Monday, December 17, 2012


On December 14, 2012, I was at work when someone told me there'd been another mass shooting--this time in Connecticut, at a school. Some children had been killed, he said.

Throughout the day, as I drove from one work site to another, more details came snowballing through the radio. Horrifying stories of teachers trying to protect their students and being shot down. The description of the sheer number of shots, the screaming, the terror.

Driving home, I just felt sick. Sad. Angry. Hopeless.

I pulled into the driveway, parked the car. I walked swiftly from my car to my front door in the drizzly chill of Friday evening, shaking slightly but not from the cold.

I opened the front door to warmth and light and joy, little strong arms wrapped around my neck, loving faces pressed against mine.

Minutes later, after I gestured my husband to follow me down the hall to our bedroom, we collapsed on the bed together, holding on tightly.

"I feel sick I'm so sad," I said.

Today I am still sad, and still heartsick, but hopeful. Hopeful that we are finally having a larger conversation about how such a thing could happen. Something is broken, horribly horribly broken. I am hopeful that as a culture we can move beyond fear and come together and fix it. I have to believe in something. It is just too horrible and senseless otherwise.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Rage Against the Pink

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a petition going around to get Hasbro to make a gender-neutral Easy Bake Oven. A petition created by a 13-year-old girl, McKenna Pope, whose 4-year-old brother loves to cook and wanted his own toy oven for Christmas. McKenna’s argument to Hasbro is that the commercials for the Easy Bake Oven only show girls using it, and that the over comes in only “gender-specific hues: purple and pink.” My only argument with McKenna is that she’s accepting the societal premise that pink and purple are gender-specific. I reject that assertion. However, my sympathies are naturally with her and her brother, who aspires (for the moment) to be a chef. I have had the same problem in finding a toy stove for my daughters to play with. My oldest daughter, who is now 9, received a red toy oven when she was about 3 years old. I searched long and hard to find an oven that was not pink. Last year, for my 3-year-old, I replaced the oven with a whole mini-kitchen* from IKEA, which is completely gender-neutral – perhaps because it is a Swedish company.
The Swedes are evidently known for their progressive thinking in this regard, because hey, looky here!

Boys can do housework, too!

I have to say, my reaction to the pinkwashing of the toy aisle has pretty much been not to shop in the big box stores and to look for alternatives online and elsewhere. I just figured I didn’t have the time to fight the power and so I just wouldn’t endorse these stores with my money. But I give props to McKenna Pope, because without challenging the existing structure, it’s only going to continue. And I don’t think it’s healthy for any of us.

I raise my glass of low-sodium Lemon Italian Sparkling Mineral Water to you, McKenna. Rage on!

* This picture is part of the IKEA ad. Neither I nor my child is depicted in this picture.

Friday, November 30, 2012


I have lightened my load. I went from, basically, this:

to this:

and in the process, lost all this:

Change can be good. Maybe I'll add some blue streaks!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

An Attitude of Gratitude

I am thankful for:
A happy ending yesterday at work:  a severely autistic nonverbal client wandered off Monday afternoon and stayed out overnight, but was found yesterday and reunited with his family.

My chocolate turkey that my boss gave me this morning:
My wonderful beautiful smart and happy kids, who bring all sorts of chaotic joy to my world.

My saintly, hardworking and ever-lovin’ husband, who continually impresses and surprises me with his ability to make the best of difficult situations and with his capacity for creativity and fun.

Clean water. Hot water. Food and drink.

My friends and family, near and far, who are dear to me although I don’t see them as much as I would like.

The Internet, which takes me places I have never been and connects me to people I have never met. It is truly a marvel.
And for you. A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, wherever you may be!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Too Much Technology?

Tonight, I am working on creating a new blog - just setting it up and figuring out what theme I want to use and how I want the format to look. It is very different, mainly because I am making the leap to Wordpress (I am not an early adopter, mm-kay?). But I am poking away on my laptop, and occasionally checking my iPhone or looking stuff up on my iPhone when my home network gets sluggish, and I just had a thought about a book I want to read which is related to creating this new blog, so as I was waiting for my page to load, I downloaded an e-book onto my Kindle. And I realized I have three different devices going and that is a little crazy, no?

In other world news, recently Ceeya asked me repeatedly if she could have some cookies. I finally said, "Sure, okay, you mean the ones on the counter, go ahead," and about five minutes later she came back to me with this bewildered look on her face, holding a box of Up & Up Target brand plastic sandwich baggies. It was a new box, which she had completely demolished one end of in ripping it open. "Where are the cookies?" she asked. It took me a second, but then I realized the box had a picture on the outside of cookies nestled halfway into a plastic bag. 

"Oh, honey," I said. "These are not the cookies. These are the plastic bags to put things in. They're just showing you how you might use the bags, maybe to put some cookies in them. You know?"

"But where are MY cookies?" Cee said, as if I were deliberately misunderstanding her. I, the most asinine person in the land. see how misleading advertising can be. Particularly if you can't read quite all the way yet. Imagine how the things Ceeya sees each day shape her very impressionable view of the world. My point, and yes, I am getting to it, is that this is the type of thing I will be exploring in my new venture -- how to raise two young women of color with their heads on straight in this rapid-paced, media-saturated environment. My goal is to go beyond plastic sandwich baggies and delve into the sexism, racism and myriad other "isms" we are confronted with every day, and document my attempts to keep my wits about me and respond in a thoughtful manner. 

Oh, how I often long to ditch everything and go live in some mythical land where things are simpler. You have no idea how often that fantasy crops up.

Failing that, I hope to chronicle my journey and learn something from those I meet along the way. And eat a few cookies.

More to come...

Monday, October 22, 2012


Four years ago, this:

And today, this:

My baby is four years old! What the Doc McStuffins?? I can hardly believe it.
Before Ceeya was born, I worried whether I would be able to love another child as much as I loved Viva. Ceeya just tromped on in and claimed her space in my heart with absolute certainty that that spot was hers. She is super intelligent, hilariously funny, incredibly stubborn and heart-rendingly sweet. She is my roll dog -- anywhere I am going, she wants to go along for the ride. She has made our family all the richer for being in it and I adore her.
Happy Birthday, my little pumpkin. You make Mama proud!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Every Day, Beauty

Every day there are moments, small things really, that are possible to miss if you are not paying attention.

There are Big Things Happening:  Dub Senior has passed away. Sweet Dub is overcome with wave after wave of sorrow. Sometimes it comes over him at completely random times. He is bewildered by this: he thought the anxiety and sadness would end when his father's suffering was over. I had to tell him no, dear sweet darling, that is not how grief works.

Other Big Life Things are happening: Viva is solidly into her tweens and has begun wearing a bra. (Oh, I can't even believe I just wrote that. Where is the time going - it is spinning wildly fast.) At preschool, Ceeya hit her head and gashed it badly on Monday; Sweet Dub and I dropped our day off plans and rushed to see if we had to take her to the hospital. Speaking of which, we were having our day off together because of another life event: our wedding anniversary. Eleven years, which we didn't celebrate on the day because Dub Senior passed away that very morning. So our date was cut short by another emergency. It seems like this is the new normal, crisis after crisis.

So I try to take a moment here and there to enjoy a small thing of beauty, here and there. Today I found a gorgeous potted orange Gerbera daisy plant at Trader Joe's on my lunch hour. I bought one for myself and one for our receptionist, because she is being let go today and no one wanted to acknowledge it. She has worked here for 8 years and she was being made to feel she had to slink off into the night. Ugliness. My co-worker got a few people together and we are throwing what was to be a small get-together this afternoon. What we discovered is a lot of people didn't know she was leaving, Suddenly we had offers of food, people wanted to sign cards, people rallied around and now most of the employees at our site are coming to this little shindig. It gives me hope. It's the right thing to do.

There is so much nastiness in the world sometimes. I am trying to train myself to be alert to the positive.

Signing off.

Stay classy, San Diego.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


The Pew Research Center released a new study today on student loan debt, which has mushroomed in the past five years. he Pew Research analysis finds that “whether computed as a share of household income or assets, the relative burden of student loan debt is greatest for households in the bottom fifth of the income spectrum [emphasis mine], even though members of such households are less likely than those in other groups to attend college in the first place.”

I read this and it just infuriates me. I know that colleges and universities do the best they can to put together financial aid packages for students that come from families of limited means. Back in the dinosaur days when I went to college, I received a generous package comprised of some grant money, a work-study job, and a couple of student loans. My parents did not contribute any cash, because they didn’t have any. I didn’t expect them to; I worked all summer to make sure I would have some money to buy books and I was pleasantly surprised when my grandparents gave me a check for a few hundred dollars when they dropped me off at my dorm.

My family expected me to go to college and to finance it in whatever way possible. I accepted this; I was very eager to go to college, and very eager to leave it when the time came. I was able to get a decent entry-level job and was horrified by how much of my check was eaten up by my pesky student loan payments. It never occurred to me not to pay them, or to negotiate their amount in any way. However, the burden of that student loan debt made me leery of going to graduate school, which I regret today. I pinched pennies and paid my undergrad loans off over a period of ten years; and I was thrilled at that point, in my early thirties, to feel I could begin to contribute to a regular savings account, and pay cash for things like TVs, and contribute to my 401K.

Sweet Dub went to law school straight from undergrad, and we will be paying off his student loans for the rest of our lives, it seems -- if we ever get back to paying them off, as he has deferred them since he was laid off in 2010.

A higher degree used to translate into a higher standard of living. The Pew numbers are really discouraging for--well, pretty much anyone. But I feel the pain particularly of those college students who come from low-income families that can’t help them out of the hole post-graduation. It makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it.

Other studies have shown college graduates make 84 percent more over their lifespan than do high school graduates, and they have considerably better job prospects even during times of economic uncertainty. No need for alarm--if these statistics hold true in the future. I suppose only time will tell.

Monday, September 24, 2012


After a long couple of weeks during which the family has experienced more heartache and stress and back and forth from hospital to convalescent home to a different hospital (see here and here), Sweet Dub's stepmother elected today to take Dub Senior off of life support. She signed the papers and then she left.

This is not something I could ever imagine doing if it were my husband lying there, but then you never know what you would do in a specific situation unless you're actually in it, so I guess I can't judge.

Since Sweet Dub doesn't want his father to die alone, he is driving down to the hospital now to sit with his dad and hold his hand and talk to him, and hopefully his dad will be able to hear him or at least sense that someone who loves him is there with him. 

I have already taken three days off over the past couple of weeks and I know I will have to take more after Dub Senior passes on, so as ridiculous as this sounds, I have to stay in the office (I also have to go pick up the kids, let's not forget about them).

I just feel sick.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

End of Summer

Testing to see if I can add photos from my iPhone using BlogPress. These are some of my favorite shots from the summer of 2012:

Viva, of the ever-glowing skin.

This seems to be Ceeya's default pose.

Me and my sweetie.

Classic SoCal life station shot.

About to hit "post" -- here goes....

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Smudge it!

Sweet Dub's dad has been moved to an extremely and utterly depressing convalescent home to, I suppose, convalesce. However, he is still pretty much almost completely paralyzed (limited movement in his right arm, and he can move his head from side to side but not turn his head all the way).

Things don't look good. In an ideal situation, he would have all the top experts monitoring his care and even if he were in a home such as this, it would be sparkling clean and quiet, with a view overlooking a transquil pond with duckies, and the entire facility would smell like gingerbread.

That is SO not the case here.

In one of my not so nice moments, I said to Sweet Dub, "Well, this is really all his fault anyway."

"What do you mean?" Sweet Dub said.

"He should have known better than to get sick while he was poor and black," I said. "I mean, what was he thinking?"

Sarcasm as a coping mechanism. Sometimes the ugliness just bubbles out.

Today, my office-mate brought me some dried sage so I can go home and cleanse the BlahBlahs of all the bad juju by burning it. I am seriously going to do it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Not Feeling Perkier


Are you familiar with this book? Felix stays up late and eats way too many chocolate Blimpies and in the morning he doesn't feel so hot. His mom gives him some sugared prunes to perk him up and, well:
"Not feeling perkier," says Felix.
Unfortunately, given my recent sad sack post and despite all the positive thinking I can muster, I too am not feeling perkier. Sweet Dub's father was rushed to the hospital last week, and it appears that he has suffered multiple mini-strokes over the past couple of weeks. He is almost completely paralyzed, including his esophagus, so he is unable to swallow.  He can't eat or drink, but he is horribly thirsty and dry-mouthed. Over the weekend it appeared this function was returning, so family members were providing him with water on a swab, and ice chips. Unfortunately it appears that due to the paralysis, when he "swallows," it's going straight into his lungs. So now he has fluid in his lungs and today Sweet Dub was told he can't take any food or drink by mouth ever. As in, the rest of his life.
As with most medical issues there is way more than I can go into here, but the end result is, after five days in the hospital things are not looking good.
Sweet Dub is not close to his father. Had I written about Dub Senior a few years ago, I might have nicknamed him Not-So-Sweet Dub, since they share the same name, but today that seems like kicking him while he is down, and I do have some standards, after all. But Dub Senior has not been very nice to people over the past couple of decades or so, and now that he is sick, it is difficult to rally people around him. Sweet Dub is calling on all his memories of his younger days, when his dad actually was sweet to him (oh those hazy childhood days when your parents were wonderful), to help keep him centered and to do the right thing.
That is what is uppermost in both our minds:  to do the right thing. But it's complicated and these are uncharted, ethically murky waters. He is not in any pain, but he can't eat or drink. The doctor says he wants to perform surgery to insert a feeding tube. We suspect this is because they need to get Dub Senior out of the hospital and into a convalescent home. It seems like a move that is contra-indicated in relation to common sense. Today, he is uncomfortable and can't eat but is being fed by IV. If he has surgery, he will be in pain, and there is always a danger of infection, and he'll still get sustenance through a tube. What we are all wondering is if it's worth it in terms of his quality of life.
Uncharted waters. We cling to our raft and peer at the sky and try to paddle in the direction of solid ground. I have never seen my husband so despondent. It is heartbreaking.

Friday, August 31, 2012

It’s Baa-aack…

About a million years ago, when I first started dating Sweet Dub, I had just taken what would turn out to be the worst job I have ever had. My boss had a work ethic beyond anything I have ever seen, and would begin emailing me as soon as she got up in the morning, at around 7, and would continue as she thought of things before she got in the car and drove to the office. Once she got to work, the barrage continued throughout the day by email, phone and in-person visits; I was continually interrupted and pulled in eight different directions. It was very difficult to get any real work done. Once she left the office, she would still email throughout the evening. Since this was a million years ago, I did not have a smartphone; hell, I barely had Internet at home. She was ahead of the curve in terms of being plugged in. While our office hours were supposed to be from 10 AM to 6 PM, I began arriving at 8:30 AM and staying until 7 PM or later to try to keep up, and feeling guilty and anxious about leaving even as I was returning home at 8 PM.

Now, I will tell you, I am generally a very conscientious employee. I have a strong work ethic on my own. But I could not keep up with this woman’s demands, and though I had only started working for her in October, by Christmas I had developed a twitch. A nerve under my right eye started jumping. This went on for weeks. Sweet Dub was horrified. Mind you, we had only been dating a few months at this point.

Finally, by March, we had both had enough. “You have got to quit this job,” Sweet Dub said. “Look at your eye! She’s affecting your health!”

And then I did something unimaginable:  I quit that job without another one to go to. I gave my notice at my apartment, moved in with Sweet Dub and started freelancing. I had some savings set aside, but really didn’t have to dip into them, since fortunately I was able to get the freelance gig off the ground fairly quickly. By June I was working 40 hours a week, mainly from home with occasional client meetings.

But I digress.

The point is: once I quit the job, my eye stopped jumping around. Sure, it was stressful trying to get the freelance gig going, but not nearly as stressful as dealing with my boss’ craziness.

And now….

The twitch is back. Not as severe as before, but it’s back.

Recently, I had an encounter within my department which pushed all my buttons. I believe this incident was condescending and revolved around a bit of racist microaggression on which, if I had called the person on it, I would have been given some crap about how I was misinterpreting what this person was saying and being too sensitive. But you know how it is: when something gives you a sick feeling in your stomach and you can feel the heat rising to your face, that’s a pretty good sign that you’re not misinterpreting a damn thing.

Hence, the twitch.  I don’t have the financial cushion I had back then when the twitch made its first appearance, and quitting is not an option. Freelancing is also not an option, since that’s what Sweet Dub is doing. For now, one of us needs a full-time job so we can have some crappy health insurance that we’re paying too much for.

Without getting into details, this recent incident is not the only reason I am unhappy with my current position. So, I’ve updated my resume, and I’m determined to just grit my teeth and bear this until I can work out where I want to go next. My boss is happy with my performance (I got a glowing six-month review), the job pays well, it keeps food on the table and a roof over our head.

Sometimes you just gotta suck it up. Either that or start drinking heavily. And I don't think I'm cut out for that.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Holding Out Hope

Nothing from Google seems to want to load this evening. I had a whole photo post I was planning, and now:  zip. Hmf. Is it time to ditch Blogger?

I finally am back in the groove, wanting to put fingers to keyboard, and technology is gettin in the way.

I will now hit send and see if my blogging by email works. Stay tuned for further griping.

I am not THAT bad

I have posted to my blog via email a couple of times in recent weeks (no, really, it's true), and then today was looking at my blog and realized neither post actually posted. So much for all my great intentions! Although I have been able to post by email previously, apparently this feature was disabled at some point so nothing I wrote recently was showing up.

You did not miss anything earth-shattering. I'm just ticked off that I actually made the effort and nothing happened.

Oh, and on a related note:  the check is in the mail.  And I have a bridge and some swamp land to sell you.

(No, really!  I did actually type up two posts which have gone off into the ether!)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer, summer, summertime…

It’s summer, and that means it will be hot.

If it’s hot, there will be swimming.

If there’s swimming, hair gets wet.

If hair gets wet and you are the parent of the person who’s swimming, that means your kid’s hair dries out.

If, furthermore, you are the parent of a black girl, that means you have to deal with the question of whether or not to get your child’s hair “braided up” for summer.  Perhaps your cornrowing skills are not up to par, or perhaps you don’t feel up to a five-hour marathon braiding session.
If you consult your mother-in-law on this (who is not against the hot comb, on which you have agreed to disagree, so there’s your baseline right there), she will tell you to take your child to her stylist to let her cornrow your child’s hair and “add some hair.”

Barring this, she will tell you to “grease up that child’s head” with “that green grease” to protect it from the chlorine, the drying out, and the fuzziness.

You may, at this point, bite your tongue and just flat twist your child’s hair up against her head and hope for the best. Get yourself a glass of lemonade and kick back. It’s your summer too, after all.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Wednesday - Words of Wisdom

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always try to do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."— Mark Twain

Amen to this. Let's all try and stay on the positive.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Something New

In my spare time (of which, like many people, I have far too little) I have been rethinking what I want to do with this blog. Or more specifically, whether I want to continue this blog or start something completely different. And I am thinking the latter. And in that spirit, I have been doing some research to refine what I want to talk about, as well as trying to do some planning so that I actually have a cache of blog post ideas ahead of time, and even some posts written. The goal is that I might (heaven forbid) post on a regular basis.

I think Joseph Campbell said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that in order to find out what really drives you, what really interests you, you should closely monitor what grabs your attention, where your interests naturally take you over a few weeks. And when you realize that (for example) you can’t stop thinking about basket weaving and deep-sea diving, that is what you should pursue.

That’s what I’m working on here, since my blog has been really unfocused over the past year or so. I’m not trying to be mysterious; I’m just in the midst of a process I don’t want to bore you with.

In the meantime, I’ll try and post a bit more here as well so I can get in the writing practice and keep anyone who is still reading (hello?) up to date on my little corner of the world. Thanks for reading and for being patient with my evolution.

P.S. Also, rereading this post before I publish: I will try and reduce my use of parentheses.

Monday, April 16, 2012


I am currently in a sleep pattern in which I crash at about 9 PM, wake up at 2:20 AM, stay up with my monkey mind jumping all over the place while fretting that I need to get up in a few hours, get back to sleep between 4 and 4:30 AM, and wake up at 6 AM completely exhausted. Lather, rinse, repeat.

This is not a good situation.

I am now on the couch wrapped in a blanket because I was tossing and turning and didn't want to bother my sweet husband, who also never gets enough sleep.

Insomnia is a bitch.

Here's something cute--Ceeya at the park about 12 hours ago:

This one, of course, is now sound asleep and snoring. Sweet, sweet thing.

I am going to sign off now and try to meditate to clear my mind and start my week. Peace out.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Greetings from the Island of Misfit Toys

I am having angst. It is career-related angst, and it is not a pretty thing. It is a bright red, heavy, sharp-horned little creature yanking on my neck and piggybacking along throughout my days.
In a recent post I wrote that my current job, the one I referred to as Safety School and where I’ve been for all of two months, is not Awesome with a capital A. I bemoaned the fact that I took the job out of desperation. I noted that a position at my First Choice, where I really wanted to work, was still open.

I don’t think I have fully conveyed how unhappy I was at my previous job. I had been there for 5 ½ years, still love the organization and the people there, but the job itself was killing my soul. I wasn’t growing at all and there wasn’t any way for me to move up or even laterally there.

This new thing I’m doing is a higher level than what I was doing before, but I am still basically doing a lot of the same functions. Now I am supervising staff and that is taking up a lot of time, because I am editing work as well as writing my own.

But it is still the same hamster wheel.

I am trying to figure out what to do now, realizing it is partly the place where I work but also partly the work I am doing that is clouding my days.

In all this, I am aware that I am very lucky to have a job. My job is what gives my family health insurance and a steady paycheck. It has now been almost two years since Sweet Dub was laid off. He continues to freelance, and some months are better than others. Quite honestly, I feel a steady low-thrumming, kind of free-floating anxiety in the back of my mind much of the time.

I am wondering how to transition out of this. Can I afford to take classes on the side? Should I actually enroll in a degree program or just pick up a class here or there? How can I handle this job in the meantime? Why won’t a pile of money drop from the sky? Would I be better off just dropping off the grid and moving my whole family to…I don’t know, where would we move to?

I feel I am operating out of fear rather than out of enthusiasm in this career thing right now. I am skateboarding (badly) while holding an egg. I can’t just leave, and I don’t want to bail out of this job into another one doing what I have grown to dislike. I have decided against trying to re-apply for a job at First Choice as the appeal of that job was not the job itself but the organization, which is very artsy and creative—as opposed to where I am now, which is very rigid and sterile.

(An aside: I have never worked anywhere where such a high degree of social awkwardness pervades nearly every interaction. It is truly bizarre.)

(Also:  I found out that the person I now supervise interviewed for my job. And really wanted it. And is rather bitter and sarcastic, occasionally flaring up with an attitude when I ask her to do things. Work things, conveyed to me by my boss as Things We Need To Do. Oh, it is a blast and a half at Safety School.)

(Not to worry, I am documenting everything.)

 So, yeah. It is a conundrum! A dilemma! And being the Grown-Up sucks some days, the end.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Safety School

When I was job hunting this fall, I applied for a couple of positions, and I got an offer at the first one I interviewed at before I even interviewed with the one I really wanted. It’s like being picked by your safety school and having to give them a decision before you hear from your first choice.

So:  as I was in the midst of the serious due diligence required to be employed at Safety School (fingerprinting, criminal check, etc), I got a call for an interview from First Choice, but they couldn’t schedule anything for nearly three weeks. You know where this is going, right? I scheduled an interview, and in the meantime as much as I delayed with Safety School, they made me an offer. At this point I still hadn’t had an interview with First Choice, so I decided a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush, or whatever that crappy expression is. I took it.

I took four weeks off in between jobs and I have now been at Safety School for six weeks. To be blunt: it is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Today I found myself driving past convenience stores when they weren’t even on my way home*—oops, I mean I found myself back on the website for First Choice. It appears that the position is still open.

Er-hrrrrm.  This is a bit of a pickle. More to come.

* Sorry, couldn’t resist. I just have that image in my head of Nicholas Cage driving slowly past the convenience store in Raising Arizona, feeling hemmed in by domestic life and trying to resist going back to his checkered and more exciting past.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day!

Gjon Mili—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

I love this picture. It makes me want to jump for joy!

What leaps are you taking today?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


There's a light on a hill

That's far out in the distance
And it calls out my name
It calls out for a change
- Fishbone, "Change"

Well, my friends. There have been a lot of changes going on and it has been pretty overwhelming.

For one, I changed jobs. Of course, every job is different; every job has its good and bad things about it. I had been at my last job for over five years and I guess I got pretty comfortable there. So now, being in a new place, I am struck by the contrast. There are good things: the people I work with are really on the ball, super organized and detail-oriented. The work flow proceeds at a much quicker pace, so there is definitely a sense of accomplishment. Some things are neither good or bad--just different. Among those: the corporate culture here is very reserved. People don't do a lot of socializing. There seem to be an inordinate number of rules and safety regulations. To be in compliance with licensing, we do multiple types of drills--earthquake, fire, civil unrest. The bad: many of the employees are unhappy. There's a lot of talk about how the organization has gone downhill in recent years. Interestingly, this has not a whole lot to do with the economy, which you might expect, but rather with what many see as a shift in corporate culture. What also strikes me is that at the last place I worked, people uniformly seemed excited about the mission and purpose of the organization--even people who didn't work directly with the clients were proud of the agency's work. There was a sense of ownership. Not so, here. There is a definite divide between the people who work with clients and who genuinely seem enthusiastic about their work, and those who don't (no buy-in whatsoever, it could be just any job). These are just my impressions, but it is a big difference to me.

Other changes:  a lot of family drama. A LOT. Not in my immediate little Blah Blah circle, but in my family of origin--i.e. my mom, my sister, my brother-in-law and ther family. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but that whole crew lives together. Until my grandma passed last year, there were four generations in one house. In the last year or so, relationships there have deteriorated. My mom and brother-in-law stopped speaking, there were periodic outbursts followed by more not speaking, my mom packed her things and went to live in a hotel for a few days, etc. It has gotten really out of hand. The ownership of the house is complicated; the value of the house is 2/3 of what it was when they bought it five years ago so they can't sell it and get away from each other even if they could overcome the ownership issue. It is a basic nightmare. Oh, and my mother was evidently diagnosed with a mental illness several years ago and no one told me.

All these years I have been trying to come to terms with wildly erratic and sometimes downright hurtful behavior from my mom, completely bewildered by it. Trying to respond from a loving place, with understanding, and yes, sometimes anger because it was so frustrating and it seemed like she was at times being malicious. And maybe she was. But I feel like I would have been more understanding had I known what was really going on.

Oh, so much more to say. I have just uncapped a flood.

Other changes:  My sister just got let go yesterday. She had been at her job for 14 years. The economy.

I love my sister so much. She has a heart as big as the world and is so very sweet. She makes mistakes in judgment at times, but mainly from wanting to make everybody happy. She was already so stressed by the situation with my mom and the house and her husband that her eyebrows started falling out. (I am not making this up.) I am disheartened by this latest development, but buoyed by the hope that her recent job interviews will pan out. Yes, she had already begun looking for a job. She worked for a family-owned small business that had really been struggling in the recession, and she could tell by the balance sheet that something was going to have to give. So I am trying to remain hopeful.

It helps that my little bunch is a messy, loud, hugging, smothering ball of goodness. At the end of the day, when I get home from work, I am coated in love. Sweet Dub is a child-wrangling, dinner-cooking, laundry-doing, always-kissing rock star. Viva is a doe-eyed eager-to-please sweetpea. And that Ceeya--well, I am here to tell you that Age Three can be Challenging. I much prefer the Terrible Twos in some ways. But Ceeya is always quick to run to me and wants to be by my side constantly. For better or worse. (Like especially when one of us is in the bathroom. she wants me to sit down next to her while she's on the toilet. Sigh. She won't always be this small, I know. I should enjoy even this.)

Next time: a little more fun. Maybe some discussion of Viva's upcoming birthday and what our plans might be. If you're still reading, that is.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wee Hours

Can't sleep.

Starting a new job is exciting, nerve-wracking, and exhausting. Last night I had the classic teeth-falling-out dream. Tonight, I fell asleep around 10pm, woke up sometime after 12, and haven't been back to sleep since. I have to get up at 6. Fun times.

Yesterday as part of familiarizing myself with my new job, I took a tour of one of our early care facilities which serves kids from 18 months to 3 years with developmental disabilities. It was amazing. It's a really comprehensive program with family support, clinical assessment, occupational therapy and individualized attention for the kids who are medically strong enough to be in a classroom setting. I sat in on a parent support group and then watched some of the kids during Circle Time in the classroom. The kids were singing along with the teacher and they all looked happy and engaged--well, there was one little boy who decided he was not interested in singing just at that moment, so he was sitting apart from the group on a kid-sized couch, looking out the window onto the play yard and up at the sky. We all have our moments when we need to collect ourselves and calm our nerves.

It's important for me to remember this during my first weeks at the new job. As at every non-profit I've worked at, space is at a premium and I am in a shared office with no window. My tendency is to work through lunch while eating at my desk. In my last job, I would often walk out to my car at the end of the day and realize I had not been outside all day since arriving in the morning.

My goal now is to take a cue from that little boy on the couch and be mindful to take a break, rest my nerves, and leave the office so I can look at the sky.

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