Monday, May 23, 2011

And now...

Not exactly a life goal, but it's a first. I lost my job. I've never been fired or let go from a job, then last week, I got laid off. Honestly, it's a relief. I've known that it could be any day for quite some time, so just getting off the ride feels good. Financially, I've got a couple months worth of expenses in the bank, plus unemployment we'll be ok for a while. And honestly I'm not panicked. I don't have the feeling I'll be unemployed for long. Hopefully.

I've got an interview tomorrow, and I'm hoping it's something that would actually be a good fit. I'm not to the point where I'm desperate for any job. While I have the luxury of time, I'd like to make sure it's a job that will actually work for me and move my career forward. I'm not ready to take a step backward. Yet. So fingers are crossed.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying some relaxation, and getting to focus on myself for a while. I've been exercising more, spending lots of time with the kids, enjoying my time with Xtian. House projects are getting done and my garden looks great.

So, that's my life right about now.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

And... more stress

So, without going into details, work is awful. In addition to a rewarding but emotionally gut-punching project, my company is tinkering on the verge of complete dissolution. Can't give more information than that, but as of now, every day we wonder if the checks will continue to clear. So, that's unpleasant, but we're all dealing as best we can.

On the other hand, I've discovered yet another beautiful way to destress that I forgot all about. Now that the weather is PERFECT northern CA weather (delightful 80 degrees, sunny, slight breeze. Also known as HEAVEN), I've remembered exactly how freeing driving with the windows down, singing whatever is on the radio at the top of my lungs can be. This is now added to my daily to do list.

It's the simple things, no?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Yes, evidently, it does happen!

So the project that I'm working on includes two young assistants: Christina and Cameron. They are 24 and 23 years old, respectively. They have been dating for oh... 7 years? Forever, essentially. We have been working side by side for the last four months. A few months ago, I noticed that Christina was getting the flu, fairly often.

A while later, I thought to myself, I think Christina is putting on a little weight. But you know, you never say anything. Girl has her first office job, and it's been really rainy, so active lifestyles are a little tough.

Then last Tuesday Christina gave birth. She absolutely did not realize she was pregnant. The baby is 9 lb.  3 oz and healthy, by all doctor's findings. I seriously have no idea how you can not realize that you are pregnant (at all!) but she didn't. I had suspicions that she might be pregnant, but was told emphatically, no. Never in my craziest dreams would I have imagined she was anywhere close to delivering a big ass baby boy.

And here I was thinking this only happened on TV. Girl is not stupid, but apparently her powers of self-deception are incredible.

I still cannot wrap my head around the situation, so I'm writing about it. Can you imagine, you go to bed after making airline reservations for a New Orleans trip, you wake up not feeling very well, go to the hospital, and 40 minutes later you have a baby? Crap, 9 months isn't enough time to prepare emotionally, mentally, physically for the entire life-changing event. Make all new baby! Are you breastfeeding? Vaccinations? Circumcision? Prospective parents spend months weighing these decisions, and still doubt themselves. Poor girl had to decide on the spot.

So, the new little family seems to be doing well, and bless their little hearts, are just rolling with it. Lucky for them, they are a loving couple, their families are dear friends and couldn't be happier, their parents do just fine money-wise and can help them while they get their shit together. I daresay, there are a lot worse situations to find when you enter this world.

On the other hand, holy shit!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

2011 is a rough work year.

So, I'm working on a project for work that is emotionally draining. OF course, this is the biggest understatement of all time. Without sharing too many details, I'm interviewing families who have lost children through violence. For the last 4+ months, I've been researching, interviewing, reviewing stories and people about their murdered kids. As you might imagine, this is horrifying. But, hopefully this will cause some good when all is said and done.
I'm in this place where I both do and don't want to talk about it. I start to breakdown if I don't let it out a little. But I also don't really want to have to share the awful things that you can't un-know. So, instead of talking specifics, I'm going to purge some feelings.
I find myself feeling much more patient with my children. After talking to someone who is still raw and raging 15 years after she lost her son, coming home to children who whine and argue with me doesn't bother me as much. I do get more annoyed at Xtian for being annoyed. If that makes sense. I know, it's not fair. He is with these kids 24 hours a day, unless I can somehow arrange a day off for him. He's going to get annoyed. And he's not sitting 2 feet away from a mother who lost her only child. But in my heart I'm feeling like, who gives a shit if Warren spilled juice again. HE'S HERE!
I've also been having unstoppable morbid thoughts about the horrible things that might happen to my own children. I'm trying to push these out with positive thoughts and realistic statistics, but these thoughts are sneaky. I won't share them here, because I don't want to give them a voice.
I'm completely physically and emotionally exhausted all the time. I wake up from 8 hours of sleep and can barely pull myself out of bed. Being in a constant state of semi-anguish and seeing other peoples' grief up close is draining me of all my energy.
On interview days, I find that I am leaning a little too heavily on my evening cocktails to erase the day. Not to a dangerous degree, just more than I probably should.
There's more but that's all I can get out today.
So, here's what I'm doing to proactively keep the demons at bay:
I'm committing to exercising at least 3 days a week, preferably 5.
I'm committing to spending at least 30 minutes JUST playing with the kids every day. No multi-tasking, no "let's play the laying on the couch game." Doing something they want to do, with them.
I'm increasing my intake of vegetables and am going to start taking my fish oil supplements again.
I'm committing to talking to my friends and family more often and about THEIR lives.
I'm committing to spending time outside every day. Even if it's only a few minutes to water the garden (brief update: It's growing!)

Anything else that helped you get through a time of sustained stress? I'd love more ideas.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Foray Into Gardening

I think anyone who knows me, knows that I love food. I obsess over food. I read about food. I watch food on tv. I spend a lot of time making food, then more time thinking about what I made, then I make that food again. This nearly dysfunctional interest in food eventually led me to start growing fresh herbs. Anyone who spends any time in the kitchen will tell you that fresh herbs can take ordinary food into some wonderful places. And since I am cheap, I hate buying herbs. They are expensive and always sold in bunches far too large for me to use at once. Inevitably I end up throwing out 2/3 of the herbs I buy. It didn't take me long to start growing my own herbs. Love it. But, aside from the odd tomato plant, or an attempt at green beans, I've largely avoided growing real FOOD.
When Xtian and I bought the house, I knew this was my chance to create an actual garden. One that I would design, build and cultivate 100% start to finish. Xtian and my brother built the first garden box last week. And yesterday, I put in my potato starts. I bit the bullet and purchased 30 different varieties of fruit and vegetables from an heirloom seed company. Those all got their little seedly start in individual pots (until the rest of the garden box is properly set up, at least.) Working on that "Growing Every Vegetable I Eat" goal, I've got: carrots, leeks, chard, beets, onions beginning their germination. I still have dozens of other things to plant, but these needed to be planted ASAP to be in dirt in time for a good growing season.

Now, let's hope I have incredible pictures to show you in a few months, and am soon complaining about all this extra produce! (Wishful thinking? Maybe. But damn it, OPTIMISM!)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Can't Hit "Reply" So It's Going Here Instead

I have not had a single interaction with my mother-in-law in over 4 years. It has been delightful. We got cell phones and never gave her my number. I blocked her email addresses, and we moved a few times in the last four years. All this means even if she wanted to, she could not communicate with me.

She still texts Xtian periodically, ranging from "Love you!" to screaming diatribes about everything under the sun. Since she no longer has our home address she was sending things to my father's office, so my dad can deliver it to Xtian. My dad would dutifully bring the bizarre packages whenever we were together, and find a private moment to give them to Xtian, but it still embarrassed Xtian to an unbelievable degree.

Frankly, for the most part, I feel sorry for her. She has two wonderful, kind, beautiful sons. She has two grandsons she's never met. But her mental illness and general toxicity means that I will not allow her near my children or myself. It means Cory will never speak to her again. It means that Xtian cringes anytime he gets a text. He won't stop having some kind of relationship with her, but he also tries to limit it. It's awkward, and it's painful for everyone involved, but I'm working on being supportive.

It's not ideal, but Xtian is doing what he can to maintain a reasonable level of happiness, without the guilt that he hurt his mom. He's a good guy, but man did she mess him up in a lot of ways.

I'm not writing here to embarrass him, or even to lampoon Tracy. I'm writing because if I don't write it down somewhere I will explode. After more than four years of silence, she got a new email address and managed to get through my "Crazy Filters." I received the following email a few days ago, and I'm seething:

"Continuing to lie to my son to make miscommuinaction or lack of
communication is wrong. I never have been in a conversatinon with you
father an I do mto waste my time bad  mouthing anyone.  Sorry for your
errors.  The cascade of falslehoods listed n my sons last letter are all
erroneous and I consider the source. 


Xtian and Cory are not fools as you think....."

So, some background: I have no idea what she is referring to in the first portion. Clearly, I'm not in charge of what Xtian does, and the only thing I have asked is that he not send pictures of my children. I am not going to let them become part of her fantasy worlds, nor will I let her use them for her own insane purposes.  Two years ago Xtian wrote her a letter asking her to back off. He told her that her constant attacks were hurting him, and that insulting and berating his wife (me) is completely uncalled for. He told her that neither he nor I have ever discouraged Cory from talking to her. (As you might recall, she kicked Cory out on Xmas Eve, telling him she never wanted to see or speak to him again, in addition to some other name calling. Why? Because he was coming to visit us.)

The next day was a "nice" email:






I know this is all playing out in some make believe world for her. I know that. But even so, the urge to defend myself, to hit back is so strong. But I know hitting "reply" will only unleash the crazy, serving only to enrage me and hurt Xtian. Instead, I'll write my would-be email response here.

First, I have no idea what your son wrote in his last letter. I didn't read it. Second, are you kidding me? You spend your entire life spreading lies about people (see your 3 different stories about WHY you don't have a relationship with your own family, and why for a "career gal" you only work as a temp even after all these years) and badmouthing others. I've seen your text messages, you crazy old bat! As for your repeated efforts to send insane packages to your son (What the fuck would he do for a coupon for a pizza place in Beverly Hills?) through my father, you are clearly unable to think about how your actions impact others. How do you think my family feels when they receive vitriolic, ranting, disgusting emails and letters from you? How do you think my father explains why he gets crazy packages from a deranged woman at least once a month? Do you think that reflects well upon him at work? And how about how Xtian might feel? If he wanted to get things from you, he would have given you his address. If you were a real mother in any capacity, you would respect his wishes and repeated requests to simply leave him alone.

You know, the funniest part of all this, that letter was sent over a year ago. The fact that you are mentioning it now just shows that you obsess about the entire situation. The thing is, no one even thinks about you in our home. Cory is doing better than ever; he's happy, working, in school, with a nice girlfriend and goals he's working toward. Xtian has a family who loves him, unconditionally, and a slew of in-laws who love him like their own. My sons don't even know you exist and they aren't missing a thing.

Finally, don't you EVER mention my children as though you know them. You can invent lies about, and try to tear down your own children and me, for that matter. But you will NOT involve my children in your sick fantasy world. You will not warp them into what you think they are. How ever you are getting pictures of them, I can't stop that. But you have to earn the right to comment on them, and you have not earned it.

You know, I hadn't thought about you for months, until you emailed. For all the thought anyone in this family gives you, you may as well not exist. Get help, or fuck off and die already. Either option is equally acceptable.


Ahhhhh, that feels better.

And you know, I just realized, she used my abbreviation for Xtian's name on her own. Maybe she's found this blog and will read that. Maybe she'll actually listen for once. But probably, she won't. And that's a bit of a shame. But, to quote the inimitable Xtian, "I'll be fine."

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Today I turned 29 years old. Holy crap.
I'm pretty used to be the youngest person in the room. I've tended to do things earlier than others, and have always been pretty comfortable with people a few years ahead of me.

This is not so much the case anymore. I have a couple new employees these days, and they are 24 and 25 years old. Now, I feel about 300 years older than them. This has so much less to do with being 29, and more to do with the really obnoxious, "when I was your age" thoughts I keep having. At 24, I was married and working to support my little family. At 25, I'd had my first kid. I think that's what makes you old, realizing that the "young kids" might only be a few years behind you, but their experiences are already completely different. The social context changes so fast. Songs and movies that were so present in my childhood are completely off their radar. It makes you feel socially irrelevant, no matter how old or young you are.

Meanwhile, the house is almost finished. The only thing left to do before moving in: painting the living room and hallways, and cleaning the shit out of the place.

I'm actually really excited that there is not going to be a single white wall in the entire house. After renting for more than a decade, I'm so done with the "fuck it all" rental white every landlord in the world paints their properties. I get it, white is cheap, and easy to fix when your tenant jacks up your walls. It's also so glaringly impersonal it make me want to gouge my eyes out. But maybe that's just me.

Poor Xtian has spent every single day painting from whenever I can get home from work, until 3 or 4 am. I think he might be getting a little too old for pulling all-nighters. Especially when his "day job" is still parenting two children at challenging ages. I think a couple more days of work, and he'll be finished.

I'm having a really hard time mustering any enthusiasm for my birthday. Some of it is the old, "Well I have to work, and none of my chores stop, so it's really just another day" and that by the time my birthday rolls around, we've already had half a dozen other birthdays in a week, so I'm a little birthdayed out. And of course, Lennox's birthday (a few days after mine) now takes precedence. But another part is that, I don't make enough effort to make it special, then I feel crummy when no one else makes a big deal about it. Yes, it's passive aggressive and annoying. I'm working on that.

So, musings on 29 years worth of existence.  Huzzah!