22/03/2017

Teethless in Seattle Stories

Permalink

(See what I did there? I mean, technically I *am* ‘teethless’ since I’m missing 1,2 and now 9, but this post is only about one tooth, number 9 specifically. The pun only fits with the plural, though, so I had to improvise. God what I’ll do for a pun.)

A few months ago I fell and bonked my front left tooth and it hurt. That’s the most boring blog post (or tweet for that matter) I could possibly think of. It was such a non-thing that I didn’t even think to care about it when it happened. I cared, in that I couldn’t eat with that tooth for a  while because it hurt a bit, but other than that, one gets pretty used to things and moves forward with life in general. 

That tooth was never the same again. It always sat in the wrong space and because it moved (without sending me a new address), I’d bump in to it from time to time. “Oh! Shoot! I forgot you’re here now!” I’d apologize every time. It was almost always a glass that I mis-calculated as I went to drink and would bonk the new-position of that tooth. It would send me a zinger of a reminder that it’s moved and for godsake, get a plastic water bottle, not these fancy glass ones.

This correspondence went on for some time until one day the tooth got pissed. I’d hit it one too many times and it grew a little white nodule on the gum as a warning sign. And then, because warning signs aren’t really my forte, it cracked completely in half, just above the gum, when I bit in to a sandwich.

Now I was listening.

13/02/2017

I hit shuffle on the mom lecture playlist and got schooled as a result Parenting

Permalink

This weekend was not unique, except it was. I think this is how most of life's daily reflections should start. "Today was normal, except it was exceptional." At least that is my goal for life; an exceptionally normal, wonderful life. 

So this weekend was a completely normal, usual, nothing of a weekend. The boy child had a soccer game. I had some work to do. The girl child had some homework to catch up on. And the dog was an annoying asshole. You know, the usual. So after arriving early for the soccer game, I told the Girl that we were going to walk to the coffee shop around the corner. "I found this place on google. It says there are snacks and caffeine. We should walk there." 

"Why don't we just drive?" replied the 12 year old skinny girl who under-appreciates a good outdoor experience until she's forced in to it.

"Because I was just in Spain for two weeks and homegirls don't drive in Spain; they walk." I call this parenting, y'all. I should probably attend some classes.

We walked along the dangerous, non pedestrian friendly roads to the "coffee shop", which turned out to be a drive through coffee stand at a gas station. I am not in Spain, I am reminded loudly by the cars and the cars and the bigger, more loud cars. We use the toilets, labeled "Restrooms" just to confuse the matter, and purchase a few "fresh" snacks that sit along shelves of car oil and greeting cards. 

02/02/2017

Childhood is Global Travel

Permalink

The bus trip to Alicante is brief but the visual treats are plentiful. There is the first circle of restaurants and cafes just around the corner of our stop. There is the square with the giant palm tree and workout equipment with the elder gentleman in jeans, sweater, and a cap, doing a slow peddle on the stationary bike. There are the children running along the sidewalk teasing each other and the parents pushing toddlers glowing as they grip a new toy from the market. An older brother holds his sister by the shoulder and gives her a casual kick in the butt from behind and she lunges at his arm before they settle back in their walking rhythm next to each other with ease and familiarity. 

It’s just over a mile between stops but we pass dozens of tiny communities. The older generation wanders arm in arm with their partner or adult children, holding a cane in one hand and gripping the support of their loved one in the other. The lady with the bulky coat and shopping trolly shuffles to get off the bus and the gentleman standing near the exit moves out of the way and helps her quietly, without her seeing, positioning the trolly so she can pull it off the ramp. 

We exit the bus and walk the few minutes to our destination. There is a man washing the windows two stories up who hears loud chatting of a family and looks to nod at them. The adults of the family speak in fast staccato while two young children run ahead and hide behind the statues of mushrooms and Alice In Wonderland themed street decorations. The older sibling watches out for the younger one, wrapping her arm around the toddler and guiding her to the slide. The toddler can almost make the latter’s steps but the mother calls out a warning and she climbs down the two rungs and takes off to the next mushroom behind her sister. They are laughing and calling out to each other in their own language; not Spanish, not English, but Childhood.

I recall when my young son asked if there were kids in Germany on a trip I was taking there years ago. These young children, not yet jaded to the politics of the world or the reality of some who abuse power, enjoy a world the adults can’t see. Time is not linear to them, it slows and quickens depending on context. Fun is simple and friendships are plentiful. The world is new and large and small, everything existing at once and not at all. 

There are many new and different things here in Spain for me, but the most prevailing thought I have is how familiar everything is. This is my first trip to Alicante, but there is already a comfort to the predictability of life. The ladies at the market who check out my purchases are the same as the people at my local grocery store. The old man on the corner reading the paper could be the same regular I see at Starbucks in my neighborhood, always sitting outside, regardless of the weather, reading the day’s news in print. The styles of clothing are slightly different, but not really. The food is a higher quality but still resembles something I’d make at home: eggs, bacon, sliced cucumbers and avocado. The music vacillates between Spanish top hits and American top hits, and I hum a song my children introduced me to just a few weeks ago. 

23/01/2017

Feeling Lucky Craft Pagination Front-end-developer

Permalink

I've implemented a google-like "Feeling lucky!" on this blog's pagination. At current date, there are 21 total pages of entries. It's a toss of the dice whether or not any of them are actually worth reading, so I thought to make the gamble easier, I'd provide a random number to automatically populate the url for you. Here's the code:

{% set randomPage = random(pageInfo.totalPages) %}
<a href="pageInfo.getPageUrl( randomPage )">Feeling Lucky! Take me to a Random Page</a>
01/11/2015

Traveling Mercy: a letter from time, if time travels by airplane Travel

Permalink

I opened an old favorite book this evening. I ruffled through the pages with the well worn, and thus loved, tags and underlined passages. I flipped to the end and saw a note I’d written on my solo flight back from my first over-seas trip September, 2001.

I smile as I read the scribbled letters. I remember this flight very well. It was four days after the terror attacks of Nine Eleven. I flew from Heathrow to Seattle alone in the very back of the plane, scared, deathly afraid of everyone, just wanting to be home with my new fiancé.

How many miles have I flown since? How many trips have I taken to those same countries?

I read the page like an older soul, like I’m reading a letter from a previous version of myself.

I’m tired and worn. Sick of people leaning into my space. I’m on the back row of the plane and the line for the bathroom allows for bottoms, boobs, coats, and purses to bump me, hit me, pinch me. I’m too tired and weary to retaliate but I wish I could.
We are starting to land. I’m starting to pray again.
I admit to total paranoia. I suspect anyone. But as I look out the small, 10 inch window onto the gray/brown rolling mountains and the clouds that lay like glaciers, I know we’ll make it. At least I have to trust we will.  We are above the clouds. Aside from sparse tree-topped mountains, there is nothing to see but an ocean of clouds. This is my favorite part of flying:
  Being done.


I wonder what I will say and think when I read this page in fifteen years. With any luck, I will smile knowing how little I knew back then and forgive my previous self for her shortcomings and dramatic mannerisms and whisper a small prayer in the space of breath that transcends time to say everything will be ok.

07/12/2014

The Universe is One Persistent Mofo Balance

Permalink

Over a year ago, I started talking to someone about ADHD. I joined a group of other women and we talked about what it was like living with distraction, children, jobs, husbands, and the constant 32 TV monitors playing different channels in our heads.

One of the themes that started cropping up was the idea of mindfulness. Mindfulness, or the awareness of your thoughts and living in the present tense, has been shown to decrease ADHD symptoms. Meditation, it’s practical companion, has been shown to help cancer and diabetes, fix marriages, and save the planet from impending astroids.*

The last one is a theory but I’m sure someone is researching that right now. Maybe.

It’s been a year and a half now that the theme mindfulness has been cropping up. At first it was my women’s group, then it appeared in books I was reading. (Granted, with titles like Mindfulness and the Brain and You Are Not Your Brain, I knew what I was getting in to) but lately it’s picked up the pace of obviousness and is a bit more “in your face” if the Universe is like that, which it is.

Sometimes when you don’t stop to listen, The Universe will start yelling.

09/10/2014

In which I write loud letters from the bathroom Parenting

Permalink

I can’t tell you how many times I hear the Lost in Translation quote in my head. It doesn’t sound like the movie, it sounds like a dear friend of mine from my First Real Job at Portland Public Schools; “But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk… and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life.”

Jenna told me this when her own baby was only a few years old. I remember so vividly because I hadn’t had children yet, but the idea stuck with a tar-like dignity that warms in the sun on certain occasions.

Tonight was such an occasion.

The nine year old girl had asked for some time to take a bath; a legitimate luxury given the schedule most days. Tonight was a fine night to do so, so we answered with a “Of course!” like any parent who can finally grant their child’s ridiculously small wishes.

About thirty minutes later I sing-sang up to her that it is time to get out and hello, was it me she was looking for?

12/09/2014

A goodbye card to my Aunt Marcella Parenting

Permalink

Why do people die in December? Why does everyone decide to leave earth in December? Because the Christians are singing about a birth? Because families are together and can support each other? Because it’s cold?

My Aunt Marcella decided it was time to leave this earth today. You know my Aunt Marci. I wrote about her.

My mom texted me this morning with the news as I was entering a long, difficult, detailed meeting. I didn’t have time to think or process this news. I called my husband as soon as I got out and we met at Starbucks to talk through it. His eyes teared up as I bawled in front of strangers in the coffee shop. I recounted stories about her and my Uncle Charles. “She was like my Grandma, such a classy lady,” I hear myself saying through sobs, “and I am honored to have had her influence in my life.” I told him stories he has heard before, stories of childhood and of recent trips to see her as she aged.

She was old when I knew her as a six year old. I have memories of my Uncle Charles and Aunt Marcella’s house before my sister was born. I have memories of my sister and I doing handstands in the grass in their backyard. I remember Uncle Charle’s cane, a motorcycle accident had taken his ability to walk well, and his teasing. I remember our parents laughing openly with them at the table. I remember my Grandma and Grandpa animatedly chatting. I remember the way my dad would light up in their presence and I remember being very little, and then very much an adult, all in the presence of these same people.

Aunt Marci and Grandpa

06/09/2014

Conference Talk: Leiden 2014 Travel Women in Technology

Permalink

Today I am giving a talk about women in technology. This is something I’ve been preparing for since I first learnt Basic at age 13 on a Commodore 64. I’ve had several amazing men encourage me in this field and even in the age of feminism and women’s rights, there is still a lot of speculation and discussion around women equality in technical and scientific fields.

As one of only two women in my Graduate program at Western Oregon where I studied computer science, the idea that more women weren’t in the undergrad or graduate program boggled me. At the same time, however, I struggled with things like Java and building Server Sockets until I would vision jamming a knife under my large toenail as more enjoyable.

My Professor at one point noted, “You can get 100% of the logic on the quiz but you don’t know your ass from a whole in the ground when it comes to the syntax.”

I preferred to study PHP, which seemed to make more sense to me than Java. I pursued Python and Ruby and HTML/CSS instead of the huge, monolithic class structure of Java. Networking, routers, the IP stack; these are all things I found intuitive and interesting whereas the standard course for most computer science majors was the single hardest program for me to learn.

I figured I was not alone in this. I submitted a dissertation proposal in the winter of 2004, which was accepted at Oregon State University, and excitedly planned the research for my doctoral degree on women retention rates of undergraduates in the computer science departments and the correlation of programming languages taught.