I woke up Wednesday morning after a busy evening the night before of watching election results pour in. These days I can often find the political situation of our country stressful and exhausting. I am a vocal non-supporter of the current occupant of the White House, and I have no shame in saying it out loud.
Wednesday would have been like any other day, except that after my shower, as I sat down to eat breakfast and peruse Facebook, I was immediately inundated with news of the devastating mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California. I saw coverage of a father waiting for word of his son, whose phone was in the bar. And later, I saw the tragic news conference where this father tearfully informed all that his son was confirmed dead. His raw grief in that moment hit me right where my own still-raw grief sits.
Then there was the news of Ruth Bader Ginsberg (a personal hero) having a fall in her office and breaking three ribs. Being a non-supporter of the current administration, I don't want it having yet another Supreme Court pick. RBG needs to hold on until we can get this clown posse out of D.C.
So perhaps I went into Wednesday a little more anxious than usual. And it has persisted.
I'm not anxious to panic-attack levels. Fortunately, I haven't had a panic attack in a while now, thanks to medication, and, perhaps, my own self-awareness about how to fend them off. But I have been anxious this week, and it leaks out of me in the weirdest ways. It's being a little bit harsher with my students, a little bit less patient while driving, and, of course, a lot more introverted and hermit-like. Hard to be anxious when reading a book on the couch with a cat on my lap.
Then the fires started.
California is no stranger to wild fires these days. I follow all of them in the news when they happen, because it breaks my heart to see my beautiful home state burn. But the Camp Fire in Butte County is particularly terrible for me--Paradise, the town destroyed, is a short distance from Chico, where I attended university. I lived up that way for five very important years of my life. While I doubt I'd live there now, it holds a very special place in my heart, and my two dearest and longest-running adult friendships--Sarah and Summer--both began there.
So watching Paradise burn has been stressful. It has been painful to hear of the destruction of the historic Honey Run Covered Bridge, a point of local pride. I used to drive up Skyway to Paradise whenever I was feeling stressed. It was a gorgeous, relaxing drive, and knowing that Paradise is all but gone is heartbreaking.
To say I need a break right now is an understatement.
Fortunately, I'm getting one. I'm on Day One of a three-day weekend, and the coming week is not only shortened by a day, each day is a half-day for the kids. While I have to work full days (and two of those days are parent-teacher conferences for the first trimester), I also get a lot of non-contact time in which I can cross a lot of things off my to-do list. New seating plans. Print out a new set of grade book sheets for the new term. Organize some things around my classroom. I'll be able to play Keane through my Promethian Board and get down to work.
After that, I get a whole week for Thanksgiving. I'm not looking forward to the holiday itself this year--though Dad and I have plans to eat with some friends of his, we will both be feeling the loss of Mom especially keenly that day. They say the firsts without a loved one are the worst. They're absolutely right.
So I look for ways to take care of myself. Today, that was cleaning--scrubbing the shower, mopping the floors, bleaching down the kitchen counters. Casa Meg is sparkling after several hours of work, and tonight I've got candles lit and a comfy couch waiting for me. I have fun plans with Sarah tomorrow, and plans to see Dad on Monday. Little by little, I cut into the stress and anxiety, the best I can.