Sunday, July 10, 2016

Traitorous Treachery

I've been listening to the soundtrack of the Broadway play "Hamilton" for the last several weeks. I LOVE IT. One of the songs keeps playing on a loop in my brain this weekend, as shame and guilt floods me knowing that tomorrow afternoon, one of my staff is going to be laid off.

I've mentored this girl (inherited by me in a bad situation with another manager) carefully and I feel 100% better that she'll be better poised to go forward from here after the last 8/9 months under me. I took a skittish, quiet girl afraid of her own shadow and slowly gave her the tools to rebuild her own confidence.

I'm feeling a lot of things tonight--guilty about all of it, guilty about not being able to stop the corporate wheel from turning, accepting that I may well be next.

History Has Its Eyes On You (Hamilton)

I was younger than you are now when I was given my first command
I led my men straight into a massacre
I witnessed their deaths firsthand
I made every mistake
And felt the shame rise in me and even now I lie awake
Knowing history has its eyes on me.

I don't have the eyes of the nation on me, a mid-level manager mid-level through life. Nor the state, nor the city.

Just the big eyes of young woman, who laughs easily now and has picked up my quick wit. "You make me want to think big," she said to me once.

Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story."

She has a trusting look on her face every time she looks at me.

Monday, March 14, 2016


*I've been writing a lot lately, essay-style, mainly. All for myself, not for consumption yet. I wanted to share this one with the blog-world though, for my few but beloved readers, who have watched me reach this point all these years. I'm writing poetry, lyrical things that are different for me. I'm kind of loving it. I'm in a good place, in general, all the way around.

I'm going off to find myself, some will say. I'm going off to blind myself, be kind to myself, unwind myself on a beach or the woods or a mountain far away. Climb, swim, move, be, stop, think, go, be still. Still. Still you're lost until you're found, looking in the mirror on a Tuesday with red eyes. Hello, you say, touching your lips: I've been waiting for so long.

"If you have kids, you'll see that....." Her laughing voice keeps speaking though for me it's become little more than white noise. That filtered air that cycles through an airplane, humming in your ears, as you try to not let your arm touch the stranger beside you. I'm sure I kept smiling and nodding. I'm sure I said the right things back.
As my 34th year comes to a close, and I still don't have my proverbial shit together (or do I?), the If's keep coming. 

To be fair, I started using the "If's" first. This was mostly a defense mechanism, to tell myself that hey man, it's cool. Things happen or they don't. I'm a survivor. I don't need anyone or anything--and IF things go my way or they don't, I'll land on my feet. And what is "my way" for that matter, anyway?
2007: "Just wait, when you have kids you'll learn" as I looked in half horror/half intrigue at the ice pack compartment in my sister's underwear after she gave birth. "Can I have these sexy things when you're done?" I say to her laughing and she glared at me and declared them "fucking wonderful."
In 2007, everything was still a When. I was in my twenties, and there was still a list in my childhood toy box of the names--first and middle--I'd assigned my ten (!) children. I used to dream of them--dreamed of the family I would have. Everyone got along. The husband in these scenarios was always faceless, nameless and pretty much irrelevant to this love-fest I was having with my quiver of children. 

Even as a child, I knew that was weird.
As an adult, here in 2016, that list is long gone. The conversations around this particular topic have become less sure and more urgent at the same time. The high chair is still in my parents' kitchen, even though the babies in our family have outgrown it and there'll be no more unless they come from me. If they don't, well. That high chair, and the Pack n' Play and extra sippies will join the yard sale assembly line some distant summer, where they'll trade ten dollars for the end of an era.
Two letters. There's no "I" in Team but there sure as hell is an "I" in If and I alone am the holder of answer on if I'll add a teammate, if you will. The days keep coming and the snow falls and the snow melts and spring creeps in.
I overheard a conversation in Panera once, standing in line before work one morning. Two women, late forties/early fifties. One casually said to the other, "You know, I was telling So-and-So the other day...Sometimes my greatest regret is never having children, and yet some of the best, most meaningful things in my life came from not having them." "Ma'am. Ma'am!"  I was rooted in place, reeling on a regular day, staring after them.

What if these babies don't actually happen....and if another world opens? I'd genuinely never considered the possibility of an alternative until now that time has forced me to do so. And what if it's....great?
When has become If and my world has gotten a whole lot less certain.
It feels jarringly, unexpectedly, free.