Dailies Archives

The day to day of my life. This is probably where most of the entries will go.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Wherever I go, there I am

There’s a reason I chose to focus my work around children and families. Were I a stronger and braver person I would have done what I said I would do - focus on child abuse prevention. But somewhere along the way, without consciously making a decision, I changed my mind. Perhaps because I know my limitations. Or maybe it’s just that, without an advanced degree doing direct work with such a vulnerable population didn’t seem advisable. Regardless, even working in the broader issues that impact children and families I still find myself. I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years now and it still surprises me to see myself in the work.

Not literally, obviously. That level of fame or infamy is not mine to attain but as I read today about the signs of eating disorders in young people, there I was. I read down the list, mentally adding check marks to the things that applied. I’m not a hypochondriac who imagines she has every symptom she reads about so I think I do a good job of being objective.

We all come at life’s experiences with baggage, don’t we? There may be people who say that baggage should be stowed in a deep locker at a train station, the key lost and the things forgotten. But I don’t know how to compartmentalize like that. I am who I am because of who I have been and who I was. That is neither a bad or good thing. it just is. Neutral until it can’t be. And so, I know my weaknesses, the fault lines. I sense the scars but don’t dwell on them. I recognize the limitations and try as much as I can to not let them bind me.

Still,

seeing the words. seeing the recommendations for how to address the risk factors. listening as the trainers go on about how to appropriately reach out to a young person in need

It makes me sad.

Not for the person I am today because as an adult, my choices, good or bad, my action or inactions are mine and mine alone.

But it makes me sad for the girl I used to be. The one who could have used someone quietly asking, “Are you okay?” but who never heard those words.

I am who I am because of who I was. And yet, in these moments I wonder, Who could I have been?

0 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies

Monday, July 24, 2017

Cloudy with a chance of 80s pop

My personal computer died several years ago.

Well, having typed that I feel the need to clarify. I might have had a slight role in the killing of said computer. It was a refurbished laptop that my brother had kindly gifted me due to the fact that my old old computer had decided it no longer wanted to do more than five minutes of work at a time. It booted up fine but after a couple of minutes the fan would kick on, give it the old valiant college try and then say, “Nah, girl. Your Facebooking isn’t worth this heat. Bye!”

So to the rescue my brother came. And that new old computer did the trick for a while. And while it was tricking (wait, what?) I would hear tell of this thing called the cloud. And articles and people would marvel about the flexibility and portability of the cloud! The cloud would solve all problems and I am certainly a fan of a problem-free life. But I also have this thing sometimes called procrastination. So I didn’t back up anything to the cloud. Besides, anything and everything I cared about (my photos and thousands and thousands of songs) was saved to my trusty external drive. Pfft. I’ll be fine, I figured.

You see where I’m going with this, yes? Of course you do because you’re smart. Smarter than me, definitely. So where were you when I most needed you?!? Hmm. That’s trouble of a different kind, no? Let’s move on.

One day I decided to upgrade the OS on this old new to me laptop and that’s when that laptop also said, “Nah, girl. Bye!” Except, perhaps knowing that the afterlife of any computer used by me (which means a drive full of badly Photoshopped images and messy CSS files) would be lonely, it decided to take with it, the external drive that I had neglected to disconnect prior to the upgrade. Really, when you think about it - it takes a special kind of skill to kill not just a computer but an external drive too.

I despaired for months over having lost thousands of mp3s collected over more than a decade. I’d say maybe a quarter of which I can recover if I take the time to rip my CDs, which thankfully I still have so that’s something but there’s other music that I’m just not going to be able to recover. Upon hearing my sad tale of musical woe, a friend tried to salvage the external drive and he ensured me he’d been successful. So for a year and some change I’ve been content with the knowledge that once I got a new computer I’d be able to pull my music back in and then do what I should have done ages ago, which is back it up to the cloud.

Sadly, so far the friend’s had no luck figuring out how to extract my music from his iTunes library. So close yet so far. You’d think that after almost 3 years of doing without my music library I’d not miss it anymore but I still feel a slight ache whenever I think of it all being gone. Granted, that’s probably due to the memories attached to many of those songs. Someone I cared for a lot ages ago helped me build that collection and that person and I are no longer in touch. And if we know anything about me, letting go of people I care about deeply isn’t the easiest thing for me to do.

Speaking of music, during the second adoption training class the group somehow got to talking about music and I made a joke about how my poor kid will grow up hearing 80s music and there was a collective groan. “Oh no,” someone said, “Don’t let that happen!”

So who knows. Maybe the loss of the music is the universe’s way of helping me to move on or sparing any poor child that I adopt from endless rounds of the Cover Girls or Expose’s greatest hits. Really, one shouldn’t question the Universe. It knows best.

3 comment(s) | Filed under: Adoption | Dailies

Sunday, July 09, 2017

What do you write about when you’re afraid to write?

For almost as long as I’ve been blogging, I’ve tried to be careful about what I write about work. When your early blogging memories include the knowledge of how the phrase “being dooced” came to be, you learn (or at least I did), to be vague when writing about work - if one even chooses to write about work at all, that is. Add to the already healthy fear of being fired for publishing things online that should best be kept to the confines of the work environment the very real fact that things went downhill quickly during the second half of the last year and that provided no incentive to get back to blogging.

Well, to be clear, all of 2015 and 2016 were anxiety producing both personally and professionally. When I found the new job and moved into my own place in Virginia, with the anticipation of things calming down (and having a personal computer again) I had this idea that I’d be able to turn some of my energy to the blog - both the content and the infrastructure.

I did start writing again, somewhat, as the archives show. I thought, with the start of the adoption process that I would maybe even write about that. But as I work through the (sometimes lonely) process of answering question after question, compiling document after document I find myself worrying about putting too much online. I don’t worry about there being anything technically wrong with my application. I’m not rich by any means but I could afford the care of a child with careful budgeting. That doesn’t set me apart from basically much of the child-having population. I have no worries about the background checks coming back with anything as there isn’t anything to come back. So that really only leaves the faceless, nameless people out there who will be gathering all this information, reviewing and assessing/judging me on my ability to be a good parent. I’m worrying for nothing, I know. The stuff I’ve posted on here, the stuff that’s online isn’t scandalous or even all that interesting and yet, pitted against couples wanting babies, two income families that might be better able to care for a child with less stress or worry about finances, I worry about sharing anything that could land me on the “Does she really think we’d ever pick her?” pile.

And so I don’t write. With not writing about work and not writing about the adoption process what does that leave?

I suppose I could tell you that I’m finally getting around to watching The Wire. Because, why not wait until I’m no longer living in Baltimore to finally get around to watching this iconic piece of entertainment centered around the city I called home for about 6 years? I’m sure that I’ll be able to add a voice to the hundreds of thought pieces already on the web! And have you heard about this actor named Idris Elba? He’s easy on the eyes no? I’m sure he’ll be going places.

Or I could tell you that my latest podcast obsessions right now are Denzel Washington is the greatest actor of all time. Period and Criminal. Because I seem to be the queen of catching on to old content, the Denzel Washington podcast stopped updating back in April, having discussed all of Washingtons oeuvre. But I have about two years worth of content to listen to so no new shows is hardly a problem. By the time I’m done I’m sure I’ll be able to find some other show that was hyped ages ago but that I am just now hearing about.

There is a an abundance of content to immerse oneself in through books, tv, etc that there is just no way to stay on top of everything. Thank goodness for archives, I suppose.

I still haven’t dug into my collection of books as I’ve wanted so that’s still on the to do list. Maybe I should make better attempts at writing at least brief of impressions of what I read; that would help with adding content to the blog and keep the writing muscles in shape. Plans plans plans. Never a shortage of those either!

0 comment(s) | Filed under: Adoption | Dailies

Sunday, April 16, 2017

And so it begins

I partially completed the first application in the adoption process a few weeks ago but I held off on submitting it because I had a question for the oncologist. Really, I just wanted validation. I’ve often been accused of over thinking things, or being too concrete. I can’t deny either accusation as they are true. One of the sections in the application, naturally enough, is about medical history and one of the questions ask about any current treatments. I knew even before starting the process that I would have to talk about the cancer and the treatment done to get rid of it. When I went to the information meeting the agency folks made a point of saying that most health issues won’t necessarily rule anyone out but I’m a worrier as we know. I’m a worrier and I’m an over thinker and I have this need to be transparent so despite the fact that I was 99.9% sure that my follow ups don’t qualify as treatment I needed/wanted the oncologist to validate that so that I could fill the application out accurately.

With that visit done last week (and two years cancer free) there was no reason to delay submitting the application so submit it I did. Over the weekend I was told it had been approved and that I could now submit payment to get assigned a social worker and schedule the home visit. Sending the payment makes all of this a bit more real though there’s still a part of my brain that’s not quite processing that this is the way that I may be building my family. Maybe that’s just the heart and brain’s way of insulating themselves from possible disappointment. There’s certainly been plenty of that in the last couple of years. The thought of more makes my heart tired.

But, chin up, as they say. Hope is the key to so many things.

One very tangible thing to this process starting is that it’s a good motivator to get my apartment organized. All of the furniture is in but I still have to find a place for a great many tiny things and put the dining room table together. I’ve been a bit slower than anticipated in getting all that done but I certainly can’t have someone do a home visit with all this silliness laying about. It’s going to be a little bit of work but it’ll feel good to be able to complete a tangible, doable task.

1 comment(s) | Filed under: Adoption | Dailies

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Layered Like an Onion

I spent the last two years experiencing levels of anxiety at work that greatly increased last fall. To the point that in October I had my first panic attack in 15 years. As much as I enjoyed my work I was also struggling for reasons that I still don’t feel comfortable discussing in public. Trying to pretend that things were okay or that I could somehow will things to be better was essentially just adding more stress and anxiety. The panic attack was the final sign that I needed to make changes. So I polished up the resume, sent it off into the world and, thankfully, I landed a new job in the beginning of the year that made it possible for me to move back to northern Virginia. While the move to Maryland helped me grow career wise I always had in mind coming back to Va - a short 6.5 years later and I’m back!

It’s funny, in a not comical sense, that I only realized that I was depressed until the anxiety and stress levels went down. Its hard to pinpoint when it started. I just know I finally put a label to it a couple of weeks before my birthday. I used to enjoy my birthdays, to the point that I would countdown to it - on the blog ages ago with a script that ran on the side bar, and then on Facebook despite feeling a little (a lot) silly about it. And then the cancer and the hysterectomy happened. I understood why I wasn’t overjoyed during the 2015 birthday. I even understood why the 2016 birthday didn’t inspire much joy. Plus, I thought, maybe I’ve finally just grown up, gotten to the point where birthdays are nothing special at all. But even as I thought that I knew I was just trying to deny the truth which is, I’m still not “over” my life being turned upside down two years ago. But I also feel like I can’t say that. Like I’m not supposed to say that. People expect me to be happy, to be relieved and grateful that the hysterectomy caught all of the cancer.

And of course I am. But there’s no denying that along with my reproductive organs, the hysterectomy took something else, some little spark of hope, of joy, of - I don’t know. Something that doesn’t sound so maudlin.

While I was struggling with dealing with the worst work experience I’ve ever had to deal with, the brain had no time to process anything else, I suppose. So when the new year rolled around and I realized that the birthday was coming back around I was caught by surprise by just how little I cared about it. For weeks at a time I even forgot all about it. And I know, many people behave that way and it’s nothing out of the ordinary for them but until two years ago that was way out of the ordinary for me.

The week begore my birthday I was driving somewhere when I thought, “Oh. It’s actually next week.” And then, like the sky clearing up after a storm I had a realization, “Oh,” I said to myself, “You’re depressed!” I almost laughed because i should have reliazed sooner - this isn’t new territory for me. And yet, it still has taken a month to shake the fog off and make a conscious decision to not let myself fall deeper into the pit. Sadly, the weight gain is the thing that has really scared me enough to make some changes. Shame I couldn’t have figured this out and resolved to get back on the right track before I gained I don’t even know how many pounds. I’m scared to step on the scale. Though given that I have a follow up with the oncologist on Tuesday I guess I’ll know soon enough just what the number on the scale is. Not looking forward to the embarrassing moment when they record the higher number in the system. But, hey, at least then I’ll know what I’m working with and as we all know, data is never a bad thing. She says, trying to find the humor and silver lining in all of this.

2 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies | Health | Cancer

Friday, March 24, 2017

To Date or Not to Date

I decided in January to restart the online dating profiles even though I’m having doubts about trying to date. That’s nothing new, though. Every time I restart them I feel the same way. I don’t get out enough to say that I’m going to try and meet someone while I’m out and about so the online thing has been a go to for decades now and each time I do it with mixed feelings. This time, however, the ambivalence is fueled by more than the usual weariness of having to dig through superficial, typo-filled messages (assuming they are longer than “Hey” that is). This time, I don’t know how to answer the “Want to have children” box. So I’ve left it blank. I do, as we know, want to have children. But as we also know, if I can build a family, it’s going to be by going the adoption route. Most guys online that still want to have children are assuming that they’ll have them the old fashioned way. Perfectly natural thought so I’m not blaming them. It’s just awkward, is all I’m saying.

I went on a couple of dates earlier in the month. Prior to meeting the guy in real life, he actually asked me the kid question. I hesitated but then decided to share that I was hoping to adopt. He indicated that, although he’s raised a child, he wouldn’t be opposed to doing it again. “That’s promising,” I thought at the time. Several days and conversations later, I said something that clued him in to the fact that I was exploring adoption now, rather than waiting to find a guy, get in to a relationship and THEN adopt.

“Oh,” he said. “So this is something you’re doing now?” “Yes,” I said. “Is that a problem?” He took a beat and then said it wasn’t a problem. We talked for a few days and then had the two dates. Ultimately, I decided there wasn’t enough chemistry there to continue dating but the exchange about children just validate my insecurities, I think. Younger guys who want kids aren’t necessarily going to embrace the idea of not having their own biological children (generalizing here, obviously) and older guys who’ve had kids, biological or no, aren’t exactly jumping at the chance to raise more kids.

Maybe I’m just complicating my life by trying to date but, really, the adoption process could take as long as 2.5 years and, honestly, I’m a little tired (again) of being alone. It’d be nice to have someone in my life who cares about how my day went, someone to go on walks with, the movies, etc etc. All the boring, mundane, vitally important things that make up our days. Obligatory single woman disclaimer required here, right? I can do all those things alone. I do all those things alone just fine. It’s just, I’ve hit another time in my life when I just don’t want to. I’ll keep at it for a little while longer but it’s hard to have a great deal of enthusiasm about it all right now. Which doesn’t bode well for great results, does it? Oops.

3 comment(s) | Filed under: Adoption | Dailies

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The One Where I Went to an Adoption Seminar

Folks who have been reading me for a long time (or anyone who’s ever had more than a passing conversation with me) know that I have longed wished to have children. I kept putting it off because the time never seemed right, the money was never enough. When I was in a serious relationship, the topic would come up, I’d get excited and then things would just not work out. And, well, we know what happened two years ago (or if you’re new, the Cliff Notes: cancer resulting in a hysterectomy, resulting in infertility). I don’t even consider these last two years as lost years. I wasn’t in an the emotional space to try to follow up on an adoption.

Hell, I’m still not 100% sure. Having raised my sister, been a nanny, had countless babysitting gigs has taught me that raising a child, doing it thoughtfully and well, that takes effort and energy. The idea of doing it alone, it’s scary. This is definitely one of those moments where I think a little fear is a healthy thing. It proves to me that I know I’m not going into this blindly.

With my 45 birthday coming up in 2018, I’m at a point where, if I want to try and adopt a baby, I have to start the process now. So I went to an informational meeting. As I waited for the speakers to start, I looked through the packet until I got to the page that I was searching for. One that I was already quite familiar with as I would regularly look at the information on the agency’s website. It was the table detailing the cost of the home visit, the adoption, and the additional services. The numbers hadn’t changed, a good and a bad thing. They’re still high but, hey, they haven’t gotten higher so that’s something, no?

Part of my brain listened to the information and part of my brain did basic math. What’s in savings, what I’ll be getting from the job I’ve just left, what might need to be borrowed. I felt deflated. It all just seems so daunting. And then I heard a baby laugh. The speaker announced that a previous client was here to talk to us about her experience. Naturally, she’d brought her baby along. As soon as I saw the tiny person I knew. I knew what I’ve always known. There’s no way I don’t try this. The cost of the adoption is scary but this is why I moved in with friends three years ago. This is why I’ve cut back on everything that I could possibly cut back on, to pay down the debt I’d accumulated. I wanted to get to a place financially where this would be possible.

For as long as I can remember I’ve said there is only one regret I never want to have and that’s to not have tried to build my family. I used to say that way back when the possibility of my body failing me was never even considered because why would it?

The mother shared with us that she’d tried IVF and that with that process the question is all about the “if.” What if it doesn’t work the first time, the third time, the seventh time. She then said that adoption is all about the when. There’s no if. It’s just the waiting, waiting, waiting until you get the call. I don’t know how true that is, but I know this.

I want to believe it.

1 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies

Monday, February 06, 2017

Be careful what you ask for

When I left a job back in 2004, I asked for a reference letter. The first draft that I received is below:

To Whom It May Concern:

Today we are losing one Patricia – can you say “’bout time?”

Patricia was unloaded on us about eight years ago from the Virginia “Big House.”  We unwittingly decided to participate in what was euphemistically called “Adopt a Felon Program,” with the promise that she would be a productive worker if not exactly of the human family. Another promise flushed down the toilet we call reality.

It wasn’t as if Patricia didn’t produce. In eight short years she produced four lawsuits, 200% staff turnover and some kind of rash that we can’t seem to get rid of…but then there was the actual work issue. She was consistent in taking a four hour lunch after appearing magically sometime around 11:00 AM to check her personal e-mails. She was always “out da door” by 4:00 PM, so we were able to commence anything constructive by about 4:15 PM.

Patricia had an interesting relationship with staff and members. Known well for wielding a Louisville Slugger to the temple of anyone who got in her way, she treated members with the same lack of compassion you’d associate with a psychopath on vitamins. It’s not that Patricia selected some poor souls for her wrath – everyone was included on her “joy mobile,” and all staff carried bludgeoning insurance.

We were afraid to ask Patricia to leave, but she has mercifully made this decision on her own. We look forward to a future of only minor bloodshed, an increase in property values and less attention from the Alexandria Police Department. Should you take a flyer on Patricia, you will be in our prayers.

Thank you for considering Patricia for a position on your team. We will be sending that cashier’s check for $150,000 as soon as it can be processed, and from this point on we will burn her records and turn her office into a “Let’s Save Humanity Before It’s Too Late” shrine. If you call and ask about her in the future, we never knew her, we never talked to her and we never took out “hits” on her life.

May our bad dream now haunt you. Thank you.

The Staff
Citizens of Alexandria
State of Virginia
All Humankind and assorted animals

I printed that on letterhead and have hung it at subsequent jobs.

As a going away present from my current job, I received an updated “reference letter” that I find absolutely hilarious.

February 14, 2017

To Whom It May Concern:

Today we are losing Patricia. Patricia was unloaded on us about six years ago from Virginia, and today, we are sending her back. She’s been released from service to the State of Maryland in order to return to the original scene of the crime - the great Commonwealth of Virginia.

It’s fitting that she leaves us effective today - considering it’s Valentine’s Day and the monopoly the day has on hearts, which is one of Patricia’s favorite things. They are everywhere - in her office, on her window, on HER. It’s like she’s trying to remind us all the time that she CARES. Yeah, yeah, we know.

Another irony is the letterhead on which this note is written. Patricia hounded us all mercilessly until we agreed to change the logo and then was instrumental in developing a style guide for us that’s been implemented with little success as you can tell. No one is really sure why the guide was needed - we all know that Comic Sans is the best font and really makes a statement. Patricia won’t be around to proofread for us anymore, so we are free to run wild with rogue fonts.

You will get an honest day’s work out of her - after she eats the cold bagel that she will toast and leave sitting in the toaster for 2-3 hours. Make sure that you have the right kind of notebooks and pens for her. She is probably set at the start - because of her admitted hoarding of office supplies, she most likely took all of ours when she cleaned her office.

So, Fairfax, thanks for taking her off our hands. It’s been way too long and you owe us big time. Pease keep her this time, as she can’t keep going back and forth like this. It’s ridiculous.

May our bad dream now haunt you. Thank you.

Sincerely,
The Staff of the Governor’s Office for Children
Inhabitants of Community Place
Citizens of Crownsville
State of Maryland
All Humankind and Assorted Animals

The absolutely evil joke of this latest letter is that it was printed using Comic Sans, which I absolutely detest. I can’t believe I have to hang something that uses Comic Sans.

0 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Who needs drugs?

books

I don’t drink, nor do I have any experience, really, with mind altering medications. I have no frame of reference, then, to speak about feeling high. I imagine it must feel a bit like the way I felt tonight (albeit amplified by a hundred degrees) when I was using my smart phone to inventory my books.

It was a matter of simply opening the scan app, pointing the camera at the bar code and waiting for the beep that let me know the code had been read correctly. Under a minute I scanned about 20 books. As a frame of reference, when I first used the Delicious Library app about a decade ago, it took me longer than a minute to look up a book online, find a link I could import into the system or do the entry manually. To say the very least, it was a tedious chore. But now, with the magic and wonder that is a paired iPhone, the work is no work at all. I can’t wait until I am able to unpack my many many books and scan them all in.

Even if my computer hadn’t died several years ago and taken my old inventory with it, I probably would have started from scratch. Between giving/selling books, misplacing them, adding new ones, sometimes it’s just better to start fresh than to cull through hundreds of listings to figure out what I have or don’t have.

There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere, isn’t there? Holding on to things can become as much a habit as anything else. As hard as it may be, perhaps it’s best to just close your eyes, open up the hand and let go. Or you could just neglect to back up your computer in a way that makes sense and just let nature run its course, letting an old drive die a natural (unexpected) death. Whichever seems the most appropriate to you.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Lessons Learned, Lessons Ignored

I am angry.
I could make a list but really, it would start and end with the same thing:
I am angry at myself.

Roughly seventeen years ago someone told me that I should never hesitate to ask for what I want; without asking, she said, you won’t get it. Rarely do people anticipate your needs and give you want you want. Well, that last part she didn’t say, but I inferred. What she did say was that the worst thing someone can say is no and no doesn’t kill.

In the time that’s passed, I’ve tried to remember this lesson and I have had mixed results implementing it. The failures are harder to forget. Usually because the failing came in me forgetting, not in getting a negative response. When I assert myself and get what I want I think, “There, I did it. I learned it” until the next time when I don’t assert myself. It’s a thankfully sporadic cycle but an annoying one nonetheless.

So right now I am angry at myself. For a number of reasons. So I wonder, will this be the time that sticks? There’s no way of knowing, is there? Until the next time when I am faced with the opportunity to say, “I want that, I’ve earned it and I’m going to actually dare you to say no.” Ah. The audacity.

I’ve been contemplating a new tattoo. I had finally settled on a design but maybe I need to rethink it. Maybe I need to tattoo “Be audacious” on my forehead. Or, “No doesn’t kill.” At the very least, it would be a conversation starter.

And with this vague entry, the writing for 2017 begins. Compared to the previous three years, 2016 was quite successful in terms of blogging. But it’s hard to not improve when one goes from writing nothing for 36 months to writing something. I have a feeling things are gonna pick up around the blog in the next month or so. I’m looking forward to that. I hope you are too.

1 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies

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