Friday, April 25, 2014

Mothers and Daughters


She stares at my pictures and my hands and my face like she's searching for something.

My mother was just here for a week, and she comes here fairly frequently--maybe 2-3 times a year, and stays for several days. We are together non-stop when she is here, and she enmeshes into my day to day patterns for a moment. When we are apart, we rarely talk except via text messages. It's an ebb and flow, as are most relationships I suppose. She knows me in a way only a mother can, and is kept at arm's length in a way that you only keep your mother.

Mom grew up very poor in deep rural Kentucky. This wasn't your average poor...Mom actually just told me this last time she was here that she didn't taste meat until she was about 7 or 8--old enough to remember her mother cutting the head off a chicken. Only vegetables from the garden (funny how poverty has flipped from vegetables only to processed, terrible foods only as accessible to the poor.) Running water didn't enter her home until she was 16. She and her sisters grew up, in her words "as poor as church mice," but she graduated high school and then went to technical school to be a secretary.

She moved to Frankfort, our Kentucky state capitol, which was several hours away from her home, to work for the state. To be very clear, my mother moving in the early 1970's to Frankfort to work all by herself at the age of about 20 is almost an exact parallel to her own daughter fleeing to Washington DC, another capitol city all by herself. I joke that if I am to have my own daughter, she will probably flee to NATO headquarters to work.

But that is where the parallel's end. My mother didn't have the help I did -- she didn't have a father's help to springboard from, as I did. She ate the free crackers from fast food restaurants, and put the free ketchup on them, and those were her meals. My father, when he met her, said she kept all her belongings in a cardboard box. Money was sent back home to her own family, and she still kept enough out to live.

I know her and my dad were happy for a little while. She then gave birth to his clone (in personality, and looks). I am her only child, and the very replica of her former mother-in-law.



My mother loves me. So much that I know it brings her to tears if she thinks about it for too long. But, she is also baffled by me -- me, and my quick humor and liberal tendencies and career that she doesn't understand. But what means the world to me...is that she tries. I telework when I can when she visits, so she hears me on conference calls and meetings. She'll always ask alot of questions when they're over and sometimes I catch her watching me with this mix of disbelief and fondness and...something I can't put my finger on.

We were watching TV one night and I showed her a cut on my hand. She caught my hand in hers, and absentmindedly studied and prodded each finger, each nail, for several minutes, like she was trying to find her baby's hands in there somewhere. I let her.

I know she is proud of me. I know she would probably prefer if I were about 25 pounds lighter, and maybe given her a grandchild by now (or if she had any hope of ever getting one). But, she ended up with me, her baffling daughter. She says frequently that I "raised myself." I did have to do a fair amount of solo trudging through the divorce and subsequent stepparents and stepsiblings and all their accompanying drama. But, I was always cared for and loved.

I just wish she would give herself more credit for the extraordinary life she has lived, simply by wanting more and making that 'more' happen. I wish she could realize what I know --that from the ashes of poverty, she rose to scrape out a better life. And I stand on her shoulders, scraping out mine.

Mom looks out the window at her childhood home, being torn down; 2013




Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Night walks



Even in angst, even in wonder (shall I wander?), even when I doubt -I still look at this when I walk at night, on a Tuesday, and I think "Fucking lucky. So fucking lucky."

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cups of tea I forget to drink



View of my desk, from the viewpoint of someone with their head in their arms. I am buried, deep down, in work. And at the same time, stagnant. There are decisions to be made, even if they lead to me staying at the status quo for awhile. To avoid being overly cryptic, I have another job offer on the table. No relocation, so I'd stay here. But it would involve leaving the industry I've been in for 8 years. Is it time? I also have a very tentative "offer" from another place that would come with relocation.

I'm so tired of having the same arguments in my head, with myself. I'm so tired of having to make every single decision by myself, with no one truly understanding exactly what is at stake for me, career or personal-life wise. I can see why people marry into ho-hum relationships or stay married even if it's shitty. It sucks, sometimes, having to do everything on your own. This isn't a pity party, but just a statement. I am at once jealous and dismissive of women who never had to do anything on their own.

Decisions will be made, and the world won't end. Lives won't be affected--only mine. And what does that matter?

I talked to my dad for a long time yesterday about all the decisions. I love that I have a father that wants to hear about my life. That offers to pay for things even if we make the same amount of money, and I haven't asked for a dime since college. That offers to drive up for my birthday. At the same time, it can be maddening talking to him (or to anyone in my family) because there is so little understanding and comprehension about what I do for a living. Not because they are dumb or that I am doing anything exotic, but life just simply has zoomed on and we've lost that day-to-day "oh this is my bitch coworker Debbie; I'm working on this project; I'm running this meeting tomorrow on the Hill." 

We were going back and forth, and I mentioned about how my sister's first reaction is "but won't you be bored if you move away from DC??" That seems to be so many's reaction--that I'm living in some glamorous place (ok. I kind of am. 50% amazing, 50% parking tickets). I said "I don't want to have to defend constantly my decision to leave if and when that ever comes. This is just where I live to me, not "Washington, DC." Would all of you be moaning about all my lost opportunities for entertainment if I said "Hey fam, I think I'm really ready to leave Raleigh?" For some reason, this cracked him up and made him see exactly what I mean. I said I was going to start posting more pictures of my electric bill and the city rats on Facebook, to make it seem less amazing. Deal, he said.

I had to go to the doctor this morning for some follow-up bloodwork. She was filling the vials, and I talked about how I'm having anxiety pop up again. It's been a long, long time since that happened. My doctor is remarkably un-hysterical and was pretty calm about it like, oh well, don't let it get out of control. Let me know. Which is exactly what I needed--no medicine or anything, just a stated fact. It's out there. We'll watch it.

Cabin fever! I need winter to be over. I have signed up for two softball leagues (both co-ed, same league I was in last year.) I'll get to play twice a week games and practices. I can't wait to get outside and shake off winter.

On the way to the doctor for my 730am appointment, I noticed the moon still out over the rising sun. I snapped this photo and grinned. And put it on Facebook.




I think Dad put his head in his arms, buried on his desk, and thought about his dramatic daughter living the dream she always wanted.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Blowing in the wind

I've gone quiet in this space of late, as I do when things are busy. They've been as busy as they come. I'm typing this out on my phone, killing time waiting for a friend. The friend I'm waiting for is referenced in the post a few posts down -we've gotten through this silent period and she's in town for work. It'll be good to see her--I think the separation did us good (even if she didn't even know it was intentional on my end).

I wandered around Target for about an hour. I am sitting in my car listening to a $7.99 copy of The Essential Bob Dylan that I picked up while in there. On the checkout line, I realized I bought cat food, this CD, and beer. And pajamas. I apologized to the checkout guy for the extremely random purchase order and he said while shrugging "I should probably ask you out." Ha!

I just got back from a week and half at our annual conference where I thought I was going to meet Hillary. Aargh it didn't happen. My boss met her and burst into tears. He's a grown man. He bursts into tears far too often for my taste. 

I did get to see her from a perch in the staff balcony, and I posted this panoramic picture to Facebook. Check out the sea of smartphone and iPad screens held up to record her.

 
Then I was off to Philly right after to meet up with friends for a birthday weekend. I did yoga for an hour and a half. Yoga is not my jam. I thought at one point while squatting and being told to breeeaathe "I came all the way here to be tortured!!" 


Off to listen to Mr Dylan and drive around. Thanks for driving by this little small space. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

For Liv

The view from my back porch!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February


February.

February mires me down in cold and I have a case of the bleaks, although it's not as bad as August. Things are barreling along for me and I'm in survival mode until spring.

In this month I am/will be busier than a one-legged dog in a race. January was about that bad and this month is not going to see much rest for me. Our annual conference will be at the end of the month and it numbers into the tens of thousands that attend. Every weekday until then and especially during then, I am already double and sometimes triple booked on my calendar.

I stand up when I'm on conference calls and pace around. I eat lunch standing up. I am like a caged bird in February.

In this month, I will get to meet Hillary Clinton on the day my mother will turn 61. She wants a picture of the two of us, and she wants it in a frame.

That I can do.

And now I leave you with this....it is full of the f-bomb, but I dare you not to have the beginning line in your head for the rest of all time.


I find myself humming "Holy shit, it's another fuckin' day" in the shower all the time now.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Separation





Forward, to the side, together


My life has revolved around my friendships for a very long time.  As I've gotten older, my life has started to evolve around them evolving--I have seemingly stood still in comparison to many, although in my heart of hearts I know that is not true. I have grown too, and whatever changes have occurred in my relationships have been both in my control and partly of my doing.

It is hard, being 32, and watching your friends not just have weddings and babies -- but be in marriages that have gone on for years, with children in school. (It's just as hard watching your sisters do this, too). Some of them would maybe argue that it is hard being 32, and watching me live a life entirely of my own making, direction and having no demands other than those I make for me.

My two best friends from high school and I are used to this. I was in one of their weddings this summer, and met the other's new baby also this summer, and I haven't really spoken to either one since. We keep in touch online and the occasional phone call but that's it. There is an ease there that I think only the very lucky have - we don't have to be in each other's day to day lives to stay close simply because we've learned that dynamic to be the norm for so many years. Though lately, I've been feeling those absences more than I have in the past.

For my more recently acquired friends in my adult life, that's not the case. We don't have years and years of background together to know without a doubt that if we don't talk for months, no big deal.

My best friend is one I've referenced many times on this blog through the years, even at times when it wasn't obvious I was referring to her. She was a major part of my life when I was in Lexington--which, as crazy as it sounds, was almost five years ago. We've stayed as close as we probably could after I moved and she stayed behind in Kentucky.

I'm still reluctant to talk about her and what caused us to break all those years ago and we've tried to mend throughout this time. I still have a paranoia that people in my "real/offline" life secretly read this blog (which is pretty ridiculous) and I don't want to drag her name through the mud. In a nutshell -- when I met her, she was on her second marriage and she had 3 kids and her mom living with her. 2 dogs and a vibrant household. Things were deteriorating with the marriage and 2 of the kids were difficult teenagers and, and, and. I was (am) ten years younger than her, so this put me at 25. 25 and still very scarred from my volatile home life and family, and I started sinking into their dynamic.

She met another man, and I went along for that ride. I watched the family break and I watched her break from me as she pursued this relationship. I had very mixed feelings about everything and I even voiced to her that all of this was over my pay grade, to use a work term. I was too young. I was too naive in the ways of relationships -- I didn't know what in the hell I was talking about when I was engaged in these spirals down. I had never been married; I had barely had a boyfriend I halfway liked.

I moved away; her relationship with this man evolved. They are now engaged. When she told me of her engagement, I told her I was happy for her and smiled although I felt like I was sinking deep. My hands were shaking and I cried when I got in my car and drove away. I knew I was losing her in some way, but it went way deeper than that for me on a lot of levels. I was so SO bitter. In a "Well, didn't everything work out great for YOU" way when it felt (feels) like I spin my wheels relationship-wise and I am so frustrated at how easily this come for other people. I also don't like this man at all for a variety of reasons that are not blog-worthy.

Also -and this is something I still struggle with- I have no perspective on how to have a marriage and still maintain very close friendships. In this way, I am as worldly and knowledgeable as a 15 year old trying to figure out how to have a crush on a boy. I just simply don't know because I've never experienced this from the other side. I've been the one waving behind the car with Just Married on it. I'm the one left behind.

We've stayed fairly close through the years, as close as we could for being two very busy people living in different states. She travels here a few times for work a year, and we text/talk. We've kept a connection that has ebbed and flowed. We've been as close as we can considering we're one half of a pair that deeply dislikes the man who the other plans to marry, and one half very likely resentful that her best friend hates the man she's going to marry.

We haven't spoken since the fall. I was in Kentucky and I didn't call. I am willfully placing an arm between us until I can get the same emotional space as I have the physical. I need to learn how to let things go, how to let my own issues untangle from hers. I need to grow up, in some ways. I need to learn how to love with detachment. This has come naturally through mutual transitions with my older friends--and in this case, I'm the one watching and waiting for time to heal the wound. The wound that, if I am honest, I gave myself.

At the end of the day, I really miss my friend. There are soo many things that make me want to pick up the phone, but I always hesitate. And to be fair, she's not exactly reaching to me either right now. I'm not sure where this ends. Or continues.

Forward, to the side -- together?

I don't know.