“Welcome to the year 2000!”

I'm talking about what I was doing New Year's Eve 1999. I thought it was very funny that that was a prompt and it's going to be very quick, but it's actually kind of a weirdly—like it's a memory that really sticks in my mind because of how lonely I felt. I was newly nine years old at the time, and my mom bartended down the road—which, we lived in rural Wisconsin, so like down the road meant, like, a mile. Which isn't that far, but this is back when people would leave their kids, especially Boomer parents, would leave their kids, just f****** home alone, you know? And so it was me and my sister—and me and my sister hated each other. We're fine now, but we hated each other at the time. She was like seven, seven or eight, whatever. And I can remember that she had brought home this like—if you can remember what the old Walmart smiley face logo looked like, imagine that but fuzzy, and it had a body, and it was white, and it was wearing one of those sashes, that said like "HAPPY 2000." And it had a top hat, and if you squeezed the hand on it, it would, like, giggle and say "Welcome to the year 2000!" And it would play like, you know, the fireworks noises and the music and whatnot. And that's all it did. And I remember sitting in my room by myself — ‘cause my parents didn't like have a babysitter anything—when it turned New Years and pressing that and just feeling so dissatisfied. But yeah, so that was -- that was kind of a crappy memory. And I think about it a lot because it's very telltale of what the rest of my home life was like. What ended up happening with that doll by the way is um, my now ex-husband has a sister who has pervasive developmental disorder. So she's in her late thirties, but her brain is basically two. And she loves any sort of stuffed animal that makes noises like that. So we ended up giving it to her and she just adored it. So I was like, "Alright cool." This, this little thing that I somehow kept for all those years found a home. And she'll be forever celebrating the New Millennium. But um, yeah, no, that's kind of an interesting…

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“So much of how she experienced the world lives on in her poems…”

I had a professor in college who passed away in March, but this week was her memorial service, or her remembrance of life service. And it was just really challenging. I had both her and her husband as professors. They taught at the same university in different disciplines. And she was just a really special person, and they as a couple were really important in my life. They were one of the first examples, really, that I had seen of an incredibly functional and good marriage. They seemed to really consistently regard each other with respect and care. They were married for 52 years at the time that she passed away. And, of course, there were ups and downs during their 52 years of marriage but um, you know the small snippet of their marriage that I saw, it seemed like they were always trying to meet each other halfway and understand where the other person was coming from and ask questions from a place of curiosity, and it was just really inspiring. Um, you know, when she passed in March, I had written my art professor, the husband, a letter and I said something about how their marriage had been really inspirational to me and it’s how I hope my own partnership will look, you know, 52 years from now. And it made me reflect on the fact that all through high school, all of my close friends, nobody had a good marriage—nobody's parents, I should say, had a good marriage. And um, I just really didn't know for many, many years, for maybe even the majority of my life, if I would ever be interested in getting married. Just because I had only seen it be sort of an oppressive institution and so it just meant a lot to be able to witness their love and their marriage in such a positive way. So we went to—me and a friend of mine went to the service and I hadn’t seen my art professor in a couple of years because of Covid. They were really wary because of her illness and just, they were older, you know, regardless of her illness, so they probably would’ve been cautious. And so I walked in and I saw him and he had a cane, that was very long because he’s very tall, kind of wrapped around his forearm like a beanstalk, which…

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“I’m not really sure why I was so embarrassed by it…”

I don't feel like I've been embarrassed too often in my life, but I have kind of a vague memory of going to—I used to take swim lessons at the Y. And one day my grandma took me. And I—which she, she didn't very often do, maybe that was the only time that she did, in fact. And I think there was some sort of a mix-up on what time we were supposed to be there, but I was either so young that I wasn't—that I didn't know to look for that or I wasn't paying attention or I don't know what. But, so I went into the locker room and my, you know, my grandma was in the locker room with me and I, you know, got my suit on. And she sent me out into the—you have to shower, you have to rinse off. And then I walked out into the pool area and realized that it was not time for my class. Like, I looked around for anybody that looked familiar, or my teacher, or whatever, you know, whoever I knew was supposed to be there and they weren't there. And for some reason, I was so embarrassed by that, that I was there at the wrong time and I'd walked out and, you know, some people were in the pool. And I—probably, maybe some were paying attention to the fact that I was walking out then, but people walked in and out all the time, so I'm not really sure why I was so embarrassed by it. But I remember being really embarrassed. And so embarrassed, in fact, that I, like, I turned around and I went back into the locker room and I started to cry. And my grandma is not one who's real good with emotions. She doesn't really, she doesn't really show emotions herself and doesn't appreciate it in other people when they show their emotions. So she was not real happy with the fact that I was in there crying. Like, she basically thought that I should, you know, buck up and figure out what was going on. And I, and I can't remember what the situation was like, maybe we were just a little bit early or—I don't know. I can't remember. But I do have that, that memory. And again, I'm not really sure why I was embarrassed, like, it…

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