Saturday, December 30, 2017

Brave

We know 
so perfectly 
how to give birth
to the monsters
inside us,
but for reasons 
I will never figure out
we have not the slightest clue
of what to do 
with all the 
love.

~Christopher Poindexter

Grey has an interview a week from today. A select few have been told (and there are more that need to be told), but we're already preparing for his trip and talk. 

Already the nightmares have started for both of us. The fear created from daring to hope.

Herein lies the problem. The fact we are both so afraid of failure and being trapped in limbo that it is manifesting in negative ways. Both of us have had shorter tempers the past few days, quick to snap at one another and anyone who dares challenge our guarded moods. We both know it needs to stop.

My horoscope this week was the final sign, particularly this part: 

"You don’t have to be fearless or have an ironclad plan; all you have to be is brave. Things don’t have to go your way in order for them to be going exactly as they’re meant to go."

As tempting as it is to steel myself, trying to protect my family from any potential pain, I know it's time to shed the armor and believe that good things are coming.

Hence my resolution for 2018: to be brave. To acknowledge the fear, the hurt and the pain, but to stop walling myself off from the world. To remove the fearless mask I've been wearing for awhile now and put my trust that there is a path forward as we embrace this amazing mess of a world we live in. Attempting to perfect the art of wrapping monsters in love.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A broken vow

For the past 9 years, restaurant choices have been something I've fretted about. It all started while in the thick of fertility treatments, trying to navigate places to enjoy dinner without being triggered. I learned early on this wasn't a trivial task: the raw oyster bar was where one woman loudly announced her pregnancy for all to hear and then requesting that no one order any seafood; the fine-dining establishment where a young couple placed their newborn in a carseat in the corner; even the 11 pm beer at the bar wasn't safe due to the woman breastfeeding in the corner.

It was hard not to feel angry over these situations. I get where many are coming from with just wanting to enjoy a night out. But given the misery each of these separate situations caused not only for me but everyone else in those establishments, these situations ended with me vowing to never inflict such things on others. 

To date it has been fairly easy keep this vow. Since the Beats have arrived, eating out with them has been next to impossible. The few times we tried when they were younger usually resulted in us focusing solely on feeding the Beats or keeping them entertained, usually with the other party we are dining with witnessing the joys of twin parenting up close and personal. The default has been to invite people over, with us cooking dinner or order food in an effort to contain the chaos. Recently though dining out has become possible given they are both old enough to sit for longer periods, but Grey and I have made a point of being extremely selective on where we dine. Any establishment that doesn't have a play area, crayons and walls with high-gloss paint have never been on our radar. Hence I assumed I was doing well with my vow.

Today was the first fail.

Yesterday our landlord texted to let us know the electricians would be arriving at 7:45 am to take care of the wiring for the new furnace. This not only would mean having two strangers in our house, but also no heat. Grey and I decided it was better to get it over with, planning to take the Beats out for breakfast at a local diner we knew was kid-friendly. The one snag in the plan is that He-Beat woke up with the cold the rest of us have been fighting. Given the recent research revealing that males struggle more with viral illness, one can imagine what a wonderful mood he was in this morning.

At 7:45 am, we braved the 4 degree F weather and made our way to the diner. Walking in, I looked for a booth that wasn't located next to the door, ushering both Beats over so we could get them settled. It was then that I noticed a couple finishing their breakfast. Both of them clearly tensed and fixing their eyes on one another as the Beats climbed into the booth, causing a ruckus. 

"Fuck" was all I could think as I tried to quiet both kids.

Then He-Beat proceeded to meltdown.

As I scooped up this sobbing child, I caught the look of pain in the woman's face. Her partner signaling for the check as I muttered an apology before retreating with him to the bathroom to quiet him down. All the while hating myself and the pain I knew I had caused.

I know many will counter my feelings about the situation by pointing out that this couple should have known better. This diner is well-known in the town for being a family establishment, sporting awards for such visible on their walls. There's a prominent Kid's menu with crayons, board books and toys easily within reach. Even the bathrooms designed for small children. 

Yet I can't help but feel guilty. I don't know what this couple's story is or the circumstances that brought them into that diner this morning. But their body language and the looks of pain brought all those memories back, leaving me not only wanting to apologize but somehow trying to rectify the pain that had been caused. I was left wanting to show we weren't like others who were insensitive to their plight; that the Beats were actually came after years of pain and loss. None of which we could do without somehow making the situation a whole lot more uncomfortable.

I guess that's what I struggling with most today. 5 years ago, we were in the thick of our final cycle with an uncertain future and the memory of all the pain, fear and grief is surprisingly still very real. I know logically that preventing everyone's pain is not possible and that a lot of the "I'll never"s I constructed while in the trenches are impossible to honor. But this one was one I thought I could honor, even if the deck was stacked against me from the moment I walked in the door.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

All is calm

This morning, after much negotiating and bargaining, I managed to dragged an exhausted Grey and two wound up Beats outdoors for a hike in the snow.



Outside of a couple of cross-country skiers and a pair of dogs, we had the run of the meadow. And run we did, encouraging both kids to use up as much energy as possible as we all raced around. The end result of our efforts came two hours later, with both Beats passed out and a tired Grey relaxing with a book following some much needed exercise.

I love snow. Snowfalls have always been magical to me, bringing a silence to the world is hard to replicate. Playing in snow is also a favorite activity, with some of my fondest memories involving skiing, sledding or simply hiking through snowy meadows. But one thing I love most about snow is the forced peace and calm it brings. Something I was reminded of yesterday during the snowstorm that forced many to stay indoors instead of traveling. And though many made their destinations later, the forced pause brought a sense of calm and peace that would be seen later as neighbors began shoveling one another out of their driveways.

The past few days have been calm ones, allowing Grey and I a chance to reset before the next sprint. Something we both sorely needed given what we're gearing up to face. For now, the snow has brought with it an amazing gift to help us prepare.

All is calm.

#MicroblogMondays: The morning after

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Yesterday morning, both Beats flew out of bed, paste their final ornament to the top of their Advent Calendar and raced downstairs. Neither stopped vibrating for the whole day. 


This morning, following all the chaos of yesterday, both Beats are currently sitting with their new toys and playing quietly. Watching them brings up memories from 5 years ago where this current scene and all from yesterday seemed like nothing more than a wish and a prayer. Though though I can trace all the events that lead us here, leading to this exact scene, there's still an awe that comes over me witnessing what I am.




Friday, December 22, 2017

Unfitting


I once heard someone say,
If you don't change you do not grow,
But I waved the thought away,
For who were they to think they know,
I'd always stay the same,
A heart that thrived within the cold,
And I had no desire to change,
At least that's what I had been told,
But deep within my mind,
A thought grew slowly, bit by bit,
Until I felt trapped within my skin,
For it no longer seemed to fit,
There's a whole world sitting out there,
Changing every single day,
That proves it's nothing to be scared of,
If you do it the right way,
For a day afraid to turn to night,
Will miss the silver moon,
And a flower that refuses to change,
Will never get to bloom,
I had thought I was a thorn bush,
Only good for snagging clothes,
But if you don't dare to change,
You'll never find out you're a rose.

~"Change" by Erin Hanson, thepoeticunderground

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Break

"No good decision is based on fear. So you break your leg; you heal and you learn."
~Elyse Rogers, Executive VP, Artist Partner Group, Dance Hall Crashers

Yesterday the hiring manager for the editor position I interviewed for called to offer me the job. The pay was no where near great, but the flexibility as well as the chance to grow within the company made this position an appealing transition from academia. Instantly the hiring manager could tell something was wrong. When I told her about a potential relocation, the offer immediately vanished.

On the heels of this event, I made the mistake of checking my news feed. Faces of old, privileged men congratulating themselves on finding a legal way to milk the U.S. populous greeted me. How those elected to serve the populous have unknowingly found a way to completely break the system. And how they don't even understand what comes from that destruction.

I've been thinking about breaking, mainly because I feel so broken at the moment. The high I was riding a couple of weeks ago has completely vanished in light of having to reset and plan for a potentially rapid transition. In moments of clarity, I see the need for this to happen. That for too long we have been limping along while trying to fit ourselves into what we were told was the best path forward. But the truth is, that fear of breaking has been keeping us at bay. The fear of it being so terrible that there will be no way to repair.

One major benefit of infertility is you learn that the fear of failure and breaking is always worse than it actually happening. Though each miscarriage and failed cycle left indelible scars, the fear was always far more crippling. Boston has taught us a similar lesson with job losses and living in poverty; learning to crawl our way out of crippling circumstances. At this point, I think Grey and I have both hit bottom so often that being there, though awful, has become familiar terrain that we're willing to sit with and explore.

Yesterday was the beginning of this next round of breaks. Grey is doing his part, confronting managers with truths that they are quietly acknowledging but also reaching out to those who are willing to work with him to grow. Sitting in a coffee shop this morning, I'm starting to do the same thing, shrugging off the warnings so many are quick to give us and focusing on the people and opportunities that are offering a path forward.

Because the option of playing it safe is actually one that will literally kill us. Frankly, I'd rather live.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

180

This past summer, Grey and I had a fight about buying a house in the near future. His rational was a simple one: paying rent for the long-term makes zero sense when we would be rooted in an area for careers. My response was one neither of us anticipated, which was an emotionally driven "hell no!" Unpacking it all later, part of it was due to having just sold our condo and being free from a money pit after 11 years. But when we dug deeper, it became clear that the true root was me having zero desire to put down roots in Boston. In my mind we are here for connections and skills, but this area is not home.

It's hard explaining to people why you don't feel a connection to an area you reside in, particularly when they do. I completely understand this given I've suffered at judgement from others almost my entire life when they learn about my midwest origins (many respond with jokes or comments about me having escaped). But the truth is, despite the hope at the beginning, Boston hasn't been kind to my family. Between multiple job changes, a terrible daycare experience and two separate rental dramas that really didn't need to happen, we've struggled. And both of us are at a breaking point with living in an environment that we greatly dislike.

Two weeks ago, Grey reached out to a contact looking to see if there were opportunities at a rapidly growing Next Generation Sequencing company located on the West Coast. Within hours, he had a phone appointment with a former collaborator who was now a director of one of their divisions, Gearing up for that appointment last week, Grey assumed that the conversation would be a challenging one. Instead, this collaborator informed him they had an unadvertised position that he thought Grey would be perfect for. An equally easy phone interview with the hiring manager yesterday left Grey with plans for an interview next month.

All of this has brought my job hunt to a screeching halt. Suddenly one position I interviewed for could be completely off the table while another one now has another level of negotiation. There's also been a rising panic about how all of this could impact the Beats. We finally got them into amazing preschools and I really am worried about uprooting them again.

But the flip is looking out the window at the brown, dying grass with streets in ill repair. Of seeing people drive through STOP signs without even pausing while lighting cigarettes. Of being cursed at this morning while on the bus because I dared to offer a visibly pregnant woman my seat (and the awkward after math when everyone, including the swearer realized what had happened). And suddenly the promise of seeing the mountains again, of filling my lungs with some of the sweetest air and being back in an area that stole my heart all those years ago makes this temporary hardship seem very worthwhile.

So we're doing a 180, with me resetting and beginning to reach out to my West Coast contacts. In addition, I get to have a very fun conversation with one of the potential employers I interviewed with last week. There's literally zero safety net at the moment and there's the potential for all of it to end badly. But Grey and I have also severely suffered for playing it safe and following listening to advice about what we "should" be doing. And there's the promise that this could work out, opening doors and roads for both of us.  

Monday, December 18, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Driven to distraction

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

"Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere."
~ Glenn Turner

I'm officially in the "not thinking about it" stage of limbo. There's currently too many balls in the air and next to nothing I can do about it. Applying for jobs seems futile given I don't know what's happening with Grey's situation and I'm feeling extremely unmotivated to make future plans. 

So instead, I've been distracting myself, just as I did 6 years ago when all in the world was uncertain. Filling my time with teaching the Beats how to peel apples for pies, focusing on writing an advertisement for the course E and I will be running, preparing for a final learning lab  program and, most importantly, getting Jaxson a Christmas tree to sit under. 


All while reminding myself in those moments where it all seems overwhelming that we've done all this before, surviving it best when the focus has been shifted from all that could go wrong to all that could come from it.


Besides, I've already worn out one rocking chair. Plus Grey reminds me it's hard to enjoyed mulled wine while engaging in nonsensical repetitive activities.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Limbo

"Being scared is part of growing. You don’t get an inspiring hero’s story without the arc of overcoming some fear or another. You aren’t supposed to be perfect, and you aren’t meant to stay in one place. You’re a beautiful, messy work in progress. You’re a person with feels, and you make mistakes. Sometimes the mistake you make is in thinking that you’ve failed when you’re still in the development phase. Allow yourself to feel your feels without matching a negative narrative to them this week."

~Capricorn Horoscope: 12/13-12/19; The HoodWitch

The crash following the highs from earlier this week has set in. After all the interviews, one would think there would be cause of celebration. Instead, anxiety has been creeping in and it's been hard to keep it at bay. Wednesday seemed to go well for both Grey and me. But I was also informed the committee won't be making any decisions until the new year. Grey got even more depressing news when it became clear that even though everyone surrounding him thinks he's an exceptional candidate, he will likely not get the position due to prejudice behavior by the person he would be working most closely with.

My horoscope this week really isn't helping me feel any more confident.

So, once again, I'm in limbo and staring down the barrel of unemployment. To be honest, all of it sucks because though I'm told we are both doing everything right, the reality is I'm also being given a million stupid excuses for why we're in the situation we're in. The best I can do is to continue applying for jobs, making plans for the next stage. All while trying to refocus my attitude. Because right now it's not in a good place.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The other paths

This morning, I opened my campus email account to find messages from students who weren't offered early acceptance letters. Hastily written and doing all the things they tell you not to do, the requests came in for me to write letters of recommendation as they prepared themselves to contact the admissions office to plead their case.

Honestly, I feel for them. These are motivated kids who have spent years constructing applications for something they've been told will either make or break them. The tone of their emails suggested distress was running through their entire family and that the results were indications of failed life goals. It's a hard lesson to learn at age 18.

The timing of all of this hasn't been lost on me. Today both Grey and I have major interviews for potentially solid positions. This morning was spent ironing shirts, polishing shoes and driving each person to their respective locations. Currently I am sitting in a coffee shop, reviewing not only the job ad but also going back through all the course development I've done over the past 6 years. The truth is both Grey and I have a lot riding on today. These positions could advance not only us career wise but also help us stabilize our family in a manner we haven't been able to.

But if I'm also being honest with myself, not getting these positions wouldn't end our lives. Yes it would be tough. Yes, the disappointment would send shock waves through us. But after infertility, pregnancy loss, family loss and being on the verge of traveling down a less traveled path, I know all too well that it wouldn't be the end.

Last night I got a request for references for the editor position, with a note from the hiring manager my reviews have been outstanding. After sending off my reference list, all of that was been pushed to the back of my head so I can focus. But today, as I have a little down time, the truth that has emerged is this could be a really good opportunity. In addition, Grey has a phone conversation tomorrow with a higher-up at a rapidly growing NGS company. Nothing has been promised, but I also know that the potential there is one where it could not only provide us with an exit plan, but also a very interesting road forward. The final tidbit is admitting that neither of us have been happy in Boston. The promise of opportunity and growth has not happened and all the bullshit we've had to deal with really has soured things.

All of this has been swirling in my brain as I've begun drafting responses to these students. Acknowledging their disappointment while reminding them that it's not the end. Even as I deliver a final blow of informing them I'm also unable to write letters of reference to support their petitions. Because often the roads we break ourselves for aren't the ones that bring us fulfillment and happiness. It's the ones that challenge us but also foster us that do, helping us find adventures and moments we might not have imagined possible.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Mastering the art of holding one's breath

Life has gone from having an odd sequence of events to being even odder. None of it I have had time to process. Yesterday I had a final, in person interview for an editor position at a major publishing house. Which was odd and interesting for so many reasons. Tomorrow I have a final interview of an Assistant Director position. On top of this, we learned yesterday that Grey's interview for the permanent position starts tomorrow, spanning the course of 4 days (Wednesday-Friday, finishing next Monday).

My course I've been dreaming about is green-lighted and barreling ahead. I have two meetings today both to figure out logistics and recruit others to the cause, which has turned out to be a relatively easy thing to do when I no longer hunting for money. Meaning I may have to hire my replacement.

There are also the two informational interviews both Grey and I have. Grey's is most important as it could be bring about an exit plan we've been hoping for.

Add in being insanely sick for over 2 weeks with a mystery bug (flu tests have come back negative) that has made insomnia a reality for all of us and that I'm currently buried in job applications, filling out paperwork and trying to keep balls in the air in case none of the above pans out and yeah.

In the middle of all this craziness, I've been trying to be mindful about the road ahead. Something that is far from being a strength. Most moments, I'm able to distract myself from the reality of all this craziness combined with uncertainty by putting my head down and plowing through the to-do lists. But there are moments where it's become me reminding myself that somehow Grey and I will make all of this okay, realizing that I'm mentally holding my breath, wondering when I'll be given the opportunity to inhale again.

The thing is, some of the most interesting and thoughtful people I've known and worked with a masters at holding their breath during uncertain times. There's an art to putting your all into something, putting yourself out that but then letting go on faith that you've truly done all you could to impact the outcome. Part of it is they don't wait with baited breath for an opportunity to emerge from their hard work, but the other part is they have a solid sense of self that armors them from any failure or rejection that may come. What surprises many is that this usually comes from having lived through so much rejection combined with having some wins.

But I'm also learning a lot of it also is projecting what you want. Learning to believe that things will come out the way you need them to, even if the road wasn't the one that was desired or planned for.

Tomorrow is a big day for the Cristy/Grey household. Both of us are stressed and exhausted, fueled by pain killers and caffeine. But oddly enough, we're also not focusing on what we can not control, but what we can. Making sure we are putting ourselves out there in a manner that is true to who we are and what we want from the world.

May it pay off.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

And then it got odd


Where to even begin with this one? 

I could start with the fact that I went into yesterday day dreading the 4 separate meetings I had lined up; that I was utterly convinced it would be another day filled with fighting and disappointments.

And how none of that happened.

What happened was instead of E and me spending my first meeting trying to convince the director to run the course I was proposing next fall or spring, giving me time to develop it, he informed E and me we should run it, having the students help us with the building and development. That he's long been looking for something that marries genomics with engineering, giving the students real experience of what getting a research program off the ground looks like. Both E and I sat in stunned silence, looking at one another because this NEVER HAPPENS. The added cherry is that there's an internal grant for developing science education programs like mine that she and the director want me to apply for. Suddenly I have a course and a potential funding mechanism for gathering data for future grants. Pinch me.

Second meeting was a job interview. That I was 20 minutes late for because the person screening candidates failed to pass on the phone conference information. I figured I was doomed, with it now just being a formality. But what should have been a 20 minute interview with the managing editors for the publishing house the position is in turned into a 60 minute conversation. They informed me at the end that they would be setting up an final interview for next week (something I need to formally confirm today). Yeah . . . .

My third meeting was for a former student who is looking for a mentor. I wasn't jazzed about the proposal, but when I learned that her faculty mentor for the science club project her team was working on is basically flaking, I decided I could spend a few hours a week giving feedback and offering guidance and support. This stuff is second nature to me and can be a lot of fun. 

The final meeting involved me meeting with all the faculty and the teaching assistant who have been involved in the graduate-level course I've been co-teaching. Since it involved my co-instructor/course head who apologized for my performance, I figured it would be one where I would be sitting back, taking the brunt of humiliation about the course being a failure. What happened instead was the Nobel laureate who ran the first half of the course posed a very simple, but important question: are we training the next generation of scientists or are we training super technicians? As my course head sat in stunned silence, I jumped in and told the laureate I thought the course was designed to train scientists, but where the complaints were coming from was a mindset of super technicians who didn't understand that though the emerging methodology was amazing (and that's what industry is hiring for), it's the questions that advance the field. Somewhere in the middle of this, when my course head tried to end the discussion arguing there was nothing that could be done, he confessed that he had apologized to the students about disappointing them. The reaction from this Nobel laureate was utterly priceless: shock, horror wrapped up with some anger over enabling behavior he believes is hindering these students from growing. The meeting ended with some 12 year old Macallan scotch, with me having a moment where I realized how strange and surreal it was that I was sitting at that table. Just wow.

There are two final cherries for this day. The first being that there is a recently advertised position I'm pretty excited about at my current institution. But given all how my contract was ended, I haven't wanted to apply as I'm worried I'm seen as toxic. Both E and the science director told me I should contact the program director to ask for a meeting. The warning being that this high-powered individual who is well-known within the science education community likely wouldn't get back to me for awhile and to let them know if it was longer than a week for response.

I heard back within an hour of sending the email and have a meeting for Friday.

Oh, and Grey has a interview regarding a permanent position at his company while also getting an email from some higher-ups at an extremely well-known and advancing sequencing company about wanting to chat about him potentially working for them. &*(#@!

So . . . yesterday was odd. So odd that when I got home, I did all the bad things you're not suppose to do as a parent (allowing the kids access to the TV remote, pizza for dinner, extended playtime prior to bed instead of quiet reading) while also opening a beer (and handing one to Grey too after he walked through the door). I'm so use to rejection, bad news and fighting tooth-and-nail for any progress that yesterday just felt WAY too easy. Granted, nothing formal has been offered. There's work to be done. All of this could fall apart tomorrow.

Still, there actually may be a way forward and I may not be half as screwed as I believed myself to be. And I'm looking for that one word in the English language to summarize all the emotions and reactions to that possibility.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Counting down

The goal of this week, after talking the talk about needing to embrace the positive, has been working on actually doing it. At first glance, this should be an easy enough endeavor. Classes are over, which allows me to work on tackling other things that have been neglected for so long, workers are here today replacing our heating system (with a promise that I'll have heat by this evening . . .) and tomorrow is busy with secondary interviews and potential future projects.

But old habits die hard, especially when the gatekeepers have a role in enforcing those habits. My dreams of late have been manifestations of all the wrong that my brain predicts will happen, making it hard to fight back. 

To counter this, I've been taking an approach of one positive item daily, enlisting the Beats in helping me in this endeavor. The result has been this advent calendar, with a simple activity of making an ornament to paste on it, counting down the days till Christmas.


There's been other rituals I've slowly been adding: a scheduled walk with a cup of Earl Grey, scheduling time to visit friends or do other winter-themed activities. Making a point to celebrate the small victories.

The hardest, though, has been putting into practice the visualizations of the future we want. Of forcing myself once again to believe that things will not only work out, but will be better than if I had stayed put doing nothing.

So I'm counting down, making plans and forcing myself to prepare. Because at the end of the day, steeling doesn't make the pain of loss and failure any less; the joy that comes from envisioning a road forward does.

Monday, December 4, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Alpas

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.




Sunday, December 3, 2017

Wall

Friday was a weird day. Following a morning where the course professor took another public dig at me, I had an afternoon that basically displayed his incompetence to the administration. The short of it is we had a student miss her final presentation. While I followed up with admin to make sure nothing bad had happened, I got pushback and was told to leave it alone. Turns out this student was in crisis and is now getting help. But I'm paying for my decision to push as doing so could paint the person who told me to leave it alone in a negative light.

In addition, I *believe* I had a strong interview for a position I'm pretty excited about. I'll find out next week. And I learned Friday that a friend was offered a permanent position. So there was reason to celebrate.

All of this combined with being sick has resulted in me being beyond exhausted. The desire to sleep has been so high that doing basic tasks like cooking and cleaning have been extremely difficult. Never mind continuing to job hunt and prepare for another interview.

I struggle when I hit the wall. Whereas others have an ability to go with it, dropping everything else so that they can recover and heal, I find myself overcome with guilt. I blame myself for our current predicament, both with job instability and with missing that the Beats were so unhappy with their previous school (because we have a LOT of evidence that they are thriving now).

But I'm also struggling with anger over having hit a wall and feeling like help won't come. If I'm being honest, this was the root of the issue with me blowing up at my FIL. It's a hard period and the idea of emotionally managing him and the fallout from a visit is just too much. Something that my in laws are unlikely to see, even when explained.

Sadly, I don't know a way around this. This afternoon needs to be spent moving our stuff out of the basement so the heating system can be replaced this week. The uncle asked us to avoid purchasing storage as our landlord apparently cannot afford to pay for it (but she can afford her summer home). In addition, we need to decide whether it's possible to live here while the heat is being replaced. This on top of everything else.

Hence my exhaustion gets to wait. Even though I know that with a bit of recovery, I could manage everyone else a lot better.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Advent

Sunday marks the beginning of Advent. Having been raised Catholic, I remember this period every year of waiting and preparation. The Sunday Mass services with the wreath and 4 candles, usually with purple bows tied around them to symbolize the darkness prior to the celebration. We had our own advent wreath at home with said 4 candles that were light every night at dinner. A reminder that we were waiting.

This time of year is also historically important for me as it when I did my first and last round of IVF. The first round resulting in a retrieval date of December 14th followed by a first transfer on December 19th. It would be 3 days after Christmas that I would see my first ever positive pregnancy test. And it would be New Year's day that I would learn I was miscarrying. A year later, it would be a repeat with me being much more seasoned and trying to find a way to resolve despite the potential outcome. The fact that this happened, allowing Grey and me to find a path forward and create our version of happy, doesn't change the memories from this time of year. Memories of waiting in the darkness.

All of this has been resurfacing given that I'm once again in a waiting period. I'm still haven't heard about the results from my first interview (I job that I cannot afford to take) and have been dealing with the sting from rejection from a second interview. This was topped with hearing that a company cannot even consider my application given a conflict of interest with the educational program I'm currently contracted for and also getting some rather negative feedback about how I'm not trying correctly with my job hunt. But all of this was contradicted by my interview on Wednesday that did go well and my now having a second interview arranged for next week (writing assignment too). And I have an interview today for a position I actually think I'm a very good fit for. The final cherry is that the reviews from the programs I've been running have been unexpectedly good, leading the founder to want to ramp up my time and the frequency of programming.

In addition to job transition waiting, next week the heating system in our rental is being ripped out and replaced (furnace, water heater, the works). I'll leave the details of that one to your imagination.

The summary statement of all of this is waiting is something I'm still mastering. As I've confessed many times before, I'm not a naturally patient person and anything that is prolonged tends to be anxiety inducing. It was the waiting that was the hardest part of infertility and pregnancy. While others talk about enjoying certain moments, I found myself wanting to get to the point where I either knew a cycle had worked or that we had hit a "safe" point. I think part of this has to do with my Catholic upbringing and this period. An odd irony that it's traditionally been this time of year when I'm back in this mode.

The question is how to tackle this. If I'm being completely truthful, I really haven't made this a priority. Sure there's been the meditation and mantras combined with the positive thinking. But actually making a concerted effort to address this need to get out of the discomfort of waiting instead of sitting with it, observing all that comes with it: well, that's something that's long overdue for being addressed.

So in the spirit of Advent and knowing that I'm overdue for tackling this vice, the Beats and I have started an advent calendar. A Christmas tree shaped 25 day calendar where each day we'll construct a paper ornament to add to it. The goal for them is a simple one: they learn about waiting and preparing. But upon further reflection, the goal for me needs to be the same. Because while I'm use to sitting in the dread that comes with anticipation, the truth is I've been so focused on getting out of it and heading towards the light that I've failed to see the purpose behind it. That this habit of sprinting to the end is actually the root of a lot of problems.

Sunday marks the beginning of Advent. But today, I'm marking the beginning of my preparation and waiting. Of reflecting on all that has happened and learning to grow again from it.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Winning the Pain Olympics

Last night, Grey and I met with our landlord's uncle, who also is a property manager. The purpose of the meeting was determine whether our current rental agreement was salvageable if not simply avoid a lawsuit given all that has happened. During the discussion, the uncle kept emphasizing how much our landlord has been suffering. First with the sudden loss of her mother, than with all the unexpected repairs and replacements that were making in necessary to take out lines of credit to cover them. Listening to him, we emphasized that we understood she was struggling but that it didn't take away from the shitstorm we were literally living in.

That's when, in an effort to de-escalate, the uncle told us that he got it. That what we were living in was highly problematic and that despite his niece's hardships our concerns were valid and needed to be addressed immediately. In short, we had won the Pain Olympics for this situation.

And though his intentions were good, it pissed me off.

I don't know who first coined the term Pain Olympics (honestly, I'd love to know), but the premise is based on human behavior of trying to one-up one another about who is actually in the most pain given a situation. Within the ALI community, it's not uncommon to see if crop up following a catalyst moment of some sort, usually with someone innocently venting their frustrations about their journey only to have them be attacked by someone (worse yet, a group of someones) who have decided they actually don't have it that bad. It's an odd game of King/Queen of the Hill people play where the prize of "yeah, you do have it worse" only usually makes the awardee feel slightly better for approximately 2 seconds before they also realize the prize comes with social isolation and questions about mental sanity. In short, winning the Pain Olympics isn't something one should be aspiring to.

And yet, engaging in the Pain Olympics is a common human practice for geting people to acknowledge pain and grief. When I was first diagnosed, I remember feeling so alone in my pain with hardly anyone being able to understand. The idea that someone who experiencing something I saw as far less traumatic taking away the support I so desperately needed left me feeling very threatened. Countering the lore that love is limitless, the truth was support really wasn't, leaving me struggling alone a lot of the time.

But this isn't universally the case as there are some crises and situations that humans are trained to acknowledge and respond with support. Terminal disease diagnosis, being laid off, an unexpected death or being physically harmed by another out of no fault on your end (think criminal charges or lawsuit worthy offenses). Granted, there's a level of judgement many still will quietly pass, but it's commonly acknowledged that doing so publicly can easily land the offender with the title of "asshole," complete with scarlet A, resulting in being socially exiled. It's these specific cases humans have been trained to recognize are sure-fire ways to win a Pain Olympics argument while also garnering social support. And apparently Grey and I have now landed such a combination.

The thing is, as anger as I am about our current shitstorm, it's not worse than infertility and loss. The chronic pain is just different. What makes it extremely manageable is that we also have an abundance of resources to turn to. For an uninhabitable home, there are laws written to protect us. For toxic childcare, there is readily available access to other high quality facilities AND a direct contact for the Board of Education (combined with fines). With job hunting there are experts and career counselors combined with access to a skilled network of professionals who are happy to pass on leads and advice. Granted, there's flaws each system and it's rare things are ever easily solved, but unlike infertility and loss there's actual support and social conditioning to do so.

While on the train today, I spent some time reflecting about why there's this divide and disconnect. Why is it we have to train people to be empathetic to specific types of trauma? And the best I could come up with is a lesson I learned from Lavender Luz, which is this general assumption of Either/Or we all swim in. We're surrounded by memes and reminders about how someone out there always has it worse, comparisons are made in order to rate pain or there's images reminding us that we need to strive for bigger, better and higher moral status. But in this process of extreme competition, we fail to connect and form the connections that are critical for our mental well-being. By shunning the Both/And, where pain and grief is acknowledged and is allowed to exist regardless of the circumstances, we find ourselves in a culture of one-upmanship.

At the end of the day, I don't want to beat out my landlord on pain. Losing a parent is painful. Losing one where they literally drop dead right in front of you is something I never want to witness. She's grieving and I fully understand that it's a process. But her pain does not mean that she is absolved from her responsibilities to Grey and me as a landlord. Just as the former daycare director's responsibilities and duties she failed at are not absolved solely because she's pregnant. And the pain and anger I face now isn't worse than when I lived with infertility and lived through my losses.

In short, no one should ever win the Pain Olympics. Because doing so just hurts everyone involved.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Juggle

I’ve had this busy week on my calendar for awhile. Two new programs plus final presentations. Throw in two phone interviews (tomorrow and Friday) and an exit meeting with the department Executive Director. It’s only 3:30 pm my time and I’m ready to call it a day.

The weird part is I like being this busy. Being idle is where I get myself into trouble was it gives my brain a chance to go places it shouldn’t. The problem is my body doesn’t agree with this go-go-go mentality. Missing breakfast and lunch is no longer something I can do without feeling it later.

So instead, I’m relearning how to juggle. Forcing myself to stop, breathe and take care of basic biological functions before they hit a point of crisis. Because even though I’m not as speedy and malleable as I use to be, the tasks ahead are also a hell of a lot more complex than anything I’ve done before. Hence I’m long overdue for finding a new way to balance.

Monday, November 27, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Buttons

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Over the weekend, in the midst of my own meltdown, the Beats discovered a stash of buttons I had been using for various teaching projects. Finding buttons immediately resulted in having to use them. So they created Christmas trees




They also learned to sew with buttons, which became much more of an involved project than I originally anticipated.

Seeing the trees this morning reminded me that despite the current shitstorm there are still wonderful things happening in life. Also that there are those who want to work with me to create this beauty, starting with the simplest of materials and ideas. 

So I have to hold onto that. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Pop

I'm getting tired of the trying weeks. This one being no different, with discovery of a new oil leak (this one directly next to the furnace) combined with discovering severe dry rot on some of the supports holding up the floor by the front door, Grey and I picking at one another over being insanely stressed (see above) and then fighting with family. Specifically two separate incidents where Grey handled the situation extremely well (didn't engage and ended the conversation early), but where I performed the ultimate in belly-flops in going off on my Father-in-law.

That last one is definitely making me officially public enemy number one with his family. And honestly I understand where they all would be coming from, given that follow-up conversation resulted in Grey calling off a much desired visit from his parents who we haven't seen in over 2 years.

The problem is, I do blame them. I blame my family too. Just as I blame my landlord for renting out a unit that is considered uninhabitable, leaving us to figure out how to navigate through this entire mess. Just as I blame employers who have treated both Grey and me terribly. So on and so on.

The truth is, I know going off doesn't help anything. If nothing else, it only adds to the problem, burning bridges along the way. But I'm also tired of making nice for those who refuse to change. Who hide behind myths of moral superiority or some given wisdom, making decisions that impact all around them but doing so in a manner that only benefits them. I'm tired of coming off what should have been a holiday, but was instead a day of strategizing how to navigate more bad news that stands to hurt all of us.

So, I popped. Big time. Definitely hurting Grey in the process. And though I am sorry I hurt him, burning a bridge he had been growing for awhile now, I'm also at a point where I feel relieved about no longer stuffing all the hurt and anger.

Even though I know tomorrow is going to be a new adventure in "trying."


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Born to sparkle

This morning, after dropping He-Beat and Grey off at their respected locations, I took She-Beat to a special event hosted at her school. Despite only 2 days at this new preschool, we have seen a drastic change with both Beats and it was an opportunity for me to meet the staff and other teachers involved in the program.

While finishing up eating breakfast, She-Beat wandered up to a girl, clearly very interested in her princess-themed outfit. It was then I saw the slogan on her dress, that resulted in a fit of laugh-crying from me: "Born to sparkle."

On November 20, 2012, I was in a very different place. Having come off a long commute to work to finish up some grading and course-related prep, there wasn't a lot of light in my life. With a screw-it attitude, I decided to take an unexplored detour to work, stopping at a coffee shop my students had been raving about. It was upon walking into the shop that I found this lovely creation.


This lamp basically described all I was feeling about life at that moment. After 4 failed rounds of IVF, 2 miscarriages and no idea whether the pending final round of treatment was even going to work, I was feeling like the walking dead. The color had literally gone out of my life, tainted by pain and grief that so few seemed to understand. And yet, when that pain was dulled, usually with the help of an evening beer, I was able to find what light was left in my heart. A light that even though it felt like it was being extinguished, still showed through as I made the decisions to fight towards a path of resolution.

Looking at this new friend of She-Beats, I instantly was reminded of this beer-can lamp and all that I had experienced. Because for most these kids, despite how sweet and loving they all are, daily life is usually a struggle. They working harder than their peers to overcome challenges due to their disabilities. Yet when given a chance and with proper help, the light they carry sparkles and shines to fill the room. In a lot of ways more strongly and brightly than those that have never faced what they face daily. These kids sparkle and shine.

We're currently in the thick of the holiday season. Many in the United States will be traveling to see family, sharing meals with those that are near and dear. I remember while in the trenches how terribly hard this time was, finding myself having to make plans for what I could and could not endear, stealing my heart from those moments that would add to the pain. I also remember feeling that in this dark period, my light was being extinguished. Looking back now, I see that it was actually the complete opposite as in those darkest of hours, the light in me was actually shining through.

To everyone reading this, I wish everyone of you moments of peace and love tomorrow and in the days to come. And may you know that in those hard moments, where you're feeling muted or like an outcast and where the pain seems like it's too much to bear, I can still see that light inside of you. Because we are all born with the potential to sparkle, but our journey through trauma, loss, heartache and pain makes us shine in the most unique and beautiful ways.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Reset

Yesterday I botched another phone interview. The position is for a company that is going through a lot of growth and though it's not my dream job, it would have been an interesting in. But I didn't connect well with the hiring manager, struggled to answer his questions and felt like we weren't understanding one another (outside of the fact that I'll be available to start at the beginning of December).

I was fairly pissed off last night. All the reworking of my CV and cover letter felt like an absolute worthless endeavor. The end result was an 8 pm bedtime, leaving Grey to fend for himself as dinner consisted of leftovers in the fridge.

Laying in bed, I ran through all that had happened yesterday: the shitty comment at the beginning of class that left me fuming quietly, the hours spent on filling out forms for future assessments and then finally a phone interview that left me feeling utterly worthless and waiting for the pending "No" next week.

Then I remembered picking up the Beats from school. That after only one day, their behavior was the polar opposite from the other daycare. Having He-Beat run happily into his new school, settling in with activities and asking me to leave. Having She-Beat wave good-bye to her brother, then happily lead me into her new school, showing off her doll to all her new friends and also waving good-bye happily. And at the end of the day, finding them sitting together quietly on the classroom rug, listening to the story the teacher was reading; clearly aware I had arrived but also much more interested in the activity they were engaged in.

The final bit of evidence was the daily notes from both schools. Hearing they both had very good days and the comments about how sweet they both had been. Considering I've gotten zero actual communication from their previous teachers and the director was consistently negative about them, I found myself completely dumbfounded.

Reflecting on all of this this morning, especially as we had a repeat in drop-off behavior (something they haven't done since switching to the previous daycare), I resolved myself to have a different outlook on yesterday. Yes, my co-instructor did a shitty thing. But he's a coward and an entitled ass who knows the only reason he has his current position is due to his wife. Throwing me under the bus is just part of his MO, even though it will likely bite him in the butt in the very near future. Filling out two 27 page assessment packets was exhausting, but it's a necessary step in order to follow up on the previous assessments, ensuring the Beats have access to help and resources. Something many struggle to do out of a sense of shame.

And the interview. The truth is, I've never applied or worked in industry before. I had a 2 month stint as a QC technician when I first finished my undergraduate degree (resulting in a party trick involving Ovaltine and a story about my revolution to corn syrup), but I'm in a completely different place career wise now. The idea I would have nailed something that is literally foreign is naive.

So today is about resetting. Continuing to revamp my application materials, including social media, and searching for new opportunities. Because so far the trend has been that those who don't want me as an employee I actually want nothing to do with career-wise and even personally. Forcing a fit just has not worked. And though I don't believe in destiny or "meant-to-be"s, I do believe in carving your own path. The more tangled, the better.

Monday, November 20, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Believe

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

they doubted you
they laughed on you
they never believed you
they were sure about your failure
you heard them
you started believing the same
you failed you injured
you started thinking
you realized it was not the truth
you started again
they were same
you ignored them
you won the battle
you defeated the luck
it was not their thoughts in the first time which
gave you failure
it was your assumption of failure
which made it happen
do what they say you cannot do
believe in your words which your heart says to
your mind
never allow someone to control your actions
believe in you
be the you...! 

~Believe by Shaddha Bhatt

My morning started with one of the co-instructors apologizing to the class for my poor performance. Patting himself on the back for being able to deliver the material in a manner that they will enjoy and promising improvement in the future. This thinly-veiled insult is one that normally I would fight. Except for the fact that it's not worth the fight given I'm leaving and I also know his evaluations have traditionally been low.

Still, it's these moments where the doubt could creep in. Where it becomes apparent that some exist in the world solely to cut others down in order to advance their own interests, often unsuccessfully.

This past weekend was spent revamping my CV and preparing for a phone interview today. All on the heels of a lot more rejection letters. It would be so easy to slip into a state of believing I'm somehow worthless and deficient. But after the hours spent reworking my applications, I saw that actually the opposite is true. It's just a matter of getting my foot in the door.

And believe that I can do so.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pauses

About 6 months ago, the Beats and I established a new morning ritual. Following a 6 am wake-up call (side note: I haven't needed an alarm clock in over 4 years), both the Beats and cats lead me downstairs to help empty the dishwasher and feed Jaxson and Daisy. Once completed, we begin breakfast. On days I don't have my act together, it's cereal and apple sauce. But on other days, it's a ritual of preparing waffles, with them loading their breakfast into the toaster to be warmed up. The weekends are more involved as I'll make said waffles, allowing them to help with preparing the recipe: 2 cups flour, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1/2 tps salt, 1/4 tps baking soda, 1 1/2 tps baking powder, 2 egg yolks, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 1/2 cups cultured buttermilk and 2 egg whites (beat to slightly-stiff peaks).

It's these morning moments, even though my brain is barely awake, that have been staying with me. The forced pauses in the rush to get out the door in the morning. They're reminders for why Grey and I fight to carve out a space for our family in this world. From seeing Jaxson sit up on his haunches, eyes trained on the bowl of food He-Beat is bringing him; rewarding He-Beat with a quick head butt to say "thank you" as soon as his bowl is placed on the floor. Or seeing She-Beat as she hands me spoons or glasses out of the dishwasher, her face frozen in fixed concentration as she remembers where all the dishes belong. Or seeing both Beats wait patiently by the toaster, all the while informing me about the art of waffle warming and the next steps of maple syrup application and cutting that need to happen.

All of this is in stark contrast to the rest of my day. The rushing around, frantic checking-off of items on the to-do, the job applications and planning for an uncertain future. The feeling of having to race to the finish line, be it the day, the month or the contract with no clear end in sight.

Not surprising, it's not the rush, but the pauses that give me peace; that form the memories and magic moments. Starting with memories from long ago of sleeping in late, cuddling with Grey. Of kitten Jaxson curled up on Grey's lap in the car as we drove to see my in-law. Of the hikes through cedar forests and camping trips by hotsprings. Of morning playmat sessions while I was pumping. And now with unloading the dishwasher and warming up waffles.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dive

Job hunting has put me into a weird headspace. Scanning job boards, drafting cover letters and reaching out for new network connections has been a draining process. On some days, I'm able to kick out at least 2-3 applications, finding a way to muster the energy to seeing myself in the role and how bringing me in as part of the team would benefit that company.

What's hard, though, is expecting the rejection. Knowing that most of the time this ad was written with a particular person already in mind and that rejection letters will likely follow.

All of this reminds me of infertility and being in treatment. The mindset that can readily set in from too many failed attempts of doing the same thing over and over.

I've been thinking about this all morning as I ran my first educational program. One that I helped design and was in charge of executing. In so many ways, there's how I wanted it to play out and how it actually went. How even though the outcome wasn't what I expected, there was a lot of amazing things that came from it.

With fertility treatments, Grey and I ultimately did get the expected outcome. We got to experience pregnancy and bring home our babies. But the road we traveled, the people we met along the way and seeing the paths towards resolution most wouldn't consider were unexpected outcomes. I exited the infertility waiting room changed in a way that I never expected, teaching me to dive into realms of possibilities that have shaped me for the better.

So that's what I've been holding on to. The assumption that there are things I shouldn't consider or paths I shouldn't follow has been thrown out the door. Because at the end of the day, who knows what the outcome will be from that increasing pile of rejection letters or failed endeavors. What if it was all about just having the courage to try, diving into the unknown?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Slow

This morning, I took with the Beats with me to visit She-Beat's new school. He-Beat had zero trouble integrating, but She-Beat took her time. Within a few minutes, she was settled for Circle Time, participating in the morning activities.

Yesterday, I reached out to a recruiter to begin the process of finding contract work. Given my extended stay in academia, I know industry has zero idea how my skill set will transfer, so I'm in need of help with this transition. The recruiter did a nice job asking needed clarifying questions, giving me guidance on what not to do and laying out a plan for next steps.

Later today, our landlord is having a HVAC professional come to our rental to assess the oil tank and furnace, hopefully also identifying why we have no heat in our bedroom.

Finally, Grey has been given some clarifying news about his situation. The fact that there are competing parties who once again are competing for him, but also the suggestion that he apply for a position that he was told wasn't for him (that hiring manager apparently was reprimanded as they've been backtracking a lot).

All of this is happening slowly. Bit by bit, the pieces are coming together. There's still a lot of fighting and hard feelings; grief over what has been lost (trust being a big one). But there's movement. There's change. With me praying that it will all be for the better.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Coming out of it

So yeah. Yesterday. . . .

The interview was awesome. Truly. I love the team, the mission and what they are envisioning for the future. And I could see not only how I could fit into the group, but could grow. I truly felt that a younger version of me who didn't have to worry about silly things like finances would thrive there.

But that's thing, I do have worry about finances. I do have small children to consider and all financial support for my family comes from Grey and me.

And so I spent yesterday facing a very hard and fast reality that I can no longer pursue this work. That as much as I believe in what I've been doing, it's been hurting the Beats and Grey. I've sacrificed them for too long and it has to stop.

We live in a world where the focus from our leadership is "me and mine." As those in power point fingers at one another, spending their waking hours trying to shuffle blame, what they fail to see is how avoiding the needed hard work is hurting the majority. Those that serve our communities and help them grow (teachers, social workers, emergency personal) have been minimized and punished for too long. Greed has become the driving force for those who lead this nation and our world. And it's a scary thought as greed, fear and hatred have never been rallying points for building and overcoming hardship.

Today I'm closing the door on a chapter that I truly loved. I'm beginning the process to apply for positions that will allow me to use my science training in more corporate settings. It all makes me so sad as it's not what I wanted or envisioned.

But the truth is neither the world we currently live in. And I'm beyond tired of fighting a battle at the expense of those I care most about.


Monday, November 13, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Visualize

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

This morning I had an interview for a new position. It went very well, with a fruitful discussion afterwards. I love the mission of this organization, which is job training and placement for those who are socio-economically disadvantaged. 

The problem is the pay. The insanely low pay that doesn't cover childcare. 

Years ago, a woman I was climbing with had an affirmation in her kitchen reminding her to visualize her end goals. In her case, it was finding employment that would allow her the ability to pay her bills while giving her the freedom to pursue rock climbing. But the affirmation was a universal one.

And that's what I'm trying to do at the moment. Instead of panicking and throwing all this hard work out the window, I'm trying to put together an image of what I want. Even if it's just for the short-term. To visualize an end-goal that promotes my family.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Punching back

I'm exhausted. After a running an educational program yesterday (which went very well and was a lot of fun), spending the evening filling out new enrollment forms and prepping for an interview tomorrow, a nap is what I was looking forward to today.

Until I learned that our bedroom doesn't have any heat. Making it not habitable. And it would be one thing if this was the only issue, but when the lawyer mentioned "Board of Health" combined with "shutting her property down," I found my head spinning.

I'm so fucking tried of fighting with people. Of being treated terribly by others for no reason other than I don't come from specific social circles. Now that we've hit the unlawful end, though, it's time to start punching back.

And that's probably the most baffling of all. That it takes setting boundaries and informing people of "no" in order to get them to behave. Sure, there's in initial argument. Them fighting to convince you that the problem actually lies with you. But when the dust settles and the facts are laid out, these same people them treat you better if for no other reason than that they hate the bloody nose or cracked teeth they received in the process.

So we're contacting a lawyer again, figuring out what we can and cannot do. We're looking for options for housing, but also for jobs elsewhere in the country and/or the world. Because after living with a leaking oil tank, a broken furnace and so many other problems, why not.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Fighting together

Yesterday was pretty shitty. Following spending the morning crying my eyes out during the enrollment termination meeting, I spent midmorning reviewing the course I'm helping with (the graduate students are being buttheads, but the thought on how to address said buttheadedness has revealed polar opposite viewpoints). I ended the day with another rejection letter (not the position I'm interviewing for on Monday), leaving me feeling extremely deflated.

None of that was helpful to Grey when he walked through the door and announced that work is fucking with him again. He's frustrated as they continue to give him stellar reviews, but then dick with him about his contract. They did this a few months ago, hemming and hawing his employment status and only got things together when they got word another company was interested in hiring him (this lead to more infighting when it also became apparent that each group leader wanted him on their project, meaning he was booked up 200%, which has since been rectified). He's been feeling like the dirty secret in this relationship with them sending signals they aren't interested in truly committing. So coming home on the heels of a shitty news combined with more shitty news didn't combine for a great evening.

One of the things Grey and I have been struggling with is how to fight together. Part of this comes with feeling safe to vent frustrations with one another, but being frustrated by more negative news that adds to the frustrations. The additional part is just being so exhausted. Our careers haven't been stable in a very long time and the training we've received never truly prepared us for what we're both facing now. The mental gymnastics we both do for our careers is exhausting in and of itself, never mind throwing in all the recent drama with daycare and our housing

The thing is, I also know that when we fight together, we're a pretty amazing force. I've lost count of the examples I can give you where we've tackled a problem together resulting in an outcome that exceeds expectations (if not frightens the offending party). We're pretty damn awesome at playing to each other's strengths, covering for the weakness or struggles and building towards what we want. It's just a matter of setting the stage, giving us both time to plan and assess. And not feeling attacked or undermined.

That’s the part that messing with us: setting the stage. Identifying what we both want and strategizing each of our roles in order to get to that end goal. Because as of late, there’s been way too much to navigate. With the daycare, it’s buying time until we can firm up enrollment at the new schools. With housing, it’s deciding if our landlord is moving fast enough vs deciding to find a new place (though we did learn she has violated the lease). And with our careers it’s a matter of figuring out what we’re each willing to live with. Each of these is a project in and of itself.

So we’re trying. Often unsuccessfully, but still getting back on that horse. Because the only other option is to fight one another. And frankly, that would be the worst fight of all.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Breakup

This morning, I gave notice at the Beats's daycare. The director and I had already scheduled a meeting the previous week to follow up on the assessments, but everything had gotten extremely bad since the initial assessments were sent in. It was clear that the director's goal was to reprimand me for my outburst on Monday, schooling me on proper communication. She left the meeting expressing shock over the complete failure of communication from her staff, both to us but supposedly to her and was visibly upset when I told her about the Beats actively expressing they didn't like school.

My phone conversation with Grey helped me remember that it's always a warning sign when people who supposedly have a track record tell you that your situation is something they've never dealt with before. I first experienced this as a young adult when my landlord misplaced my rent check and called demanding a replacement. When I informed him the check cancelation fee was coming out of my rent, he threatened me with eviction and informed me that he had never heard of such a practice before (I would find out later he regularly did this and was on the city's slumlord watch list). We went through this again with Cyrol, with his insistence that no one ever had a problem with him. More recently with our last landlord when she informed us she had never had a conflict with tenants (even though she had previously confessed to the contrary). Sadly, this is more of the same. The difference is we also have documentation from an outside source supporting otherwise.

As of today, a clock is ticking for transition. Yesterday I signed application forms and put down a deposit for a new preschool. Plans are already moving forward with the new institutions. In addition, I have agreed to be respectful, emphasizing that I need the same in return (which hasn't been happening). But that's the thing about breakups: no one really leaves the situation happy and the goal with terminating the relationship is to do so in a way that is least destructive. Considering the Beats are on the line, it's even more important.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

When it pours

Yesterday, as I settled into doing some last minute work prior to picking up the Beats, I got a phone call from their daycare. The teacher was calling to let me know that She-Beat had a rug-burn mark on her body, but that she had come to school with it so it wasn't something they were going to document. As the teacher began to hang-up the phone, I informed her that She-Beat hadn't left the house with any marks on her body.

45 minutes later, I would be standing in pediatric urgent care, begging the nurses to an appointment. They got her in as soon as they could, where the doctor assessed the raised marks on her body, declaring it some sort of bug bite or allergic reaction that she had been rubbing and sending us home with a dosing recommendation for Benadryl.

I would then end the night with trying to return some rotting vegetables that had been purchased a couple of days earlier (the store's policy allows for it), but being treated terribly in the process like I was somehow scamming the system.

It wasn't a good night.

Today has been a hard one. Despite having two good tours for new preschools, news from our landlord that she's moving forward with repairs and a pending interview for me next week, I'm really struggling with feeling hopeful. A big part of me wants to fight, laying into the people that have been the sources for so much anxiety and pain. It's because of this that Grey and I have been fighting as he really wants me to avoid burning bridges (and I do agree with him). But damnit, it's hard not to go off the deep end for things that make everyone in the room quickly fall silent and stare at you with wide-eyes.

There's the saying "when it rains, it pours." Hell, there's even a country music song and rap song about it. The bad on top of the bad. But like with any storm, the downpour can only last for so long. I'm just wondering how much longer this downpour is going to go on for. Because I would really, really like to see a rainbow very soon. That instead of feeling a need to scream, there's just a sense of peace.

Monday, November 6, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Meraki

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Meraki: putting yourself into something; usually described doing something with soul, creativity and/or love. 

Given the complete shit-storm that was this weekend, I've been craving creativity. So last night, instead of ordering delivery,  I pulled some pizza dough out of the refrigerator and learned how to toss it. 


The end result was far from perfect, with there still needing to be some experimentation. But spending those 20 minutes doing something outside of problem-solving a situation that has been draining my soul, filling it again felt good.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Baby steps through trauma

This morning, as I went down to the basement to grab laundry out of the dryer, I discovered standing water around the washing machine. Because it's never just one repair. After alerting Grey and allowing him to do some investigating, I contacted our landlord to alert her to the problem. Which is when the angry phone calls started. The frustration on the other end of the line from two people, making it clear that they were well in over their heads.

Later that afternoon, I ran into our landlord's aunt, who happens to be our neighbor and a conversation began not only about the ongoing maintenance problems but also how the family is trying to help our landlord manage the current situation. And though the future isn't terribly clear for how all of this will play out, what is increasingly clear is the need for moving forward was tackling the issues one at a time, taking baby steps to overcome now two massive maintenance projects.

It's been odd to be in the middle of all of this, hearing the panic from someone where it's clear that all of this is the most traumatic set of situations they've ever faced. To see this newness of pain and trauma following having lived through so much loss myself. To be clear, I'm not judging the pain. After all, Grey and I are the ones who are currently living in the middle of it. But whereas we have a honed strategy and a tiredness after years of dealing with trauma after trauma, its very odd to observe this fresh sense of shock and grief from people who have never faced anything like this.

So in a weird way, we've become the teachers. We're guiding our landlord through dealing with all this uncomfortableness and unpleasant surprises will reminding them that they cannot put their heads in the sand. In short, we're acting as guides on how to do baby steps through trauma. The identifying priorities and helping them address what is immediately in front of them.

All the while being mindful that the Pain Olympics serves no one. Because at the end of the day it doesn't get us to the end goal we desire.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Deferred Maintenance

Midmorning, Grey, the Beats and I made our way to the U.S. Post office to deal with passports. For Grey and me, our passports are expiring and require us to submit renewals; for the Beats, it's the first time we've applied for them. Following pictures being taken and both Beats settling in with our phones so we could finalize applications, the postal worker asked us why we haven't applied sooner. After all, most people pursuing these applications when their children are infants. The quiets pause that followed with her scanning the looks on both our faces basically gave her the answer she needed with her announcing "Say no more!" in order to proceed with the process.

Yesterday, Grey and I learned the oil tank for our heating system is leaking. Our landlord, who inherited the property from her mother, has been completely beside herself with the knowledge that this not only has to be replaced but is going to be far more expensive than if she (or her mother) had done the preventative maintenance. Thankfully that replacement is scheduled to happen (otherwise this would be a very different post), but it's gotten me thinking more and more about maintenance and how Grey and I have been finally doing a lot of it after years of deferral.

The passports are one sign. This is something we should have done long ago, but were unable to (read finances and time). Household technology has been on that list and so has car maintenance (Lenny is long overdue for a full detailing job). But there are other things too. Purging has been happening as well as doctor's appointments. Dead last on the list that neither Grey or I have touched has been self-care. Both with pulling out his bike and me just getting time to take a long, hot bath.

One would argue that parenthood has been the issue, but the truth is a lot of this deferred maintenance stems from years before. With fertility treatments, where all extra time and resources were being sapped to dealing with the condo (and all the problems there) to even helping family. Time and again, we've put ourselves last, hoping for a period where we'll find some time in order to catch up.

But the truth has been, that time has come due to the need for it to happen. The oil tank is an excellent analogy for this as that sucker is extremely corroded. And yet, until yesterday, everyone involved with the property was telling us not to worry and that it would be taken care of at a later date. Even though planning out a replacement would have allowed for time to shop around and plan, allowing for a smoother transition instead of the situation that they are now facing (compounded by the fact that our lease is official broken and we are legally free to leave, leaving the landlord to lose tens of thousands of dollars if we do). Grey and I are in a similar boat with parts of our lives.

Because the reality is, we couldn't afford to tend to ourselves until now. We couldn't afford to think about anything beyond basic survival for years. And the sad thing is we are not abnormal. So many around us are forced to make similar choices that those in positions of privilege fail to see. So many of us are beyond burnout, craving time to heal just a little bit but cannot afford to.

So we slowly chip away at the things we can. Passports, updating legal information, careers, dreams and life.
 
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