Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Paradise

She walks down my street with her eyes darting everywhere, absorbing every single detail at impressive speed, inhaling energy from the constant movement and the people. She turns to ask me a question, and I yank her back on the sidewalk as she starts to cross against a Do Not Walk. 

I am the little sister. I'm not the one who is supposed to be looking out for her. I'm not the one who should be living the city life, free and easy as I go. This is her paradise, her energetic eyes jumping here and there.

It wasn't supposed to be me.

She had her first baby at 18, and then two more followed.

But me, the little sister who wrote down the names of the ten children I wanted to have and pictured them all while daydreaming in my closet of the life I was going to have--I got to leave. I walked across the graduation stage, and straight to DC and my life exploded into something else.

I'm not hiding in my closet anymore, throwing a softball in the air, daydreaming, and getting quiet if anyone came in the room to listen for me.

My sister (step-sister, technically) brought up my older nieces and nephew up for Thanksgiving break. We did so much that I don't even know where to start--let's just say there was no museum or monument left unturned and untouched. We never, ever, ever stopped. The kids and I collapsed into our beds and air mattresses each night.

My sister has emotional issues, and veers and swings wildly from happy to sad to pissed to manically ecstatic. I've said it before and I'll say it again...how my nieces and nephew turned out to be such wonderful, balanced kids, I'll never know.



The kids had a blast. All 3 want to move here.

So does she.

She is awed of me, proud of me. She also looks at me with a bit of resentment under her gaze, a little bit of defensiveness. Pride.

It was never supposed to be me that didn't end up on the farm - yet...

She has no idea how long I've plowed this city ground to turn it into a fertile life. No idea of the struggles, no idea of the things unsaid and unmentioned. The tears and blood in your mouth and empty lonely feeling in your stomach when you realize that no one is going to ever rescue you but you. And I can't explain it -- there are some things that you can't tell someone who thinks you have a perfect life. They'll never believe you.

"After all, those were passionate times, when children were pioneers... on the road to find out, wherever that road might take them. When brothers and sisters, looking back... wished they'd known each other better." --The Wonder Years

Me and my niece Carlee; she is the one who will get away.




Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day, Two years ago-

I walked to the Vietnam Wall today -this sounds impressive, until you realize it's less than two miles from my home. I passed many veterans along the way, most about my father's age, and a good deal that were alone. That surprised me.




I tripped, at one point. My foot caught into a hole, and I went down hard on my hand, but didn't completely lose my balance. I thought, wildly, of last November when I was still in a cast. I was swarmed over by many concerned people, but I was luckily fine, and managed to walk another mile and a half home.

I was walking along, and recalled my own words, written in 2010, that are somehow even more appropriate now, today, in 2012 - as my life continues to change and rearrange, and I am working on leaving old scars and hurts behind.

November 11, 2010

I am thinking of Madeline Alice Spohr, who would have been three today.

I am thinking of Henry Louis Granju, a boy whose life touched mine after he left his own.

I am thinking of all the children whose lives never got to be completed, and all the children whose lives are in progress in my life, and how I am learning to parent without ever parenting at all.




I am thinking of the future children in my life on whom I may be able to use all this parenting practice.

I am thinking of my two best friends, one of whom I will spend my Thanksgiving with. Whose hand I will hold before prayer, just as I have for over fifteen years.



And the sweet faces I will hug to me this weekend.




I am thinking of my grandfather, who served in WWII, along with his six brothers. Seven brothers went to war. Seven brothers came home. He wanted me to write a book about him and his brothers--maybe someday, I will. I wish I could have just one more conversation with him.  

So -here's to the veterans of war, the veterans of boot camp, the veterans of immeasurable loss. And here's to the veterans who survived the wars of their own homes, the nightmares of broken dreams and broken families, and to those who came out the other side with a slight limp from suffered hurt.  To those who suffered the wars in their own minds from mental illness, and those who suffered the wars of addiction. I salute you.

We are all survivors of something--veterans of the wars we fight on land, air, sea and our minds.

Here's to them. Here's to us. Let's whisper thank-you to the wind, and hope it reaches someone's ear.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

You Don't Own Me


“No self respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a party that ignores her sex.” Susan B. Anthony, 1872.





Monday, October 29, 2012

It's raining in Balitmore, baby...

And, in DC.




But everything else is the same.

(I'm safe, warm and dry. So far, still with electricity. Thanks to all for checking on me.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's Getting Dark In Here



The world has lost several fine men this month. My little network of family, colleagues and friends has been hit hard with tragedy, and while none close enough to me that I needed to revist the bathroom floor, it's been a tough few weeks.

My boss's father is about to die from lung cancer, and he is a distraught mess. My already-busy work schedule is being compounded with adding on his workload, and my traveling has really ramped up. We're in such a holding pattern until after we see if we have a new President, and what the new Congress will look like. Until then...we wait.

Blah, blah. I feel like I've been really boring lately. All work and no play makes SJ an even-more dull person.

I haven't laughed nearly enough this month, even though I've been listening to David Sedaris almost daily on my drives home and watching marathon Parks & Rec episodes at home. I suppose it's hard to find the humor in anything when each few days you hear of another person passing on, and in so many ways you are more alone than you've ever been.

I'm so lonely that sometimes, I feel that I may go crazy.

I am so tired of being second-best (or third-best, etc etc) to everyone--I know this has been a common theme in my blog but it just IS a part of my reality that I have no one putting me at the top of any proverbial list.

When I am at my darkest hours, I don't fear anything. If something happens to me? Meh.

We had a bomb scare next door with explosives planted in a local mall next door to my building--I barely even blinked when the FBI and HS showed up outside. I told the staff to go home, but I stayed. Too much work and frankly, I don't get worked up enough to be scared of anything these days. My flight last week was so bumpy that I woke up when my head, where I was sleeping, banged against the window and jarred me. I found my jacket, made it into a pillow, and went back to sleep.

I know I am loved, and cared about deeply. I know that I am valued. But I just don't feel it very much lately.

There is so much I wanted to have by now.

-10.22.12

Monday, October 1, 2012

October, Again

God -this time last year I was flat on my back recovering from surgery. I was bummed for so many things, but a big one was missing my favorite month...October. I *love* being outside in October, I love feeling the cool air -- I can always breathe again when fall comes. I visibly relax.

I'm working from home this morning, preparing to fly to Atlanta to give a keynote address tomorrow afternoon at a conference. My first "headline," so to speak. Wish me luck. I'm nervous! But, I'm ready.

Can you believe I used to get physically sick just talking on a conference call, and now I can public speak? Growth happens. That's one my big growth areas I can point to with certainty and say no, I'm not like that anymore.

That's about it, though ;)

Going to Vegas next week, again to speak, and then to South Florida. Sorry, Ms Moon, I don't think it's near Tallahassee :) If it is, come listen to me! I'll look for you.

I took out the loads of trash, packed my bags, and cleaned the bathroom and now headed to the airport--wish me luck.

XO


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Generations Apart

My granny and me. I miss her so very much.

I think we look alike.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Day in the Life -And a lot of pictures

Yesterday was one of the strangest days I've had in a long, long time. I realize it perfectly symbolizes my life here, and the everyday tiny struggles that make me tired and oddly defensive when anyone suggests I could actually leave this difficult city. Brief aside: A friend and I once were watching "Turtle Man" on Animal Planet, which I was using as an example of the life I left in Kentucky, and they were chasing a groundhog out of it's hole. Turtle Man said this nugget "now, the groundhog, once he digs into his home, he ain't going an.y.where. He's moved almost 70 tons of dirt to dig in, and he's tough to root out."

Fast forward to brunch later, when I was grumbling about all the tourists that were in "our" diner that day. She said--you know, you're really territorial. I retorted that like the groundhog, I also move a metaphorical 70 tons of dirt to dig into my home and be able to stay, and yes, I don't want people rooting around in my tunnel. I thought she was going to throw up she laughed so hard.

The day went like this: Wake up. Check phone to find out when I have to go to the office. Walk out to get a bagel with egg and bacon with an unsweet ice tea. Walk back. Glance over to where I'd parked my car the night before. Notice it's not there. Panic. Check phone to find out when I have to go to the office.Call the police. Learn that my car had been towed a block away for absolutely no discerable reason to me. Check phone to find out when I have to go to the office. Find the car. Note that I'm being charged $100 to be moved to the next block. Again, for absolutely no reason explained to me. Check phone to find out when I have to go to the office. Find out I do not have to go to the office. Pick up a friend at the metro. Circle for a parking spot for 30 minutes. Go on a date. Check phone to find out when I have to go to the office tomorrow. Go back to my neighborhood. Circle for a parking spot for 30 minutes. Give up, and park illegally. Drink beers. Two shots of Jameson shoved into my hand by said date. Check phone to find out when I have to go to the office tomorrow. Put date in a cab at 1am. Friend comes over with wine to whine about men. Check phone to find out when I have to go to the office tomorrow. Discuss our idiocy for being still awake. Go to sleep at four. Wake up. Check phone to find out when I have to go to the office.

Sigh.

I don't often have to go into the office on the weekends, but it's an extraordinarily busy time right now. It's going to be a hellish week. One day, I have to be in a meeting at FIVE AM. Holy shit.

Funny aside: I got a text message from my sister while sitting in a meeting on Friday. Open, discover it's NOT a picture, but a video that started playing in the middle of a presentation. It was of my niece opening her birthday present that I'd had mailed from Toys r us.com, and was a "barbie horse," as requested. She l*o*v*e*d it with the energy of a thousand suns, and I feel like the coolest aunt ever.




I went to Maine last weekend to visit my cousins. We went to Boston for one day, and then ended up heading with all 3 of my cousins, plus one of their young sons, to an island off the coast to spend the rest of the trip. It was amazing. I want to live there so much.

Better start digging that 70 pounds of dirt.

Happy Sunday....

 Dinner one night in Portland
 

On the beach of the island

 Ryan and Daddy on the boat to the island
Me, and my cousin's wife. She's a good egg.

Boston Commons Park

Me, Todd and Jenny. Todd is my fiercest protector.

Ryan and Uncle Todd

Ryan walks.




Sunday, August 19, 2012

From the Archives

Something I posted almost two years ago. I'm so glad my Dad is still with me.

_____
So many things to update you all on, but there will be time enough for that. I've had visitors for the last two weekends, and this past weekend, my father and step-mother came to see me. Last night, I needed to take the trash out. To do this, I go down a small alley behind my house. This disturbed my dad to no end --he hooked his flashlight on his belt and tucked his gun in his holster and we set out as though we were conquering a neighboring village. Me in my pajama pants and he with his gray haired swagger.

When we returned, he tried to tell me he was going to leave his flashlight for me. The dialouge went something like this:

Me: I really don't need a flashlight
Dad: What if your power goes out?
Me: I have candles
Dad: How will you see to find your candles?
Me: I just know where they are
Dad: But what if you don't?
Me: *smacks my forehead*

Dad can frustrate the life out of me sometimes.

They left this morning, and I came home to a still, silent house for the first time in awhile. I went to my bedroom to change clothes and found on my dresser--the flashlight.

There was a note underneath that he had hastily scribbled:

"Find your way home."


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Not Loss



“You have too many goddamn friends!” my best one exclaimed once, back when we were first getting to know each other. I was telling some story or another and mentioned probably “my friend Sarah” (of which I have several) and she got confused on who in the hell THIS random person was coming from the woodwork, and shook her head before making that declaration. She herself isn’t one to need many friends – she’s someone who would rather have one or two really close friends, and the rest acquaintances, to have her needs met.

I’m somewhat like that—I, of course, have friends who hold a closer place in my heart than others. But, I do have a lot of goddamn friends that I rely on pretty heavily for emotional support. Part of that comes from being single, and part of it comes from just who I am naturally. I have a big family; I’m used to a big community of support. I’m used to a wide range of personalities, and I need to be able to pick up the phone and know without a doubt that I will at least find someone to chat with me about trivial things, or remind me that I’m loved. For some reason, I forget this fact time and time again, and become wide-eyed panicked that I’m alone in the world.

This same friend became engaged a few weeks ago. Many (most?) of my friends are married. I’ve managed to keep some, and I’ve lost an equal number of them to that hallowed institution. My physical distance from them certainly plays a role in the losses, but still, they no longer need to tell me something funny about their day or rely on me when something big happens. They have spouses to do this, and I’m delegated to “I’ll call her this weekend/next week/next month/next year” and boom – I haven’t spoken to my college roommate in years. I haven’t spoken to my post-college roommates in years.

The circumstances for my best friend, S, becoming engaged are murky. I became friends with her when she was in her last marriage, and I was the sole confidante when it began to fall apart. It was incredibly difficult on me, partly because I was so young (about 26 at the time) and I just simply had no idea what to say/do, etc. I haven’t been married. I don’t have kids – she has teenagers, now adult kids. It was, as I told her once, above my pay grade. During all this tangle, her and I got tangled in a close friendship that bordered on desperation at times because we both had such monumental changes happening in our lives, and we felt that the other was the proverbial raft from our own sinking boats. The immediate aftermath of her divorce came my move back to DC, and here we are.

I continue to struggle very, very much with her relationship with this man. On the one hand—she’s my best friend. Of course I want her to be happy. On the other hand, I feel uneasy and strange around the guy she is marrying, and there are certain behaviors he’s exhibited that lead me to think that this is NOT a good man. However, she’s agreed to marry him. I have no doubt that she will, and that she wants this to happen.

It bothers me so much that I am bothered so much by this. It is in equal parts selfish and worry that make me uneasy. Worry for her about a potentially bad situation down the road, and selfish on my part because I want to stay the most special. I don’t have anyone declaring me most special, and we fulfilled that role for each other for a long time. We sign off every text message with some variation of “Top of List” because we are the top of the top for one another. I have never doubted her deep love and caring for me, and I’ve hands down never had a friend love me unconditionally as much as she does. That’s not to insult my other friendships, but S takes me simply as I am. She never tries to change me as some friends do, and constantly tells me I am gorgeous and brilliant (her words, not mine) and that I am perfect to her. We curl into each other like sisters when we sleep – to say we’re close is an understatement.

The series of posts by Heather Spohr at the Spohrs are Multiplying this week have really hit me hard. If you’re not familiar with Heather (and I believe my few readers are), Heather lost her toddler daughter unexpectedly following what was a simple cold, lost her aunt soon after, has dealt with a miscarriage this year and this week, her very best friend Jackie, died of a brain tumor. These are powerful pieces of writing, and have resonated with me this week.

I wept in the car after S told me she was engaged. I pulled over in front of my old apartment because I didn’t know where else to go and just cried. Cried for how empty my life sometimes feels, cried for how much I thought I was losing my best friend.

But reading Heather's posts smacked me in the face that no, I am not. I can still pick up the phone with my best friend, and tell her I love her. I can have a close loving relationship with her, for the rest of my life, if I choose to do so. There was a time when I thought there was no WAY I would coexist in her world if that man did as well. But, that’s childish and petty and makes me into someone I’m not very proud to be. I have to fight, hard, to keep myself from falling into my inherited genetic trait of grudge holding, bitterness and meanness. I feel those feelings rising up in my throat sometimes and I have to actively push them down and say that I am better than that. I won’t go there. I won’t be THAT mean, bitter person who feels it’s either her way or the highway.

S wants to choose a path I wouldn’t take, and right now, it’s my job only to love her and let her love me back and try to focus on the fact that my life—MY life—is still wide open and in front of me, ready for what may come.






Friday, July 27, 2012

Blood is Thicker than Water (but not as thick as honey).


I can't say I exactly have writer's block, but rather writer's non-starter. Too much going on in my family life, in my personal life, and in my working life, and I don't know where to start.

As longtime readers know, my family is big and varied. Many members of my immediate family are actually stepfamily members but have been in my life so long and in so much depth that it's impossible to separate the real from the not real and what is "real" anyway? Each of my four families (mother's, father's, stepfather's, stepmother's) reacts to things like conflict, crisis, holidays (sometimes conflict and crisis lies within this category!), and the like in very different ways.

Due to this, I have a...confused... sense of what's normal. It's more like an occupational hazard that I have to just deal with. I have to juggle very different personalities on a constant basis and as my families have been hit hard lately with illness, death and just life that happens as the founding (in my view) matriarch and patriarch members of each family battle age.

Due to the nature of proximity, my coworkers are usually the ones who hear things first. They are two feet away when I get bad news, the first people I see in the morning if I'm distracted with news I've gotten the night before. Cancer, Alzheimer’s, divorce--my family has been hit hard in 2012.

During the latest bit of news that an aunt has been diagnosed with uterine cancer, I started to notice eyes glazing over- just a little bit. I could almost see their thought bubbles--"Didn't she have an aunt that just got cured of cancer? Is this a new aunt? Actually, doesn't she have an aunt only a few years older than her? Wait -- is this a different aunt? I actually thought she had an aunt just die? From ....lung cancer?"

Not only are all of those above statements true; all of these were/are different aunts. Some biological, some step. One not even related to anybody at all, but a family friend who we called "Aunt" for our whole lives.

Yeah, it's weird.

My grandfather--you pick the relation--was arrested last week. For what, I won't get into here for his privacy and mine, but he has been exhibiting symptoms of dementia for a long time and this was simply the catalyst to kick us in our collective asses, pull our collective heads out of the sand, and deal with this bad situation that's not going to magically fix itself. My sisters and I held a conference call -- yeah, as if I didn't do enough of those -- last weekend to try and figure out what we can do and what our roles will be. We are trying.

My grandfather was sent to a psychiatric institution for a mandatory hold, and then went back to jail yesterday. We bailed him out, and he is now home. We are figuring out what to do. Court is next week. I got a long text from a sister last night, to several of us, as she attempted to update us from afar. She said at the end..."Now is the time to knit ourselves together as a family. We need to be a strong unit for Nana and Pappaw, and we need to show that our family won't break."

Blood? Forget it. Those words were sweet as honey that sticks us together and flows through our veins, recognizing, knowing.

Remember me? I'm the one who loves you.

I'm driving to Kentucky in an hour.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I am struggling.

It's the point I was at this time last summer, and the summer before that. And probably the one before that. It's middle of summer; middle of the season where all terrible things happen to me. Nothing terrible has happened yet, but I'm waiting for it.

I struggle this time of year.

I want to smack my head against my desk for feeling this way at all. You know, this desk I have in this big office with a big window and cherry furniture. Sometimes I'll be standing in the middle of my office with my bluetooth in my ear, on one of my zillion conference calls I have per day, I'll stop and pause. Note the TV in my office tuned to Cspan. Note that hey--didn't I get everything I wanted?

I did. And, I do want it. I am lucky beyond measure. I've worked hard for this, without sacrificing my relationships with my family and friends. I have life in abundance.

I said that word to myself last night, willing the anger not to rise up. I am blessed with work/friends/family in abundance. But still, the anger comes. Boiled over at 3:39 this morning as I tossed and turn. Anger at God, anger at myself, anger at the anger cycles that come this time of year. Anger that it is just damn hard to love someone that doesn't love you back. It is hard to face that feeling day after day, year after year. It makes it impossible to move on; to find someone new. Anyone. Days like this, that hateful, mean feeling rises in my throat....and i would give ANYTHING to be able to go out and run without causing permanent damage to my ankle--my doctor nixed running until at least one year post-surgery. Walking just doesn't let me get the mads and the sads out the way running did.

Yesterday it's been 9 months since the break. I feel broken all over, and vulnerable today.

Time for another conference call.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Let it be.


This past weekend, I spent a long weekend in Florida with my oldest step-sister and my two oldest nieces and oldest nephew –S, C and L ages 17, 14 and 13. I’ve written of them many times, and their influence in my life is unmistakable. Their very presence made our (very newly-formed, blended) family go in a direction that produced instant cohesion. We avoided much of the yours, mine conflicts because almost immediately after my mother and step-father’s union, my step-sister gave birth to S. I had only been an 8th grade graduate a few days when she arrived. S was, simply, ours. We could all love her mutually. She belonged to none of us, she belonged to all of us.

Our (for me, this side of my) family life and dynamic is not an easy one. It is fraught with tension, hints of mental illness, and a tendency for the melodramatic. In the middle of the storm there always, always has been S, C and L. They’ve grown up to be such wonderful kids and easy teenagers that I’m constantly amazed when these tall, hilarious, creative, talented kids still tries to crawl into my lap. They slip their hands into mine to hold. They lay in bed with me and ask for backs to be scratched. This weekend I got a glimpse of the still-difficult live they lead, largely at the hands of my step-sister. I could elaborate further, but I would likely end several hours and tears later. There’s no use.

After a particularly tough few hours, I watched them play in the ocean while I sat on my towel with the Beatles cranked up in my headphones and trying to slow my beating heart. They laughed and played like the toddlers I once knew. I watched them and hoped with every fiber of my being that they break this cycle. That they will be the ones to break this vicious endless cycle of finger-pointing and blame and too much yelling – not for us, not for our family, but for themselves.

I want these things as I watch them teeter on the end of adolescence and I watch and I cry and clutch my fists to keep my dreams for them inside. Let it be.




Last night, I ended what was a small flicker of a relationship. I actually cooked for this one – I really did try. I told people about him. I slept with him. I tried. But it still didn’t work. I don’t know, honestly, what to do anymore. I am very pessimistic that anything will be happening for me in this game of love.

I know, I know – it’s easy to wave me off with a “Ah, well you’re just 31! You’ve plenty of time!” The reality is—no, I really don’t. I don't have all that many years to find, nurture and grow a relationship, have babies, etc, before that window of time will end. I can do math. I doubt my chances of meeting The One are going to grow ever larger as I age, become set in my ways and continue to set myself up for a life alone. Do I like it? No. But it is what it is. I feel like I need to let go of this future life I’m envisioning for myself and just let it go.

Let it be.

Let it be, so that I can eliminate expectation and come to terms that maybe I’m a kick-ass aunt because they are the only children I’m going to have in my life. Maybe I have such a large and meshed-together and extended family unit(s) because they are the only family I am going to have. I just don't know. But I know I can't stop listening to this song.

“Holding out for some perfect reason/
Staring at the skyline with expectation.
Never finding what I believe in/
I’ll wait if I have to…
But feels like my hope’s slipping away
While I’m waiting here
Feels like I go from green to grey
As I lose another year.”


---Gavin Creel



Thursday, June 28, 2012

From the Steps

Of the Supreme Court -- ACA is upheld. It's a good, good day for the uninsured, the sick and the poor.

Days like this making living here and working in health policy SO worth it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

I hold his hand like I would hold my boyfriends hand. He is 3-4 inches taller than me, and with me clocking in at 5’1, this is average for his age. We look like a couger couple, with me in my early thirties and he knocking on the door of fourteen. We weave in and out of the crowded metro stations, the sidewalks, the ballpark, the Smithsonian. He’s never been in a huge city before, and he is overwhelmed and I’m getting frustrated with trying to keep him, my mother and my sister in my line of vision and make sure no one gets on the wrong train.

In the chaos, he lunges for my hand and I half-walk, half-drag, him out of the crowd. He doesn’t let go until we’re in my apartment. He’s thirteen, going into 8th grade next year, and right on that precipice where each time I see him (which is few and far between) I expect his voice to have changed. I expect him to be too cool for Aunt Stephie, but he isn’t. His feet are enormous but he still curls his long legs on my lap to be scratched. In a year, everything will be different. The next few years are going to see him shoot up another six inches at least, his long lean body jumping running climbing leaping so much now will likely be calmed. He’ll be charming the girls and playing basketball and trying his first beer and probably driving his truck way too fast.

But this past weekend, I got to have my little boy for maybe the last time. I got to cuddle with him a little, rub sunscreen on his face, watch a cartoon movie. I know it is fleeting and I’m so glad I take the extra minute to run my hand across his back, kiss the top of his head. It’s gone so fast and yet not, since he was a baby I held at the age of seventeen and that seems several lifetimes ago to me.

I splurged and got us all behind-the-dugout seats for the baseball game this weekend. He’s a big Braves fan, and they were playing the Nationals here and he was in heaven. We stayed for the entire game, ate peanuts and ballpark fries and it was a great day for baseball. He leaped up and hugged me in the restaurant when I told him where our seats were and that alone was worth every penny.

He’s the best boy. I sure do love him.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Picture

Me, today. Taken for my mother, who requested to see my face :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Words

Spinning and twisting and turning.

My life carries on - everything is going well. This seems like a miracle in an of itself: I am fine. I am softening around the edges; I can feel myself letting things go that I once held so important. I am walking, still in pain with many steps from the broken ankle. This weekend marks 7 months since the break itself.

Let's let that sink in. Only seven months...seems like a thousand years ago. The scars haven't faded much though. No way can I wear anything less than socks and tennis shoes this summer, but I really don't care since that's what I usually like to wear anyway. I am not a sandals wearing woman. I'm 31 years old, and I ain't changing. And I don't care anymore. Maybe this is part of getting older.

I've been busy as hell. Huge work projects happening, wrapping up, carrying on.

I went to Baltimore last week to give a presentation. I give alot of those these days. 4-5 years ago, I used to shake when talking on conference calls. I used to have to hide my shaking hands under the table; sometimes I'd be sick with anxiety--literally sick. Now, I just hop right up and start the powerpoint and go. I still get nervous sometimes of course, since I'm not exactly talking about mundane things and I'm terrified if anyone raises their hand for a question since I am still not exactly nuanced on all things health care, but...I've learned how to say "I don't know, but I'll look into it and get back to you if you'll give me your card later." The end.

I'm learning.

BTW, it wasn't raining in Baltimore, and since I gave the presentation to my old company that I worked for in Kentucky, everything was decidedly NOT the same.

But in a good way.

No.

In a great way.

This Saturday, I am going HOME. Home, home for the first time since Christmas! I can't wait to cuddle up with my nieces and nephews, and force the ones taller than me to sit in my lap so I can kiss their cheeks. As hard as I've been working lately and relatively enjoying most of it...I need a break, desperately. I haven't had a day off since I started the job, except for one when I ended up working from home much of the day anyway.

I suppose that's not much to report, afterall. But the world is still spinning here in our nation's captiol, and I am spinning right along with it.
Keep thinking good thoughts about a FULL ankle recovery by the end of the summer.

XO

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Words to Come

For now, a few glimpses of my neighborhood. Two and a half years here...and I finally feel like this is home in my very bones. 

Words to come tomorrow....so much to report.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Scenes from an Urban Easter

video

My nephews (oh, and my sister and her husband) were here for six days. We did...ALOT. They were hyper, hungry, and hilarious.

We went to the Washington National Cathedral for easter sunday, came home and hunted eggs on my sidewalk (above) and then they headed out. My apartment is much quieter and less messy, but I loved having them here.

Side note: Four year old Luka somehow managed to get a sip of communion wine at church this week. He turned to me, grinned and yelled at the top of his lungs..."Jesus's blood tastes SO GOOD!"

I wanted to sink through the floor, as our whole section started giggling and he pumped his fists in the air like a mini Jersey Shore contestant.

Tomorrow I turn 31 years old. I am more content and happier than I have been in years.  For absolutely no good reason, other than just getting more and more comfortable in my own skin.

Here's to my next thirty (one) years.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I've been looking so long at these pictures of you...

Once upon a time, I started a blog.

A few years later, I stumbled onto Mamapundit.com, thanks to our fabulous Maggie May. I quickly became interested, and followed Katie Granju's story as her son Henry fought for his life in the hospital following a drug overdose.

As a childless woman, I don't exactly fit the typical Mamapundit audience. Not being a mommy, I don't get into the mommy blogs...yet, I was drawn to Katie due to our shared beliefs, values, and eerie similarities.

Then, Henry died. Henry's Fund sprang up in his honor, and one day, I emailed Katie and her sister Betsy, who was appointed the Executive Director of Henry's Fund, and wanted to offer my help. In the course of my job, I track health legislation, specifically behavioral health issues, so I wanted to offer up anything I could do. Since I couldn't actually DO anything physically, so I thought this could be something helpful. After al, Katie was and still is fighting for justice for her son's homocide.

Fast forward a few months, and Betsy came to DC and had a beer with me.

Fast forward a year later, and well, this.


Betsy brought her kids, and one of Katie's (Henry's younger brother) up to DC for a few days to visit. My house was transformed into a kid-zone, and we had a blast.

We were eating jumbo slices of pizza in the park at night, watching the kids run hysterically burning off energy, and I told Betsy I felt like my Facebook had sprung to life. She posts pictures of her kids nearly every day, and I've now "known" the family for about a year and a half. I talk to Betsy in some capacity nearly every day. And yet, it was the first time I met the kids. They were a trip and a half -- such smart, clever, and funny kids.

We found Ghandi on a walk around my neighborhood:


I got my hair did:



We watched Justin Beiber on  my floor:



It is amazing, what the internet can do. How we have such full lives, friends, schedules...and yet, we still found each other. I still managed to find this family who is in Knoxville doing amazing things to honor their Henry, and become their friend from 600 miles away.

What a world.

Thank you, Henry.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I came home today after eight days on business, during which I spoke for the first time in front of a 100+ crowd. I clicked along my powerpoint pointer, got a few laughs, and became flustered when a photographer came too close. When it was over, I sat down with an adrenaline rush that lasted until....4 days later. It's been a long week. I say that knowing there is no way to put into words the amount of physical and mental brainpower that went into pulling off the week past of 37,000+ attendees at our conference, and the thrill that came from knowing I'm working toward something with meaning and purpose.

But nonetheless, eight days is eight days, and that's a long time to be away and to be "on" -- to have that smile, button the suit jacket, extend the hand and shake. On the plane back tonight, I alternated between reading a major federal regulation that dropped a few days ago, and sleeping. I woke up feeling disoriented, and turned on my cell to find out very sad news. A long-ago friend had died in a tragic accident, and my hands literally shook when I read the news. I looked out the window for a few long minutes and tried to catch my breath, then gathered my bags and walked off the plane.

At baggage claim, I watched a toddler fling herself into the arms of her mother and I kept walking as my eyes filled with tears. I have a wonderful life and a host of loved ones, but every now and then my breath catches with what I don't have. Age has taught me that instead of counting my blessings one-by-one and feeling guilty, I have to just feel what I feel and not apologize for it. I heard their loud greetings and laughter as I rode the elevator, and I shook my head against an impending spiral-down, centered, sighed, and carried on.

I alerted my favorite people via text that I had landed, and rode home in a cab in silence. I watched the lit-up monuments slide past my window as I tapped a forefinger on the glass silently to greet them. "Hello again, there you are; and here I am."

I live in the middle of a fairly popular place in DC to eat, socialize, etc. Tonight as my cab made its way, I noticed the familiar black Escalades and saw that certain side streets had been cleared. I knew what this meant -- El Presidente was near. I didn't think much of this, since I didn't assume he was hanging out in my living room and that's the only place I wanted to be.

We arrived, and the cabbie hauled my giant suitcase to the ground. I grabbed it, and started pulling it around the corner to a local corner store so I could grab a cheap bottle of wine and a frozen pizza (for cash only) from a local owner that I knew would be watching re-runs of America's Funniest Home Videos and laughing like a crazy person over them. I left the store, pulled my fleece jacket tighter around me, and headed for home.

To my left -- I saw her. Michelle Obama was sitting in a presidential (I would assume) vehicle and I guess had just come from eating at a restaurant on my block. I was tired and little heart-broken, along with wanting, needing, uncertain...all of those adjectives that don't exactly add up to being your most gracious neighborhood host.

And yet, I did something I almost never do. I raised my hand in a half wave/ half-salute. I didn't know what else to do.

We looked at each other for a second, and then she raised her hand back to me. I wonder what I must have looked like to her -- a native in stretchy pants and a blue fleece sweatshirt and red eyes from crying. She watched me for at least an hour (fifteen seconds) and that was that. The car left and she was gone, and I was still standing there. The entire encounter couldn't have been more than two minutes.

Sighing, I picked up my two bags and grabbed my suitcase handle, and turned back to my house. My way-upstairs neighbor hollered at me "welcome home!" from the party he was having on the roof and rose a beer to me. I smile and waved back. Hello again -- there you are.

Here I am.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My life these days

Can be summed up by the few words just spoken by our company Vice President to the team: "Every day here, we have a wonderful opportunity to work on our problem-solving skills."

AKA...every day here, we light our hair on fire and run around hysterically. Major convention happening next week. More attendees registered than the population of my hometown -- 36,000 and counting.

My hair's on fire, but at least it lets me see the light.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Ties That Bind

Yesterday, when I logged on to Facebook, I noticed that along the left sidebar, there were four profiles that appeared at the very top of my friends list. If you view your Facebook homepage, your friends are starting to list along that side. They rotate and shuffle their order randomly, so each time I hit refresh, a new sequence appears.

These four people were on the very top of my 300ish "friends" that range across the spectrum of this widely cast net that has encompassed my life so far. These four friends were as follows:

Maggie May

Angie M

Bethany M

Katie Granju

I had to stop and register this for a moment. You see, all four of these women I have never met (save one). And yet, all four of these women have changed my life, even still.

The entire time I've kept this blog, I figure I have a maximum of ten readers. I keep my little circle small, rarely letting in anyone in my "real" life, and I've done this now for about four years. Yet despite this, on a rainy Saturday, I am shown that the women I know only through this blog and and the lives I've shared with them throughout every day that have added up to weeks and months and years IS real life.

Over the last 4-5 years, I have read Maggie's writings with my breath literally held, lest she take it away with the things she writes. I watched her kids grow into teenagers, her miscarriage, her pregnancy, Ever's birth. I have read Angie's powerful essays, and have gotten the chance to meet this wonderful woman and her family in Oregon when I was passing through. That was my first experience actually meeting a blogger-friend, and it was excellent. I watched Bethany climb through a breakup, keeping her house, nurturing her pets, and growing by leaps and bounds (even if she doesn't know it, she has.) I watched as all three of them became integral parts of my life.

I watched as Maggie led me to Katie Granju -- whom I "met" after her son Henry passed away, and I watched with increasing outrage as her and her son's story was met with dismissal by authorities. I watched as she began a non-profit, Henry's Fund, for her son, I watched as she had her fifth and last baby, and I've watched how she has continued to fight and breathe and work and I've watched all this in awe. I watched Katie's sister Betsy take the Henry's Fund helm and try to bend and shape the lump of clay into something full of meaning and beauty.

I watched as Betsy struggled to honor her nephew that she loved like a son, and I knew that unique place from which she came, having loved and continue to fiercely love my own nieces and nephews. I know that love. I wrote a little note to Betsy one day, offering to help with Henry's Fund. A few months later, I got to hug her neck, and many more months later, we've formed a friendship that means we can answer the phone with each other while in the bathtub and I can start sentences like "Ok, this is going to sound crazy, but..."

These connections would never, ever have been without this blog, without these words.

My words, your words. Connections that form and grow, then begin to weave to lead to entangled lives, and all of a sudden you look up and realize that it is impossible to say that no, we haven't met.

I know you.

You know me. You know the deepest desires of my heart; you know what makes me tick. I am awfully honored to share in your company.

Write on.

-- SBJ

Friday, January 20, 2012

Busy

Well, I guess I should update if for no other purpose, it will no longer look as though I were drowning in despair.

Things are fine. They are busy. I have never been this busy at a job before, even at those in which I *thought* I was busy, but no. Not nearly like this. I'm blogging this during my one free hour of my calendar today and though it's 2:00, I've already been on 8 calls this morning. I work for a global company now, and I'm among "senior management" even though with such a large organization, there are probably about a hundred of us.

My routine has totally shifted. I drive to work everyday now, and I haven't spent so much time in the car in years. I am working in another county, and my view outside my window is no longer the Capitol, but ... Macy's. I'm doing the backwards commute though, and still living in DC proper with no plans to leave. One of my favorite times of the day are coming home in the evenings (and I'll miss this when the sun starts setting later) and seeing all the monuments lit up by the sunset, and all the taillights heading south or north out of the city. I coast in, unhindered by traffic, and wave goodbye to everyone leaving my city to us urban dwellers.

My ankle still hurts all the ding dang time. Yes, yes, yes I'm in physical therapy and although that helps, I'm still also in pain a good deal. I have to actively NOT limp while out in public. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don't. Luckily, my job lets me telework sometimes so if it gets really bad, I stay home. Although I've only done that twice I think.

Let's see....I'm not dating anyone, not trying to date anyone, and the way I've been eating and not at all exercising due to the pain, I can say with cheerful certainty that I am probably the most unhealthy I've ever been. I used to try hard to drink alot of water each day, now I have no time to make to the bathroom much less to the kitchen to GET water. It's something I'm going to have to work on, but not right now. We're gearing up for our huge convention, I work late every night, and I refuse to throw myself on board a guilt trip train about not eating my broccoli. I'll get to it. Not today, though.

Since it's Friday, and since several things have made me giggle lately, I'll leave you with these 2 videos to give a little glimpse of where I work and live. Gauranteed to make you laugh. Happy Friday. Better get the phone.




Sunday, January 1, 2012

It is not going well.


There is a line from a movie, and I'll be damned if I can remember absolutely anything about it. Other than someone shouts (I think into a phone) with a lot of chaos and things going on around him. He shouts "It is not going well!"

So this is me, shouting that at all of you, so to speak. It is not going well.

2012 kicked off with me passed out on the couch, having drank too much Dayquil I guess. And overdosed on amoxicilian. I did have a big glass of red wine thinking that wouldn't be too big of a deal -- ha ha! I was asleep in about one minute after finishing it.

Let's see-- the day before last night, found me curled in a fetal position crying. All day. ALL DAY.

This may be a good time to mention that I was 8 days off my antidepressant, having left it at my office before going to Kentucky. When I came back, I guess I felt ok because I decided there was no time like the present to just toss that little sugar pill to the curb.

Sugar pill, my white ass. My head was spinning so fast that I almost passed out at Trader Joes last week. I realized the power these pills actually do have on my brain, and it scared me. I developed a cold, which I still have, even though I cried uncle and started taking it again 2 days ago. Symptoms for withdrawal actually include cold/flu symptoms. How bizarre is that??  Then again, THIS little fellow was sickly all through Christmas, and there was no way I could resist kissing that face again and again....so we'll blame him, too :)



Christmas was alright. It actually went a little better than expected since I got to see my nieces and nephews at their own houses after Santa came, and it worked out okay after all. I think I made the whole thing a bigger deal than it really was--the issue of them wanting to be at home on Christmas Day and not with the whole family. They didn't mind if I was there, but they wanted to be at home lazing around with Santa presents, and I understand that when I stop looking at things through my "all about me" lens. I know how fast and fleeting these years of Santa are, and I am glad I got over it and didn't inadvertantly punish myself by not going over and seeing them.

Work is going to start kicking my ass to the next county, starting approximately tomorrow. We're officially closed, but I'm treating it like a regular work day, and I'm determined to start this off right. It's time for me to dig in with both heels and get through the next few months. I think when it's done, I'm going to take a small vacation.

It will not be a cruise.

But most likely...I'll go home to see these people. The last picture is me with my newest nephew, who is much much cuter than that picture portrays. He also doesn't have creepy white eyes like that. :) He's my last little bundle, as my sisters declare they are done.

All signs seem to indicate that I will be alone for the rest of my entire life. But...I guess fingers are crossed that someday, maybe, I'll contribute to the pack as well.

Happy 2012. Here we go again, ya'll.