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.

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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.

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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.

 

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I have to travel? I get to travel? I travel…

There’s this set of commercials that was playing constantly for a while on a video streaming service we use. Commercials that in my youth I may have found grating, but that grown-ass me finds charming. Entertaining even. I can’t remember what they’re for exactly, but aren’t those sometimes the best?

In the commercial two or more travelers are put in a difficult circumstance, but one of the travelers always has an advantage. An amenity. Something to pass the time nicely. Like the rugged cowboys riding on the trail, grimacing with each bump. Wincing thinking about the long road. And then one of them lifts up a delightful glass of wine and a cheese plate.

My dad traveled a lot when I was growing up, and it was hard on all of us. It was hardest on my mom, of that I have no doubt. But it was hard on my brother and me. And though I had some abstract acceptance that it was hard on my dad, I didn’t really get it.

But now that I have to travel for work I get it. I really get it. When I was stuck for an extra day on my last trip (though it was in an amazing place). And as I said goodbye to my kid today and entered into a somewhat sour mood knowing I wouldn’t see them for a week. I really felt like I have to travel. But that’s not the reality.

bbwI mean it is, I have to travel. It’s part of my job. But if we’re being real I get to travel. And I want to. I signed on for this surreal gig where it’s part of my job to travel to amazing places, talk with inspiring people, and to learn more about this world and the project I work in. And as much as I miss my kid, my partner, and my Portland I wouldn’t trade this.

So as I sit here in a branch of an amazing little Portland restaurant that happens to be located in the airport sipping very nice bourbon and eating an amazing meal on my way to another adventure I’m thinking that my daddy didn’t get to travel. He had to.

Back to those cowboys. The ones on horseback on the bumpy trail. That cowboy with the cheese plate (and a sunny disposition) gets to travel. So do I.

And honestly I can’t wait to keep exploring the world. Cheese plate optional.

 

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I’m only online to write a blog post…

Earlier today while chatting with my friend as we whiled away the hours at work we got to talking about our blogs. Which really makes complete and total sense given who I work for and what I do. Of course blogging would be a topic of conversation with my friends and coworkers. And in the course of our conversation about blogging in general and our blogs specifically a lot of things were said.

I only remember two of them. Sure I could go back and check the chat logs but the point is the only two things I remember are clearly the two important things.

  1. We use the same theme. In pink.
  2. We both need to blog more.

I used to be a prolific blogger. I blinked and fully written blog posts fell out of my tear ducts and published themselves. People begged me to post less. Seriously. But over the last several years I’ve slacked off considerably. Now it’s not that I got any less interesting. I wasn’t that interesting to begin with. It’s just that seven things led to ten others and I stopped posting.

So after glossing over the fact that we both use the same theme. In pink. I made a demand. Or maybe a promise. Or perhaps a declaration. It could have a proclamation. I stated very seriously that we both needed to put up a post. Tonight. For real.

And then we got back to work making the internet a better place for others. Because we’re good like that.  And then the day came to a close and I did the whole mom thing and there was bonding and dinner and cats. And then the kid started in on homework and I was faced with only two real possibilities.

I could clean the kitchen.

Or…

I could get online to see if my friend had posted anything on her blog in the hopes that I would be off the hook and then spend my evening window shopping polka dot dresses on-line.

Here’s something you should know about me. Cleaning the kitchen rarely wins when there is any other option. I mean I’ll always clean the kitchen at some point. But if I can possibly find something else to do so I can reasonably procrastinate I will.

And since she hadn’t posted and I was already online I totally took the time to look at dresses. And maybe answer just a couple of work pings. And catch up on the facebooks. But eventually I realized that at this point I’ve probably seen every polka dot dress that the internet has to offer. That I don’t need to work tonight. That there is no end to the facebooks. And that kitchen, it’s still waiting.

So. a blog post it is…

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wishing for a green thumb…

There are few scents  more soothing and restorative to me than the perfume of Star Jasmine on a cool breeze. Growing up my family moved around a bit. And by a bit I mean a lot. The few people I know who moved around as much or more than I did as a kid are all military brats. But as I was entering 5th grade my family moved as a unit “just one more time” again. And that time it took. I lived in one town from my 5th grade year until the middle of my 12th grade year. In the 2nd home in which we lived in that town my parents built a front patio. And on the end of that front patio they built a lattice wall. And at the base of that lattice wall they planted Star Jasmine. My bedroom window, which led to a small section of roof, was directly above that porch and in the evenings when the world was a bit too much for my teenage self I would open the window and climb out onto the roof to sit and think and write and brood. And to inhale that sweet fresh scent as it wafted up. It was a reminder to me that the world really was a beautiful place. Even there in the suburbs that I loathed so much.

With no offense meant to my family and friends, that is what I missed the most when I moved away. The scent of Star Jasmine felt like home.

And so over the weekend while shopping for a screen door at the local hardware and garden supply superstore when I stumbled upon and awesome planter that was on sale for a reasonable price and clearly wanted to come home with us to live in my backyard, you’d think I would have automatically known what I wanted to plant in it. But it wasn’t until I walked out into the garden section to grab a bag of soil that I knew. I didn’t see the plant, but from an aisle away I picked up the soothing scent. It played on the breeze like a gentle melody and I had no choice but to wander the isles searching for the source, pluck it up, and place it into my cart.

Since the rain on Sunday was heavy and unrelenting I haven’t had the chance to plant it yet. And so it sits protected from the elements just inside my open sliding glass door. As the breeze flows through from the door to the living room where I sit working on the sofa I keep picking up the faint scent of Star Jasmine. Sadly being a houseplant in my care is like a botanical death sentence so I know better than to try to keep it indoors.

But I have hope that, left unchecked and untouched by my deadly hands,  it will become the mighty plant I know it can be. Growing big and strong. Scenting the air I breathe and making my corner of the world a bit of a better place.

Of course, if it dies I can always got back to the store for another.

what to do when you lose a contact lens. in your eye…

eyeFirst of all, don’t panic. Take a deep breath. It’s all okay. I did eventually manage to get the contact lens out of my eye. I know you were worried, you’re nice like that.

And I know the thought of a contact lens floating around in someone’s eye unanchored is a little unsettling. The ick factor here is high. I know. I lived it. But it’s cool because I’ve totally figured out how to handle it. How to get it out right away. If by right away you mean after 15+ minutes. And all it takes is 5 easy steps.

Step One

Don’t panic. I know I said it before, but I’m saying it again. Don’t panic. Focus on something else. Whatever else you happened to be doing when the lens went astray probably deserves your full attention. Driving? You should totally be paying attention to what you’re doing out that other eye, the one in which the contact lens isn’t pulling a disappearing act. On a business call, you should keep listening. Keep talking. Focus on the goal of the meeting not the fact that you can feel that little piece of flexible plastic rolled up on the top curve of your eye making its way back toward your brain.

Step Two

Wrap it up. Whatever it is it’s time to end it. Ignore what I said before. Whatever it is you’re doing is significantly less important than what is happening in your body. I mean your contact lens is just floating around in your eye socket. That’s so gross. I mean, what is going on?! Is it folded in the shape of an origami swan? You can’t drive like that. You can’t talk. You need to focus. Pull over to the side of the road. Excuse yourself from your meeting. End your call. THERE IS A PIECE OF PLASTIC LOOSE IN YOUR HEAD! It’s okay to take a moment.

Step Three

Panic. Burn the world down with fire. Rub your eye furiously. DON’T TOUCH YOUR EYE YOU’RE MAKING IT WORSE. Text your boyfriend and tell him you think you are going to die from this loose contact lens. What if it makes its way to your brain? Choke a little on the thought that you might throw up and choke on your own vomit. Pace around. STOP WALKING. Lie down on the couch and don’t move a muscle. Slowly roll your eye with the lid closed. STOP MOVING YOUR EYE YOU’RE MAKING THIS WORSE. Stop breathing. Or breathe into a paper bag. Isn’t that what they do in the movies? Rub your eye to see if you can dislodge it. STOP RUBBING YOUR EYE!

Step Four

Have a moment of clarity. Why would you text your boyfriend to find out how to get the contact out? He wears hard lenses, not soft. Also he’s not a doctor of any kind at all. That may also rule out your parents and most of your friends. So where did you get those lenses to begin with? Ah yes. Take a deep breath, close the affected eye, pick up your phone with intent. Intent to call your eye doctor.

Step Five

Blink. If your experience is anything like mine, your lens probably came right out. Feel it there in the corner of your eye? Yeah just swipe at that little thing with your finger. Doesn’t that feel better? Oh look, it’s folded up into a little triangle. Kind of like a napkin. Phew. I’m glad that’s done.

So how did I get the damn thing lost in my eye in the first place? I shove a flimsy piece of plastic onto my eye every morning. This kind of thing was bound to happen eventually.

And a big ol apology to the person with whom I was meeting if I seemed a little distracted at the end of our call. It wasn’t you. It was my fricking contact lens. Sorry.

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meeting Bert and Ernie…

A few months ago on one of our neighborhood walkabouts the kid and I stopped in at a favorite little shop to browse. Tilde is one of those shops that really doesn’t have anything you would need but tends to have a lot of stuff that you want. Really really want. They curate a great minimal selection of cards, a few twee home items, fantastic well crafted purses and wallets, airy scarves, the odd hat, some miscellaneous gift items, and stock the rest of the store with jewelry that is a feast for the eyes. Usually I stop in when I need a card or have a strong desire to part with my money and for a new pair of earrings.

On this particular day I wasn’t even planning to go into the store. We were walking past. We were on a mission. I don’t remember what that mission was. It was probably just a mission not to go in there. But as I was pretending not to look in the window of the shop but totally looking in the window of the shop something caught my eye. A bag. A black leather bag. A bag that I can best describe as looking like an origami version of a doctor’s bag.

All other thought stopped.

matt_-_nat-vegan-leather-doctor-bag-black-9d484572_lI stopped my kid from taking those next 10 steps that would lead to the coffee shop and we ducked into the store. There was some eye rolling. We don’t share a love of bags and shoes. That’s a me thing. So the fact that I walked inside and made a beeline to the most beautiful bag that ever there was caused a lot of sighs and there may have been a reminder about how I just got rid of a bunch of purses and you know what, that’s right!! I had just gotten rid of a bunch of purses. To clean things out. To purge. To make room for something new, better, perfect. A black leather origami style doctor’s bag. Okay a black vegan-leather origami style doctor’s bag.

We walked out of the store without purchasing the bag, strolled over to the coffee shop next door, ordered some tea, and as we were leaving the store just as my kid went to turn left I turned right and marched right back into the store, picked up the purse, placed it on the counter, and gleefully handed over money to take home the best damn purse in the world. That very day I named him Bert and we’ve been together ever since.

Sure sure. Sometimes I have to switch to a backpack or laptop bag, but that’s to be expected. Most of the time it’s me and Bert.

And yes, I was thinking of that Bert when I named him. That grouchy lovable felt guy was a huge part of my childhood. And yes, now that you mention it, it is a little sad that Bert the bag didn’t have an Ernie.

IMG_4364-3And so yes, yesterday when I walked into the back room (affectionately known as the shoe room) of a favorite local consignment store and found the PERFECT little black shoes with all leather uppers in my exact size that had never been worn and looked like they could keep my feet relatively comfortable for hours but be adorable with dresses for sale at a hugely discounted price, yes I did snatch them up, call them Ernie, and bring them home so Bert could meet his soul mate.

Look out world, Bert and Ernie have never been more fashionable. And my kid has never been more embarrassed by my naming of inanimate objects.

 

 

 

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the saturday workout…

I distinctly remember a promise I made to myself this morning. It was after I woke up but before I got out of bed. Before I showered. Before I threw on jeans and a t-shirt, coaxed my kid out the door, caught the train, met friends for brunch, walked to a cute little shop with tons of sundresses, walked to a restaurant for cocktails and coffee while we waited for the dress shop to open, and walked back to the dress shop. It was also before we spent an hour trying on dresses and tops and sandals. Before we decided to head to my favorite little consignment shop to try on even more dresses.

So it was definitely before we went grocery shopping, grabbed tacos and margaritas for lunch, went to the beauty supply store for a bright new bottle of hair dye. And before we put away the groceries and settled down on the couch to continue season one of X-Files.

Like I said, it was after I woke up but before I got out of bed. I promised myself that I would fit a workout in today. Lift some weights. Do some cardio. At the very least, I lectured myself, do 45 minutes on the stationary bike.

And I really fully intend to do that. Just as soon as I find my sneakers — sadly the only shoes I can see from the couch are my wedges…