12/7/2014

The Universe is One Persistent Mofo Balance

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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.

10/9/2014

In which I write loud letters from the bathroom Parenting

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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?

9/12/2014

A goodbye card to my Aunt Marcella Parenting

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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

9/6/2014

Conference Talk: Leiden 2014 Travel Women in Technology

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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 hole 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.

8/6/2014

There’s Gold in Them Hills Parenting

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Two of my best girlfriends and I take an annual Moms/Kids camping trip. We started this at a “close-ish” park in 2009 with a toddler and a few pre-schoolers. We stuck close in case shit hit the fan and we had to call home for emergency needs like running another set of matches out because these ones don’t work. You know, big things.

Of all the years we’ve been doing this now, there are a few stories that stand out more than all the others. Sure, there is the annual whip-cream shot after waffles in the morning. And yes, there’s usually a craft and some roasting of things. There’s some bike riding (and bike smashing that one year I backed up over my daughter’s bike) and scootering. Kids learned how to bike while another learned to walk.  But of all these stories the few we pass down each year go something like this:

——2009——

“The Year of Raccoons”

The year we all slept in tents was an epic achievement. It was the first trip and I was daring this adventure with a newly turned two year old toddler. As would become the “norm”, Michelle and Laura arrived first and had their shit together. I, probably after a wrong turn, arrived late and sweating.

6/1/2014

Love you forever, like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be Parenting

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You giggle as I kiss your cheeks. I hold your hands as you turn your face left to right, giving me full access to the large, luscious cheeks, round and red. You laugh as you spit and shove off my kisses. I pretend to look sad and then hold your arms and start the process over. You are giggling as you pretend to stop me. I win at the kisses, landing on your cheeks as you laugh. You tell me I’ll never give you another kiss again. I chuckle. “Do you remember the Love You Forever book?” I ask. You shake your head no. “The mom comes for all of her son’s life to give him love until she can’t anymore and one day, he sings the song, ‘I love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I’m living, My Mommy you’ll be.’” Your eyes are wide and you ask, “Why would you tell me that before bed? Now I’ll have bad dreams!” “No, Love, you won’t,” I reply grabbing your hands again from any defense of my kissing, “Because we have so many years before you have to worry about that. The point is, you can’t stop a mom from kissing her children.” I lunge for the final kiss assault and you squeal with laughter and turn your face. I plant five kisses on your cheek, nose, and forehead. You are still laughing when I promise to stop. “It’s bed time,” I say sternly. “Time for sleeping.” You look up at me with your brown eyes glowing in the light and whisper, barely audible, “I love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, My mommy you’ll be.”

I leave your room smiling with tears in my eyes as I go to see your sister, sitting in her bed reading Harry Potter, and plan my kissing attack. My life is an amazing wonderland. I shall never forget this.

5/10/2014

On handling things poorly: A how to guide for losing your eferloving mind Parenting

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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.

5/6/2014

Reflections on A Talk, A conference, A week Travel Women in Technology

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It wasn’t what they were expecting. I called it the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie talk. I baked in a discussion about gender equality within the title “Creative Development.” I think someone in the second row rolled their eyes.

It was probably the 8th or 9th time I’ve been on stage. It’s always so hard to begin the speech you’ve been feverishly obsessing over. The last nine months, since Low asked if I’d speak, were filled of notebooks and research and outlines and more outlines. I was a proper freak stopping a TED talk or an audiobook to jot down a point I wanted to expand on or integrate in my talk. I spent more than a few meetings scribbling notes to myself in Evernote, only partially related to the meeting topic but relevant to a future conversation I would have with myself first, and an audience second.

After a few hiccups and akward moments, it began to flow. Stats, Stories, Ideas. Youtube excerpts. Comics. Scientists. I knew all the content, I just wanted to nail the delivery.

Perhaps I didn’t “nail” it, exactly.  It felt more like a piece of art hung on the wall with a sticky hook, but it was well received. I was so wrapped up in my own nerves that it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth man that approached me for advice when I realized something shifted: They were asking about their girlfriends, wives, daughters, employees. They wanted to support their female companions, they just didn’t know how.

 

5/6/2014

My 7yr old knows more about pregnancy than I did at 29 Parenting

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Dear Buddy,

Tonight you blew our minds with your ability to spell an entire birthday card for your teacher and read your Dinosaur book without needing much help. You practically outdid most of my previous freshman college students with your math test and ability to speak adverbs properly. So yea, we’re sort of expecting great things from you.

We chose a book called “The Human Body” to read tonight. To be honest, you couldn’t decide between that, the airplane book and another dinosaur book but Mama can’t take another book about the big ass lizards, and was way too tired to feign interest over airplanes, so Human Body it was!

We flipped through some of the pages and landed on the pregnancy page. You started asking questions about the babies in the pictures. While I read you absorbed everything and formed ideas.

“At five weeks a fetus is the size of a bean, and heart, lungs, and organs are developing. The baby gets its nutrients from the mother through the umbilical chord.”