that time a guy with a red goatee broke into my home…

It started off as a fairly typical Monday morning. Typical within Monday parameters anyway. My kid wasn’t home Sunday night. Rick stayed over but got up early to head into town for a standing Monday morning meeting. I snoozed. And then in typical Monday fashion I woke on my own shortly before 8:00 AM.

I stretched. One of those incredible stretches that leave you feeling as though your fingers might skim the sky while your toes push toward the center of the earth. And then I picked up my phone to gently advance into my workday. I read a few work related posts. Sent a friend a text about shoes. I opened up Twitter and was just starting to read some of my search columns when there was an urgent thud. That thud was closely followed by a few additional thuds. My pulse quickened and every bit of me tensed. But that’s pretty typical too. I’m an anxious person.

I forced a deep breath. I reminded myself that I have two frisky cats and that it’s not at all atypical for them to get into a brawl while I hide quietly in my room. Maybe Rick didn’t feed them before he left. Maybe they were feeling the onset of summer. Maybe Ripper, in the midst of a tense territorial struggle, gorged on one bowl of food and purged into the other to keep Spike from eating. It didn’t really matter. I could hear a flurry of activity out in the living room so I stood up to go negotiate a peace between them. But my heart wouldn’t stop pounding and there was a nagging feeling of otherness. I picked up my phone and scanned my dark bedroom.

What if. Just what if it’s not my cats. And no I don’t mean what if it’s not just my cats like that one time I thought there was a raccoon in my kitchen for no reason at all.

I scooped my jeans up off the floor and tugged them on. They zipped and I was confused because I thought the jeans by the bed were button-fly. And I grabbed my striped shirt from the top of the laundry hamper pulling it over my head. I didn’t want to go out there naked because what if. I picked up my glasses and shoved them hastily into place.

Despite all my thinking and dressing it had only been seconds. Moments. And my hands were shaking just a little as I picked up my phone and stepped to my bedroom door. Because what if?

I stepped out of my bedroom door and looked down the hallway to see a man with a red goatee standing in my living room. He’d been rifling through the odds and ends on top of my entry table.

And one of my cats started meowing. And the man who stood there in my living room in baggy shorts and a baggy shirt with a bandana on his head and a red goatee was standing there in my living room. Just standing there. Staring back at me. And you know, he looked pretty surprised to see me. So I said “Please leave.” And he ran toward my dining area and I stepped back into my room.

FullSizeRender-1And I remember listening to the sound of him trying to open my sliding-glass door. Too much pressure. One heavy clunk followed by another. I was dialing the second 1 on my phone by the time I heard the third clunk. And I hit the green circle to start the call by the time I finally heard the seal on the sliding-glass door open because he had figured out that there was a metal pipe barring the door from sliding.

And my hands were shaking and my throat was tight and I had backed into the walk-in closet in my bedroom because it seemed like a good idea to get as many doors between me and that piece of shit with the red goatee as I possibly could. And the voice on the other end of the phone surprised me when it didn’t ask for the nature of my emergency but instead asked for my address. And I don’t know how I made words out of the sounds issuing from my throat but I told him exactly where I lived. Except that whole city part. “Portland?” he asked. I managed a yes. “I’m transferring you to the Portland call center.” he said.

And I felt trapped. And I wasn’t at all sure what I should be doing or where I should be when another voice came on the line almost instantly and this time she asked me the question I expected to hear “What’s your emergency?” And I told her voice that there was a man in my home.

And at this moment I can’t remember all the things I said but I know I didn’t sound okay because she had to ask me to calm down. Twice. She had thought I’d come home to find I’d been robbed. She didn’t understand immediately that I had been safe and snug in my bed only to hear someone force his way into my home. She dispatched police. She told me they were coming. With sirens. And at some point while I was on the phone with her, still standing in my closet with my foot near the heavy axe that I keep tucked by my file cabinet, I texted Rick.

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There was more conversation with the 911 operator. I somehow explained more clearly what happened. She told me there were cars with lights and sirens blaring heading my way. She was very specific about the lights and sirens. Rick texted back. He was on his way.

And I remember that I was holding all the air in my lungs and it was then that I let it out. Her voice told me where the police were. I don’t remember the street but I remember thinking it was close. I worried about starting work and I couldn’t get Slack to come up on my phone so I texted a coworker forgetting that she was off with family in town.

The voice on the phone started asking questions. She wanted a description. I gave her one, but it wasn’t the best. He was a white guy with a red goatee. Not that tall, but I’m a horrible judge of height. Average weight, not heavy. His clothes were baggy. I think he was wearing shorts because I remember thinking shins. It would hurt him if I kicked him in the shin.

And I felt like I had totally failed. Like I should have remembered in that brief moment that I saw him and asked him to leave that I was going to have to describe him to the 911 operator. To the police. To my neighbors and friends.

I calmed down enough to accept that the man with the red goatee and baggy clothes wearing a bandana over his hair had really left and so I worried about my cats. I kept thinking that a man horrible enough to break into someone’s home would not be considerate enough to close the sliding door as he fled. I told the voice that I was going to go into the living room to look for my cats.

She told me she would stay on the phone.

Ripper was there meowing and stressed. Circling my feet. Head-butting my ankle. Spike was gone. I called his name. The voice told me the police were nearly to my place and asked me where I was, where I would be. And I told her I was in my living room looking for my cat. She told me there would be a K-9 unit and asked me to try not to walk where the man with the red goatee had been.

And that’s when I got angry. Really fucking angry. Not with the voice but with that stupid fucked up breaking and entering thieving piece of shit who had forced his way into my home. I couldn’t step where he stepped. I couldn’t touch what he touched. And I started shaking and I told the voice that I would just stand in one place.

I told her that my boyfriend was on his way because I didn’t want the cops to arrest him or something. She asked for his name and for a description. Thankfully I was able to describe Rick more accurately than the burglar. The voice told me an officer had arrived and would like me to go outside if I could. That she would stay on the phone with me until I saw Officer Saunders.

I carefully walked to my front door not knowing where I should step and unlocked both locks, turned the knob, and stepped into the bright sunlight. It occurred to me then that I wasn’t wearing a bra or shoes and I suddenly remembered evacuating my hotel room in Philly a little more than a week ago at 2:30 AM when the fire alarm sounded. Throwing on clothes, running down 5 flights of stairs. Barefoot. With no bra. I was clutching my phone then too.

I saw the officer down at the sidewalk looking around and I breathed. “I see the officer” I told the voice. “You can hang up now.” She said something comforting and I remembered how helpful she had been. I couldn’t remember if I had thanked her and that seemed wrong. I thanked her and hit the red button to hang up. I walked a few steps down the driveway and stood very still glancing at my gate which was wide open.

The officer came to meet me. And we talked. I know we talked. She introduced herself and told me what would be happening but I can’t remember any of it. We stayed outside for a little while and I tried to call my team-lead but the voicemail message was unfamiliar. I wasn’t sure if it was the right number and I hung up.

And honestly it gets boring from there – with a few comical asides mixed in because such is life.

The officer was wonderful. She was careful, considerate, and kind. I asked if I could close the screen door to keep my cat in. She said of course. I mentioned my missing cat and she couldn’t help but notice the cat that wasn’t missing as he mewed for attention, both hers and mine. She asked if the K-9 unit would upset him. Yeah, it would. So I moved him to my room and closed the door. There was more conversation and I shifted nervously feeling naked and exposed in my own home. I asked if it was okay for me to go put a bra on and I felt like I was in grade school asking permission to go to the bathroom. She laughed and told me that it was, of course, okay. That I should pretend she wasn’t there.

If I’d pretended she wasn’t there I don’t think I could have continued to breathe. I told her how relieved I was that my daughter hadn’t been home and she hugged me. I thought it would be awkward she was so laden down with her vest and gear, but it wasn’t. I felt grateful. I felt privileged.

And then out of the corner of my eye I saw movement outside the front window. Rick showed up and as I opened the door he hugged me. I thought he would crush the air from my chest as he held me and I was thankful for the tight embrace. He made coffee and Officer Saunders took more details for the report. I could hear another officer in my yard. Officer Saunders answered a call on her phone. Rick went out to look for Spike.

I think this may have been when I realized that the metal pipe I used to keep that sliding door shut tight, my makeshift metal security measure, was gone. He’d taken in with him. But left the machete which rested by the sliding door. He stole my security pipe?!

Another officer came inside to show me a picture to id. He stood behind my couch and I sat on my knees backwards on the couch like a child. Ripper rammed his furry head into the officer’s hip and meowed for affection. And he showed me a picture of a guy who was quite probably the stupid fucked up breaking and entering thieving piece of shit with the red goatee and bandana who had forced his way into my home by ripping out the window-mounted air conditioning unit in my dining room. He was taller than I thought, but that’s no surprise. I’m bad with height. And I still couldn’t cry but at least I could breathe. Rick came back with no cat. Officer Saunders told him to make sure I didn’t work today. To get me to just sit. To breathe. And then she left. And the door was closed. And it was locked just as it had been an hour earlier.

Rick and I stood at the table sipping coffee. Me staring blankly. Rick rescheduling meetings. Me signing into work to sign off work for the day. Reason for day off?

“Other – I left my bedroom this morning thinking I was breaking up a particularly unruly catfight in which things were being knocked to the floor only to discover a burglary in process in my home. I am more than a little freaked out at the moment and one of my cats is missing.”

We drank coffee as I stared blankly. Rick asked if I called my parents. No. So I called my dad. It’s weird since folks have gotten rid of home phones and moved to cell phones a clear line has been drawn. Even though they’ve been married since before the invention of dirt there are definitely things I call my daddy for and things I call my mom for. Home invasion, be it rodent or human, seems to be a daddy call. But though I called my dad my mom answered. And I was mum on the reason as she called him inside to talk to me. But in that pause things started to sink in and my personality started to take over.

When my dad picked up the phone and I told him what had happened. About the burglar. About the missing cat. Things clicked and I laughed.

“I know Spike is missing but I’m pretty sure the guy wasn’t a cat burglar.”

“At least you still have a sense of humor” my dad said.

I think I’ll have that until they pry it from my cold dead fingers.

Because despite the invasion. Despite the attack on my space. Despite real harsh life seeping in. I’m still me.

Rick paced. I got off the phone. “I’m pretty sure Spike is under the couch,” he said.

In a display of super human strength, I tipped the super light Ikea sofa onto its back legs to find my fat black cat cowering. He looked up at me and mewed. He stretched, stood up, glanced from left to right, and then sauntered out of his hiding place. He was still unusually quiet.

And I finally cried.

It was then that Rick went into action mode. Fixing solving safe-making mode. I caught a glimpse of sheer anger on his face. Really, it’s one thing to fuck with him. That’s something he will deal with calmly. It’s something else entirely to fuck with someone he loves. He started pacing the backyard. Trying to uninstall the bracket for the air conditioner in the dining room. Doing the things he needed to do.

He needed to do things.

The bolts holding the bracket in place for my air conditioner were stripped and we didn’t have a Phillips head large enough so I called my daddy again. He brought one out. More action. More movement. More breathing. With the bracket out we moved on. Daddy left. Rick fixed a bolt through my gate latch. Then secured the gate with spare cinderblocks. He uninstalled the air conditioning unit in my bedroom.

And then all I wanted was to rest. “I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tonight,” I told him. He asked if I could sleep then. In the afternoon. With him in the other room working. I tried.

And it wasn’t that I didn’t feel safe. Because with him here I did. And it wasn’t because I wasn’t tired. Because I really was. But I couldn’t sleep. I could close my eyes. I could feel the weight of exhaustion. But I could also imagine a thousand scenarios in which the piece of shit with the red goatee broke into my home and took what was dearest to me. Not my things. Not my stuff. My safety. My security. My peace.

So now with both my window air conditioning units uninstalled, we move into the hottest week Portland has seen in a while. It’s going to be hot. 105 on Saturday. And I’m going to be bitchy. And angry. Not so much because of the sweat. But because I feel like it’s my fault that the scumbag broke in. Because I left myself vulnerable. Because I had not one but two window air conditioners. Because I made it possible for someone to force their way into my home.

I’m engaged in my very own round of victim blaming. But at least I’m wearing a bra and I know where my kid, my cats, and my heart are.

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things not to do with an evening to myself…

IMG_0940As I sit here on the sofa with a kitty to each side of me the evening unfurling like a spool of shiny ribbon I’m paralyzed as I contemplate the possibilities.  My mind races.

I could do anything. Or nearly anything. But what?

Because I’ve already had brunch today. And gotten a hair cut. And picked up those ridiculous caramels made here in Portland that I love more than I really think its okay to love something edible. And I seriously contemplated re-piercing my nose but decided against it because I don’t really need any more holes in my head. And I’d most likely just take it out again since I’ve already done it twice. But I did put on a tiny little slip-on nose ring just because it’s super cute and it goes so well with the PJs and high-heels I’m wearing to sit on this sofa.

I could clean the kitchen. Or scrub the toilet. Or do the laundry. Or call a friend. But if I’m at all realistic here I find it far more likely that I’m going to sit right here admiring my shoes and slip-on nose ring while I ignore all this cat fur and the dishes sitting in the sink and binge watch something I’ve already seen twice. Because priorities.

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eat an egg, take a shower…

One of the troubles that some folks have with working from home is the very same thing some folks find so amazing. Often times those are the very same folks on a different day. Or before and after noon.

This morning I woke up and though the sun was shining outside, my bedroom was still dark and quiet. Black curtains drawn. Cats had been fed an hour previous so they weren’t bugging me. I rubbed my eyes, stretched, put on my glasses, and reached over to my bedside table to scoop up my laptop. As soon as I opened it I was sucked into the day’s events. Eventually I readjusted my pillows and sat up but it wasn’t until hours later when I needed to have a chat with a teammate that I decided to put on some clothes and move out to the where my charger is.

I hadn’t had coffee. I hadn’t had tea. I hadn’t had breakfast. I hadn’t taken my blood pressure medication. Actually I still haven’t taken my blood pressure medication let me go do that…

Even after moving to the living room with my charger it was hours before I made myself stop to do the things one needs to do to care for herself. In the time before I got smart and said “Hey you need a break!” I had several meetings, did a bunch of work, freaked out on my boyfriend over a simple schedule change, told my work partner I should have taken a mental health day, and told my friend that I’m a total wreck and she totally needed to be aware of that before I could meet her later because, duh, I might totally freak out. There may have also been a point at which I sat on the sofa staring off into space with my eyes watering up.

And why? Because I didn’t have to get up and take a shower and have a meal and get dressed to meet the day. Or coworkers. Or people of any kind. Just hours before I had been reveling in it but I let it drag on a little too long. I sat and worked a little too hard with a little too much concentration for a little too long and forgot the all important fact that I’m a person. Not a machine.

So I had a hard-boiled egg and some carrots. I had another glass of tea. I took a shower. And then I made a couple of apologies for my general crankiness and got back with the program. And as you may have noted above took my blood pressure meds. I also took my vitamins because they taste like cherry sweet-tarts.

Sometimes we all need to be reminded that we can only be good at what we do if we’re also at least moderately good to ourselves. I’m thinking that’s not just me.

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musical chairs…

IMG_0651Working from home affords for a fair amount of flexibility. I don’t just mean the obvious stuff like being able to take my kid to school and being around when packages are delivered or taking long lunch breaks. All of those, along with pants or no pants flexibility are great. But the thing that’s really on the forefront of my mind today is that I can work from anywhere I like. For many of my co-workers that means traveling the world with their laptop and working wherever the wifi is strong. And that’s amazing. But for me I find working wherever I happen to stop for a few minutes here at home a source of  endless curiosity. I don’t mean wherever I am in Portland – BBQ joint, nail salon, the local co-working space, or a coffee shop. I mean at home.

So as I work through my day here’s a list of places I stop to work and why I work there.

  • Curled up on my side in bed squinting at the phone without my contacts in or glasses on typing with thumbs at my co-workers. I needed to impart some basic information and I wanted to do so right away before moving to the laptop.
  • Sitting in bed, lights off, glasses on, computer in my lap, hoping to squeeze in a solid hour of work before my teen realized I was awake and asked for something.
  • At my standing table with my new chalkboard vase filled with fresh mint. Working here is awesome, particularly in the morning with the cool breeze drifting in bringing with it the tweets and trills of bird chatter. Never mind the sound of traffic. And the fact that my cats both mightily object to me standing here since they can’t get into my lap or in front of my keyboard so there may be a constant stream of meows that may as well be sailor-like swearing.
  • The sofa. I’m not gonna lie, this one sucks me in. Turn on the tv for background noise, line up my coffee, water, and my other water on the arm of the couch. This is when the laptop desk comes into play. Where I take all my team chat calls. Where I catch up on slack or email for hours. Time goes away when I work from the sofa. One moment it’s 10am and the next thing you know it’s after 3 and there’s an alarm blaring at me reminding me to pick my kid up from school. The sofa is the time eater but also salvation on a busy day when I need to worry about nothing else in the world.
  • The school desks. These two little cuties are also new additions to the Kaos workspace. They might be permanent, they might be temporary. It all depends if they’re needed elsewhere but aside from just being cute as a button and making me nostalgic for a one room schoolhouse I never attended they’re an awesome place to perch for 15 minutes to an hour. Great for google hangouts when I only want to make myself presentable from the t-shirt up or I want to make sure the cats aren’t climbing all over me. Also a favorite spot for teen homework time and afternoon snacks.
  • The desk. Just the desk. Tried and true the desk is something no office, home or otherwise, would seem complete without. Does that mean I use it often? No. Does that mean I need to have it? Kind of yes. At least for heavy spreadsheet days when I’d go cross-eyed without my external monitor. And also the three months out of the year K isn’t in school because. Because it’s tucked into the corner of my room it’s often the only place during summer vacation I can hide away and harness enough concentration to get everything done. And with the teen’s summer vacation starting in less than two weeks it might be time for me to think about investing in a comfy desk chair.

For the majority of the day I tend to drift back and forth between the standing table and sofa. Sometimes because I feel like I’ve been in one place too long. Sometimes because something needs focus so I need to sit and concentrate. But over the past two weekends we’ve put a bit of hard work into an unruly backyard and by the end of this week, after the arrival of my new patio table and the reappearance of sunshine banishing today’s drizzly clouds, I’ll have another lovely place to work the day away. Hopefully it will help to quell some of summer’s distractions and give me a nice place to sip iced coffee in the fresh air while I answer a seemingly never-ending stream of email.

Those of you who work from home, do you work in one space or many? Where are your go-to spots for concentration?

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dear cat…

dear catDear Cat,

I hear you. Both on an audible level meaning I hear your loud howling and meowling. The heavy clomp of the kitty-paws I know can be so delicately silent. And the out-of-character hissing at your brother-cat. And on an emotional level I hear the intensity behind those kitty cries. And the pent-up energy tied up in your clomping and running around like a nimble herd of elephants.

But I’m beginning to feel a bit like I did as a new mother listening to the cries of my infant daughter. I know you want something. BUT WHAT? There’s food in your dish. Clean water in your bowl. Your litter box is clean. The sliding door is open so you can lay in front of it and survey your domain with the fresh air tickling your whiskers. And I’m home sitting on the couch working on my laptop. These are all things you love!

For the love of all things holy what do you want?

Wearily,

Your Human

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silence is golden – or – how we didn’t talk about age of ultron for 3 days…

cami love hulkFirst I should tell you that this post is not about Avengers: Age of Ultron. There will be no information about the movie. No spoilers. No nothing. I’m not even going to tell you what I think of the movie. Okay fine, maybe I’ll tell you if I liked it. Because it’s a superhero movie…

I always want to go see Marvel superhero movies. When they come out. Every time. Good, bad, in between? Doesn’t matter. Marvel superheroes tug on the heartstrings of my youth. But sometimes I can’t dash out right away to see a movie on opening day. It’s this life thing. And this parenting thing. Occasionally those get in the way of the movie watching thing.

And I don’t like spoilers. I really don’t like them.

So when the entire rest of the internet dashed out opening weekend to see Avengers: Age of Ultron they really wanted to talk about it. All of them. Every single person on the internet suddenly seemed to have seen the movie and wanted to tell every other person on the internet in detail why they loved it, why they hated it, why it didn’t have enough action, why it had too much action, why this character was this, and that character was that.

And oh my goodness did they want to make inside jokes about inside jokes and hint at plot points. Okay. Not all of you. Maybe just 1/10th of you. And truthfully I can’t blame you. I want to talk about it too.

But the internet, well pockets of it, I can and will avoid for a time. My loved ones are another matter. And my guy was one of the masses who saw the film in its first few days. And then we couldn’t talk about it. He couldn’t talk about it. He couldn’t even talk about movies for a few days, I think, in fear that details and thoughts might come gushing from his face landing in my delicate ears. I didn’t even want to know if he liked the movie until I was there in the moment. I wanted to hear none of it.

Now I have to say he did an excellent job of telling me nothing. But our conversations each evening were full of pregnant pauses and I could tell each time he was resisting the urge to spill, to ask, to share. So he didn’t do a great job keeping from me the fact that he loved it.  I mean, he couldn’t even wait for the weekend to come to go see it with me so he could have all the Avengers conversations he was longing to have. But he did a great job of not letting on why and that’s really the most important part.

After all was said and done and I had seen the movie too and he could finally talk to me about the all the things that came to mind in the three days between his viewing and mine he really only had one thing to say and it was a literary reference. The rest, he said, was all forgotten because I’d finally seen what he had. And I loved it.

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the making of a twitter bio…

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 9.56.41 AMLast night as I was walking down the street I was in the tweeting kind of mood. The sky was blue but the sun was just starting to hint at its intent to set. It was warm enough that I didn’t need a jacket but cool enough that I could wear a hoodie without overheating. I was heading to pick my kid up from her dance class. It was the one night of the week her dance class starts after dinner and goes late so I was bringing her a snack to eat on the way home hoping to get her to bed more quickly. I’d forgotten my headphones so instead of music blaring in my ears I was just listening to the sound of the creek next to me and the road behind me. And I felt cool. I felt like I was in my element. Owning it. And so I tweeted:

“Walking down the mean streets of Sellwood. Imagining I’m a badass. Wearing a WordPress shirt. Carrying a banana.”

And then I totally put my phone in my pocket and paid attention to where I was going because walking and tweeting is super dangerous. You know, sidewalk cracks and what not. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had summed up my evening perfectly. And the more I thought about it I felt like I summed me up pretty perfectly. Not always. Not forever. But my life right now for sure.

Walking? Check.

Sellwood? Check?

Imagining stuff? Check check check.

WordPress? Check.

Banana? I hate bananas. Even more than peas. But the people I love don’t. Check.

Plus I was getting super bored with my old one.

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