UPDATE TO Mrs. Flinger October 16, 2015
Because the Universe has a wicked sense of humor, after this delcaration, my blog threw up all over my last upgrade.
So I'm starting over using Craft. Turning 40 and kid entering Jr High next year, sometimes it's just time for a change. These archives will still exist in the way the last child goes off to college and their room is the same for 20 years, but it's just time to move forward.
Stage 2: Inspiration Aug 16, 2009
Through the year and a half I was in Texas, a dynamic shift occurred in both my physical self, my group of friends, and my relationship with God. I began the year teaching preschool at a non-denominational church with every intention to get a master’s degree in Elementary Education. The experiences I had that year led to my rebellion. “Rebellion” that is.
As I processed the difference between my home in Bellingham, the mountains and parks, and my new home in Houston, I wrote an entry on April 30, 1999:
“It’s cold enough to cause my arms to have chills. In fact, it’s about the same temperature as Whistler on an August night. I expect to look up from the picnic table to see Bobby boyfully playing with a stick or building the fire by our tent in the woods. The sun is setting but this night it does not fall behind the mountains casting a long shadow on the river. No, this night the sun, much larger than back home although most likely from distortion of mind than of atmosphere, is setting behind oak trees and houses and power lines.”
The church, the people, the path I was on began to choke the desire out of me. I attended bibile studies and spent days volunteering at psych wards and elderly homes. This experience, if done with the right heart, could be invaluable. I stretched my comfort level to help people with needs much different than my own.
But oh, I was so proud of myself for that. I fell in step with the judging, the “doing good works” and pitying others. Feigning imperfection, we’d be self righteous. Claiming to be “for the good of others” we’d thank God for our own authority. I was conflicted, at best, torn between being genuine and fitting in.
I continued to lament about leaving Bellingham.
“I’m sitting on this plain
beneath the only tree
across from a man made lake
There’s nothing to stop the wind
it’s a strong breeze
But the leaves above me don’t shake
The sun is warm enough
to think it’s mid June
In my other home across the way
I can almost smell the salt
wish I hadn’t left so soon
My home beside the bay”
It was a day, and a conversation, nearly a year later, on an airplane heading back to my misty mountains and my Bobby, that I finally cleared the muddled expectations. A lovely man looked right through my story. “We’re best friends,” I explained, “I can’t marry him because the church, and my friends, tell me we have to be equally yoked.” I hadn’t even told him the part where we spoke to each other every day via phone the entire time I was gone when he looked right at me, and said, “Bullshit. You love him.”
Well, yes, but…
“Move back, be with your love. Do not let time or people or space keep you from someone you love. Life is too short to play that game.”
So when we stepped off the plane in Portland, OR, where Bobby flung me up on himself in a huge bear hug, I looked over his shoulder and saw my plane-mate smiling with a knowing grin, a wink, before he walked away.
And he was right.
The six months that followed involved plans to move back. I stopped going to the church having been ostracized for wanting a man who had no faith. I began hanging out with pot smoking sky divers. I tried to convince Bob that he loved me but we were on a rocky path of “best friend vs lovers” not wanting to ruin the friendship we’d built for 13 years together with “emotion” and “love” and “expectations.” So I planned to move back, myself, because it was what I wanted. I was, for the first time, going to do the thing that *I* wanted. Not my parents, not my church, not my friends, not the bible.
I was also realizing my future was in programming and technology. I planned to get a masters degree in Information Technology after teaching at the community college in Galveston and falling in love with the students, the freedom, the academia. And so I pursued a job in Portland doing tech support at a School District.
And I got it.
I was moving home to the North West simply because I wanted to. This made me drunk with Power. It was the first time I’d been in touch with what I wanted enough to pursue it, follow through, and make it happen.
It was the start to the rest of my life, in many many ways.
During a visit to finalize some move details, I pulled in to Barns and Noble and randomly grabbed the book, “Beyond the Sky and the Earth” by Jamie Zeppa. I read the entire book in a weekend. That book, along with “Walden: Life in the Woods” by Thoreau, became my bibles. I studied, made notes, wrote passages. I memorized the messages: freedom, seeking, nature.
“It wasn’t that my life seemed unreal to me, it just seemed very ... small” -page 4 Beyond the Sky and The Earth
“.. I could walk down to safer ground, or I could throw myself over that edge, into what, what is out there, what is it that I am so afraid of beyond this last safe step where I am now standing? It is only my own life, I realize, that I am afraid of, and at each high point I am given the chance to throw myself over and back into it.” - page 276 Beyond the Sky and The Earth
“When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence- that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of reality. Out life is frittered away by detail.” - chapter 2 Walden
These principals became my daily inspiration and I sought to simplify, become who it was I was always seeking on the inside. I rejoiced in going home. Home! I would no longer be sweating in February. I would have my mountains and mist. It was one year and 4 months later from the day I arrived in Houston that I drove all my necessary belonging across the Texas State Border back in a quest for a new life in an old familiar place.
And I was on my way home.
(To be continued)
Thirty Days is a really really really long time Aug 15, 2009
It’s hard enough to hit a goal of “doing pilates/yoga for thirty days” without other stuff getting in the way. It’s hard enough to tell yourself that on this lunch break you will spend the first 45 minutes of that hour in downward dog watching your arms shake while you hold your tummy in tight and will yourself to be stronger, leaner, meaner. It’s hard enough to choose to twist your body and flex your ab muscles (wait, ARE those ab muscles?) instead of grabbing a coffee and working.
So when my ovaries grew to the size of a small state and began to ache, I mean, explode, I knew my plans were for not. Of course, I figured it was because I was dying from some strange ovarian virus. Something like, “THE OVARIAN FLU OF DEATH!” So I figured why exercise when I’m about to have my life ended prematurely and damn there’s that deadline I have so I better get that wrapped up before this ovary takes over my brain and I become nothing but a coat rack.
I went to the doctor on Thursday. I told her all about my Giant Ovary Of Doom! and she let me know it’s not that uncommon, although a bit shitty, and I have a cyst that is rupturing and will re-absorb in to my body within a week or two. And, she says, in the mean time, TAKE IT EASY.
I look at her perpexed. “Take it easy? You mean, I can do YOGA but, like, not vacuum and stuff, right?”
“You mean I can do Pilates and walk but get my husband to do the dishes and put the kids to bed, right?”
“This is really going to mess with my blog, you see. I have this Thirty Day Challenge going and I’m going to have a lot (or 3) people upset with me if I don’t complete it.”
“That’s nice.” And that was that.
What she said was take it easy and what I heard was “EAT ALL THE CHOCOLATE YOU CAN FOR A WEEK! WEAR SWEATS! CHIPS ARE GOOD!”
(For the record, she also suggested I go on the pill for an indefinate amount of time to keep my ovaries from exploding again. But what I heard was that “Man, your husband is gonna be so glad he never did get that snipped because OHBOY he’d be pissed if he knew you needed to be on the pill. Oh funny, that fate, hahahaha. Then she pointed at me and laughed for ten minutes. In my head.)
Because I’m an over-achiever, I can’t possibly just sit around not doing anything waiting for menstration to even out my hormones and my body to suck up the gunk known as Ovarian Crap.
So I’m starting over. What’s that? Yes, I know. It’s Right Smack Dab at the midpoint and ohhoho I’m all mixin’ up the rules and such. It’s what I do.
So I’m starting thirty days of sobriety. Alcohol. None of it. Zero. Why? Well, why not? It was my next thirty day challenge I wanted to make and this timing seems right. So, here I go.
Thirty days of alcohol free evenings.
Wish me luck. A lot of it, actually. ‘Cause I thought Pilates was hard.< love some wine >kids< /drive me crazy >
(Speaking of, how is it going for you? You still hanging in there? Day 15. Or 1. Either way, check in!)
The Brand of Me Aug 13, 2009
It’s been coming to this for a long time, this merging of me vs me. I’ve pretended to be different: Professional Me and Personal Me. But honestly? I am only one person, not two threaded halves.
I am a multitude of rolls, but I am just me. I am as transparent and as open as anyone can be, equally giving way to hurt and laughter and insecurities and strength. I’m open to accepting new ideas, I love my family and my work and I give people the benefit of the doubt to an almost gullible level.
I am what I am and that’s all that I am. (Picture me giving you the pop-eye here. Or, in my case a “Pirate Eye.”)
It sounds old and cliche, but it’s taken me six years of Internet Identity to figure out that I’m the same person online and offline. I’ve grown up in this space here, this dynamic known as “The Interwebz” and I’ve come to realize I was the same all along.
At first I tried to keep my job separated from my blog. There was this nonsense of an idea that I had “branded” myself as a “personal blogger - essay writer” and couldn’t taint that with talk of code. My readers roll their eyes and spew things in tongues when I speak code.
But then? Something amazing happened.
You liked it.
You liked me for it.
You liked me in spite of it.
And I loved you all the more for letting that part of me in.
So I share my nerdiness with you and we laugh because “HAHA I HAVE NO CLUE WHHAT YOU ARE SAYING” and I go “HAHA I KNOW” and we all share a beer and talk about eyebrows and chin hair.
And it’s good, this space here. But there is no difference between this space and any other space where I exist, I am simply me. Professional, Personal, One-in-the-same.
Like two mismatched sock that put together make the perfect outfit.
Many people have encouraged this in me. This “merging” of identities. Where Mrs. Flinger and Leslie come together. They know me as both, professional and personal, that I work hard and I laugh often. They have quiet talks with me about business goals and children. They share professional aspirations and personal decisions. And more often then not, clients become friends.
Business? It’s not just business. It’s entirely personal. My business has always been a personal one. It’s my love, my art, my thought process and the people I meet in my job are very much people, not a bottom line. Why I would think differently of myself in that role is something I can’t explain.
So I’d like to say hello to my clients, to my co-workers, to future jobs. To people who are just meeting me, the girl who thinks code is “sexy” in a funny, shy kind of a way. The girl who’s last name is not Flinger. It’s Doherty.
It’s nice to meet you.
Welcome to me. The complete. Me.
Hidden (or not so much) messages of Motherhood Aug 10, 2009
Ellis Aug 09, 2009
I have a sound clip from 1997 that features my college roommates and I interviewing each other on “what we wanted to be doing in five years.” I’ve stumbled across that clip a few times since graduation, always giggling to myself and wondering if any of the other girls thought about those goals.
“I’ll probably be teaching” G stated, matter of fact.
“I’ll be hiking or something,” Nicole mused. (She was.)
“I’ll be servicing humans,” (insert fits of laughter here for our Human Service Major friend wasn’t kidding) Paige giggled.
“I’ll be… um…” I offered. And this is how my young adult life started.
We’ve since gone on to graduate school, re-educated ourselves in new areas, got professional jobs (and became a river guide), had children, and grown up. We are as different as we were back then but also just the same.
Time is a funny thing. We’re no longer the wistful young twenty-somethings fresh out of undergraduate school hoping to find love, a career, a life. We’re older, wiser, more mature (in some areas) and we no longer wistfully dream as we did twelve years ago.
Oh, but we do.
We may not pass notes to each other with poetic quotes from Thoreau or Emmerson, and we may not write in our journals at the coffee house for hours each night, and we may not even see each other but once every few months at best, but we are not so different when we are together. We are still the same stories, the same memories, a shared path. We remember things about one another that few people may even know about. We can discuss with a light heart a time in our lives that is precious and delicate. And we can watch as our children play and dance together in a new life, twelve years later, in the yard of the house I never dreamed of owning.
We are in new lives but we are still the Ellis girls. Each of us with a personality so different. I would hope this for my children, the chance to connect at such a young age with friends that remain for life; however much time may wash away and erode our minds and fill our days.
“I have learned this at least by my experiment: if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” -Thoreau
In the quest of the perfect eyebrow Aug 08, 2009
I only started plucking my eyebrows in my late twenties. As in VERY late twenties. As in, I was already a mom and labeled thus, “mother plucker” my Mr. Flinger.
When it comes to beauty, I’m at a loss. Makeup? Learning how to apply that still. Hair? Well. I can blow dry! But as my friend Michelle stated in exasperation, “You don’t even have the RIGHT kind of flat iron.” I didn’t realize they went out of style. And apparently, I have an old style, the big one? With the FLAT IRON?
:: shrugs ::
Since 2004 when I started the quest for the perfect eyebrow I have done a lot of research. I’ve polled readers. I’ve goggled “how to pluck your eyebrows you stupid later bloomer.” I’ve even started a PhD in Plucking hairs (for) Dumbasses. But still, my eyebrows, they lament over their current state.
It’s becoming an illness. It’s the Eye Brow of Holy Grails. It’s the Punch to my Pickle. The Prize to my Package. The Treasure to my Chest.
So I’m asking you, please, PLEASE, help me: Do you wax? Shape? Pluck? Stick your face in to a frying pan and char? I’m so utterly unsure of shape and texture. Of pencils and brushes. Of over plucking and under arching. It’s anxiety inducing.
Almost as much as a bikini wax.
Words We Aren’t Allowed to Say Aug 05, 2009
Words. They can be powerful. They can be meaningless. They can send chills down your spine. They can go in one ear and out the other.
Or is that just me getting all giddy to use a word like “PERPLEXING.”
So why is it that we have all these “RULES” about words? They’re just… words. Meaningless until someone attaches a feeling around it.
We’ve called my daughter, “Stinker” her whole life. We’ve called her “Pooper” “Pooper scooper” (honestly, I have no idea why, but it’s a term of endearment, I swear) and “Stinker Butt.” We rarely call each other our real names in this house at all, actually. “Man Baby!” “Buddy” “Babe” “Little Man” “Yo I want some more milk.”
So it was a bit of a shock yesterday when our daughter informs us that we’re no longer allowed to call her “Stinker” in school. “We’re not allowed to say Stinker” she scolded us. “That’s a bathroom word. You use it in the bathroom.”
I taught four year olds for a few years back before I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I learned that words get tossed around as a way to “test” their power. If you give the word power, the kids will run with it. My husband and I always said cussing is just that.. cussing. Meh. I do it all the time. But there is a time and a place and that’s what we want our children to understand. At the playground? Not the time or place. When you smash your finger with the car? Let out a huge fbomb if you want. We won’t judge. It’s a word.
I often say back to my children, “Hun, we’re not going to say shit at the playground, ok?” Because it shows I’m not afraid of the word “SHIT”. She knows it’s a word and that word we don’t say here. In fact, I remind her, let’s just say “OH MAN” like Swiper the Fox? Ok? Because you’re four.
So far so good.
This is the “Take my picture, Mommy! I wanna look fourteen!” look. She’s perfected it, yes?
We’ve decided that teaching our children to handle various people will do them more good in the long run than sheltering them from said variations. In theory, this will work out lovely. We’ve yet to come to cross roads with that theory but I’ll be sure to fill you in on that day.
So the day my daughter comes home to tell us she can’t stay “STINKER?” The word we’ve used as a love pat to our baby girl since her first fart 3 days old? Well, it’s a little heart wrenching. It’s like we’ve been doing something wrong these past four years unknowingly breaking some rule of parenting by calling our child little shit to her face.
But also? What the hell.
And I didn’t even close the bathroom door to say that.
Stinker in all her glory.
*Stealing the idea from The Bloggess: Best Comment Of The Post
Kid: Mommy, what dat called? (pointing to her little girl parts)
Me: That’s your vagina.
Kid: (looks at me confused, puts her finger to her chin) MOMMY, MULAN IS FROM FUH-CHINA!
Me: (cue me, laughing my ass off) Yes, darling, we’re all from there at one time or another.
My snatch got stuck Aug 03, 2009
So I was talking to some good friends and one mentioned, “You know what I miss? Sneezing without having to tense up my cooter before hand.” And I joined in, “Oh, I KNOW!” But! BUT (There is always a but in there somewhere) “YOU didn’t even have to blow out your snatch.”
I reply, “I know, dude. I know. My snatch got stuck.”
We all have these wonderful visions of labor and delivery when we’re huge pregnant for the first time because it’s LOVELY! And NATURAL! and HOLY MOTHER JUST GET THE BABY OUTTA MY UTERUS. So we think of the wonderfulness of pushing, just like in the movies, a brand new four month old baby outta our snatch.
And then reality.
I labored for nearly 24 hours with my first. Her head got so jammed in to my pelvis, she was experiencing decelerations and shaping her lovely little head in to a point so she could star in the movie “The Cone Heads” when it comes back in to fashion in another 15 years. She’s a planner like that.
So they decided (they being ME and oh, yes, the doctors and nurses) that we needed to get THE BABY OUT as in RIGHT NOW and it was time to operate because my snatch? My snatch got stuck.
So my first C-section occurred allowing myself to keep my snatch in tact while ripping out my ab muscles and four major organs.
The next child was a no-brainer, “We’re ripping that suckah out via your belly. Let’s not even TRY that crap about birthing ok?” I had to agree. That whole experience pretty much sucked and I wasn’t about to try that again.
And thus another baby was delivered via a small slit in my imperfect abdominal muscles along with my liver and a few other organs they shoved back (mostly) in place (so they tell me).
But my snatch, it sure is lovely.
If I had to do it over I’d still want the chance to push a kid outta my cooter. My abs, and that little thin scar hanging out just about the pubic hair that is OH SO SEXY, will never be the same. But I get it. I can appreciate the “grass is greener” feeling. Because while your snatch might be all stretched out and sex is like throwing a hotdog down a hallway, lemme tell you what, you don’t have people asking to see your c-section scar or offering to teach you pilates because your ab muscles still have a six inch gap from that time you shared your organs with five doctors and three nurses.
And the kicker? I still pee when I sneeze.
Community Aug 02, 2009
I watch the clock. 12:24. 12:25. ...
My daughter rambles on in the back-seat about her hair and her dress. “AnnaBella is going to LOVE my dress, Mommy!”
She has no idea what a failure I am.
She chats on and on about her invisible mice and her dress and her school friends and whose birthday it was today and whose birthday is next. I can barely hear her beneath my own self talk, “Great Big Parenting Fail. Can’t get child to a single thing on time, let alone a birthday party within two hours of the start. Well done, loser.”
I grab my iPhone, shaking the GPS one more time. I know where I’m going. I thought I did, at least. But the streets aren’t looking familiar.
We arrive, at last, as the sound of “Happy Birthday” pours out the open kitchen window. We knock and I realize we’ve missed most of the party, but not the cake and presents. I comfort myself that this is the best part and maybe my daughter won’t notice.
She hides behind me as everyone ooooos and ahhhs over her princess dress: The one she chose because AnnaBelle, her friend, would love it.
I coax my daughter in to taking a piece of cake. AnnaBella shrieks at first site of my princess daughter. She howls, “You look SO PRETTY!” My daughter takes the cake and sits without the children, next to me, at an empty table.
Her friend climbs in to the empty seat next to her and says, very loudly, “THIS IS MY FRIEND!” She whispers to my daughter and soon the two are playing. The shy is over. My daughter is welcomed.
I barely pay attention to this as it happens nearly every new place we attend. There is The Shy. The Hovering. The Hiding. And then there is a kind stranger, or a new friend, or an old friend, who declares my daughter fun and she is off to enjoy the companionship of another four year old little girl.
I rarely reflect on this phenomenon. Until today. AnnaBella’s grandmother sits down next to me with a paper napkin in her hand and years of experience etched one her face. She dabs her wet eyes and says, “They understand each other and they take care of each other. The children, they can sense these things.” She tells me she had to step inside to have a silent cry as the thought of the children taking care of their own was too beautiful to miss. She tells me this is how things should be, people, caring for each other.
I nod in agreement and she tells me more of her life, the hardships, the differences between now and then. I have no words. I can’t compare my life. I am too fortunate.
I try, as often as possible, to be that person who takes a note of the lonely one. The past week at BlogHer, I introduced myself to dozens of people, most of whom never heard of me or I, them. But I enjoyed meeting them and taking care of them, even if for minutes out of the conference. I watch my dearest friends care for each other. I sit as Victoria does my makeup and Dawn shops for bras online for me. We watch out for our friends, for the people we love, for our children and our husbands. I see my friends at home rise up to care during times of crisis, of cancer, of new babies, of family illness. We are there for each other in ways only women can fully be. Emotionally. Compassionately.
I think of this as I’m leaving the party realizing how easy it is to care for others. Finally, it hits me as my daughter rambles on about her “party swag” (stickers! candy! PENS!) It is so easy to care for others, why is it not as easy to care for ourselves?
I would never tell a friend she is a failure as a parent so why would I utter such harshness in my own thoughts?
I don’t know. Thankfully my mind forgets the negativity as I listen to the talk of my four year old daughter. And the car approaches home.
The Tale of Costco (aka: Why you are thankful you don’t live by us) Jul 31, 2009
I hate Costco. I hate Costco the way alcoholics hate bars. The way recovering smokers hate Neil Diamond concerts.
My children, they amplify the situation.
We call Costco the $100 store. It’s the place you walk in needing two things and walk out with a tab well over $100. “We need diapers and toothpaste.” I mark it off the list. An hour and seventeen items later, the cashier says, “$234 dollars please.” Every. Single. Time.
My children begin to foam at the mouth about a mile before the turn in. “Are we going to COSTCO?!” my four year old yells. “Yes!” I reply. My two year old says, “SAMPLE? SAMPLE?” And then the foaming, it gets worse until the time we actually walk in to the store and I’m carting around two rabid dogs who refuse a leash. They seek out the sweet little sample ladies like drug dogs on a bust. They can smell frozen ravioli from seven isles over.
I’d be proud if this was a marketable skill.
Usually at some point during the whole charade known as “shopping”, the children begin to melt down. The samples have been licked clean, the isles of canned goods stretch out in a foreboding hike and the massive amounts of bread selection tower like mountains.
They totally. Loose. Their. Minds.
At this point I turn to some lovely couple in the bread isle. They are discussing the merits of Whole Grain vs Whole Wheat. I lean in and whisper, “We’re walking birth control, I swear.”
They don’t laugh.
And so it continues. We smack in to isles of people quietly hoping to get their dinner and perhaps a vat of mayonnaise before heading home. We echo through the store as my two, yes, I only have two, children whine and fight and I think, perhaps, start speaking in tongues.
We finally hit the checkout.
“Hi, thank you, that will be $234” as I slide my card. I look over to the spawn of my loins, the physical love of my husband and me, about the time they begin pulling the “Childrens’ Hospital Donations” sign off the wall. The checker is disapproving. The people behind me wonder what kind of mother I am.
I look at my cart filled with diapers, bread, milk and cheese. I see the huge boxes of graham crackers and cheerios. I wonder, not quietly, why Costco doesn’t sell massive quantities of condoms among the vats of oil and 4lb bag of chips.
Then I remember, they have us. Who needs birth control when you can shop with the Flingers?
This image brought to you by the reason I only code.