01 September 2009
I am a little obsessed with it.
It makes me want to enter something every day.
Perhaps that is (obviously, duh) the point, but I feel like going with the motivation and seeing how many days in a row I can have something to say for myself athletically.
Is this thing new?
Is there a way to map trails?
I appear to be developing a little generalized o.c.d. lately. I'm SURE this will help alleviate it.
I can't wait to get home and go for a run so that I can post said run to my web thingy. Which connects to my facebook page. Which tells two hundred and eleven people that I know in one way or another that I went for a run.
Danger. Danger. Danger.
In other big news today. . .
I bought this.
Oh, did I forget to mention that NotMike and I are getting married.
In November. Yes, this November. We decided in July.
And now I have a dress. A Gown, if you will. Which seems to make the whole thing a lot more real and catapult the whole thing into a new realm of HOLY HELL THERE IS A LOT TO DO BEFORE WE CAN HAVE THIS WEDDING WEDONTEVENHAVEALOCATION YET!
Yep. It comes out in all caps in my head too.
Today I will be dealing with the by going for a run, going to dinner with a friend, and then going to bed. I checked a big ol' thing of my list today and I got a deal on it and maybe that will help me sleep easy tonight.
More on that tomorrow.
26 August 2009
23 August 2009
I have a problem with commitment. Specifically, with overcommitting myself, routinely and always with the very best of intentions. Often met, ultimately, with extreme failure on all fronts. There are too many examples of this to name here, but I don't think that it is a particularly uncommon problem, especially for young, educated, working mothers who have interests and ambitions that extend beyond the edge of the driveway.
Exhibit A: Graduate School.
Two years ago, after my divorce was finalized and the everyone living in the same town thing was NOT working out so well. I enrolled in a graduate program. We needed some space, it was not permanent, and the classes were distance delivered, so, when the time came that we COULD live in the same place, which was of course vastly better in the long run for our daughter, then I would not have to quit my program mid-stream.
In the second week of my second semester my father got sick again and I agreed to spend three months (the bulk of the semester) at home spending my days with my daughter and administering his iv antibiotics into a pic line that ran behind his pacemaker and directly into his heart. This was an hour long affair, three times a day 6-7 am, 1-2 pm, 11 pm- midnight. Seven days a week for three months. I drove him to and from work and traveled with him when he had to travel for work. The schedule wore me down. He often slept through the late night drip, but I had to be awake to disconnect everything and shut off the valves and throw away the empty "grenades".
I made it about half-way through the semester before I cried uncle and took and incomplete in the class. I couldn't focus, couldn't keep up from my tiny laptop screen with the spotty wifi in my high school bedroom.
Eventually, the i.v. was done, my father received his first clean bill of health in four years, and my daughter and I packed up and went to set up house in the new apartment we now shared with my boyfriend in the town where he worked and I was supposed to be going to school. I stayed home with her all that summer and was too burned out to take any classes. NotMarsha was two and it was the first time since she was a baby that she was with me, full-time, day in and day out for months and months and months at a time. About five minutes into that summer it became apparent that there was no way that I could take her back to her dad and live apart from her any longer. Neither, for that matter, could my boyfriend. We waited awhile to talk to her father about this, but ultimately we all agreed that circumstances had changed enough and everyone had moved on enough that we could all live in the same place and work out a new custody agreement and figure out how to parent a "family" that now included her NotMarsha, me, my boyfriend, her dad, stepmother, stepbrother, and a baby on the way.
Between moving and finding a new place to live and staying with my parents in the meantime. Getting NotMarsha used to her new, much bigger (and far more intricately scheduled) life that included three days a week of pre-school and shuffling back and forth between houses every few days. Yeah, you guessed it, no classes that semester either.
By the end of the year, I had accepted a half-time job that would allow me to work on the days when NotMarsha was in pre-school and staying at her Dad's House, then pick her up at noon on Wednesdays and be home with her for the rest of the week. NotMike had taken a job that was based in our new/old town and we were going to buy a house in the spring. I could take classes on the evenings when NotMarsha was at her Dad's too...it was time to dig back in.
I made it through the spring semester. Repeating my incomplete from the spring before and finishing a pre-requisite in microeconomics that just about ate me alive. We spent the entire winter/spring at my parent's house because we chose to embark upon the single most difficult and lengthy real estate transaction in the history of the universe (I am NEVER moving again).
I enrolled in a class for the summer. Just one. (Look at me trying to manage my life better! Weee!)
Here's the catch. In my program I can only take three courses before I have to submit a Statement of Professional Objectives. Explaining why I chose this program, my professional and personal expericances that would be a benefit to the program and why the program would be a benefit to me in my professional life.
I have been wrestling with this thing for over a year. I actually wrote one, during the course of my first semester in the program, but it was so outdated and utterly lacking in relevance to my life at this point that it would never do. I have been stuck on the title of the document (which had to be all of TWO, yes TWO pages) for months. Kicking it around in my head like I do so many other things that I never write down here or anywhere else. I have to submit it before I can take anymore classes and classes start up again after labor day. I have decided to only take one class this fall because I am so afraid of flailing and failing at something yet again and we have a lot of life stuff going on this fall. Here is what I have come up with. I wrote it on my little netbook in the playroom while watching E.T. for the 207th time with NotMarsha last week. Because that is my life. And because if I had sat upstairs and written it on the big computer she would have been upset that I was doing "Mommy Work" during "NotMarsha Time" and then I would have had to cry in the bathroom from all of the GUILT. Again.
Statement of Professional Objectives
It is easy to state simply what my professional objectives would be if I were in a place where I could dedicate the majority of my energy to my career. To begin with, I would have long ago finished my graduate program, or like many of my peers, would have finished law school a year or two ago. I would have chosen to pursue a degree in reproductive rights law. I would have taken a job with Planned Parenthood, fought on the front lines of the health care debate, argued for freedom to access of basic health care which should be covered under any health plan, for both men and women without question.
I would be successful, financially and otherwise. Independent. I would have disposable income and be able to shop where I wanted when I felt like it. I would be able to schedule time to run every day and vacation when I needed to get away for a week or two. I would not feel the need to apologize when I needed to bring work home. I would be able to have a rent-a-wife to clean my house once a week and a roomba to make up the difference. I would not have to schedule my every moment with a committee of three other adults. I would be accountable to myself, to my employer, to my responsibilities. I would be completely reliable.
In reality, my professional objectives are much different. In reality I have a young child and a second chance at a real family. In reality my career and my professional life is, at the moment, far more utilitarian than it is glamorous or inspirational. I am the quintessential mother flake, calling in sick because my child has a stomach ache or a head cold or a nose that is running at a speed that precludes her from being able to go to pre-school that day. In reality, my professional life is one of necessity and compromise, bathed in a heavy shroud of guilt. Guilt that I am not with my child, guilt that I am spending half of my time in an office doing a job that is fine, but not inspiring. Guilt that I am only working half time, guilt that I do not have a job that inspires me, guilt that I am not applying myself fully.
Thus is the life of the working mother.
Therefore, like every working mother my objective is to achieve balance between the constant pull of both my professional and personal lives; to have a personally fulfilling and useful career, actively participating in the financial health and well-being of my family, all the while meeting the logistical and emotional needs of my family. Our family is blended and encompasses, among other things, a dog, a new mortgage, an impending marriage, a teenager who does not live with us and a toddler who is with us half time. A partner who’swhose job with the legislature requires that he is away from home for the full legislative session, roughly one quarter of the calendar year, during which time I am a single mother and fully responsible for everything, all the time, including figuring out how to walk the dog at six am while there is a child sound asleep in her bedroom (we do thirty minutes of circles around the yard, running on our miniature track like gerbils).
Ultimately, my goal is to work in health care administration. Having spent a large part of my twenties learning how to navigate through the health care system as an advocate and caregiver for an ailing parent, I have witnessed first hand the intricacies of the system and both the strengths and shortcomings there in. I have also discovered that in the hospital arena I am able to jump in and “play”. I get the jargon, I understand the egos, and when interested and compelled by my work, I am every bit as compulsive as a doctor able to work a 36 hour shift without blinking.
My particular passion is for women’s health care and reproductive rights. To that end, I have held a seat on the Board of Directors for Planned Parenthood of Alaska since 2005. In 2008 we merged with Planned Parenthood of Idaho and Planned Parenthood of Western Washington to become Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, the second largest Planned Parenthood affiliate in the country with an annual operating budget of over forty million dollars. As a member of the merger committee I was offered an integral role and crash course in charting the course for the future of access to care for women and men across three states, in particular, expanding access in my home state by opening the only full-service clinic in Southeast Alaska.
I currently hold the position of Director of Communications for the Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska, a statewide nonprofit providing education and support services for individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. As a reflection of my desire to strike the balance between familial, academic, and financial responsibilities, the position is half-time, allowing me to work on the days when my daughter is in pre-school and in her father’s care, while being home with her while she is with me. The drawbacks of this arrangement are that my position rather than being proactive and evolving, is primarily graphic design and support services for the full-time departments.
As a master in the art of over committing myself, it has been a difficult and often painfully guilt ridden process to learn how to pull back enough to strike a sustainable balance in the multifaceted life of the working mother. My desire is to spend the next two years maximizing my academic and board work so that I am fully prepared to engage fully in my professional life after my daughter begins elementary school. In the meantime I am also anxious to gather enough knowledge and experience to more precisely define what exactly it is that I want to do, professionally, in the future.
21 July 2009
07 July 2009
What, exactly, Sarah Palin has showed us is as fuzzy for those of us in Alaska is it is to just about anyone else on the planet.
It has been a fairly fantastic few days from my perspective.
It all started here. Which, quite frankly, I found to be highly enjoyable.
Then there was this, which blew my mind on any number of levels. Namely, the length. Also, I think that she wrote it her self (as evidence I offer you...the length). It is F I V E P A G E S L O N G . Now, I am both a runner and a regular reader of Runner's World and this is somewhat unprecedented. David Patterson's, for example, who is also a Governor, was two.
Well, then the whole world of Sarah Palin exploded on Friday with her announcement that she was done being Governor and was passing the ball to her Lt. Gov to finish all the boring stuff, like the last 18 months of her term. Her term which she campaigned for and asked the 600,000 or so citizens of this State to hire her to do. From Juneau, where she never really bothered to live...oooh, perhaps we could have seen this coming.
I'm not foolish enough to believe that she is going away. I'm sure she has two or three tricks up her sleeves and will prove to be, in the future, at least as annoying to me personally as she has been thus far. I can't say that I'll miss her much though in the meantime. Or that I think the State would be better off with her at the helm.
Hell, I had a frazzilon dollar book deal, I'd probably drop my day job too.
25 June 2009
Except that at the end she got a whole bag full of goodies and toys and all sorts of stuff and all I ever get is floss.
Tonight we are going to go home and attempt to make more progress on the never ending swing set.
In an effort to distract myself from its neverending-ness, I went out and bought her a nice little wooden table too, because there were just not enough things in boxes that need to be put back together...we needed NEW stuff to assemble!
I am surprised by how much I love our house. Even though the downstairs is still a shambles and I have no idea what to do with our room or bathroom or the random extra room or, for that matter, the "play" room which has a lot of boxes, but no designated furniture...cardboard couch anyone? Rubbermaid tub chaise?
I really am not at all a fan of the split level house. And our place is a straight up seventies split. I don't like the congested entryway or the lack of places to hang things. I don't like the architecturally un-interesting-ness boxiness of the "style"
I think we are starting to do interesting things with color that make the rooms a little bit more spacious and cozy at the same time.
NotMarsha's room is something of an unexpected dream entirely of her own design.
I think I will need to rally this weekend and bust back into the paint. We moved all the supplies from the kitchen to the garage two weeks ago when we had company for a bbq and I have not picked up a brush since then. Time to get it squared away so that we can unpack the boxes. RF described our kitchen as "schizophrenic" last weekend, what with the stainless steel stove and our camping utensils.
I am also excited to post pics as soon as I can claim that even just ONE room is officially done, trim and pictures and all.
I am excited to empty the boxes and be done with them for good. Its like Christmas opening boxes full of stuff that I haven't seen in a year or two or three or five. Like my very own Goodie Bags (Boxes) from the Second Chance Fairy.
They remind me that I really do possess the things of a life, even if they have been stashed away in a 6x8 storage unit for awhile, like maybe I can DO this the second time around.
I long to be settled. I am never, ever moving again. Seriously. All of those things still feel very far away. Lofty goals of questionable attainability that at the very least are worth striving for. . .
24 June 2009
Here is what I find so shocking about this information: The complete lack of empathy expressed by, well, everyone. Especially the momosphere, like this and this.
I suppose this is not particularly shocking. This is, after all, America and Americans love nothing more than to make people celebrities and then tear them to shreds.
But I think it is also a comment on the realm of parent bloggers who are, by and large, married people or permanently non-married, but living in secure relationships.
I mention this not to criticize the marrieds, but possibly a little to point out that until you have BEEN through a divorce from the inside, particularly one where there are children involved and you are going to have to be involved with your former spouse for the better part of the rest of your life whether you like it or not, you really should back the hell off from the outside unless you have something nice to say.
Believe me, its hard a-fucking-nuf to face yourself in the mirror everyday and try to figure out what the hell you are going to do with the rest of your day/week/life. Being told you didn't try hard enough or work at it sufficiently or that you didn't put enough faith in god is bullshit.
Here are the things that I would wish for both Kate and Jon Gosselin (but, quite frankly, more for Kate because, well, I'm a mom):
That someone give them the following books to read:
Mom's House, Dad's House . . . because parenting plans are important when you are no longer parenting as a unit.
Ex-Etiquette For Parents: Good Behavior after Divorce or Separation . . . because, really, nothing is more important than being cordial at this point.
Two Homes . . . even if they are going to do the thing where the parent's come and go from one house, this kids book describes the life of a child who knows he is loved unconditionally by both of his parents
That someone tells them to communicate as much as possible via email and operate under the assumption that everything they write will wind up on national television (which, is more likely in their case than mine, but same rule applies).
That their families support them judgement free and if that isn't going to happen that they have a real life community of people who surround them with whatever kind of support they need.
That they are able to believe in their own resilience and know that life will go on and that, to paraphrase Anne of Green Gables, the future is always brighter with no mistakes made in it yet.
17 June 2009
Most of all, I really dislike the other mothers and the fact that I am there all alone.
The first summer that NotMarsha was old enough (1 1/2) to want to go to parks was the summer when I was a 25 year old, single, working, mother nearing the end of a year long divorce. I was living for the summer in the guest bedroom of some incredibly kind friends' house. The more or less took me in because my parents wouldn't let me stay with them. It was not a good time.
We went to the park on Friday nights, after work and dinner and before the strange bedroom nighttime battle. The whole thing was exhausting. It was, by far, the worst year (or two) of my entire life. I was basically a failure as a mother and there was not much chance of that changing. I was in a painful and exhausting parenting situation with my ex, the nanny, and the grandparents, it was a scene. I was in a job that I took out of desperation, that I could have been really good at, but in that case had really missed the mark.
It felt like every other parent that we encountered at the park could see right through all of that.
Young mother? Check.
Still wearing office clothes? Check.
No ring? Check.
Low patience threshold? Check.
I got pregnant, after having been married two years I was married, at 23. NotMarsha was born just after my 24th birthday. Her father and I separated six months later. It wasn't until that summer at the park on Friday nights that I ever felt like a "Young Mother". I don't feel like I look particularly young anymore, but I look at the one or two pictures I have from when NotMarsha was born and I look like such a baby myself. I had no idea.
I got the message loud and clear that summer at the park. Totally overwhelmed. Totally isolated. Totally at a loss for how to make anything right in the long run.
Its gotten better over time. The divorce was finalized and then revised once we were able to work together better.
Everyone has moved on and is happy in their personal lives. I had already met and was basically involved with NotMike that summer, but it was long distance and not-public.
Last summer, NotMike, NotMarsha, and I all lived together for the first time in a little apartment in the town where NotMike and I met. It was a horribly rainy summer and the parks weren't really even an option, so everyday we went to the pool. (Yes, I get why it is funny that we avoided the rain by swimming in the local pool). The pool atmosphere was mostly like the park, not quite as harsh, but unless you bring a friend with you there are the inevitable impenetrable cliques.
I really commend Young Mothers who were more aware of it at the time. Who moved passed it and found their stride and can take on the world. Like this one. That post was such a wake up call to me.
So inspiring, but so totally out of my league.
Which leads pretty directly to this.
One of the most important things for me when we were shopping for a new house was to find one with as absolutely much yard as possible. I wanted it to be big, fenced, and ready to go. I wanted it to be safe and free of cigarette butts and broken beer bottles. I wanted it to be a place where NotMarsha and a dog could play and be safe and have fun. Where I could relax and not feel like I had to be the right kind of mother, just HER mother. Genuinely enjoying my time with HER.
Slightly agoraphobic? Perhaps.
Totally extravagant? Probably.
Totally worth it in the mental health kickbacks? Abso#*(%#lutly.
Last weekend we had a BBQ with her Dad, Step-mom, Brothers, Cousin, and Paternal Grandparents in our new yard with the 1/3 finished Swing Set. The picnic table part was up. The kids ran around in the yard and my niece hung from the structure like a monkey in a tree. It was just exactly what I had always wanted us to be able to do and made the huge price tag and the two solid weeks of construction totally worth everything. And the thing isn't even fully constructed yet.
NotMarsha wants us to get a sign for the yard that says "NotMarsha's Park". We have a little park bench too.
The yard, after much effort and 62 bags of crap needs some work, but is clean.
The house, a whole separate series of DIY before and after posts, is coming along.
We really are settling in to a life. Slowly and painfully and awkwardly. But deservedly and with hope for the future, which didn't really exist around here for a very long time.
16 June 2009
I am writing about The Dog, because I have pictures of her on this computer. (Also, obviously, because we love her dearly).
The picture to the right was the first one snapped of her in our new house. We had moved in forty eight hours before we picked her up from the shelter. The shelter which is 250 miles away from our brand new house.
Here is the story of The Dog.
It is also the story about how The Dog became Our Dog.
NotMarsha had been asking for several months for a puppy. For each and every one of the several months, in fact, that she and I were staying at my parent's house while THE REAL ESTATE DEAL FROM HELL took its sweet, sweet, SWEET time to complete. In the meantime she got a baby brother at her Dad's House. She likes the baby a lot. She tried to negotiate for a baby at the New Mommy House as well, but that won't be happening any time soon.
She mastered The Art of the Potty a few days before her third birthday in January. We found The New Mommy House and made an offer in the middle of February. It was a fixer upper, for sure, but there was a huge, fenced yard and lots of interior space and four bedrooms spread out over two floors and a lot of the flooring had just been done. It was the right house for us. It was a four minute commute to her Dad's House. This was a huge improvement over the 60 minute minimum round trip that we had been enduring near daily from where we were staying (double if you forget The Bear).
After we made the offer on The New Mommy House, NotMike and I relented on the issue of getting a dog. There was tons of space for a dog! We could put in a dog run in the garage! The dog can be home when we are at work and I'm home half time anyway! It would be good for NotMarsha to have a dog! Plus, basically, she really, really wanted one and we are two divorced parents who are suckers (see next post to be entitled THE SWING SET).
We made no promises that The New Dog would be a puppy. We got some books about pet adoption and drove past our local animal shelter (not two miles from our front door) daily talking about adopting a pet into our family once we had moved into The New Mommy House. We did our grown up research too. We settled on some sort of Labrador because all the available information says they are the best dogs to have with young kids.
We were supposed to close (at long last) on The New Mommy House on April 10th.
We did not close. We would close the next week. (It went on like this until JUNE 5th, but I digress).
I asked questions of people I knew who had dogs. Rule Number 125: Do not ask good questions of smart people unless you are prepared to implement the answers.
I got hooked up with this website . I searched it. Frequently. I came across a puppy. I lurved the little puppy. I called the local shelter. The puppy was in the process of being adopted. Right. That. Minute. Sob, sob, sob.
15 June 2009
There are five of us, if you count the new dog, and we just found our home.
Well, that is not, exactly true...we made the offer five months ago, but on June 5th we signed the papers. Now it is ours to own.
The house, its needs some work, so we are living in a construction zone. I have discovered, these things move slowly, when you are doing them on your own.
We have no WiFi and a half built swing set and a yard that is truly a place to roam.
The downstairs is where we are hiding, all the boxes that contain most of what we own. So in the meantime, we eat on paper and are drinking out of party cubs galore.
Its an adventure! It is a new life! And I think we are all glad we got this far.
I really, can't keep up this rhyme scheme, so I am going to sign off with this: I will post pictures, of the remodel and surely stories as we move ahead.
I've missed the writing, so I am back now and it seems like time.