Thursday, May 27, 2010

What are you most scared of?

This was the question from a dear friend as I tried to communicate all the emotions running through me as I contemplate my upcoming move to Abu Dhabi. The two mint mojitos were helping me sort out those feelings and here is what I came up with:

I am afraid that in this new place in a new culture that I don't know or understand, I will have to be so careful with how I behave that I will dumb down, supress myself to the point that I will lose myself. Dumbing down, supressing my true self was something that I defaulted to over time in my marriage and when I woke up after several years I found I was no longer my true self. That was the hardest time in my life. Let's just say that I barely survived it. It took a lot of work to get myself back. I'm feeling strong and grounded in my life here. And scared I will loose that ground going into this unfamiliar territory. Not just having to start all over again professionally and personally. But with the added complication doing it in a foreign culture where it is easy to offend and hard to impress. Scary stuff.

So that is the biggest fear thing that's simmering in my brain. Along with all the other stuff. Still can't believe it. Back to the boxes. And the wine. and the pudding. God bless Cozy Shack. Wish me luck.


Friday, May 21, 2010

The Word Thief

Cleaning up old files, I am running across some of my older writings and so I'll post a few I feel like sharing and don't think have been placed on the blog before. This one is from June of 2007, apparently after someonewhoshallremainnameless came to visit. My sister and I had a discussion about this person not long ago and I am finding over time that I can be softer on him as I find out more about what probably made him this way.

The Word Thief

Zeroing in on familiar territory
Her guard down despite experience
He slithers in between sheet and sentences
Allowing her to think she is being heard
But only for a moment
A brief one
And then even all feigned interest
Is dropped

He steals the meaning
Removes the weight and importance
Until, while lips left moving
Even the air gets stuck
And what she set out to say
Loses all meaning
And eventually all sound
Until she herself
Can no longer hear
Anything of import inside her head

Disguised as “helpful feedback”
He offers to share her story
From his perspective
(as if he could)
Providing minor corrections
And tangents from her account
Taking it impressively from her
To here to there

He offers
His observations
Of her shortfalls
Her twitches and excessive blinking
And his theory on why she can’t spell
And why her marriage failed

And then takes over
All conversation

At this moment he is going on
About what his classmate’s
Three sons,
Each of them,
Got degrees in and
What they
Are well known for
And how he met a man
On a train
Who was a General’s advisor
And how he straightened out
A young man’s misconception
On why the vultures
Who eat off the flesh
Of dead Parsi Indians
Are becoming extinct
And how many species of fish
He has recorded
And, with a “you are so silly smile”
Why it is foolish to believe in God
Even if it were to mean
He could be with his bride
Her mother, some day,
And all she gave him
Was an opening
To her world
Which he
Didn’t want

She witnesses his crime
As he commits it against others too
Two excited innocents
Share with him their sightings
And he, in his purest himness
Says “oh, I am from here.
I see those (only more
And bigger)
All the time”
I tell him that he should have been
More gracious
More enthusiastic in their joy
He laughs and says “I know”
I shudder

My father
In rare admission
Of any fault at all
“I tend to pontificate
On factual matters”
And I can’t believe my bravery
As I look at him and say
“No shit!”

I am trying to wrap my heart in cheesecloth
Because I miss my mother
I “un hunh…un hunh”
Feigning acknowledgement
Of pontifications
Trying to ignore
The pushing of my own voice
That wants to tell him
To shut the fuck up
I really couldn’t give a shit
We’ve been here before

What I Will Miss

Pending change makes one aware of things of the status quo one takes for granted. Here are two things that came to me over the past few days:

1. I will miss singing in the car. I am a horrible singer. Except when I am in my car. Alone. There I am a talented minstrel. Belting out Carole King, Sarah Groves, James Taylor. Just about anyone. I am damn good. And when I am done at my arrival place I turn off the engine and my singing stops. It's actually therapeutic. And God knows I can use all the good therapy I can get. In Abu Dhabi I will not be driving a care alone and therefore will have no venue to sing. I will be driven by driver, taxi or someone else. I won't be driving in AD if I can help it. In my flat I might be able to hum but with shared walls I won't be belting things out. So, as I am singing in the car over these next few weeks I will be really belting it out and savoring that while I can.

2. The weather here in Washington has been unseasonably cool. It's actually quite chilly. When I stepped out of the door after work yesterday the cold air hit me. As I pulled my jacket closed over my chest I had the thought "you'd damn well better really feel this cold and remember it fondly rather than fight it. You will pine for being cold along about August in Abu Dhabi." Today it's cold again. Telling myself this is good. Very good.

And so on the track of missing things I pulled up this little piece I wrote in 2008 as an assignment called "What I Will Miss When I Die." Kind of ironic now, some of the things in this piece, like my love for dishes and books and stepping off a plane in a new country. Enjoy:

What I Will Miss When I Die

I will miss the quiet
Time to myself
I will miss the fine opportunity to
Break dishes
Roar and burn
And die a hundred times before sunset

When I die
I will miss reading
And aha moments of truth
And lies
Mine and others

When I die
I will miss falling
And bruises and the pain
From goodbye
And hello

I will miss violation
Tears and tearing
I will miss missing out
I will miss the hours in the middle of the night
When I am holding hands with my demons
Daring each other to go beyond
What we would ever admit

I will miss misbehaving
I will miss shopping
I will miss writing a check to fill a bowl
I will miss buying avocados and mangoes
Finding just the right ones in a pile of tough ones
I will miss buying pretty bowls that I do not need
I will miss buying books that I will never read
But want to anyway, someday

I will miss the burn and good pain
From pushing myself just a little too hard at the gym
I will miss good coffee and bad desserts
I will miss making mistakes whether I learn from them or not
I will miss stepping off the plane in a country I do not know
And finding myself there anyway

I will miss looking forward to dying

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I am a Book Whore(der)

So I am officially packing up. Ugh. Why do I collect things? I like things. I can live without lots of them. But once I acquire things I have a hard time getting rid of them. Even if I don't use them often. Or at all. I fear I have the makings of a potential hoarder. I disgust myself.

Dishes and books. These are the things I tend to collect more than other things. Dishes make me happy. I love cooking and serving and entertaining my friends. I believe even the best recipe can be made better by the pot it's served from and the plate its served on. So collecting pretty dishes makes me happy. Setting a beautiful table with pretty dishes brings me peace. Packing them up, getting rid of some does not make me happy. I'll be reunited with them again someday I know, but I can't imagine not setting a pretty table for a year or so. Sigh...

Books. How on earth did I accumulate so many books in so few years? When I moved from my rental I got rid of tons of books. Then in the three years I've been in the cottage I've replaced those and then some. Huge bookshelves on each floor of my tiny cottage to go through. Most I haven't even read. Or just read part of. I'm getting rid of tons. At least half. And still I have boxes and boxes I'm keeping. I don't understand this obsession. There's some link I think to me wanting to be a writer. The books I keep are fodder for what I want to be. Potential sources of inspiration. Idea mines. Though I know at some level I don't need them. Probably will only look at a handful out of the boxes and boxes I will keep.

This packing up and getting rid of things is hard. Not having fun here. Thanks for listening.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Here I Go....Again

By the time I post this I will have shared the news in person to my tribe. Telling people is making it real. And honestly I am thinking, between the bookends of "this will be a real adventure"...i am thinking "What the hell am I doing?"

I am moving. Leaving THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE for something else. Going about as far as I can go from here. To Abu Dhabi. (zoom out from this map and you will find that it is just northeast of Saudi Arabia and south of Iran and Afghanistan..separated by water). I remind myself, I will come back to this beautiful life eventually. But for now my life is taking a different route. Why? because I can. Because I am needed there. Because it will get me in better shape for retirement sooner. Because I am stalled in certain things here. Because I am not afraid (mostly). Because I know I am protected by a God who loves me. Because this is a really, really big world and I am so small.

This opportunity came out of the blue. Sort of. We opened an office there a year ago. I thought I might get on a few projects and have an opportunity to go there for a few one to three week stints. Which I was OK with. Because one can do anything for a few weeks right? But we need some senior staff there. And I am probably the most mobile of all of us. I hated seeing my co-workers with young families burning themselves out with the travel and living in two worlds. But I have a good life here and feel safe and have my tribe. My awesome tribe that I can call to do anything anytime and know I will laugh and be known. But I am needed there. And my tribe will be here, or there for me if only electronically. A few may even be able to come visit me in my new surroundings. or meet me half way, say in Greece or France or Turkey. That's what I'll have to live for. When its ahundredandfreekintwentydegrees outside my flat. I'll be dealing with Muslim men over the conference room table trying like hell to earn their respect for things that I am respected for here no questions.

These last few mornings, after very sleepless nights, I look out my window at the lake, with the sun glowing a soft pinkyorange framed by the trees and I am soaking it in whistfully, saying to myself "remember this." There I will be awakened by the call to prayer but I will go to my Father instead of the mosque and know I am not alone.

I will be helping to hire and build an office family and carry my company's culture through in this new culture and be challenged and frustrated and responsible and everything but stuck, which is what I have been feeling here. I will kick myself for even having those thoughts of "how can I possibly keep doing this same thing for fifteen more years" because somehow God heard those thoughts and decided to mix it up for me.

I am a puzzle of excitement, fear, overwhelmed with what needs to be done before I go, scared, excited, dizzy. I've been looking in the mirror trying to see what a whole new country of strangers will see and I don't know what it is that is staring back at me. But I do feel I will be safe. I know it in my bones which makes it possible. It's kind of like how I feel about dying: I am open to that next step but worried about what I leave behind. I will be so far from my son. My dog, who will be with such a wonderful family, won't be by my side. My home, which is more than a home, more of my healing place, will be somebody else's healing place for a while. My friends, my tribe. I won't be right with them for sharing laughter and tears. How does one cry and hug on Skype?

I am also on my third glass of wine and a mess. Just thought you should know. As if you couldn't tell. Tomorow (which will be today and in the past by the time I post this) I will meet my sweet friend (who I worry about leaving behind) and tell her the news. We'll get coffee and go to the farmer's market. and talk more about our rendezvous in Italy next year. I'll just be coming from a different place than I thought I was coming from. Then I will go to the funeral service of an incredible man who has suffered relentlessly for three years. He's gone ahead of us and I am happy for him but so, so sad and worried for his wife who I love so much. I am thinking it will be hard to be away from her too. In the evening, this evening, my tribe will be here to help me figure out everything and make promises to each other on how we will support each other from afar.

Wow. Are you blown away? I am. I certainly am. Who is this brave girl? And what the heck is she doing?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

It's a Beautiful Life

These lovelies are from my yard.

As are the lilcas.

The "peony tulips" from opening day at the Redmond Farmers Market. Where Andy and I went while he was "recovering" at home. After the market, ice cream from Theos dairy while listening to an entertaining "American Life" program on the radio. It's really fun to hang out with my son sometimes. Life is good. He's doing much better than I feared.

He's got his hospital bracelet on which he says he's leaving on for two months so that he can remind himself and others why he is not drinking! (and maybe get some sympathy from the ladies?)

Oh, and check out the last entry. I retyped the message in the card. The first time I did it from memory. The real thing is a thousand times better and makes me smile and cry all over again!

My front patio is abloom as well. This is such a peaceful place to hang my hat.

Last weekend I met up with Andrea for a long walk followed by an important catch up at the new wine bar on Mercer Island. As you can tell. Some serious tasting going on.

Yesterday I met up with Hanna and Tessa (8 months) at the downtown park. We strolled and talked and got coffee and pastries.

This child is seriously a magnet. I had her on my lap and no less than a dozen people stopped to admire her. I forgot what that was like. I had one of those of my own a long time ago. I want another.

Last week's fund raiser cooking class for Team Deb (Deb is on the left) with Pranee as top chef. Raised $1,500 for Seattle Brain Cancer Walk.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


On Monday I got to see Andy, take him out to dinner. I was over in the burg for a meeting with a client and of course extended my stay long enough to take my son out for a good dinner. Ellensburg Pasta Company was his restaurant of choice. When I picked him up he handed me a mothers day card and said for you on Sunday. Wow. Kinda surprised me. Without my own mother around any more and no father of my child on the spot, I just don't expect much from mothers day.

In previous confessions on this blog I have already admitted to being a peeker. One who opens presents ahead of time if the opportunity exists. I'm really good at keeping secrets I've been entrusted with. But I'm not so good about making myself wait on surprises for me. So when I got home, after a hairy trip through a snowy pass (in May!), I brought the card home and set it on the counter, willing myself to wait until Sunday. But I didn't. Instead I opened it. And cried. In the card he had written "Mom, I thought this year I would break the tradition of funny cards and keep it simple. I am happy and greatful for such a good mother and friend. Happy Mother's Day. Andy" Admit it...doesn't that make you squeeze out a tear or two?

This morning I got a distressed call from him. He gasped out that he needed my advice. His voice was shaky. My heart sank. A bajillion things went through my head. None of them good.

When he could talk he said he was having some kind of pain and didn't know what to do. I could barely understand him. He had been in class and suddenly had extreme pain underneath his rib. Thought he might have a broken rib but hadn't gotten knocked in that area. Didn't make sense to me. When he called he was about five minutes walk from the radio station which was on the way to Hall Health. We did a series of texting and calling. He was taken by a friend to the Emergency Room where he was put on IV and preliminary guess is that he's got accute mononucleosis with an enlarged spleen. So I've been juggling back and forth. Wanting to fly back over there. Son is urging me to stay put until we learn more: if it's "just mono" he doesn't want to do anything because he has a midterm tomorrow that he really, really wants to get done. Then he says that they've discovered an "infarction" on his spleen which I guess means part of it is damaged and they are trying to decide what to do. In the meantime I am relaying this to his father as he has asked me to do. Mark is all over me to get the name of the doctor and contact number to make sure they know how to get hold of him. I have a flash of feeling like a bad mother: I don't have the doctor's name or number. I am letting Andy handle this because he is an adult though I am very nervously standing by. I remind Mark that Andy is an adult and I don't think they will speak directly to us (though I did grill the nurse who was in with Andy when he called one time).

And these my friends are the highs and lows and rolling in the muck of motherhood. What a blessing to be called "mother." Mother and friend in the same sentence! And then to throw on the shawl of worry and realize that though I am still his mother I am no longer the "mommy" as he starts to take charge of his own life and health. Standing by to take him back into the nest if he needs it. But mostly hoping his wings will carry him through.

Post Script: He is home from the hospital, putting off the painkillers so he can study some for the mid-term and determined to recouperate at school. Letting go...slightly...

PPSS: I'm going over to collect him tomorrow after his mid-term. He decided a weekend home would be beneficial and I feel much more comfortable having him here to get him started on recovery and seeing for myself that he's OK.

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Favorite Word

I mostly shy away from superlatives. I like too many things. Fear too many things. Have the attention span of a true Gemini. Perhaps this is a legacy of a middle child? You may recall an earlier post where I confessed that as a child the innocent question of "what is your favorite color?" would create in me an anxiety storm. Inside my head would roll around "what is wrong with me? I don't have a favorite color. I like many. Don't like a few. And if I did have one, I wouldn't want to say it outloud. I would hurt the other color's feelings." I love good dining but would be hard pressed to tell you what my favorite restaurant is. I will never have a "best friend" because I have a handful of friends that I could never, ever choose a best one from: they are my bestest friends. (Which makes me wonder that if you add "-est" to any superlative does that get you off the hook?)

I shy away from political discussions. I will not be backed into a strong opinion. Not to be confused with an inability to make decisions. I do this quickly. Lose patience with those who cannot make a decision. But when I decide something it's because I want to get on with things. Not necessarily because I don't see other ways things could be done.

Recently I overheard the question posed "what's your favorite word?" I was ruffled a little when an answer came immediately to mind. I'm so aware of my adversion to superlatives that I notice when I experience the feeling of having one. Immediately upon hearing that question posed to a total stranger I wanted to shout out my favorite word: HOPE. In fact, if I had a girl baby this time in my life I would name her Hope. (though "Miracle" would be more apt seeing as how I no longer produce those life hatching eggs)

There is nothing more important than having hope. I know this because I have been at the place where I had none. I know what a difference the smallest seed of hope can make in a barren landscape. I think it's why being involved in causes that aim to bring hope is lifegiving to me. It's why I want to bitchslap anybody that says those bad superlatives like "incurable" and "hopeless." But then I realize that hope comes in its own timeframe. Sometimes what we hope for gets replaced by something new that is put before us. That's what I know as "God's plan."

Sometimes we can be a catalyst for hope and not even know it. I love my sister's story of how she found out years and years later how she saved a high school classmate from taking his own life by exchanging a "hello" in the hallway. Hope can be as innocent as "hello." Hope may be found in surrender. A flicker in the cerebellum that hints that "things don't have to be this way." A fantasy that you dare not share. Whatever form it comes in it is the MOST important thing in my book. My MOST FAVORITE word. Hope. I hope you find some today.