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Friday, July 22, 2022

I've been paid

Today I have been paid the full amount I was owed--April, May, June, and even July.

It took more emails and texts than was necessary, and I even contacted an attorney to find out what my legal options were. But before I made that move, I decided I had nothing to lose and emailed the head honcho of the company directly. It led to a not totally comfortable Zoom meeting with the head honcho and the office manager (who I had emailed a ton and who had been unable to get anything done until this point).

I'm not sure what the problem was or why it took so long to get resolved, but it stressed me the heck out and made me feel devalued. 

I don't wish them ill, but I don't want to be part of their chaos. 

And so now, I'm reshuffling and reevaluating and maybe this is good even though nobody likes to feel like the carpet has been pulled out from under them. I just figured out that this part-time work I did made up about 24% of my total income so it's not nothing. 

Maybe this empty spot will fill with something I hadn't planned but that ends up being something great. 

I don't believe that humans are puppets on a god string or that god moves things in certain ways. But I do think that humans are very good at making meaning. 

And so I will make meaning from this.

Friday, July 15, 2022

10-year-olds, abortion, child abuse, and CPS in my yard

I admittedly live a privileged life. My parents did not abuse me or neglect me in any way. I was sheltered, and I shelter my children from harmful things as much as I can within my own home. 

We don't have the news on nonstop. We don't yell at our children. We have never spanked our children. We don't do drugs or abuse alcohol and there is no domestic violence in our home. My husband and I have gotten therapy on our own and together as a couple to ensure we provided our children with love and stability. 

Within that secure foundation, though, I have thought it wise to let them experience the world. They go to public school and meet all kinds of kids. They can read whatever they want. They have phones and Internet access, and I encourage them to talk to me about what they see or hear and educate them to verify everything. They do not get in trouble or lectured for asking questions or being naturally curious. 

But their home is secure. 

This week, I got to see up close and personal what it is like for kids whose lives are very, very different from my children's. 

Without going into detail that would violate privacy, I can say that child protective services was in my yard this week. I can say that I was a witness to the sadness of a mother who chooses a man over a child (which is probably because she is abused too), a woman who loves her child as best she can but has problems of her own and is not meeting her child's needs. 

Most importantly, I saw a child who is in need of a lot of counseling because the adults who are supposed to protect her and love her are not doing it in the way it needs to be done.

With this on my mind, it makes me furious to read about the rigamarole over the 10-year-old in Ohio who got a medication abortion for 6 weeks of pregnancy that resulted from rape by an adult. Having looked at the face of a neglected and emotionally abused child this week IN MY FUCKING FRONT YARD, I take the side of that 10-year-old over a 6-week fetus that is the size of a Chiclet piece of gum.

How do I know a 6-week fetus is the size of a Chiclet? I looked it up. 

And it INFURIATES me that people are choosing something that doesn't speak and has no consciousness and cannot eat or breathe on its own OVER the life of a 10-year-old child who can walk, talk, eat, shit, and feel. 

How can we do this to living, breathing, outside-the-womb children?

Monday, July 4, 2022

My vague-posting (and employment)

A week or so ago, I posted something on social media about how being honest often means a person is subject to criticism or worse, such as lost employment. 

I suspect some people who know I can cuss like a sailor if necessary and have an opinion about most things that I am willing to share might suspect that I maybe did something on the order of this and got fired.

I mean, I did make international news several years ago over dress code bullshit, so anything is possible when it comes to my mouth. 

I have not gotten fired.

All I did was send an email before I chickened out that basically said the following:

"I am a dependable, high-quality producer, and if you value this dependable, high-quality producer you need to pay me in a more timely manner."

I don't think it is being unreasonable to expect that by July 4, I should have been paid the $725 that is owed me for APRIL. (And the remaining $2,200 owed me should come sooner rather than later.)

More or less, I don't trust this employer anymore. I don't think this employer values my work and my dependability. And if I don't trust you, there is no point continuing a relationship whether it is personal or professional. 

While I was honest (and civil) in my email, I guess the bigger point is that I stood up for myself. 

And I'm glad.

But I'm also flailing a bit, and I'm not sure why.

Because they didn't fire me. I'm just about 99.9% sure I'm firing them. I have a swimming pool full of tolerance for young people and kids, but I do not babysit adults. 

But this marks a change, and I'm going to have to adapt, and that is always uncomfortable and scary. I got comfortable and, admittedly, lazy. 

Now I'm having to think about whether I'll actively seek something new or do what I've done in every professional experience for the past 13 years....hang out and let things kind of organically happen and go where they will. 


Saturday, June 18, 2022

2022 like 2019

 In 2019, we went on a lot of small trips. 

Spring Break was spent in Atlanta visiting my cousins and exploring the city, which we had driven through a million times but never stayed in for anything more than a night while en route to or from Florida.

That summer, we visited Cape San Blas, a small peninsula in Florida.

That fall, we went to Michigan City, Indiana and took the train to Chicago.

This was all for the good because COVID made us very eager to go nowhere outside our state. We went to Land Between the Lakes, Cumberland Falls, and Red River Gorge until we had all been vaccinated when I felt it was probably a little more safe to go beyond the borders.

Since December 18, 2021, I've traveled quite a bit and failed to write about any of it. Until now.

The first trip was when the five of us went to Las Vegas, Nevada and Joshua, Tree, California. It was a pretty darn wonderful trip even though we were still having to mask inside (or should I say, we chose to mask inside even though lots of other people didn't). 

We spent a full day in Joshua Tree National Park and then stopped at Amboy Crater in the middle of the Mojave Desert on our way back to Las Vegas. In Vegas, we went to Meow Wolf and walked all over the strip and then drove to Hoover Dam. It was a trip that sort of wore us out but that I so enjoyed because I was seeing new terrain. It was some 1,856 miles there and back. 

The Mojave Desert at sunset as we were driving from Las Vegas to Joshua Tree.

Found a hole in a boulder where water had frozen overnight. 

Outdoor sculpture at Meow Wolf in Las Vegas. 

At the Hoover Dam

In early April, N and I went to Quito, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, a trip we had been planning and saving for since October 2020, when we thought innocently to ourselves, "This pandemic should be over by April 2022." 

The trip was amazing and exhausting and had I had the energy after puking some 12+ times on the ferry from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz, I would have thrown myself overboard and just drowned because motion sickness on the Pacific is no fucking joke. (I likely puked over 20 times in a 2-hour period but I decided suicide would be a good idea sometime after my 10th puke. I say this not to make suicide funny but to note that when people feel miserable, a wish to just die and get it over with is not irrational but a better option out of all bad options.)

When I finally staggered off the boat and could barely stand, the closest place to lie down was here. I spent the rest of that day in bed.

Pier at Santa Cruz, the Galapagos with another creature 
who may or may not have also been extremely seasick. One of the members of 
the tour took this pick which was only hilarious many days later. 

This was, however, the worst of my trip. Everything else was amazing and awesome, and I was so privileged to see it. It was my first but I hope not my last trip to South America and was some 3,000 miles one way. Plus, it was my girl's first international trip, and I love that she was able to do it. 


A view of Quito from Virgin of El Panecillo. 


A mural in Otavalo, Ecuador


The beach on San Cristobal, the Galapagos


The flight, somewhere over Nicaragua.

Since we've spent a lot of money on those two trips, we decided we needed to keep a summer trip short and therefore, cheaper. 

I'm not a fan of stuff but I value experience and time, and over the years, I've tried to combine both by inviting my parents and/or my MIL on our trips. Due to my dad's health problems in 2020, we asked mom and dad to come on a weekend trip with us to Tennessee in early May since it wasn't as long of a drive for them. I had learned about Pickett State Park and wanted to see it because it is a international dark sky park. It was around 170 miles away. 

As with the massive puke fest in the Galapagos, often you don't plan what happens, and we didn't plan for it to rain the entire weekend except for like 40 minutes on Friday and then another 40 minutes on Saturday of this extended weekend. We got out during those brief windows of time to explore. So much for seeing the dark sky when there was nothing but heavy rainclouds. 

Pickett State Park, Tennessee during one of those 40 minute non-rain windows. 


Big South Fork lookout trail during one of those 40 minute non-rain windows. 


The view from this lookout. 


The lovely cabin we stayed at. 


I also wanted to squeeze in another shortish trip (340 miles) and decided Kelleys Island would take us to water, which we like, and cooler temperatures, which we also like. After visiting Michigan several years ago, I sort of got it in my head to see all the Great Lakes. This took another off our list; only one left (Ontario). 

We spent 4 full days exploring Kelleys Island and seeing the African Safari zoo in Port Clinton, Ohio and Marblehead lighthouse. It felt like the beach without the heat or the salt or the jellyfish. 

Me on a ferry to Kelleys Island and not puking. It is possible. 

Herndon Gallery within walking distance of the house we rented.



Glacial grooves on Kelleys Island. 


African Safari drive where you can feed the animals who 
will stick their big heads in your car and slobber on the doors. 


We ate A LOT of ice cream at Papa T's on Kelleys Island. 

And so now, we are home and will stay home for a good long while to save up and hopefully plan for other adventures down the road to far off places. 

I know my love of travel is an addiction of sorts because I do feel this physical and mental urge to get out of my norm and get away from what I see all the time. I get a release of good-feeling hormones just looking up places I might like to go at some point, and that feeling is compounded by A LOT when I actually get to the someplace new I wanted to see. I tell myself that it is probably a better addiction than illegal drugs and sex with strangers. 

But there are costs to it. It costs time and money. It is tiring. And not everyone in our family loves travel the way I do so it forces me to not see everything I'd like to see and them to see more than what they care to see. 

These are very lowercase privilege problems. I'm thankful that I get to see as much as I've been able to see.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Graduation letter

Dear N,

Tomorrow is your commencement. I think it is kind of interesting that we call them that because so often people get weighed down by the ending of things when it comes to high school graduation. Parents, especially, feel sad and sentimental seeing their children reach this milestone. But to commence is to begin, and in all the important ways, your life is just now beginning. 

My memory is pretty poor in general, but I remember feeling excited and terrified when I graduated from high school. There were so many decisions before me: What was I going to be? What was I going to do? So many big potential life events on the horizon---Maybe marriage one day? Maybe kids one day? Gainful employment? A house and furniture and adulting?

You are embarking on a time of figuring stuff out, and you will be doing that for the rest of your life. It is a long lifetime road of not knowing what the fuck you're doing, but that is ok because no one else knows what the fuck they're doing either. Your dad and I certainly don't know what we're doing as we navigate having a legal adult in the house who is also our child. Some people hide their not knowing better than others but, trust me, this is the human condition. 

For about the next ten years, you're going to be in a state of confusion and discomfort if you're anything like most people (or maybe just me). As a new 18-year-old, you are really in the wormy stage of adulthood babyhood; you've barely got your eyes open and you haven't figured out what your hands are for. Your twenties are exciting and new and mind-blowing and weird; it's like the later babyhood and toddlerhood of adulthood. You learn to belly-scoot, then crawl, then Frankenstein-monster walk. In your thirties, you'll run. In your forties, you'll run and give the finger to anyone who looks at your cross-eyed because you don't care what they think anymore. I'll update you on the fifties once I get there. 

All commencements come with advice so here is some of mine:

1--Go to therapy sooner rather than later should you ever feel you need it. It can be extremely helpful to have a totally objective person help you deal with things without the baggage that friends and family bring. A strong person knows when they need help and seeks it out. 

2--Don't assume you know the answer; instead ask questions. Your brilliant mom made some big assumptions in college without seeking answers from people who knew more than I did. While I am happy with the life I have, I often wonder if my trajectory would have been different had I not assumed but asked. 

3--Don't worry about people who peak now or in college or at anytime that is different than you. And truly, what does peaking mean anyway? A girl you were in playgroup with as a toddler is the youngest American woman to climb Mount Everest which is amazing, but do you want to climb mountains? Some people do big, huge things in the world, like Alexander the Great, and are remembered in history books. The rest, the other 99.9%, live their lives quietly. Henry David Thoreau said "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation," and I think that is probably true. The goal, I suppose, is to avoid a life of desperation but quiet isn't so bad. 

4--Henry David Thoreau also said, "I have lived some thirty years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors." And that is another piece of my advice to you: Ignore my advice if it seems irrelevant or like bullshit. Do what you want and don't worry too much about what anyone else thinks.  I can't live your life. I'm not you. You have an entirely different experience from me so be truest to yourself and live by your values. Do no harm to yourself or others if you can help it. 

5--DO NOT throw away your retainer. Seriously, despite what Henry David said, this advice should be heeded. Your middle-aged mouth will be glad you listened to your mom. 

Tomorrow you'll wear your cords and your stole and it will feel like the most important thing you've done. And it is. For now. But this, my dear, is truly only the beginning.

Love,

Mom

Monday, May 16, 2022

Multifarious: working with seniors, the a-word, boiling rage

I. Working with seniors

Since mid-April I have been working at a local high school two days a week to help seniors who need course recovery in order to meet graduation requirements. 

I have been, more or less, their mom on these days. When they are with me, they work. If they don't work, I nudge and harass and cheerlead and tell them to NOT SCROLL DOWN on the course recovery work because they will get overwhelmed. Or I explain things to them. Or I help pace them if they lose focus and have them check in with me. 

It has been mostly rewarding work, especially when a kid who has been coming to work with me finishes up her/his assignments, and we know they'll be able to cross the stage later this month. 

There are some, though, who won't walk the stage. They may not be able to finish course recovery this summer. Some of them will be back for another senior year. Or they will drop out. 

I think seniors overestimate their "adultness" once they hit that magical 18 on the birthday cake. I think sometimes teachers overestimate it, too, although I suspect this has more to do with teacher burnout than the kids to be honest. A lot of the kids are mature and responsible, but there are some who need a lot of hand-holding for a variety of reasons. And there are a lot of adults who would do a hell of a lot better with some more hand-holding. 

Even kids who are mature and responsible, who can keep track of their homework and club meetings and sports/work schedules, make bone-headed decisions. Or don't think of all the ramifications of a decision, and it's because their brains aren't done cooking yet. 

N is a bright kid whom I trust with a lot of things, but there are times I legit think to myself, "What is wrong with your brain?"

And the answer is: nothing. It is just an 18-year-old brain.

II. The a-word

The Roe v. Wade leak was all over the news last week, and I've spent a lot of time thinking about the prospect of things changing. How would that affect my daughter? How would that affect by sons?

I could be wrong, but I don't think I've ever seen anyone say they are pro-abortion. I don't think anyone likes abortion. I don't like abortion. In a perfect world, no woman would ever feel she needed an abortion. But we don't live in a perfect world. 

We live in a world where we give a shit ton of lip service to the notion that we value life. We do nothing of the sort. One million lives lost to COVID is proof of that. Our systems have not, as a general rule, valued poor life. Or black life. Or immigrant life. They do not right now. We do not value infant life because if we did we would make childcare leave more feasible and for longer. We would have ENOUGH FORMULA. We would fund universal preschool to help all children start out more closely to a level playing field. We wouldn't have such ridiculous drug laws that have put so many men in prison away from their families. 

I have never had an abortion, but I have had an unplanned pregnancy (while on birth control). All things were "right" for me. I was in my mid-30s, had been in a long and healthy marriage, had no debts or drug addiction or anything that would endanger my security and ability to pay the bills. I had two children and could afford them so there wasn't a concern that I couldn't afford another one. Despite these things, my unplanned pregnancy was scary and overwhelming AND I WAS IN THE BEST POSSIBLE CIRCUMSTANCES. 

So I will not pass judgment on any woman who is in different or worse circumstances who cannot, whatever her reason, sustain a pregnancy. And I think it is absolutely wrong for any government entity at any level to tell a person what she can or can't do with her body. We didn't mandate vaccines; we do not take organs from dead bodies that did not, prior to death, give permission. We need to keep our laws off women's bodies as well.

III. Boiling rage

Maybe the rage relates to what I just wrote about, or maybe it is perimenopausal hormone stuff? Or maybe it is the ceaseless exhaustion that comes with being a mom to three and a wife to one and none of them seem able at times to do much of anything for themselves, without me specifically directing them on what.to.do. They rely on me because I made it my priority for so long to be relied upon (the downside of the SAHM thing). 

Or maybe it is the confluence, the place where all these intersect. The place where I would like to just run away and be responsible only for myself and my wants and needs and not have to have others in my brain.

Maybe it is that our tax people told us we had to pay something like $7,000 in taxes, which we paid, but we only owed $900, which is great, except now we are waiting for the government to return out money and it is freaking me out because we had termites ($800) and the boys keep getting ingrown toenails which means $200 surgeries all the damn time. Maybe it is that I have been so busy since I got home from Ecuador that I haven't had a minute to collect my thoughts and just be. Maybe I miss quarantine just a little bit when life was a fuck-ton slower. 

Maybe I need to take another half-dose of Lexapro. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

As we approach graduation

We have several weeks until N graduates from high school. While she may be counting down, I am neither counting down nor wishing time to stop and keep us frozen in amber to avoid seeing her move onto the next stage of her life. I am going about the days as I always have.

In general, I have a difficult time stomaching sentimentalism and cliches. I have a difficult time with the public proclaiming of how wonderful kids are and how proud we are of them. Primarily, this is because it is all curated. It is all, in its own way, lies. Or if not lies, then abstentions. 

But this is the season of that sort of thing, I guess. 

People have begun asking me "How are you?" in relation to having a senior so close to graduation, and I emphatically say, "I am fine."

Because I am.

Maybe I would be a little sad if I didn't have six more years of middle and high school with her two younger brothers, but by the time they get through, I will be oh-so-ready to be the fuck done with all this. 

Maybe I would be a little sad if I hadn't savored the time with her when she was young. 

But I blogged about it and I journaled about it and I took photos of it and I took videos of it, and I was there for all of it. 

Why would I need or want to stay there forever?

If I put on the rose-colored glasses of sentimentality, I would forget that those times when she was young were not all wonderful.

The times of having to help do projects in elementary school. Ugh.

The times of being woken up in the middle of the night. 

The times I got puked on.

The times I had to go to so many freaking preschool birthday parties. Geez Louise.

The times I played Barbies until I thought my brain would pop out of my ears from sheer boredom. 

Maybe I've read too many Buddhism books, but all, including my children's childhoods and teenage years, is impermanence. 

And I am far more comfortable embracing this fact than feeling the sticky fingers of sentimentalism encroach on me. 

I think for many parents their overwhelming feelings about watching their child graduate have almost nothing to do with the child; it is about the parent. About losing control (as if they had it to begin with). It is about their own death looking them in the face for a moment. They are often sandwiched, as I am now, between parents who are aging, either planting feet into their 80s or already knee-deep, and children who are no longer under our thumbs. 

It is a strange and uncomfortable place.

Well, this got dark.

But that darkness is why sentimentality is allowed to swoop in. It feels better, I suppose. It is warm and fuzzy and maybe makes people feel better temporarily. 

I don't like its texture, though, any more than I like the uncomfortable of knowing the circle of life keeps turning. The clock hands have moved me to a position I remember my parents being at when I was 18. The hands for them are closer to midnight. The seconds continue to tick by.

The most comfortable place is the here and now. This day. This moment. Not the countdown of days until graduation. Not the wallow of time gone past.