Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Attention

There are many issues I have with attention.

Issue Number One -- I am needy. Duh. The end.

Issue Number Two -- Span.

My attention span is incredibly short. For someone who can literally read books over and over and over again, and can dedicate incredible attention to the television shows LOST and West Wing, I am lousy at focusing on anything for a long period of time. I very rarely sit and do one thing. I always have to be texting/reading/watching TV/on the laptop, often all at the same time. Since entering my working life, I am really examining my attention span and how it affects my career.

For starters, I will say that my career is frankly, phenomenal. It is also a miracle. A phenomenal miracle, if you will. My best friend Andre'a (chime in and confirm this, buddy), will tell you that I did almost no homework in high school. Ever. I spent much of my time dancing around her room while SHE did homework, doodling on her homework pages, roaming through her house looking for chicken nuggets. You know - the important things.

Even in elementary school, my schoolwork left alot to be desired. I kind of half-assed my way through, and I really don't remember middle school in the least as far as academics go. I never had "homework time" or any kind of structure in the house other than doing math homework with my dad (while crying, so that's probably the only reason I remember that). I am terribly bad at math.

Side Note: Once, when I was having a hard time in Geometry or some shit, I don't know, my mom just sighed and said "Oh honey, it doesn't matter. Just get your C and get out." I guess that acorn didn't fall far from the tree.

Here's what I did in class: daydream. And I'm not talking about your normal daydreams, I had immense elaborate daydreams all about when I was an adult. Looking back, I realize how little control I had over my own life (obviously, as most kids do, but I had even less so) and I guess all that fantasizing about my future life was a comfort. I had all these children in my daydreams, and I had their names and outfits, and whatever, all picked out. I would play little scenarios in my head about things we were doing/places we were going/etc. I did this all.the.time. School? Eh. I absolutely could NOT care. My mind just skipped and wondered and jumped.

Sure, I rallied enough to pass and be average. But honestly, I thought I wasn't altogether that bright. My parents refused to tell me my IQ, and I wasn't in any of the honors classes or anything. I just skipped along, right up til graduation day, when I walked out with a solid 3.0 average thanks entirely to a senior year class schedule that had consisted of Parenting (yes, that was a class), office aide, and drivers ed. Oh, and English.

I got into a good college, probably only because I know my entrance essay was good. My parents always expressed a little surprise whenever I did things that were good, academically (see why I thought I was a bit dim?) My dad actually voiced that he didnt think I'd do as well as I did on the ACTs, and my mother voiced that she was surprised I got into the private, liberal arts college that I attended.

I did better in college. Pretty good, actually. But I very, very rarely did more than what was required.

What did I like? Working.

I started working at the chamber of commerce when I was a junior in college, as a paid intern to track legislation, do the menial stuff, etc. This job, while very basic, blew my world open. By 20 or 21, I was sick of college. I was sick of the sorority house, sick of the classwork, sick of my friends. Most of them graduated when I was still a sophomore, since I (then, now, and always will mostly likely) tend to gravitate toward people older than me for my friends. I majored in Sociology. I drifted around Denmark. I didn't have any career aspirations in the slightest, but I liked this. Government and politics suited me.

So, I kept going.

I interned at 3 places before landing my first job here in DC, and my career took off like a lightning bolt because of one lucky break. I was handed an issue (a particular piece of healthcare) that was in its infancy, and then Congress allocated nearly $80 billion to make this little issue into a big one. I'm not being coy (well, maybe a little), but I'm also saving you enormous amounts of time by not going into detail. I had already gotten into a graduate degree program by this time, separate from health but related to government and advocacy work. I was working at a great job, with this as one of my bigger issues, among others I was working on.

Then, the bill passed. Ka-boom.

All of a sudden, I was hot real estate. I was back in Kentucky at the time, but two years ago I was yanked back to DC and landed a fairly senior level healthcare position at 28 years old. Without ever having taken a healthcare course in school, received healthcare policy training, or any kind of training beyond three years of writing issue briefs, etc, on my little slice of the healthcare pie. All of a sudden, I was having to take big bites out of the other pieces, and in some cases, I had absolutely NO idea what I was doing. I spent a lot of time giving myself a masters in public health on my own since my own masters degree was basically useless.

That was overwhelming. A few short months on the job, healthcare reform (Obamacare, for all the Fox News watchers) passed. I actually cried. Cried. Not only was I going to be learning how things were going to change, I still hadn't figured out completely how things already were. That job sucked on many levels and spiraled me down into a lovely bout of depression, made my self esteem plummet and I honestly don't know if I ever should have taken it.

But luckily, I got out.

Even more overwhelming? My new job.

I'm now responsible for things that are almost entirely new. I was glad, in a warped way, that I worked for the first several weeks from home so that I could start wrapping my brain around these incredibly complex issue areas without having to worry about office politics or where the bathroom is. But, that's changing now (and that's a good thing). I went into the office for the first time this week, and am settling in okay. My commute is longer, but that's okay. My ankle is holding up well. I'm in the boot for another week, and then I can throw it on the burn pile. I have an office that has scratched up furniture, but I have a TV and that makes me feel like a very cool person :)

When they sent me the job description (I knew some of them over here already, and I'm not sure they interviewed anyone else for this job), I initially turned it down. See, I have absolutely no experience in alot of ways for this. Yes, I've been around this stuff for years. But now I'm doing congressional and federal affairs, and it is an entirely new ballgame. I'm expected to wear a LOT of hats, and I'm frankly feeling like I'm in a sinking boat in some ways because I'm constantly trying to scoop water out of it with too many buckets. I have five aspects to this job that are each at least a part time job in themselves. I'm working late. I'm thinking about work at night.

Until I'm distracted by a shiny object, that is. I am finding it almost impossible to sit down and do many of the aspects of my job--of course I'm doing them, but I feel like it's not good enough. It's all still so new to me, and requires me to do a ton of reading, and alot of thoughtful analysis that I'm expected to provide. I'm worried that I'm going to let my boss down. I'm worried that I'm going to let my clients down. I feel like I'm already screwing up seven ways to Sunday, and I resort to navel-gazing and wondering how in the world I managed to charm these people into offering me a job for which they knew I wasn't the ultimately qualified candidate.

I'm making it. Faking it til I get there, I guess. But damn. I am overwhelmed and scattered and I wish I could just focus. Just stop leaping from one thing to the next, sit down, and read the damn bill or analyze the damn report, or whatever. Stop procrastinating. I'm applying these school habits now to my work (since that's how much learning I feel like I'm doing) and it's not a good thing. It's like I never learned study habits or study skills -- and now I need to study at work. I need to do it fast. I need to be doing it instead of updating this blog, but hey, I needed a distraction.

Time to buckle down. Can I take a nap now?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Take 'Em Away

"Take 'em away
Take 'em away, Lord
Take away these chains from me
My heart is broken 'cause
my spirits not free
Lord, take away these chains from me."

This song has me smiling on this sunny Friday afternoon, even though I feel like I've been drug through hell and half of Georgia (as my stepfather is fond of saying).

What's taken away? My CRUTCHES! Gone, gone, fucking gone.

Two more weeks in a walking boot, and then I'm done with this for good. Except for, ya know, that metal that will always be in my ankle until the day I die. But I can WALK, and on Wednesday, my parents left again after driving me back here to DC, and I'm officially company-free. I have no one on the way here. I have no plans to go anywhere until Christmas. I have been on my own before, for a few days at a time, but this is it.

I'm better. Much, much better. The pain was horrific for about two weeks -- right up until Thanksgiving -- as I tried to re-learn walking. Then on Friday after Thanksgiving, it just...went away. I mean, it still hurts with nearly every step. Just a little bit. A little. Not the horrible "oh shit, what if I re-broke this ankle and didn't realize it?" pain.

I also have a lovely cold that seems to be working its way out my system very slooowly. I guess 3 months in virtual quarantine and then slammed with all TEN of my nieces and nephews in one weekend (one DAY) was not exactly a recipe for a fine immune system response. I gave it to my bff as a parting gift, and we've been calling each other to compare coughs everyday. I coughed and hacked through a presentation I gave via conference call to all the company VPs....impressive, I am certain!

Whatever.

I can walk. Things can't be too bad if I can do that.

I finally go into the office next week. I'm going to get dressed - every day! - and go be professional and leave my house every day. What a concept! I'm so ready.

Here goes nothing. And maybe everything.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Events, emotions or epiphanies

I find that all blogs are about one or more of those three things. In most blogs that I read (a precious few), each writer describes their life in a very real way--using their real names, posting pictures of the kids, identifying hometown names. They use this medium somewhat as a dear diary recap of the days and years, in which to look back later and watch the kids grow up. Needless to say, I do not do this in the least, and never will.

That's particularly funny to me, since I'm supposed to be of the generation in which online privacy has no value and online piracy is a norm. For the most part, I'm locked up pretty tight in here and I don't disclose the name of my neighborhood in DC, or where I'm from, what it is I do, what my last name is, etc unless I email you directly. I know all too well what can come up on a google search, and I don't want the whole wide world privvy to my thoughts.

That being said, I've based this blog solely on my emotions and/or epiphanies or my epiphanies that then lead to said emotions. It amazes me that anyone reads my blog at all, since I rarely comment on anyone else's, I don't invest much time in this, and it can't be all that exciting to tune in and hear on an alternating basis how blessed I am, how lucky I am vs how lonely I am or how overwhelmed I am with sadness or grief. Most of the blogs I read are full of phenomenal writing, and I feel lucky those people even stop by here for a glance.

So I guess on this day before Thanksgiving, I'm thankful that YOU are here, if you do read this brain dump of emotions and bit of my life.

I'm going through a rough patch. I'm still on the crutches, and it's working on my psyche as I round into week NINE and still in pain with every step I take. It's making me falter emotionally, triggers woe-is-me emotions, and it makes me feel weak instead of strong in a very literal sense.

Today, I'm okay. I expect I'm always going to go through periods of loneliness, the holidays will always be a trigger, etc, because I am starting to think that I need to fully expect my life to remain the way it is for the foreseeable future. I'll have a family, someday, because I'll create one either through single parent adoption or other means, but I'm not sure a family will come to me naturally. I'm not sure I will end up with a partner, in any sense of the word. My life has been spent alone, in alot ofways. I grew up every other week in two different families of five, taking my suitcase back and forth. I lived together yet separately, with my large and jumbled family -- and maybe I'm just destined to do that for the rest of it as well.

I can lash out and get angry, and at the same time feel so petty and small for being that way because I KNOW damn well people love me. For fucks sake, I had a total of six friends drive or fly all the way to DC just to fix me sandwiches and help me to and from the shower. All four of my parents were there, and I wasn't alone for seven straight weeks. Does that sound like a recipe for someone to be wiping away tears because no one loves her? I sound like a child, and sometimes, I frankly feel like one. All my ages are still wrapped up inside me, like the rings of a tree, and sometimes the six year old ring comes out to the front to take over, and remembers that her parents have transitioned into new families, and while they took me along for the ride, it was sink or swim, baby, these are your new sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles and cousins and....

And. So, I sit here on my father's couch. I'm working from Kentucky this week, as he drove 10 hours on Saturday to fetch me from DC, and we drove back together on Sunday, so that I could spend Thanksgiving at home. Naturally, my two families are holding Thanksgiving dinners at the exact same time, so I have to choose. I have to be at Mom's, wanting to be at Dad's, or be at Dad's, wanting to be at Mom's. My contribution to the table this year is a side dish of hot, steaming guilt.

I was texting with Mom yesterday and said that I felt horrible about having to choose--that it made me feel like I was having to pick who I loved best, or something. It's been a long time since I've had to actively choose an event over another; typically, we all work together to try to squeeze one another in to a time that works best for everyone. But sometimes, shit just happens. She showed up at my dad's doorstep with a large unsweet iced tea from McDonalds (my all-time favorite), and my childhood bear that I call Muffin, since she decided I was being a little too hard on myself and needed some comfort.

Tonight, I'm going to my sister's house. I have seen her youngest son only once in his four-month old life, and I can't wait to see him and her two daughters. My other sister's son is spending the night, so I'll be running around after a five year old, two four year olds, and a four month old. Or rather...sitting, and whacking them with my crutches if they act up ;) I can't wait to crawl into bed with my two sweet nieces, snuggle up with them and just sleep.

I'm home. Wherever that is and whatever that means. I'm starting to feel like whoever stated the phrase "Wherever you go, there you are" is a damn genius.

Here I am. There you are.

Thanks for being here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Disappearing

Publishing for Mel, who saw it before I took it down, and took the time to write. Thank you, you wonderful woman!
____
Tonight I am tired of borrowing.

I am tired of borrowing other people's families, other people's lives, other people's holidays. All the talk is of Christmas...my sisters want to have Christmas Day with their own families. The families they've created. Well, that's awesome and all, but I have to fly back to DC the very next day. So -what? I'm flying home for no reason? To sit and have Christmas Day alone or with my parents, who I love dearly, but I've seen an extraordinary amount during the past few months.

Oh sure, I guess it would be "okay" if I stopped by one or both of their homes for the day or for a few hours. But I can't help but feel banished, kept away from the sacred time. Time kept tucked away for the people we love the best.

I hate that no one loves me best. I hate that I am no one's "most special." I hate that everyone probably pities me, I hate that I am *that* pathetic woman who lives alone.

I am sad, lonely and frustrated, and tonight I want to just walk away from it all. Just disappear.

Maybe everyone would be better off.

Maybe I would be.

I'm so tired of living this way.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Beauty

I've noticed a blogging theme lately. It's in all the blogs I've read throughout the years, including my own. Periods of dark, gloom doom, alone, grasping, waving and drowning. Then -- light! Counting blessings, letting everyone in the whole wide world know how blessed you are so that you can finally feel it yourself. Listening to the rain and realizing that you have every single thing you need; watching children play while reflecting on the circle of life.

Thus, culminating a blog entry in the perfect way a television show concludes with a song. Something that strums softly, with smiles and laughing kids in the background. Something that shows that through adversity, there is hope.

I do this myself. I veer from lamenting to luminating; scattered to centered.

And in between, there is the every day. The heating up of hot dogs for lunch, the pain in your back, the damn bills that seem to come at the absolute worst times. Laundry. Dishes.

My best friend from childhood until now spent the weekend with me. We didn't take a single picture, but we drank alot of wine and made brownies and she did my laundry and cooking. She was my very last "helper" in this long journey, which has seen all four parents and a grand total of six friends in and out of here altogether.

I told her goodbye, and an hour later I began to walk. No more crutches. I am walking awkwardly, but I'm up.

It hurts like a bitch. Muscles I haven't used in so long are stretching and yelling at me, and I'm beginning the countdown to going into the office. I'm taking off my walking boot and staring at my foot like it's something new that's recently grown.

"Hello,' I say. 'Are you strong enough to get me the hell through this day? This night? This year?"

I'm growing stronger, the nights are growing longer, and there is grace, yes. There is adversity. And I sit, in red plaid pajamas, writing it down to add to the words collectively thrown to the universe that all jumble together. Saying the same things, over again, until we find each other -- each saying the words that we already know, in harmony.

It's like a song I know. I've heard it before.

I already know the words.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Alone

I took a bubble bath tonight. This may seem awfully basic, but for me, it represented something HUGE. I took one almost every night before the cast (my own version of b.c.) and tonight, I lowered myself in, keeping weight off my right foot, and sat. I had my first glass of wine in...3 months? Or something like that. Just for the hell of it. I'm ba-ack in a lot of ways. I still can't walk all the way, but I can stand. I can take little bitty steps on my walking boot.

Mom left this morning. She walked out, keeping her distance from me, after 22 days here (by her count). She was trying not to cry. I was in the middle of my "work" day from the couch, so I had to be quick in my goodbyes, and I think she wanted to get out before she had an emotional time of it. I know she feels fine about leaving me in this condition--I am much, much, much better than how she found me! But still. I'm her baaaby. She reminded me of this many times :)

I'm alone. It's quiet. Getting my life back is bittersweet. I'm looking around my apartment, at these walls, as though I don't recognize the place. The place in which I've been stuck for the last two months. I am seeing ME again...finally. Me, on my own.

Look blog...no hands.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Yesterday was six weeks post-op. I start 'sort of' walking next week. My mom and stepdad were here at the beginning, and she's back again. My dad came in between, and my best friend, and two college friends. I stayed at a friends place across town after that, and then Mom came back. My best friend from childhood comes next weekend, thank god, and gives me a parenting break...then Dad comes to take me back to Kentucky for a week. I absolutely can't wait to get my hands on the little kiddos.

The last 10 weeks have been absolutely surreal. The last 3 have seen me gainfully employed from the couch and they are working me to death. This is going to be my eighty hour a week job. This is going to be my introduction to senior management. I'M senior management. Me! Holy shit!

One thing I'm really glad about is that I don't have anyone reporting to me. I'm barely keeping my head above water, and I don't want to have to manage employees...I'm 30. I'm not ready. I'm barely ready to be doing what I'm doing.

Mom is still here, and is cooking and going on walks and watching me work with a look on her face that says she doesn't like how hard I'm pushing myself. It's been really strange being "DC, Professional Me" with Mom sitting on the couch with me, thumbing through the newspaper. Talk about worlds colliding.

I keep trying to think of chilling metaphors and flowery words to describe all of this as Mom helps me in the shower, helps me out of the shower, wraps and re-wraps my walking boot. Hands me a grilled cheese sandwich with a glass of milk, while I pretend not to be as old as I am -- while I'm on the phone with clients, pretending that I'm not as young as I am. I don't know how to be 30. Just 30. I've forgotten how to live this little life I've set up for myself here -- forgotten how it will be without my Kentucky connections here with me.

Did I really put on suits everyday? Did I really actually start a new job? Will this paycheck bounce?

This is so surreal. All of it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Flashes of gratefulness and depression beyond belief keep coming bright before my eyes. I want my house to be my own again. One second later, I don't want people to stop being here. What will happen when they go? I haven't been alone except for the rare hour or so, here and there, for over a month. I live alone, and am used to living my life almost completely on my own (as readers--all 3 of you--know very well). This is different for me. I want my life back. I don't want it either.

My dad and stepmom came. I started my new job from home. It's intense, and this is going to be completely different than what I was used to in some ways...but that is a very good thing. I'm doing federal government affairs now, so all the Congressional antics that keep playing out on Cspan now suddenly are personal. They dictate whether or not I'm up all night, whereas previously, it was the Governors of the states who did that. And they tended to be much less dramatic ;) Joint debt ceiling resolution? Did anyone pay attention to that? Turns out I should have been - because now my paycheck depends on my awareness of its outcome.

A day in the life. Right now, it begins with my mom bringing me oatmeal as I stumble my way into the kitchen on crutches.

One month ago today...I was laying down in bed, and facing surgery the next day. I'm four weeks and two days post-operation. Five weeks away from this whole thing happening. I still find myself re-playing it in my head. But not once--not once--have I questioned this. I haven't mourned my lost vacation, or thought about all the things I was going to have seen. It never seemed real to me--like the whole time we were planning, we were just playing.

Turns out, we were.

And now it's October. My favorite month ever...and I can't be out in it. I got to go out to my front steps today. Cast on, crutches laid beside me, I sat on the steps and small-talked with people going by. Looked at the leaves that have gotten their colors now. I realized they were starting to do that a couple weeks ago when my best friend was here, before Dad took his shift and my college friends came with kiddos and two HUGE gift baskets of stuff that I'll never be able to actually eat. She forced me outside and I sat there blinking in the bright sun and feeling weird about being outside. She talked on her blackberry and sometimes glanced my way and I alternated between wondering why she'd come and feeling grateful as hell that she had.

Look, I said, pointing to the tree. It's starting to change.

I'm halfway to being able to be fully mobile. I'm hoping so much that THIS, this, is starting to change. I'm working from the couch, watching bad TV and learning my coworkers' quirks from afar, and doing it all without learning just yet where the bathrooms are and what the coffee protocol is in the kitchen. I get a little break, to google things like "proposed rulemaking" in the privacy of my own home while I'm on a call needing to know arcane congressional procedural rules (wake up, I won't talk about procedural rules again, I promise).

I get my cast off on Monday, and I get a walking boot on. I start being able to put pressure down on it in about two weeks--I think--alot depends on what the doctors say when I go on Monday. I think I'll be able to go into the office around Thanksgiving. I need to navigate what i'm going to do about thanksgiving, and Christmas, and and and.....

And.

For now, I am trying to heal. I am taking my vitamins. Multi's every day, extra vitamin D. Lots and lots of milk. Lots of mom grilling me cheese sandwiches. Lots of my dad and stepmom cleaning my house. Lots of my college friends making me mexican dishes to freeze since they're my favorite. Lots of my friends here sending me edible arrangements. Lots of food, food, food it seems like. I can't move! Don't give me more calories!!

It's fall and I've fallen and broken. I'm halfway standing, and hoping for healthy winters to come.

"Three thousand five hundred miles away...what would you change if you could?"

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Then there's you

I guess if I needed to learn or remember anything throughout this journey, it's that an awful lot of people care about me. I have always known this, but it's something that I haven't felt in a very long time. It's like I've had some sort of barrier up, or a wall of my own self-centeredness, or a cloud of doubts hanging over my head--to be seen, but not touched. Not felt. Not where it mattered.

My best friend came up to spend a few days with me. She kept her head down, working frantically through her very busy time of year. I felt at times she was a million miles away from me while sitting beside me on the couch. Then she'd turn to me, smile, and ask what I wanted her to fix me for lunch and I remembered. I remembered to be grateful for every card people are sending me; every care package.

Mom was here for two weeks, and my dad is driving here as we speak. I was very glad to have a parent-break of a few days and get my head on a little straighter from so many days of my mother caring for me. I was grateful as all get out for it, but it is easy to regress when you're being actively parented long after you actually require it. I need help, yes, but I don't need parenting.

My dad is bringing with him his toolbox and his guilt about not being here for the brunt of the injury, the surgeries, the doctors appointments. I have no doubt he will absolve his guilt by fixing things that work, and by stuffing my face with things he grills.

I can't wait.

I am certainly not having the October I had planned on, nor that I wanted. I'm in a fair amount of pain still, although it's significantly less. Showering has taken on a whole new level of prep-work, and fixing myself a bowl of cereal and carrying it into the next room? Forgetaboutit.

But, I know, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt....I am lucky still.

Even still.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Well

Life sure as hell doesn't go as planned, does it?

Two weeks ago, I set out for a vacation of a lifetime with an old childhood friend and we were drunk on life and possibility. We were headed for a Mediterranean cruise, and were going to Italy, Greece, Turkey and Spain. We each left from our separate homes, and met in Paris in the airport. We hugged excitedly, headed for the currency exchange, and I pulled out my wallet. A few hours later, my credit cards were gone. All of them.

Sarah left for Venice, and I stayed behind for 3 hours until my flight. I landed in Venice at 11pm, actually GOT my luggage, and headed out to find the cruise reps who were supposed to be meeting me. No one was there. I had no money, didn't speak the language, and the airport was closing. I was making frantic calls and found an old man who offered to drive me to the ship (at least, I assumed that's what he was saying. He DID drive me to the ship, even though as we drove along winding Italian roads at midnight, I realized that he could kill me right then and there and absolutely no one would ever, ever know).

I made it on the ship. My friend and I had a blissful day and a half...until I slipped down one slippery step, and broke my ankle severely.

Severely.

So severe, in fact, that I had to have emergency surgery the next day in Athens, Greece. Yes. That was my sight-seeing adventure in Athens. The medical staff on the ship was wonderful, as I cried and sobbed to Sarah that I'd ruined our trip, her trip, why did my life have to be so hard, ohpleasegodjustkillmenowthishurtssobad rants because the pain was so out of this world awful.

In Athens, people stood over me shouting in Greek, as they took off my clothes and put me under so they could set the break. Two days later, Sarah and I were issued Turkish visas and flown out of Istanbul. We landed exhausted back home to DC, where I had surgery AGAIN last Friday...and here I sit.

In two weeks, I'm supposed to be starting a new job. I'm supposed to still on be on vacation. I'm supposed to be going to Kentucky in a couple of days to see the kiddos. I'm supposed to be able to walk. Instead...I am sitting on my couch, five days post-op, with my mother scrubbing things with bleach water in my kitchen as we speak.  I wish I were writing this with more flowery words, with more emotion, with more life lessons that I've learned threaded throughout...but I have told this story so many times that I am weary.

My family and friends have been wonderful, and I haven't been alone for a second since this happened. Mom's here for two weeks, then Dad comes. Dad told me he got physically sick when he heard what happened -- from a combination of knowing I was in horrible physical pain (pain like i've never experienced) and from the heavy feeling that his child just could.not. seem to ever have it easy. He was so happy that I was finally on a trip of a lifetime, finally able to do something wonderful for myself....only to literally be knocked down and slammed back into hard reality.

I told my friend who was with me, Sarah, that i keep waiting to hear on the news that our cruise ship is actually on the bottom of the ocean. Because we clearly (clearly) were not supposed to be on it. It was almost as if the universe was TRYING to make it to where I couldn't get on board. And once I did, I sure as hell couldn't stay. I laid in the medical center the whole first night it happened, shivering as morphine was pumped into me continuously but somehow not even able to touch the pain. They didn't even set it that night, I had to wait til official surgery for that the next day. It was one of my lowest life moments, I think.

It's just a broken ankle. Just. But it's sure as hell disrupted my life, and shaken a few hard lessons into me. I have four screws and a plate in my ankle now, but I'm expected to make a full recovery. Six more weeks.

If it happened for a reason...I've got my eyes wide open, trying desperately, straining, to see it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Change

My last day of work is today.

I fly to Italy tomorrow.

Life goes on.

As for the blog? We'll see. Keep writing...I'll keep reading.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

In which I finally update my blog

It's been a summer, y'all.

In five weeks, I went to Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Minnesota, and Los Angeles. Of all of those locations, I went to southern california to cool off apparently, because L.A. was cooler than MINNESOTA. Cooler in a few senses of the word, since the Teen Choice Awards parties were happening outside my hotel, and I ran into Clint Eastwood in the airport. I literally ran into a paprazzi photog while trying to find the cabs. I looked on TMZ later to see if there was a picture of Clint Eastwood looking irritated, and me looking like a dumbass in stretchy pants, standing in the background looking for cabs. There wasn't.

While I was wandering the streets of Minneapolis, pacing the streets like a nervous father in the waiting room, my sixth nephew came into the world. I was listening to "Let It Be" on my ipod over and over and over, occasionally crying, and generally looking like a hot mess. If I had seen me coming down the street, I would have crossed early to avoid me.

He was born on the first birthday of my last nephew, L, and I missed his birth too. I remember that one vividly -- he came into the world a few minutes after midnight while I sat on my front steps on a Saturday night watching people have fun and staring at my blackberry.

He's been an awfully sick little boy, but it appears he's on the mend. He's been in the hospital since Tuesday, and he'll be released tomorrow if the blood culture results show he's all clear. I haven't met him yet and he's 17 days old and I am going insane waiting to get my hands on him.



I've been in a weepy mood all week, partly because of that, partly because of other things going on. So last night, I fixed a cup of tea and settled down with a good book. Ya know, about the holocaust. The holocaust. WTF was I thinking? After crying through that, I remembered I didn't HAVE to read the damn book, put it down and decided to watch the Hangover instead. That, and cruising through damnyouautocorrect.com, is my go-to remedy for curing anything that ails me. DYAC -- seriously. It'll make your day.

In just over 3 weeks, I am cruising the hell out of DC for a long, long while. My longtime childhood friend and I decided that since we'd been such good savers of our money for all these years, and neither of us had EVER taken a real vacation in our adult lives, we decided to do something. Something big. And we are. We're going to Italy, Greece, Turkey and Spain for fifteen days!! I can't wait to turn off my blackberry, get into my stretchy pants, and not even begin to think about anything relating to the health care industry.

I have a feeling the world will go on without me just fine.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In Transition

I've started first sentences on a blog a dozen times in the last month or so. But I always think it sounds trite, or shallow, or too deep, or blah blah. So I delete it, shake my head, and vow to do better tomorrow.  And well, I'm finally bored enough to do it =)

I'm sitting in the train station, with my red suitcase that I got for ten dollars at Goodwill, and ol' Red and I are going to be spending a lot of time together this summer. I'm country-hopping, doing a round of regional meetings for work. Last year, I was more of a fly on the wall, observing. This year, this is all me baby. A day and a half of SJ for these lucky, lucky participants! I'll be performing my tap dance from the northeast all the way to Los Angeles and 3 other places in between. The only thing I'm disappointed about is that none of them are in proximity to Allegra and Angie in the pacific northwest. Bummer. Unless you want to fly the kids to LA, Ang? Field trip!!

I didn't think I'd be making this country-hop again this summer. I thought I'd be in a new job, maybe even a new town, by now.

But here I am, in sweaty sticky Washington in the height of summer and it's my most hated time of year here. Tourists are EVERYWHERE...I live in a very popular tourist destination neighborhood, and I work right by the Capitol, so they're on my commute everyday. I don't mind them, it's simply the crowds. It takes me about another ten minutes at each stop to stand in line behind a group of same-tshirt-wearing clumps of people figure out how to operate the ticket machines. But mostly I just hate it because it's as hot as holy hell, and I hate being hot. I also hate feet, and I hate seeing so many people's feet. I'm such a strange person.

Summertime is also the time of year when everything shitty that can possibly happen to me, does. So...stay tuned I suppose? Everything's okay so far. But you never know.

I met a traveling baseball player for the Cubs in the airport a couple weeks ago. We spent a very fun and memorable few days (read: nights) together, and now he's gone. I don't miss him. It was fun to have a fling, and I really needed the esteem boost of being "picked up" and flirted with and especially by such a cutie. I'm sure he's romancing someone else right now, as we speak, in San Diego or Cleveland, and that's okay. Dating is not a priority for me right now. I'm sitting tight, so to speak, and waiting to see what's next. Keeping my heart here with me for awhile. Keeping it whole just in case something happens this summer to break it.

I spent the 4th of July lounging at my sister's house with the little girls who are quickly becoming kids rather than toddlers. I didn't have to split my time with another family, I made no plans (deliberately) and I spent two fantastic days just lounging in the pool and catching kids as they jumped in the pool. I was again, and almost always am when I have such a good block of time with my family, amazed at how my family dynamics have changed in the last five or so years.

To put it in perspective, this same sister (stepsister, technically) and I are the same age. We were 7 when our parents got married (4 when we met) but had drifted apart after we hit puberty and I quit spending alot of time at my dad's. Through high school and college, she was basically a stranger with whom I shared a sink with every other weekend. We both went to Panama City with our respective friends during our sophomore years of college. We were so distant by that point that I didn't even know she was there. We were in a dark club, music beating through our bodies, and we rounded a corner and came face to face. Stopped and stared for a minute, said hi, and walked away from each other.

If you told me that in ten years, I'd be in the bed with my head on her belly listening for my newest nephew to kick me, I'd think you were crazy. She'd think you were crazy too, if she thought I'd be teaching her daughters to swim in the backyard of her farmhouse where she lives with her high-school sweetheart. She wanted to move to New York City and be a lawyer. She now lives on a farm in Kentucky and is about to have her third kid and is a third-grade teacher. I wanted to be at stay-at-home mother, maybe a librarian, and that was about the extent of my ambitions. I now live in Washington and have an extremely successful career with no children. Our lives/ourselves have completely reversed.

We flipped around, traded futures, and found each other again in the process. Her blond daughters--one of whom bears my middle name--are my practice babies. My teachers in the ways of eventual motherhood, and there are times when I'm riding the four-wheeler around her farm that.....maybe, perhaps, we are living our dreams out...but in each other. Together, with our younger sister, we have the careers, the kids, the urban life, the country life, the married life, the flings, the travel.

Together, I guess you could say we have it all.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fade in, Fade out

"I don't think you're taller than me yet, buddy" -- To a nephew, 11, that is staring me right in the eye with that smile I've known since he gave his very first one. I kissed his cheeks and sent him on his way, with him looking like a man in jeans and muddy boots.

Scene: Fade Out

"What did you ever see in me?" A high school boyfriend asked me, after 11 years of not talking. We're on hour five of conversation. I gave a long, in depth answer about how he was the yin to my yang, and that he was good for me in ways that he didnt know yet. I didn't tell him the truth in that his smell and the way his lips tasted was almost all that I saw in him and that memory was strong enough to keep me on the phone with him.

"What did you see in me?" I asked. A pause.

"You were hot," he said.

Scene: Fade Out

"She's pregnant. I need you. Only you. Talk me down from this," she says to me before dawn.

I sit up and steel myself.

Scene: Fade Out

Crossing a busy intersection on my way to a job that I could care less about right now. "Don't use again" I'm frantically texting on my cell to a boy who is seven light years away from me but I'm rolled up in, just the same. Kissing in the car as we did 11 years ago.

Scene: Fade out

My sister, 7 months pregnant, and my neices and me on the bed. They are 5 and 3. Their baby brother kicked and made my sister jump. "bad baby brother!" Everyone yelled. We found where his butt was located in her belly and spanked it. Rolled around and tickled and screamed. Went to sleep. Brooklyn sighs, throws her arm and leg over me. "I love lou."

The next morning, the four of us (plus baby brother in utero) crammed onto the four-wheeler to find pregnant cows, the girls' daddy working the fields, and then came home to make pancakes.

Scene: Fade out

Sixteen year old neice plunks herself in my lap on the porch swing. I kiss her back beside her tank top strap. She curls into me like she did when she was a baby. "Do you want me to get up?" She asks.

Never.

Fade out.

The month of May. A snapshot of a few of a million moments, tied up into my reasons for living. I could have pinpointed so many more.

My heart is full.

Monday, May 9, 2011

When I'm not lamenting...

I'm actually doing okay. I use this blog as a major outlet for me, and I wonder sometimes what people think I must be like in "real life." I'm actually pretty damn funny. I always smile at you. I know one person at my old job that doesn't like me, but she's honestly it. Maybe other people talk shit about me behind my back...but in general, people like being around me and I'm blessed to have alot of friends drifting all around this great country of ours. 

(My best friend once told me when I was yakking about someone else she didn't know - "you have too many goddamn friends!" - now all friends other than her are referred to as yet another gd friend)

It really could be worse.

I'm still waking up each morning with a goal of to continue to get paid until the next day and to make it til bedtime without any kind of crisis. Things are okay. My meeting is going much better. All 9 of my panelists are now set, I've got 8 states coming, and my powerpoints are all made. I'm kicking it off and facilitating for the two days, so it's going to be a LONG couple of days, but after that I get to go home for memorial day and hug up some little ones and my friends and I'm determined to cherish things more this time.

My friend Tif, who I've known since I was about 8, and friends with since I was ....13? is someone that I email every day. I have since we graduated college (together) and I don't know nearly anyone that knows me the way she does. About 6 or 7 years ago, when I lived in DC the first time, she emailed me one day out of the blue with simply this: "Are you about done up there yet?"

Yep, she was ready for me to come home. She is a woman of very few words, we are not ones to be sentimental and we've had a long history of me metaphorically laying my head on her shoulder and her pushing me up to stand on my own two feet. 

She has two young sons, and is one of my favorite people in the entire world and I'd be lost without her.

This afternoon, we were grumping back and forth at each other about how it was Monday, we both were tired and we both felt fat and we both forgot our lunches, and, and....  We switched subjects into something else random and along the way I said "Ha! Yeah right. No one has ever loved me THAT much."

A few minutes later, I get this back:

"i do."

Two words - from someone who has seen my face at every age and every stage. Reminders of grace.

My former place of employment was in town last week - I absolutely loved seeing them all. Walking into a room and everyone knowing me and trading business cards with me and we laughed and grabbed hands and talked about a few years ago when oh-my-gosh-can-you-believe-that-actually-happened?

My life is rich, full, and capable of so much more than I often see these days. So this is me, peeking out behind the curtain, telling you I am okay and that I still have hope that someday, things will be even better.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Hottest of Hot Messes

Today I feel like a scattered woman in every sense of the word. I'm struggling to absorb the impact of yet another thing that happened to shake America's psyche and to start us all bickering and attempting to define right vs wrong and in terms according to us and our interpretation of God. I'm struggling to keep my mouth shut to the absolutely moronic comments plauging my Facebook, comments sections of newspapers, talk radio, talk shows, talk talk talk everything. Can we all not be motherfucking quiet sometimes?

Work. Work, work, work. Changes are abounding here and they are WAY too long and messy and complicated to get into here in this forum, but lets just say, I need to find a new job. Tomorrow. So I start job searching -- sending resumes out, getting calls, getting on phone interviews. When all the while, I don't even WANT to work. I don't want to do another single policy position paper, or read another depressing report, or worry anymore about "whatthefuckarewegoingtodotokeeppeopleonMedicaid??" crazy disasters.

But work, I must. I got one call yesterday. I was excited until I learned it would likely be a $25,000 pay cut. I couldn't even pay my rent anymore.

In other but related news, I am holding a meeting in a few weeks and its going terribly. I'm bringing in seven state teams of people coming to learn from experts that I can't seem to get to the table. They are so smart that they can't LEAVE the jobs they are doing to come talk about them, and I completely understand that. Another state called me this morning and begged to come participate. "We won't even eat the food," she begged. I promise, we'll sit quietly. We just want to learn.

And I almost burst into tears at that. These people are struggling so, so much and for all their hard work, they're rewarded with idiots slamming lazy government workers on TV. Furloughs, taking away their benefits, pay cuts.

She wants to learn from me. And I feel like -- what can I give her? What kind of fortune can I wrap up in a cookie and send her home with when I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing every single day? How the hell did I end up here?

My life is as utterly uncertain as it has ever been. Sometimes I wonder if my desire for a husband and family is not quite as much about loneliness or biological clocks as it is that I so want to feel that something, anything, is solid. I walk every day waiting to have the rug yanked out from under me. I am clumsy, restless, and tense.

I need a vacation.

I've never taken one.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What I Can't Do Anymore

Here's what I know. I know that every day for god-knows-how-long, I have felt inadequate. Unable to be loved by anyone who does not do so out of obligation -- even though I am told, yes, that I am loved -- I don't feel it. It doesn't feel like it can possibly true because I no longer feel worthy of it. Because I am not worthy of it, it seems.

This past Easter weekend, I took a bad fall at a friends' house (why yes, I was completely sober in case you were wondering) --as many times as I've walked down that staircase to go to her room, I was pulling a suitcase behind me and it was dark, and I thought I was on the last step and well, I wasn't.

So I spent the weekend icing, resting, elevating…the whole bit. Every night we had tornado warnings. Easter morning, I was in the bed with my sister and two nieces and at 4am, our phone rang. Tornado. We yelled for her husband and we crammed into the laundry room with the girls underneath us…the moment passed, we discovered the easter bunny came and had a middle of the night egg hunt. That was probably the best moment of the weekend, one with so many not-so-good things scattered within.

This morning, I woke at 2am. My friend took me to the airport an hour and a half away for a 6am flight, and its 10am right now and I feel like I've already put in a hard days' night and I'm ready to go home and crash. My ankle is throbbing. My feet don't touch the floor.

We had a couple of talks in the car that made me feel like a completely ridiculous person, and that bled over into me having a complete meltdown in the airport at 5am. I called her and cried and sobbed (everyone in the terminal was just dying to sit by me on the plane, I am sure). I said that I feel like nothing I do is good enough. I can never, ever seem to catch a break and just be HAPPY, anywhere. Should I move back home? Well, that's not so fucking simple. I would have to rearrange my entire life, such as it is, and find a new job and move and, and, and. And for what? What if I fail again? What if I'm not happy there, here, anywhere?

I said to her in a choked out sob -- I feel like I am grieving. I am greiving for the life I could be living; the one that feels so impossible to achieve. And it's not as if I want to become the President of the United States or even the President of a company. I don’t give a shit about that. I just want to be happy. Find someone who loves me. Have my own family. I feel woefully inadequate in every.single.way because I don't have these things. I feel as though I can't be loved fully and in turn, I can't know love myself because oh oh, everyone says -you can't know love until you've pushed out a baby. You can try. You can huddle your body over your nieces little body in a tornado; you can change diapers and rub backs and rock and soothe -- but nope, you just can't know THAT kind of love. The real true kind.

And I'm sure that's true. Why would I have succeeded at that? It just doesn't to be in the cards for me, and its time to lower my expectations -or perhaps just change them- and accept that my life isn't going to be a fairy tale. It will not be full of me dancing in the kitchen. I'm not going to have someone love me like everyone seems to have. I will learn to tell myself that things may not --will not-- turn out the way that I had hoped.

I've tried so hard. Harder than anyone knows. Nothing is working.

So here's what I can't do for awhile -- this blogging thing. I can't read every day about babies saving and changing lives. I can't hear about how days were crummy but you went home and looked at your kids or your lover, and re-found your purpose. I can't read about the myriad of ways life is complete for everyone else, thereby making mine seemingly incomplete because I feel it enough everyday. I don't read a single blog that doesn't have this underlying theme, and I just can't do it anymore. I feel inadequacy and regret in my very bones and grief has settled onto my chest in a major way. I am truly happy that everyone else has found that magic and joy and love, but I have not and I probably will not, and for today -- I have to just learn to accept that. And do what I can to protect myself --it's all I can do.


See you on the flip side.

Monday, April 18, 2011

What I Don't Want to Forget

I was talking to a friend of mine from college on the phone yesterday -- it had been an eventful day and I was outside for nearly all of it, and that always makes my outlook improve and makes me in a good mood.  This friend knows me fairly well, especially with us having been roommates after college for a year.  She's omeone I've always kept in touch with and have been pretty honest with along the way.

She is a physicians assistant, and with me doing health policy and looking at future trends and helping to craft legislation for things that will affect her five-ten years down the road, sometimes I like to talk shop with her and find out how certain processes are now and how she feels about them.  For lack of a better term, it keeps me grounded and helps remind me that I'm actually doing something here instead of convening meetings and writing papers just to convene meetings and write papers that no one will read.

Yesterday was one of those chats, and the conversation evolved into me talking abstractly about my potential next career move.  And she said -- "Well, you seem pretty happy and really liking living in DC"  I actually laughed out loud and replied "Shit, I'd leave tomorrow if I could."

She was stunned -- "Really?" You're not happy?"

"Not really," I cheerfully replied.

I am here for necessity and I love certain things about it. But this is temporary. It's not home. And by that I don't just mean that it's not Kentucky.  It's just not MY home; where I will land. Temporary is less attractive to me as I get older.

Last week (two weeks ago, hell, who can keep up) when I was flying back from SLC, a teenager was sitting beside me on the plane. He was about 14 I guess, and the poor kid had a middle seat and I was at the window.  He kept staring out the window while I was trying to read, and he was pretty close to my face and in my peripheral vision, it looked like he was constantly staring at ME. I was getting irritated and that's a long ass flight to be irritated.

Anyway, as we started to fly in low over DC, he spotted the Washington monument.  His eyes lit up and he just said "Whoa" in a quiet voice. He'd never been here before. I played aerial tour guide and ended up giving him and his entire family a list of places to eat around the capitol, etc.

I'm going to miss that.  My greatest hits list of being here is made up of a flash of moments --

Living in Arlington, with a view of Arlington cemetary from my window, and laying in my bed each night and hearing "Taps" being played softly -from somewhere- every single night at 11pm.

The look on the faces of people seeing the monuments for the first time.

Lunchtime walks circling the Capitol building, looping around the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court.

Not knowing there is a landing strip inside the Pentagon and the horror I felt watching a Blackhawk helicopter lower itself into it --I was sitting in my car at a stoplight and had pulled over and waited for a crash. This was 2003. We were all tense.

Getting too close to the White House when trying to avoid a group of tourists that were standing in a clump on the sidewalk. I was in a hurry, so I stepped over the small rope on the sidewalk and tried to dart by them. Security officers grabbed my arm and hauled me right back over that small rope. Like I said...we were all tense.

My cousins, breathless with excitement, coming in to the restaurant where I was waiting for them to have dinner with me when they were visiting.  "We TOUCHED the White House!" I offered to buy the entire restaurant dinner if they had actually touched the white house. They insisted. After dinner I had them take me to the alleged white house. They'd taken a whole series of pictures with their hands on...the Treasury department building. In their defense...it was dark. And that IS a pretty impressive building ;)

I don't know --it goes on and on. Things that someday, when I'm somewhere else and doing something else and maybe even living a life completely opposite to this one I'm leading now....someday, I'll feel a twinge. And for a moment, I'll be homesick.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Next Thirty Years

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6CVJ3vPOMk

I think I'll take a moment
Celebrate my age


The ending of an era
And the turning of a page


Now it's time to focus in
On where I go from here


Lord have mercy on my next thirty years


In my next thirty years
I'm gonna settle all the scores
Cry a little less
Laugh a little more


Find a world of happiness
Without the hate and fear
Figure out just what I'm doing here
In my next thirty years


My next thirty years will be the best years of my life.


(It's gonna be good.)

Friday, April 8, 2011

It's Snowing in Salt Lake City

...but everything else is the same.

Well, it's really not. At least, it's not at all the same as when I was here last time. Last time, it was August --hot, sticky, sweaty August and I was in the midst of what I can easily describe as one of the worst periods of my life if not the worst. I'd had a terrible incident just a few days prior to take-off, and being here brings back memories of frantically tapping out emails on my blackberry trying desperately to defend myself and my decisions to a now former "friend," which resulted in the cruelest things ever said to me in my lifetime. This was all happening while simultaneously feeling like I was treading water while preparing my first big all-day meeting that I'd run by myself. 

It was a tiny bit of hell on earth, in this town where a giant temple sits on a hill with a golden angel blowing his trumpet over all the land.

Today, eight months later and about eight years worth of reflection and new perspective, I am back in this city that I actually kind of adore in its quirky way. The locals are fun, and whenever we're here, we have to stay for days at a time since flights in and out to DC are limited in our price zones. 

I didn't run another meeting today, but I sat around the conference room table and was reminded once again of how lucky I am to be right here, right now. In this job; in this field.  It's hard as hell sometimes -and far and away the most challenging job I've had. 

Tonight, we'll celebrate my thirtieth birthday. It isn't until Monday, but we're leaving tomorrow and we figured we'd kill two birds with one stone.

Thirty.

Wham, bam, damn -these trips around the sun are going fast.

Friday, April 1, 2011

When it hasn't been your day, your month, or even your year.

I've had a week that's zinged me out, clear from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other.

On Monday, I woke up feeling like the day was somehow going to kick my ass just because it could. And oh, yes it did. I woke up to a bad text message from a friend, and I was feeling super emotional over this. Then, I had a meeting with our accounting people to clear up a few questions I had about a brand new process they're implementing. I haven't been talked to so rudely and insulted so much since my shitty job in 2004. I went outside the building and sobbed my eyes out.

(Random aside: I've noticed that a crying person on the sidewalk is the equivalent of a homeless person on the sidewalk. People glance at you quickly, see that you're in some sort of need, and rush away as fast as humanly possible. Don't look at the person who many need something from me! I have enough problems!)

Anyway, I called my old friend Tif and she talked me down from the ledge. A true shout-out has to be given to her--she's been a rock to me ever since college and talking to her everyday keeps me centered.

Monday night, I put on pajamas and ate comfort food and did everything I could to calm down. I re-evaluated everything from why I'm in DC, to why I'm in this job, to what I'm doing with my whole damn life.

That was a low.

Tuesday was awesome. My day was much better, and then I got to have dinner with Betsy, the amazing sister of Katie Granju and we had a long talk about how I can help Henry's Fund, and all kinds of ideas on how we can grow it and what the future can hold. Their entire family has been through hell on earth this past year and I feel honored to be able to help in whatever way I can on a real basis. 

We bonded over a beer and a shared sense of humor, of politics, of basically everything.

That was a high.

On Wednesday, a shitstorm exploded at work and then I got lost coming home from a meeting I had in Alexandria thanks to new construction patterns. It was crappy weather and I ended up in a bubble bath for two hours with a book.

On Thursday, I went to Alexandria again for a meeting.  I had to drive there, and I passed the motorcade on the way to get it --I have to park it like a half mile away.  I always like seeing the motorcade.  When I got to the meeting, I had to put my car was on the meter and I only had quarters for an hour. So after an hour, I moved it again. In the rain. I went to a parking garage which was full. Which I found out after I circled every.single.floor. Then I came out, put the car on the side of the road, and got fined $40 when the meter ran out. Which I found after I got soaked. Again.

This morning, i found out I left my purse in the car overnight. Luckily it wasn't broken into and everything is okay. But doing that made me lose a half hour of my morning since I'd parked the car about a half mile away and had to walk there, walk back, walk to the metro, walk down the broken metro stairs, ride the metro with 300 high schoolers here on spring break, walk to the office.

After all that walking, you'd think I wouldn't have gained two pounds this week. Ah lah.
The high highs and the low lows, all in just a week.

Sounds like life to me.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Maine Things

I flew up on Friday morning to the great state of Maine to visit the cousins.  My cousins Todd and Chris are basically older brothers to me this point, and both are incredibly protective and loving--in other words, exactly what I need sometimes when I'm feeling disconnected and out of sorts. 

It was perfection.

We slept in. We ate fries. Todd's wife, Jenny, treated us both to mani/pedi's on Saturday morning.  Then we went shopping and I got my very first Coach purse!  I'm not one to get all hyped up about either of those things...but I swear, it was all heavenly this weekend.  We went dancing, we ate excellent seafood.  I had a lobster roll, and bought new Nikes and Victoria's secret underwear and Sephora makeup and ..... well, time for PBJ's this week :) 

There were cute little boys who have the same baby blue eyes as me:



And cute puppy dogs:



And cousins with said cute puppy dog:


I love that I feel like home in so many, many places.  I am so lucky. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Be Like That

Well, it's Wednesday. I keep thinking I should blog, and get the image of me sadly tromping up an escalator staring at words about wounded soldiers, off the top of my blogroll :)

Life ain't all that bad. I'm going through a period of stillness, I think, and I've been spending alot of time just kind of reflecting on things. Not in a bad way though....not in the "oh my dear lord, what does it ALL MEAN?!" kind of way. As we all know, I can tend to walk on the melancholy side of the road, and only really find myself savoring people and things when they are either 1) far away, 2) in my past.

I was walking down my street the other day and it's just beautiful. It really is and it looks like something out of a movie sometimes. I walk by Afghani, Lebanese, Polish, Bangladeshi, and Thai food restaurants everyday and that's just on my street. I tuck away in the basement of a gorgeous house and I doubt I'll ever have an experience similar to the way I'm living now. So why do I want so desperately to know what's going to happen when I turn this page? When I do move on, and when I do leave DC for god-knows-where?

One of my favorite songs in college -and still now- was "Be Like That" by 3 Doors Down. In my sorority house, my dorm room window opened out onto the awning of the house--you can see it behind us in the picture here: (I am, of course, the short one).



Anyway, we used to sit out on this awning all the time and sometimes at night I'd go out and watch all the people pass and I could see the neighborhood on the other side of the street and I distinctly remember the lyrics of Be Like That going through my head, or sometimes through the window while a CD played:

"She spends her days up in the north hall
Watching the people as they pass
And all she wants is just a little piece of this dream
Is that too much to ask?
For a safe home, and a warm bed, on a quiet little street"

And you know what?

I got it.






"If I could be like that, what would I do?...."

Friday, February 18, 2011

I recall the experience...

Every morning, I descend down this long escalator to the metro:




Inscribed on the stone wall all around the metro's entrance is a quote by Walt Whitman. I have no idea why this particular quote was chosen but it is:

Thus in silence in dreams' projections,
Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals;
The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand,
I sit by the restless all dark night - some are so young;
Some suffer so much - I recall the experience sweet and sad...
-Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass, 1876

We are all so disconnected here.  I rode the metro today with a coworker of mine standing right in front of me the entire ride.  He never looked at me, because we don't meet eyes around here.  I cram on the train with my arm tucked around someone's waist so I can reach a pole to steady myself on.  My back presses against someone else and we all collectively suck in our breath so we can make sure the doors close and train moves.  I hurl through the darkness clutching strangers for balance, and the whole time, we never speak, never look at each other.  Its as if we aren't there at all.  Ghosts.  For me, usually, it's the only time I'm touched all day unless I see someone after work.

As we reached our stop, I reached out and touched my coworkers arm and he jerked it back and turned to me with a glare before realizing it was me.  Our defenses are so up, all the time.  Don't look at this homeless person, don't look at this person who looks sad, don't even think about looking at someone asking you for money.  We drift and it strikes me sometimes how god-awful lonely we all look. 

We break apart as the train emptys, our morning embraces forgotten, shaken off and in the haste of the day we separate -never knowing anyone, never speaking, never looking.  The pattern repeats in the afternoon, and I ascend the same escalator and trudge up with my footsteps echoing and my ipod clutched in my hand and I'm thinking of how we're going to keep people on Medicaid, and how we're going to get through these lawsuits, and how I'm going to get through the next few months. About how god-awful lonely I am most of the time, and how I am both luckier than hell and sad at the same damn time.  And I look at the quote which I know will remind me always of my time spent here, now, in Dupont Circle as my twenties wind down and the rest of my life winds up. 

I'll recall the experience sweet and sad.

Monday, February 14, 2011

All the things I do not know

Update:  I slept. For ten hours. I feel like a new person =)

"I (hiccup) want (sob) you (gasp) to (hiccup) hold (sob) meeeee" My three year old nephew wailed this pitifully from the step of his "time out" designated stairstep. I'd just walked by him and was determinedly ignoring him since I wasn't exactly sure how this whole time-out protocol is currently working for my sister and kiddos. But, this broke my heart….and I'm not his mother, I'm his soft-hearted aunt and I never get to see him and now he's got his arms out for me and the ends of his hair are sweaty from crying and of course, I grabbed him up. I rocked him on the stairstep a minute before my sister came to check on him, looked at me exasperated, then smiled and freed him from his stairstep prison.


Approximately 12 hours later, I'd be repeating this mantra.

Around 1am this morning, as I sat up in bed after not sleeping a wink, with my head in my hands crying as every anxiety, doubt, worthless and awful feeling consumed me. My poor sleep-deprived best friend, who was due to get up at 4am to get me to the airport by 5:40 am, so I could fly here in time for work this morning, rolled over and asked if I was okay. I was so not okay. God bless her, she did hold me and ask a million questions about what is wrong (I was incredibly helpful in answering her "everythiiiiiing" and what could she do about it? "nothiiiiing")

Of course, everything is not wrong and there is a great deal she can do to keep me balanced and sane, along with the rest of the people who sustain me. But sometimes at 1am, it sure as hell feels like it its all wrong even with someone saying how much they love you over and over.

I went home for the weekend to try to re-find my balance, to even out my inner self--I've been spending too much time alone, and too much time working, and forgetting too easily how many people do love me and instead focusing on who does not. What I don't have. What I fear I'll never have. (My upcoming birthday is doing nothing to help quell these tick-tick-tick feelings of not only the biological clock, but just my overall clock as well and how I'm using my time here).

The weekend didn't do much to help that though, unfortunately. Home is a haven, but it is not immune from problems and issues, and of course, their lives are going on and they have their own struggles. My grandmother is getting older, my stepfather is getting more unpredictable, my mother is getting more stressed. I had a lot of niece and nephew time though, and that was most important. Even though a four year old coughed in my face all.night.long on Saturday night, and babies spit up on me, and three year olds had three year old tantrums, it was well worth it.

So here I sit at work, so freakin tired that I don’t know if I'll make it past lunchtime, I guess I'm going to have to come to grips with the fact that I just don't know a damn thing. I have no earthly idea if I'll ever somehow transition from the life I'm living to the life I want to live. If I will ever stop feeling like I take two running leaps forward toward that life, only to crash into a wall and slide to the bottom, then rip my jeans climbing over it.

My friend dropped me off at the airport this morning and I mumbled bye and started to drag the suitcase off after hugging her. I was a little embarrassed at how ca-razy I had been a few hours before…it was certainly not my best side and couldn't have been a picnic for her so I was trying to make a fast exit. She grabbed my arm back, and took my face in her hands and made me look in her eyes--I have a hard time doing that sometimes if I'm feeling sad or whatnot. She said "I adore you. When you think you have nothing, you have that."

So I have that. And I have this big, weird, wonderful family and one zillion kids that fight over who gets to sit on my lap at church. A good job, money, a roof over my head, and a cruise in the fall to the greek isles. Things to look forward to, and a life that is going to go forward even if I can't see past next Tuesday.

Maybe one day, I can finally feel that I have it all. And that maybe, I have all along.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Last night

For the first time, I dreamed of my grandmother. I've been having incredibly vivid dreams lately, and last night was no exception. I woke up at 7, disoriented and confused, and fell back as soon as I found out we had a snow delay.

And I dreamed of her. I walked over to her, where she sat in her pink nightgown in a bed that was raised up on her back so she was half-sitting. I went over, and laid my head on her shoulder and made a noise. She smiled without opening her eyes and said "Well hi, Stephanie." In the same voice and inflection she always addressed me -although it was never my name in that sentiment but always "Well hi, sweetheart." I can hear her saying that countless mornings as I shuffled in the kitchen from sleep, for cheerios with sugar.

Always with sugar, at her house.

I watched a documentary last night on HBO of John F Kennedy, showing little-before-seen footage of his life and presidency and death. During the funeral processional, I noticed my office building in the background. Startled, I paused it and looked beyond that saluting boy and realized that I walked down that exact same street everyday.

I went to work this afternoon, running and dodging through snow and sleet and looked up to see the Capitol before me -ever present, ever constant, ever my view out the window. And I thought about all the people it has seen under its shadow, and that now, forever, I am one them. I am one of a million twentysomething workers that leave their good shoes at work and sludge through the street in boots trying to go and do and be. To try, somehow, to leave our mark.

I thought of my grandmother and I felt her walking beside me, taking big steps and stumbling when I did too. I thought of that processional.

I thought of the feet who have walked that same street. I paused for a moment and thought to myself: "Here you are."

Here we are.
I am in good company.


(Me, circa 2003)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Weird books and Famous people

I have a difficult time writing when things are all going just fine. Nothing in my life is wrong at the moment, and that in itself is enough for me to breathe a giant sigh of relief. I'm not caught up in existential despair at the state of my life, work is going fine with no real issues other than day-to-day little dramas, my friendships are strong and my family is happy and healthy.


I have battled a little bit with the "what in the hell kind of world are we living in?" moments, which have culminated this week. I'm reading "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" series and it's horribly graphic (to me) and more than a little disturbing. The story is good, so I'm sticking with it (i'm on the second book) but somehow those books are bringing to the surface and spelling out the horrific things humans can do. I was reading in the lunch/break room on our floor the other day during lunch, and the TV was turned as it always is (why, why, why??) to some trashy daytime talk show. So I'm reading out things like murder and sexual assault, and then listening to the show with the headline "I lock my wife in the closet." Yeah. After about twenty minutes of reading one thing and listening to the other, I had to just leave.

It's really no wonder that I simply re-read Harry Potter books over and over most of the time, because I sometimes need some magic and make believe in this strange, horrible world.

I just got back from taking my lunch in a cafe right down the street. The West Wing cafe is awesome and it has shaded windows so that tourists dont really know that its there and that keeps the crowds down in the summers. I've run into a handful of 'famous' people, inasmuch as people are famous in DC, and today was no exception. Although it was by far the strangest encounter.

I ran into Larry Craig. Remember him? The former Senator from...Utah? I dont know. I'm too lazy to look it up right now, but he was the guy in the airport bathroom who assumed a "wide stance" aka -- solicited sex from his fellow bathroom mates. The secrets and scandals I guess, of the sexually repressed. I have no idea why he's in town. He was sitting alone facing a wall, but he spotted me looking at him, trying to place him. He gave me a small, sad smile.

It's so confusing when you see people who have been paraded about as horrible people who do horrible things, caught in a moment of humanity. Do you feel sympathy? Empathy? Indifference? I just nodded my head and walked away.

It was a little like the time I ran into one of those leggy blond reporters on Fox News (I never watch it so I have no idea what their names are; but I am in the same building as Fox and I know the anchors by their makeup), crying in the bathroom. No longer a perma-smile robot giving Ann Coulter a shot at throwing out one-liners, but a dry-heaving vulnerable woman hunched over the sink.

It's been months since I've been on my own bathroom floor, crying and praying for relief from my own tortured thoughts and worries. My main mission of each day? To stay off.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Half-staff


I snapped this picture while walking to work.  This is Union Station, the main train station in the middle of DC, and this is where I get off the metro everyday to go to work.

The flags are half-staff because of the Tucson shootings.  I'm standing at half-staff internally due to the death of an old friends' sister that happened this week.  We all grew up in the same church family, but she was 4 years younger than I -better friends with my sister than I was, and I was mostly friends with her brother. 

But still, a girl I knew when she was just a little girl is dead.  A car accident, with a husband in Korea in the air force, and two baby girls that were in the car with her.  Thankfully the girls are okay.  Erika isn't.

And suddenly, it's fifteen years ago in my head and memories of that time in our youth when time suspended and we were at the top of our entire lives are spilling into my present life and it's all too much to take in.  I'm sitting in a meeting and I'm flashing back to a moment when we're gathered on somebody's porch and guitars are playing and I'm high on the sound of our voices. 

Tomorrow morning I will get up before dawn, drive to Kentucky, and I will hear the sound of those voices all the way home.

Friday, January 7, 2011

"I would love your hands, even if they weren't yours."  She said this to me over Christmas while we were laying on our backs, and she was holding my hand up in the air inspecting it to see how much I'd been picking my nails lately.  She pronounced my nails to look awful, then took my hand between both of hers, patted it gently, and held on.  We kept watching the movie.  I laid my head on her shoulder, and she leaned her forehead against mine.  It's how we always sleep when we're together.

A snapshot, a moment in time -the intimacy between the deepest of friends and none of it sexual in the least.  But the intense closeness of a connection that is felt deep in your bones -this, I can only feel with a few.  A secret place that nobody knows.

I say this as my life seems to be turning into an episode of Sex and the City -without the sex.  Perhaps more aptly named, "Fool Around in the City."  An old flame has recently returned to my city to live (long-time readers will remember him as "guy in Seattle" from last spring) and that quietly rekindled, and now our flirting takes on a new level, with possibilities behind them.  Possibilities in which we occasionally indulge even though we know he and I will go nowhere as a couple. 

My first date last week went well, and while we barely know each other, I like him and we're going to the movies tomorrow.  I'm taking it slo-o-o-wly and I like it that way.

As I always do when I first begin dating, I start thinking of past relationships.  Or in my case, rather, past hook-ups that lasted a few weeks.  I've never really had a deep relationship with a man.  My emotions, my true self, my heart has always been reserved for those closest to me.  And those have primarily been the women in my life.  I keep men at arm's length, and I hesitate from throwing all my cards out on the table. 

I found an old flame on Facebook recently, and I looked through pictures of his oldest daughter, born while we were in the midst of our tumultuous high school relationship...thing...that we did for quite some time.  I looked at him, and her, and it was like a tiny glimpse into a life that, were I a different kind of person, may have very well been mine. 

My sisters and I have begun texting each other almost daily.  We don't ask about our days or our little day-to-day things.  I have no idea, really, what they do between the hours of 8-5, and I'm not involved in the minutae of "so and so had an accident at school so s/he lost a sticker on the behavior chart" drama.  They say simply "Hi, I love you. Stay warm." 

I never dreamed we would be this close.  One of the best blessings of my life.

These women in my life -the one who knows the words of my story and run fingers through my hair and hold me when I can't stand up anymore on my own. And the men, both those I have known and those I will, who also run their fingers through my hair while we lay there, and I wonder when I will find one who loves me enough to stick around.  Until then, I proceed with caution, but with a heart that is -finally- ready to try.

It's been a long time coming.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Not a wrap-up

I am terribly sentimental. I have a habit (as you long-time readers may know --all three of you), of constantly re-evaluating where I am in my life, and where I was exactly one year/two years/five years ago that day.  I tend to benchmark my life's progression by what all I have done with it.  And I am constantly disappointed, no matter how much I do and how much I accomplish. 

And you know what?  That ends today. Right now. I am so tired of beating myself up and it's doing no one a damn bit of good, especially not myself. 

I just spent seven wonderful days at home with my family, and crammed in as many friends as possible.  One night, I went to three different friends houses in the course of 4 hours, just so I could be sure to see everyone.  I had babies spit up on me, swung countless pre-schoolers through the air and onto the couch making them scream with laughter.  I counseled my fifteen year old neice on the dangers of drugs, boys and Justin Beiber --I think she didn't enjoy our counseling session nearly as much as I enjoyed giving it :) 

I never slept alone.  A kid or two or a friend was always with me throughout the entire trip.  And yesterday, I returned to DC, back to a life that is nearly always lived alone save for work and the few friends I have here.  And that is okay, honestly.  It won't be like this forever, and I know I am doing the right thing for me at the right time.  The reassurance I have of that just gentle knowing is a peace that sustains me beyond belief.

So one year ago today?  I was spending day two in my new apartment.  I probably cried a little bit, and I remember taking a long walk trying to figure out the bus routes.  The amount of stuff that's happened to me since that day blows my mind. 

I'm sitting here one block away from that same apartment, at a local coffee shop, about to eat an omelette and I have tea beside me.  I am going to drink mimosas with a friend at the dog park later as we let her puppies roam, and then I have a first date tonight.  I am back on the dating wagon, so buckle up tight.

And in the immortal words of Whitesnake--here I go again on my own. 

I think it's going to be okay.