Posted on 2/24/2021 in Dailies | 0 comments
I’ve made choices (some good, some bad, some questionable) that have made it so that I’m alone at 47. Except for some fleeting lonely moments I’m okay with that. Truly. It was maybe a self fulfilling prophecy but I always had a sense I would spend my life without a partner. (Please, no, “there’s still time! Don’t rule anything out!” I’m not. If someone great came by tomorrow I’d say hello but I’m also not actively looking and have no intention on actively looking any time soon.)
That said, there are times when I wish I had someone to share the mental and emotional task of making decisions. Like buying a place, for example. All the forms. All the uncertainty of whether I’m making a good decision. All the homework on top of work and raising a child.
It’s a lot. It would be nice to have someone to turn to and just say, can you deal with it? I’m tired of thinking.
Thankfully these moments pass. Once we’re moved and unpacked I’ll be back to my usual self who likes being able to make all the decisions based solely on my preferences without worrying about having to consider someone else’s thoughts or opinions.
Well, there’s the kiddo obviously - although I think I’m a few years away from her caring too much about whether I put the utensils in the drawer closest to the stove or the one near the sink.
It’s just that right now I’m a bit tapped out.
Posted on 1/29/2021 in Dailies | Parenting | 0 comments
I was never really taught to cook. Not really. Unless we count that one quarter in 7th grade Home Ec where I mistook salt for sugar and made the nastiest pie ever imagined. Maybe that’s why I don’t like pie? Regardless, let’s not count that quarter because other than the awful pie I don’t remember a single other thing I was taught.
And so I’ve stumbled along in the kitchen, at once wishing I were more comfortable there but also not having a tremendous desire to get better. Until a year ago.
Once the baby entered my life it seemed like a good time to get comfortable in the kitchen. One, because I’m told feeding babies is looked upon as a good thing and two, joking aside, I would like to pass on a better relationship to food to her. And that, in my head, meant that I needed to get serious about cooking - I certainly have no illusions about this task. I hardly have visions of being Julia Child. I just need enough dishes in the rotation to not have anyone groan and say, “We had that three days this week!”
I’m 47 years old so, yes, I have spent time in the kitchen but let me put it this way, at no point have I ever considered inviting anyone over for dinner or have volunteered to make anything for a potluck. I don’t think people should suffer what normally passes as dinner fare in my place. My cooking is to put it kindly - serviceable. More often than not whatever I make is well done because I lose interest or just forget.
But that’s the past. We are living in the now. And in this ever changing world, the present includes me making chicken soup - almost like they make it back home in El Salvador.
On Monday I decided I wanted soup but, of course, didn’t have the necessary ingredients so we made a quick trip to the store. By the time we got home, however, it was too late to start the soup and have it in time for the kiddo’s dinner. So I put it off to the next day. The next day I discovered I’d forgotten several of the vegetables. I could have still made it but it just wouldn’t have been the same. Given that we’re still living through a pandemic, another trip out wasn’t in the cards so I placed a grocery delivery order. Finally, Wednesday we had soup. I know this happens to everyone at some time or other but in my head all the missteps just add to my feeling of not being adept in the kitchen.
So along with my cooking skills needing to get better, my self-perception will have to change as well. Why is everything work??
Thursday, on a whim, I decided to make pupusas. This is noteworthy for me because when I’m going to make something it usually entails so much thought. Can I do it? Do I want to? Let’s look at the 100th YouTube video to make sure I know what I’m doing.
But I’ve attempted pupusas enough that the process is pretty clear in my head. The technique still needs work but at least I’m realistic enough to know that even getting to good is going to require some effort. Skilled and consistently delicious? Well, let’s keep that dream on the back burner for now.
The pupusas came out pretty good. Probably the best batch I’ve made so far. It’s progress that I consistently think each batch is better than the one before.
So, in my basic cookbook, we have chicken soup and pupusas (let’s count the curtido as a separate thing, shall we?). It’s not enough to open a restaurant but it’s a solid start. If I keep this up, by the time she’s ten I’ll have 20 whole dishes down! Exciting.
Posted on 1/23/2021 in Dailies | 0 comments
I got my first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine today. I don’t know why I feel as if I shouldn’t share that. Maybe I’ve seen too many people on social media posting about their vaccines along with messages that they didn’t jump the line or they got it because of their job, etc. As if the ability to get vaccinated quickly needs to be justified.
I’ve had several people ask me how I managed to get an appointment so fast, or what my hook up was.
Timing and an underlying health condition is my response. The day I heard that Va would be expanding the criteria to include people with underlying health conditions I logged on to the health department’s website for the county in which I work. After reading the message about the long wait there I went next to the health department in the county in which I live. There I was able to add myself to the list even before the website information had been updated to the new expanded criteria. I did it not expecting to hear anything back for days. To my surprise I received a message from the CDC to create a profile on the VAMS website that same night. At first I thought it was SPAM because the CDC email seemed a tad informal. After doing a little Googling I decided it was the real thing. I created a profile and after bumping around the site for a little while I was able to get an appointment for this morning.
The day after getting my appointment I started seeing the news stories about how the federal government had misrepresented the amount of vaccine it had in reserves. Well, I thought, so much for my appointment. For the last week and a half I’ve been expecting to get a notice that my appointment had been cancelled.
Thankfully that did not happen and getting the shot this morning went quite smoothly. All told it was about a 30 minute experience, including the 15 minute wait time afterwards to ensure that I didn’t have any immediate negative effects. So far there is only a slight discomfort in the upper arm, and a mild headache. But as we know, I suffer from chronic headaches so it’s hard to know if today’s headache is vaccine related or just a regular ol’ headache, it’s a day that ends in Y kind of headache.
Before I left the clinic they asked me to sign up with the CDC V-Safe app which they will use to monitor my reaction to the vaccine. Today’s check in was pretty uneventful. Let’s hope that trend continues.
Posted on 8/4/2017 in Dailies | 0 comments
Around August of last year I realized that it was probably time to start looking for a new job. I’m a perceptive person and while I couldn’t quite put a finger on why the winds had changed, change they did.
Have you ever looked at someone at work, someone who keeps slamming their head against a concrete wall convinced that eventually they’ll break through, and wonder why in the world they do that to themselves? In my almost 30 years of being in the workforce I’ve seen this more times than I can recall.
I’ve always wondered why someone would put themselves through that. I pride myself in doing good work. Hell, there are even times when I’ll easily say that I’ve done great work. I’m not perfect, of course, but I care; I care about doing my best. I have been known to say, “I know there are people who could do my job better, there are certainly people who could do it worse but I do it to the best of my abilities.” A mistake perhaps to say that to your bosses but it’s the truth.
My best stopped being good enough at some point last summer. I tried to figure out why. I tried to do better but after some months of experiencing unacceptable levels of anxiety I decided it was time to let someone else try to do better. While I don’t feel comfortable going into too many details let me just say that by the time that I sent out my first job application in October things were pretty uncomfortable. I’m the kind of person who, even as she’s signing the offer letter is already wondering, “What’s next?” so I’d wondered what the next job would be like but in that wondering I always figured I’d leave this job sad but satisfied my contributions to the cause would be remembered well. Based on the feedback I received on my way out, I’m not sure that’s the case.
I’d been wanting to get back to Virginia for years but I was, if not always happy at the job, at least satisfied enough that I kept putting off the move, feeling that I was still learning and growing. But the needed change last fall was a good opportunity to get back home, where I’d be closer to family which would be nice if
Posted on 8/2/2017 in Dailies | 0 comments
There’s a reason I chose to focus my work around children and families. Were I a stronger and braver person I would have done what I said I would do - focus on child abuse prevention. But somewhere along the way, without consciously making a decision, I changed my mind. Perhaps because I know my limitations. Or maybe it’s just that, without an advanced degree doing direct work with such a vulnerable population didn’t seem advisable. Regardless, even working in the broader issues that impact children and families I still find myself. I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years now and it still surprises me to see myself in the work.
Not literally, obviously. That level of fame or infamy is not mine to attain but as I read today about the signs of eating disorders in young people, there I was. I read down the list, mentally adding check marks to the things that applied. I’m not a hypochondriac who imagines she has every symptom she reads about so I think I do a good job of being objective.
We all come at life’s experiences with baggage, don’t we? There may be people who say that baggage should be stowed in a deep locker at a train station, the key lost and the things forgotten. But I don’t know how to compartmentalize like that. I am who I am because of who I have been and who I was. That is neither a bad or good thing. it just is. Neutral until it can’t be. And so, I know my weaknesses, the fault lines. I sense the scars but don’t dwell on them. I recognize the limitations and try as much as I can to not let them bind me.
Still, seeing the words. seeing the recommendations for how to address the risk factors. listening as the trainers go on about how to appropriately reach out to a young person in need
It makes me sad.
Not for the person I am today because as an adult, my choices, good or bad, my action or inactions are mine and mine alone.
But it makes me sad for the girl I used to be. The one who could have used someone quietly asking, “Are you okay?” but who never heard those words.
I am who I am because of who I was. And yet, in these moments I wonder, Who could I have been?
Posted on 7/24/2017 in Dailies | 0 comments
My personal computer died several years ago.
Well, having typed that I feel the need to clarify. I might have had a slight role in the killing of said computer. It was a refurbished laptop that my brother had kindly gifted me due to the fact that my old old computer had decided it no longer wanted to do more than five minutes of work at a time. It booted up fine but after a couple of minutes the fan would kick on, give it the old valiant college try and then say, “Nah, girl. Your Facebooking isn’t worth this heat. Bye!”
So to the rescue my brother came. And that new old computer did the trick for a while. And while it was tricking (wait, what?) I would hear tell of this thing called the cloud. And articles and people would marvel about the flexibility and portability of the cloud! The cloud would solve all problems and I am certainly a fan of a problem-free life. But I also have this thing sometimes called procrastination. So I didn’t back up anything to the cloud. Besides, anything and everything I cared about (my photos and thousands and thousands of songs) was saved to my trusty external drive. Pfft. I’ll be fine, I figured.
You see where I’m going with this, yes? Of course you do because you’re smart. Smarter than me, definitely. So where were you when I most needed you?!? Hmm. That’s trouble of a different kind, no? Let’s move on.
One day I decided to upgrade the OS on this old new to me laptop and that’s when that laptop also said, “Nah, girl. Bye!” Except, perhaps knowing that the afterlife of any computer used by me (which means a drive full of badly Photoshopped images and messy CSS files) would be lonely, it decided to take with it, the external drive that I had neglected to disconnect prior to the upgrade. Really, when you think about it - it takes a special kind of skill to kill not just a computer but an external drive too.
I despaired for months over having lost thousands of mp3s collected over more than a decade. I’d say maybe a quarter of which I can recover if I take the time to rip my CDs, which thankfully I still have so that’s something but there’s other music that I’m just not going to be able to recover. Upon hearing my sad tale of musical woe, a friend tried to salvage the external drive and he ensured me he’d been successful. So for a year and some change I’ve been content with the knowledge that once I got a new computer I’d be able to pull my music back in and then do what I should have done ages ago, which is back it up to the cloud.
Sadly, so far the friend’s had no luck figuring out how to extract my music from his iTunes library. So close yet so far. You’d think that after almost 3 years of doing without my music library I’d not miss it anymore but I still feel a slight ache whenever I think of it all being gone. Granted, that’s probably due to the memories attached to many of those songs. Someone I cared for a lot ages ago helped me build that collection and that person and I are no longer in touch. And if we know anything about me, letting go of people I care about deeply isn’t the easiest thing for me to do.
Speaking of music, during the second adoption training class the group somehow got to talking about music and I made a joke about how my poor kid will grow up hearing 80s music and there was a collective groan. “Oh no,” someone said, “Don’t let that happen!”
So who knows. Maybe the loss of the music is the universe’s way of helping me to move on or sparing any poor child that I adopt from endless rounds of t
Posted on 7/9/2017 in Dailies | 0 comments
For almost as long as I’ve been blogging, I’ve tried to be careful about what I write about work. When your early blogging memories include the knowledge of how the phrase “being dooced” came to be, you learn (or at least I did), to be vague when writing about work - if one even chooses to write about work at all, that is. Add to the already healthy fear of being fired for publishing things online that should best be kept to the confines of the work environment the very real fact that things went downhill quickly during the second half of the last year and that provided no incentive to get back to blogging.
Well, to be clear, all of 2015 and 2016 were anxiety producing both personally and professionally. When I found the new job and moved into my own place in Virginia, with the anticipation of things calming down (and having a personal computer again) I had this idea that I’d be able to turn some of my energy to the blog - both the content and the infrastructure.
I did start writing again, somewhat, as the archives show. I thought, with the start of the adoption process that I would maybe even write about that. But as I work through the (sometimes lonely) process of answering question after question, compiling document after document I find myself worrying about putting too much online. I don’t worry about there being anything technically wrong with my application. I’m not rich by any means but I could afford the care of a child with careful budgeting. That doesn’t set me apart from basically much of the child-having population. I have no worries about the background checks coming back with anything as there isn’t anything to come back. So that really only leaves the faceless, nameless people out there who will be gathering all this information, reviewing and assessing/judging me on my ability to be a good parent. I’m worrying for nothing, I know. The stuff I’ve posted on here, the stuff that’s online isn’t scandalous or even all that interesting and yet, pitted against couples wanting babies, two income families that might be better able to care for a child with less stress or worry about finances, I worry about sharing anything that could land me on the “Does she really think we’d ever pick her?” pile.
And so I don’t write. With not writing about work and not writing about the adoption process what does that leave?
I suppose I could tell you that I’m finally getting around to watching The Wire. Because, why not wait until I’m no longer living in Baltimore to finally get around to watching this iconic piece of entertainment centered around the city I called home for about 6 years? I’m sure that I’ll be able to add a voice to the hundreds of thought pieces already on the web! And have you heard about this actor named Idris Elba? He’s easy on the eyes no? I’m sure he’ll be going places.
Or I could tell you that my latest podcast obsessions right now are Denzel Washington is the greatest actor of all time. Period and Criminal. Because I seem to be the queen of catching on to old content, the Denzel Washington podcast stopped updating back in April, having discussed all of Washingtons oeuvre. But I have about two years worth of content to listen to so no new shows is hardly a problem. By the time I’m done I’m sure I’ll be able to find some other show that was hyped ages ago but that I am just now hearing about.
There is a an abundance of content to immerse oneself in through books, tv, etc that there is just no way to stay on top of everything. Thank goodness for archives, I suppose.
I still haven’t dug into my collection of books as I’ve wanted so that’s still on the to do list. Maybe I should make better attempts at writing at least brief of impressions of what I read; that would help with adding content to the blog and keep the writing muscles in shape. Plans plans plans. Never a shortage of those either!
Posted on 4/9/2017 in Dailies | 0 comments
I spent the last two years experiencing levels of anxiety at work that greatly increased last fall. To the point that in October I had my first panic attack in 15 years. As much as I enjoyed my work I was also struggling for reasons that I still don’t feel comfortable discussing in public. Trying to pretend that things were okay or that I could somehow will things to be better was essentially just adding more stress and anxiety. The panic attack was the final sign that I needed to make changes. So I polished up the resume, sent it off into the world and, thankfully, I landed a new job in the beginning of the year that made it possible for me to move back to northern Virginia. While the move to Maryland helped me grow career wise I always had in mind coming back to Va - a short 6.5 years later and I’m back!
It’s funny, in a not comical sense, that I only realized that I was depressed until the anxiety and stress levels went down. Its hard to pinpoint when it started. I just know I finally put a label to it a couple of weeks before my birthday. I used to enjoy my birthdays, to the point that I would countdown to it - on the blog ages ago with a script that ran on the side bar, and then on Facebook despite feeling a little (a lot) silly about it. And then the cancer and the hysterectomy happened. I understood why I wasn’t overjoyed during the 2015 birthday. I even understood why the 2016 birthday didn’t inspire much joy. Plus, I thought, maybe I’ve finally just grown up, gotten to the point where birthdays are nothing special at all. But even as I thought that I knew I was just trying to deny the truth which is, I’m still not “over” my life being turned upside down two years ago. But I also feel like I can’t say that. Like I’m not supposed to say that. People expect me to be happy, to be relieved and grateful that the hysterectomy caught all of the cancer.
And of course I am. But there’s no denying that along with my reproductive organs, the hysterectomy took something else, some little spark of hope, of joy, of - I don’t know. Something that doesn’t sound so maudlin.
While I was struggling with dealing with the worst work experience I’ve ever had to deal with, the brain had no time to process anything else, I suppose. So when the new year rolled around and I realized that the birthday was coming back around I was caught by surprise by just how little I cared about it. For weeks at a time I even forgot all about it. And I know, many people behave that way and it’s nothing out of the ordinary for them but until two years ago that was way out of the ordinary for me.
The week before my birthday I was driving somewhere when I thought, “Oh. It’s actually next week.” And then, like the sky clearing up after a storm I had a realization, “Oh,” I said to myself, “You’re depressed!” I almost laughed because i should have realized sooner - this isn’t new territory for me. And yet, it still has taken a month to shake the fog off and make a conscious decision to not let myself fall deeper into the pit. Sadly, the weight gain is the thing that has really scared me enough to make some changes.
Shame I couldn’t have figured this out and resolved to get back on the right track before I gained I don’t even know how many pounds. I’m scared to step on the scale. Though given that I have a follow up with the oncologist on Tuesday I guess I’ll know soon enough just what the number on the scale is. Not looking forward to the embarrassing moment when they record the higher number in the system. But, hey, at least then I’ll know what I’m working with and as we all know, data is never a bad thing. She says, trying to find the humor and silver lining in all of this.
Posted on 10/24/2016 in Dailies | 0 comments
As a non-religious person* I feel as if religious people think me incapable of feeling awe over the world and life in general. They are, of course, wrong. I am humbled by life, by what evolved and by what we’ve created. I often find myself thinking about the immensity of what we’ve accomplished by moving away from sleeping under the stars to arrive at these highly structured and complex lives. How is it possible to not be able to fully comprehend that span of time and also feel as if was just yesterday?
I found myself once again marveling at that sense of progress when I picked up The Federalist Papers tonight. I vaguely remember “reading” (aka skimming) sections in high school so when I saw a used copy up for grabs a year or so ago I let nostalgia (and a sense of guilt) talk me into taking it home with me - where it’s sat on one bookshelf or another ever since.
Maybe it’s the sheer lunacy of this election that sparked a real interest a day or so ago, but whatever the reason, tonight I cracked open the yellowed cover and began reading the introduction.
I’d forgotten that the papers were originally written as a series of letters to the public. If you’d asked me, I’m embarrassed to say I wouldn’t have been able to share that bit of information but as soon as I read that detail the high school history lessons came flooding back. Reading that made me wonder, will anything written today rise to the same level of prominence a hundred years from now? That isn’t me dismissing today’s scholars or thinkers.That is a genuine question; I’d like to be more in tune with think pieces on history, science, etc.
The question is more of a nudge for myself to be proactive and thoughtful about waking up the dormant curiosity about life that used to spur me to learn HTML/CSS, to read psychology journals just for the hell of it, for example. With the way this election is playing out (that Trump is a legitimate concern is mind blogging), it would be easy to dismiss the current populace as being less well read or learned but to do so would require a certain amount of delusion and hypocrisy - as much as I would like to think I shouldn’t be included in that statement I can’t say I’ve been doing a very good job of staying on top of what’s happening in the country, much less the world. I’ve been living an insulated life lately (let’s define lately as the last several decades, shall we?) and thinking about these three men (Hamilton, Madison and Jay) as being so dedicated, focused, and daring as to take on the grand, visionary task of starting a new government makes me ask, “What have I done lately?!?”
I’m certainly not thinking I’ll be the mother of a new nation, but at the very least I could afford to be a little more connected to what’s going on around me, to do a little more living outside of my head. It couldn’t hurt and could only help.
Also? This bit from the introduction written in this edition published in 1961 amused me given the current fame and popularity of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton:
The story of how Hamilton persuaded and plotted and bullied his way over the months to the narrowest of victories in the New York convention is an epic of American politics that deserves to be better known.
Mission accomplished. That line alone has made me want to see the musical more than every article I’ve read, every news clip I’ve seen about the many awards the musical has won. What can I say? I’m slow to understand what’s happening sometimes. See above about living more outside of my head. In its own way, I hear that the musical is awesome (in the truest sense of the word) so, in the pursuit of awesome things in this life and world, maybe I should see about tickets.
But maybe first I should buy a few scratch offs as I hear the tickets are not cheap!
*Perhaps when those of faith stop thinking of atheists as kickers of puppies and stealers of candy from babies I’ll be able to use the label for myself without the awkward contortions.
Posted on 10/23/2016 in Dailies | 0 comments
Graduation night is memorable for two things. One, that I was allowed to go to an all night event. Without rehashing overly dramatic history please just trust me when I tell you that my mother allowing me to be out of the house past midnight, much less all night, was unprecedented. I probably told her it was required. Having immigrant parents who were unfamiliar with the American school system had its pros and cons. It’s curious that I don’t remember how I made this possible but I did. And that led to the second memorable thing.
“I have a present for you,” my history teacher said. I was surprised and happily took the present. He watched me unwrap the book and said he thought I would enjoy Barbara Kingsolver. Having never read her I wasn’t sure but it was my only graduation present so he could have given me a pack of gum and I would have been just as pleased.
“You’ll get the second present in the mail,” he continued.
“I don’t understand,” I said, confused and trying to remember if I’d ever given him my address. “What is it?”
I’m not known to be a patient person, this has always been the case so I couldn’t let it be. I think he finally understood because he told me he’d given me an A for the year.
“But I don’t deserve an A,” I said, thinking about my less than stellar third quarter grades.
“It was clear something was going on. And you’re capable of A work so I didn’t let one quarter affect that.”
I thanked him and the rest of the night is a blur. I didn’t have many friends so I think I wandered around watching people enjoying themselves, listening as they made plans for the summer or talking about going off to college.
I would be living at home while driving the short miles to attend classes at George Mason but that was a couple of months away. I had no idea then that it would take me fifteen years to complete my four year degree.
All I knew that night was that someone had noticed I had been floundering. That this teacher who valued my opinion, who listened when I participated in class, who patiently tried to answer my questions even on subjects and classes he didn’t teach, believed I was capable of better even when I myself didn’t.
I think and talk of him more than most people talk about their senior year civics teacher I’m sure. But he was a beacon during a time in my life when I needed those rays of light. I was fortunate to have had several good and a few great teachers in my life. He was the only one who ever acknowledged my pain, however. When you grow up being told you have no pain, that you are not allowed those feelings, when every other person believes you when you cheerfully say, “I’m fine!” - the one person who says, “I see you” is memorable.
This is why, some months back, I turned to Google to help me find him. I’d idly searched in the past with little luck. But when I found myself once again recounting the grad night story to a friend I decided it was finally time find him and share just how much that moment - well, the whole year - meant.
Using my much lauded (by me but that doesn’t make them any less good) search skills I finally found a quick bio on an old website. From there I discovered a Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. It looks like he stopped teaching a few years after I graduated which seems like a shame.
And here we are. I’ve drafted the email a dozen times over but haven’t gotten anywhere close to sending it. Conventional wisdom would have me believe he would enjoy hearing how much of a positive impact he had on my life at a time when I sorely needed positive interactions. But I can’t quite figure out how much of the story to share. Yes he noticed I was in pain but I didn’t volunteer the cause of it. So how to properly convey how much his kindness meant? If someone doesn’t know you’re in the middle of the ocean, tired, desperate, devoid of hope, will he understand the value of the lifesaver?
I don’t know. And so I write and edit and delete. I’ll send it one of these days. Until then, even if he doesn’t know it, I’ll continue to tell the story of the civics teacher who gave me more than a less than deserved A.