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.
Traveling Mercy: a letter from time, if time travels by airplane Jan 11, 2015
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:
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.
To the me of 2001, the scared young first-time traveler, worry not. This is the start of a wonderful relationship with strangers on planes and the entire world of experience and friendships that come when you land.
I like to run and jump over things Dec 20, 2014
If a 7 year old could have a steady, I’m speaking with her now. She’s been his “girl” for two years now, this little pixy of amazing energy and a bundle of wonderful for my son and myself. Her mom is a wondrous human, her friends have amazing parents and equally wondrous qualities and there’s absolutely nothing I could say that would not come across as me manipulating him to end up with a girl like this as a wife.
Remember, he is seven.
I’m so getting way WAY ahead of myself.
I’m not sure if you can foster children to marry a kind of girl like this or if he’s going to rebel against this very notion but when I met them on the playground today and I asked what they liked to do at recess, she beamed, “I like to run and jump over things!”
I glanced at my son and he shrugged. “Ok,” I offered, “Let’s run and jump over things!”
She took off and didn’t look back. I ran and jumped over three things following her lead; the stepping swings, the puddle, the balancing beam. And then my fancy boots and bad knee gave way and I had to walk.
She didn’t stop or even glance back. My son’s future wife (see how irrational I am?) took off in her 7 year old youthful knees and agile feet and was not turning back.
My son and I glanced at each other. He gave me a “Moooommmmmmm,” look that I am sure will come to haunt his teenage years. I smiled widely as his girl circled back around. “Oh, man, I am not wearing the right shoes to keep up with you!” She beamed wildly. My son smiled sheepishly. I laughed.
This is what it means to me to be on the playground with my youngest at first recess. I have other stories of meeting the older one on the playground, before I became the “OMG you are NOT SERIOUSLY HERE” person. She used to welcome me in to her world. Now I’m invited when nobody is around and I cherish the moments.
I can almost understand why people have a baby when their youngest kid reaches third grade. A baby! I could start all over! That kid might not roll their eyes at me until the first one stops doing it!
Seriously, I’ve considered this option. Hard.
Instead I’m trying to be more present nowadays. I’m taking a page out of Jack Kornfield’s book and letting each and every emotion, thought, concept, feeling live inside its place in the time it arrives. I’m trying to be aware of the moment. I’m trying to let the feelings happen, to let the thoughts come in and then go away again and the feelings creep up, acknowledge them, and then watch them slide away.
In short, I’m trying to run and jump over things when it is the appropriate time to do so.
Part of this living moment-by-moment means noticing when someone does something extraordinary. Like today when a mom from my son’s class, a soccer mom friend, guarded our candy houses so I could do the aforementioned running and jumping over the things. I left her there with no less than fifteen children climbing on the bench and table like zombies on candy brain. I laughed as I waved and ran off to see my son and live in “this moment” and she cursed me ever so softly as she stood there with our candy houses and vultures for children swarming closer.
I took a photo. She called out, “Email me that, would’ya?”
These are the moments that I will recall when my son goes to the prom with this girl. Or another girl. Or when my daughter dances on my husband’s shoes on her wedding day. Or when my son is throwing his last off-sides on his high school team. Or when I crawl in to my bed the last time before my dying breath.
Living in the moment has its advantages: Namely that I get to run and chase a girl who has been the apple of my son’s eye for over a year and a half. Also, I’ve made friends in familiar situations that I can comfortably give shit to on a playground among swarming kindergarteners praying on sugar.
Mostly, though, living in the moment means remembering every detail of the day well enough to recall a single second on a blog post, or a story, or a telling of the day at the dinner table.
Mostly it means living the day as fully as possible. Gratitude is one part, the living is the other.
December - syndication part 2: “Having your corporate cake and eating it too” Dec 17, 2014
It’s been many years since I first stayed with my German hostess. I’ve since been back to her amazing house and have had German cake and have eaten it. That’s no euphemism.
When I first visited her, I could arguably have been a corporate woman with a career and kids. I say arguably because I was a working at home mom in a very small company. Hardly “corporate world” in my eyes now.
I’ve since then joined the “I am not kidding this is seriously corporate American in the sense of a capital C” world. I work for one of the top 100 of the “Fortune 500” companies in the states, or, rather, in the world. While I’m both thankful for this job and sometimes surprised by it, there’s no escaping the corporation-ness that Betty was talking about all those years ago. And here’s the kicker: She was right. She was absolutely right. Let the record show me standing on my soap box with a sign saying, “I CAN NOT DO IT ALL” written on the board across my chest with my dark circles and my bald tires and my children clinging to the edges of my unhemmed skirt.
I have a post mostly written of what a normal day looks like for me now. It’s a half-written prose of “I wake up at 5:30 so I can….” and ends in some sort of sentence with too many consonants like, “And then I go to bed fhgjklskjsaljslkdjsjklaklkjasjl”
I can honestly say I had no fucking idea what I was getting in to when I thought we could do a two working parent, four hour commute, kids in sport HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA SANITY!- life. So, on this syndication, let me for the record say this, “YOUNG PEOPLE LISTEN UP: some of us women have idea and we know things. Even if we know things because we’re smart and know better than to experience them WE KNOW THINGS. If you have questions, come to us, the women-folk before you, and ask us. We will tell you. But ultimately, no decision is wrong, know this: it’s just hard or harder and we’re all here to nod and say yes and uhhu and yea. Whatever you choose, there’s no sense in analyzing it; it is what it is. Just have some chocolate, have a bath and blog the result. Like I am doing now.
Thank you, Betty, and all those who participated in the discussion so many years ago. I happen to read these comments again and again and I know, in my heart, the conversation is not over, it’s only begun. Thank you.
———The Original Post————-
I was the host mentioned in the previous post. We had the discussion of: Can you do both – have a career and kids? I have pretty strong and not too popular opinions on the subject. And I worried that I might have been too harsh or spoken too openly to someone I just met but with whom I felt a close connection. I don’t have children, so many will think I am not qualified to speak on this subject. But that’s just it, I do feel I can speak on this subject because the INSANITY of trying to work and have children is part of the reason why I chose not to have children. I had a great job, a comfortable salary, was able to travel and live all over the world. I married a nice guy, and we didn’t have kids (on purpose that is). We have a carefree, stressfree, joyful, active life together in a peaceful, cozy apartment in Munich. I am afraid you working moms will not like what I have to say on the subject…but get over it, get over the guilt, get over the struggle. YOU all made the choice to have children and frankly just as Leslie has said you can’t do both well, so why did you have kids? Or if you wanted kids so badly, why do you want to work so badly? It really is that simple, don’t come to me with all the outrage or all reasons to have children, it really is a cut and dry choice of 4 options for women:
1) don’t have kids, work or do whatever you want
2) have kids stay at home and enjoy that, but put your life on hold for 20 some odd years then do whatever you want
3) have kids, work, do what you want and OUTSOURCE the parenting. Meaning make enough money for live-in full time help and focus on your job and do that really well.
4) have kids, work and have a stay at home husband
Did you all really think there was a 5) work, have kids, be great not only at both – but be a hot sexy wife and travel the world too? Really? And don’t come with all the examples of women that have done it. Yes, they are called exceptions…and if you look closely they probably also have help in some form or have very unconventional work. And I am not talking about single working moms due to divorce or death of spouse. I am talking to double income couples where the wife is juggling the job and doing most of the childcare and feeling alternatively, bad, guilty, great, frazzled, tired, energized, exhausted, hateful, joyful….and so on, just read Dooce.
You all thought “I can do both!” and had a kid, geez sometimes several. So get over it and live with the fact you will be so-so at both work and mothering. Or get over it and realize that you will probably do really well at work and be a crappy mom. Which by the way, being a crappy mom (whatever that means) is actually okay in my book, because honestly the skill sets you have - the stuff you do and know that makes you so good at the work you love and enjoy…..may not be the same skill sets that make a good mother. So stick with your core competencies and outsource the mothering. If that thought is just so horrifying to you - what outsource mothering/parenting? You can’t do that! Well then, get over it and stay at home or have your husband stay at home. And don’t come to me with the we can’t afford it. Yes. You. Can. If you really can’t live on one salary, should you really had had kids? Mull over that a little…before you come to me with the outcries of that statement.
The stories that Leslie told me about what she has to sometimes deal with…were rough but I am afraid fairly typical what you working mothers go through. And I can guarantee you that the successful working MEN with children in Leslie’s field or in any other field are neither going through the guilt, the struggle nor dealing with vomitting children during their work day. They have wives at home or wives who just took off work taking care of all that shit. That means you working moms are bearing a double load and yes, that was not so smart of you. And as much as I want to be empathetic (and really I am a little)...you did have the choice of not having children, and you still have the choice of not working…or outsourcing.
But alas, if you choose to still be caught in the struggle of doing both, here is a last consolation - no matter how good of a mother you were during your kid’s childhood, no matter if you stayed home or worked full time and had a nanny, or did the insane juggling act that is working and being a mom….in every case….your kids will still be sullen ungrateful teenagers….and then grow up to be just fine.
A goodbye card to my Aunt Marcella Dec 09, 2014
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.
My sister called to see how I was doing. We both cried on and off remembering part of our childhood. I told her how odd I thought it was that our anniversary card was two days late this year. “I mean, not that I’ve *ever* remembered to send anything on time but Aunt Marci gets it right EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. How does she know when to send the card so it shows up exactly on time?”
“She’s magic,” my sister explains. “She simply is magic.”
“This is the most logical thing I’ve heard all day,” I replied. I mean it.
I came home to tear in to my Grandma’s journal, the most cherished possession I own, the entire history of my family from my Grandmother’s view. There are countless stories and photos of Marci and Charles. We are all there, in print, in these three ring binders that hide safely in my old suitcase full of photos and memorabilia. While we plan for flights hoping to attend her memorial, I thumb through pages of life and smile at memories. I read my Grandmother’s writing and I alternate between sobbing and resolve. I resolve to be the Aunt Marci to my family, to sign a letter in the mail on their birthdays and anniversaries. I resolve to write our life in a three ring binder for my Grandchildren to find comfort in when the rest of us take our leave. I resolve to say I love you more. I resolve not to let Delta Flight costs stop me from seeing my Texas family. I resolve to eat less dairy and work out so I can live forever, like Rob Low.
I scan photos of her, I am disappointed I don’t have as many photos with her in my house, but I know they are there at my parent’s house. I resolve to go there, to gather pieces of my history, to capture my parent’s stories and to walk in the footsteps of my Aunt Marci and my Grandmother: Two of the influentially classiest ladies in my life. I resolve to be your Aunt Marci. Even though I said I wouldn’t.
Mostly I resolve to honor my Aunt Marci in this letter. I resolve to let her live forever in our hearts, in our cards, and in the post office’s delivery system. I resolve to be as magical one day as she was, with her help. With her love. With her wit.
A card that needs a bit of magic to be delivered but I’m sure she knows this is written to her and it will arrive in time, as hers always did:
Dear Aunt Marcella,
Were your ears burning? We were just talking about you. We always tell the kids about you when you send cards for their birthdays. I’m sorry you haven’t met them in person. We missed you by a few weeks. We had hoped to come visit you before… well, we know you’ve lived a long and lovely life and we wanted to be sure to see you before you were done living that long and lovely life.
I’m sorry we missed you.
Your anniversary card is still sitting by our candy houses. It sits there like a memory of you while we sneak pieces of graham cracker and candy after dinner. It’s a joyful place.
I always smile when I see your cards, reliably on time, every single Anniversary, Easter, Birthday, Christmas. I bawled the first time I opened the card to see only your name and not Uncle Charle’s. I thought that day was hard. I was wrong. This day is so. so. much harder.
I’m sorry you won’t see our Christmas card this year. I’m sorry we didn’t get it to you before now. The kids are big, deargod did you know kids grow? My how they grow. Lauren, the baby you made all those knitted blankets for, who still sleeps with them sometimes at night and asks me about you, is in fifth grade. Marci, *I* remember fifth grade! I remember being at your daughter’s wedding in fifth grade. I remember dancing on my Uncle Greg’s feet. I remember the boy who wanted my photo and I remember you and Grandma smiling at each other and me. I blushed. I remember feeling thankful you never said a word about that.
I’m thankful for a lot of things you’ve done in my life.
I remember being at your house in San Antonio as a girl. I remember how Uncle Charles would get so upset at my dad for pronouncing “pecan” like a northerner. We are a southern folk, dammit, and that is NOT how you say Pecan!
I know my kids had no chance of meeting Uncle Charles. He was my other Grandpa, since he was my Texas Grandpa and Grandpa was the north one.
I was so hoping my kids would see you. I was hoping they would see the person who sent the cards, who sent the handmade blankets, who saw their photos and their drawings. I’m sorry we missed you.
I will try not to cry the first few holidays without your card and scribbled “With love,” in the bottom.
Happy Christmas, Aunt Marci. I hope you and Grandma, Grandpa, and Uncle Charles are dancing in the stars. We will look for you on clear nights and know you’re sending your love, via cards and scribbled handwriting, every holiday, birthday, and anniversary. Thank you for always remembering. It’s our turn to remember you now.
With so much eternal love, wrapped in a handmade blanket,
All of us.
December - the syndication month part 1: I can be your sunshine? Dec 03, 2014
I made a promise that I would post a “behind the scenes” or “what this means to me now” post in December, of some of my favorite, or touching, posts in this decade-long blog.
Today I pulled up, “Maybe I can be your sunshine?” Originally aired May 6, 2011.
——- The post——
He watches the truck with a camper pass us on the road. “I wanna go camping again. Are we EVER going to go camping again?” My three year old is a drama queen sometimes. I laugh. “Yes, we’ll go camping, I promise. We’ll go when it gets sunny again.”
“It’s NEVER going to be sunny again!” He whines. He also loves to whine.
“Oh, it will,” I assure him, “Probably July 5th.” The classic NorthWest joke doesn’t mean anything to him.
“Hey, I’m wearing yellow! Maybe I can be your sunshine?” he beams a little.
He starts to point out all the yellow. There’s a yellow sign! And a yellow truck! And yellow flowers!
Suddenly there is so much yellow that he declares it is a sunny day even as I turn on the windshield wipers.
Sometimes he seems to know exactly what I need; even before I do.
———Today, December, 2014———-
This kid can still be drama and he can still win over my heart with a sigh. This boy is a connection to past, future, and story books. He is the “I love you forever” son, he is the Ron in Harry Potter, he is the gold people look for in rivers and streams. He can make his Second-grade girlfriend laugh (two years steady now) and can score goals on his always-winning soccer team. He is a testimony to why traditional schools don’t work and why kids are resilient and amazing.
Drama doesn’t stop following this one but we’ve learned to catch flies with honey. “Is your tummy REALLY that bad? Let’s go to the doctor,” I heard myself saying this morning. “No, maybe I’m just full.” He is nervous, has a rough stomach at the smallest change to the schedule, and reminds me that we’re creatures of habit.
My son, the most amazing, dynamic, sporty, hilarious little person I know. With compassion for yourself and for others, your future is as bright as the flaming sun. With adoration, as always, your family. xo
On birthdays Nov 02, 2014
My mom always made a big deal over our birthdays. She would make a homemade cake and in very-detailed, time-consuming, 80’s perfectionist manner, decorate our cakes in secret under a banner of birthday wishes and streamer-lined dining room lights.
It was difficult for me to understand her when she told us all she wanted for her birthday was a cake. “A fancy cake?” we used to ask. “No, just a cake. That’s all I need.”
It wasn’t until last year that I believed her. Last year I sat at my brand new job, day two, in a corner struggling through onboarding. I didn’t realize how lonely it was to have nobody know it was your birthday. I realized, I don’t need a cake, or a party, or presents, or a big todo, but the value and warmth of someone saying, “Happy Birthday,” is highly under appreciated. I know people leave kind things on Facebook, but call me old fashioned, Facebook doesn’t seem as sincere as a person using their actual mouth to say, “Happy Birthday” with their eyes and a warm smile.
I’m clearly getting old. Authenticity is a hallmark for all that I value now. Well, authenticity and a clean laundry room. Before this I had a different take on aging.
I was being authentic when I said to people, “I just love when people wish me a happy birthday. I don’t need a lot. I don’t need presents or special things, I just want people to smile, be kind, and maybe share a drink with me. And I’m totally, 100% cool with that.” I sounded like my mother asking for a cake and only a cake. Suddenly I got it.
I don’t need much, but if you’re willing, I’d love a genuine happy birthday and a toast of cheers.
This year, I was blessed with so much more than that.
My husband and I had a real, genuine sit-down-date where you go someplace and they server you food WHILE YOU SIT THERE. I know, right?! The joy! And we chatted about things, not all job related or kids related, but about life and things and stuff and nouns. Maybe even verbs.
Back at work we had a heavy deadline and a review with our client. After the call, I was summoned to a central station where twenty-five work friends were waiting to sing happy birthday to me. Y’all: After last week, I can’t tell you how much this means to me. People who I adore, who are kind, and lovely, and forgiving, and hilarious, all came to sing me the (as Aaron Brooks said, “The Cake Song”) and we shared multiple cakes, including Gluten Free for me, and a cider or pumpkin beer to ensure a fun time. We then went back to our respective deadlines and happened to kill it. (A thousand shout outs to my team for being awesome and for pulling this out of our butts and getting it done in Real Time, Yo!)
I came home with my left over Gluten Free Chocolate-OMG-Amazing Cake and shared the night with my family. I then had a lovely night out with my girlfriends later in the weekend and am ready for the countdown to 40. The thing is? Most of my friends are already there. I see them laugh at my angst, they jeer at my goals, they mock my determination to change anything in the next 363 days. “Yea, I had goals,” they laugh, “now I just say CHEERS!”
I’m forever grateful for the people who show up in my life to leave their mark on my history and my heart and I hold, cherished, their truth. We all have a story and I’m grateful to include them in my own. Birthdays, to me, aren’t about selfishness, but about celebrating the entire road to where we are at now: and today, I’m most grateful for the people who keep showing up, day after day, in my happiness.
On handling things poorly: A how to guide for losing your eferloving mind Oct 25, 2014
You know that part of your gut that tells you wise decisions in which you promptly ignore? It’s also the same part of your gut that knows you’re holding on to some trauma that your brain hasn’t processed.
You should probably start listening to that part of your gut unless you want to lose-your-shit at a Laser Tag Team Building Exercise.
I’m not a gun person. I’m so not a gun person that the one time I shot a real gun at a range with my parents, I promptly set the thing down, walked in to the bathroom, and hyperventilated until the automatic lights turned off with me sitting in the stall.
Rule #1 to losing your shit: Deny your emotional response to tragedy.
I don’t think I’ve always had this phobia of guns. Up until a few years ago I might have been somewhat ambivalent about them. But now, well, things have changed in the world, my world, our world, and I am no longer uncertain about my thoughts on guns.
When a tragedy strikes, everyone feels *something*. When the Newton shootings happened, the whole nation, in fact a majority of the world, shook their heads and sighed and went home to hug their children tighter. I was closer to the tragedy, in a way I didn’t feel I had any right to claim “effected” because my relationship to the youngest victim was a short playdate earlier that summer. He was the nephew of our good family friends and my son and his cousin knew each other well. Very well. So when I text my girlfriend to see when we are getting together and she replies, “That’s Noah’s school on tv,” I left work and ran to her house as quickly as I could arriving with Kahlua and Diapers: the essential survival kit of tragedy with a small baby at home.
I was there as much as possible for the following weeks, and I saw a family deal with something nobody should ever have to deal with. I saw the variety of emotions and different ways of grieving. I saw people stand up to offer support and others avoid having to say anything at all because what is there to say?
I never once thought I was going to need to work on my own issues of having seen someone close to me go through such horror, having known the face of a victim, and the emotions of going home to my own family; Guilt, Fear, Hate, Worry, and a very intense hatred of guns.
Rule #2 to losing your shit: Ignore Your Wise Gut-feeling
When my team proposed a laser tag outing, I admit it wasn’t top on my list of things to do. I should’ve listened to that small voice saying, “You hate guns.” Instead my brain part said things like, “We’ve been trying to get together for a year,” and “it’s fine, they are just toys,” and “It’s been a long time now, common, it wasn’t even your nephew.” So we booked our night out and included a party bus.
I know I wasn’t super excited about it but I figured it would be fine. Plus, there’s the alcohol. Surely I would be able to handle a pretend toy gun if I’ve had enough wine, right?
Rule #3 to losing your shit: Numb the Wise Gut-feeling with Wine
We were all enjoying adult beverages. In fact, on the way over to the venue, having just left a work party, we were all feeling relaxed. I wasn’t even the most “relaxed” of the group. But, and this is something I can admit to now, I was getting more and more fearful of the laser tag event and in a flurry of panic, decided to catch up to those more “relaxed” than I was.
Rule #4 to losing your shit: Shove away the feelings from another, similar, scary tragedy that happened hours earlier just up the road
I checked my phone after a few meetings and found a voice mail from our school district informing us of a shooting at a nearby school. Without thinking, I grabbed my headphones and went for a walk to call Mr. Flinger. It’s how I’ve always dealt with bad or scary news since I was 13 years old: I call him and he talks me out of the crazy or he breathes with me while I try to remember how to breathe.
It was the middle of the day and I had work to finish. I also had that team outing in a few hours so I couldn’t get too down and let my emotions get the better of me. So we chatted for twenty minutes while I walked and tried to breathe and come to some sort of understanding about why I was so affected by that news.
I told a project-team-member and her reply struck me as odd. “Was that your kids’ school?” Surely if there was a shooting at my child’s school, I would run to be as close to them as I could without a single word of explanation and certainly not a casual conversation. She followed up with her thoughts on school shootings. I can tell you this: sometimes the best way to reply to horrible news, even if it seems completely unattached from you or your coworker, is to just say, “Wow. I can’t imagine.”
Without realizing it, because I was trying very hard not to realize it, the news brought up a lot of memories, emotions, and feelings I’ve never given myself the permission to feel because *my* kids are safe and my family is ok. What right do I have to be affected by shootings?
A side note: We should all be affected by the news of shootings. The minute we stop being affected, we as humans lose the ability to empathize. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to just lose their shit about every tragedy, but we should never stop feeling the feelings that this is not ok and we have to do something.
Rule #5 to losing your shit: Re-enact the scary thing that produces those emotions after trying to ignore them and cover them with wine
The minute I had the gun in my hand, it was too heavy, too real, and I was shooting at targets. I got, how shall I say, “mouthy,” as you do around a bunch of dudes who are holding guns in their hands. I might have said something about being scared and the wise gut-part of me started yelling that I truly shouldn’t be doing this. So I tried to play along, poorly, and half way through was escorted out of the laser tag maze. Apparently cussing is not allowed and y’all, lemme say this: I was fucking cussing a lot because there were zombies coming at me and I was shooting them with a fucking gun.
Yea, the cocktail of losing my shit had perfectly mixed.
I sat down, thankful for being out of the fucking zombie attack, and started to shake. I still couldn’t put a finger on WHY I was so effected. Up until a friend asked if I was ok, and I was not ok, and the tears and sobs like a choking cow came poring out, I would’ve answered I was fine.
And there, in the laser tag bar, without a seemingly rational reason, I lost my shit and bawled in the arms of four co-workers and blubbered on about a little boy who was killed and why are we killing each other and what is wrong with our children that they have to take lives? How can we raise children to be confident and happy when I can’t even be sure that they will be safe in their cafeteria? Or their classroom? I know the innocence of my 7 year old, the way he thinks about the world and I sobbed because there was a family who will never hear what their 7 yr old boy would’ve said as he started second grade or soccer or birthday parties.
That’s how I lost my shit on a Friday night with my teammates. That’s probably what we call a royal fuckup and in the true professional sense, I should probably go shove my head in the sand and start applying to other jobs. But at the same time, if I can be completely candid, WE HAVE TO START TALKING ABOUT THIS. It’s why we’re all so shocked when Robin Williams kills himself or when another shooting happens across the street from our office. It’s the reason we are so numb and fake and perfect. It’s why we value people with no real emotional bank and why some CEOs are only shells of actual people. I don’t say the right things all the time, or half the time, but I’m smart and a hard worker and I’m doing fairly well at my job. I have great feedback and I enjoy my work. But I know just yesterday when a friend at work admitted to having a hard week and said, “I can’t say that here. To anyone,” it’s a sign that we’re not allowing our work to have real-life people working there. I don’t want to work somewhere that I can’t be human. *These opinions are mine and not my employers. *
“It’s not personal, it’s business.” It’s always personal. It’s personal because we’re people. And sometimes, in a perfect storm of bullshit, a person will lose their eferloving mind in the face of news and tragedy. I might not have handled that with grace, but I handled it as a person, a mom, a fiend, a co-worker, and a human.
I hope I’m forgiven for being those things. And I know the next time someone else is human, I’ll offer a breath, a hug, and forgiveness.
Do the Hail Marys. Even if you aren’t Catholic. Oct 20, 2014
When I was 7year old, we sat in the bathroom during Hurricane Alicia. I was living in Houston with my parents and very tiny sister, who was only 2 at the time, sleeping quietly in the safest area of the house: under the bathroom sink.
My parents listened to the weather on a battery powered radio while the walls shook and tornadoes clamored around the neighborhood. We walked in to the eye of the storm where we found our fence down the street at our neighbor’s house, ten doors down.
At the time I didn’t realize my parents pissed off someone holy. I didn’t know God was a revenge sort of guy and that my mom probably chewed the wafer at Communion that week so we were doomed to lose a fence and all our backyard toys.
Now, though, I understand the weight of being a mother. We bear the responsibility for the natural, and the unnatural, disasters.
Yesterday, I was happily writing a post for my daughter’s tenth birthday, while yelling at her to stop itching her head. It had been a very busy weekend with a soccer game, gymnastics party, family coming over. So the first quiet moment since a deliverable push at work and all the aforementioned things, I sat writing about her turning ten, thinking all the lovely thoughts of her, while I periodically yelled, “SERIOUSLY! STOP ITCHING!”
And then I realized, holycrap she is itching. A lot. So we dove in to her hair and saw nothing. Nothing. I mean hair, yea, but that’s it. So we told her to go shower, we told be boy to go shower, and they came back clean and pretty. And then I checked again this time with a light and a fine tooth comb. Nothing. And then. Something.
So we did what every parent of this age would do: We watched a lot of youtube videos about searching for Lice.
Waaaayyyy too many videos are out there about lice.
So I read some things about Lice and THIS happens to speak exactly to people like me. CLEAN PEOPLE. PEOPLE WITH OCD. PEOPLE WHO LIKE WINE.
Then came the Freaking Out Our Shit. To be fair, It was just me freaking out my shit, but I did it enough for the all of us.
After emailing and texting people we saw this weekend with the good news, “HEY! FORGET ABOUT EBOLA! Just worry about head lice. You might have caught it from us so see? LIFE IS GOOD! You’re welcome.”
Then we started treatment and I realized that lice is no laughing matter.
Maybe worthy of a few puns, but certainly not laughing matter.
As I sit here with Mayonnaise on my hair (the legit kind, not the usual Veganniase that we eat), and watch the children with their coconut oil hair with shower caps, I think we may have survived this episode.
I’m not so ready to be confident of that, though, because, as the RID shampoo brochure stated, “These assholes can hold their breath for a really long time and promise to infest your life for possibly ever.”
I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere, anyway. I’ll let you know how this turns out. And promise not to share my hair scrunchie.
In which I write loud letters from the bathroom and think future things, not cyborgs Sep 10, 2014
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?
Then I started writing her pretend letters verbally, when I didn’t find her again.
“Dear Lolo, I’m in the bathroom where you just were. I hope you are ok. Love, Mommy.”
“Dear, Lolo, I am almost done cleaning up the bathroom where you just were. I hope you are in your room but have not heard anything. Love, Mommy.”
Silence. Maybe some nose laughter.
I continue with my nightly OCD, “Dear Lolo, I’m done with the bathroom and I’m concerned I have not heard from you. I might even clean the toilet. Love, Mommy.”
She appears in the doorway, filling it more than I remember her tiny self doing so, and laughs. She was, apparently, plugging her nose so she wouldn’t laugh so loudly that I could hear her. She thought my letters to her were hilarious. I am glad because I was nearing the brink of sanity. Or at least, the end of my todo list in the bathroom.
We continue on like this for thirty minutes or so while the boys play some rolling-ball game in the living room. I echo a letter to her, she replies back to me in kind. We “verbally write” each other various letters. At one point she forgets to sigh her “letter” and I “write back” with, “Dear Lolo, you know, it’s polite to sign one’s letters with love, so and so.” She replies, “Dear Mommy, sorry, I forgot. Love, Lolo.”
We giggle as we compile these letters to each other in the air.
I am astonished at how big, how human, how.. grown up she is.
I can barely contain tears when I hug her at last laughing, “We make great pen-pals!” She laughs, not seeing my wet eyes, “Yup! We’re very good at yelling.”
I can not believe how this baby, toddler, preschooler, challenging every step of the way, this person, turned in to, well, a person. She is all that I would ever want in a nearly-tween and more. She is a most loving kid, subject to moodiness and hanger, (hungry anger) and wisdom and ridiculousness. She is kind hearted and smart and witty. She loves her brother with ferocity. And yet, she keeps a sense of herself amidst the structure of life; this free spirit that I’ve always known since the minute she produced herself to the world. She is, and forever shall be, her own self. And by god I love that kid. That human. That person. With a tenacious ferocity of its own. Letter writing could never convey the magnificence of it all. But I still think she understood, and even wrote me back.
I love you biggest of all the loves in the world.
On Coaching: Can Corporate America work like a Team Sport? Aug 02, 2014
I’m used to being yelled at. “Point! Point your toes!”
“You’re overextended, bring it back, good, good, POP! MORE! Nice!”
These are words I heard coming from the side of four apparatuses growing up. I can still, to this day, call muscle memory from years and hours in the gym. I can answer, almost turrets like, questions about gymnastics.
“What is the olympic order of events from 1- 4?”
“VAULT! BARS! BEAM! FLOOR!”
“Who was the silver medal winner in 1985”
“The Romanain with the curly bangs! Ecaterina Szabo!” This one I know because I got my BANGS PERMED to look like her. While million of little girls where trying to be Mary Lou Retton with her gold medal, flashy smile and short bob hair, I was aiming for second place and wishing to be the girl NOT from the USA team.
(This reminds me to bring this up with my therapist this next week.)
As I work on a spec outlining Front-End Best Practices, I hear coaches yelling these old pieces of advice. Not figuratively, LITERALLY, I can hear them yelling “Point your toes!” “DROP NOW!” I’m working in the gym as my daughter attends her first gymnastics lesson.
I’ve been careful not to push gymnastics on her too hard or too early. I was mindful not to put my own passion on the little girl I had. I remember Mr. Flinger asking me if I’d want our daughter, if we had one, to do gymnastics. He was surpised when I answered honestly, on our honeymoon, I’d never push her in to the sport. In fact, I admitted, I’d be fine if she never did it.
Sitting here in the gym for the first time in twenty-three years, I’m nostalgic. I can still do one-arm cartwheels, handstands, some other easy gymnastics basics. Years after quitting competitive gymnastics, my body knows HOW to do a double-back or a full twisting vault; I just can’t physically DO it anymore.
I’m confronted with mortality of youth.
I watch the girls do backhandsprings on beam. “I can do that!” My brain yells at my legs. “COMON!” But my body; achy and older and heavy and tired, sighs, too exhausted to muster any mocking comeback.
So I continue to write my spec and notice in the background as each girl receives input for improvement. I can’t help but equate my work to this teamwork. Spending nearly two decades in sports, trains a person take and give helpful critique. Somewhere in my adult life, though, critique became harsh and competitive. Someone forgot to tell the corporate world we were a team*. I’m sure it’s not just the corporate world, I know this because several of the women from work today spoke of a variety of industries and experience where competition ruled motivation.
To quote Jillian Michaels, “Now that I’m forty, I just want to collaborate. I’m done competing.”
As I near forty, this theme presents itself more often. Listening to the coaches, I think how valuable input can be. I trained hours, days, years with the knowledge my practice, and guidance, would help me improve.
How do I convey this to the adult world? How do we get back to team sports as adults -in our jobs? Is it possible to succeed without crushing each other to make a point about how much better than someone else we are?
I’ll just sort of let that question hang out there and leave you with this:
*Views Mine, not my employers or anyone else’s.
**Points of clarity: I’m not talking about a specific team here, but a general attitude of the reward system of the American Dream. It’s more a discussion point to start than an accusation. At this point in my career, I’ve worked on a London team, Germany team, multiple types and sizes of business teams, and higher education. The idea that we can rise above our neighbor is “one of the great things about ‘Merica.” HOW we do that, is a question I’m asking. Gymnastics is an individual sport but we still celebrate and lift up our teammates. I get there’s more at stake here; people’s livelihoods and actual security, not just a happy feeling and a medal. But still, I wonder if there’s a way to achieve something as a person that is greater with a team than I could do alone.
Let’s call this middle age and all agree home-girl is thinking out loud….