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…

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.

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.

pretty peas…

FullSizeRenderI don’t like peas. I really don’t like peas. At least that’s been the story for the vast majority of my 38 years on this planet.

I’ve been asked more times than I can count where the strange aversion comes from. And I’ve spun many tales. Some of those are true or at least half-true. Others? Bald faced lies. If you’ve ever asked me why I hate peas and I told you it’s because my grandfather made me eat them and I didn’t want to and they got cold and gross and then I threw up all over the table I was totally lying. I mean, my grandfather was totally an asshole sometimes, rest his soul, but he never made me eat my peas.

Though if I ever told you I don’t like corn because on a trip to the Grand Canyon I got the flu and puked up a bunch of corn in my mom’s hand at a restaurant? That one is totally true. I didn’t eat corn for a good 20 years.

But peas? I’ve slowly warmed to them. As long as they’re in the shell. And fresh. And I’m in the correct frame of mind.

The fact of the matter is that peas are too round. Peas are just too round for me to eat. And as a kid any pea I was offered was… well they were round but they were also mushy on the inside. And gross. The closest thing to a decent pea I could find were those in the pork fried rice.

But over the last couple of years I’ve slowly warmed up to the idea of peas. As long as they weren’t frozen. Or from a can. And they were still in the shell they grew in. Because my boyfriend and my daughter both insisted they belong in certain dishes. And so it was eat them or pick them out. And, you know, I’m kind of lazy.

But if I’d had my way peas would have been exiled from this planet.

So you would think that someone who has spent so much of her life actively hating something would know just about everything there is to know about the enemy. Peas.

Did you think that? Because you would totally be wrong. But I learned a lot about the pea today when I decided to make gluten-free chicken pot pie for dinner for me and my guy. From scratch. Because that’s the only way to have a good chicken pot pie. And knowing that he likes peas in his chicken pot pie it seemed only right to add them. Especially when I was taking out all of the precious gluten. But as discussed I don’t care for peas when they’re frozen or canned.

So I did the only thing I could given the circumstances of my insane pea hatred. I looked for fresh peas. And I found them. Sugar snap peas. The pea I can live with. The pea I can deal with. The pea I have grown. And eaten. Almost completely willingly. I decided it would be worth the extra effort to bring those home, shell them, and cook up a delicious dinner.

So… did you know that sugar snap peas, once you tear away the fibrous shell, aren’t really… round. Or really very much like peas for that matter.

So we’re having Burgerville for dinner.

always listen to your fortune cookie…

IMG_9271I had a long day of travel on Friday, and at the end of it I was back home in Portland. But being gone for a week means there’s still too much to do once you get back to home base. Once my parents picked me up from the airport and we picked up my daughter I was starving and because I’d been gone for a week I was also totally out of groceries. We stopped for some Chinese food near the grocery store and laughed as we ate and sipped our tea. I was tired. A little punchy. And I was really happy to see my daughter. And about the pork fried rice. At the end of our meal I cracked open a fortune cookie and smiled at the curious fortune.

“Focus in on the color yellow tomorrow for good luck!”

Yellow is not my color so it really struck a chord with me. The next day every where I went I noticed the color yellow. The bright sun. Flowers. Cars. The bumpy yellow coating on sidewalk corners. Yellow traffic lights. Crossing signs. Products in yellow packaging. Bananas. Pineapple yogurt. I even thought I should wear yellow clothing or jewelry but since I don’t have any I skipped that. Even at the craft store I focused on yellow. Looked at yellow sketchbooks and paper. Picked up a felting kit. Smiled at some cute erasers.

Pushing away the distraction of the color yellow I focused on the reason I was there, a new embroidery hoop. I looked at the wooden ones and then a yellow plastic hoop caught my eye so I pulled it off the rack, examining it. Turning it over and around in my hands. But you know, I don’t really like yellow all that much so I scooped up the purple hoop that had been behind it. I grabbed the few other items I needed and took them to the counter and, distracted by my kid’s impatience to get out of there so we could head over to Comic Con, paid the clerk for my purchases. When we stopped at home I set my bag full of craft store goodies on the side table and there it stayed until we got home that evening.

As I settled down on the sofa to unwind for the night I pulled out my new embroidery hoop  and as I started to check it out I realized it was missing the little nut that helps you tighten down the outside hoop.

Sigh.

Maybe I should cut the color yellow some slack because if I’d listened to my fortune cookie I’d be embroidering a tea towel instead of writing about a scrap of paper.

*Update: I totally went back and exchanged it for the yellow one…

sorry, not sorry…

IMG_8735Instagram binge posting. It’s a real thing. It’s a real problem. It’s something I’ve unfollowed people for. You know when you follow hundreds or thousands of folks and suddenly 10 images in a row are all from the same person? Amazing architecture. Awe inspiring nature. Blue skies and puffy clouds. Snowy mountains. Tropical beaches. Cute kids. Adorable pets. Meals. Injuries. Some of them you want to see. Some of them not so much.

But binge posting does tend to grate on me. On Instagram. On Facebook. On twitter. I’ve been known to glare at my phone and ask aloud to no one at all what they think they’re doing that is SOOOO interesting. But it’s been called to my attention that I tend to binge post to Instagram when I travel. And it’s true. I do. I probably tend to binge post other places at other times too. But my Instagram seems to be travel specific.

So consider this a friendly warning that I’ll be traveling next week and my first photo binge of the year is on the way.

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…

chronicles of a work-at-home cami… the real job

“You don’t know how lucky you are that you don’t have a real job.”

Excuse me? What? Huh? I never know exactly how to respond to comments like that because, fuck you.

I get that the speaker is trying to be nice. Is trying to be complimentary. And is quite often envious of the fact that I do get to work from any comfy piece of furniture in my home or nearby coffee shop.

But… because there always is a but.

This is a real job. Granted the application process was somewhat loose. And I’m friends with my boss. And my work wardrobe, as previously discussed, is far from corporate chic. But job.

Job.

I do have a job. What makes a job a real job can be summed up in three questions.

1- Are you working?
2- Are you getting paid?
3- Is it legal?

That third one I just threw in there for arguments sake. There’s hard work out there that isn’t legal. Lots of it. And the getting paid thing we could quibble about. You can work your ass off and not get paid but that’s working or volunteering. So for the sake of this post we’re going with my three questions.

Since the answer to all three of those questions is a resounding yes let me reiterate how puzzled I am each time my employment is deemed unreal. I don’t have an office to go to and I pretty much set my own hours, but that doesn’t make it any less real. It’s not a job milking unicorns of their rainbows and selling them on the Fairy Black Market for pots of Leprechaun gold. I simply have a position which has evolved past the antiquated notion that I need to sit miserably behind a desk with a slave driver staring over my shoulder.

Though if you ever meet someone who does sell unicorn rainbows on the Fairy Black Market please send them my way, I’ll apologize for calling their job unreal, though since black market sales are illegal it still wouldn’t fit my criteria.

work wardrobe…

When I went back to work last year for the first time in 10 years I had a moment of panic and excitement over a new work wardrobe. It was more like a total freakout.  And actually preceded the actual getting of the job. It was while I was starting to look for work that the panic set in.

“WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR TO WORK?”

I had interview clothes, no problem. And if I needed to attend a dozen cocktail parties for work I’d have been able to dress for that as well. But actual normal work clothes? No. I didn’t have them. I couldn’t afford them. And really I didn’t even know what the hell they should look like.

As a stay at home mom I had two clothing modes and that was it. Mama in jeans, a tank top, and boots with sweaters and flip flops swapped in now and then for seasonal comfort or all dressed up with somewhere to go (or something to record).

And then I stumbled upon my current job as a Girl Friday for a small company here in Portland. And guess what? Doesn’t matter what I wear.  I “go” to work so rarely. Don’t get me wrong, I work every day. I roll out of bed, or just sit straight up, grab my laptop and I work. From home. Most days that means jeans and a tank top just like I’ve worn for years. Occasionally it means I feel pretty (oh so pretty) and I throw on a dress and some makeup. I might even curl my hair.

And then there are days like today where work clothes consist of a t-shirt stolen from the boyfriend and a pair of kick-ass shoes that I need to break-in before my cousin’s wedding on Saturday.

So that’s one wardrobe crisis averted…

you are what you eat…

Sometimes titles are awfully important to people.  They like a designation.  A way to pigeon-hole you.  To identify what or who you are.  But sometimes there just isn’t an easy answer and we wind up with a long bunch of loosely associated words strung together with a greater meaning.  In Portland there seems to be no greater way to identify oneself than by your dietary choices and restrictions.

I started on a path having a dietary association years ago when one of my routine blood tests showed my blood sugar was off and my doctor asked me to do something seemingly simple.  Cut out simple carbs.  It’s a simple sentence.  Four words.  One instruction.  I lasted a month or so being strict about it.  A year after I was back to my old ways.

Years later I settled on a way of eating that kept with my doctor’s wishes and fit with my sensibilities.  I started eating Paleo.  Well, Paleo-ish I liked to call it.

Leave it to a child to simplify things.  Noticing the change in my eating habits she spent the next couple of months making specific inquiries and asking broad questions.  Not just to learn more about the way her mother eats, but to learn more about the way an entire group of people eat.

She already knew vegetarians, pescetarians, vegans, celiacs, tons of people with nut allergies, weird uncles who don’t eat vegetables, people who have religious dietary restrictions, and kids who won’t eat anything except junk food.  This Paleo thing though, it was new to her.  To complicate matters I’ve steadfastly refused to give up dairy.  I’ve never been a dairy glutton, but I do like my cheese and since it doesn’t seem to have a negative impact on me the only reason I would have to give it up is to lose more weight.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to shed a few more pounds and tighten my body up, but a more reasonable way to do that would be to get some exercise.

So after a series of in depth conversations on the subject of diet in general and my diet in specific my girl declared that I am not Paleo-ish, I’m Lacto-Paleo.  She was quite certain.  Very sure.  Guess what?  She’s right.  Lacto-Paleo is totally a thing.

The power of being right is going to go to her head.