Last of the Last

Sleep did not come easy last night. I don’t know why I thought it would. After a two mile run-walk with a friend, I went home to a lonely house that still needed to be packed. I tackled the girls room, throwing old clothes into a donation pile, and gathering the other pieces I thought they’d want in Virginia. In my son’s room, I gathered up his recently purchased bedding and tossed into one of my standard giant moving bins. I swore when we moved into this house that we weren’t moving again and I’d thought to get rid of the things. Procrastination is sometimes a blessing. Continue reading

Being Mom…

I put my kids on a plane today. Not alone, not this time. They’re flying with their Gramma – my surrogate mother and their paternal Grandmother –  to spend some time with other members of their extended family for the summer. I’m excited for them to experience a new part of the country and a new (to them) part of their family. And yes, my heart broke into bits leaving them at security. Continue reading

Gramma

Today I awoke in a state of humble gratitude. Well, actually one of my cats woke me up, mewling to get out of my room to eat. I lie in bed a little longer, appreciating the bright yellow glow I felt illuminating from my heart.  It’s Friday and I didn’t have to rush. My children are out of school; they could sleep in a bit longer and awake to spend the day with their grandmother.

The mother of the father of my two eldest kids has been my greatest blessing, apart from my children. She loves the three of them wholly and has never treated any one of them differently. Even when her son and I parted ways, in the face of my indignation and confusion, she soothed me from afar and quickly became my champion.

For ten years, she has helped me in any way that she can – to include sending monthly child support when her son couldn’t. She has come for yearly visits, often staying a month at a time and lavished them all with a gentle, ferocious love. This woman is dedicated to her family, no matter where they are or what they do. The love I’ve seen extended to her sons and her mother also extends to me and my children without variance. It is humbling to be part of her family.

My children’s grandmother doesn’t run from adversity or difficult situations.  This woman has faced cancer and beat the damn thing, while finding some way to laugh at all the ridiculous ways God has challenged her in her life. She tells me often that I never had to let her be apart of these kids lives, that I never had to accept her, to talk to her, and that I don’t have to let them go with her this summer. She tells me that it would be understandable if I had cut the lot of them out without a second thought.

On this, I will always adamantly disagree.

You don’t spend your life searching for love only to reject it when it shows itself. You certainly don’t deny children the experience of being part of a family that embodies the values you, yourself, hold dear. By society’s standards, I’m sure it would have been acceptable to disallow her involvement. But by my own standards, it wasn’t.

This is not a superficial relationship, the one between my children and their Gramma. With them she has invested real time in learning and accepting who they are, in solving problems large and small, and in remaining firm in the boundaries we agreed upon together. Our intentions are the same: ensure the kids are happy, healthy, and loved and that they grow up into decent, respectful human beings.

 

 

Weird

I think it’s weird I have to remind myself (and others, for no good reason) that I need to respect myself, my boundaries, and desires.

I think it’s weird that I state aloud, though timidly, to whomever I’m intimately conversing with that my decision is a matter of respecting how I feel, protecting my heart, and being wary of an upcoming event. And even as I’m saying it, it doesn’t occur to me at the moment, that’s what they, too, are doing.

I think it’s weird that I feel bad for disappointing someone while vocalizing my somewhat selfish ideas and pushing forth my interests. I chastise myself for putting myself in difficult situations, knowing that I thrive on hardship and challenges.

I think it’s weird that my family doesn’t understand the concept of self-respect. Their version of respect usually has something to do with another bending to her will, or she bending to the will of the most current man. I think it’s weird that I see love as a trap.

I think it’s weird that I paint myself as a hopeless romantic but, I know deep down to my core, I’m much more cynical than that and if I had to choose between my career or a man, I’d choose my career. It’s weird to me that my idea of love means that one of the two parties involved has to give up something, or everything, for the other.

All of these things came to the foreground in the wee hours of this morning after having not much sleep. I’ve stowed my idealism in the bottom of my trunk, under the clothes and important documents I need to carry with me to Virginia and cloaked myself in raw honesty and practicality. I’ll never ignore my heart, but I think it probably needs not drive this vehicle for now.

“It’s always a hate crime – unless it’s against a white male.”

 

Good morning, Patriarchy! I didn’t expect to get slapped in the face with you today – but here you are, you ugly bastard.

 

I am aware enough to realize that my coworkers might be egging me on because I am a woman, I am a feminist, I am a Bernie supporter, and it’s pretty easy to engage me in contentious topics – just for the sake of debate.

I spend my days working with a mostly white male demographic. In my office, I am one of three women who are here on a daily basis; if I included part-time employees, I am one of four. Within the entire organization, I believe there are less than twenty women total and most of the men are white (I’d say around 95% of the men). There are a little more than 200 employees in the organization.

I don’t begrudge these fellows their perspective. It would be hypocritical to say that their experience as a white male living in a tide of change wasn’t valid. But their platitudes scream of lacking empathy and understanding for every other type of person on the planet. I’m not saying white men should publicly self-flagellate and bemoan their unfortunate roll of the die, but I am saying – recognize your privilege.

A conversation between a soft-spoken, intelligent friend of a friend and me recently presented a new perspective of the structure of the world as it is and how it came to be. I wish I could relegate the idea elegantly without sounding like a complete lunatic – but I am not savvy in that way.

I have had some inkling of the predominant notion before our exchange, but it didn’t occur me to that the collection of ideas I held were connected. For some, it’s old news. For me, it was more like a halogen light being turned on in dark basement – illuminating all the cracks and crevices I might have been subliminally aware of, but not paying attention to. It’s gross down here; it reeks of mold and death.

I admit that I tried to participate in that game, in the small, feeble way that I understood it, and I choked on the fraudulency of my behavior. I gagged on the bit. I wanted things to be easier, I wanted a smoother path for my children, and perhaps even an elevated social status (in my own eyes). I didn’t want to be what I thought I was (what I thought I was has nothing to do with what I am).  But the cost was too high – my integrity is worth more than comfort.

And while this conversation between my new friend and me helps me understand why patriarchy is, it hasn’t yet shed light on how to circumvent the age-old traditions. It doesn’t help make things better for my progeny or theirs. It only helps to know that long ago, some distant family member chose not to participate in a game to screw the entirety of the human race.

I’m thankful, ecstatic even, that my life hasn’t been easy, that it has presented enough challenges to keep me engaged and growing. I’ve been able to meet some angels along the way, converted strangers to friends to family, and I know that my spirit is growing. If Jung was correct about the collective unconscious, then perhaps my experiences will make it all the better. If not, well, at least I lived my one life doing what I thought was right.

Truth Tidbit

Waking up sore, stiff, and a little morose makes the day feel long and turbulent. I putter around my quiet house, feeding the animals and waking sleepy children, before getting myself together for another Monday – but my second to last at my current workplace. A cursory glance at my phone – still nothing – and I shrug it off. Maybe it’s a sign. Maybe it’s nothing. I’m leaving soon, less than four weeks now. What will be, will be. But those thoughts don’t stop the sadness from creeping through.

I chastise myself on the drive in, blast the music when my favorite songs come on – I do all that I can to distract myself from the heavy feeling of being alone and from the memories I’ve collected over the last few years. Some things take more time to die, I guess.

At my desk, I think back to how life was 10 or 15 years ago – it wouldn’t have mattered much then. But 10 or 15 years ago, I was 20 or 15 and nothing mattered then as much as it does now. I can’t tell when the shift happened, when I started to care so much. I think again about how things were in the 90s, but my quarreling mind reminds me of how much things have changed and how everything means something – even when it means nothing at all.

I shush the thoughts, wish I was meditating or on my yoga mat, and tell myself, “Nothing you can do will change the outcome. You’ve done all that you can. This is your path. Walk it.”

I think about how hard I tried to stay here, how long I looked for work, for anything that would make me less miserable than I’ve been the past three years. I think about how every interview did not result in an offer of employment. I remind myself that I’ve considered every avenue of employment, but nothing would be able to support my family the way my current industry does. Even after reducing spending and finding free things to do, kids still require housing and clothes and food and entertainment and activities. These things are not cheap.

Like anything else I do,  I tried my very best to stay here and to be happy. But the two are not mutually exclusive.  My happiness is not here, even if I wish it was.

I probably stayed longer than I should have –  I stay when I should leave because I hope beyond reason that things will get better, that I won’t have to make some painful change and inflict unnecessary suffering on others. It’s always unavoidable.

I wish I could stay where it is safe, where I know people and places. I’m scared to leave. I’m scared to start over.  I have been scared to leave, to stay, to love, and to learn. But I’ve done all those things. This will be no different. I am scared, but I’ll do it anyway.

The In-Between

Rarely do I start a post knowing what the title is going to be, but today is different. I know you don’t know that I chose my title before beginning the meat of what I want to say, but I knew the essence anyway. And this rambling here, this is only because I’m not sure how to begin at all. Do I start with a cute anecdote or dive right in? No, this intro will do.

My mornings are very routine. After driving an hour to work, I sit at my desk and I open both my work email and my personal. Whatever I didn’t get to yesterday afternoon at work is perused and relegated to a checklist, which I’ll tackle throughout the day. In my browser, CNN, MSN, Yahoo!, Facebook…typical, I think. I look around to my cohorts – their screens are similar. All is as it should be.

In my personal email, I read the Daily Skimm and when I have the pleasure, a Lenny Letter. Skimm keeps me briefly updated the most current and relevant news on an international and national level. The Lenny Letters – so named for the co-creator Lena Dunham (fantastic, fantastic, fantastic) – are gorgeously written essays by women of different background with similar political and personal agendas. It is an authentic feminist forum with a markedly positive message.

It was today’s Lenny Letter that got me thinking about how in-between everything I am. Jami Attenberg wrote an essay about being a writer in New York, her view of the skyline and how, over three years, it had all changed. She casually noted how varying the income of a writer is and how she had thought she would never own a home (until she did). It started me thinking about how I have seemingly accomplished all the trappings of a very nice life for a very nice family. It’s all very nice.

As nice and quaint and cute as it all may be, as Americana and traditional and predictable as it appears, I am becoming evermore cognizant that it lacks authenticity. It is the voice that never quiets – the ghost of my childhood self who would never compromise her truth for a paycheck. She is relentless.

The call to write is growing louder. I read my books, I take in bits and pieces of knowledge, I write this blog, I bend to the beckons of my poems and stories when they call. But I admit I am distracted. I am distracted by providing for my children, by increasing my workplace value, by continuing to create a life that does not reflect my artistic nature to benefit three lives that never asked to be, yet are.

Practicality is the only reason I continue to be an in-between. It is impractical to abandon my career and force my children to raise themselves. I won’t damn them to figure out the world alone.  I am building the skills and the tools to eventually crossover from this gray area and into my golden animation – but for now, and for the sakes of my children, this is the way it must be.

Intuit

Astutely, a lively predication

Ringed with unflinching pertinacity

Which all of life holds true

The voice inside you is you

 

With white-knuckled equity

Cloak yourself in quiet humility

Foolish words may deliquesce

Observe, bar ingurgitation

 

Refrain, retract, rescind, recant!

Listen! Listen!

Your ear! Your heart!

The voice inside you is you!

 

She from the age of three!

From the age of nine!

She is! She is!

She is me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Countdown Begins

D-Day is fast approaching. An email from my new place of employment confirms a clean background check and they’re beckoning. They preferred I arrive on the 16th – I nearly choked. Less than two weeks to get my life in order when I was counting on being around until at least the end of June? No, no, I say, that just won’t do. My children need to finish the year, have plane tickets from here on the 25th. No, I can’t arrive until after June 1. But the employer is kind, understanding. It’s hard to drop everything at an instant. Just a little more time, please?  Continue reading

Summer Reading Goals

Hi friends! Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Taco Thursday! One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, FLOOR.

And of course, Revenge of the Fifth.

Leisurely reading has been on my wonderful list of things to do and, like most of my other goals, I set it aside and abruptly forgot (I think I was distracted by cooking shows or something). I have done well to read some personal development books (these are kind of essential, I think) and I’m ready for something meatier.

The two at the top of my list are Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie and The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo – followed abruptly by my anthology of Kurt Vonnegut and then Edgar Allen Poe.  My eldest kid has her own reading assignments (she requested them!) of To Kill a Mockingbird and Harry Potter 4 and Harry Potter 5.

Midnight’s Children was a Christmas gift and though I have made some honest attempts to lose myself within its delightful imagery, life has been chaotic. I’ve decided to slow down some and make room for the things I’ve said are important to me. If reading and books are life, then a certain amount of dedication must be paid.

Just as yoga requires attention, as does my love of words.

One of the greatest mistakes I think most anyone makes is failing to develop his or her inner self, apart from the rest of society. We fail to distinguish ourselves from our families, our friends, and our intimate relationships. Having made that mistake and learnt from it, I know how freeing it can feel to be rooted in yourself.

Over the coming months, there are things I will gleefully subtract from my life in order to make room for new things and experiences. I’m anxious to get started, happy to see positive changes and excited to move my life in a new direction.