A Few Things

Hello, Friends. How are you? Did you have a good week? Ours hasn’t been my favorite. I’m not sure what it was but I found myself getting easily overwhelmed by big and small things.

The news this week has been a lot. Our daughter Maude has been sending pictures of blood red skies in Berkeley. I’ve been hearing from Instagram followers who are being evacuated in Oregon and are terrified. The news from Bob Woodward’s book is so depressing. It’s 9/11 today, and it’s hard for me to comprehend that loss in the context of a pandemic. It’s also my father’s birthday today (he died when I was pregnant with my first baby).

Closer to home, we’ve had a couple of setbacks with the house renovations that are leaving me discouraged. My website is acting up and I need to hire a WordPress expert. And our youngest child, sweet Flora June, is not feeling well (no signs of covid-19, but any sickness during a pandemic feels scarier than normal).

That’s a lot of complaining, but really, we are safe and fed and very lucky to be where we are. I’m glad it’s the weekend and I’ll be happy to take a break from my phone and laptop.

How are you doing? Were you overwhelmed this week as well? Or maybe this was a good week for you? (I hope so!) Are you ready for a link list? Here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

-Please spend some time with this gut-wrenching, damning portrait of hunger in America.

-He’s just so gross. Trump bragged to Bob Woodward that he protected Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman from congressional scrutiny after the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi. “I saved his ass,” Trump said in 2018. “I was able to get Congress to leave him alone.”

-Women perform the lion’s share of the vital care that we now call “essential” work. At the same time, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, women have been laid off at an outsized rate.

-Why U.S. Marshals rescuing 39 children from a sex trafficking ring in Georgia wasn’t a bigger news story. (Spoiler: There was no sex ring.)

-Active shooter drills in schools have become a $2.7 billion industry (that is so gross to type that I might throw up), and new research shows they have almost no value in keeping kids safe and are responsible for an increase in mental health problems for kids, especially younger ones.

-But her emails! Melania joins long list of Trump officials who use private accounts for official government business.

-Have you ever read The Falling Man essay? Today is a good day to read it.

Birthdays on other days.

-Average pay is up 10.4%, the most in 40 years. How did this remarkable achievement happen? Not because people actually got raises. So many low-wage workers have been laid off that the average is skewed higher for everyone who remains.

-My coveralls have been so useful, we ordered some for Ben Blair too.

Here are some tweets I saved for you:

-Please read this thread about women on Instagram who spread QAnon conspiracies.

-Not keeping guns in your home is also suicide prevention.

-I appreciated this observation.

-So worried about the west coast fires.


-You already know I’ve lost patience with Trump supporters.

-Hah! Read the responses to this tweet.

-The scandals pile up so quickly.

This is not okay.

Steve Kerr is a national treasure.

-OMG! People are hilarious and also petty. The responses here are epic.

I hope you have a relaxing weekend. I’ll meet you back here next week. I miss you already.


26 thoughts on “A Few Things”

  1. I’m sorry to hear your week has been so rough, but I’m always so keen for those like you to be honest and not just present the shiny, polished version of their home life.

    Having lived through a summer of smoke and fires down here six months ago, we are really feeling for people in the States now. It’s been such an intense year for so many, for too many reasons.

  2. It’s just our second week after La Rentrée, and we’re all exhausted (we waited for so long for that rentrée); my son has had a cough and felt ill, but we tried to relax and the school told us as long as he has no fever, he can come. Okay! I hope you manage to go for a walk in the woods and breath some fresh air. Take care, many thoughts from Paris

  3. I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a tough week. It hasn’t been the best for me either – I’m waiting to hear if I’ll be let go from my job of over 14 years. I’m almost certain I will and while I’m trying to focus on the opportunity this presents, it’s hard to also not feel undone by having to begin a job search right now.

    I hope Ralph and Maude stay safe and that Flora June is feeling better.

  4. I have one who didn’t go to school today (sore throat) – no idea if that’s enough to stay home but I’m realizing what a disaster it will be to mix colds/flu and kids and work. My job is part time with no benefits so I’ll be the one to stay home with sick kids.

  5. It is such a hard week. We live near the University of Utah and a wind storm devastated the area. We have lost over 2,000 trees. Schools have been canceled for 4 days and it just all feels overwhelming with everything else. The 9/11 tributes this morning hit so deep.

  6. My son and his girlfriend moved to Berkeley in July (she’s doing a masters in journalism). It has been terrible receiving their orange skied pictures. Being from Pennsylvania, we’ve never personally dealt with fires so this is all new to us though this whole global situation is new to everyone. As I said to them, the world is on fire and the California skies reflect that. Hoping the weekend offers a reprieve after a tough week. Thanks for creating and maintaining this community.

    1. Kelly — Totally aside from the horribleness of everything, the journalism program at UC Berkeley is wonderful. Congrats to your son’s girlfriend and I hope it leads to great things. -Jess

  7. That is a lot! And during the pandemic, we all (I think!) have diminished reserves and less access to our usual support systems. Thanks for sharing the real and letting this group support you from afar. (Thanks, also, for all the great links as always.)

  8. Kyle Rittenhouse. He is earning his ‘patriot’ badge in the eyes of *many*.

    Again, I have far right family members who’s retweets, messages, FB etc. all suggest he *deserves* to “receive the Medal of Honor for bravery” and proclaim that “this is what American manhood looks like!” and suggest to any of their readers that they “encourage *all* young patriots to take a stand for the *right*!”

    I wish I was shocked, I am not. These family members (interestingly enough NONE of them ever served in the military, but ya, “if only!”), who adore the idea of war and guns, and have stock piled guns and weapons, some illegal, some “Russian military grade found at gun shows”, assault weapons that “can take out any bad guys from here to the next block if I’m on my roof…” CASES of ammo, and they have been stockpiling them for at least 2 decades, and most of them have built “secret” storage places for them within their homes, because they fear the government will find who has guns and confiscate them, so yes, hidden stockpiles of guns and ammo. They used to claim they were “enthusiasts” or “hunters” (without ever actually going hunting), but currently don’t bother with those labels anymore, they are “patriots”, “preparing for the civil war that is coming”, and or “training to become the men, women -and- children our forefathers envisioned we would be against a tyrannical government!” Yes, yes they do take their children out for gun and survival training in the deserts and mountains on weekends. If you read or hear the phrase “We the people!” in a tone that sounds indignant, you have these same people in your lives also.

    In essence they are waiting for their opportunity to legally do the same and call it patriotism.

  9. All the news this week is so heavy and horrible! And all under the specter of the U.S. perhaps re-electing Trump in less than 2 months, or maybe not re-electing him, but then going into constitutional crisis when he won’t leave and 40% of Americans back him.

    Meanwhile, in my house, we pulled the plug after 3 weeks of virtual school. It has ruined our home life to spend hours a day goading our 6 year old to sit properly in front of a screen and behave appropriately, and keep track of endless appointments and assignments. I felt I didn’t have the time to homeschool the kids properly, what with my full-time job, but now I see that “real school” doesn’t have much to offer them, despite the best efforts of the teachers and considerable progress with the format since the spring. It’s not the teachers’ fault that 6 years olds aren’t suited to hours of daily videoconferencing. I think there should be no attendance requirements or grades for virtual elementary school, and schools should just focus on helping parents enrich their kids’ home lives and support their intellectual growth. Instead parents are deputized as teaching assistants, IT support, and secretary to their kids, and home life feels even more chaotic and unmanageable.

    1. 100 % This, L. . I also have a six year old. It’s horrible & unsustainable.

      We all sent flowers to the teacher this week. I am meeting with her next week one on one to provide tech help. I should bill the school system. They have forced all this tech on them with no resources for help. Won’t even allow them to teach from their class (where an IT guy can assist). And didn’t provide them with two monitors.

      Gabby – sorry to hear about your week. It’s been a tough adulting week. But it also has been a tough week to be a kid.

  10. I can so relate. A distant family member lost everything – including two cats – in the Oregon fires. I could not sleep last night upon reading parts of Portland – where a dear friend lives – were potentially to be evacuated. Then Woodward’s book and the absolute disgust I feel for Trump and the many that support him.

    However, like you, I am safe, financially secure, live in a beautiful place with a man I love and my adorable dog and elderly cat. I am determined to keep my family safe – both over 65 – and can easily stay at home. Still, finding my center while enduring overwhelming anxiety is a daily struggle.

  11. Oh poor Flora June! I hope she’s feeling all better soon. All other illnesses need to just SIT DOWN while we deal with Covid -19. Seasonal allergies sent me into a near panic this year and no one needs that.

    The Bay Area skies are unbelievable – it’s like we are living in a dystopian novel. The skies are less red each day but as that happens, the air quality gets so much worse. It hurts to breathe deeply and everything is just covered in ash today.

    I hope today’s anniversary lands gently and that you’re able to wrap yourself in all sorts of wonderful memories of your dad.

  12. Gabrielle, Thank you for so many years of posting when we all know life is pulling you in other directions. Your Friday posts, along with your Twitter posts are keeping me going and giving me hope. Sometimes I feel like I’m yelling to the void, frustrated that so much of the country is confused or just making bad decisions. My midwestern ‘people’, my Christian people, my PEOPLE. It’s just heartbreaking that they seem to have forgotten their core and succumb to low-hanging fruit. I am sad and lonely, despite doing the things I can to help. Thank you for being a voice and an action that moves TOWARD humanity. Your posts are water for a very thirsty mama. Hugs from the Bay Area and may we all find fresh, clean air and water, good public health, a belly laugh in our bellies full of nutrition, a hug, some quiet, some strength, community, information and a sense of connection. <3

  13. Our version of homeschooling is going well but the outside world doesn’t feel safe. Tuesday when the bay area was covered in smoke and fog, the air was crisp and clear. Orange and unsettling sure but not smokey. Now the air quality is awful so I am glad we got groceries when we did. It feels unfair to my school age child who got outdoor play dates back but now is stuck inside again. Thank goodness she has rich imagination and lots of time to play. We have a reservation to camp at the end of the month but plans are up in the air. Is the fire season really only beginning??

    Hope Flora June feels better soon. :)

  14. We’re all so sensitive now about sharing the bad stuff – so being in a funk, feeling like it’s an entire week of one not-great thing after another-great thing and sharing that – is now “complaining”? It’s like we can’t just BE in our situation (and say it), we continually have to compare it to the ENTIRE SPECTRUM, where there will always be someone worse-off than you, so immediately your situation is diminished.

    Take your crappy week, hold it/share it/think about it/be upset and bummed and all the other yucky feelings – that’s your experience, that’s your truth. Our “privilege” is continually pivoted against the whole world, and in cases like this, is actually taking away more from us in situations like this.

    For me, this week, hearing about Trump lying about how dangerous Covid is, and then saying he didn’t want to “create panic” – wow, wow wow wow! He just told us, right there, how INCAPABLE his is of being a leader. No, he should not “create panic”, he should have put on his big-boy leader hat, and LEAD US OUT OF THIS PANDEMIC. I mean, if I were home with my girls and our house caught fire, would I let them see me freak the F out?! No, I would switch to survival mode, and get us out of there. The man is SUCH A LOSER!

  15. Sending caring thoughts for a better week–you have done so much to keep us going–please take some time for YOU!! I know that is easy to say–but it is a must–a top priority. Whatever brings you calm & peace take the time this week to do that.

  16. Gabby – thank you for your honesty and transparency and for letting us into your lives. I hope your children in California stay safe and well. I can only imagine what it would be like to have your kids so far away right now. The only thing I can say is (as a long-time reader) that you have really equipped your children with strength and independence, and it is clear that they are amazing young adults. These skills will serve them well in the trying times to come.

    We are in Seattle and woke up to red skies and unhealthy air (again). So glad we just had our vents cleaned and hepa filters installed – if we have to stay inside at least the air is clean. The fires are far away, but the bad news seems non-stop and is mentally exhausting. Not only is the West Coast on fire, our 2 kids are trying desperately to learn remotely while becoming more and more depressed at not seeing their friends. Not only do we feel overwhelmed by news stories about unemployment, food insecurity, overt racism and Covid deaths, our fear mongering “leader” is spreading outright lies and hate to a group of people anxious to believe anything he says and to support him with violence. For the first time as a parent I am daily worried for the safety and well-being of my family and my children.
    I wonder …. is this how people felt in Europe just before WWII?? A massive change is coming, and I’m not sure whether we will ultimately fail our children. We’ve got to be on the right side of history.

  17. The world feels so overwhelming right now. We had a video chat with my brother yesterday and the streets in Seattle are cloudy with smoke. They can’t take their one-year-old or their dog outside because the air quality is so bad and they are comparatively far from the fires. The link that you included about active shooter drills really cut close—when we first came home back in March, my oldest (a second grader) played school a lot with her two-year-old sister. Their play school involved “safety drills” where they had to lie on the floor in the dark, completely silent. I knew that the drills were a pervasive part of her school experience but watching them become a part of play really crushed me. We’re really failing kids in this country—from healthcare to hunger to basic safety to fires caused by climate change. I phone banked for Biden yesterday because I can’t sit idly by and was met with such anger from Republicans, one older woman told me that all Democrats should be thrown in a river. I couldn’t imagine reacting that way if a republican volunteer called me on the phone. It scared me, honestly.

  18. Grateful for the community you’ve created – gives me hope that there are other smart, faithful, progressive, humorous people out there. It’s hard to converse about nuanced subjects in a world of sound bytes, but you do it well. And that is a service to our democracy, and an inspiration to me!

  19. We’re in the UK where at the moment daycares and schools are open but rates are rising scarily fast and the testing system is on the brink of collapse. My baby son will have spent 4 weeks out of 5 in quarantine at home, while I juggle work with looking after him and worrying about him. We live in an area that’s been affected by localised restrictions over the summer, and every plan we’ve had to go away, visit family or even let my daughter see friends feels like it’s been thwarted. Now I feel as though I’m staring down the barrel of a brutal winter with no reserves of energy, goodwill or optimism left, led by an inept and unfeeling government. I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself, to be honest! But I’m going to try hard to reset and focus on some positives.

  20. Kirby Tanner Kurtz

    I’m sorry you had a bad week. Can I just tell you how helpful your content is for me, and I’m sure so many others? I have been following you for what seems like forever (I remember your pregnancy with Flora June), and I value you. We have never met, but I feel like you are an old friend. Should your travels ever bring you to Asheville, NC, you would be welcomed.

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