One of my favorite episodes of my favorite TV show ever is “Northern Lights” of Northern Exposure Episode 4:3. It’s an analogy of light within the depths of darkness.
Goethe’s final words: “More Light”. Ever since we crawled out of that primordial slime, that’s been our unifying cry. More light. Sunlight, torchlight, candlelight, neon, incandescent… Lights to banish the darkness from our caves, to illuminate our roads, the insides of our refrigerators. Big floods for the nigthgames at Soldier’s Field. Little tiny flashlight for the books we read under the covers when we’re supposed to be asleep.
Light is more than watts and foot candles. Light is metaphor. Thy word is a lamp under my feet. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom. Lead Thou [You] me on. The night is dark and I am far from home. Lead Thou me on. Arise, shine for thy light has come. Light is knowledge. Light is life. Light is light.
We’re entering the darkest time here in the Pacific Northwest. The time where the sunlight dips to unseen beds at 4pm and doesn’t rise again until 8AM. The hibernation of man becomes a reality and people in coffee shops talk about the endless darkness.
We are a collective bear’s den: Nestling down for the winter months, comparing caves and scarves and nuts.
It is during the darkest hours of winter that we seek the Light. To me this is found in humanity. In the imperfect solace of friendships, of community, of tree lightings and holiday festivities. Later we will find this in the houses of those we know: lights of comfort, of discussion: of future plans. This is the time of reflection, of seeking, of finding. And hopefully, as the new year comes upon us, even in darkness, it is a time of light and hope; however that may look in a different new year light.
I hear my family upstairs. There are squeals, laughter, delight. The radio is blaring through the built-in speakers of our bedroom window, opened even though this last August air is chilly. There is chasing above. I sit on the patio as Ben Folds plays via iPhone. I work a bit. I delight in my job. I ponder the day. I drink a good beer.
I once read, “To be in harmony with the universe is to be like floating: Doors open, opportunities arise and you take them without thought.” That is happening to me as of late. Doors seem to bust open. Life seems to beacon me. COME! COME LIVE!
“When hope is not pinned wriggling onto a shiny image or expectation, it sometimes floats forth and opens.” -Anne Lamott
I am exceedingly happy at my upcoming opportunities. I am living a day job of merriment. I am watching my children ride their bikes without training wheels and smiling at their accomplishments. I am aging in my own body and appreciating it more daily. I am realizing the future may not be as I always expected but that the universe offers more than I can ever hope or dream. Without being cosmically ridiculous, I can say without a doubt that those who dream big live big.
I want to dream big.
There is a song that plays on a loop. “He grown up just like me.. he grown up just like me…” I like to push it down as Catholic guilt. I like to play the cosmic Pause button on my children’s life. I try to justify my happiness but it’s a fleeting thought. I know the twilight will come and the dark will bring the guilt, the questions, the second guesses. The summer hours are easier, the light is longer, the days last forever, the children ask why they need to brush their teeth so early? But I know change is inevitable. The dark is around the corner. The fall brings the promise of another dark winter. The belief that floating on the joy of the universe is short lived and nine months of rain is inevitable.
As a child I loved sitting on the curb of my small Houston home. I would watch each street light turn on without a single person manning the switch and I would question things like timing, daylight, darkness. As an adult I understand timers, automation, disengagement. I hope I always sit on the curb as the sun sets wondering what is next, what is past, and look forward to the next day of laughter, giggling, squealing. If I leave my children with but one thing it would be that: To float on the universe’s evening and trust the morning that follows. It always follows.
Look, I get it. I was gone an entire 7 days. I’ve done Europe a total of three weeks in my life and I’ve only been in places where the water is drinkable and people mainly know English, even if they refuse to let on to that fact.
So when I say “World” here, I mean my very tiny portion of exploration. “World” is relative.
Traditionally I’ve enjoyed often moving locations, lands, homes. The year I spent back in Houston as an adult, taught me the value of community. My lesson that year showed me however much I hated living in the flat, humid land, I still met enough people to miss. I felt nearly grateful for this fact: A place is made up primarily of the people who occupy it.
It is in this vein I travel and recount my stories accordingly.
It’s been said a thousand times, but finding your tribe, your people, is critical. I believe there is a tribe for each of your personas. The people at EECI are my tribe. They are my geeky, hilarious, nerdly, drunk tribe. And I can not tell you how much I adore them all.
Brothers who buy you beer.
These people are giving, smart, and kind. They are funny, sarcastic, and punchy. These are my kind of people. We can talk families, code, business. We can laugh loudly and sing even more so. And the next day we can sit down and problem solve as a team.
If only we saw each other daily, what a productive team we would be. Or a very very drunk one, I’m not sure.
When asked “What do you want to be when you grow up, little lady?” I never would have said, “I’d like to market a small company and an amazing software product that enables people to publish on the web!”
I think I said I wanted to be a ballerina.
My what a long way I’ve come.
The magic, it is there. After hours, well in to the night, we find a space to share bits of ourselves the sunlight doesn’t see. We share stories of children and dreams and business and goals.
Maybe we even cry for a minute, just a minute, because we’re safe.
It’s not unlike other conferences people with similar interests attend. It’s just that this is our space, the unique space of code and logic and sarcastic joy. It’s un-commercialized, it’s raw, it’s pure. It’s real, still.
I love its realness.
Fans and Figures share notes of success. There is no clique one better than another. We help each other push forward in our careers.
I wish the mom community could do the same, asking nothing in return except the joy of knowing you were part of something bigger than yourself.
So, then, what did I learn while traveling? What did I come to think of about Holland?
It’s more than the realization that the world truly is smaller than we think. It is more than knowing the food is better, the culture is open, the bikes are abundant. No, it is much more than celebrating the 3 October with a motley crew of nerds.
It is a sense of home. That… that is what I learned this year in Leiden, a town I’ve spent a total of five days in. Because these nerds are my home, however cheesy that makes me.
**Totally related: I’m doing a liver cleanse as mandated by my Doc starting tomorrow. Care to witness the thrashing of teeth and gnawing of cuss words? Veggies and a protein shake only for ten days. The price I pay for good beer. Totally. Worth. It.
I can’t begin to explain how much fun I’ve had here in Germany. There are no words.
It’s a home away from home that I’ve known intimately, not in any small part to my hosts Betty and Christoph. It it without hesitation that I can confess this has been the best possible experience I could have hoped for. Germany, a home I am familiar with in ways I could not have touched until this very moment in my life.
Today as Betty and I sat at the Hotel Schloss Berg, we practiced my German. I said, over and over and over, “I would like Mint Tea with Rum, Please.” “Ich Hata Gerne Ienen Tee Mit Rum.” I noticed a very handsome man two tables away laughing. “I think he’s laughing at me!” I confide. Indeed, a second later, he says, “Your German is quite good.” I laugh. “Oh?” “Well, the Age makes it difficult.”
“DID YOU JUST CALL ME OLD?” I quip.
He and Betty both laugh heartily. “THE ‘AITCH’ THE ‘H” makes it difficult!” Betty laughs. I blush. OH! I say. “Donka?”
We have a good laugh and are both corrected with our German. He smiled kindly as another group sits between us and an old couple talks a casual German between friends. Betty and I speak English most of the time but turn to analyze the German conversation at random intervals.
I learn German. I fucking learn German. In two days, I am learning German.
I am complete.
Betty tells me it is the space of my brain programmed from childhood. I know pieces of Germany from in the womb or unconsciously, as a young child. I recognize the Glockenspiel, I climb St. Paul’s Tower, I see the same German ornaments I have hanging on my tree since I was a baby. It’s not unfamiliar, this world. It is a cross between Seattle and a life-time ago, a childhood of German stories and tales.
I am not unhappy to be returning home in the morning, but I am not unsure I will return. In fact, I can say with a level of certainty, I will be back. And I will speak in German. A tongue nearly as native as my own.
If I can find it.
I’m sitting in mommy time out. The children are on their beds reading. Supposedly. Since my last post wherein I promise to be funny at least two more times, a lot has changed. The last few months have cumulated to this one night wherein I totally lose my shit on the children during bath time.
And now I sit in time out.
I can point to a variety of excuses, reasons, I’m feeling so… Off. So.. Depressed. So… Tired. I acknowledge my depression, my monster-in-the-closet that is mostly kept at bay 99% of the year. I recognize this huge success that only 1% of the time I find myself wanting to stay in bed, drink too much wine, sit and ignore the world. I’m living that 1% right now and I hate it.
I can blame the tumultuous housing market, our condo that is for sale at nearly half what we paid for it. We knew it was possible, but never realized how terrible the market truly tanked.
I could blame being cut back at work for economical reasons which ultimately makes me want to blame Obama and maybe Bush and also Hurricane Katrina.
I could blame Mother Nature for being a foul mouth bitch and bringing May Winter instead of Flowers that really pisses me right off.
I could blame my weight because HEY! Why not!?
I could blame the kids because they caused my tummy which subsequently made me less attractive and thus start working out more and create these bags under my eyes because I am entirely too tired and OHMYGOD I haven’t slept since 2003. Or something.
:: deep breath ::
Ultimately, I had a bad day. The kids pushed the wrong buttons and I am tired and cranky. I can see, already, the way things are looking up. The offer on the condo, the awesome opportunities of work coming, the house I’m thankful to lose my shit in and the bedrooms I can send my children to time out in.
But right now, I want to sit in Mommy Time Out. It’s the only quite spot left. And it offers wine.
We set up the wardrobes yesterday. This is a much better system than the piles of boxes we’ve been living under. In theory, that is.
I started setting up the different shelves, organizing all the things I thought so important to force my good friends to spend an entire day moving with us.
I started with undies and socks, you know, important things. Moved on to hang-up items, shoes, scarves, sweats, workout stuff, shit I don’t wear any more, shit I shouldn’t wear any more, shit I don’t fit any more, shit I never want to fit in to again.
That’s when it hit me: WOW I have a LOT OF SHIT.
People say things to me like, “You know, the one great thing about moving is that it forces you to clean out all your stuff.” To these people I reply, “You know, the great thing about a colonoscopy is that it forces you to clean out all your shit.”
We are undergoing one giant (echo: GIANT GIANT GIANT) colonoscopy here.
The next person to try to tell me how awesome moving is will be getting one, too.
Not that I don’t love it or anything. About the same way you love eating a large juicy burger and a “non-invasive” scoping procedure.
Life is a constant ebb and flow. It is change. I’ve been revisiting my favorite Buddha Book, re-reading the passages I underlined 10 years ago. Change is a big topic in Buddhism. Change is a big topic in my life right now.
Even if it’s great, change is still…. Change.
Change is leaving a house you brought your baby home in. Change is giving the children a backyard to grow in. Change is watching your baby grow in to a caring little man. Change is watching your daughter learn to read.
I’ve never dealt well with change and yet I seek it almost in earnest. I seek to better our lives daily. I push to find new challenges. I work to bring a healthier lifestyle and a better approach to obstacles. But sometimes, even so, I wish for things to stay as they were. Not physically, perhaps, except in the way my body used to look at 18. No, more on an existential plane. In the way my children snuggled my chest as they slept as babies. In the way my husband looked in my eyes on our wedding day. In the way we celebrated our accomplishments the day we got news we were moving back to Seattle.
Change can be powerful, wonderful and completely overwhelming. One day, I know, I’ll look back at these two weeks and know it went well.
In the mean time, I’ll just push on keeping my head above water however hard I have to tred. Change is coming like a tide. I’m gearing up for the ride.
I know in the large scheme of things, this will all seem like an over-dramatic reenactment of some time in our life we’ll totally forget. I know there are bigger worries. I’m reminded daily watching one of my dearest friends stay positive in a high risk pregnancy waiting for a blood clot three times the size of her baby to dissolve. I see my sister face a year without her husband as he gets deployed to Korea. I know my mom is going in for surgery on her shoulder and ultimately her neck where they take a piece of bone from her leg and use it to provide space between her vertebrate.
I get this and I’m thankful that this is not a loss of a person, but a house. As upset as my family is, we keep our perspective and we’re thankful.
I do so appreciate all your advice. I feel so Meg Ryan from “You’ve Got Mail” but with a much worse haircut and much less grace. “Go to the Mattresses” “Fight. FIGHT FIGHT.” The end result may not change, but it will not be because I didn’t try.
I’m armed with some names and a few lenders to try. I know that if anything truly horrid ever happened, I’d come back here and find comfort and support. It’s what you do, “you”, the “interwebz”. But it’s more than that. The community of bloggers jumps at the chance to lift up someone in pain and I will always reciprocate that knowing how much your words have meant.
Tomorrow my son, little baby “O” is due for tubes. TUBES. Internet, I have to tell you, this is possibly the best day of his life.
Or is it?
I’m scared. He has no clue. We’re set to be at the hospital at 6:30 AM. Nothing to eat or drink from midnight on.
But, he’s sick. He has another cold. He is snot and coughing and… well…. what d’ya know? He’s digging at his ears again. Just like he always does when he gets a cold. Those damn ears.
Apparently my sister was a tube baby. She was one handful before tubes. Tubes changed her life! Tubes let her hear! Tubes set her free from anti-biotics!
I know I know.
But y’all? My son? Is about to get put “under”.
Scared is an understatement.
My son. My baby boy. My mister man. The one that goes, “ooohhhh!” when I show him.. well.. anything really. He’s just so full of zest and life. Of love. Of joy. Without really any good reason, he can make me laugh.
I love him to bits over and back again.
So tomorrow, if the doctors think it’s safe enough, they’ll put him under and give his ears a break. If he can breath under the medicine. Under sleep. Under unconsciousnesses.
And if it’s not safe enough? Well, I’m hoping and praying they make the right decision and send us home. Even if we wake the whole family at five AM. Even if we miss work a day for no reason.
I’m just begging that they do the right thing by my son.
My little tiny mister man.
Today I woke up having not forgotten to email any clients, having not forgotten to finish anything and having slept all night long not up with a sick husband or kids or a the slideshow from hell.
Then I remembered sarcasm.
*My window today. Rain. Go figure.
16 guests here now.