One Summer, Three Life Changes

austin, blogging, daily life, family, motherhood

I had every intention of consistent blog posting after Henry’s birth and I probably could have managed it. For whatever reason, I have been gifted with the ability of strong habit maintenance whenever life gets stressful. Not that Henry has been too stressful — I have been lucky to have for my first child a chill baby, but you know what I mean. But add on to that a cross-country move and preparing to start a new job, and well — life has been, well, rather full at the moment.

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Doing the touristy Jo’s Coffee picture. 

We’ve been in Leander for two and a half weeks. Our mattress is still on the floor. Henry is still sleeping in the pack and play. The bookshelves finally went up this week (priorities!) and about half of our belongings are still in boxes in the garage. We still have not found a CrossFit gym. My runs are still more walks than runs. And mainly I feel like I am starting completely over and things still just do not fit (especially my pants!).

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Henry, aggressively happy amidst the detritus of unpacking. 

Still — the kitchen is unpacked. I did my first week of meal prep for dinner and lunch this week, trying to ensure good habits before the school year begins. Henry and I went for our first “run” together yesterday. We managed to make it to mass downtown on Sunday, even if we failed to find parking afterwards to walk the boardwalk on Lady Bird Lake. I am loving the H-E-B’s (not Heb’s!) curbside pick-up for grocery shopping — definitely makes life much easier. I love planning for class. I love not having the pressure to write a dissertation anymore.

I told Bruno I was not sure I wanted to continue with this blog anymore. I was not sure I had the time or will have the time when the school year begins. When it comes to living here, when it comes to life now, I want to start how I plan to continue — whether that is with running, food prep, bedtime routines with Henry. For the past few weeks, I was not sure that blogging had a place in that “continue” part.

Bruno suggested that I try once a week, explaining I did not want to waste all the writing, all the posts I have already put out here on the blog. And so, taking his suggestion, I will try to keep at it, once a week.

I need to remember that I am in a transition period right now. As things start to settle, a routine will develop. Life eventually will develop some normalcy, some rhythm. Living in the Austin-area, full-time teaching, and most importantly, being a mom are still all so new to me. Eventually they will not be so new. Eventually Henry will sleep through the night. Eventually I will be able to run longer than four minutes at a time and will feel confident on my bike again. Eventually this place will be home.

 

 

 

 

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Introducing Henry

daily life, family, motherhood, pregnancy

I’m back! I’m not five-posts-a-week back, but I think I am ready to go back to regularly updating on here.

So — the big news is — its a BOY! Early in the morning on June 4, Henry made his arrival into our now three person family. He is a beautiful and relaxed baby. People ask us how we are sleeping and seem amazed that between the two of us we’ve been able to get four hours continuously (for now).

Henry

Henry 2.jpg

I do not have the words to express how thrilled I am about Henry. Every cliche seems applicable. I am amazed sometimes that we made such a beautiful boy. Even though he has been with us for less than two weeks, it seems he has always been apart of us. I cannot imagine a life without him.

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Sometimes I imagine Henry thinking as Bruno and I try to determine if he is hungry or gassy, “What a bunch of newbs.” But mostly he just eats and sleeps. I’ve taken him on a few walks, but it will be another couple of weeks until he is big enough for the Bob. I am excited for our first run together and all the good things to come.

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I’m going to try to post three times a week for the rest of this month and see how it goes. Right now, teaching prep is a priority, so I’ve been trying to get as much reading done as I can during naps. I have not worked out yet and will most likely wait until I reach those six weeks, but I have been walking — increasing the walks by five minutes every week. I miss CrossFit and running. Life seems full, in all the best ways, especially as we try to figure things out.

 

 

What I’m Loving Lately VI

books, daily life, food, music, pregnancy, reading

Contains Amazon affiliate links. 

It has been awhile since I have written one of these — not since January. I woke up around three this morning, not feeling well. I fell back asleep at five, but for the most part feel kind of groggy today. This is 38 weeks of pregnancy! Very glamorous.

Watching : Like nearly everyone else on this planet, I finished watching the final season of Game of Thrones the other day. That said, I’m not sure I can include it in things that I love. I liked the endings for everyone, but I thought it needed more time, more development to get to those endings. I’ve also been watching Chernobyl on HBO and it is terrifying and excellent. I feel so stressed out when I watch it, but it is so well-done I cannot stop watching. Bruno says there is a podcast that goes with it, but I have not listened yet. Other than that — I’ve been trying to watch how much television we watch. I’m tired of feeling like my evenings go to scanning through netflix, hbo, prime to find something to watch before bed. I’m not anti-tv. I love it, but I like to be a little bit more deliberative about what I’m watching.

Listening : My big post-dissertation gift to myself was a turn table. We bought an Audio-Technica. After it arrived, we went to our local record store and I bought Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin. For awhile it has been our only record, so I think baby will be a big Led Zeppelin fan. This last month, however, we bought Greta Van Fleet’s From the Fires, so we are expanding. I have no idea what I am doing when it comes to starting and maintaining a record collection, so I feel like such a newb. I will say this: there is a great pleasure to listening to something on analog. I like having to get up and turn the record to the other side. Plus, with headphones on all the time, Bruno and I do not get to share the music we are listening to, it seems much more communal now. I like that.

Reading : Plenty. I’ll share my May reads later, but I’m also trying to make it through some books in preparation for teaching in the fall. I am reading Paul Johnson’s A History of the American People. I did read a new history textbook the other week. I won’t share the name, because I’m not quite sure it is out yet, but I did not particularly care for it. I’ve been reading Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales in the morning and I love it. And of course — I’m still making my way through re-reading Harry Potter. I’m finally on Half-Blood Prince, so we’ll see if I get through all seven before baby arrives.

Eating : Probably too much. We bought Cook Once, Eat All Week to see if it would help save time and money. I think initially it cost quite a bit — all those different oils, spices, you know. But I think it will end up paying for itself. I spend all Sunday afternoon getting the components of the meals together and I love that it is step-by-step and I don’t have to think about it too much. We’ve been following it for three weeks and have been pretty happy about it. We had some bbq meatloafs with carrot fries which were delicious. Other than that — I am loving ice cream, lots and lots of ice cream.

What are you loving lately?

A Quiet Saturday

daily life, motherhood, pregnancy

Contains Amazon affiliate links. 

I suppose, being 38 weeks pregnant, I do not have many quiet Saturdays left. I have had low-grade impatience for the baby to arrive beginning this month, but this past weekend I had a nice reminder to enjoy this time of waiting.

I think it began with the fact I actually had a good night’s sleep. Thank goodness, for Benadryl. I did not wake up once and woke up at around 6:30ish in the morning — which is late for me. Planning on going to my small group meeting in the morning, I read the Gospel for the week and some Harry Potter (what else, ha!) before eating breakfast, hopping in the shower, and heading to the church for my meeting. After my small group, I sat at the church for Eucharistic adoration for about an hour, reading Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life.

I walked to Jilly Beans’ Coffee Shop and bought a coffee and cinnamon roll. I sat by myself and just read for about an hour or so. I’m not the type of person to let little moments pass me by and I’m grateful. While reading, I realized that very soon not every Saturday morning would be able to look as calm or peaceful. Even without a baby, not every Saturday goes according to plan. I think I very easily get sucked down the social media/internet rabbit hole and before you know it, I’ve had three cups of coffee and while I’ve been scrolling like crazy, I feel tired, stressed, and frankly meaningless.

Bruno picked me up and we had a quick lunch at home before going on a two mile walk. I hoped I would go into labor. I did not go into labor. Instead, my feet and what is left of my ankles swelled up like melons. I can barely fit in my shoes. It was hot out, so we joked we were training for living in Texas. The next several hours were spent sitting on our front porch reading. After that — we ate dinner and watched some HBO, before an early bed time of around 9ish.

It really does not seem like much. Dinner was left overs. We watched Chernobyl which was probably not the best choice for right before bed. Most of my reading was for work (though very enjoyable — I highly recommend) — I read Paul Johnson’s A History of the American People. Walking two miles is not an impressive work out and a far cry from my Saturday long runs (how I miss thee!). On the surface, the day does not seem special at all.

But, even though I’m impatient for baby, I’m grateful for these last few quiet Saturdays. I’m grateful for these last few walks with just Bruno and myself. Even as the the weeks until baby’s arrival turn into days, I’m going to take advantage that the quiet time I have: read more, write more, walk more and enjoy the calm, not before the storm, but before the creation of a new normal, with new Saturday routines, and a brand new person in the mix.

Life in Limbo

daily life, pregnancy

One of the frequent questions I keep getting asked now that I’m done is, “How is post-dissertation life?” What is life like now that I no longer have a dissertation hanging over my head? I think it took to April to even get used to the idea that I no longer have a big project to work on. I wish I could say I was working on multiple projects, getting things done, but aside for resubmitting a journal article, my academic self has been taking a much needed break.

But, as I’m sure I have mentioned, I am not good at taking breaks. I like to find projects for myself. I like having long-term, endurance-style things to work on like my dissertation or training for a race — neither of which I can do right now. I am less than six weeks away from the baby’s due date. We’re moving to Texas around six weeks after that. Two weeks after that we start our jobs. Basically, all I really think I am doing is waiting for whatever happens next.

And, as Tom Petty once wisely sang, “The waiting is the hardest part.” I’m a type-A planner, but how do you plan with the next big thing when you have no idea what the next big thing will actually look like? As much as I can “plan” for the baby and the massive life-changes created by being a parent and a full-time job, I really have no idea what it will be like, so I feel stuck in a kind of limbo.

March was kind of a “lost month,” but here is how I am trying to handle all the unknowns right now.

Administrative projects. So no big academic projects, but I am trying to do a lot of things for “future Ali.” Currently, I have been spending quality time with the scanner. I have around three boxes of class notes to go through. Because they are all in notebook paper, I can’t do it quickly, but have to do one side at a time. It is dull work, but I know that come mid-July I’ll be glad to have three less boxes to pack and having all my notes and papers digitized in my Dropbox and Evernote should surely be the gift that keeps on giving. I’m doing the same with downsizing my kitchen, clothes, and books. What will I be really happy that come July I  don’t have to do?

Taking advantage of not having a real schedule. I have not woke up to an alarm since February. I have been sleeping until 7-7:30am most mornings. For an early riser – sometimes between 4-5:00am – this has been some consistent sleeping in for me. Mornings are incredibly slow as I try to do some reading and actually take the time to clean the kitchen post-breakfast. I have had plenty of mornings recently where I have been in my pj’s sitting on the couch with a book until CrossFit at noon. I feel lazy, but I am trying to enjoy that I can do this while I can.

Move. I don’t mean preparing to move, but I mean not being sedentary. This one is not that hard, because I typically look forward to going to CrossFit. But as I get bigger and grow more uncomfortable, my enthusiasm levels tend to waver. For example — just today I had a very “what’s the point? I don’t have any big goals, so why even bother” moment. These last few weeks are a reminder that showing up is the goal, even if I cannot PR or go fast or feel like a walrus half the time. It may not seem to make a difference now, but after baby, after recovery, I’ll be glad I put in this time. Improvements are being made even if I cannot tell right now.

And that is basically it. Without a big project, I feel kind of aimless, but if I look at this as a time of preparation, it feels much better. It makes the waiting not only bearable, but enjoyable. I keep trying to remind myself that when I’m busy with baby and teaching, I’ll be really glad I was able to enjoy this mental break.

Have you ever had a “limbo” period in life? How did you handle it? Are you someone who prefers to have big projects and busy days?

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on the Burning of the Notre Dame

catholicism, daily life

Bruno and I spent five days in Paris during our honeymoon. Living that graduate student stipend life, we spent five nights in what was basically a tiny attic converted to an apartment four blocks away from the Notre Dame. We arrived in the evening and after dinner at a local cafe, we walked to the famed cathedral. It was our first and most frequented stop during the entire trip.

I knew I wanted to see it — I grew up watching the Hunchback of Notre Dame over and over (side note: how was this ever a children’s movie?). But I do not think I expected it to startle me in the way it did. I could not get over the church’s beauty and how overpowering the whole structure felt. I had goosebumps. I cried. It was like my eyes could not feast enough on the church. We walked around and I exclaimed over the flying buttresses and we sat at a cafe, close enough so I could keep looking, enjoying drinks before we walked back to our attic.

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Every day we stopped by the cathedral. On Sunday we went to mass and I was filled with wonder again. I could not — and still cannot — get over the fact that men, people living and breathing just like me, made this over two hundred years. It made me feel small, but also a part of something larger and greater. Here I am, a mere student, but also a Catholic, a true lover of Western Civilization and everything it stands for, appreciating one of its greatest accomplishments. I prayed to God and took holy communion in the same church many have done before me since the 13th century.

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I was checking the Boston Marathon results after CrossFit when I saw the Notre Dame was on fire. Marathon forgotten I checked to see if it were true. I cannot blame pregnancy hormones for how much I cried over that church yesterday. I love the Notre Dame and I love what it stands for. I hate throwing around words like “awe” and “sublime,” but there I felt those things. There I physically felt the sense of something greater. It devastated me to know that it will never be the same.

I’ll admit now I feel angry. As everyone mourns (and Macron claims it will be rebuilt), I want to point out this cathedral has been neglected for years. After visiting Paris and the experience I had at the Notre Dame, I learned how little money the church had to keep up with repairs. I learned that the Friends of Notre Dame frequently went to Americans for help with upkeep.

I can only suspect this comes from taking the cathedral for granted the way western civilization as a whole is taken for granted. I cannot help but feel frustrated with those who see the damage done to the Notre Dame as a great loss, but do not connect that to the loss and negligence of the culture that helped to create such a structure.

Big News…We’re Moving to Austin, Texas!

austin, daily life, texas

Along with, you know, the rest of the United States.

I’ve mentioned that I have been traveling and one of my goals for this month was to start down-sizing in order to prepare to move. Well — it is official — Bruno and I will be moving to Austin to teach at a classical high school. It is a big decision. I have never lived further than 2.5 hours away from my family or away from the midwest my entire life. Bruno lived in Dallas for a year. We’ve both lived in Michigan for several years now and have grown attached to a place where we met, dated, spent the first two of our married years, and will have our first baby. We have a good community here, both grad school friends and CrossFitters. Though I think we are excited about everything to come, I think it will be very hard to leave.

Anyway — Texas — we are excited about this new adventure. We flew out to Austin a few weeks ago (during SXSW actually) and though we mostly prepared for our teaching demonstrations and at the school, we did get a chance to do some exploring and most importantly — eat tacos. Sunday we ate at Torchy’s. As I mentioned — I’ve lived in the midwest all my life. I know tacos are a contentious culinary topic in the South and I admit to lacking sophisticated taste, but I tell you what — these were the best I have ever had in my entire life. I already cannot wait to go back and drink the queso.

I also satisfied my brisket craving at Salt Lick in Round Rock. Heaven. Just heaven. I love where I live now, but the amount of restaurants is…well…lacking. Aside for the heat, this will probably be the biggest adjustment — all the opportunity to eat out wherever I like. Not good for the waistline or the budget, but then again — I am growing another human being right now so I ate every bite that was on my platter.

bbq

Belinda Carlisle is right.

Actual Austin exploring mainly took place on South Congress. Luckily – though it was SXSW – we did not have too many crowds. We stopped at Jo’s Coffee and I took the necessary touristy picture in front of the “I Love You So Much” mural. When we stopped by, I did not have to wait in line, but later that day I saw quite a long line to take a picture in front of this mural. That is kind of ridiculous, right?

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All in all — it was a good trip — and I think we could really see ourselves living happily here. One thing I’m excited about is all the outside sitting. We have friends who recently moved down a couple months ago and they took as to Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden and it was perfect. I loved being able to just sit at a picnic table, eat from food trucks (it was promised to be an “authentic” Austin experience), and just enjoy good conversation with good people.

When we flew out, it was kind of weird to think that when we come back, we’ll come back as a family of three and as residents. I’ll be honest — after living in small town after small town, I never thought I would end up living somewhere “cool”. Then lo and behold, in a couple months we will live in one of the most popular cities in the country (not that I really care about that…it is just kind of amusing to me). Someday Austin will be home and hopefully we love it as much as we love our place here in Michigan. We will leave in July, but in the meantime I’ll be dreaming about queso, packing (this is a marathon, not a sprint), and dreading/looking forward to the day we say good-bye and begin anew.

 

 

 

 

What I’m Loving Lately V

books, daily life, dissertation, food, music

Before I even get started, I should say that what I am loving lately the most is heat and our furnace. I am loving modernity and the industrial revolution, because I feel like I am living in a Jack London novel. I am loving that I have a flexible schedule that allows for me to stay home all day if I want to. Being a graduate student is (sometimes) the best. With wind chill in the -40s in Michigan today (although strangely it will be 48 degrees on Sunday), I am very much loving that I am inside.

Watching: Like everyone else this past week, I watched the Fyre documentaries on Netflix and Hulu. You know you are a total nerd when, you go to Krogers and make lame jokes with your husband about “late stage capitalism” the entire time you picking out what you are about to binge on (peanut butter m and m’s and yogurt covered pretzels for me, Twizzlers for Bruno), probably scaring the other consumers. Ok, back to the documentaries. I recommend and I’ll admit not for the most virtuous of reasons. I definitely have a sort of #richpeopleproblems attitude to the whole debacle. There was one “influencer” who was not even shown for longer than two minutes (in both documentaries) who made me rage (“low, low economy”). I will say though it made me question whether I was part of the problem due to my (probably excessive) use of Instagram, so I pre-ordered Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism to try to temper my social media-addict ways. Sidenote: the Fyre Festival memes on ultrarunningmemes are gold.

Listening: I am really liking Weezer’s Teal Album. I did not initially love their cover of Toto’s Africa, but it grew on me and I was pleasantly surprised with all the other covers on the album. A few favorites: Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Sweet Dreams are Made of These, and Paranoid. Weezer covering Black Sabbath may be one of the most fun songs I’ve heard in awhile. I went through a Weezer phase in high school (this is a thing, right?) and listened to plenty of the Blue Album and Pinkerton (just like this SNL sketch), but then never really listened to them again. So, it has been fun to listen to those albums again.

Reading: Confession? Not much. I’m reading True Devotion to Mary as a part of this reading challenge, but most of my reading has been Jean-Jacques Rousseau and dissertation-related as I begin to prepare for my defense next month. So yeah, strangely nothing too exciting here unless you are into the sources of inequality and the great swindle that led to political society.

Eating: I have been having bad cravings again. I made these blondies yesterday to satiate my sugar tooth and they were amazing. But mostly, it has been nothing too exciting — lots of soups made from my favorite cookbook. I switched up my flour from white to whole wheat for my sour dough bread and it was just ok — why does the bad stuff always taste better? I did start making my own yogurt and I will admit, it tastes much better than what you can get in the store.

I hope you all are staying warm! What are you loving lately?

 

 

 

Twenty-Two Weeks Update

crossfit, daily life, pregnancy, running

As I mentioned yesterday, we went in for our twenty week ultrasound. Our sonographer said everything looked good, but we’ll learn more next week during our regular appointment. While the best part was being told everything looked good (relief), the second best was being told that baby was measuring bigger than they expected. Instead of being due early June, I’m due late May. While I am not sure it makes a difference, it is kind of nice to know things are moving along. It all still feels so far away, but as I told Bruno when we got home, technically if the new due date is right, we only have three full months (February, March, April) sans-baby left. Not only that, but I’ll be walking for my doctoral graduation exactly two weeks before I am due. That might be a long ceremony.

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But how is it going? I mentioned last week I was dealing with pelvic pain and yesterday that I think I did something to my ankle — probably due to the change in ligaments (I’m falling apart). But aside from that, what is going on?

I keep waking up at 3 in the morning. At least two to three times a week, I am up at three. I have determined it is better to just roll with it instead of fighting it in bed. So, I wake up, do my morning thing. I’m lucky to have a flexible schedule, so I can take a nap later if need be, but I actually try really hard not to so I can still get to bed at nine if I can.

Nightmares. The waking up at 3 is not so bad. It just means more quiet time in the morning and I’m more tired. What is not so fun are the nightmares. Sometimes I do not even know what I dreamt about, but just that it was not good. I get that it is hormones, but I look forward to these stopping whenever they do.

Iron-hard immune system. When Bruno was sick with the flu the other week, I was nervous I would end up getting it too. After all, we live and sleep in close proximity. I figured it was only a matter of time. I braced myself, but never got it. I’ve always had a freakishly good immune system (I get sick — but from migraines and apparently beets and spinach), but this might be one of the more impressive times the system has shown me it won’t let me down.

The nesting has begun. Though Marie Kondo is a little too woo-woo for me (though I might read her book to learn how to fold socks ha!), for the first time in awhile our house is clean. Not immaculate, but clutter is starting to disappear, a rhythm for the days I clean certain things has begun to emerge (today is laundry day), and yes, I’m throwing things out. Of course, I am. It has shown up in other ways too. Though one of our goals was to not eat out in January (unless it is for social event — which has so far only happened twice), I think the urge to cook is probably related to the nesting urge. I like cooking, but making my own yogurt? Definitely a little different.

Running has diminished/strength has improved. One of the interesting things about being pregnant is how differently it affects my running and how differently is has affected my weight-lifting at CrossFit. I had about ten good weeks of running and then boom, slower, painful, and more walking. However, anytime I have lifted weights, I have either been consistent or improved. I have PR’ed both my back-squat and my shoulder press during my second trimester, not to mention a few other movements (although this is a change from maybe the barbell to putting weights on…still a big deal for me). It probably helps that strength-wise I am starting from nothing, so I do not know if it would be the same if I had been doing crossfit for years. But — it does feel good and I cannot help but be impressed with my body. Like holy cow, I am making a baby and pushing seventy pounds over my head. Crazy.

Overall, I’d say things are going well. Like I have mentioned, patience has been key. I want to type-A and do all the things, but physically, especially with running, I have to take a step back. I have to be patient on the days I wake up at three and be ok with the fact that probably after lunch, not a thing will get done because I will be so tired. I can confirm that at least for myself everything I read about the second trimester being better than the first is absolutely true.

 

So What is Good?

crossfit, daily life, dissertation, pregnancy, running

After yesterday’s whine, I must admit I am feeling much better today. Not physically (I’m still in pain), but mentally. I also did not wake up at 2 am, but at 5:30 today — the difference between five hours of sleep vs. eight hours!

So here is what’s good:

I sent my final dissertation chapter to my committee yesterday.  All had read it before, but this was the official and final version. I wrote a conclusion today. All that is left is to make sure formatting and citations are in order and I can officially submit my dissertation.

It is looking like I will defend before I turn 29. Age is arbitrary, but when one of my options was to have my defense on February 4th (my birthday is the next day) as opposed to dates later in the month, I took it. Ph.D. before thirty here I come!

I received a revise and resubmit from a peer-reviewed academic journal. After two rejections, this one felt good! I read through the comments and they look interesting and useful. I will probably not work on it until I’m officially all done with the dissertation — one thing at a time, people! — but I am hoping to get my edits and changes in by the end of February. If it gets accepted, it will be my first academic publication (not a small deal). Huzzah!

Credit at the chiropractor’s office. I will not see my chiropractor until Friday afternoon (get here soon, please!). However, all my visits are financial-guilt free. Years ago, back when I was on my mom’s insurance (thanks Obama!), all my visits were covered, yet I still paid out of pocket for them. Then they would credit me for my next visit, etc. I don’t know, it got confusing, but I still went all the time. I am a real bone-crackin’ believer. Anyway I did not go for several years. Turns out I had a several hundred dollar credit. It is like a gift from past me to future me. Like “Hey future self, you’ll be pregnant, probably in pain, and trying to save in a few years. This is for you.”

Taking a walk outside. Today I did some walking and about a mile and a half of running outside, totaling around three miles. I do not care about the cold. It feels so good to be outside. Yes, I feel stiff and sore and running does not feel lovely, but not being indoors, not being on the treadmill is its own gift. I listened to my dissertation-writing playlist and generally felt joyful.

So yeah, my running is declining. I landed weird (like actually felt a pop) on my left foot while attempting double-unders at CrossFit today and my ankle is swollen (help me ice and ace bandage!). My pelvis hurts. Physically I feel like a mess, but I’m grateful. I’m grateful to just be moving. I’m grateful that I managed twenty-five double-unders today during the work-out which is twenty-five more than the last work-out where I attempted to do them. I’m grateful that today was spent writing and not editing.

So, there you go. That’s what’s good.