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Writers Block


I’m less than 48 hours from the start of my new gig.  I am delighted at how much walking into a new role in a new facility just feels like going home.  As I sat with the news that I had been hired I mainly remember thinking, “ok, cool, I’m back in it now.”  It feels right.

Last year I wondered about how I would spend unstructured days, and when I would be Aspirational Me and when I would be slacked out on the couch.  Ten months later, here is what I can tell you:

1.  My days and weeks were anchored by Writer’s Block, my nickname for my friend J.O. and I getting together and working quietly next to each other.  It kept me working on projects when it would have been easier to do anything else.  I am glad hearted for this time with her and I will miss it deeply.

Also – the local coffee place Hendershots has a great core of routine people during the week, we aren’t friends but by golly you get a group of folks to make eye contact with.

2.  My weekends were anchored by CK lunches.  Friday lunch with my awesome circle of female friends kept me from feeling lonely, isolated, or alone.  I am going to miss the predictable routine of seeing these ladies and sharing our lives with each other.  When things feel all a mess there isn’t a thing that can’t be solved with chunky guacamole and ALL THE GREEN.

3.  I was athletic for a bit.  I got to try out if I was someone who could work out a lot, and I was, for awhile.  I got as far as 5 days a week with a double on Friday and the movement felt good when I did it but after I took a week break to rest my screaming feet I (kind of) never went back.  Even with the time and endorphins I struggle to keep moving my body.

4.  I didn’t improve or expand my cooking at all.

5. I essentially never slacked out on the couch, maybe an afternoon here or there but the hours upon days of watching reruns just never happened.  For that I thank Writer’s Block and CK Lunch.

6. I can plan a decent Time But No Money vacation, with the help and support of a lot of people.

My husband and son were wonderfully supportive, the stars aligned when I needed them to, and my heart is grateful over and over again.

Inhale:  Yes, there is a lot.

Exhale: Right now breathing is important.

Inhale: I want clarity.

Exhale: In due time.

Inhale: I can’t clearly see the shape of future days.

Exhale: You only imagine you can even in the most stable times.  Your imagination is not mandated to be the truth.

Inhale: I have a mark I’m sure I need to hit.

Exhale: Don’t race past *this* moment.

Inhale: I don’t like discomfort, for myself and for those I love.

Exhale: My discomfort is growth, their discomfort is theirs.

Inhale: I want us all to be safe and ok.

Exhale: I can hope but not control.

I have a long list for tomorrow.  Only one thing must get done, and that is to be a present parent for my son’s first day of school.  I will breathe.


Things that are true:

1.  Two weeks into Epic Summer Roadtrip.  Great time, wonderful visits, working on dealing with homesickness.

2.  Went to a book signing on Thursday (Chris Colfer for TLOS3) and it was interesting, good , strange, fast, and has me debating all kinds of meta stuff in my head which I would talk about except that it is the shape of a circle and I cannot find the entry point.

3.  Kiddo is McDs binging right now and WOW.

4.  The very first place I wanted to go when I had a minute to myself was the garden store that I love so much, but I knew I wanted to go there because my first thought was “I need to go to church”.  It is about reverence and peace.

5.  I thought my robot necklace was lost but now it is found.

6.  AirBnB is a GREAT way to (1) save money, (2) meet cool people, (3) actually experience a town when you travel.  Do it.  It isn’t mutually scary – only scary on your side and it will work out fine.

7.  I like borrowing dogs.

8.  I like this, but it is hard and I am a bit tired.

Today after a lunch with good friends I broke open a fresh, clean excel spreadsheet and got to work.

Three weeks of travel, sleeping in 10 different places, covering 14 states.  wow.  I just needed to confirm the state count.  Yep, 14.  Staying with family, with AirBnB participants, in modern hotels, and the all mighty concrete wigwams.

Jeff & I have talked about parts of it for months now, but one of the magic parts of parenthood is the legwork that happens when nobody is watching.  Because this trip is happening at a time where my schedule is more open I have time, but not money.  When the work schedule is full it is money, but no time.

Every woman I know (and I just haven’t been asking the men) is stretching for the elusive concept of a chunk of summer sun without the to-do list running in the back of their mind.  The idea of sitting on a beach, or in the mountains, or on the highway with the music, or the book, or simply the breeze in their hair.

I think about consecutive days without kids his own age.  I think about how to break up the drives so that neither of us is too miserable (see also – the 14th state and the 10th sleeping location added TODAY).  Where can we stop.  Will he ever see a vegetable again.  Where are the dealerships that fix my funky little car?  Where does my IPass work, and where will I have to pay the tolls in cash?

I think about my friend who took a mountain vacation years ago where they even cooked for her, and someday (when I return to money but no time) I’d like to try that on for size.

Over and over this summer I realize how the summers that I knew as a child aren’t available anymore.   My mom laughed today about how they picked a spot and then found a Holiday Inn, and from what  I remember that was just exactly right.

I hope you’re having a good summer.  If you’re at home, rent great movies.  If you are going on vacation, I hope the spot you pick suits you.  It is summer – grab a popsicle and let the sun warm your face and your heart.


I had a near miss with the photographs of the first 5 years of my son’s life the other day.

I’m still mulling over what that means for what I do with those photographs next. There are about 5,000 of them (obviously, it is about all of my life in those years, but the majority involve him) and some of them are complete crap – but some are perfect.

I didn’t cull them as I took them, I never edited them (because I’m 40 and I missed being a photo-editing-software-knower-hower by about 3.5 years from what I can tell), so they are the digital equivalent of the boxes of print photos I have. A pile without a plan.

I think sometimes about a fire, and losing my printed pictures.
I thought, for a long time, about the passage of time and VHS tapes because that is where the last sounds of my first husband’s voice lived.
I think about software upgrades that build a wall I don’t understand between me and the picture of Jeff with a soccer ball and his eyes glowing in Golden Hour light.

I am both more and less sentimental than I have been at other points in my life. John’s wallet still has a $20 in it after all these years but I only kept one piece of Jeff’s baby clothing.

Pictures though. Pictures are what hold my memory together. They shine so brightly, and highlight days so long gone that sometimes I’m afraid to look at them.

I had a close call with 5 years of digital pictures and right now I just know that I want to do more – but I don’t know what more really looks like.

I took a week off from the gym to rest my foot, that was about six weeks ago. Damnit.

It was about that same time that I started sketching out the summer plans on calendars that span the distance of the huge map in my kitchen.

About that same time I got to some tough stuff on my personal project and I gently set them aside so the back of my brain could have a day or two to mull over the next step.

That six weeks or so have been busy, I’ve been present for a lot of people and doing the Next Right Thing over and over again. I had a dog for a week, but then he died. I watched my mom do a knock out job at a funeral, and then had a great visit with a few weeks later. I’ve received two standing ovations, three chucks on the shoulder, and a few written words of gratitude. I’ve met a new folks in two hospitals that I enjoyed the company of. I’ve started a new volunteer project.

Every bit of web space I own has gotten dusty. My automatic backup on the computer reminds me both that it has been ten days and what feels like a nudge that says, “but it doesn’t matter because your content has already been backed up, nothing new there”.

I’m going to see if I can post something everywhere today. I’ve submitted a bit video for a project someone else is working on, I’m thinking I should hear a thing about a project from somebody fairly soonish.


Years ago a friend of mine casually made a joke about me being overprotective. The easy joke that comes when everybody in the room knows that it is true and, for whatever reason, it is pointed out in the hopes of toning down the behavior some.

The thing was that I didn’t know it. In fact, had you asked the moment before he said it, I would have said that I was being kind, and exceptionally laid back about things given the circumstances.

With some distance I know that we were both right.

I think my husband broke his hand on our third date. It looked like he did it at the time, it was sore in a way (and for a length of time) that implied he had done some real damage, it aches when the weather is changing. His experience of it was absolutely minimal. Never checked it out, rarely complained, barely modified his actions. I still think he broke his hand.

Today I took my son to the doctor to check out the following symptoms:
1. Approximately 15% increase in emotional fragility
2. Two casual mentions of a sore throat
3. His runny nose that was running perfectly in line with blooming trees and my own runny nose, itchy eyes, and generally allergic behavior.

The nurse added:
4. 99.5 temp

With a 5.5 year old son, most people would not be going to the doctor for such a vague and minimal list of symptoms. I had two pieces of secret information in my back pocket: 1, the daughter of a friend recently had nearly silent strep so it was on my radar, and 2, Jeff had strep last year and it looked about like this until it looked like OH MY HOLY G-D!!!!! strep.

He was checked out and it is either strep or a sinus infection, but no doubt at all that he’s got a touch of something.

In health things I absolutely have a touch of over protective, I also am generally pessimistic about the outcomes of big stuff. Still, when the mom of a 5.5 year old brings him in for essentially being A Tool — she’s usually right.

A couple of weeks ago I did some science. That project ended today with me spending 90 minutes head first in an MRI. Ninety minutes is just about my limit.

Overall, the experience was great. I ended up with some cash in hand, learned some stuff, and got two new earrings for my tragus (if you count the plastic retainer) that replace the one I had been wearing for 12.5 years.

The part where I was ready to be done was at about 70 minutes into the MRI. The machine spent 7 minutes making a noise comparable to the first really long tone in a modem dial up. For seven minutes. In my head.

I can tell you for sure, audio torture is the way to get me to tell you anything you want to know. I will tell you the secret recipe for my grandmother’s potato salad at 4 minutes, and if you’re patient I’ll even tell you how to make the Graff Christmas cookies.

I would completely do this again. Now I just hope a decade from now this paper doesn’t show up in Retraction Watch.

My entire family woke up today in pleasant humor and well-rested. My husband had taken care of my son’s breakfast, so I was left to my own. I passed up my standard egg & toast with coffee for a cookie covered in blue sugar and half a swig of milk from the carton.

I gathered our mountain of items for school (it was our week for snack, and our weekend for doing laundry), and my gym bag and out the door we went. Snacks were accepted – and it was suggested that I reinforce the first round with some more. Also – we could bring some fruit. This week, my son’s class will only be getting two rounds of raw fruit instead of three per day. My kid doesn’t eat raw fruit and this week he will not have to get “special snack”. But. Noted. More snacks.

I went to the gym without much of a plan. I’ve learned in the last six weeks that whatever I did to my knee roller skating has left something that bounces around like a Plinko ball when I start to run. After 3 or 4 minutes it settles somewhere and is fine. Today, I walked, then ran-ish, quit mid-Plinko, tried the elliptical for about 3 minutes, did Jacob’s ladder for 90 seconds, shrugged and got my bag.

My head was starting to hurt. See also: no coffee.

During my walk and brief trot on the treadmill I started thinking about the difference between playing it safe and pushing boundaries, and about being lazy and self-care. Of the latter, I only recognize it by the way I feel afterward. Of the former – let’s just say that Feb is a new project.

This morning aside, it is time to push a personal boundary or two.