Monday, March 30, 2009
He's smooth, black and has one hell of a good reputation. I'm sure to be up til the wee hours, examining all of his best features.
In fact, i can tell this is the start of one long and intimate relationship.
I am falling in love.
But sorry ya'll, he's not the type to put a ring on my finger or fulfill the little revolutionary's wish to have a stepfather. That's cuz he's a phone.
He's a Blackberry Pearl Flip, fresh from the phone store. If i thought i was getting addicted to technology before, with the Facebooking and Twittering and the videophoning across the ocean, i was merely trifling. This astonishingly reasonable purchase (how does a free phone sound?) is the next big thing. Imagine it! Getting tweets and emails and surfing the web from your car! Playing music! Taking photos! Ok, i know i may be one of the last to get the memo on superphones, since i've had a free work phone for the past three years, but i have to say i am loving it now.
So later this spring i will be the ultimate contradiction, with my feet dirty, down in the garden, while my fingers are tweeting about it above.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I've just gotten done telling her that she missed Pajama Day at her preschool, and she's pissed. Since her pops lives near Eugene, she misses a lot of school to go down and spend time with him. She's five months away from kindergarten, when missing school is not really an option, so for now we figure it's best to let her spend some extra dad-time out in the country. She's always eager to go back to Horton to spend some time with her three kitties and the mud and the man-house madness. Except when it means missing out on special days at school.
I explain the situation -- that next year she won't be able to spend as much time with her dad, since she has to go to school in one city or the other, and it's going to be immersion school in Portland. This triggers another round of crossed arms and teary eyes. So she's pissed about missing school on one hand, and on the other hand she's pissed about missing her kitties. It's a heartbreaking world where she can't have both -- even though she should be able to. These dramas may seem small when compared to all the trouble the world is in. But to her they are the world. She must learn about compromise at such a young age, and also disappointment and longing. She is a bit of a Drama Princess, with her tears and huffing and crossed arms over missing Pajama Day, but still, i feel for the things she has to go through.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Take my friend Sammy Prettyflowers, for example.
Mind you now, this is supposed to be a funny story.
He's a fisherman who spends his life alternating between 24-7 work on an Alaskan fishing boat, and 24-7 slacking on beaches in exotic locales like the Phillipines and Malaysia. And in the time in between those two, he lives in Portland.
He last left the Rose City in December, after months of unemployment and a few too many trips to Devil's Point. He hadn't planned on getting another fishing gig for the winter, but when the ten-buck an hour jobs at the corner store started being a hotter and hotter commodity around here, he had to go back to the old standby. Since then, he's endured the following calamities, which may or may not be due to the economic crisis:
- A broken-down truck, in the midst of our Arctic Blast . The shady repair shop he decided to go with made him wait a month to get his car back, so during the heavy snow, he was driving around a Daewoo. Or not driving around a Daewoo, since it couldn't be moved from its spot in front of the house.
- Two weeks of squalor and disappointment, fixing a broken boat while languishing in Seattle Harbor. He got the winter job and moved promptly to the harbor to set off for Alaska. But serious repairs caused delays and way too many a night stumbling home from the bars near the harbor.
- More disrepair and disgusting food. When they finally made it to Alaska, they had to hole up for a little while longer, because their refrigerator had broken down and they needed to get a new one. And all new food.
- Dismal fishing prices. This story tells a slightly different tale, but Sammy says their first trip out yielded them much less than in other years. This was in part due to their late start, because of the broken fridge and the spoiled vittles.
- Shitty Weather. When they made it for their second run, all was going along according to plan, when the boat broke down again. Sammy says they were already enduring some scary water and weather when the boat just crapped out again. But because of the stormy weather, no one would tow them back to town for ELEVEN days. Imagine sitting on the deck of brokedown boat for eleven days twiddling your thumbs and hoping you don't get tossed into the sea. You kind of have to laugh.
-Volcanic eruptions. You may have heard that the eruption of Mt. Redoubt shut down flights in and out of Anchorage. The same is true for all the puddle-jumpers too. So guess what? That boat that left them stranded out there in the ocean now can't be fixed, because none of the regional planes can bring in the part they need to fix it.
And then, to top it all off, he's got a broken truck to come home to. Sammy tells me it's still not fixed, even after all that fuss and trouble back in December.
Sometimes you just can't win.
But hopefully, come April, there will be cars that function and skies that glow a clear blue, and a home to look forward to, that looks so lovely in spring.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
These days, a lot more people are finding themselves defined not by their employment, but by their unemployment. I think it's got to be a life-changing experience for someone who's always had a title, a business card, and status. I've had a lot of contemplating to do about what my real goals are since the bosses dropped the bomb. Occasionally a ray of light shines through and i have a clear idea what the hell i am doing. Other times i think creating my own path is freaking insane.
So what's it all worth? Does having a so-called prestigious job have any bearing on your actual happiness? Does what you do for a living define you? And can you feel like a whole person when you're not defined by a job?
Friday, March 20, 2009
Whether for you the season means bunnies and colored eggs, or digging in the dirt, or just dusting off the sunglasses and the flip flops, i imagine most of us have something to celebrate at the change of the season. I know i am thrilled to start getting my hands dirty and to watch the beautiful buds of spring start popping. And to ride my bike, and push the kiddo on the swing, and welcome the sun...
A little on spring, from Efestivals.com:
"At some point before the eighth century AD, the strategians of the early Church superimposed the Resurrection of the Lord on the pre-Christian Eoster-based practice of celebrating spring around the spring equinox. This converted a pagan practice into a Christian one with a simple flick of the theological hand. "
However you look at it, today is a pretty good day...
Thursday, March 19, 2009
There are a few things that i can delight upon, if i must:
1. More time with my kiddo. When unemployment looms, i will not be able to pay for child care, but i won't need it. So i get more time to spend with the kid whose mom has worked full-time her ENTIRE life. I wonder how i will get to know her, when our time together is not squeezed in between errands and house cleaning and day to day discipline.
2. A break, to figure out who i really am. I wrote about this before -- how my friend asked me what i really wanted to do with my life and how it took some time to answer that question. So often we just plod along, not really evaluating whether we are really happy or not. A violent severance from every habit you've fallen into is good for the soul.
3. Solidarity with the jobless masses. Suddenly it's not so embarrassing to have lost your home or your job, since there are so many people out there dealing with the same thing. Getting laid off may make most people feel like crawling under the covers and never coming out, but with so many people in the same bed, at least there's some kind of solidarity going on. Those calls i get to pay the credit card i always seem to forget about seem a little funny to me now, since there are even jokey commercials about it. In one radio commercial, you hear a woman's voice say something like "we're not answering right now, so if you're a creditor, you'll just have to get in line, like everyone else we owe money to." It's not a noble position to be in, but like i said, at least there's some solidarity in it nowadays.
4. Testing my mettle as a farmer. When you have nothing but time and seeds and a pile of dirt outside, you will eventually have a Victory Garden. And this year i will be more compelled to pull all the weeds and remove all the slugs, because i will have both time and motivation. Hunger is a great motivator.
5. Learning about history. When our future looks gloomy, we turn to the past for answers. This humbles us, and reminds us too that all things pass.
Chances are you've been affected by the crisis in one way or another. Are you seeing any light at the end of the tunnel? How are you staying positive?
Monday, March 16, 2009
Today, in my way that automatically qualifies me for membership in the OMA (Overzealous Mothers of America), i did some sleuthing and found out before the six-week waiting period where my daughter is going next year. Ok, maybe you don't consider calling the school secretary and sweetly asking how many kids had made Bridger School their first choice necessarily sleuthing, but i don't know what else you'd call it. Overzealously inquiring, perhaps? Turns out, 27 kids made Bridger School their first choice. And since the kiddo was one of them, and since the school admits at least 28 kids, she is all but in. The OMA member in me is breathing a sigh of relief. Her fate is sealed and she is bound for a bilingual life from here on out. And judging by this NYT article, (thanks Saschi), there only needs to be more of this in our fair city and country-wide. At one of the mandatory meetings i attended as part of this process, the school staff told me that dual immersion programs don't cost the district any more money. And with English-speaking families clamoring for their children to join up in the spirit of multiculturalism, and non-English speaking families in need of a way to get their children up to speed, i see no reason why the program cannot be expanded.
Perhaps it's because i already have one important relationship that takes up so much of my time.
Perhaps the universe wants me to enjoy another adult's company -- naturally, right? -- but it knows i can only handle this much. Any more would seriously cut down on the time i spend having sweet moments with my child, and it's clear she needs that so badly. People have a way of behaving badly to get attention, and she is no exception. In fact this little revolutionary is a master at it. She will pull out all manner of tantrum and pout at just the moment i am trying to give my attention elsewhere. It ends up with me exasperated and giving her negative attention, but it's attention nonetheless.
Single parents have to juggle the child with the date any time there is a date to be had, and usually it's the child who wins out in the war for attention. Our society reveres this idea of a selfless mother who thinks nothing of themself, and somehow the children are privy to that ideal at a very early age. So am i all right with that role? The revolutionary in me says absolutely not; though i have already dealt with today's goodbye not with despair, but with a resolve that that is the way of the world, and my place is here with her. The child won out in this war for attention, because it is so.
I did learn one important lesson in this go-round of a fleeting relationship. Children are not necessarily something that those who come calling for a date will be threatened by, in terms of attention. The good ones will realize when the war for attention cannot be won, and will step back and let a single mama do her attention-giving. (By the way, Ms. Single Mama has some great tips on dating for you single mamas who need a little encouragement.)
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The kiddo is five.
It's old enough for her to pick out her own clothes (sometimes matched) but not old enough for her to get going full-boar on the tree swing out back.
It's old enough for her to be trusted brushing her teeth, but young enough to insist on being snuggled to sleep each night.
It's old enough for her to be in kindergarten.
Old enough for me to think about joining the PTA.
When i'm lying down with her for that nightly snuggle i'm usually fighting off the sleep monster myself -- willing my brain to stay on and not succumb to the warm covers, at only eight at night. But other times my mind is racing. Tonight it was racing. I've committed to this new life where i'm gonna create my own destiny, and i'm finding that takes up a lot of headspace. I'm constantly wanting to dash to the notebook to scribble out a few new ideas. Tonight, among the reflections about the kindergarten meeting i attended tonight and the sweet full feeling of tacos in my belly, the thought that persisted was the thought that Raising a Revolutionary is going to turn into a book, when i get going on the immersion school posts next year. I can't promise it unfailingly to you, my four loyal readers, but i can say it is on my mind. I want to write each day about the progress she's making, because i there is almost nothing on this planet i find more fascinating than 1. my daughter and 2. people learning new languages. Tonight:
The kiddo holds out her hand to the maestra of the kindergarten, blurting out "Hola!" and beaming.
"Buenas noches!" Maestra Garcie beams back, "Quieres venir a nuestra escuela?" The kiddo droops, eases her hands, then feet, then entire body behind my knees. She gurgles out something that sounds like a word, then buries her head in my backside. The realization that only using "hola" is not going to cut it in this kindergarten...
Yeah i know that blogging is perhaps the plodding, lazy, easily-linear form of crafting a long-form story. Or perhaps we're going to see a lot more blogs-turned-books out there, so every wannabe novelist can feign to have their own little New Yorker. But hell, maybe the other parents about to embark on immersion schooling for the 12 years might find it entertaining. So let's make it a loose promise. It's a feather, balanced on the tip of a fork, held on by some hot sauce. Eso si que es.
This article sheds new light on the notion of sustainability and food revolution. While it doesn't rule out the personal urban farmer, it does question the viability of the organic and local movement:
"Consider our love affair with food miles. In theory, locally grown foods have traveled shorter distances and thus represent less fuel use and lower carbon emissions—their resource footprint is smaller. And yet, for all the benefits of a local diet, eating locally doesn't always translate into more sustainability. Because the typical farmers market is supplied by dozens of different farms, each transporting its crops in a separate van or truck, a 20-pound shopping basket of locally grown produce might actually represent a larger carbon footprint than the same volume of produce purchased at a chain retailer, which gets its produce en masse, via large trucks."
I am left saying "now what then?"... but good work, Mother Jones.
I have someone over for dinner and drinks and flirtations, and later in the night, my daughter ends up whispering in my ear, "so Mama, am I gonna have a stepdad now?"
And then let's say that same person comes over again for dinner and drinks and such and when he walks through the door, my daughter calls out "Hi Dad!"
I mean, seriously. I, of course, am not trying to put those thoughts in her head. Quite the opposite, in fact. I am happy in my independence. But the girl whose name is short for independence would rather see me strapped down, if only so she can live some archaic dream of having the family that looks complete in the frame on the wall. And i don't blame her. I would have given anything at one point to live an idyllic life with her father and not have her subject to the disagreements and disapproval and domestic violence that has been in her life. I'd also love to excuse her from having to figure out at such a young age what the rules of dating are, and how to regard her mother's love interests. And now apparently i have to somehow explain to this poor innocent that sometimes people just "hang out..."
...but that doesn't mean they're going to get married and perhaps they don't even love each other and just remember, dear, that you already have a father who loves you and just because Daddy's found someone else doesn't mean Mama is lonely... and you'll always be the most important person in my life, even when you invite someone over for dinner and drinks and flirtation and suddenly i'm whispering in your ear, "so daughter, am i gonna have a son-in-law now?"
Sunday, March 8, 2009
I balk at the 'conquered' part, but the rest is pretty insightful...
Thursday, March 5, 2009
"Freedom is just another word
for nothing left to lose..."
Sorry, Ms. Joplin, but i just have to disagree, in part. There's another kind of freedom, in having things, but not being afraid to lose them. I can enjoy my job and my home and my car and my well-fed lifestyle, but i am no longer afraid to lose them. I have no idea if
entering the world of the unjobbers is going to work. But the freedom i already feel from making the choice to try it is erasing the fear of losing things. Maybe i am crazy and being completely impractical and i should be frantically searching the want ads in all my off-hours. But then i remember that the things i really care about are the things that can't be taken away, and working in an office again is only going to take away my happiness and not really give me anything but lost time in return.
When the day is done, i have my daughter and my dog and my scribblings, i have a past filled with high adventure and lowbrow deviance; education, work experience... all these things that can't be taken away...
"Nothing don't mean nothing honey
if it ain't free, now now..."
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
"How To Counter Depression
To bring the depression down, first look at why you are depressed. Try to change the nature of mind & emotions. Trust life. When you are emotionally down, think of a happy incident. Always entertain healthy & positive thoughts. Insecurities indicate you to be creative & alert. Lots of people fear failure, death, insecurity & rejection. Understand that when one door closes another opens. Just think it is matter of time that failure is only postponed success. If you bring this energy into your life,
it will give you methods of handling any difficult situation. So when fear happens, do not get indentified with it. Just watch it. Witness your fear. Fear is actually just a thought or word. Explore yourself & learn to trust that insecurities, fear & failures are inviting you be creative & making you stronger. We should live in realistic world & stay away from the superiority complex, the inferiority complex & a mix of the both. A slightly clouded sky will get cleared with sunrise. But a sky, which is full of tornado and typhoon, will create terrible destruction before it gets cleared.
Control of thought waves in the mind is yoga. In the Yoga Sutra, Saint Patanjali states that our inner obstacles create mental distraction, which in turn leads to depression. These inner obstacles can be removed by the practice of Asana, Pranayama & Meditation. Yoga helps in providing freedom from the negative thoughts and creates an atmosphere of positivity all around. The entire nature is made up of three qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas (purity, activity and ignorance). People with Tamasic Depression lack life force or Prana. Yoga postures will activate and move Prana in the body, open the heart center, stimulate and nervous system and balance the body-mind-spirit. Vigorous practices such as repeated Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar), Flexibility Exercises, Sravangasana, Matsyasana, Halasana, Dhanurasana, Vajrasana, Ushtrasana, Shavasana poses can be therapeutic & stimulating and help fight Tamas. The body and mind are so occupied with the practice of these asanas that it's hard to brood."
Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna's Yogashaastra Studio via the Aura Wellness Center.
Photo Courtesy: Tennille Hensley, Salt Flats Utah, via Facebook.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
I don't know why it's taken me a month and a half of moping and railing about to come to the conclusion that my next career step should be doing something i really want to do. But it just occured to me only yesterday. Everyone has said to me that getting laid off is the perfect chance to figure out who you are, and i guess it just took me that long to remember. The monologue in my head went something like this yesterday:
I started working right after my baby was born, determined to be some demigod of a parent by having this cool career job and bringing home some cash. The hours were long and i had to miss out on a lot of her babyhood, but i just figured this gig as a producer was satisfying my ego and so what with the roaming writer gig i'd always wanted to have and why not just hang here for a while?
I started a new job in a bigger city with more hours and more responsibility and more stress. The noose got tighter.
I found myself single soon after, and found navigating a family with only one adult at the helm more difficult than i'd even dreamed. Had i even dreamed it? The noose became a permanent fixture.
For the first three weeks after finding that someone had cut the noose i struggled desperately at the gallows, scratching at my fingers, trying to keep the rope together. For what? Friends asked me "well what is it that you really want to do?" and i'd reply with a stare.
"You're just going along, plodding through your life and then one day someone ends it all," is what i would eventually muster. The noose was off, but it was taking me a bit to breathe again.
So on that car ride back up north, with the sun setting as it always does over the Coastal Mountains, the grass fields and vineyards lit up for one last gasp, and cool air flowing through the car, i started breathing again. I recognized that what i'd seen as security had made me colossally unhappy for the past five years. And life was too damn short to be stuck in a nine to five gig that keeps me from my child and from my real passions. I have always known what those are, but when you're in the throes of something else you tend to bury them for a while.
Now i remember again that what i really love is writing and telling meaningful stories through the lens, the page, and the recorded word. I need to try to make my living through those means or i fear that the next time i'm hanging there i may never come down again. So i am embracing the idea of doing other things, and having unemployment assistance when i can't make those things happen every week. It's a sort of safety net that i've earned through five years of sweat and tears and baby moments missed, so i am going to be happy to take it. Perhaps it will be the thing that brings me to my true calling, my corner of the world -- my niche, as they call it.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
I found this relic of a graphic from World War Two today in this article about urban farming. I am fascinated by the cycles of prosperity and squalor that swing around on this planet, and it just so happens that at this time, it's our turn to be squalid. But people have gotten through it by tapping their creativity and getting their hands dirty in the past, so i will do the same. I wrote a lot last summer about urban farming and being more DIY with your life. Now all those words just get more and more relevant.
I am about one month away from being unemployed. So in the midst of knocking out stellar cover letters (that get stolen by other bloggers) and polishing the resume time after time, i am scheming about freelance stories i'm gonna write and plotting an even bigger garden than i've had in the past. I mean, why not? All i have is time to dig and weed and sit in the sun and churn the compost. I suppose my life right now is a lot like making compost. You take a whole lot of discards and shit and dirt and turn it into fodder for a whole rainbow of bounty. Victory garden!