words…

they buzz and swirl while I sleep
a funnel cloud
scratching, nagging
tickling memories
inciting panic
ensuring unrest
until their buzzing leads to tossing
turning
and I open my eyes in the dark.

sometimes I’m happy to be wrong…

Sunday afternoon, after a weekend that saw more than its fair share of errands, chores, and video games, we walked down to the local theater to see a matinée screening of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2.

Before we go any further let me address the obvious. The thing many of you probably know. I am a cranky old lady who likes things a certain way and is often frustrated and annoyed with the actions of others. Like all others. I don’t have a list of people who I find frustrating or annoying. I have a list of people I don’t find frustrating or annoying. No that’s inaccurate. Let me restate. I have a list of people who are so endearing and amazing to me that I overlook any annoyance or frustration I feel for them because I love and celebrate them.

What I’m saying here is that I’m probably not the kind of person you want to go to the movie with because I often find the completely socially acceptable behavior of people in public places to be an annoyance and it’s not entirely unlikely that I will complain about it later.

But it is something I do know about myself so I strive to keep it in check or just stay home.

But I love movies. Particularly super hero movies. And my heart has a big soft spot for the Marvel universe. And it’s been a rough few months and I needed some mindless entertainment. So to the local theater we went. With popcorn. And beverages. And we sat in the same seats we always sit in because while they are old they are perfectly comfortable and do not squeak and are in what I would consider to be the perfect viewing location. Plus there’s a little wall in front of them on which I can set my drink or prop my feet.

And the theater started filling up. And it got crowded. And my normally empty row saw people filing in first on one side of us and then on the other. And wouldn’t you know it a group of three adolescent boys filed in and sat next to me. And I am not ashamed to admit that as they started talking loudly and boisterously I immediately prepared myself for agitation. And told myself that I couldn’t ask them to be quiet until they had been a disruption at least three times after the movie started.

I know I’m a killjoy. I know I’m easily annoyed. I also know that it’s usually more my problem than anyone else’s.

And then it happened. In the midst of their talking and laughing and showing each other pictures on their phones one of them kicked over a glass soda bottle. I heard it spin. And I heard that telltale gloop and sizzle as the sticky sweet highly carbonated beverage spilled over the floor. And the kid who had kicked the soda over reached down and picked up the bottle to examine the fullness and declared “that’s not too bad.”

And all three of them stood up at once. And I, being the pessimistic person I am, expected that they would just walk away to another set of seats. Instead the three set into action. One of them, closest to the door, declaring “I’ll go get some towels!” while the second turned on the light on his phone to shine it on the area. The boy who had spilled looked around to make sure it went no further and said “I’m sorry I got it on your shoes” to the boy who was lighting the area as the third boy ran back in with a handful of paper napkins. The spiller began to clean up the mess while the third boy ran out to get more napkins realizing that the first batch wouldn’t be enough.

They cleaned up the entire mess, threw away the napkins, and were settled back in chatting happily when the previews began. They talked in hushed tones through the previews and then silence fell on the lot of them for the entire movie. The only noises I heard were the crunching of popcorn and laughter.

They were good kids who I immediately judged too harshly just because they sat in my cranky row.

And I was happy to be proven wrong. This time.

 

 

 

tales of a traveling introvert: television time…

Getting to travel for work is pretty damn cool. It’s a problem sometimes, sure. But it’s not a bad problem to have. Where I often run into trouble, outside of the logistics and being away from my people, is that I need me time. I need quiet. I need to decompress. I need to sit in a room where no one is expecting anything of me and just be me.

After a long day of travel or working more than 12 hours each day during a trip that quiet night time becomes more important than ever. At home I’d be watching tv with my kid or hanging out in the kitchen while my guy cooks up something delicious. I might be watching something on streaming, playing video games on my iPad, or listening to music. I might just be staring at the wall.

The important part is that I feel safe being me. And that no stress or effort is brought into the equation.

Here enters the pain in the ass of hotel TVs. If I want to climb into bed and put something on the TV I don’t want to first learn a whole new system in every city, country, or hotel that I’m in. I don’t even have the channels on my tv at home memorized (except the food network — channel 66) so I really don’t want to try to figure out the channels somewhere else. But the TV in my room on this trip and the TV in my room the last trip both had Netflix as an option.

You sign in with your own account. You get your own queue and lists. You don’t have to worry about navigating the hotel’s wifi or keeping your devices charged. And at the end of the day you can throw on a comfy pair of PJs, put your feet up, and jump right into your 20th re-watching of Buffy the Vampire Slayer right where you left off.

It’s a big comfort of home without having to worry about anything but signing in. Assuming, that is, that you can remember your password.

this is not forty…

Forty is a landmark. A milestone. It’s a fixed place in time. It comes with a set of expectations. A certain amount of understanding. Of yourself. Of the people around you. Of the world.

Tomorrow, as far as my birth certificate is concerned, I’ll hit that landmark. But for me nothing feels set in stone. It doesn’t feel like the 40 I pictured as a child. It doesn’t look like the 40 I was warned of in my twenties. It isn’t the 40 I imagined I would look back on with wisdom when I’m old.

39 and 364/365ths…

I’m messy and imperfect. I don’t know how to live in this world. I’ve lost friends. I’ve lost family. I’ve lost my way a few times too.

I forget to pick up my socks off the floor and I leave wet towels on the bench by the bed. I lose things. I only clean up my kitchen before I go to bed so I can prep coffee for the next day. And honestly sometimes I just move aside the dirty dishes to fill the pot. I either go to bed too early or far too late. I buy comic books that I forget to read for months. I watch too many cooking shows, but I rarely cook.

I’m still a little bit in love with Han Solo.

I’ve gone through way more iPhones than I feel is acceptable. I’ve never gotten the hang of eye makeup. I still don’t know how to accessorize. My kid and my boyfriend both have better fashion sense than I do. My love of polka dots has probably reached the level of mania. And I still haven’t found the perfect shade of nude lipstick.

But I have found the right red lipstick. And I can make a perfect omelet. I know that espresso can be correct. My favorite boots and I have seen a bit of the world. I still love a good gin martini, but I’ve also gained an affection and appreciation for bourbon. I’ve made friends that I truly know, and who know me. My family is close, in proximity and in my heart.  I’m fortunate to be the parent to a most amazing person. Privileged to be partnered to the person I didn’t know to dream of.

And I’ve learned how to love and let others love me.

This is not the forty I thought It would be. But it is mine.

can you hear me?

When I was little, back in the olden days before the internet, I remember sitting on the rough commercial-grade carpet of the library floor. I was alone in a big aisle of books as my mother looked for something to read in another section. 

I loved to sit there flipping through the pages of pictures. Of great art. Far away places. Unusual people. 

It was on that floor that I discovered a love of many great artists, cultivated admiration for strong leaders with courage and conviction, found awe in architecture built with not only function but artistic reverence, and began a longing to see worlds beyond my own. 

I was young at the time. So young that my realities were a bit confused. And while my conscience and convictions were building and solidifying, I hadn’t yet settled on my beliefs. It was at a time when I pretty much had the same faith in Santa, God, and the US President. I believed they were real and I never expected or needed to meet them. But I felt like it was important possess a way to communicate with them. You know, just in case. Santa and the President were simple. I could write them letters. North Pole. White House. Done. 

But God. I’d never been sure how to get a message up to him until that day on the library floor when I opened up a book on Barcelona and saw a picture of Gaudi’s Cathedral. 

I saw the flowing spires reaching up to heaven. The surreal structure. And in this particular image the impossible blue sky. It was like a dream. 

And I knew. 

I just knew that if I needed God to hear me that is where I needed to go. To lie on the floor of the great Sagrada Familia and look into the arches. I knew that whispers that passed from my lips would go right to God’s ear. 

Years have passed and my understanding of the world has formed, changed, flowed, and been made strong. It’s also been battered, bruised and made unclear. What I know to be true continues to feed my convictions. What I know I don’t know continues to fuel my curiosity. And what I can’t conceive of continues to surprise me. And in most ways I am not that little girl on the library floor. 

But today while on a work trip to Barcelona I had the opportunity to walk through the doorway of Sargada Familia. To gaze upon its spires. To look lovingly at the organic interior columns and supports. To sate some of the curiosity of my childhood self. That wild white haired blue eyed tiny me that believed in everything. 

And I kneeled down on the cool hard floor. I rocked back on the heels of my favorite boots. Well worn boots. Boots that have visited every country I have. I dropped to a seat and began to lean back. To look up. I could feel the cold stone on the small of my back as I lifted my eyes and iPhone toward the heavens and just as my recline was almost complete and I was telling myself that it didn’t matter my beliefs. That right now a whisper from my lips would be worthwhile even though there are no ears to hear it…


“You can’t do that!” Came the voice of a woman whose job, apparently, was to keep everyone off the floor and squash childhood dreams. 

But it was still a beautiful ceiling…

am I blue….

blueI woke up this morning with a feeling I can’t shake. Sad. Distant. Nauseous instead of hungry. I saw my kid off to school. And might I add that my kid looked particularly cool today wearing a studded jacket I’d purchased as a gift for them on my first ever trip to Europe. Mentally I acknowledged that it was a pleasant thing to see them enjoying a gift I’d gotten for them. I knew it should have lit up that happy part of my brain. But instead I just acknowledged that there was a blank spot where that happy feeling should be.

I thought about pouring a cup of coffee and starting my day. It was early and typically I let myself take it easy on Friday mornings. I start later than normal. I don’t take meetings. I work in my pajamas. I didn’t feel the need to comfort myself, to give myself that Friday morning gift of calm, but there was a space in my brain where I knew that need belonged. Also I wasn’t prepared to brave the online world yet. So I went back to bed.

The warm arms waiting there should have been a happiness. The soft pillows should have brought calm and joy. The heavy comforter weighing me down should have been soothing.

There was a space in my brain where all of that belonged. And I knew it. But it wasn’t there today.

So I slept. Hard dreamless sleep. Drooling on my pillow out cold sleep. Sleep until the alarm goes off and wonder where you are kind of sleep. And I wondered only briefly before I realized I was in my own bed. And it’s still the day it was when I woke the first time. And I was still just sitting on the outside looking in.

The only thing I feel today is blue…

And also completely and utterly unable to concentrate.

trying to not be thankful…

Travel can have its ups and downs. And sometimes it’s really hard to keep a good attitude in the midst of shitty stuff happening. But my ability to keep my calm and be positive while traveling is something I take pride in.

But that positivity can go a little too far. After about 12 hours of travel today as I was getting off my last flight I reached under the seat to grab my bag as I was getting ready to get off the plane and noticed there on the floor an open wallet. A very distinctive open wallet.

An open hard-case polka dot wallet.

For those of your unfamiliar with my propensity for dots, I have a lot of polka-dotted items. I like polka dots. And that affection for the pattern helps me keep track of my stuff and cuts down on decision fatigue. I need a new suitcase, what should it look like? Polka dots! I need a new cable pouch what should it look like? Polka dots! I need new underwear what should they look like? Polka dots!

You get the point.

So when I saw that hard-case polka dot wallet lying on the airplane floor I knew that it was either mine or someone else had very good taste in wallets. I picked it up and hastily glanced inside. I noticed my id and all my cards were present and I breathed a sigh of relief. It must have fallen out. I have no idea how it had fallen out since I had shut my bag up tight, but that must be what happened.

Until I checked the cash section and emergency cash section. And both of those sections, they were empty. And the first thought I had?

Well at least they didn’t take my ID and credit cards.

And I stuck with that for a few minutes. For a little while I actually thought I had a nice thief. Oh that thief was so nice they only took all my cash money.

But then as I continued walking I started to question that. I had been violated and instead of being angry I’m thankful that they ONLY took some of what belongs to me? I decided to give my goody-goody always look on the bright side self a pass. And now I’m mad. I’m just mad.

And sad. Hey thief. You fucking suck.

But seriously, thanks for not taking my id and cards. And thanks for leaving my wallet where I could find it.

But you suck.

I can’t fight this feeling…

Perhaps I should say I won’t fight this feeling.

I paused. I took a day’s worth of breaths. I let the feelings wash over me in waves. Panicked. Numb. Angry. Numb. Mourning. Numb. Disgust. Numb. Understanding. Disgust. Anger. Hurt. Numb.

I don’t want the numb. I don’t want to be calm. I don’t want to let it all go. I want to hold on to this feeling that something isn’t right here. That so much is wrong here. To the feeling that we should have done better. To the knowledge that we can do better. That we have to do better.

This morning, after days of introspection and a dark mood, my partner sent me a text.

I don’t want to forget this feeling. I don’t like this feeling. I don’t like that this feeling paralyzes me. I don’t like being on the verge of tears. But at the same time, I don’t want to forget this feeling. I don’t want to become complacent and numb. I want this feeling — this awful gnawing feeling — to motivate and inspire action.

I want to do something. I want to motivate something. I want to make this world a better place. And so for right now I will do the only thing I know to do. I’ll write this. I’ll share it here.

I am saddened and angered by the results of this election. Not because I’m a sore loser. Not because I didn’t get my way. Not because I don’t agree with his policy. Not even because I believe that justice was not carried out.

Because I believe that promoting hate and revoking the hard-earned rights of our citizens is the wrong choice for our country. A country of immigrants. A country founded because people needed the freedom to be who they are.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

To those of you who would say “Now you know how we felt when Obama was elected.” I say no. I don’t. I understand that he wasn’t your president. I understand that you were disappointed. I understand that you didn’t agree with his policy. But I also understand that you weren’t being made to live in fear.

There is a difference.

Hate is not a policy. Hate is not a platform. Hate is something that terrorizes the innocent, pushes people down, and destroys life.

With this new presidency I will live in fear.

Fear that my basic human rights will be stripped away because I am woman.

Fear that people will continue to be persecuted or excluded for the color of their skin.

Fear that my child will grow to adulthood in a country that is not accepting of who they are.

Fear that the right to marry who you love will be stolen back after it was fought so hard for.

Fear that people will be forced to live a lie pretending to be something they’re not because of an M or F marked on their birth certificate.

Fear that freedom of religion will mean freedom to one religion.

Fear that our country, founded by immigrants, made more wonderful and diverse by those who join our nation, will erect a wall and close its doors.

My kid wants to leave.

“I don’t feel safe here.”

It wasn’t a childish statement. It wasn’t an exaggeration. My child does not feel safe or wanted in this country. Their voice wasn’t heard in this election despite my vote.

There has been a fundamental shift. Hate speech swells. Harassment increases. Threats are made in public. People are being treated as less than because of their gender, their sexuality, their skin, their religion.

The thin mesh that kept hateful behavior in check, that promised to punish those who would do harm to people different from themselves, dissolves with the shift of power to those who believe that this country belongs to whites and that non-heteronormative behavior is a mental illness.

That is not something that most people believe. The popular vote was for a woman who, though not everyone’s ideal president, would have continued to steer our nation in the right direction. In the results I’ve read only roughly 50% of eligible voters cast a vote in this presidential election. Half of our nation’s eligible voters didn’t even bother to make their stand. Or were somehow prevented from doing so.

So in this tough and painful time remember that. Know that there is more to be done. There are people who are not heard. There are people who did not speak.

Let’s find ways to support one another and strive to make our corner of this world a better place once again. Volunteer your time if you can. Give generously of your resources if you’re able. If you have visibility raise up the voices of those who don’t. Support those who most need our help, even if it’s with just a kind word or a knowing smile.

an updated thank you note to kidney stones…

A year ago today my daddy underwent a kidnectomy. No, that’s not a real word but I don’t know what else to call it when a kidney is all cancer ridden and gross and so they have to cut it out. I’m making new words today. It’s a celebration.

Anyway, back to the kidnectomy, it was kind of big deal. For him. For his family. For his friends. And for all the people of the internet who had to deal with my sappy pictures and prolific swearing.

So I thought his one year surgiversary (yes I made that one too) was a good time to give a little update on a few things that have changed, and one that has not.

What’s changed?

I’m beyond happy to say that my daddy has been cancer-free for a year. He’s doing well. He’s his old snarky self. And looks even more like the guy on Baja Bob’s drink mixes. He makes old man noises when he stands up after sitting for too long, but I also make old man noises when I stand up after sitting for too long, so I’m still calling it a win.

bajabobsFor the past 7 or 8 months I’ve spent considerably less time thinking about my dad’s kidneys. Well… kidney. He only has the one now. I don’t wake up every morning and think to myself “I wonder how daddy’s kidney is this morning…” I just kind of assume his kidney is okay. I’ve started to put the long harrowing tale of my dad’s kidney surgeries and his cancer behind me.

And more importantly, so has he.

More good news, he finally got rid of that Android phone that was causing me so much grief and replaced it with a shiny new iPhone! My mom got one too!

And this day has changed from one of worry and sadness to one of joy and celebration.

What hasn’t?

Fuck cancer.

IMG_5253

On a schmoopy note… sending love and thanks to my dad’s amazing support system, and to mine. <3

if it were only cat calls…

img_7636Yesterday I worked. I ran errands. I worked some more. And then when I realized it was time to head out the door to a happy hour I threw my jeans and a black tank top on, put on my sandals, ran a flatiron through my hair, threw on some bb cream, mascara, and chapstick and then I grabbed my purse and stepped out the door to start my 6 or so block walk to catch a bus.

As I was waiting to cross the street at the cross walk  a block from my home some guy in a big white truck stopped so I could cross. As I often do I waved and smiled in thanks as I was crossing the street and once I made it across and he began to drive away he wolf whistled at me and yelled out “Oooh baby…” The rest of what he said blew away in the wind of traffic as I walked west and he drove east. I didn’t take the high road, I flipped him off.

A block or so later another cat call from another car.

And after that a man, very likely with some mental health issues for which he was/is in need of assistance, had thrown himself on the ground screaming about bitches and cunts and how much they hurt him.

And then on my bus ride on a mostly empty bus a man decided he needed to sit next to me. Despite all the empty seats. I told him to sit elsewhere.

That’s enough, right?  That should be it.

After I got off the bus, as I walked toward my destination, another guy decided he just needed to know where I was going. Followed me asking.

All of those incidents happened in the span of 45 minutes in close-in Southeast Portland.

And while each instance occurred my first thought was to blame myself. Had I worn something revealing? Had I put on some item of makeup or clothing that screamed  for folks to harass me? Had I suddenly gotten so super amazingly hot that folks just could not control themselves? I wanted to grab the baggy sweater from my purse and put it on but it was 80 degrees with the sun beaming down and I was already sweaty.

And then I thought about my kid. If some asshole catcalled my kid would I think they’d worn the wrong thing, had on too much makeup, needed to put on a sweater? No. No I’d just be pissed off that in this civilized world people still can’t walk a few blocks without the judgement of others being loudly passed. Without being sexualized. Without being harassed. Without being objectified. Without someone making sure that we all know where the balance of power lays.

I soon arrived at the pub to meet two guys prior to the happy hour. And I was relieved to see them. My partner and his friend sitting in the well-lit pub. The waitress came over and I was relieved to see her smiling face. When she asked if I needed a drink all I could say was yes. And my drink order included an “and” as I had a cider to be social and a bourbon to settle my very frazzled nerves.

That was the end of the overt stuff. The aggressive display of societal power. The end of the intentional reminders that I am less than. That I am other. That my body is just there to entertain those who pass. Those who have the power. That was all I had to take from street harassers yesterday.

But the problem wasn’t quite over. The balance of power, of societal control, was still front and center.  At the happy hour I attended for a startup blog and the maker community I was the only woman at the table. Guys came and went. Some really nice guys with whom I genuinely enjoyed conversation. There were a couple of people, one in particular at the other end of the long table I would have liked to connect with but didn’t have the chance before I left. Many I did speak with. A few I avoided as I listened to them dominate their conversations.

But each time a woman walked out onto the patio I waited hopefully to see if she would join us. If perhaps I could cease being the only woman in a sea of men. There were about a dozen folks, give or take, who showed up for the meetup and for the most part they were white dudes.

As my partner and I headed toward home I just started to rant. About the creepy guys on the way to the happy hour. About all the men at the event. About all the men and white folks at all the events in Portland. I had no point. I had no conclusion. I had fear on one hand and disappointment on the other.

And I had had enough social time. I was tired. I was done. I just wanted to get home with my kid and my partner and have a meal and watch a mindless show on tv and sleep.

***

12 hours later and I’m sitting at the airport. I’m early for my flight and I’ve already eaten breakfast. So I sit by the window a few gates away from my departure gate waiting to meet my teammate. When I sat down here an hour ago it was just me. Me in my big black boots, my quirky polka dot skirt (it has pockets!) and my WordPress t-shirt. The sun is streaming in. Glaring. So huge sunglasses hide most of my face. As I’ve been sitting here working the gate has slowly started to fill. The seats are mostly still empty but those that are filled are filled by men waiting for their flights. Again I am the only woman. And as I’m at the airport and clearly going somewhere all these guys make me think about all the guys where I am going.

I’m headed to my company’s yearly grand meetup. A week where all of us in a wide-spread distributed workforce gather for 7 days to work and play in one location. This year we’ll be in Whistler, BC.

I’ve been really looking forward to this trip as a time to connect with my teammates and those in the company I have the honor of working with. To meet coworkers with whom I haven’t had the chance to connect. To laugh, to think, and to have important discussions.

But as I sit here I’m reminded that most of those coworkers are men. Most of them. Automattic works hard to ensure that it is a safe and positive place to work for all of its employees, but I am still aware that I’m walking in a minority. Which usually isn’t something I mind. I’m used to being the only woman at the table. I’m used to being the exception and not the rule. I grew up with a brother. My friends have always been boys.

I’ve never exactly felt welcome in a community of just women. A community of sisterhood.

But after last night I’m tired. I’m tired of being the only or the exception.