polish and shine…

bootsAs I sat on my living room floor rubbing leather conditioner into my boots the smell of shoe-polish took me back about 30 years. Sitting on the floor of my parents living room floor, next to the fireplace, newspaper spread out in front of me as I polished my dad’s dress shoes. Dipping the cloth into the little tin full of thick black ointment. He wore suits for most of my childhood. Later on he was more casual but still in slacks and dress shirts. Sometimes a tie. But the shoes were always dark leather dress shoes. Practical but nice. Polished but not too shiny. And he never wore them on the weekend. And he never wore them in the evening. But Monday through Friday every week of the year – dress shoes. I started polishing his shoes at such a young age I can’t even recall when I began. It was a part of my childhood. It was a part of my youth. It was a part of my life. Even when I grew into a rebellious, sulky, asshole teen I would still sit on the living room floor and polish his shoes and then my own.

I hadn’t given it a thought in years, but now waiting for the conditioner to dry so I can shine my boots I know that it’s a memory I will never let go…

travel tales of a work at home cami…

travelsIn less than a week I’ll embark on a work adventure with 260ish of my nearest and dearest co-workers. Over the last 18 months I’ve been at Automattic some of my colleagues have become close friends. Some are still total strangers. None the less we’ll be all in one place for 7 days to work and play and spend time together. This presents some interesting challenges and opportunities. We’re a distributed company which means we work from wherever we want. We build our own schedules. We manage our own time. To some it might seem chaotic but if I’ve learned anything in my time here it’s that we get things done.

But how’s a hermit girl who works from the sofa in her pajamas more often than not supposed to prepare for 7 days jam-packed with company goodness? After I figured out where my kid will be and what she’ll be doing while I’m away. Once my travel plans are made and double checked. And I know that my guy will  be able to take care of my cats, probably better care of them than I do. And I have my favorite carry-on hard-case at the ready. And my travel size toiletry bottles are all filled up with my favorite products, not whatever brand happens to be sold in the 3.4oz size. After all that what becomes important?  It’s really not the big things at all. Here’s the top 5 list of stuff keeping me awake at night as I gear up for the Automattic Grand Meetup:

5 – Clothes. I work from home. By myself. Sometimes at off hours. It’s gross but there are days I totally forget to shower until it’s time to pick my kid up from school. I pretty much live in my pajamas or jeans and WordPress t-shirts. Yep. I’m wearing the latter right now. When I have a meeting here or a get together there I can get dressed. When I go out to a nice dinner with my guy, I’ve got an outfit for that. School functions, I’ve got that covered. But something about  getting up 8 mornings in a row and putting on an outfit I feel good in and am happy to run out and play and work with friends and co-workers is daunting. I was raised to believe that it’s important to dress appropriately for work. Now that means different things to different people and that’s a-okay. But for me it’s important that I make an effort and feel good. My wardrobe isn’t built for that though. Luckily my best friend who wears roughly the same size as I do is a clothes-horse. She came over with enough tops and dresses to cover me in cute without repeating an outfit for a full month. I picked some of my favorites and into the suitcase they go.

4 – My hair.  I haven’t seen my natural hair color since I was 15 years old. It’s been a gothic rainbow of colors plus a few shades of blond but for the most part it’s been black. More than half my life my hair has been drenched in color. I want it to look nice when I’m out and about. Fresh. Bright. Bouncy. Mostly because while I’m there the last thing I want to think about is my hair. I’m low maintenance with it from day-to-day but if the color isn’t crisp I feel like a mess. Last night I relaxed with my kid, watched tv, and let the box of blue-black do its magic on my hair and brows. I looked like a drippy super-villain for 25 minutes but I won’t stress about it while I’m away.

3 – Medication. 12 years ago I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. It took a couple of years of trial and error with diet, supplements, and medication to get all squared away but my blood pressure is in check now. I only had enough pills to get me through half of the meetup and for some reason insurance companies done like to refill those prescriptions early. The hour I spent yesterday waiting to see if they’d approve my prescription for an early pickup probably elevated my bp enough that I could have used a higher dosage. Now I’ll just worry that they won’t let me through security with my collection of medication, naproxen, and vitamins.

2 – My phone. Not just my phone but my phone, my tablet, and my laptop. And my cords and cables. Also my backup chargers. I’m afraid I’ll leave something at home. Or that I’ll be the one person without signal at the hotel. Because it would be impossible to pick up a hotel phone and dial up my loved ones. Inconceivable!

1 – Elevation sickness. Ever since it hit me that we’ll be more than a mile above sea level this has plagued my waking hours. What if I get dizzy. What if I get a headache. What if I can’t sleep at night?! What if I can’t drink enough water? What if my head explodes? What if I fall off the earth or something??! My boyfriend pointed out the other night that I have a tendency to find the item which should cause me the least concern and worry about it above all others. It distracts me from worrying about the big things. Like what if a giant comet comes crashing down to earth throwing up enough debris to cloud the entire planet killing all the plants and dinosaurs? You know, if there were any dinosaurs around to kill. So I think I’ll just go ahead and worry to my heart’s content.

After all rational me knows that everything I’ll need to combat this potential minor issue will be waiting there for me when I arrive. Along with my excellent friends and colleagues who won’t care about my hair, or my clothes, and will probably have spare chargers and cables they’re ready and willing to share.

I’ll worry about those poor dinosaurs later.


dyeing hurts…

IMG_1897Call it what you will, vanity, existential crisis, rebellion, or something else all together but I’ve been dyeing my hair for the past 22 years. I started life out with stick straight white blond hair but by the time I was 15 (the last time I saw my natural hair at any length greater than 1″) it was a dull dishwater blonde. I hated it. My hair faded into nothing and I wanted it to shine. Perhaps because I wanted to shine.

Over the last two decades it’s been burgundy, black, orange, bright red, purple, bleach blond, bubbly blond, golden blond, chocolate-brown, auburn, and black again.

I’ve dyed it, my friends have dyed it, my stylists have dyed it. Once when I was still a teen my mom made me sit in a salon for 8 hours to have the dye stripped from my hair because she was so pissed at me for dyeing it black.

Since 10 years or so ago I’ve even dyed my brows and lashes (remember, I’m blond so my lashes and brows are too). In fact I usually know it’s time to dye my hair again when I have to pencil in my eyebrows. I had to do that the last couple of days. It’s annoying. It’s time-consuming. And it’s a pain to get right.

So this evening with the night all to myself after working a long day and making healthy dinner choices I decided it was time to dye my hair, eat some ice cream, and watch some tv. Simple, but a little indulgent. It should have been calm. Happy. Easy. A lovely series of moments with my feet up and my mind at ease. And it was until I made the one mistake that I’ve never made in all my years of dyeing.

Dye in the eye my friends, dye in the eye. Never take your contacts out while you’re tinting your brows. Trust me your life will be better for it.

looking a clothes horse in the mouth…

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I know the old idiom. And really, I get it. And I don’t. Hi there, here’s me being incredibly thankful for all the gifts handed to me in this life. But a clothes horse? That’s another matter entirely.

I have a lot of clothes, but I wear the same few outfits over and over again. I purchase multiples of staples like jeans and tank tops to take the tough decision-making out of dressing for everyday events. I have dresses for any number of occasions from BBQ to tea party to black-tie affair. I have a shiny sequined  shrug, several suede leather jackets (which you can’t wear in Oregon. Ever.) more cropped colored sweaters than I can count, and a coat closet full of coats for every weather situation. I have skirts, slacks, suits blouses, sweaters, tops, scarves, hats, leggings, tights, stockings and more socks than is strictly reasonable. I have a giant drawer for bras. And another for underwear. I have a lot of clothes. It would be fair to say I have too many.

But you know what, I’m a grown ass woman. I’ve been collecting clothes for ages now. I have sweaters from 15 years ago. I have jackets from 20 years ago. Things accumulate.

I am under the impression though that my child has more clothing than I have. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to receive awesome hand-me-downs over the years from generous family and friends. Family and friends with awesome fashion sense and style to boot. Plus grandparents who love to buy her back to school clothes each year. And then there’s gifts for birthdays and holidays. Plus the items she carefully selects whenever given a chance. And the pieces so fantastic that I can’t help but pick them up to expand her ever evolving wardrobe. She has more than enough clothing to fill a walk-in closet, let alone her closet. Add to that all the dance gear that litters our home. And an unreasonable number of conference and WordPress shirts.

Much like me she wears the same things over and over again. But somehow clothes she never wears are in the wash all the time. Clothes that don’t fit stay in heavy rotation. Clothes that are her very favorite are never worn because they’re hidden under a rock, hanging from a tree, or  much more likely shoved in some dark recess of her closet covered in unwanted toys and misplaced school work.

Today, with a mighty roar from me and an unacceptable though understandable amount of eye rolling from her, we’re working to look that clothes horse right in the mouth. Examine its tongue and take a healthy look down its esophagus as we get some of this clothing clutter our of our home.

Spring cleaning? No. Purging. Spring purging, as I’m sure there will be another clothes binge in the fall.

What about my clothes, you ask? I got rid of a dress. What more do want from me?

a weekend by any other name…

Well hello, weekend, if that is your real name. It feels like it’s been such a long time since we’ve had an earnest little chat. That’s probably my fault. I’ve been too busy trying to keep with all the crazy shit the week throws at me in order to give you the attention you deserve. I get that I haven’t been doing the things you want to do. It’s been all running the kid back and forth to dance classes, rehearsals, and performances. And work, yes. I’m able to admit that. I’ve been working during “our time”, weekend. And then there are the chores. Oh the chores. And the errands.

Lets face it, even when I’m not playing ballet mom, working, and doing chores I haven’t been giving you what you need, have I? I know that watching me lie on the couch exhausted from a long full week as I binge watch shows on Netflix and Hulu isn’t your idea of a good time.

Wow, I was about to get defensive. I was going to be funny and say “But hey, those shows don’t watch themselves!” But that was just me trying to make myself feel better about a situation that needs some work. Okay, a situation that needs a lot of work. You deserve far better than you’re getting from me. There are folks who give their weekends everything.


They wake up early to romance the day, go on a hike in the beautiful forested hills, enjoy a delicious light breakfast, then it’s off to a charming little coffee shop for a flight of locally roasted espresso with carefully selected treat pairings. That’s all before they head off to the coast for an afternoon of walking on the beach. Or to the river or mountains to enjoy the great outdoors. Or perhaps to a concert. Or a play.

You’re lucky if I go out for brunch and a couple of bloody marys before I decide it’s nap time instead of the normal working, doing chores, and collapsing on the sofa.

This weekend will be no different. Here it is Saturday afternoon and I’ve already vacuumed, argued with a surly tween, played ballet mom, made two sub par meals, washed and dried two loads of laundry (but folded nothing), hung a framed poster in the kitchen, worked for 2 hours, and watched an episode of an awful show. I have no illusions that today is going to get any more exciting for either of us. There’s overseeing homework, more ballet shuttling, chores, chores, chores, grocery shopping to do, and if I’m lucky another few episodes of binge watching an awful show I started last night and just want to get through quickly so I can start some other show which is equally bad. Tomorrow will look pretty similar but with a stream of Star Wars movies playing in the background.

I think what I’m trying to say here, and maybe I should have just started with this, is that it’s not you, weekend. It’s me. I don’t think that I can be the kind of person you need right now. The kind of person you deserve. So let’s just stop this charade. Let’s stop playing this little game where we pretend that I can be someone I’m not just because your two days happen to begin with the letter S.

You’re just a part of the week to me, weekend. Just a part of the week. But we can still be friends, right?

held captive in dark comedy…

Cut in on our hapless heroine. Curled up in bed furiously typing with her thumbs on the illuminated screen of her phone. The room is dark but from the glow at the edge of the black curtains we can see morning light penetrating her dim purgatory. Her bedroom acts as a holding cell keeping her safely ensconced in darkness until she summons the strength to move. The glow of the screen lights her face as her thumbs pause in contemplation. She glances at the time but the digits only serve to drive her deeper into her blankets as the rapid thumb typing escalates.

And then the phone rings scaring her enough that she lightly tosses the phone from her hands bashing her nose. Has she forgotten the primary purpose of a phone? Is she afraid the caller bears sad tidings? Bad tidings? Perhaps her nerves are just completely fucking shot?

That reads like a caricature  of a morning. An exaggeration of a frazzled woman. It’s not. That’s a fairly accurate description of so very many of my mornings of late. When my phone rings it’s almost always my boyfriend. But when he isn’t on the other end it’s usually a member of my family calling to let me know that someone is dead. Or dying. Sometimes it’s that too.

Two weeks ago the school district’s auto-dialer called to remind me of the district wide late start, I wanted to hug the woman who made the recording simply because she wasn’t telling me anything shocking that I didn’t already know.

Death has loomed like a reeking cloud. A creeping horror movie fog obscuring all it touches and filling the spaces in my life with grief and mourning.

It seems I’ve reached an age at which people I’ve know all my life must leave us.

Ugh. Leave us. Pass on. Meet one’s end. Depart this life. Expire. Kick the bucket. I don’t like any of the euphemisms.

Those I love keep dying and I’m just done with it.

I fear my friends and co-workers are beginning to think I’m making up family members and killing them off as an excuse to be moody and absent. I can’t make this stuff up. I may be morbid, but I’m not that creative. Just tired.

all I wanted was a cup of coffee…

IMG_5727You know that foggy fuzzy state your brain can succumb to when you’ve been on the go for weeks on end. Traveling, working, family issues, cat hairballs. These things can make the most collected person tired. I would go so far as to say zombie-like.

This was just the case yesterday morning when I finally woke in my own bed after being on the road off and on for a few weeks. I was looking forward to curling up in my bed with my laptop and a really strong cup of this coffee I love. I’d been looking forward to it for several days. My coffee. At home. In bed. While catching up on work.

Simple pleasures.

So I crawled out of bed and stumbled, groggy, into my kitchen. I ran the beans through the grinder, filled the coffee maker with water, and placed the coffee pot into the machine. Just as the grinder ground to a halt I turned to pick it up. There was a scraping noise, then a sliding noise. Then…

Before I could think my lighting fast reflexes took over. I narrowly missed the falling carafe with my outstretched hand, but a little quick thinking placed my foot in its path.

My foot. In its path. This is where I take a moment to tell you that I don’t know what I was thinking. And to point out that I hadn’t had my coffee yet. So there really was no thinking.

Did you know that upon hitting a bare human foot a coffee pot can shatter into a billion or so tiny pieces? Because it can. And apparently it will. If that coffee pot is my coffee pot. And that foot is my foot.

Interestingly enough, it can also shatter into a billion pieces on a bare human foot without leaving a single scratch, cut, gouge, or wound. What it can not do is hold coffee once it’s in those billion pieces.

So I’ve been seeing a lot of my favorite coffee  shop owners these past two days.