Thursday, April 30, 2009


I take it back.  I'm a three.

But you knew that.

Triggering Six

Eric's been getting lots of good feedback lately.  He has a contact at a local lab who gave him positive encouragement about his skill set, for example, and told him to keep applying there for work, which is great. Eric's soon-to-be-former employer has been arranging resume workshops and opportunities for laid-off employees (euphemistically referred to as "at risk") to meet with hiring managers from the huge company's subsidiaries all over the country.  One of those subsidiaries, in Seattle, drooled all over him at the meeting yesterday.  E also has a former colleague and friend who lives in Florida.  He can have a job there anytime, the friend says.

I think I'm hanging in with all of these big changes pretty well at the moment, but the idea of moving, or worse, of Eric having to commute to another state, away from us, tears me to pieces.  I'm so proud of him, on the one hand:  he's skilled, accomplished, and well-respected.  He deserves to have a good job he enjoys and that pays him well.  On the other hand, I'd rather he scrub toilets at the Flying J (a job I once had, believe it or not) than tear our family up in a commuting arrangement.  I know other people do it, but I sure don't want to be one of them, if I can help it.

I'm only slightly more ambivalent about moving.  It has taken years for us to develop our friendships here, and they're the strongest I've ever had.  I love Colorado.  I love our house.  And, most of the time, I enjoy my work, and feel at home here.  The academic job market is worse than sour, and relocating will be difficult.  I know, if it comes down to it, I'll find the silver lining and eventually get excited about starting over with a new adventure.  But right now I've got my heels dug in and don't want to go anywhere.

So, I spent hours on big, uncontrollable sobs last night that probably had a lot to do with a bunch of things (including the impending monthly visit of my lady friend), and maybe had a lot to do with my position on the Enneagram, according to my friend Ellen:

Apparently, I'm a 6, a "loyalist," and our main motivation in life is to avoid, evade, or escape abandonment (at our best we are centered, loyal, productive friends).  Perhaps the thought of Eric leaving is triggering that?

Or maybe it would just suck donkeys, and I know it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Award Update

The guy who DID win has been teaching at the school since the year I was born (or so), and has a list of accomplishments a mile long.

I did NOT win, unfortunately, but am not too upset, now that it's all done with.  The anxiety was much worse than the result, and the competition, I see now, was stiff.  In fact, I'm not sure how I even got nominated.  I was so worried that not winning would be seen as some sort of statement about my choice of calling, or my abilities, or something.  Lesson:  I was only one of three people in the room who knew I got nominated, and so I'm the one who was making statements.  In my head.

Love when I get myself all fired up.

Weighty Waiting

I am insufferable right now.  InSUFFERable.  And I know it.  You poor things, all six of you readers, all of a sudden reading a flurry of posts right now because now, the last few days, I have entered a manic crafting-writing-creating phase.  I've made a new skirt, a shirt, crocheted a bowl (from pillow case scraps), made a dragonfly necklace, and some other crap I've probably forgotten about.  All from stuff in my overflowing craft closet.  And then I redesigned the blog and am posting and have actually been on Facebook recently and drawing with Addie and that stuff. 

I love all this, I do, and I get a lot of pleasure from it.  But I'm a little, no A LOT, obsessed with it right now, I can feel it (I felt this way in December, too, at the end of the last semester).

It's not that I'm entering a period of not knowing what to do with myself.  I have plenty to do this summer (and please don't ask me what I do with my "summers off" the way everyone else does.  Puh-lease).  My dance-card is fuh-uh-uh-ull.  Same with fall.

I don't think it's our current state of economic uncertainty ("our" meaning our family).  Maybe I'm deluding myself, but I feel okay about that.

It's that I feel like I'm waiting for something.  For an important email.  Magically appearing money.  High honors.  I'm clicking send/receive on my email button every five minutes.  Racing to the mailbox.  Checking my phone.  I'm up for that teaching award--which has a nice cash prize--today.  It's freaking me out (the mental machinations of THAT are for another post).  But I don't know.  It's a weird sort of anxiety, and not even laying down on my office floor and breathing big breaths is making it go away.  Maybe I need to just go into it or something.

My meditations lately have been centered around the themes "pride," "humility," and "shame." 

You make the connections.  I can't bear to.

This little piggy...

Addie and I have been reading a chapter of Charlotte's Web every night.  For those of you who haven't been in fourth grade for a while, that's the book about the little girl Fern who raises a baby pig, Wilbur.  Wilbur ends up befriending a spider, Charlotte, who saves Wilbur from the slaughter by weaving descriptions of Wilbur into her web ("some pig"; "terrific"; and "humble").  It's a nice book.  A book that's not too dark or scary but that deals with the fact of death.  The whole circle of life thing.  You know.

Anyway, a colleague at another university has been posting about the swine flu, and wondering about the impact of large-scale farming on the spread of animal-to-human diseases.  He posted this video on his blog today:

I try not to be one of those bloggers, posting every YouTube thing out there.  But this is pretty much horrible.  Next time I feel like being a bad vegetarian and having just a little bite of bacon, I'll try to remember this.  And think of Wilbur.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Beekeeping and Such

Addie and I were on the way home from ballet today when I needed to pull over and get gas.  She wanted to get out with me and see how the pump and stuff worked, and I let her (relax, now, I gave all of the requisite stern warnings and such).  She asked about the changing numbers on the pump, and I told her one tells us how much money we have to pay and the other how many gallons of gas go in the car.

Back on the road, I thought I'd be all smarty-pants-Mom and ask her about what other things in our life cost money.  Not that that's been on my mind or anything.  Addie came up with toys, trees, and oh yeah food.  I said, that's right.  And we also pay for our house we live in, and for your school, and all of our clothes, and stuff like that.  But we're going to be having a little less money for a while since Daddy is leaving his job.

I said all this in a chipper way, like not trying to lay some anxiety trip on her.  Not sure that worked.  But for what it's worth.

She thought for a moment and then said, But what will Daddy do for his job now?

I don't know, I said.  He's thinking about...


Right.  Beekeeping.

Actually, it's not that much further out than some of our other ideas.  Selling our skunky homemade beer.  Inventing digital signs for cars, so that drivers can tell you how they're feeling from inside their automobiles, like on Facebook.  "Get out of my way, a-hole!" the digital sign would read.  Or, "Honk if you're not wearing pants!"  Being in a band, but not a band that travels or wants to gig very often or very late at night.  Opening the third biggest brewery in Golden.

That sort of thing.  I mean, beekeeping seems quite reasonable.  When you think about it.

Some Very, Very Important Updates

Hooray for NOLIE!  That little monkey slept through the night last night in her UNDERWEAR with no accidents.

Could it be that, at last, we are approaching the end of Diaper Road?  Could it be that this train is pulling out of Pull-Up City?  Lord, I dare not think it.  But I must!  Rejoice!  Rejoice!


Not that you were up late at night worrying about it, but my neck is indeed better.  I go in for the tune up Thursday with Dr. Magic Hands.  Thanks to all of you for the great descriptions of Osteopathy.  But I still think it's magic.

Also, I don't think I wrote about it, but I was having some really painful blood clots in my arm from having a stupid i.v. during the random uterine infection a few weeks back.  Those are also going away. 

I'm giddy with health.


And, we have been receiving some mysterious and unexpected sums of money lately.  Nothing huge, but little chunks of change here and there.  I was meditating last night and felt this huge opening in my heart, and into my head came thoughts of being in the flow.  There it was.  I felt totally connected.

Maybe it's the juggling.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Unless They're Idiots.

Addie and Eric were watching PBS this morning.  Some lady on some show says, "Well, kids, if you want to learn more about that, you can always ask your parents!"

"Unless they're idiots," mutters Addie.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dr. Magic Hands

Dr. Magic Hands was most excellent this morning.  I haven't seen her since before Nolie was born.  With both pregnancies, my back felt like it was being crushed by a two-ton weight (that weight being my giant belly and ass, no doubt).  I was in pretty much constant pain or discomfort by the third trimester with both pregnancies.  The doula we hired for the first pregnancy recommended Dr. Magic Hands, an osteopath, and I was an instant convert.

First off, I don't know what osteopathy is.  I know Dr. Magic is a "D.O." and not an "M.D.," but what do I care?  All I know is I go in to her office (a converted church) where tibetan chanting is on the stereo, she slips her hands under my body (the butt, the spine, the neck, wherever), holds them there for about 20 minutes, moves them around  little, and when I sit up I can all of a sudden move my shoulders back, or the pain in the lower back is gone, or that little throbbing in my left temple disappears. 

It's magic. Or her hands are the hands of god.  Or I just believe in her, and allow myself to release.  I don't know.

I realize now it doesn't matter how she does it, or if it's her or me "doing" it.  I used to ask her, "What are you doing to me?  How come I feel so much better?"  She just shrugs, her crazy, ratty ponytail bobbing at the side of her head, and hands me a nonsense brochure titled something like, "This Is Osteopathy."

So I don't ask anymore.  I just stand in awe and gratitude.

Today she did the hands under the back thing, and I felt my lungs open up and my right leg erupted in this most delightful tingling.  After about 20 minutes, she came up to the neck, put her hands right on my sore spot and said, "Hmm.  We're about 70% there.  I'm going to have to do a slight articulation."

And the she spun my head around on my neck, I saw some stars, and all of a sudden was able to hear out of my left ear (I hadn't realized it had been clogged up).  "That's going to be sore for a few days," she said.  "Come see me next week."

Reading over this, I realize I sound like a nutjob.  If the shoe fits, and all.  I only know what I know, and this chick is the cat's meow.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Looking the Other Way

So, I'm grumpy about a few things today.  This was the third morning in a row I've woken up with a nasty crick in my neck, which I think is in communication with a knot in my mid-back, both of which are causing me much angst.  It's off to the miracle-working shaman D.O. tomorrow morning for some help.

I made it to a new gynecologist today, and again got no answers about whatever it is that continues to plague my uterus.  Apparently, my body will just heal itself.  Ugh.

And, the President of the U. had a "town hall" today (which should tell you something).  We learned both that our school is in better shape than a lot of universities and that, the state legislature will probably get more bad news in June, which will mean loads of furloughs in the fall.  I didn't spin out or anything, but my little leprechuan Fear came and sat on my knee for a few minutes.  That little fucker.

So, I'm going home.  And here is what I'm going to give my energy to for the rest of the day:

Kids.  I think Peter Pan is on the docket for this evening.

Juggling.  It's coming along, it's coming along.  I am still not a coordinated person.  I was hoping to grow into coordination at some point, but perhaps at 34, I should stop waiting and just embrace my monkey arms and spaghetti legs.  It makes me laugh my ass off every time I try it, so that's worth something.

The good news.  There's been plenty of bad news this past year, but also the good news:  my new, beautiful nephew, Holden Jace, being born; my brother getting engaged; my dad's supposedly deadly cancer being in remission.  And lots more.  Lots to celebrate, and meditate on.

Stretching.  I've been doing yoga everyday as it's the only thing that relieves the neck pain.  So, again.

See you tomorrow, yo.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Free Wheeling

Okay, so Eric and I have been having some major emotional ups and downs over the whole lay-off thing, and it's certainly scary some days, and I get sad and depressed (doing my best to just fully feel those emotions, deeply and well, rather than suppress them).  But, well, I hate to admit it, but having to give up some things has made me realize how much great free stuff there is out there to take advantage of (provided one has some transportation, free time, and an internet connection).  It's like, now that I'm not overloaded with t.v. and newspaper and Crackberry, all of this quality time and opportunity has opened up.  What the hell?

Like, I now remember how great Pandora radio is.  I've been doing my yoga to some excellent chill tunes on there, provided commercial free and cost free (since we don't have On Demand yoga anymore).

The public library kicks major ass.  Major.  Books, books, books.  Videos.  Music.  All free.  How great is that? 

I don't know about yours, but our city has a plethora of free activities for kids and families.  I entered them all in the calendar, and we'll start going to some.  Summer is coming, summer is coming!

Sewing.  I can make a lot of my own clothes, pretty much any time I want.  Not everything, and I screw up a lot, but that's cool, right?   And no need to buy new stuf?

Friends.  With generosity coming out their pores.  Free babysitting, cookies, and tons and tons of good love and support.

Okay?  So screw the other stuff.  This is, maybe, the good life we've been looking for.  Maybe the giving up of stuff and luxuries is going to make some other really good things happen for us.  Change is hard, but maybe the rewards are sweet.  Dare I think it?

Talkin' Bout My Joy

Addie came wandering into our room at 6am, saying (in the most cheerful voice on the planet), "You know, I really can't open my eyes!  It's SO strange!"

Damn, damn, damn, I whispered to myself.  Then out loud, DAMN.

Addie wakes up every few weeks, her eyes swollen shut with pus.  Out come the pinkeye drops and the saline for squirting up her nose.  Kid has some clogged pipes, and they seem to often get clogged on Monday mornings when I have deadlines and conferences to attend and am already behind from being sick myself. 

But then, I got over it.  Cleaned out her eyes, called her school, got some chores done.  Mostly we hung out in the backyard building fairy houses from twigs and leaves and dandelions, until Eric came home at noon so I could come and do some work.  It was a stunningly beautiful day, so I'll take that.

(And yes, we've seen a doctor, and yes, we're cutting down on the milk products.  It has been suggested to us multiple times that she will outgrow all of this crud.  Throw hands up in the air).

Stuff like this doesn't bother me as much as it used to, doesn't panic me (usually).  I'm able to say DAMN and then just get on with it, say a quick thanks for the grace offered by a job whose schedule I can rearrange pretty easily.  Thanks for the extra, unexpected time with my kid.  Thanks for the health insurance and the stockpiled eyedrops.  Thanks for Nolie almost never being sick.  I get it now, much better than a year ago.  It's the whole deathbed thing:  I won't remember the emails I could have gone through this morning, years from now, on my deathbed.  But I might remember the fairy house.

Still, I wouldn't mind if there were NO more random infections in my house for a while.  That's not too much to ask, I think. 

By the way:  here's what I've pulled from my good-times jar so far:  I've learned a song by Randy Newman on the piano, and sing it when nobody's around (I sound like a tortured cat, but I commit, baby, I commit).  It's not memorized yet, but maybe by summer it will be?  I've written a prayer for joy.  And my last pull was to learn how to juggle from YouTube.  I'll let you know how it goes.

And, if you're looking for joy, check this out: 

What's not to love?  Look at that baby Nolie.  Lord, she's some lovin'.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It's All Good. Really.

I spent the morning trying to get our landline number switched over to Eric's cell phone, canceling the cable and the newspaper, cutting our donations, and calling my gram to see if she would pay for Addie's ballet lessons for a while (praise Ruby, she will).

I don't think I'll miss the t.v. too much yet, plus we can still watch stuff on the computer, and we kept Netflix for now, so that we have movies to watch.  The girls will miss Noggin, but tv wasn't good for them anyway, right?  They'd rather spend the time with us.  When I canceled the paper, I was told I could retain online access for six months for free.  Golden.  Better for the environment anyway.

We haven't made any decisions about our biggest expense--the kids' school.  We'll do that when we know more about when, exactly, Eric's last day will be (which could be anywhere from two weeks to three months).  That will be the biggest change, and I'm only beginning to get used to it in my head.

An awesome book I'm reading suggests this:  fill a jar with lots of things that you would like to do, and that are in line with your goals for growth.  Like, my goals have to do with giving myself some love without spending on material possessions, and with feeling more connected to family and friends, and also feeling the love of spirit.  So my jar has little slips of paper with things like, "learn the words to a good song and practice singing it," or, "call a friend," or, "meditate for 15 minutes."  Whenever I'm feeling anxious about stuff, I get to pull a paper from the jar and take a mini-break, practicing something that keeps me in line with where I envision my life going.  I was feeling pretty down last night, and pulled the song one.  I haven't decided which one yet to learn, but I'm excited about learning a new song on the piano, and practicing singing it.  I have something to look forward that is free and makes me happy.  It's a gift to myself.  Cool, huh?

Eric put my hand to his chest last night--it was vibrating like a drum with anxiety.  "We have to remember we're on the same side," he said, after I said some not-so-nice things about feeling freaked out about his finding a job.  How could I forget that he's human?  That he feels this more deeply than I do, losing his livelihood?  Shit.  Shit.  That sweet heart, pounding in that chest.  The most important thing is to believe in him now, and to trust (see Nanny's post for a truly awesome example of how this works).

"What you need the most right now is each oter," says Toni.

"You can freak out if you want to," my friend Ellen reminds me.  "But really, it's all good."

Sue:  "You and Eric have created a very solid foundation. Plant yourself there. And thrive."
And you all called, and gave us virtual hugs, and laugh and cry with us.  Thank you for this love (and also, Rose, for the cookies, which make many things better).  It's all good.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lay-offs, Lulus, and Tutus

My sweet, smart husband got laid off from his job this morning.  I felt a heaviness descend on my heart, for sure, and I've had a few moments of sniffles, times where I let the fear and uncertainty get me down.  I particularly get woozy when I think about what a year I've had, with my family members being sick and now this.  But that is not useful thinking, that cumulative thinking, and it's not reality, anyway. 

The reality is here, in this moment, where I have my own health back, thank goodness, and I think I might actually ship this stupid paper I've been working on to an editor, and I'll be leaving shortly to pick up Addie from ballet, and the sight of her in a tutu is a joy to behold.  We have a fridge full of food, our refinance looks like it will go through, and we have money in the bank.  So we're okay.  This is just another change we will have to adjust to.

And, as most of you know, Eric didn't love that work so much, anyway.  Maybe he'd like to be doing something else, anyway.  This may end up being a good thing.

So, our new adventure begins today.  I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Crazy-Ass Weeks

I crawled into bed last Sunday night, after Addie's 5th birthday extravaganza at Chuck E. Cheese's, and am just now crawling out.  We're still not totally sure what happened to me.  As best as the doctors can explain, my uterus kind of exploded in some sort of never-before-seen infection.  Or an evil little gnome of a cyst on my right ovary set off its own little suicide bomb.  Or something else entirely.  Maybe unrelated to Chuck E. Cheese, maybe not.

All I know is this:  I was sick, mommy, was I sick.  And I feel better today, got a little work done, but I'm still not all better.  And the doctors still don't know what the hell is up.  Also, all of those classic women's studies/anthropology texts about dirt and disease and women menstruating?  Still all very true.  Western medicine may be kind to you and your ovaries, but not if they're dropping egg.  They want nothing to do with you in those cases. 

Some of you might say western medicine never is kind to you and your ovaries.  You may be right.

Anyway, we're headed into Easter weekend, so I crawl out of bed, away from wrapping birthday presents and toward dye-ing eggs.  We find out next week if Eric gets laid off.  I also turn thirty-four.  And I have to revise an article YET AGAIN for the same publication, and have two more publications due on May 1.  I feel like I'd rather saw off my own arm than work right now, but that's what we got.  Work and birthdays and Easter and being laid off work.  And a suicide-bombing cyst mission.  Plus a million other little blessings, I know, I know.  I'm counting them, too.  What else can you do?

What a crazy-ass week, yo.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Addie at 5

Here's a snapshot of Addie, as she turns five this next week:

She can read whole chapter books all by herself.  Her favorite ones are about fairies, of the Tinkerbell variety.  "Mama," she whispers as she crawls into bed with me in the morning, "when we go to Disneyland someday, we will have to be very quiet.  We will hear the tinkling of the bells and that will tell us how to get to Pixie Hollow.  Okay?"

Though the front of her shirts are no longer covered in drool, she still has a perenially runny, crusty nose and sounds always plugged up.  She can't close her mouth when she chews.  It's like having a baby ox at the dinner table.  And, she is fidgety like nobody's business.  I'd love to have a time-lapse video of her during a meal.  It would be like watching a waffle dervish.  Waffle dervish baby ox.

She is taken with all things nature.  We have seedlings growing in our bay window, and she follows their daily progress closely.  One of her favorite things is to go in the backyard and look for "signs of spring."  I'm constantly being dragged out of the house to observe the new buds on trees, or some black beetle crawling across the pavement.

Addie is quick to cry.  Her feelings are tender, and she is still very much a spirited child.  An itchy tag on her shirt and she's a puddle of sobs pounding at the floor.  She is also incredibly creative, and can make a sculpture or painting out of almost anything.  She loves music.  She loves her family, and talks incessantly about her grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends.

She is incredibly tall and thin, and when she's sitting in the bath at night, her cheeks pink from the steam and her lips huge and red, her eyes big in her thin face, she absolutely takes my breath away with her beauty.

She's taken to sleep-walking at night, which usually involves coming into our room and heading for the stalk of library books, all shaky and unconscious, wanting to read even in her sleep.  Every so often she wakes in the middle of the night with horrible croup and cannot breathe.  Or terrified from a nightmare in which a pig has been nibbling on her toes.  I remember her as a baby, then, those nights of nursing her and staring into each other's eyes, discovering each other.  She's very much on her own path now, but I hold on anyway.

You add fire and excitement to our lives, my sweet Addie, and my heart is filled to bursting with love for you.  We are so proud of you, so amazed by everything you are and are becoming.  Happy 5th Birthday, our sweet girl.

ORE Kick-Off

Operation Reduce Expenses begins today. 

I teach late on Thursday nights, usually, but it's "E-Days" here on campus, which is a three-day festival-type thing that happens every year at Mines, and is when our normally staid, quiet, nose-to-the-grindstone student body goes a little crazy.  As in, I smelled alcohol on more than one student last night in class.  And the amazing fireworks show was scheduled to begin right at the end of class.  So I ended the three-hour seminar early and went back to my office to watch the show from my office window and finish grading papers.

Just then a message from the President of the college pops in my inbox.  We've got an $11 million shortfall to reckon with, it says.  I'm sure you're all wanting more information, it says.  Not that they're giving us any.

I sighed and put my head in my hands and tried to remind myself that nothing has changed.  I'm sitting here, still breathing, still with my healthy family and my house and with enough money to buy food and everything else I need for a pretty good long time.  Nothing has changed.

Still, for the first time since this roller-coaster ride began, some fear got the best of me last night and I had to have a good cry over everything.  I came home, mixed up a good, strong rum and juice, and sat in the dark, thinking about which expenses we can cut now to begin saving money for what seems to be coming.  Nothing big.  A lot of redundancies--the organic vegetable delivery, the newspaper, the cable.  All these trappings of middle-class life that I've felt conflicted over anyway.  We're not having to pull the girls out of school yet (that one will hurt) and neither of us has officially pushed the emergency button.  But we're setting off down the path anyway, little steps at a time.

I know it's going to be okay.  I know it is okay.  I'm doing okay with the fear, generally.  Writing this makes me feel better, even if it is whiny and self-indulgent, and faith in the path helps, too. 

Are you all feeling scared?  How are you dealing with it?