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Job hunting

I’ve been job hunting in preparation for our move later this year. Job hunting is one of my least favorite activities, but there are a few things that are actually kind of fun this time.

I get to think about a new job. I’ve been with my current employer for about five and a half years. I have held three very different positions in that time and have enjoyed all three, but it’s rather nice to think about getting to learn new systems, adjust to a new culture, and getting to know new people. It’s always a little scary to start over, but the excitement definitely overrides the fear in this case.

The other nice thing is that I’m forced to look carefully at my strengths. I tend to focus on what needs work or adjustment, not on my best qualities. While job hunting itself is hard on my ego, being able to look at the positive changes I have wrought in my current job certainly helps.

Right now I’m feeling impatient. I want to move somewhere new. I won’t have to scrape ice off of the car this winter! Morning runs will never involve negotiating through piles of unshoveled snow! The new city is extremely bike-friendly, which will be a huge, positive change. We will also have access to a much wider variety of foods. I’m sure it won’t be perfect, since nothing ever is, but I am focusing on the positive aspects. I have lived here much too long and my wanderlust is making an appearance. We will be in the new city for at least five years, so we’re not becoming nomadic, but there is so much to explore there that I’m very excited. I have decided that Katja and I, at least, will do a lot of exploring, and Xander is completely welcome when he has time.

In terms of running, my intervals are now two minutes running and two minutes walking. This morning’s run was not the best, but it’s done. Since I’m doing most weeks twice, I know that I have another few runs exactly like this one to get more comfortable with the intervals. I always feel better after a run even if the run itself is miserable. I had forgotten that side effect; I will try to remember it the next time I feel like I am slogging.

Being enough

I spent ten days on my own in December. Xander and Katja went to visit his family in Arizona. I didn’t have enough paid leave to go, but it seemed like a good thing for Katja to get to spend time with her grandparents and aunts and uncles on that side of the family. I wanted to get a good start on organizing the shed, too, which is rather difficult work when a two-year-old is helping. I also, completely selfishly, wanted to get some sleep, which I did. Katja has good nights and bad nights, but she has had colds and ear infections lately so there were more bad nights than good ones. The lack of sleep had taken its toll and I was somewhat short tempered and not enjoying life very much.

I caught up on sleep. Life is much better now! I also cataloged 31 boxes, gave away nine bags of books to the VA hospital, another four bags of books to the library, and gave away some things we will not use again to a local charity. All of that was very good and made me feel accomplished, satisfied, and organized.

I also learned a few things. The primary one is that I can relax some. Between the two of us, Xander and I have the house running pretty smoothly. I like making lists, but I feel bad if I don’t finish the things on the list in the time frame I set for myself. It all gets done eventually, though, and adding guilt to my life is not useful. I can run laundry during the week and have more time on weekends that is stress-free to hang out with Katja. I have a job that doesn’t require me to bring work home; I should take advantage of that. Once Katja is in bed, if Xander is home, I can go to the gym for my 20 minute workout. I don’t have to get up really early to work out because I can’t work out for very long at the moment. Sleep is much more important than I thought, too. Life got a lot better after a couple of days of actually sleeping eight unbroken hours.

I’ve been thinking about all of the changes coming up in the next year. We’ll be moving somewhere, so there’s a new beginning in some ways. With any luck it will be somewhere it rains more than it does here. Katja is growing and changing, talking a lot, singing and dancing and climbing and running, and she’ll keep getting more interesting. I’m focusing on the good things by writing one good thing about every day because this helps me remember those things instead of dwelling on things that irritate me or make me angry. Yesterday, for instance, Katja and I went for a long, leisurely walk, had lunch, and walked back to the car. We watched ducks and geese, stomped in ice, and pushed lots of buttons. We didn’t hurry at all and it was incredibly nice.

Much of my life I’ve tried to be perfect. I was angry at myself for my SAT score, which was not as good as my older brother’s score, but I didn’t know that it was actually quite high. I got smacked upside the head by a couple of friends of mine for that one. There is always someone better, someone smarter, someone stronger or faster or something. In the past year I started getting through this. I ran a half marathon. I wasn’t anywhere near first, I wasn’t last, and my main goal was to finish, which I did. While I was lying on the couch recovering from hip surgery I thought a lot about my need to be perfect and organized and on top of everything. I realized, slowly, that it wasn’t actually making my life better. Yes, it’s good to be organized, but I was getting very stressed about it if things didn’t go exactly to plan, if I got behind in the morning or forgot something in Katja’s bag.

It’s okay. I’m enough. Xander and I together are enough.

When Xander went to England for ten days and I stayed home with Katja, I was worried that I wouldn’t be very good at being a single parent. It ended up being okay. We both missed him a lot, of course, but we didn’t get too frustrated at each other and we mostly enjoyed each other. While he and Katja were in Arizona, I missed them, but I also knew that they were fine and having fun.

I’m working on building a life with less unnecessary stress. It’s great if I lay out my clothes the night before, but if it doesn’t happen, I don’t have to get out of bed to handle it. It can wait. If I have a bad day, I can stay home that night instead of pushing and going to the gym anyway. I took a nap with Katja yesterday, about an hour and a half, and because we spent most of the day out of the house and I was busy last night, the kitchen wasn’t perfect this morning. I almost twitched about it, then remembered that no one really cares. It will get done tonight and it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It was more important to go for a walk with her, get some rest, then have fun running errands than it was to stress about whether there were a few dishes that needed to be done.

This year I will try to remember something my mother says a lot about parenting. “You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be good enough.” I’m not perfect. I never will be perfect. That’s okay, though. No one expects perfection except, perhaps, me, and I can work on getting over that. There is a website/series of interviews that is helping me here, which you might want to check out.

I hope this year you are enough for yourself.

Ramble

Today has been somewhat difficult. I didn’t sleep well last night, though the dreams were certainly amusing and weird. Physical therapy this morning was hard because I mentioned that one of the exercises had become easy. They replaced it with single-leg squats. Those weren’t easy. My hip ached off and on today and I was pretty tired at work, so the day dragged. I’m probably going to go to bed early tonight.

I’m having mixed feelings on a few subjects. I want to work out every day to the extent that I can, but I also get so tired so much of the time that motivation for more than three days a week doesn’t always work. I am really looking forward to moving next summer, wherever we end up, but it’s starting to sink in exactly how much I’m going to miss people. I won’t miss the place; being allergic to everything that grows here  has not made me interested in staying much longer. It is beautiful, in its own way, but I miss the nice green that comes from a place that actually has water. I do love that lavender grows so easily, but that doesn’t offset the lack of trees. I’m also not looking forward to the experience of moving, as that is never fun. On the other hand, we have found a good home for our piano and we know it will be enjoyed, so I feel less unhappy about leaving it here. Moving a piano is seldom worth it, especially since we may be moving somewhere small.

There are big things coming, but they are things I don’t have much control over right now. We won’t know until spring where we’re going to move, most likely, and then we’ll have to get everything set up and done in the space of three or four months. I like having control, but I’m working on letting this go. Wherever we move, I’ll start job hunting and hopefully find a job I like as much as I like the work I’m doing now.

I’m going to attempt to make jambalaya again in a few weeks, brown roux and all. I made it once a few years ago for someone but we didn’t keep any for ourselves. I kind of made it up that time, so I’ll do the same again and hope it works out. Other than the roux, it’s pretty forgiving.

We have family coming in for Thanksgiving, a turkey already ordered, and plans for a feast, and I always look forward to that holiday.

Life is good right now, but I’m feeling antsy. I know we have a big move coming up and I feel helpless to plan for it yet. We are all doing well in general but I’m still not all the way back to normal; I’m slow and sometimes in pain. I want everything to go smoothly and I seem to be the golem in the gears, slowing things down.

This isn’t depression. I’ve been there and I remember the feeling of waking up every morning and not wanting to do anything. It felt like a grey wool blanket was draped over everything. This isn’t that feeling. This is almost irritation. While I don’t want to miss any of the next several months, while I will miss terribly so many friends, I also want to move on and start our new adventure. If I think of it as an adventure, moving someplace completely new to me is slightly less terrifying. We have so much that needs to get sorted out and organized; some of it needs to just go away. Depending on where we move, we might not even be keeping most of our furniture. There are a lot of questions right now and not many answers, and I have a constant awareness of the impending nature of the move. It’s like one grain of sand in my shoe. I can feel it and it’s irritating but it isn’t bad enough to stop and take off the shoe. Not that I could get rid of this irritation, but you get the idea, I hope.

I should get some sleep. That generally helps with shoving the irritation into the background rather than letting it take over my brain and color everything I’m thinking about. I hope you don’t have too many grains of sand on your end.

Life is a tightrope

“I used to think all my plans and lists would keep me safe. My coping mechanisms that served me all those years are laughable to me now. Oh honey, I want to tell my younger self, there is no such thing as safety. Life is a tightrope and you can spend your life building a net without ever getting up on the wire. Or you can take it step by delicate step, balancing, falling, and getting back up again and again. But you can’t look down. Only out and up because, sweet girl, the views are spectacular.” – http://sizzlesays.wordpress.com

I almost never write twice in one day, but this made me want to write.

I love writing lists, but they are just a mechanism to let me feel in control when the world is swinging its way through space. Lists, and checking off things on lists, allow me to pretend that I can keep the craziness of everything out of my space.

Nothing keeps the craziness out.

In the past several years, people have died, people we both loved very much. We found out we couldn’t biologically have children. We decided to adopt. We are now parents, something which, at times, was completely unimaginable. We had to short sell our house. Xander finished his Masters degree and I finished mine, too. We got married, which is something I was pretty sure would never happen to me because of so many bad choices in the past. We raised a Great Dane who is a sweetheart. We had to give up a cat for adoption to someone who doesn’t have small children because the cat made it abundantly clear that a child in the house was completely unacceptable, though the other cat was fine. I crashed a car and we have a new one. None of this is in any particular order.

The point is that I can’t predict anything. I try. I make lists. I do what I can to bring life into line with what I think should be happening, but there are too many variables. I’ve fallen off the tightrope a lot. I’m getting better at getting up each time. This last time, this “you thought you were doing something good and healthy by running a half marathon but you managed to damage a hip”, has thrown me for a loop, but I’m trying, this time, to push myself to adapt instead of being angry at the world because it won’t adapt to me.

I spent a lot of time being angry during infertility. That was awful.

The views are spectacular. Katja smiles at me and I can’t help smiling back. Nyx shoves her head under my hand so I’ll pet her. Loki snuggles on my lap while Katja pets her and Loki purrs. Xander makes me happy every time I think about him or see him.

There is no such thing as safety. There is, happily, such a thing as joy, and I am lucky enough to have it in abundance.

Rock climbing!

I decided to push myself and start something new, so I found a new sport to pursue for my cross training for running. I signed up to learn how to rock climb. At the moment, I completely suck at it. I do, however, enjoy it. There is something exciting and a little surreal about hanging off a wall by my fingers and toes.

I get very, very sore after climbing, which means I need to do it more often, right?

My upper body strength is not great, to say the least, so this leaves many muscles aching. I have to work through my fear of heights when I climb on belay, so mostly right now I’m bouldering, just climbing on low areas. Even that, however, pushes me past limits I didn’t know I had. I climb until I’m shaking and sweating. That is enough for now.

It’s interesting to start new things that I know I won’t be good at. Rather difficult for my ego, at times, but I’m working to be proud of the attempt so that I can eventually be proud of successes. It’s good for me to have something to work towards.

Surfer’s ear

I went to the doctor today to deal with the cold that I’ve had for two and a half weeks now.

He did the usual asking about symptoms and looking in my mouth, nose, and ears. He asked if I grew up near the ocean and if I’d surfed a lot. I said I swam a lot; I forgot to mention that I spent a fair amount of time scuba diving in very cold water, too. He said that when I start losing my hearing, it will be because I have surfer’s ear, or exostosis, but the good part of that is that I can get my hearing back with surgery.

I was somewhat more focused on the possibility of pneumonia, the need for X-rays, and the doctor saying that if I do have pneumonia I won’t be able to run my half marathon in a few weeks. I did manage to ask a couple of questions about surfer’s ear, though.

Apparently exposure to cold water and wind causes the bones in the ear to grow. This, in turn, can cause increased ear infections and eventually close off the ear canal. It can be dealt with surgically, and I’m very glad of that. Apparently it isn’t too bad yet, not requiring surgery, and I still have my hearing, but it was a somewhat startling diagnosis, as I had never even heard of surfer’s ear before today.

I am amazed that water and air can cause bones to grow. I tend to think of bones, at this point in my life, as fairly static, not growing or shrinking.   All of a sudden there are little bones in my ear that are growing and changing and I knew nothing about it.

Life is very weird sometimes. I learned something new today, anyway, and now I am much less likely to be worried if my hearing starts to go.

Satisfaction

I got to do something at work today that made me happy. It was not anything important in the greater scheme of things, but it will make life easier for a lot of people over time.

Word documents, when long, complicated, and handled by people who do not know how to use headings and an index, end up in an awful state. Renumbering can take a ridiculously long time and the index won’t automatically update. This document is over 140 pages long and has a lot of sections.

Whenever it gets updated, it gets handled by another two or three people, all of whom get very frustrated by having to deal with it. I’m kind of the resident Office expert and I had some time. Certain parts of the document are related to my current job, so I was asked to review it, and in reviewing it I started fixing it. Now it’s clean. The headings are all right, the index updates easily, and I’ll write directions tomorrow so it doesn’t get messed up again.

It’s a little piece of satisfaction. I made order out of chaos and I did something no one else in the office had the time to do. I think there are only a few people who even know how to set it up as well as I do; I used to teach the Office suite, so I’m very comfortable working in it.

I’m happy. I made a small difference. I cleaned up something, made it easier for people to handle, and set something right which has bothered me for years.

I’ll take my victories, however small, wherever I can get them.

Failing

The definition of success, for me, is very strongly rooted in not having to worry about certain things.

It includes being completely out of debt, being able to go buy something minor without having to save up for it, and being able to splurge and not worry.

We’re not there yet.

I realized recently that I’m having a hard time with my definition of success. The likelihood of being completely out of debt is not high; cars and houses get financed, and, while we are paying off the car quickly, if we ever want to buy a house again, we will be solidly in debt for years. At the moment, though, that’s not an issue. We’re renting and I’m happy with that. When we move, we will give notice and it won’t be a hassle. If we still owned the house, it would be much more complicated. I’m not sure when or if we will decide to buy another house, but it could be a long time. The next five or six years will be in one place and then we will probably be moving again. We won’t be settled for a while. I’m looking forward to the adventurous aspects of those years and I plan to take advantage of being somewhere new. We aren’t likely to buy a house in that time, though, because we don’t know how long we will be anywhere.

I’m trying to avoid being angry with myself for not being successful by my own definition at this point in my life.  I know that it isn’t a reasonable definition, but we have been scrimping and saving for years now. Every paycheck is budgeted down to the penny. It would be very nice to have money rattling around at the end of the month. Not that we’re desperate; far from it. We have enough to cover everything we need. I just sometimes want to be frivolous, and that doesn’t fit very well right now.

I think, while paying off all debts is important, I need to focus on other successes. We have enough, despite being somewhat limited financially. I keep everything organized. We are seldom rushed and we enjoy our time together. Katja is happy and healthy, funny, and developing well. She’s learning new words on a daily basis (note to self: limit the use of the word “dammit!” while playing video games!) and she is almost always a pleasure to be around. Xander has completed his Master’s degree and I completed mine a while ago, so we’re pretty well educated. We have a decently behaved dog and a very sweet cat. We have at least a year to get everything organized for wherever we’ll end up next.

We’re not financially on top of the world, but we aren’t badly off, either. Under other definitions, though, we are successful. We are happy. We are doing what we enjoy and we  are working towards our goals. Those are all important.

I have not yet figured out how to rewrite scripts in my head, but I think writing everything out helps to an extent. I need to shift my expectations to ideas which allow me to accept my/our successes now rather than being upset for goals we have not yet reached.

Not just an ally

Several years ago, an acquaintance of mine asked if I’d bought my car used.

“No, I bought it new. Why?”

“Well, there’s a rainbow on the back and I wasn’t sure you knew what it meant.”

I started laughing. I couldn’t help it. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area; I’m not sure I could have ignored the meaning of the rainbow symbol if I tried. There was more that needed to be said, though, once I caught my breath.

“I’m not straight. The rainbow is on my car because I support people who are LGBT, but also because I’m bisexual.”

“You are? But…but…you’re just dating a guy!”

I managed to keep from laughing that time.

“Well, bisexual doesn’t mean that I’m always dating more than one person. It’s a common misconception and it is really irritating. I tend towards monogamy. It’s less complicated. If I’m single, though, it could go either way. I lean a little more towards men, but I had a serious relationship with a woman, too.”

“I don’t understand.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re bisexual. You can’t do monogamy.”

For some reason, that acquaintance didn’t blossom into a friendship.

I have had various people tell me that I’m just confused, that I can’t be bisexual, that I must be interested in sleeping with anything that moves, and that at some point I’ll grow up and realize who I really am. The most provoking part of this is that I’ve gotten it from both the straight and queer communities. I don’t feel much like I fit in either place because both groups want me to just settle down and decide. I don’t fit into their boxes.

At this point in my life, I mostly don’t make a big deal out of it. I’m married to a man. I’m happy with him. I’ve never cheated on him and I won’t; I love what we have together and I wouldn’t jeopardize it for the world. When I’m in a relationship I don’t look outside it for completion. I work, as he does, to make our life together as good as it can be. From what most people can see, I’m a straight woman. They don’t look farther than that because, chances are, that’s all I am.

I’m not just straight, though. I loved a woman. It was a good relationship in many ways, too. It’s over now, but that doesn’t make it meaningless.

I haven’t had many relationships in my life. I am pretty comfortable with that. I do know, however, that if I were single again (which I don’t want to be – I love my life!) that it really could go either way. I guess that’s what makes people uncomfortable. I’m not as predictable as I seem to be. I’m a stable, reasonable person in general (well, I think I am, anyway) but if my life changed, they might not be happy with me if I showed up with a date for a dinner party. The other person might not be who they expect.

I don’t talk about this much. I’m not embarrassed by it, but it isn’t a huge part of my life right now. It is a part of my identity, just as being Daniel’s sister is, or being right handed. It’s part of me, but I don’t see it as a huge revelation. Once in a while I catch people off guard with an offhand comment that I’m not straight because it happens to come up in conversation. I’ve lost a few friends that way. That’s life.

I’m a married bisexual woman in a strong relationship. I exist. I’m not that weird.

I realized I hadn’t written about this before. I thought, somehow, it was about time. We’re working on raising Katja to know that families are made with love, not with rigid guidelines. She already knows people who are not in straight relationships and she will grow up being comfortable with that. It shouldn’t matter very much. In some areas it doesn’t. Just because I ended up with a man does not mean that the LGBT community is no longer important to me. I’m still part of it. I’m just not very visible at the moment.

So, yes, in case you didn’t know before, I’m bisexual. Doesn’t actually change anything, does it?

Reframing life

I’ve been doing some things differently recently. Running is one, and I love that I ran three miles on Sunday without stopping. I just kept going and it kept feeling good. My pace was reasonable and I was happy with my time, so it’s going well.

Another thing I’m working on is reframing how I think about things. On weekends I am often catching up on housework and spending time with Katja, and the overlap between those two things has caused me some problems. When I’m playing with her I feel like I ought to be doing other things and when I’m, for instance, doing laundry, I often feel like I should really be paying more attention to Katja. This constant pull on my attention is frustrating and I often end the weekend feeling tired and stressed out.

I thought a lot about how I want to be able to enjoy the time I have, whatever I’m doing. I don’t mind doing laundry, but I don’t like feeling as if I should be doing something else. All of last weekend when I caught myself feeling bad for not doing something else, I thought, “Is there anything else I should be doing that’s more important than what I’m doing right now?” The answer was always no, and I could let go of feeling like I ought to be doing something else. By the end of the weekend, almost all of the normal things had gotten done. All the necessary things were done, at least, though the sheets, while clean, were not folded and put away. I ended the weekend feeling happy and relaxed, and if unfolded sheets are the price, I can live with that. They’ll get folded at some point during the week and we don’t need them to be folded right now.

It’s hard for me to put things into perspective. Making sure everything runs smoothly in our busy household is sometimes challenging and I have been letting myself get caught up in the minutiae. I get stressed when things are left undone, but it doesn’t help anything. I have lists of what should be done, but the world won’t end if one doesn’t get done immediately. I need to enjoy what I am doing while I am doing it, and the only limitation to that enjoyment is what goes on in my head.

Reframing everything seems to be helping. I like spending time with Katja. She’s a neat little person and she’s learning and growing so much that it’s fascinating watching her develop personality and curiosity. I also enjoy running, and she loves spending time with Xander while I do. Running is good for me physically, mentally, and emotionally. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, clears my head, puts things in perspective, and is something that I’m doing just for myself, which feels very good on many levels. I like cleaning house, too, strange as that may seem. It’s nice seeing something go from chaos to order and I enjoy seeing the results of something I have done.

There are very few things in my life right now that I dislike. That’s important. I just have to keep holding that in mind and enjoying life as it comes. I cannot walk away from the work that needs to be done, but the work is not drudgery and there is joy to be found there.

Every time I feel impatient or irritated at where I am and what I’m doing, I think, again, “Is there anything else I should be doing that’s more important than what I’m doing right now?” It’s quite impressive how often the answer is no. So far it hasn’t been yes, and life is much better since I started asking that question.