Such a fine line…
September 15, 2014
I’ve been working at an adorable little independent boutique grocer in Seattle. It has the high quality grocery items you’d expect to find in an upscale store, with the vibe of an old country general store. I’m surrounded by fun people who are working hard to create something awesome for the neighborhood. I’m inspired by the owner and her story as well as by the determination, skills and personalities of my coworkers. It’s been great.
My main goal when seeking employment was to be able to move to Seattle, to meet new people, to interact with other adults in real life on a regular basis, and to be part of something cool and fun. I’ve met all of those objectives. Life is good. So many people idealize the experience of being self-employed and working from home. Yes, it was fun and awesome and I definitely could make my own hours and work in my pajamas but that really got old after a few years and I needed more social interaction.
We’re in Pioneer Square, a neighborhood that’s undergoing a major identity explosion lately, a new residential building has nearly doubled the amount of people who call this place home and several new restaurants and shops have turned it into more of a destination. Two years ago, hardly any of these places were in business, the building construction had just begun. They’re building another in an adjacent lot now, right in front of the stadium.
Being surrounded by the area’s homeless is often an adventure. I know each one of them has their own story about how they came to live on the streets and I don’t envy a single one of them. Still, when a young man (under 25 I’d say) popped into the store ten minutes before closing, ranting about the laws of the Universe and banging his head on the counter, I was a little freaked out. His tone was more positive than negative, which was comforting, but still, the content was awkward because the nature of it was woowoo spirituality and the sentences never really ended: “I know times are tough right now but I have faith, I mean, I know things come around and…” Usually an ellipse stands for missing words that trail off but these sentences just ended and another one started right up. “You wouldn’t believe some of the hard times I’ve had, it’s just… And I don’t even know sometimes how things work out they just… All you gotta do is smile and know that this moment will pass because no matter… Are those peanuts?”
While my coworker was chatting with the guy, I slipped into the back to dial up the building security guard. I didn’t feel like I was in danger, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if the situation turned quickly.
Plus, I had recently had a serious talk with myself about personal safety. After getting off my morning bus one day last week, I accidentally intervened in a police situation with an angry homeless man threatening to slice a cop’s throat with razorblades and I PROMISED my friend I’d never try to be a badass again. (Intervening consisted of offering the guy a cigarette and verbally sympathizing with him, encouraging him to walk away. Not superhero stuff but still, kind of dumb)
When the security officer arrived, he began to talk about the cycles of the moon and how “for some reason because of the way the planets are aligned, the craziness of people hasn’t died down.” Apparently it goes in cycles and “everything will be peaceful until all hell breaks loose and then they calm down again for a while until next time.” Normally. But this particular current planetary alignment is affecting that process, so “God only knows when this will end.”
As I offered him a drink and thanked him for coming so quickly, I had to weigh whether or not it was fair to have the uniformed person in a similar mental state as the homeless guy. Also, I wondered which of these two people I’d rather be alone in a room with. Who was dangerous? Who was safe? It was weird. I think I’m more curious about the homeless man’s life story than I am about the security guard’s philosophy of human nature. I need to read up on ways to casually engage in conversations with people on the edge without endangering myself. Has anyone written a book called “How to talk to homeless people?”
7 Tips for How to Drive With The Progressive Snapshot Device
April 25, 2014
I recently switched my family’s car insurance from Geico to Progressive. First of all, I really like the snarky Flo a lot more than the gecko. Second, the rate they offered me was more than $50 cheaper. The hitch was that I had to install their spy device into my car’s data port so they could measure my driving skills. I’m nearly 40, I don’t have any accidents in the past 20 years and I think I have 2 speeding tickets, but nothing reckless or crazy. So I’m thinking my driving skills are damned good.
The gadget measures “hard braking” and when it arrived and I read the documentation I wasn’t really concerned. I couldn’t recall a time when I’ve slammed on the brakes and I don’t make a habit of following too closely because I totally don’t ever want to rear end anyone and so far it’s been working so I’m thinking this will be a cinch. I’ve got this. Apparently their gadget disagrees. Here are the new driving skills I have learned from progressive:
In Defense of Magical Mothering
April 13, 2014
I simply MUST respond to a recent article on Huffington Post by Bunmi Laditan, author of the book The Honest Toddler; A Child’s Guide to Parenting titled “I’m done making my kids’ childhood magical”
I think the main point of this article is that we shouldn’t stress ourselves out to create memories with our kids because we don’t know WHAT they’re likely to remember and because kids enjoy life anyway. As she says, “Seeing the world through innocent eyes is magical.” And “magical” here isn’t a reference to any woowoo spirituality. It’s just referring to the way kids see things. “It is not our responsibility to manufacture contrived memories on a daily basis.”
Being all of the things
April 12, 2014
I got my cosmetology license when I was 16, through a vocational program offered at my high school. Then I decided I wanted to go to school to teach. Motherhood, lack of financial aid knowledge (seriously, I wish someone had just told me how easy it was to fill out the forms. I didn’t even know there were forms) and actually working in a salon and as a substitute teacher put an end to my college days back then, but not to my career.
Or, should I say, careers. I was a Tupperware lady, an Avon lady and an Usborne Books representative (more than once). I had my own business publishing newspaper-style birth announcements, I self-published a local newspaper for parents (Yakima Family Times) and my ex husband and I ran a small chain of restaurants. At another time, we also ran a business renting out a camera crane to the motion picture industry in Southern California. I have worked as a waitress, a used car salesperson and a pre-school teacher in 2000 and again in 2012. I helped a friend start her business training people in social media marketing and I worked as a web designer and in social networking. I once painted thrift-shop furniture and made a crazy profit at resale.
FOX Cosmos Lesson Plans
March 27, 2014
Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan’s widow has helped create lesson plans for kids using the new Cosmos series with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. These are supposed to be for middle school grades and they’re a fine resource. In my house, we’re more self-directed. Maddy (10) and Grace (8) are very interested in the show. We DVR it and they tend to take notes, pause so they can look things up and mute the commercials to talk about what’s on the screen. Don’t be intimidated if you ave really small kids, the lesson plans are more like discussion guides. I like that I can print them and stick them to the fridge so the kids can see the keywords for things they might want to look up after the show. I’m not really an advocate for forcing an interest where there is none, but you’ve got to admit that the universe is pretty freaking amazing.
Like the Hobos of the Sea
February 6, 2014
I just read an article called Secret Tourism: Traveling the World on a Freight Ship and it seems so awesome. I mean- the idea of a cruise, where everyone is stuck on the boat and maybe the food is included but isn’t it all the same and everything is social but do you really WANT to be social with all those people? And forced gratuities…. just didn’t seem like something I was terribly interested in except for the fact that it would be an experience and something I can say I’ve done. SO I still might do it. But this, THIS sounds so much more adventurous. I’ve bookmarked the three websites she links to for more information but I’m saving them here mostly for my reference, but you can check them out too:
Moving to the City, Dagnabbit
January 30, 2014
Right now we’re living 2.5 hours East of Seattle and 3.5 hours NE of Portland. The town is called Yakima. Maybe you’ve seen the episode of iCarly where Carly’s Grandfather comes to visit from Yakima. Yes, that’s us.
I’d like to move to the city.
For the past eleven years I’ve been holding out hope that eventually we’d move out of this town but so far it hasn’t happened yet.
Not for lack of trying, though. In 2008 I actually signed a lease on a house in Tacoma and paid a deposit and we never moved in. That decision was made by my ex husband, who thought it would be better to build a third restaurant without a contract and not get paid for his time and energy. Instead of moving to a bigger city, we ended up moving to a dilapidated house in the country, 12 miles from town. In his defense, he didn’t know that the lack-of-contract would have such disastrous results.
Renting Weird Spaces
January 10, 2014
Surely you’ve heard of AirBnB.com, right? This is the website where you can rent a furnished apartment in <insert name of city> just for the night or a treehouse or a log cabin or a house on stilts or even a private island. Just for the night, or the weekend, or the duration of your trip.
If you’re not into traveling, you can use these websites as a second (or primary) source of income, by hosting travelers. I have a friend who lives in Portland who keeps her studio apartment listed on AirBnB and whenever she gets a renter, she just packs up her son and spends the night at Grandma’s house.
Are you “me enough?”
January 8, 2014
I’ve been tossing around the idea of “being me” for a while now, ever since I first realized that I didn’t know who I was anymore. Aside from the technical fact that you can never really be anything other than who you are, it’s really stressful to feel like you’re detached from your true self.
When I was a kid I knew who I was and who I was going to be. I was going to travel the world, I was going to wear lots of hats, spend a lot of time on the beach and always go to cocktail parties where I’d get to talk and laugh all the time. I was going to raise money for charities and help the world somehow. I’d have a bunch of kids, have friends over for dinner all the time and never worry about money. My dream-husband and I would be a powerhouse team, working together to make sure we planned ahead and retired comfortably and that our kids had every opportunity they needed to be their best. Our home would be a lovely haven where anything was possible and friends loved to come relax and visit.
But marriage changed all of that. Instead of “being me” it became important to build up “us.” Which was fine until my core beliefs about what’s important in life began to be whittled away, without my consent. Instead of traveling all the time, we were canceling travel plans because we could never afford it. Instead of having mutual friends over for dinner and cocktails, we just had his friends over to smoke pot all the time. I wouldn’t dream of inviting my friends over because everything needed repaired, we had holes in walls and floors and always an appliance that was broken. Instead of working together to make sure the kids were awesome, I was abandoned to parenting in spite of the obstacles he presented. There was no teamwork, no pride, no cocktail parties, no travel and no ME anywhere in sight.
Everything “me” was ignored, swept under the rug, criticized and vilified.
When we separated, the idea of falling in love again was the LAST thing on my mind. I actively did NOT want to get into any new relationships because I was so hurt from the way things went down. I decided to be heartless, I swear. I wasn’t going to ever love any man ever again because obviously I have bad taste in men. I KNEW that feeling loved was important and I looked forward to a self-fulfilling life, because I never wanted to trust anyone else to help me get that feeling again. Being with my kids always made me feel loved and I looked forward to the opportunity for us to be on our own so I could fully embrace that aspect of mothering because they grow so quickly.
And it’s worked so far. The gratification I get from being a mom these days outshines my old life without a doubt. Our life together now is so peaceful and so easy. I don’t have to worry that any of us will be yelled at for messes, We’re never recovering from his latest tantrum anymore. It’s a rare occasion now, when I find myself comforting them because of his temper. I’m no longer spending time trying to figure out what on earth he’s so mad about or what I did wrong. I get to focus on the joy of living and mothering, like never before.
As far as romance goes, I’m still hurt. It’s not like I haven’t dated anyone but I’m still in no condition for a real relationship. I’m vulnerable and needy and paranoid and self-loathing and sometimes I suspect that anyone who would WANT an actual relationship with me might be somewhat of a mess to begin with. I ask myself “Who is your dream-man looking for?” And the answer is always that I need to be smarter, prettier, more fit, make better financial decisions, have more free time, bla bla bla. I toss around the idea of a serious relationship and honestly I just KNOW that if someone were to come into my life and “play dad” with my kids I would probably hate them pretty quickly. Dads are undoubtedly at the top of my shitlist.
But the answer to that question above is important. It’s derived from a Tony Robbins course I listen to, I think it’s called “Time of your life.” He asks listeners to describe their dream spouse. What would the perfect lover be like? Would he look a certain way? What are his hobbies? What kind of career does he have? What are his values? Does he volunteer? Does he travel? Does he enjoy music? Does he have pets?
Tony advises that when you have a clear picture of what kind of spouse you want, turn it around and ask yourself “What kind of girl would I need to be in order to have a relationship with him?”
That’s all fine and dandy if your main concern in life is to find a man but mine isn’t. I just want to be me for a change, I want to be my best self and not be weakened by the vulnerability of feeling crushed by a lover who might not even be doing anything wrong. I don’t want to jump into any future until I’m healed from the past and I have such a long way to go. I want to be “me enough” that no matter who he is, I’m not damaged by it. I want to be “me enough” that if I lose a relationship I don’t feel like I’m losing part of myself. I want to be “me enough” that if the relationship is toxic I can say goodbye without looking back.
So how on earth do I go about being “me enough?” I haven’t found a recipe, but I do have a general idea of how it’s been working so far.
By going back to the beginning list of things I want in my life, which represent who I am.
I wanted deep conversations with intelligent people on a wide variety of topics. I wasn’t “me enough” in the past because I had very little time to devote to learning more about the world, moreover I wasn’t really allowed to be very social because I was married to someone who thought that platonic male-female relationships were nonexistent. I’d try to have discussion s with the people around me about the things I was reading and learning on my own and in the college courses I was taking, but no one around me had much of anything to contribute to the conversation. It always felt like I was introducing a new topic. Talking to other men was “inappropriate” and I wasn’t given the freedom to participate in many social activities without the kids. I love my mom-friends so very deeply, but it’s nice to occasionally meet someone who can’t rattle off birth interventions in order of their destructiveness, someone who knows more about geology than breastfeeding obstacles and someone who has never heard of Piaget. Over the past few years, I’ve been able to consciously surround myself with people who have a wider circle of interests. I’ve been able to read more, listen to more educational podcasts, keep up with current events and watch more documentaries. For the first time, in this area of life, I feel like I’m me-enough because I’m still always learning and insanely curious about what makes other people tick. My curiosity is satisfied, but never satiated. That’s me-enough.
I wanted cocktail parties with friends all the time. When I picture this, I just picture myself casually holding onto a glass of red wine, in a social situation where conversations like the ones in the previous paragraph can occur. I picture friends laughing around a dinner table together and smiling, happy people. There has been more of this in my life over the past two years than there ever has before. Not nearly enough, but I guess the situation is improving. It’s not exactly me-enough, but I’m getting there. The tricky part is creating this for myself, from scratch. I’m not shy, I’m not terribly introverted but I am definitely socially damaged by spending so many years cooped up without a social life. Having your husband’s friends over all the time to eat your food and get high isn’t really a social life. Sometimes I don’t know how to talk to strangers. I don’t know how to jump into a social setting. I’m not chickening out, but I’m definitely me-enough to feel like I’ve reached this goal. I’ll get there, wherever “there” is. Is it one night out a week with friends? Is it three nights out a week? I guess I’ll know it when I feel it.
I wanted to travel the world. Over the past two years I’ve been to Las Vegas twice, Los Angeles 3 or 4 times, quick trips to Seattle and Portland and probably a few others that I can’t immediately recall. What amount of travel is me-enough? Part of our custody agreement is that he gets the kids for the entire month of July. I liked this idea because it gives me a chance to take a trip every year. Last year I had my passport all ready for travel and it didn’t happen. I shouldn’t have depended on someone else taking me. My recent trip to Canada was an effort to heal from that disappointment and reclaim 2013 is the lucky year that I get to leave the country for the first time. I did it. It was the best I could do and it helped me feel me-enough. I’m planning ahead better for 2014. There’s no way I’m going to let July pass by without my trip. If I have to do it alone, then so be it. My travel wishes are in my control now and I’m feeling me-enough, now.
I wanted to be a force of goodness in the world, I wanted to operate a nonprofit or host a fundraiser or somehow distribute goodness to the world. I’m feeling very fulfilled in that way, because we just got home from our Socks for Skid Row trip. I’ve also contributed money to important causes and helped a friend raise money for her daughter’s medical bills. I’m not entirely me-enough in this way yet. I don’t feel terrible about it because I still need to be making more money for our family before I can afford to spend a lot of time making money for someone else. I’m me-enough for today, I guess. As my kids get older I fully expect to have more time to devote to an organization.
I wanted to wear lots of hats. I think I was like 14 when I decided this. At that time, to me, a hat represented the ultimate in unnecessary personal decorations. I had one straw hat that I always got compliments on and I loved it. Over the past two years, my collection of unnecessary personal decorations has exploded. I actually have a ton of fun jewelry and scarves and tights and hats and purses and things my old married self would never have owned. Without a doubt, I am me-enough in this category, but I’d love to spend the day scouring thrift shops or lingerie stores. Shopping used to be something I hated because every minute spent was a minute I wasn’t making money and every penny spent was a torturous reminder that bills needed to be paid. Now it’s a reminder that life no longer sucks. I can wear whatever I want now, it’s OK to stand out and be bold and colorful and no one is going to treat me with scorn because I look too pretty. it’s ok to be me and I’m so happy to be me-enough in this way. I still hate shopping malls and I’d rather explore a boutique curated by the vision of one fashionista than a big chain store. Unless it’s Free People. But still, I don’t need more hats, socks, clothes or jewelry in order to feel me-enough anymore.
Are you me-enough?
Who are you? What kinds of things are very important to you? In what way have you denied your inner self in order to make life easier? I’m here to tell you without a doubt that if you pay attention to being a little more YOU, life will be so much better.
What, No Presents from Santa?
December 27, 2013
I haven’t really told many people that we didn’t do Santa presents this year, but I’m sure that’s the reaction I’d get eventually. The truth is, for the first time in our lives my kids aren’t really pining away for anything they want. In the past, Christmas was the one chance I had as a mom to spend irrationally and get them something I wouldn’t normally be able to get. For kids who were used to never getting the things they wanted, Christmas was a chance to let my kids feel abundance, let them feel, for just a minute, that this was a special day. As a mom, being unable to give hurt like the worst kind of stabbing pain. Even as I saw them opening presents I was reminded of all the things I couldn’t afford to give them. I think that my pain of not being able to give the way I wanted to definitely influenced my kids’ Christmases.