This is not a GoFundMe…

(I’ll save you my GoFundMe rant for another time…)

So for any of you who may have missed this, my sweet Cecil Elijah lost his father unexpectedly this past Monday. It has been really hard being so far away, but now that funeral arrangements have been pinned down, I am heading out there this weekend.

My job has had me down to 30 hours since January, so I have been trying to make up the difference by working at Gap. However, the days that I am in Michigan, I will be missing out on working there, and I may also be looking at at least one day without pay at my day job (don’t get me started about how much it sucks that the people who are most “family” to me are not considered family for bereavement leave purposes…)

Although Big Cecil’s family is covering the expense of the funeral itself, there will obviously be expenses related to my travel and while I’m there.

I plan to drive to Michigan, as last-minute plane tickets are pricey, and believe it or not, I actually find the drive itself therapeutic. #fatgirldriving

I am hesitant to ask for help because it feels a little tacky (or a lot tacky?!) I also don’t feel like my lifetime of poor financial choices is anybody’s responsibility but my own. But this is where I am right now, with my hours having been cut, having just moved, etc.

But at the end of the day, this is to help me support Mona and Elijah, so I’m asking.

It has meant a lot to me to hear that so many of you say that you feel like you know Mona and Elijah through me…and I hope that the things I have shared have conveyed at least in a small way what a blessing they both have been in my life.

So I am asking for those of you who can spare it*, and are so inclined, to consider throwing a few dollars my way. I’m talking $5 or $10; it doesn’t have to be anything major. I am pretty sure that enough of you are relatively fond of me that that $5 would add up.

To be completely transparent, I will be using the funds for my own expenses related to getting to Michigan (including covering my loss of pay). If you would prefer to give something to be earmarked specifically to Mona’s needs, just let me know and I will separate those funds and get them to her.

Anyway, now that the embarrassing part is over, and if anybody is still reading, here are the details. Since it’s the 21st century, we have lots of options.

  • My PayPal is my email address (my (post-1996) name backwards, with a period between the last name and first name).
  • My Cash app is $Wronski
  • My Venmo is @Wronski
  • My Zelle is just my cell phone number.

Again, this is a little embarrassing, but know that I will pay it forward and that you are helping me to reconnect with a piece of my heart.

*Do not send me money if you yourself don’t have money!!! If you send me money and I deem you not to have money yourself, I will send it back to you!!!


I have been blogging this inside my head for close to a year now, but of course the “lovely” events of the past week have it front and center in my mind. And because I am trying to suck less at actually getting around to blogging, here I am.

I feel like we all have a #metoo story, whether large or small. We live in a culture that seems to view the degradation of women as almost inevitable.

(You should stop reading my blog now and go read this instead…the repeated refrain, “That’s what girls are for” is haunting and beautiful.)

When I was maybe in fourth grade, and my friend/neighbor probably in third grade, we went up to the local supermarket on an errand of some kind. Whether it was for the errand or if we were wandering, I’m not sure, but we found ourselves in the medicine aisle. The local creeper (I can’t remember if I knew him before this incident) asked us to help him look for some Chloraseptic throat spray. As we helped him search, bending down to search (“no, not the mint – I’m looking for the cherry flavor – is it on the bottom shelf?”), he touched each of us on the butt. Brief, barely perceptible, but it happened. After he left, we consulted each other in hushed tones. Yes, he had done it to both of us. We were utterly creeped out by the experience.

And here’s the crazy part.

Somehow, between the two of us, we decided that we couldn’t tell our parents…because we were convinced we would get into trouble. I can’t remember now whether we said this to each other, or whether we just had an unspoken pact not to speak of it.

How did we know, or why did we believe, that what had happened was unspeakable? Why did we blame ourselves? Why were we unable to speak of this offense against us, to call out the wrongness of it?

Although it can hardly be called “assault”, it was nonetheless a traumatizing experience. And I chose this, one of my “tame” #metoo stories, to point out how hard it is to tell. How hard it is to not blame ourselves for what was done to us.

The silence continued into adulthood. I dealt with it when my manager at one of the shoe stores I worked at would stand there touching and rubbing himself when we were alone in the store. He would put one leg up on the chair and just smile and say nothing while he touched himself. Or maybe he was talking to me at the time…about business, about the weather…who knows. I just remember how hard I had to work at not looking, how uncomfortable and skeeved I felt every time I had to work alone with him.

Who could I tell? I was just a girl. (And in the extremely sexist environment I was in, “just a girl” was no exaggeration. When we were robbed at gunpoint at another store, the home office’s first question was, “Is the girl okay?” Yes. Yes, she was.)

That job was toxic for a number of other reasons, but the fact remains that I didn’t tell anybody about my manager’s disgusting behavior. Why would I? Who would believe me, or do something about it? And oh well, it’s just something we women have to deal with.

Who taught me that it wasn’t okay? Did I blame myself? Did I fear for my job? I can’t remember my thought process at the time, but like the supermarket incident of my childhood, I knew I had to just put up with it.

When I see rich and powerful men being held accountable now, when I see women who are being listened to, and taken seriously, I am grateful. But I can’t imagine that it will last. Why should it? This has been going on for years, probably centuries. How long will it last, women’s stories being heard, and actually believed?

I don’t think it will stick. I think the Kavanaugh hearings are evidence that the pendulum will swing back the other way, and sooner rather than later. Maybe I’m wrong…maybe we will finally put a dent in the impervious wall of denial and shame, and maybe sometime in our children’s lifetime, if not our own, women will be believed and supported.

Until that day, we will continue to have shitty weeks like this one has been, and we will continue together in this PTSD fog, still afraid to speak out, still hearing and seeing and knowing that we will not be believed. But we need each other. We need to speak our truths, and hear and believe others as they speak their own truths.

We are brave, and we are strong, and we have a right to be heard. Please, let’s keep reminding each other of that. And maybe someday, women truly will be heard and believed.





La, LA la la, wait ’till I get my money right

First of all, I should say that it would seem that Yeezy still doesn’t quite have his money right, so is there really any hope for me?

I am so, so glad to be back in NY. I am also so, so broke. But this is nothing new…not at all.

I am 47 years old, and I have never had a salary of more than $50,000 at any job. I’m currently at $10,000 less than that, and still reeling from my year of unemployment followed by underemployment followed by a 10% rent increase. In a few years, with scheduled pay increases, I will finally be doing…sort of okay. In a few months, I will be able to start my seasonal job, and in theory I will be able to pay down some debts and begin to dig myself out of this hole.

Today, however, I’m so limited by living one paycheck away from financial disaster. And there are so many seemingly “simple” things that I want to do that I’m just not able to because of my financial situation. I am afraid that friends and family members who have extended invitations to visit think I am blowing them off, when really the $100 or so that a rental car would cost is beyond my reach. One of my dearest friends is now only eight hours away from me by car, instead of twenty, and yet I’ve only seen her once or twice in the year and a half that I’ve been back in NY.

Worst of all, I am facing the very real possibility that I might not make it to Grand Rapids for Elijah’s birthday in September.

I’ve never missed his birthday. When I left Grand Rapids, I promised Mona I would always, always come back for his birthday weekend. I have some possible overtime coming up at work, so I may be able to swing it, but I am also (at least in theory) weighing my options in terms of paying my rent late so that I can be there for his birthday. Since my single biggest fear is being homeless and having gross feet, this should give you an idea of how much this matters to me.

Then there’s another one of my best friends who has a milestone birthday coming up in October. I would really like to be there for this as well, but the possibility seems just as bleak.

(I have written about this before. I get so sick of rehashing it, and yet I feel like I should be doing something to change things. But is it really a moral failing? I just don’t know. I also think that in a financial sense, being single brings its own challenges, but that’s another topic altogether…)

I’m determined to do what I can to climb out of this pit, even as I dream of some kind of windfall that could wipe the slate clean, free me from debt, and allow me to spend as much time as possible with the people I love. I pray for money from some random source, and instead God gives me a second job, overtime, opportunities to work and continue to earn money.

I still wish it were easier. I still wish I made more money, that I could feel like I was getting ahead, that I could visit the people I love whenever I wanted to.

Choosing to live in NYC means that I am choosing to continue in this struggle. It also means, however, that I finally have the potential to make more money in the future.

Maybe I’ll get myself together after all…in the meantime, all I can do is hope that the people I love can forgive me for not being able to be with them at crucial (and maybe even the not-so-crucial) moments.

I want things to be different. I won’t stop praying for a ridiculous miracle, but I also know that I need to do my part. I don’t want to miss another birthday of Elijah’s…I want to be able to go visit Donovan for his birthday, and to someday bring both of the boys to New York for a reunion. I know that the past can’t be recaptured, but I would love to see them renew the bond that they had when they were small.

I have to find a way. I have to get myself together. Maybe it will happen before I turn fifty…but we will have to wait and see.

La, la, la, la 
Wait till I get my money right
La, la, la, la 
Then you can’t tell me nothing, right?

– Kanye West, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing


Exposure therapy

(I’m not in the mood to do much editing of this, so I apologize for the randomness and any grammatical offenses I may have committed.)

When I returned to NY at the end of February, my temporary corporate housing was on John Street, right near the Seaport. The relocation company had asked me what area I wanted to be in, and I remember telling them “I don’t want to be west of Broadway”. You see, I still hadn’t come to terms with that place, and I wasn’t ready to be around whatever it had grown to be.

I never walked over that way while I was living there, even though my office was located just a few blocks away.

A few months into my time here, when I had to walk to that side of town to get on the PATH train, I found myself not quite ready to be there. The new “F you” tower, as I like to call it, our ostentatious response to the world, is now complete and serves as a centering point, but not the one I remember. I am still disoriented when I go there. Nothing is where it was before I left, and I am unsettled by the things that are familiar, yet not.

In behavioral psychology there is a concept of dealing with phobias called “exposure therapy” (maybe that’s what it’s called; maybe that’s not exactly right…did I mention that I am not in the mood to do a good job with this post?). Basically, the idea is to give exposure to the thing that the person fears on a gradual basis. So someone who is afraid of dogs might look at a picture of a dog, then a video, then be in the same room as a dog, then come closer to the dog, etc until they can be in the immediate presence of a dog without having a panic attack.

On the day I walked to the PATH train, it struck me that I have had 15 years of not having to go near this place. I think I may have gone once, in the spring of 2002 when visiting with friends (we were staying at a hotel near the World Financial Center), but although I’ve visited NY multiple times since, I never had any desire to go near that mess. It was hard for me to even go into Century 21 to shop…again, disoriented. This tower does not stand where those towers did. Everything is a little bit off, and all I feel when I am there is an unsettled kind of anxiety.

Do I need exposure therapy? Will I ever go visit the memorial itself, search for the few names that I recognize, let myself be in that place? I don’t know. I thought for a minute that today would have been a good day to go, only because the risk of stupid and trite tourists might be slightly lower than usual…but at the same time, it’s not my place to be there today, on someone else’s sacred burial ground.

My writing here doesn’t make sense, and yet I am going to let it stand…because none of it makes sense, and I still haven’t come to terms with it, and although I am beyond overjoyed to be back in this city that I love, there is a piece of its history (and the aftermath) that I was not a part of, and need to figure out my place in relation to that narrative.

I haven’t had time to be desensitized to the military presence in Grand Central Station, or to the random bag check stations as I enter the subway. I don’t know the stories of each of the people I pass as I go about my day, or what their experience of that day has been. What I do know is that they do have stories…so many stories.

Living in Grand Rapids, I was not unaware of the subsequent untimely deaths of many first responders. It was only a few years ago that a friend had to bury her husband due to asbestos-related cancer that the doctors finally admitted was related to the air he breathed that day (You can read his story here, although please be aware that it is quite graphic and could be triggering).

But I am here now, and need to find my way through the rubble of a history that I was and was not a part of, and still am and am not a part of. The “F you” tower stands, and, good capitalists that we are, a pretentious high-end shopping center, shiny and clean and new, is emerging.

Maybe by next year, I will have made some sense of it all. Or maybe not. I guess the thing about “the new normal” is that it really isn’t normal at all, and never can be.



Bad theology

“You’re not where you need to be.”

I have heard this phrase far too many times in the past two months. The words are being spoken in a work setting, so clearly theology has absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand. So why the weird title to this post?

(Besides the obvious, which is that I’m weird in general…but I digress…)

I should also say that I feel like I probably should not even be talking about the situation publicly, not even in veiled terms. But I also suspect that by now, there is almost nothing I can do to affect the ultimate outcome here. Although I’ve far from given up (in fact, I have been working really hard on trying to give myself credit for how well I have been persevering in the situation), everything I see and read and hear tells me that it’s highly unlikely that I will be able to come back from this. Which is a shame, because in spite of the situation, I really, REALLY love the actual work. And it’s certainly no secret that I gladly drank that blue Kool-Aid long ago.

So about that phrase.

It’s being used in a diagnostic sense, a warning, so to speak, that I am not okay and that I need to fix what is broken, and quickly. On a surface level, I fundamentally disagree with this as well, but my opinion about where I “should” be in terms of mastery of my role does not match theirs…and mine is not the opinion that matters in this situation.

But here’s the thing. Setting aside the actual situation, I also reject the message in a much broader sense. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that I am exactly where I need to be.

I prayed for years that I would be able to come home. This move happened…but it didn’t just “happen” – I pursued it repeatedly. I am certain with every fiber in my being that God brought me here.

I. am. where. I. need. to. be.

To say otherwise…well, that’s just bad theology.

Whether some people believe that I am “where I need to be” in a tangible or a professional sense, and no matter how uncertain and potentially frightening the immediate future may be, I am here. I’m not going anywhere.

I’m where I need to be. I’m in God’s hands. And after all is said and done, that’s the one thing that really matters.