SI, and increase in attentiveness, concentration, and ability to engage in treatment.

My manager wanted me to sign a form saying that basically we had spoken about my negative review. I declined. I requested a meeting with HR. So the cycle began. I provide safe care in conjunction with the treatment team including an MD. I get a negative review. I have a meeting with my manager then with HR. This is not unique to me. This is common among any prescriber working for a corporation that favors patient satisfaction over safe and ethical treatment.

This is not the only reason hospitals cannot retain good doctors and APRN’s. But is definitely in the top three reasons. At least it was for me, and for many of my colleagues.

It is not safe to be a competent and ethical prescriber when working for a healthcare corporation that measures my present and future success by patient reviews- especially when working in psychiatry and addiction medicine.

This does not just apply to inpatient work. It applies to outpatient centers also. My pay being directly linked to patient satisfaction is a problem and the reason I do not work for a hospital corporation any longer. Because working with patients who ran out of their Xanax early, their outpatient prescriber says they are going to be cut off, now I have to forcibly taper them off of it- doesn’t go well for me in my reviews. But that’s part of the work inpatient, and it’s part of being a prescriber. Making tough calls, and especially inpatient working within a team of clinicians to do right by the patient.

So me being ethical and legal…didn’t go so well. And that’s what the documentary failed to expound on. Not only are there these patient reviews- but these patient reviews dictate how much money we make, our performance reviews, and how and if we can advance…and that, my friends, is a fucked up system that invites prescribers to make bad decisions to advance their pay and their careers.

I still get negative reviews on Google for my practice. And they still irk me. But they do not impact my ability to advance my practice or myself. I also can look at them objectively and say, well that patient didn’t get the 3 mg of Xanax they wanted, and got mad, pulled a knife on me- and then wrote a Google review. True story. The google reviews don’t bother me because they do not impact my career and to date they have all been reactive to me setting boundaries and prescribing ethically and legally.

I still have a full caseload, a growing practice, and rock solid clinicians who work for me who know I have their back to be good, ethical, competent clinicians and that I will not let a bad review by an angry patient who we held a boundary with impact their pay or merit or my respect for them.

I agree with the psychiatrist in the documentary when she says benzodiazepines have a place and a time and I am incredibly grateful for these drugs to have been invented and utilized by clients who need them. Because I do prescribe them when appropriate with a lot of education, a urine drug screen, an informed consent form with risks/benefits that the client must sign, and what the expectation will be going forward in terms of treatment.

I have full control over my caseload whereas before I did not. Until our healthcare system changes from a for profit, patient satisfaction oriented system- there will be more irresponsible prescribing and irresponsible treatment. There will also be a lack of retention of prescribers in areas they are needed most such as mental health and addiction psychiatry. The two are linked and need to be addressed nationwide.

*****This blog post covers a very small portion of the issues and dangers of benzodiazepines and is not meant to be fully comprehensive of every issue prescribers face in relation to benzodiazepine prescribing.


Single Mom vs. Christmas Tree: year 3.

Everything I thought I knew about parenting when there were two adults in the house went out the door with my ex back in 2020. Because single parenting is a new ballgame.

We got our Christmas tree this weekend. And it was a debacle because I wanted pre-cut and went to a place, it was cut your own, before I knew what was happening a guy was shoving a saw in my hand and the boys were running up a hill. It’s not a little hill. It’s a half mile completely up hill. Since doing this on my own I have always gotten a pre-cut tree so I’m trekking up the hill already nervous that this is going to go poorly.

We make it up the hill. We find the tree. I’m on the ground in kind of a nice outfit because I was expecting a pre-cut tree, and with my hair down. I have a lot of hair. Curly. Trees. Sap. It was a thing. So I’m sawing the tree. My son keeps trying to grab the saw to “help” and I’m like please stop because I’m going to cut off your finger by accident.

When I hear a male voice from above, “You need a hand?”

I emerge from the ground/tree. There is a very nice man and five children of various ages and a small wife all smiling down at me and my kids. He and his teenage son get the tree down within about ten seconds like freaking champs. And the family is circled around us and I’m thinking they are going to start singing a song from a the Sound of Music or something. They look picturesque and sort of whole in a way that a single mom covered in sap, crazy hair, may have been swearing at the tree, and her two twin boys…well don’t. If my sons and I would break into song it would be a song from Jungle Cruise. Because, man, we are just trying to survive.

We get the tree. Thanks to the very kind Von Trapp-esque family. The tree farm people seem to emerge out of the trees as we are dragging the tree out and take it from the boys and I and throw it on a tractor that brings it down the hill. They strap it to our car. I mean overall it was great service and all inclusive.

The hardest part was when we got home. Because then it’s just me. I set up the stand, and the boys helped me hose it off, and I drag it inside, and am wrestling with it to get it in the stand and upright. This of course is after I got if off the car.

So there I am, wrestling a tree. It was a lot fatter than it looked in the field. And I still had on my nice clothes. And I am in the damn thing. And I’m trying to drop it on center of the stand, then lean down and screw the screw things and then it kind slouches over when I think I’ve got it.

It happened then. One of my sons was standing on the other side of the fat tree. I thought he was watching his brother play a Switch game but he was apparently monitoring me quite intently. I made a noise- somewhere between a sigh/sob/groan of frustration.

It’s in those moments that- well you ever get those flashes of the most intense thoughts and emotions that sort of leak in? Like when I first got divorced I was angry, grieving, resentful all the time low level. I’m not anymore. But in those moments it comes through- a flash of all that hurt and pain and anger at having to do these moments alone. It’s quite visceral and unless you’ve experienced it rather difficult to describe.

But it’s important to name it. To write it. Because if there is one single parent out there who reads this and feels that and this normalizes it for you, then it’s for the best. We, as a society, do not talk about divorce and the repercussions of it and single parenting two and three years in because we are all just supposed to adapt and smile and post on social media pretending every moment is liquid gold.

But it’s not. Because when my son heard that sound I made he came around and looked at me concerned, “Are you okay Mama?” “Yeah baby, I am okay, some things are just really hard to do with one person, and this is one of them.” He looked more concerned even though I was trying to take deep breaths and smile and act okay. “Mommy should be here.” He said quietly. And I knew in that moment he was remembering the Von Trapps at the Christmas tree farm, and yearning for that for himself. And for me.

I had to be at my sisters within about twenty minutes, and they went with my ex that night.

I got the tree up. It’s still standing and mostly straight. But this is divorced single Mama life. Moments of utter punch in the gut raw parenthood while I’m standing there alone putting up the tree. Then I just carry that. Alone.

My kids see me. They see cracks in my invincible Mama armor because I am human and how can I not have moments where I let my feelings slip through?

Other then hugging my kids and telling them I love them there are not “happy endings” to these moments. I had to finish the tree and then move on with our day. But that was a hard one and I was not okay after that. I don’t want my ex here. The divorce was very necessary for many reasons. And I am better as an individual and as a parent without her. I am allowed to feel alone though and lonely. And I would have appreciated another person over five feet in the room helping me with the tree.

And my son saw this whole family and then saw me break a little bit.

And this is why parenting changed when I started doing it alone. This is why it became harder and I feel even more blind navigating it.

Since becoming a single parent I’ve done some research and what I found were alarming statistics including 63% of suicides are individuals from single parent households. The stress, the shame, and the loneliness of single parenting is real and of course it impacts the children in the homes. Study after study showed an increase in anxiety, depression, and substance abuse as well as poverty and welfare among single Moms. There are of course many postulations on these statistics but seeing as how I live it I want to throw my own in there.

We have to start talking about these moments. We have to bring them into the light and out of this horrible shaming mindset. Being a single parent and having vulnerability and having sad moments with our kids is okay, normal, and should be expected. Because it’s hard and there are no normalizing factors within our communities for single parents.

It was less than ten seconds. That interaction with my son while I was holding a sappy Christmas tree. I’ve had other moments like this. They are intimate and visceral and raw and they make me feel like the worst human and also the strongest and most resilient and most alone.

I have resources though. I have great friends & family who see me and support me and I engage in my own therapy and I have built and continue to build financial security for myself and my sons. I also am a strong person and I’m too damn stubborn to give up on anything but especially not on my sons and myself. But there are many parents out there who don’t have the resources and maybe are not as strong. This is for you. You are not alone. These painful moments happen to us all and you are allowed to feel that pain in the moment and you’re allowed to let your kids see you feel it too. Give yourself some grace and accept help from people who offer it. You are not alone.

988- Lifeline/Suicide hotline


Trans lifeline- 877-565-8860


“Tilt When You Should Withdraw”

You know you’re a millennial when…the movies of the late 90’s and early 2000’s still define who I am as a person. And they are grossly underrated by all these twats coming after us. You know I’ve met multiple people (mostly my clients in their early to mid-20’s) who have never see Lethal Weapon or Bad Boys? To be fair Lethal Weapon was 80’s but Bad Boys?! None of them! Do you know how many times I’ve referenced a line and they stare at me blankly or worse like I’m old?!

Despicable. But the worst is if they have not seen A Knight’s Tale. Not only is Heath Ledger probably one of the best actors to live (and die far too young) but it’s hilarious, sad, poignant, and action packed.

It’s also historically relevant because it’s loosely based on Chaucer’s A Knights Tale. There are many parts of this movie that speak to me, essentially the whole movie. Because it’s an underdog story of a young man being told he can’t. But then he does. I have always felt that. As a girl I was told I was too smart, too loud, too opinionated, as a woman I’ve been told the same.

All William wants to do is joust. And he’s rather good at it. He builds a team ultimately who believe in him and who stand in front of him in the stocks to block the rotten food being thrown at him. That’s when Prince Edward unveils himself and steps up to William who is dirty and weak and bent in the stocks.

Prince Edward (who is also kind of hot) leans over and says “What a pair we make huh? Both trying to hide who we are, both unable to do so. Your men love you. If I knew nothing else about you, that would be enough. But you also tilt when you should withdraw…and that is knightly, too.”

Tilting exposing a knight’s face and leaves them vulnerable to injury but it also gives them the most advantage in striking their opponent.

That scene gets me every time. I’m usually crying by the time he pulls William out of the stocks and he shakily kneels in front of the prince.

It’s quite a thing to be seen. To truly be seen. If you think about it there are very few people we come across in life who see our true selves for all that we are. Who have the patience, the insight, and the ability to see who you are.

That scene gave me hope as a teenager that I could be something more. That I could “change my stars” and along the way I would meet people who truly do see me.

I had to grow into a person I was proud to have people truly see. It was hard in nursing as a confident, smart, and direct woman. The feedback was mostly negative. And the message was to do my job and not question management even when nurses were being assaulted and abused. God forbid I ask for mental health services after a major assault or updated TdAp vaccines for the entire staff after two pertussis exposures to me personally and twenty other staff members.

It took distance and time and therapy for me to realize that what I sought was not wrong. I’m allowed to take up space and ask for reasonable accommodations, help, and support from my employer especially when working in high acuity and dangerous areas.

People seemed to listen when I spoke. I was told by a manager after I became an APRN that I was an “unofficial leader” because they knew everyone would listen to me but that I was not actually in charge. That surprised me. I didn’t realize people paid attention to me honestly.

That conversation opened the door for me to open my own practice. I was not wrong to be smart and confident and direct. I was not wrong to expect a safe work environment. And I could get that. But I’d have to do it on my own.

Five years later I am safe and I’m surrounded by people who truly see me and appreciate me personally and professionally.

It’s been validating to be in business for myself and treat employees the way I wanted to be treated and to see their appreciation and the loyalty that it builds. I’m not perfect. I’m still too direct. And I am impatient sometimes. And maybe too patient other times. I also tilt when I should withdraw- I fight the fight for clients, employees, I fight insurers, and my favorite line is “I’ve got nothing but time,” whenever I’m told that something is not possible…I make it possible. And my friends, family, and co-workers see this.

They see me and finally that what were perceived as negative traits are actually positive and have helped me grow a business and expand mental health services for the Queer community.

I’d like to think if I was in the stocks I’d have some people who would stand up to block the rotting vegetables from hitting me.

That’s a good feeling actually. Knowing I have people who see me and who think I’m worth protecting. They also would probably make very sarcastic remarks and jokes to work off their anxiety in the moment but they’d be there. (You know who you are;)

Because that is what’s important right? To have people who would block the rotten vegetables from you.

And every Gen Z-er reading this…this is why you are missing out. You don’t even know one of the life goals you are supposed to have. Lord have mercy.

#COVID-19 · Nursing

The Grim Reaper & A Nurse

Contrary to my normal procrastination I bought tickets to a haunted attraction way back in the beginning of September. I was determined to get there. Last year I bought tickets and it got rained out. A few years before COVID we went on a night to something you couldn’t pre-buy tickets to, and the night we went it was closed. Then COVID.

Needless to say I was frantically stalking the weather all week, and very excited the night came with no rain in sight and no global illness causing mass lockdowns…we were good to go!

When we got there we had to wait for our turn to go through as they send people through in small groups. We were a group of four, my three friends and I, and while we are all in our mid-late 30’s, and tough as nails psych nurses and a therapist, of course none of us wanted to go first or last. Finally the therapist went first and the three nurses followed. I doth my hat to our therapist friend of course.

We screamed and held onto each others vests and coats in a train of four excited and terrified friends.

We came upon our first ghouls who spoke to us and instructed one of us to reach a hand into a bucket of water and pull out two syringes. One of us may have freaked out about touching syringes to the point that the grim reaper asked “Are you nurses?” in a growl, and we nodded “Yes, three nurses and a therapist,” and the grim reaper in his grim reaper voice bowed his head a bit and said, “Thank you for your service,” and the scary baby-doll with face paint reminiscent of Frankenstein agreed in her creepy baby doll voice, “Yes, thank you.”

And there we were. In a haunted house with a grim reaper and a creepy baby-doll tipping their heads to us in thanks.

They still made my friend grab the syringes.

And on went the show.

It was followed by another grim reaper who did not speak motioning me to push a button on a wall. Well I was pushing the damn button and nothing was happening. He made a down motion with his scythe(?) and I pushed down and it fell off the wall. He’s growling at me and I can almost hear him sighing at my stupidity and my three friends are a mixture of laughter and screaming each time he waves the scythe at me telling me to just push the button. And they are yelling at me “Just push the button” and I’m like duh I would if I could, but it’s dark and there’s grim reaper growling at me, I grab it and stick it back on the wall.

If you’ve not had a grim reaper shake his head at you in complete frustration and disbelief at how stupid you can be….it’s an experience.

As I stick it on the wall the thing lights up. Finally. I pushed the button somewhere. He lets us past and follows us, the whole time pointing his scythe at me. He did not need words. Even through a full coverage mask his message was clear. You are too stupid to live and I will end you.

My friends thought it was hysterical and then of course later we did get lost and the same grim reaper popped out and had to growl and herd us back on track.

It didn’t hit me until we got out though and we were back in the car. That moment with the first grim reaper and the ghoulish baby doll. It was surreal and kind and even though it broke the scary haunted house thrill for a moment to be brought so forcefully back to reality, it felt more authentic and more real than any of the hundreds of pizza parties the hospital I worked for thought were ‘good enough’ of a thanks.

What healthcare providers- not just nurses- psychotherapists, doctors, techs, etc. have been through from 2020 to present, is inexplicable to people outside of healthcare. It’s been constant chaos and tragedy and feeling invalidated and not good enough and underlying it a deep and true terror. Terror that we would catch an illness and spread it to our loved ones. Terror that our patients would die. Terror that going to work would lead to our deaths. And on top of that dealing with the irritability and anger that has permeated seemingly every human interaction. People are angry and they are taking it out on healthcare providers and practices.

So for a random grim reaper and haunted baby doll to acknowledge us in the throes of a terror inspiring activity- it felt so wrong and yet so right.

To the ghouls at Evidence of Evil- we had a great time, and you made three nurses and a therapist feel seen and appreciated. Thank-you.

Mental Health Stigma Suicide · Nursing

My Thoughts on Treating Murderers signed: a nurse.

Working in private practice people sometimes make the assumption I only treat the “worried well”. Every prospective employee I interview I tell them- while there are serious perks to private practice including total control of your schedule and fully remote work…we still treat sick people. You may get an easy straightforward anxiety…but you likely will have some serious cases that will push you.

For me, I’ve treated…a lot. I’ve treated sexual abuse victims, incest victims, victims of DV, and many other incredibly intense cases over the years.

What has been surprising for me, and what no one ever discussed when I attended school and training- were treating patients who committed murder. Working both inpatient and outpatient I’ve treated roughly 40-50 patients who have committed murder in some capacity.

There are many different kinds- negligent homicide is something like a drunk driver who hits a car and some one in the other car dies- basically an unintentional homicide but caused by the person’s negligence. There are homicides that are intentional, or perhaps just witnessed but the witness is held responsible for not stopping it or for contributing to it, and the saddest are probably the murders committed by people in a psychotic state such as with postpartum psychosis- those are probably the most publicized in the media.

We learn a lot about transference and counter-transference in school- and we do talk about how it would feel to treat a perpetrator of a sex crime but for some reason we never touched on treating some one who commits a murder.

But it’s an important conversation to have.

Working in mental health has caused me to take stock of my values, ethics, and core belief systems…and made me re-evaluate all of those things repeatedly at a very visceral level.

I remember working in the pediatric emergency department. There was a certain coldness projected toward the parents that overtook all of our demeanors when we realized the child we were treating was the victim of abuse- whether sexual or physical. At some point the truth always comes out. And I did treat some children who died of their injuries. And if you could have bottled the rage in the room from the healthcare providers…well that would be some potent nuclear energy.

So I had that background going into mental healthcare.

Then I sat across from my first patient who committed a homicide. I did not have that rage encompass me though. I still do not. I think they expect it. But as the mental health provider treating the perpetrator of a crime, well they are still my patient, and I treat all my patient’s the same. With respect and I try to come from a place of empathy and understanding.

In reflecting on murderers I’ve thought of my Dad. Was he a murderer? Not by my our standards I suppose. But he did kill people when he fought in Vietnam. He was a gunner on a helicopter- one of the big ones where the sides are open…hopefully you’ve seen enough war movies you know what I mean. I asked him one day when I was old enough to realize what a “gunner” meant “Dad does that mean you killed people” and in typical Dad fashion he said, “Well I killed more cows than people hon,” and that was that. My Dad was excellent at non-answers. Especially about Vietnam.

So I suppose the first “murderer” I sat across from at a table was my Dad.

So you can see why I have a stronger response to pedophiles than to murderers? Murder I’ve had to assimilate and rationalize because I grew up the daughter of a combat veteran. There ain’t no assimilating or rationalizing pedophilia though. That’s never okay. Not even in war.

I am speaking somewhat facetiously because the double standard is absurd. Murder is never okay. Pedophilia is never okay. But we live in a society that is more okay with murder than any other type of crime. As evidenced by the lack of gun legislation in America after the first mass school shooting. We receive the message from the highest level of politicians and courts that murder is justified as long as it’s with a gun that you should be free to carry.

We also live in a society with combat veterans who have committed legal murders. And we praise them, respect them, salute them. I am not saying we shouldn’t do all of that. I am grateful for all the people who have served and continue to serve our country because I see the sacrifices they’ve made in my work every day in the veterans I treat who carry such shame, guilt, and trauma.

I used to be very black and white in my thinking. Back when I was 22 and thought I could be part of the solution in saving the world. I’m 37 now. I’ve seen children die at the hands of their parents- intentionally and unintentionally. I’ve treated men and women who have been raped and who have killed.

I also grew up with a Dad who was a Vietnam veteran and deeply committed to the love of his country.

Through all of this I’ve come to realize there cannot be a black and white version of myself or of mental health treatment. I’ve treated rapists who I did trauma work with who were deeply wounded humans perpetrating in the cycle of their own traumas. I’ve treated incredibly brave and resilient victims and supported them through court proceedings to bring their perpetrator to justice. I’ve treated murderers who carried the deep wound of taking a life. And I’ve treated murderers whose murders were legal in the face of battle but who have to make the decision to live every day because the incredible wounds they feel internally drive them so close to suicide.

There is no black and white and there is no right or wrong. What I’ve discovered in myself is that I have to present myself with empathy, understanding, and I have to listen to my gut and bodies responses. If my body is telling me that there is no remorse here, and potentially sociopathy, our consultation appointment is just that. A consult. And I will not be following up with them.

But those are rare. More common is the person who is just a person. Trying to survive. Who was thrust or who put themselves into unthinkable circumstances and who are spending the rest of their lives trying to not be defined by that one moment. There is grief for the person they once were, compassion for who they are in this moment- vulnerable and seeking a non-judgmental space- and hope for the person they can become.

Fifteen years in and I still love being a nurse. I love this field, I love that it pushes me to see beyond society’s expectations and norms. I love that it makes me examine my own weaknesses and prejudices and challenges me to do better and be better. In these cases it’s pushed me to examine my beliefs about “murderers” and what I found is they are just people with a story. Stories that deserve to be told and to be heard.

p.s. #banguns #fucktheNRA

p.p.s. For all those asshats saying you should have the choice to not treat people who are LGBTQ…you are assholes. If you continue in that vein for your “religious freedom” shouldn’t you also not treat adulterers, murderers, pedophiles…etc? How come you can decide to not treat one population of people but not all the rest? How come you are more comfortable treating a heterosexual murderer than a law abiding non-rapist and non-murdering lesbian? Y’all need to have a Come to Jesus moment. Cuz you make no sense. Just own it and say you are homophobic and transphobic.


Salty About Stimulants…signed: a prescriber

My practice has strict prescribing practices around stimulants and benzodiazepines. People seem to get the most irritated by these practices with stimulants though. Over the years multiple therapists have voiced their displeasure at us for not prescribing a stimulant to some one suffering with ADHD because: they smoke cannabis, their urine screen popped positive for a substance, they don’t have anxiety it’s all driven by ADHD, etc.

Mental health prescribing is by far one of the most Monday morning quarterbacked fields of practice. Every one knows better including but not limited to Google, WebMD, ‘My Aunt/Mom/Sister/boyfriend’s sister who is a nurse’, ‘my therapist who is not licensed to prescribe medications and has no training in prescribing’, their primary care doctor, their neurologist, and any one else who wants to hop on board the “we know better than people with actual psychiatry training” train. Not that I’m bitter. Imagine me saying all of this in a very singsong smiley voice.

I did not have such strict policies when I started practicing. I’d be more open to prescribing stimulants to some one who used cannabis or would not grab a urine toxicology screen on everyone. But then shit hit the fan.

To assume you know better than some one who has been working in this field and trained in this field when you are not working or trained in this field is…annoying at the very least and dangerous at the most.

In the past 12 months alone the practice has had four urine toxicology screens pop positive for substances that were not disclosed to the prescriber in the appointment. Two of the positives revealed a significant substance use disorder that could have otherwise been missed and that the primary psychotherapist knew nothing about.

Addiction does not discriminate- and these positive urine screens were gateways to a dialogue for potentially life saving treatment for people. God forbid the other 98 people have to pee in a cup because it’s so judgmental and punitive….I’ll send 1,000 people for a urine screen because even if just one pops positive that’s one person who has been potentially struggling with addiction in the dark, alone, and is at risk of overdose and death. I can’t as a prescriber in good conscious just say, “Well I see that hurts your feelings when I ask you to pee in a cup and test it for substances before I prescribe a controlled substance you, so you’re good.” It’s not punitive. It’s just that people have lied about substance abuse and addiction. And I’m not saying that in a derogatory way- part of addiction is living with it in isolation which contributes to shame and guilt- people don’t disclose because they are ashamed. It’s part of the cycle of addiction.

Every time I prescribe a stimulant I receive a letter from the insurer- especially Anthem and Aetna- they send letters that they noticed I prescribed a stimulant to one of their members- and they name the member- then they have about two pages of why prescribing a controlled substance is dangerous and they hope I’m prescribing it responsibly and I should really consider getting the patient off the stimulant as quickly as possible. Not making this up.

Then I get an email from the state of CT who tells me they noticed I prescribed another controlled substance- and it’s in a report of all the controlled substances I’ve prescribed in the last month. It’s one of those “We see you and we are watching” e-mails. I attest to my liability company that I prescribe controlled substances. I have to sign off on federal guidelines to have a DEA. AKA it’s a big freaking deal every time I write a prescription for a controlled substance.

In case you missed it, people are dying at record numbers from drug overdoses. Guess what? Most overdoses are not just one substance- they are often multiple substances- including stimulants because people snort them after drinking alcohol to perk themselves back up, or after heroin or opiate use. Then they may want another buzz or high so they drink more or take more opiates or heroin…you can see where I’m going right? You need more and more upper to overcome the downer, and more and more downer to overcome the upper. Then you die.

So no. I do not prescribe stimulants to patients concurrently using cannabis. Cannabis=downer stimulant=upper. Also- long term cannabis use (daily for over a year) causes cognitive clouding and blunting in the form of short term memory impairment, slowed cognition and slowed reaction times, in ability to focus and difficulty concentrating….guess what all those are also symptoms of? You’re right! ADHD.

So how do I know some one truly has ADHD when they’ve been smoking weed daily for five years and did not have ADHD prior to weed use? I don’t. The answer is I don’t. And I won’t until they get off the weed for at least three months.

Next let’s talk about the world in the last few years. It’s gone to hell. The effects of chronic stress are well documented in children who grow up in abusive households, in adolescents who live in homophobic households, and in war veterans who are exposed to chronic combat stress. Guess what the symptoms are? Cognitive clouding, poor focus, poor concentration, short term memory impairment, poor organizational skills, and anxiety that can present as impulsivity….sound familiar? Yes. All symptoms of ADHD. Executive dysfunction is a symptom of chronic stress. You can’t have existed in the world since March 2020 without being under some form of chronic stress which results in executive dysfunction. So no, you did not suddenly develop ADHD at age 40. It started two years ago because that’s when the world went to hell.

People generally do not like to hear that though. They want a pill and a quick fix and a treatable diagnosis.

In the past two years I’ve had countless patients tell me they have ADHD. I disagree with the diagnosis sometimes. I decline to prescribe stimulants other times even if I agree with the diagnosis due to substance use. And then there are a couple people in the past year who came to me for “anxiety”. And within about two minutes of our intake I was thinking ‘how the hell do they exist in the world with this severe of an ADHD?’

Careful history taking, chronic struggles academically, chronic struggles socially, chronic struggles occupationally, has had people in their life tell them they have ADHD, and not nicely. They also talk non-linearly. It’s hard to describe but there’s definitely a feel to them. They often wander off from the answer they are trying to give to a question then ask “What was the question?” somewhat embarrassed. There is more to it than that, but suffice to say it’s quite overt after you’ve seen it a few times. Which I have. Because this is what I do every day all day for ten years.

These are my favorite people though. They legitimately have ADHD. They have been misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all because they are usually female- and females are super under diagnosed for a variety of reasons- including but not limited to: it’s inattentive type, not hyperactive, and they are able to compensate in other ways that allow them to still be mild to moderately successful.

These people when I mention ADHD and do some psychoeducation around it, and say maybe the anxiety is driven by an ADHD and they have a learning disorder…they break down and cry. Because they usually have always suspected it, and they check all the boxes, and there is effective treatment. These people, when they come back after the urine screen and trial of a stimulant cry again because they are grieving that they have lived so long without a proper diagnosis and in relief at being able to function just generally better.

Do I prescribe stimulants? YES. Do I do so carefully in order to protect the patient and myself from liability? YES. Do I see how incredibly life changing these medications can be? Absolutely.

I do actually know how to assess and diagnose ADHD. I also know how to safely prescribe psycho-stimulants. And I’m not going to waver because it may cause some one to feel upset that I prescribe this way. Safely. It’s unfortunate that offends some people. But it is what it is.

So to any one out there diagnosing yourself off TikTok. Please stop.

Couple things- you can’t have sudden onset ADHD, chronic stress causes the same symptoms of ADHD, PTSD can present as ADHD, chronic anxiety also can present as ADHD. I’m not saying don’t get a second opinion if you disagree with the person you do an intake with. Get as many opinions as possible for you to feel confident in the diagnosis and treatment. But also don’t assume you know more than a provider with education and clinical training and experience.

And for any one truly suffering with ADHD if you suspect you have it, seek treatment! There is treatment. And it can work. Just don’t get salty if you’re asked to do a toxicology screen in order to receive a prescription for a controlled substance. These medications are serious and heavily regulated. Have some respect for that. I sure as hell do.


Catharsis Defined via Six.

It’s hard to define catharsis. I remember learning about the term in a high school English class. I remember it was defined as “a release of emotion”. But it’s hard to truly understand it until you experience it. Part of what theater and the arts provides for me specifically are moments of catharsis in a space and through a medium that is outside of my daily norm.

Have you ever been moved to tears by a movie? That is catharsis. The movie caused a release of emotion.

And while movies can certainly provide a nice cathartic moment there is nothing, for me, quite like the theater.

I am lucky to live a short car ride from the train station which has an express train to Grand Central. About a month ago my friend and I bought second row tickets to Six. We hopped on the train this morning, made it through GCS, during which I heard a few New Yorker’s put a woman in her place for yelling at a child who tripped resulting in her having to stop short resulting in her yelling at said small child whose dad was clearly a tourist who just looked scared. My friend says people on the East coast are kind but not nice. I feel that in NYC more than anywhere else.

These three clear New Yorkers stepped in for the tourist Dad and son and yelled at the woman for yelling at a child for making a mistake. Then tsk tsk’d at her, and clucked over the child. While not smiling at all and seemingly sounding generally loud and scary but when they are on the side of good….it’s a sight to behold.

That all unfolded outside the bathrooms. Inside of which a random woman had started directing traffic into the open stalls because she was waiting for her sister “Who is taking forever”….from a further away stall “Well I’m sooooo sorry Dotty, you can wait out in the hall ya know?!” “Who needs the hall I’m directing people. Just do your business so we can leave!”

We then fast walked/ran to the theater, and came upon a Polish parade on 5th avenue which detoured us a couple blocks south back to 45th street from 47th. Side note- the Polish parade was still going 2 hours later on our way back…and we talked to some NYPD officers who also could not believe it was a 5 hour parade and it was running late because “it’s Polish” and “only a Polish parade would run for 5 hours on 5th avenue” per the police officer…

So we finally make it to the restaurant right next to the theater. We eat super fast. Then with nine minutes to show time we think we can go stroll in. Well we walked. And walked. To find the end of the line. When we started questioning if the line could really be that long a man heard us talking and was like, “Hey over here, you guys are with me right?” He was super nice. The people behind him hated us. But we totally cut the line. His wife showed up with diet cokes for them. And then we are being waved through security by a security guard and he’s saying “Single file, single file, ladies looking very pretty today” and tips his hat at us.

Then we see this epic show. I mean totally epic. Six. The six wives of Henry the VIII reclaiming their stories and changing history to “her”story. So it’s heavy right? Because two of his wives are beheaded. I mean. There’s that. They also were all teenagers. Awful. Multiple miscarriages etc. But they did an amazing job of blending humor into the story and engaging the audience, and there we were. Watching Jane Seymour (the 3rd wife of Henry VIII) sing a beautiful song and she hits these high notes that I can’t even describe. And the song is about being unshakeable and brave and courageous in the face of so many fears. “You can build me up, you can tear me down, You can try but I’m unbreakable, You can do your best, but I’ll stand the test You’ll find that I’m unshakeable. When the fire’s burned when the wind has blown, When the water’s dried you’ll still find stone.”

And it was then, that I felt my eyes well up. And I thought why am I about to cry? Couple reasons. I have post-COVID grief. I’m sad and pissed that we missed two years of the arts and trips and fun times with friends out in places with people and hearing a New Yorker berate some one, and being told we are pretty in a super sweet and innocent way. Running through streets, stumbling on parades, we missed that. We missed so much. I grieve all that I do not even know that I missed.

And in that moment I also was thinking of all the shit I’ve been through. Personally and professionally and, it’s kind of like in therapy where you’re walls crack, and you hear a song that just hits you right. And I felt so much, incredibly deeply in that moment, about what we’ve lost, what we still have, and everything I’ve been through and still am going through; and that my friends…is catharsis.

I loved the show. But I also loved the experience of going to NYC for the day without fear of death. Let me rephrase- now the only fear of death is from mass shootings, bombings, car accidents, subway stabbings, you know the normal NYC fears. Not death from a virus.

Now we just have the normal fears back.

Overall the entire day was perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing. Well maybe I wouldn’t have thrown away the cup my friend had bought me at the theater. It had red wine in it, and I didn’t want it to spill on my bag. It’s a nice bag. Really nice. And we were in the street. It was crazy. It was red wine! So I threw it out. She will never get over it. I’d change that moment yes. The rest is all good.