Six months

Tomorrow marks six months since my mom died.

It’s pretty remarkable to think that time marches on inexorably when someone dies. I remember leaving the hospital right after she passed away and seeing construction workers on the street and people coming back from lunch and thinking: “How is the world still turning? How are things still happening? My mother is dead.”

It’s been fascinating, too, to see how many different types and waves and phases of emotions that I’ve gone through. Some days seem completely “normal” now, where normal is that my mother is dead and I can’t call her or see her or talk to her. Other days I still feel that jolt of shock when I briefly think about her and then I remember that she isn’t here anymore.

The most difficult period was a few weeks after she died, which I had read in articles about grief would be the case. The first few weeks after her death were an absolute blur. We planned the funeral, friends and family were always around, people sent flowers and ice cream and made food. I felt warm and safe and coddled. But within a few weeks, everyone disappeared and I had to go back to my normal life, except life wasn’t normal anymore.

In September, as the nights started to get cooler and leaves changed, I would put the dogs in the car and drive for hours just to get out of the house. I’d alternate between thinking deeply about my mom and thinking about nothing at all. I would play Mothers’ Render Another Ugly Method on repeat because it sounded like I felt – untethered, unmoored, floating.

Now fall has passed and winter is here and spring will come soon; seasons that my mother never saw. My sister is expecting my mom’s first grandchild in a few months. My mother desperately wanted to be a grandmother, and she’s not here.

The thing that I still think about the most is how it just isn’t fair. My mom spent most of her life struggling to make ends meet, lonely, tired. I had really hoped – and thought – that things would turn around for her at some point, especially now that she was nearing “retirement” age. Instead she was diagnosed with and died of cancer inside of a month.

All this is to say that grief is disjointed and messy and enlightening and sometimes it can even feel kind of good, knowing that I’m capable of feeling such a deep and unique pain. I miss my mom all day, every day.

Things I loved in 2018

I’m a huge fan of The Strategist, which has introduced me to plenty of things that I didn’t need to buy, but totally wanted to buy. I continue to strive for a minimalist life, so I actually got rid of a lot of stuff this year, but I wanted to share some of the things that I kept (or bought) and used and loved.

iPad

I bought my third iPad in October. I originally had a second-generation full-sized iPad, which I eventually traded in for a first-generation Mini, since I found the full-size to be way too difficult to use in one hand when riding the L. Eventually the screen on the Mini cracked, I got it replaced, it cracked again, and it got super slow. I never really got into a rhythm of how or what to use it for anyway, so I just stuffed it in a drawer.

I had a Macbook Air that was getting old and not used much, so I traded it in the old Mini in and got the new iPad instead, with the intention of it becoming my full-time personal machine. I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I use it. It’s perfect as a couch companion for reading the news, online shopping, and Twitter. It’s blazingly fast and it can do just about anything that my Macbook Air could. All in all it’s being used far more than my Macbook Air ever was.

Cowin E7 Bluetooth Headphones

I’ve used a pair of old pair of wired Bose headphones as my regular headset for the last few years – the sound is obviously great, but more importantly, they had a really capable microphone so I didn’t have to switch headsets between work calls and music. With two dogs running around, though, the wire got to be a real hassle, so I purchased the Cowins because of their great price and great reviews on Amazon.

The sound on these is legit better than my Boses – I’ve found so many little flourishes in songs I’ve known for a long time that I’d never heard before. After some fiddling with my stupid Mac settings, I finally got the microphone working well a few weeks ago, so now these are unstoppable. Perhaps someday I’ll upgrade to the Bose wireless QuietComforts that everyone loves, but these will do great for now.

Double Cleansing

2018 is the year that I really got into skincare. I barely had any kind of skincare routine until recently; then I hit my thirties and realized that I should probably start doing something if I didn’t want to end up looking way older way sooner.

After experimenting with different cleansers for awhile, I started double cleansing awhile ago, and my skin loves it. It’s a Korean method where you start with a cleansing oil on your dry face (I use the Kose Soft Mo Deep Treatment Oil, which is a much cheaper but similarly effective version DHC’s Cleansing Oil), rub it in, emulsify with some water, and then apply a foam cleanser on top (I use Hada Labo’s Rohto Gokujyn). The whole process is so relaxing and removes a ton of junk from my face that other cleansers couldn’t touch, and my dry skin loves the extra moisture from the oil.

Eufy Boost IQ RoboVac

I’ve only had this little guy (often affectionately referred to around here as “little dumbass”) for a few days, but it has legitimately already changed my life. With two dogs, a cat, all hardwood on one floor and all carpet on the other, it felt like I was constantly living in a cloud of fur. Keeping things clean necessitated vacuuming at least once a day, and who has time for that?

Thankfully, my robot friend lives to vacuum. I’ve run it every morning for the last week and it’s amazing how much crap it’s still picking up daily. Bonus: it has an “edge mode” where it clings to the walls and grabs all of the dust and crud that gravitates to my baseboards. I never want to be without little dumbass.

Bullet Journaling

I wrote about my new BuJo habit on Instagram last month, and it’s still going strong. As a project manager, I have to keep track of lots of priorities for several clients all at once, along with my own internal tasks. Bullet journaling has kept me so well-organized throughout a chaotic few months at work and helped me do my job so much better.

I’ve been using paper, pens, and markers to this point, but I’m going to try switching over to using the iPad and Apple Pencil in 2019 to make it easier for me to search old notes and switch around between notebooks.

Built 30 Ounce Tumbler

I’m always dehydrated. I was a committed Vanilla Coke drinker until this year, and I knew it would probably be healthiest to replace that with something that would not be full of sugar and carbs and make me parched. So I committed to drinking more water, but it was slow going. I read somewhere online that the best way to make yourself drink more water is to buy a huge water bottle that you actually like the look of so that 1) you don’t have to constantly refill and 2) you’ll think it’s cool enough that you’ll actually want to use it.

This trick has 100% worked with my Built tumbler (in rose gold, of course). I found it at Wal-Mart for a little cheaper than it is in Amazon and it has not left my side for months. It holds the same amount of water as my Brita pitcher, and I go through it 2-3 times a day. Paired with my fancy metal straws and my favorite Mio water enhancer, it’s turned this pop addict into a water drinker.

EyeBuyDirect

I wore contacts for about thirty seconds in high school and college. I am a glasses girl. I feel weird without glasses. My glasses are a part of me. I was a committed Warby Parker devotee for a few years, but their glasses never fit me quite right, and while they were cheaper than a brick and mortar store, they still cost a pretty penny.

EyeBuyDirect is what I always wanted Warby Parker to be. They have tons of modern styles and even with lenses, lots of pairs are under $25 – I bought four pairs in June for under $65.. They also fit me far better than Warby Parker’s glasses ever did, and they’ve held us just as well if not better. I also got my first pair of prescription sunglasses from them, which have been so helpful to have. I’m never going back to Warby Parker.