A Valentine's Note to Them All

It's been an occasional Valentine's ritual for me to recognize all the people who've intersected in my life romantically, to thank them for what I learned from them, apologize where I feel moved, cherish a sweet memory and wish them well.

It's funny which people get included from year to year. Who gets subsumed into a general category and who stands out. Definitely some are always obviously there. Other times less so. And on we go again.

To the eleven year boy companion who held my hand as deep wretched splinters were dug out. You let me cry without a blush. A friend who hinted at the more that would come of these bittersweet friendships. Who held the innocence of pre-adolescence in the same stroke. Who brought me lilacs and let me rest my head on his shoulder on one long and bumpy drive home

To my adolescent yearning, the friend who'd hold brotherly concern for me through a decade while I intermittently craved more. I wish I could have been more myself around you, but I learned so much and felt so watched out for when our lives intersected.

To the adolescent friend who'd yearn for me. Who'd hurt and be hurt in staggered measure over the decades and with whom I've shared exorcisms of latent desires and hurt feelings. Who took me in in my despondency more than once, and who shared melancholy pilgrimages to the desert before offering me your world. A world from which I'd gain so much before pushing myself back out of it.

The oh so painfully handsome teen heartthrob who chatted me up during the symphony, got my phone number from the drama teacher who knew my name and took me on my first proper dates. Who despite all the raging hormonal flirtation and raw chemistry, would somehow not go beyond a brushed hand (until an anticlimactic rematch several summers past). You loved early gray tea and soundtrack compositions. You were really cute.

To my first proper kiss. Who stuck around but a little too timidly to keep my shy desperation from accepting another more aggressive suitor. Who had SO MUCH in common with me it was almost too expected for us to have connected. Who'd occasionally come close to something more several times more and who doggedly forgave me my inevitable betrayals. I wonder if your forgave my writing you into one of my last stories. I'm sorry. Very sorry. For many things.I'm glad you've mostly forgotten me.

To my first real boyfriend who quickly became a much closer brother and companion, as affection evolved into a more fraternal attachment. Your family welcomed me as their own. Your drumming on the edge of the navy parades and the times we held each other after hard school days, went on walks and stayed in contact to this day. You are my brother.

To the visiting student who gave me my first swept off your feet moment to the song Cheek to Cheek before disappearing as quickly as you materialized. It was a taste of many things to come on the dance floor.

To the men who preyed on the innocent little American girl on her first solo journeys and took a sense of security and autonomy that had to be clawed back over many years and experiences. Having to regain them taught me their worth.

To the boy who got further merely by popping up after the right number of drinks and resolve to move forward. Who muttered absurd poetry and was ready to be quickly forgotten having served his purpose.You were cute in a bowtie.

To the second-third-and-fourth-time who felt like the first-time. Whose infinite kindness and care for the world I briefly mistook for something more personal in a bashful haze of infatuation. For those fleeting moments of tenderness and affection that were mine alone. For the enduring patience and friendship you offered despite my muted pleas for more. The kindness in your eyes is unmatched by any in the world.

To the oh-so-many men I met online or at dances who made for funny stories, tasty dinners, and excellent refinements on what on earth I wanted and did not. You gave me great practice for job interviews to come and trained me to define my boundaries exactingly.

To the friend who took my heart and mind and drank it down to the last drop with such zest that my dormant self woke up from its stupor.  Who was so clearly meant for somebody else but still struggled with the gravity between our hearts when times got (so so) complicated. Who held my hand and hugged me for the first time on the day we knew we couldn't be friends anymore. In whom I melted just briefly, before mourning, wishing you the happiness you deserved (and would not have found with me) and letting go of that most intoxicating part of you for something more enduring.

To the antsy flash of momentary upstairs neighbor who offered me the exact opposite of the chaste emotional intensity I was mourning. You came. You offered release. You disappeared. Purpose served. I hope your new home was lovely.

To the sweetest of boyfriends I know I never deserved. Who brought me to a bowling alley bar and Old Country Buffet without an excess of irony. And so earnestly told me I was smart and beautiful. Who told stories of his Aussie childhood and his kangaroo pet. Whose sweetness I rapidly refused to savor for the stench of the cigarettes I'd never asked you to quit. The way I blew you off was lame, but I'm so so happy you're happy now.

To the adorable dance teacher with the silly moustache and sillier sense of humor. For a half second I thought I loved you a bit. Then I realized it was the dance you were giving me, which makes me love you so very differently. I still laugh thinking of your laugh.

To the deepest depths of my soul experienced with my tango crush over many years. It was the deepest honor that you reciprocated that bashful affinity for our tandas. With whom many torrid and deeply affectionate nights were worn on the floor ending with a deep united breath and a bashful return to reality. (With a friendly wave to our significant others, because it all stayed on the dance floor.)

To the oh-so-achingly naughty tanguero who loved my moves, my curves and my loooooong hair, but just wasn't "in a place for anything serious." Your cologne stuck on my skin for days in tantalizing ways. Your adventurousness exceeded my capacity for emotional compartimalization. You stung, but you sure enthralled. And sometimes late at night you let me linger and shared grilled cheese with me. I never wanted to be a Bond girl, but it was an experience knowing how it might feel. Hope you're keeping on keeping on.

To the swing dancer whose deep family hurt emerged so painfully on our first weekend together. Who held to me then too closely and whose fears and pains caused you to withdraw, reach out, withdraw, reach out on and off again. Together we "watched" so many movies I'll never know the plots of. Had so many heartfelt tearful protestations only matched in intensity by the flirtation the next day that would lead into the next set of protestations and tears. You brought me into blues and the whole world that gave me. You made me laugh more than you made my cry, and both were often.

To the dance partner who wanted more. Who left me with beautiful photographs of myself and many wonderful dance memories between some very difficult heartfelt misunderstandings. Who stood by me during some difficult relationships but eventually couldn't stay when I did find truer love.

To the shy carpenter who kissed me quietly at a friendly party as I mourned one relationship, then respectfully let me crash hard when sickness kicked in. Who a year later would run into me recoiling from another life-jolt and bring me into his life for a short spell of respite from the stress and terror of first year of law school. Your fluffy cats. Your comfortable couch. Your big cozy bed. Dutch baby and coffee on lazy mornings. You didn't want to be there. And I was there. You let me know that I wanted *there* so much more tangibly. And you dumped my stressed out  one-L tush, just in time to regain my composure and open up for the real event.

To so many more moments, flashes and connections. Those who hurt me. Those whom I've hurt. Those who drank from the depths of intimacy in a moment of musical crescendo.

Thanks for the lessons and the honing that left me available and whole enough to find my partner. Thank you for what we shared and what you taught me I still wanted to find. And thanks for the great break up soundtracks!

And to the guy who met me for tea by my apartment at the end of my 1 L year, talking about flip phones, and offering restrained hugs and tales of theater from the inside. Who was less interested in sweeping me off my feet than dipping me gently and waiting for me to kiss him squarely after a good night out. Who let me rest my head on his shoulder and watch the ocean while telling me about his family with some tone that we would meet some day. Who was there when my mom had cancer. There when my grandfather died. There when my grandmother died. There when school wore me down. And then when I emerged victorious. Who drove untold hours of commute to be with me.

Who became the man who stood with me through so many manifestations and challenges. Who doesn't always understand but who earnestly loves and faces the difficult stuff with me every day. Who helped deliver the most amazing little monster into my arms and then to take her back to hold when I needed a break.

Who for ten years has persisted in choosing me and being chosen. Who has shared more with me than all other combined.

To everyone who has supported me through the tough times and rejoiced in the happy. Who witnessed our marriage as it formed or as its evolved.

Happy Valentine's Day


If you lose a part of who you are, does it regenerate like a star fish's arm? If one means of self-expression is cut off, then will the singing of the soul creep through another crack?

Life is change. We are change. But there is some underlying illusion (?) of continuity. There is a seeming-self that passes through so many manifestations, cellular changeover, and egoistic trappings. My teenage self is more a beloved relative than a me-now, but it she is still me. Seeing the world through a million different lenses than now, most certainly but I cling to some essence that folds-over all of me.The people whose souls chimed in harmony with mine in my early twenties still make melodic vibrations when we pass each other by so many lives removed. They saw something deeper than the trappings. And when I was with them, I felt them. And in the mirror of others, I see myself.

The adventurous kid who traveled around the world on her own on a budget living in dumps and making all kinds of dangerous mistakes in the serendipity of unspoken kindness of fate... same me who moans and groans at the week of insomnia and pain following a two hour plane ride.

The outgoing dancer whose wardrobe was overstocked with rhinestones and sparkling dresses for every (inappropriate occasion) is the same limping lady who considers jeans and a new shirt dressing up. I can't dance really anymore. And if I could I probably wouldn't stay up for it anyways. But the me that burbled to the surface in that environment is still there waiting to seep out in some other venue.

I can't really run anymore. Sometimes that was me. Sometimes it was honestly more a way of connecting with my super athletic husband than an innate self. But it was meaningful on those grounds. And sometimes, it was about breath and movement and feeling my body soar and a feeling i get through meditation or prayer now.

I was fit. Underweight, but fit. I blew away that stress treadmill test with my cardiac ability. I pretzeled through pilates...

But before that I was a little pudgy and had truly atrocious health habits and indulgences. And the people who saw me still saw me. More or less of me, they saw me.

I used to write surreal word-plays, stories and epics. Now typing too much hurts my wrists and I'm usually too scattered to form many coherent sentences about something other than Chaya.

I've been so many manifestations of "interesting" as I go through life singing my songs, feeling my spirit (and forming habits to mitigate my fears and anxieties).

And of course, now, "I got boring" except I didn't really. I just stopped finding ways to project the internal to the outside world. Not always. Not with everyone. Some people still see it, but I am probably at a point where I'm to find new languages to communicate my self. Not the Spanish I'm trying to learn through clunky self-study and embarrassed stumbles with indulgent friends. But something innate.

Beyond who I am , what do I want? Who do I want to be?

I want to be a conduit for the beauty and love flowing through this world. I want enthusiasm to win out over resentment. I want to celebrate the victories of others even in the fields I've lost access to. I also want to find ways to engage with the things I've lost in a new way. Or to find a new contentment in the me that is.

Have you ever known somebody who was so excited to see every little minor part of your deep inner self (warts and all) that you also got excited about them? I have. It's an inestimable gift I wish I could give more freely to the world. Sometimes I just wish I could be that friend to myself.

I want to accept people and appreciate them without the ego-investment that makes individual foiables grating. I want to let people be as they are and to celebrate that being. I want to let go of my carefully guarded caution and just be present in another's essence.

I want to say "wow that confused me... cool," knowing confusion is a first step towards growth.

And to find others who do the same with me.

I want to embody the understanding that the connection between all those MEs of the past, present and future extends much further to include every living being and all the world around us, and I want to embrace that dichotomy of uniqueness and unity that all creation holds.

To get there I probably have a lot of journeying to do, because that hasn't been centrally me as much as I'd like.

But through all of it, the me at the center has loved and does love fiercely. Sometimes with fear, but always compassion. The me through all of it has felt and seen beauty and has laughed at the whimsy of the stars. And I get to do that daily with the little monster. It's easier (sometimes) to suspend your ego with young children. Chaya teaches me everyday the humility and patience I need for the rest of the world (sometimes anyways).

Whatever future-me is, I hope she dances still. If not her body, with her soul. And I hope I can share a dance with every one of you.

Brave New Year that Has Such NINES in it

"I want to go to the holidays," she said in her most insistent caterwaul. "They will come," I assured her. "We  merely need to wait, and they will come whether we ask them to or not."

And so they did.

And here we are - 2019! But how on earth did we get all the way from partying 1999 style to 20 years later and chomping down the very last of our wedding-doll-cake in order to unplug the standaone freezer once and for all?

... doll cake...

long story...

2013 style. 

If I partied like it was 2013 in my current condition, I'd probably pull every muscle in my body and a few spares to boot. So let's get back to 2019.

Where we've been

After some uncertainty, we've resettled our expectations for remaining in Mt Vernon for at lest another 5 or 6 months. So we've been here. Preschool continues to rock and we finished off Chaya's 2018 with a concert that included Jingle Bells, Baby Shark and barely contained anomie.

I finally got my long awaited endoscopy (that would be the one i had to wait 4 months for, then another several for scheduling and which then was rescheduled not once but twice...). Andrew stayed home with Chaya and the whole thing was actually quite tidy and quick. Other than not being allowed to eat all morning, I found the experience nearly pleasant.

Ultimately it revealed.... DRUM ROLL PLEASE... absolutely nothing. That's the normal positive and negative of course. I do now actually have a GI who seems to feel proactive about figuring things out At least I like that she was coordinating her notes with my neurologist's notes. Coordinated care is a rarity. We tested for celiac yet again (I was confused when she asked if I'd been tested for gluten allergy and said no) and I'm under orders to avoid any variety of foods I'd mostly stopped eating anyways. Soon I get to fast again for an abdominal ultrasound to rule out gallbladder issues that she really doesn't think can be the problem but have to be checked We carry on.

Chaya celebrated Christmas at a slow burn. Disgorging her Mamma Dog (her name) stocking gradually over the morning and then repacking all of the contents into the puppy. Occasionally pawing at a gift. Sometimes hiding them, still wrapped, in a various corners and drawers. Eventually opening or or two at a time.

We celebrated Christmas Eve Eve with Gooble goodies with my dad. Christmas Eve with Chinese takeout. And Christmas day with heart-shaped cookie cutter pancakes and latkes (I'm too proud of these). I also tried a flower cookie cutter and a dinosaur cookie cutter. The flowers worked pretty well. The dinosaur was a touch complicated.

And we had some shenanigans with home repair nonsense on the 26th. Both of the heaters in the mainroom work now, we're stil married, AND we have a functioning microwave, so despite any bumps along the way, I'd call it a win.

Where we went

San Francisco. Holiday redux!

Both ways our plane had some kind of issue that delayed takeoff by a hefty chunk. The second time we actually had to get off the plane and reboard later.

Andrew claims this wasn't stressful to him. May be true. He did get a nap, and honestly Chaya was a super traveler most of the way. However, I'm pretty sure that some of the prolonged grimaces and loudly muttering "OH FOR F*** SAKE" as Chaya started running away when he was attempting to read the departures and arrivals board was not actually his most mellow moment ever.

Chaya was a champ except when she couldn't get on the plane when she wanted. Or when she really really wanted some part of Andrew's lunch but we could NOT figure out what and it got kind of ugly as we proffered any variety of evermore infuriating alternatives that needed to remain in her bag, until eventually she was distracted by cars and continued the flight without eating a darned thing. Or when she sat in the seats ahead of our ticketed seats and did not want to move seats. Or when she decided that she wanted to lay down on the airport floor and/or run away from our hands during a busy off-boarding and maybe tried repeatedly to run away while we were waiting for daddy to get out of the bathroom until finally she finally agreed to the stroller.

Ultimately this may have been one of our most successful trips over all.Family. Food. Andrew's oldest friend and his cute kiddo were also in town. Chaya got a visit to the carousel and went down the slides in Golden Gate Park roughly a million times. Plenty of walking (which DIDN'T trigger the arch or knee injury I've been nursing the last month, phew!)

Chaya had an amazing time with her grandfather on Saturday evening, while Andrew and I actually got to go out (at the same time!) and be grown-ups with the rest of the family. We went to the Nutcracker and then to an obscenely nice restaurant. The kind where you have to put down a deposit with your reservation. That kind. The kind that serves tapas-sized entrees over several courses and which is inhabited by thoughtful wait staff who actually may hide under the table to pop out unobsequiously in order to answer a stray question before withdrawing into the ether, having replaced your silver setting for the fifteenth time that evening. The food was just shy of heaven.

Kiddo extended her love-fear relationship with Betty the dog (who is very excitable and somewhat large and who thus both excites and terrifies Chaya with her love).

It was good. So glad it all worked out so beautifully.

Where we are

Back in Mt Vernon in 2019. Chaya's almost three and a half. She draws like a dervish. She sings. She dances. She kicks mommy in the face and finds it hilarious.

Andrew's still working. I'm still not officially employed. We're still expecting to move within the year, but there are some things Andrew really wants to wrap up before we take on that behemoth of a life decision.

In the meantime, I've settled back down into a little bit of a holding pattern. I'll be renewing my WSBA license to practice law. And then I'll be waiting to do so in favor of some Guardian ad Litem trainings later on in 2019. In the meantime, I've decided to try to acquire some small smattering of Spanish.

I mean I can barely speak in English, so why not try another language? But it does seem like it would be helpful in a number of potential career trajectories.

I'm not setting huge goals. Mostly doing Duolingo through the day, plus a few other programs. And gaming my compulsive internet habit by turning all my settings to spanish language.

For the most part I've stopped listening to the news, once an engrained morning ritual. Andrew and I no longer watch Late Night as part of our evening unwind (because, She-ra, duh! And someday our next chunk of The Good Place, Kimmy Schmidt, Disenchanted and Arrested Development will come to Netflix). That's surprisingly pleasant despite my deep enjoyment of their humor. Hearing about current events is just well... not great bedtime exposure. I'm even wearying of the SNL bits. I am not bubbling myself out of being informed. Facebook and Google News are far too compelling.The effort involved in understanding the Spanish reports of said news tend to mellow out any emotional reactions quite handily.

I hope all is well in the internet ether. Here's hoping for a fabulous new year. Or at least one with lots of gentle lessons and gradual growth. Let's not pull anything here!

Straying From Home Mom: Adventures in Almost-Employment

As anyone barraged with my Wednesday Facebook update semi-live-blog would know (no, there is never too much real time information wedged between political memes and cute animal pictures - NEVER), I tasted the sweet panic of just almost becoming a working mom.* What a ride. I gotta say, you working moms... all crazy. I told my sister how impressed I was at her seamless transition back into the workforce with three boys. I shrugged and said it was no sweat... except all the times it was insane in full and wild detail. I reflected that generally with parenting it's not so much that you ever "got this" or don't. It's more that you go fuller degrees of numb as the chaos mounts. Happy place, happy place.
 *As in "mother who is employed by an outside employer subject to federal and state laws and generally offering tangible metered payment for one's hours and efforts." Stay at home moms often leave the house (desperately so before their stir crazy children tear them apart). All moms work .But some moms get paid to be somewhere.

I applied a few weeks ago for a job sent along by a legal contact I have here. The job was "Family Law Facilitator for the Skagit County Courthouse." Or something like that. Basically based on a state-wide courthouse program in which people representing themselves have facilitators to help gently guide them through the process without actually representing anyone or doling out legal advice. Technically a paraprofessional job more than an outright lawyerly one, but not unlike many of  of my unbundled consultations/work when I was a lawyer. With the added bonus of being able to hang the briefcase up immediately upon leaving. Downside: full time. Upside: a pretty decent salary to plunge into outsourcing all the momming I'd be unable to accomplish.

 The application period closed on November 26th. I got a call this Monday telling me they wanted me to come in for an interview on this Wednesday. Fortunately at a feasible time. I had to cancel my therapist, but that seemed apt, since there's no way I'd have time for things like therapy if I had a job! Mental health is for the idle! Or not, but when it comes down to therapy or sleep/food, it becomes a secondary concern.

And there we were: at the precipice of potentially major change. Tuesday I mostly was dazed and trying not to let my brain explode in contemplation of "how would child care for Chaya work in the interstitial transitions between work hours and preschool and man how would she adjust to having NO naps or quiet times (because she would not volunteer for them at school)... what meal services offer something quick and easy, but also healthy that suit both Chaya and Andrew's palates/calorie requirements... how will I even have time to talk with a cleaning service let alone engage one or any of the other professionals we need to bring into our home in the coming months... how does that clicklist thing work again because no way we'll have time for shopping... what part of the weekend am I gonna have time to manage the bills... uh how early do I have to get up to get my workout and sitting time AND dress like a grownup all before getting Chaya fed and rushed off to school early enough to make it to work but late enough that there's actually somebody already at school and..what happens if suddenly we need to move within a few weeks and I just was hired and how awkward would that be..." It went on from there. Seriously, my heart rate was so elevated the last couple of days that my Garmin Vivofit watch thinks I ran a marathon or at least could use an extra bowl of figgy pudding or two to keep up calorically.

I realize in days of yore, I would have spent, say, any fraction of that time thinking about the job and interview itself. In this context "preparing" largely meant "last minute scrounging around Target trying to find a professional looking top to go with the only pants that weren't covered in some form of child goo and treating my suddenly-greasy hair with some water and spritz-in conditioner before giving up and hoping the headband I grabbed at target would distract from the furrowed coif.

This is "professional" right?

Panicked time diversions aside, I think I turned out pretty well

I would have held a very productive mediation in this outfit. Maybe with a scarf. I could use a scarf for mediation. Mediations need scarves. Don't ask. I don't know. Some things you just know.

I arrived at the courthouse stylishly early, with a purse (instead of my usual star-backpack) and my bullet journal just in case gunfire erupted and something needed to absorb stray ammo, I guess. And then...


It's been a LOONG time and most of my interviews have admittedly been with people already inclined to hire me. So I wasn't really sure how I would do. I honestly feel like most of the time I'm a blubbering aphasiac ball of fluster. Granted, I've had a few moments in the last three years to re-embody my mediation-self, but they're sporadic enough I tend to forget in the interim.

Nonetheless, Professional Adella emerged briefly. Aside from dumping her keys on the floor on her way into the interview room (and dropping her coat on her way out) Professional Adella was surprisingly congenial, calm, and confident. I glossed over my lack of Spanish with an aside about tangoing in Argentina which led into a side conversation about Buenos Aires with one of my interviewers. I addressed the potential issue of my overqualified status with an emphasis on the stability of a 9-5 that ended with clocking out and that work-life balance drastically elusive to attorneys. I said many things that got a strong nod, a mention - "it really connected with me when you said..." - and otherwise engaged eye contact. I even asked a variety of questions that were deemed "great question."

 As the head interviewer ushered me out, she explained that they would get back to me within the week, possibly within the day. And that they were hoping to start the position pretty immediately. She emphasized that it had been a wonderful interview and thanked me. I came out of there thinking I'd enjoy going out for coffee with the majority of my interviewers and maybe going out shopping with one in a particularly spectacular ensemble.

As I reveled in a post-game daze in my care, I felt a little bit of an "I got this moment." That was in between some pangs of sadness at the Chaya I could possibly be about to miss. But within an hour or so I at least had a tentative cover for childcare and some more details tentatively handled.

Chaya and I had a marvelous reunion when I picked her up from preschool. We talked about my interview and how I might go back to work. Then I set myself to thoroughly cherishing what felt potentially so fleeting. Lunch. Books. Singing. The buzz wore off and the sadness set back in To say nothing of the panic, of course, which still lingered at the periphery. There were bear hugs and long naps.

Only shortly before Chaya woke up, my follow up Thank You email had a response: "Just wanted to let you know that after a long discussion we decided to go with a different candidate. We will keep your resume on file in case another position opens up." Or something to that effect.

My first several minutes were the purest relief and the first full breath since some time on Monday.

I wouldn't have to quit on them after beating out 30+ eager applicants and taking on training.

My time with Chaya wouldn't be whittled down to harried moments of trying to stay afloat while she acted upon her overtired pressure valve.

I wouldn't have to figure out how to haggle over the December days that have endoscopies and trips and other classes already scheduled.

My relationship wouldn't simultaneously be strengthened by suddenly parallel paths with mutually understood challenges while being strained by sheer exhaustion trying to fit our new chores (because I'd have to offload to Andrew as well) in with a chronically underslept three year old.

And so on.

Of course by the next day I felt a bit discouraged. Yes, I take it as a positive sign that I was a strong final applicant from a pretty large pool. At the same time I graduated in the top of my class from a top Law School with a couple of scholarships and was applying for a paraprofessional job.

I feel a bit like I've cornered my career. I'm overqualified for a lot of positions, but have been out of practice long enough that I'm also at a huge disadvantage in most professional level positions. I can't even get reciprocity from other states because I haven't been practicing law these last three years. I'm glad I don't have to get a job, but I'm really understanding how challenging and frustrating it would be if I had to.

I'm also coming to respect that I have a certain sensitivity that makes me historically prone to anxiety and (in my teenage years) depression. That the anxiety component has tangible and measurable impacts on my health. And that the traditional legal path is one littered with booze bottles and mental health issues. It's something I've been aware of for years, but adding the need to stay centered for my family with the added stress of a family makes me cognizant that I need to embrace my limitations and work with them instead of fighting against them. That doesn't mean locking myself in an ivory tower and refusing to grow. But it means I'm tired of our societal story where the only work that's acceptable is the all-in full-on-assault on our imperfections and the need to overcome. I am me and the good - the compassion, the depths of understanding, the empathy, the acute analysis and ability to switch between different emotional vocabularies to translate inner states - is intimately related to the bad - the overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. My softness is an asset where I can extend it. But, well, my degree and experience and exceptionalism all point towards a higher stress passionately involved profession. Which leaves me in this interesting place.

I continue to hold onto the trajectory of Guardian ad Litem. It would still involve stress. It would still require a fair amount of self-promotion. But it's something I think I'd be good at, something that offers more independence, and something for which I have potential mentors and people to vouch for me (at least in Whatcom County). Lord knows though. I'm surely not doubt free. Obviously if I could get the mental bandwidth, it would be an advantage to learn Spanish as every helping position prefers it.

I can only shrug my shoulders in a mix of ambivalent exhaustion. It's been a long week for a momming and i'm just glad to finally get some preschool "time off" to relax and say "f it all" to the laundry and cleaning and whatever else. Or go to Qi Gong, since I did sign up and pay for it. But in my head I'm binge watching America's Next Top Model and browsing Buzzfeed tests on my phone.

Stay at home moms, nobody knows how you do it (and often people seem not to care to find out). Working moms I really don't know how you manage it! I suspect magic.

In the meantime, we successfully threw our very first holiday party (and only get together in our current home). It was small by design and smaller by the inevitable last minute cancellations. In future, we've agreed to invite more people than the house can hold with the confidence that it will sort itself out in the end.

And we tromp closer and closer to the big 2019, ten years since I started law school and  met Mr (W)right incidentally.

Job or no-job, we wait in limbo on a future that is never set in stone or backed up in the cloud. Who knows what comes next, but hopefully a few more vigorous bed-jumping sessions, some long naps, and several readings of Hanukkah Bear alternated with Santa Clause and the Three Bears.

Happy holidaze.


Mind blown like a stick of dynamite: It's officially the Holidaze! Where did that happen?

Oh yeah, we gathered together at a communal table; many of us ate a turkey, a ritual which summons the ghosts of Christmas time tables and chants the sun to sleep with a lulling solstice song.

Since 2009 or so we've celebrate Thanksgiving in San Francisco with Andrew's family and this year was no exception. It was a pleasant affair - more intimate than previous years, with about 12 people in attendance. Chaya was the crowning jewel of all table settings of course, but she had some hefty competition from various other charming young folk. Hey, I'm in my mid-thirties now. I can talk about twenty-somethings like they're just "kids." It gives me some minor twinge of levity to do so even if I wonder if they haven't got as much or more figured out than I have. Ok, with my burdensome omphaloskepsis, I haven't figured out much. To quote The Good Place, I have panic attacks during rock paper scissors because there are - and I semi quote - "too many variables." So they've probably got significantly more than me figured out. Touche. But have they seen my navel and it's slightly uncanny metamorphoses in its postpartum form? Double-touche!

But yes, Chaya was the jewel. It's been funny to hear several people proclaim how "pretty" Chaya is. It roils the heckles of my inner feminist, though only a wee bit. Of course to me she is the living embodiment of exquisite snot-covered muddy tangled up gleeful BEAUTY. But to me, she's beautiful like the starry sky from atop a remote mountain or sunset spanning the ocean tide. I kind of hope she holds onto the understanding of her own beauty for as long as she can. It would be disingenuous to pretend looks don't matter. They impact everything. And reveling in the physical attractiveness of another human being who is reveling in yours is an experience I would never with to deny her. Still I hope for a while longer she doesn't place her worth on her cupid's pout and other features that wax and wane with age.

It's complicated I suppose. I'm hesitant to emphasize any intrinsic evaluations of my little teacup-hurricane. Pretty. Smart. We make judgments and projections about people every day, but inevitably it risks a certain diminishing of their greater essence. And it almost seems to set contingencies on that love by the degree to which the observed qualities are conformed to.Yet, at the same time, to love is to see. Can one love without treasuring a person's individual attributes. You cannot leave a person's qualities unnoticed, I think. How crushing to be proud of a certain attribute and have it go ignored or minimalized.

 Could I accept love that didn't value the characteristics in myself I hold most valuable? I don't know that I could fully seek to be "loved, and not-admired" insofar as admiration comes from a sense of "wonderment" and reveling intrinsic to the quiddity of the person being loved. We can "love" humanity in an abstract way that values the totality of human existence. But in specificity, surely there must actually be specificity - and accurate specificity at that. Can I feel loved if I don't feel seen?  If I am loved but the qualities within me that I value are ignored, discounted or disliked, what happens then? A moment of ego crush?

Perhaps holding onto a self-manufactured story of the ego-self isolates us from receiving love. Perhaps it would be a time to reflect and re-value. But it may also be a sign that the love itself is misplaced and misunderstood. I honestly don't know. But it is profoundly affirming when I feel seen and accepted, and when people value the things about me that matter to myself. I suppose the best trick to loving is to listen to the beloved and let them show their joys and stories without expectations. That's always hard. But harder with a three year old whose sense of self is less formed and distanced by language divides.

Perhaps (har har) I overthink. She's adorable. Duh. Inside and outside and the way she so comfortably inhabits her powerful little body is beautiful.

As we return, we settle back in, gradually attempting to recapture our fleeting and exploded sleep cycles before the pending excitement of nonstop ho-ho-holiday magic. And we've got a kid, so you know we haven't mistletoe free moment coming up.

And we wait. For many sparkling crystal balls to drop. Among the uncertainty is the medium-shot application I put in for Court Facilitator at Skagit County. A really decent fit for me in theory, but with the caveats that I may be simultaneously over and under qualified AND that our life circumstances might mean I wouldn't be able to accept it if I did get an offer. But it's certainly something I can't help but ponder with a surprising jolt of hope.

Until now I can't say that I've really wanted to get a job as much as I've felt a sense of obligation as a positive role model yadda yadda yadda to keep open to the idea. Andrew can't conceive my ambivalence about working since Chaya was born, but it's been powerful. Even in the maddest whirlwinds of Chayosity - in the loneliest moments of parental stress and isolation - the idea of missing any of those moments has made my heart break a little.

I'm aware that being a working mom, by many accounts, just means feeling like you aren't doing particularly well at either. It's about trade-offs at any rate, and until recently the trade-offs just didn't seem very worth it.

We don't financially need to share "working parent" status. And in many ways I'm just not the type of person who needs a job to define her, but there are a lot of ways that working is starting to appeal to me. To wit:

1. Zeroing out the mental load equation. Ok so partners/parents share the load, right? Or they should. And if they don't, they need to be having conversations about what messages they're sending their children and whether one parent is standing astride the loony bin trying to manage all the emotional and logistical burden for an entire family while everyone stands around shrugging haplessly and saying "if you'd just asked" because maybe they haven't seen that comic going around about the whole mental load matter. But obviously the non-working (by economic only) parent took off work to be able to focus on a lot of those load issues a little more. Obviously they're more equipped to take many small things on. And the non-working parent is more familiar with the ins and outs of the household by definition. It's hard to know where that goes too far and when the non-working parent is overburdened. Of course women do tend to do more of the emotional labor even when both parents are working, but it's easier to have a sense of balance I think. And it's easier for both parents to have an equal agency in things like "the kitchen" or "the kids' schoolwork" when one isn't sort of the designated rearer.

2. Making things like "sick time" and "vacation time" a little more overt. Stay at home moms ultimately are entitled to share their partners' sick/personal/holiday time in that this is the time the working parent could use to be at home with the child while the non-working parent gets to do anything other than chaperone the kiddo. It's confusing though and can often feel like stealing or infringing somebody's hard earned money or hours, because our society is kind of built on a "you earn it, you enjoy it" cornerstone without putting any thought into what is earned as a stay-at-home parent.

3. Not being around half-eaten or totally uneaten food all the time. With Chaya I'm constantly sitting there with ten different mini-dishes in front of me and I'm constantly nibbling at them. It's trivial but it's just always there and it's a lot of willpower not to hoover up all those snacks even if I don't love them much and they tend to make me sick!

4. The money to outsource a little. I don't think there'd be a ton of extra money beyond that, but we'd have money to pay for preschool, cleaning service, and some higher quality meal packages each week. And I'd use them, damnit. Probably something to make lunches faster and easier as well. Plus a little extra

5. Sheer relatability. It is impossible to explain the experience of being a stay at home mom, which can make it extremely isolating. But being somebody who's desperately trying to balance life-work-self without enough time for any... I think every parent gets that to some extent.

6. Independence in the what-if. Every year I don't work, our situation feels more vulnerable if something happens to Andrew. The stakes just get a lot higher with a single paycheck. I can't imagine it doesn't add pressure for him.

6. And yeah a chance to be an adult, helps others, thrive etc. Those are nice, though I admit I've almost entirely suppressed such memories. Competency? What? Naw, I've done a few little things in the last few years and gotten quite the buzz out of being able to listen well (believe it or not, I do that), rephrase things accurately, organize, and generally help other people.

Of course, potential downsides still include

1. Not having time for therapy/massage-therapy/exercise/meditation. I squeeze these in pretty precariously as it is, and I suspect I'll be that much more protective of my free and family time if I have almost none of it.

2. Having so much less quality time available with Chaya. I think she'd be thrilled to have more time at school  but when I got off work, I'd have to run to pick her up and then we'd run home to get dinner together. She'd be heading to bed shortly after and then we'd be rushing to get out the door in the morning. On the weekends, Andrew and I BOTH would have a ton of catch up to do to maintain the house and the chores that I couldn't get to. She and I share some really amazing little snippets of downtime and play time. We sing together. We dance. We dissect the couch and run amok. And I'm often exhausted but I still treasure those snippets.

3. Seeing more work friends means fewer other friends. I don't get out that terribly much, but we do have activities through the week.

Anyways, it's all quite theoretical. If the job doesn't work out and we aren't moving, I'm sticking to my GAL plan which actually would sort of walk the line between the benefits and downsides. If we move-move, I dunno. It's kind of hard starting over even after this little time. But at least I'm coming to a place where I'm prepared if anything else comes up.

And now to throw all that to the wind, focus on my stone-in-the-sky imagery and hunker down for some mad holiday partying.

Loopy Limbo

Well phew, November is upon us. Another year another NaNoMoWri (national novel writing month... it's involved) gone neglected hereabouts. Let's just say that I am going super avant garde and my novel is a bunch of blank pages.You're welcome, world. 

A lot happening in our lives that isn't yet ripe to air in prime time. Things that are unformed plans. Potentials that can't be jinxed by naming just yet. Deep dark state secrets (maybe... who's to say?). As mentioned previously, we may move somewhere at some point. The exact details of that are viciously hazy. Plenty of thought has been given to logistics and ideals, but ultimately one must live one's life in the meantime (but since your mind may be caught up in some stuff that isn't yours to share, perhaps with less online sharing ... here, have some pictures).

Chaya has her own rich inner and outer life, which is amazing. Yesterday I picked her up from preschool and she began to wail and howl. When we got to the car, we sat together and she collected herself, then explained quietly "I did not want to say goodbye." She's now frequently talking about "my friends" even if she's shy around them in person (it's amazing how fascinated children are with aloof children - they get Christmas-morning level excited when Chaya talks to them so far) and often can't remember their names (unless her best friend is name abubabduabkjowaaaaaagerfeld, which I don't recall being the name of any of her classmates).

 She's excited to see "kiddos"She's got her own secret time with mommy and with daddy and with Pam. She sometimes laughs and tells me that "Chaya is a toddler. Chaya is two." Other times she says that she is six. Some days I could believe either. Every third or fourth day she'll decide to play vigorously instead of napping. It usually results in a more manic Chaya by evening, but doesn't seem to impact her too terribly unless she skips a few naps in a row (then it's Armageddon with a little hopeful Carmaggedon).

She is obsessed with drawing faces. Smiley, sad, silly, angry... all the emotions. And she will ritualistically act out scenes while drawing. Chaya face is crying. Mommy face says "what's up Chaya" Daddy face says "oh no Chaya did you fall." Then resolution and then new Chaya face cries and new mommy face says "what's up" and so on. We have fantastically washable markers that we let her use on the table and in the bathtub. Both are filled with poetic pathos.

 It is amazing to watch her processing the magnificent and baffling experience of emotion in such a tangible way.

A few times when things are intense we've sat down together and drawn what is happening. Daddy driving to work. Chaya going with mommy to the train.

Chaya feeling excited. Chaya feeling tired. I suppose it's almost like Chaya's version of journaling, come to think of it. And therapeutic for me as well sometimes. My bujo may need some more sketches of feeling faces.

She is also working on her understanding of possession, sharing, and taking turns. Usually by offering something to me and then yelling "no, that's not yours, that's mine!" Or by telling me it's my turn to do something and then yelling "no mommy it's not your turn, it's my turn" and gently pushing me away. There is a younger girl at preschool who often takes Chaya's toys, and I've seen her subsequently apply these practice sessions with her. Her teachers were kind of thrilled when she first asserted herself, even while attempting ot de-escalate the situation. But lord could this escalate! Not everything Chaya asserts to be hers actually is hers...

In the midst of uncertainty, I've found yet another avenue of "ack! Future!" to intrude on our happy little limbo. Skagit County Courthouse just opened up a position for a family law facilitator. Facilitators are often paraprofessionals but can be professionals. They help pro se (representing themselves) parties make sure they fill out the right forms in a way the court will accept, help calculate child support and basically usher the parties through the court process without representing anyone or offering legal advice, per se. I've sent several consults to Whatcom County Facilitators. They're very important in communities that aren't rich enough for a carnival of attorneys on all sides.

Up side: steady position that offers good security and superior work-life balance and vacation time (at least the courts are closed A LOT in my memory). And a chance to do something I'm very good at in a way that's really crucial to the community. Some sense of satisfaction at helping people and being competent.

Down side: it's a full time job, so it would be a huge change. Full time preschool for Chaya plus a little help on some ends. No more naps, because she doesn't nap even in ideal conditions all the time. No more open preschool time for massages and therapy and health appointments and shopping and chores. Less time together. Less time for playdates.

I've already mentally budgeted about $15,000 to $20,000 of any additional income we'd gain to outsourcing things I currently do at home. On the bright side, there'd still be some money left over to buy some more professional clothes and maybe spend otherwise on various weekend warrior items. .

Anyways, I feel a little disengenuous even applying since I don't know how long we'll be in the area.  I also don't speak Spanish and a Spanish speaker is highly preferred,. But I also feel like it's an opportunity worth pursuing while we "live our lives" in waiting.

But in a timely place for major life change: I've reached a good point of burnout on doctors for a while. I don't feel much better, but I'm not currently dying. I probably have shin splints in addition to sciatica bugging my feet. I have thus far experienced chillblains but have managed to reduce the damage compared ot last year with heating pads and millions of gloves. I am still scheduled to eventually have an endoscopy in December, which may or may not say much. The faintness is probably low blood pressure. The shortness of breath is psuedo-dypsnea most likely and probably related to the reflux. The flushing in my ears and cheeks is annoying but I carry a portable fan around to minimize the discomfort.

 I'm still practicing (I need a ton of practice) mindfulness and meditation to supplement my anxiety-prone mental health. I do pilates in the morning (and use an exercise ball to avoid straining my wrists). I do yoga at night. I do qi gong a little bit in a class on Friday mornings. It makes me a little lightheaded but I appreciate it.

And my hair is longer. Which may not last forever because Chaya is a genius at ruffling it. I would pretty well need hair glue to keep myself from looking tornado-swept by 8 a.m.

(Before and after).

But you know as much as I usually just look like a wolf-woman, I do want to enjoy my hair before it changes texture as I maybe start getting gray. Maybe one of these days. Or maybe I'll give up and shear myself again.

And as we limbo along, we'll take a few more breaks to continue weekends of social events and parties right up through our upcoming Thanksgiving trip.

Cue Chaya's demands for a pet turkey, because I think she'd enjoy riding on one.

MullToo - On Our Country's Current Pain and Any Hope for Our Future.

And such a short time after the big explosions of 2016 and the #metoo movement, we're back. Feeling frustrated. Feeling triggered. And opening up our wounds to each other in the hopes that maybe it will make an impact (I've certainly sobbed my way through so many testimonials from people I love, people I hardly know, people I like on tv, and otherwise people who've suffered in an essential way). Maybe the thinking will change finally. Boy do things move slowly though.

You know what I'd like to see? Instead of women detailing their experiences and explaining why they didn't report about them, I want to hear from men. How about a #holyshitIhadnoidea hashtag for men's posts? I see that this is starting to sink through for some, and I really appreciate the men who are passionately discussing this issue. But I still feel like we could get further here.  Men who maybe realize now that they pushed boundaries and overstepped the comfortable zone of consent. Men who realize that they just assumed their daughters and sons had stayed above the fray. Men who are showing that they realize what's happening and showing that we may actually be moving past this dynamic. Every woman's got a story or several and not many of my male friends do. So there's a little dissonance there still. Not to say this hasn't happened on a smaller level. I've had some pretty intense conversations with my male friends since 2016 and I cherish the support from a handful of more vocal companions. But on a societal level, I think we need more. We need men to address toxic masculinity because it's crushing them too.

This is about human beings. Men and women are harassed and assaulted, albeit at different ratios and social pressures and systemic problems screw them both differently. This is about us respecting the essential dignity of other human beings and about defining who we are as individuals. And about recognizing there are ways our society has made that worse. Without purchase from both genders, this is gonna take a lugubrious slog through some centuries and a lot of backsliding. And when it's somebody we like it suddenly gets a lot harder. I see systemic sexism in both parties still so deeply entrenched. No hands are clean here.

I get the concern from both sides (when it's "our guys"). I think "Believe the victim" can be misunderstood. Yes, false accusations are devastating. I have worked in DV cases where false accusations allow one spouse to deeply wound and control the other. It's a lot less common than accusations having long been forestalled because DV is complicated and survivors are complicated and nothing is that clear. And usually the court system sorted it all out (we hope). But it happens and it can have lasting impacts on the families and children. SO I get it.

But, I don't think "believe the victim" ever means "wholeheartedly and undiscriminatingly believe all accusations no matter how far fetched and regardless of personal intuition." It's more about confronting our internal biases that make us disbelieve those who raise the alarm, and our reflexive inclinations to silence them. It's more about "questioning our supposed intuitions and taking a prima facie openness to their claims." That's a lot less catchy. It's also just a utilitarian choice where we weigh the impacts and numbers of survivors of assault to false accusations and make a choice. That's a harsher way to look at it but sometimes we weigh interests of one group against another.

We're in a messy period right now in which cultural norms are shifting. I've had drunken encounters that were objects of sentimental adoration for years following. I was publicly kissed at a camp award ceremony by an older counselor as a "reward" for being a good sport in water skiing, and I cherished it instead of being disgusted by it. So I hold these things even while I look at the ick and discomfort I felt when my body became not-my-own.

What was known to be wrong but still widely accepted is suddenly getting re-slotted. There is some valid retroactive panic to people I'm sure. I know that going over 65 mph on the freeway is illegal but I'd be a little nervous if I heard people were retroactively getting tickets for driving 75. I'd be a little freaked. Moving forward requires delicacy, but it inevitably means that a certain group of people are going to have it a little less easy. I get that panic. But we're human beings. We don't have to accept this shit. We don't have to perpetuate this culture.

But there's that gut-punching feeling that this isn't changing fast enough to protect my daughter. There are so many ways the world will chew up your children. This is probably going to be one of them. I was taught all the "right" things about body autonomy. It didn't change that my autonomy was taken from me sometimes, or that I responded by hiding from it, feeling guilty, and otherwise burying it. I know the same is true of so many peers..Having theoretically had the tools to avoid these things made me feel like a failure for not having done so. It made me feel like there was something wrong. Because I should have avoided those moments.

So where are we? For me, I feel myself in a position where I am trying to find the words to teach my child that her autonomy is supreme, but that doesn't mean it will always be respected. It doesn't mean she can always protect herself. It doesn't mean that the lines will be clear. And if something happens to her, I want it drilled into her to respond and to care for herself.  Of course I want to do all that without freaking her out about the world and teaching her not to trust. Because there's so much to trust in this world.  It's tricky.

I think about all the things I want to teach my daughter and here are a few.

1. "Good people" do "bad things." We are complicated. People may do so much good in parts of their lives, but do bad in others. It's worth/necessary trusting people, but if one person isn't what they seem, that's a part of life and not a subversion of anything we assume about all human beings. Trusting the world is a calculated risk.

2. Bad things *do* happen to good people. The fact of something bad happening to somebody has no impact on their value as a person. Nor does it reveal who they are. It is a thing that happened to them. It doesn't get to decide who they are, even if it necessarily resets the course of their lives.. People may not want to accept that. That's because we're all scared and it's easier to tell ourselves stories about people who are hurt. Don't live your life so scared as to condemn the victims and celebrate the perpetrators, especially if you are the victim..

3. People are never perfect. It's rare that a story shows a 100% angelic survivor and a 100% evil perpetrator. Sometimes both people cross lines. Sometimes harm is done from good intentions. Sometimes it's messy and difficult to understand. But basic autonomy is always a person's due.

4. We are called to love everyone. Even those who are hurting us or others.The part we love is a person's basic humanity, not the perversion that causes them to tear away from that.

5. Love never means refusing to enforce our rights and the rights of others. Love never means abstaining from pursuing justice. There are always reasons a loved one hurts another. There are often ways in which you may want to protect somebody who's hurt you. It isn't necessarily easy.  You can love from a distance. Sometimes you need to love but walk away. Sometimes you need to do more.

6. Forgiveness is a way of letting go the hold somebody else has on our mental health. Forgiveness is about personal freedom. It is not reconciliation. It does not stop us from enforcing our rights or seeking justice. It is not for the sake of another person but for ourselves.

7. Our brains have lots of thoughts and feelings and they don't always agree with each other. When we're in scary or difficult situations, our brains try to make us feel better by telling us stories, giving ourselves the illusion of control or choice when we have none. Sometimes they help. Sometimes they make things worse when the situation has passed. Always have outside parties to talk to and draw from perspectives beyond your own. Never let yourself be isolated from different perspectives. If anyone ever wants to do that to you, they are not putting valuing you interests.

8. Our intentions and the impacts we have on others are not always the same thing. For most purposes the impact is the most relevant information for going forward.

9. Dating and sexuality are complicated. There are squishy lines and ambiguities. The kindest and safest thing to do is to be very very honest about your feelings. Accepting rejection makes it easier moving forward. If you are unsure whether rejection is a safe option, find friends and back up. All people are deserving of basic respect. No person is entitled to your feelings or affection nor are you entitled. .

10. Own your body. Own it physically. Own it mentally. Own it spiritually. Take agency for its love, health, and pleasure. Do not wait for somebody to introduce you to it. It's yours to share and yours to keep. 

Here Where and Everywhere I am (and am not)

Here we are. Wherever here may be.

Earth. Mount Vernon. This time and place. Everywhere.

Not so long after the last update. Still heading towards October. Desperate for Halloween inspiration. I wanted us to be the Spice Girls (only rule: Chaya can't be Baby Spice) but most of my costume searches have turned up empty. I've considered Potty Monkey, Chaya's absolute favorite Youtube clip right now.

It's still on the table, but it might be kind of cold. I mean, I don't even really have Halloween plans, but it's early yet. But damnit, I love me my Halloween costumes.

Maybe Chaya could be Hoggle?

In the meantime, I'm slogging through my various balancing acts like a be-tutu-ed brown bear riding a unicycle on a tightrope. Or like a me being vaguely aware of different desires and priorities.

And socks! Still have socks!

I'm proud to say that I've munched my way through 30 of my 40 required CLE credits! I need all 40 completed before December 31st in order to stay an active member of the Washington State Bar. It's enough of a pain getting re-activated that even if I'm not really practicing law at the moment, I'd rather just stay "active." The long-term plan is to complete an April training to become a Title 11 Guardian ad Litem. Being a Title 11 GAL is basically speaking on behalf of adults deemed incompetent to represent themselves in legal issues - rife for abuse according to a recent John Oliver expose, but I like to think I'd do good stuff instead of evil. Then next year, I'd like to do the training for Title 26 GALs, which would make me the voice of children in family law cases. This is something I've wanted to do for a long while. It's also a something where good GALs are sorely lacking  and overbooked in Whatcom and Skagit County. Both of these require presence at various hearings so it would require some more movement with childcare if I get started before kindergarten, but would be far more doable than a 9-5.

Physically I just indulged in a massaged, which loosened up some of that granite that comprises most of my body these days. I'm still a bit tight. I've got the usual radiculopathy, shin splints, busted discs and arthritis. But I'm being dogged about my morning yoga and evening stretching. And my whenever strength training. Things are better.

Internally, I gave up on trying to wean form the omeprazole for a while. After a little over a week at full dose again, I seem to just be re-reaching equilibrium. Still have to watch what I eat and still have discomfort, but a very tolerable discomfort. I know I can't stay on these forever but, I want help the next time I try. Figures my body would be that sensitive and experience atypical rebound. I'm a delicate acid-spewing flower!

Psychologically, I'm reapproaching the situation of being highly sensitive (hyper-acute nervous system for the whee!). I think in a lot of ways, I talk myself through a small book's worth of thoughts and issues every day. I know myself fairly well. I call myself out a lot. I recognize my tendencies. I am intimately familiar with my own navel and have been peeking at all the navels of those around me. I don't desperately need a safe space and guidance to talk MORE (though I'll take that too) as much as something more structured and more practical. How do I handle what happens when I get overstimulated? What can I do to re-center myself? How do I set healthy boundaries understanding my own limitations without letting fear of hitting those overwhelm me either. How do I nurture my inner sensitive side? How do I surround myself with the beautiful and meaning that I'm wired to crave.How do I accept myself when sometimes my sensitivities make me a drag. So I'm working with that. Meditation. Yoga. Mindfulness. I'm a walking stereotype in my very white upper-middle class female thirties.

Spiritually, I'm kind of unsure where I am. Well that's not entirely accurate. I am in the here. I am part of an interconnected universe of being.

I may be a little woo, but what of that? The Divine to me is the connection, totality and love of all things, which transcends time and finite boundaries of consciousness. Honoring that in others. Finding that in myself. I can't say that'll lead me to some kind of horrible stand-off with law enforcement, denial of necessary healthcare for me or my loved ones, use of my woo to justify oppressing others, or purchase of dubious products to align my inner child's chakras. And it brings me great depth of joy to connect with that love in the world around me. Practically speaking, it also seems to activate my parasympathetic nervous system and help me navigate the world in a calmer more open fashion. Plus, I'm an HSP. We need a little woo. We wilt a bit without it.

I connect with the Episcopal Church in a few ways: (1) it's a welcoming and open human language to connect with the greater truth that transcends any single doctrine; (2) it's a dialectical approach that connects with my liberal arts/Great Books/Over-educated/overthinking-loving doubting kind of approach to life; (3) it's a story about who I am and who my family is, because those were my roots and every ritual has deeply entrenched meaning.

I found St. Paul's MV through Helen, who perfectly embodied the messages I needed to hear when we met. She has grace in chaos, hilarity in solemnity, and a full embrace of the darkness that is part of the light. Like me on a good day, she dabbles with the messiness of being human that is in itself divine. Her sermons cut right to my soul and she could stop in the middle of a conversation to say "should we pray" and make it sound less stilted than natural and fantastic. So I started attending services. That they lacked childcare was irrelevant because Sunday mornings are daddy-daughter time anyways.

Then Helen left and I was a bit in an empty space. That's good and bad. When I'm sitting I often think of myself as a rock hovering in mid-air. Neither going up anymore, but not yet going down. Just there. In my best places, I embrace that as the essence of being alive. But sometimes I want to peek around and guess at future trajectories.Will I land in a beautiful splash in the pond? Or will I clash down on some little brother's head?

The MV community is just lovely and I've come to have a strong fondness for so many of the members. I love that I can feel genuinely and warmly greeted and appreciated every week, despite little outside engagement. I can run up and hug these people and they genuinely expresslove for that moment. I don't really feel that in other social venues at this point.If I go to a preschool meetup, it's fun, but I'm not running up and yelling "PEACE" to another parent while grabbing them in a bear hug. Maybe back in my blues days, that was pretty common, but it's still a rarity to find oneself immersed in such an immediately open culture when you're kind of a reserved person.

 But it isn't what it was when Helen was there. And there is no greater community for families.That becomes more apparent in Helen's absence.

I was ready to throw my hands up and just go to church with my dad, but there were some inklings that I might  be able to help. Andrew, in a whirlwind of supportiveness, even seemed to be encouraging me to take more of a place in setting up childcare in order to make the community more open to young families. Maybe we got caught up in problem solving mode, after a meeting or two where it seemed like maybe the community was missing things that were vital for longterm survival. Somehow I felt like I was there for a reason and should be more involved. And I think if they want to continue on for more than a few years, they need to make room for families. They need youth programs. They need ways to incorporate children into the services. They need all of this.

So I signed up for a few committees and started researching. There are some really cool, very liberal programs. There are some fun and amazing options for making kids feel more included and welcome in services. I mean, zoocharist! I love it!

But the more excited I got and the more I started talking about what I was learning, the more I realized how uncomfortable it was making Andrew (the agnostic secular Jew who hasn't an ounce of woo in his body and doesn't meditate so much as pass out in a sitting position). And ultimately, I understood I was planning all these things for a demographic that didn't include us. I mean, Andrew didn't start screaming "don't brainwash my kid" every time I mentioned something the slightest bit scriptural, but there were suggestions for different approaches, perhaps, that belied such sentiment. I don't think that Christian parents are really looking for an overwhelmingly secular childcare program necessarily. I mean not that we shouldn't all dress in black and sing Philip Glass (South Park? Anyone?) during the winter pageant or just throw on Daniel Tiger and give the kids some oranges. But I think that a church has an existential investment in at least passing on the traditions of their faith to children.

I honestly, think that stories are symbols and greater truths. Whether that be bible stories or Dr. Seuss, I don't see the difference. But some people do.

Which gave me pause. It reawakened some sadness about not having a future of spiritual presence with my family. A little defensiveness that something so dear to my heart is viewed with a little suspicion by somebody so close to my heart. But it also made me wonder why I might work extremely hard trying to set up a program that will never cater to my own family. I want to be giving and paying it forward, but surely there's something I can find where my investment will go towards our own famly as well.

Perhaps not. This isn't me saying "I want to go back to work now!!" by the way.

I want to hear sermons that touch me so deeply I feel like I've had a psychic cleansing. I want to embrace community members. I want to sing together. Close my eyes and be vulnerable together. I want to be somewhere with a shared purpose and value. And I want to share that with my daughter and husband somehow. But we don't always get what we want. So reintroducing the balancing act.

I guess ultimately this probably just means status quo. I won't push any major changes at MV and I'll let the glacial pace of vestry affairs slowly let me off the hook in terms of commitments. I'll go when I go and Andrew and Chaya will continue to have their time as always. He'll offer sometimes to drop by a church party or whatever and I'll be grateful but reserved and maybe put him off and maybe not. I'll go to Bellingham with my dad. I'll remain open and eager to go to Jewish services if Andrew ever wants to. I'll try gently to introduce some of my family traditions to Chaya and continue discussing mindfullnes, compassion, and whatever else with her. I'll tell her people believe many things and then I'll tell her what I believe.  And I'll feel unsure what else beyond that. I'll be unsatisfied. But the human condition is dissatisfaction. I'll sit. I'll pray. And it will make me feel better physically as well as psychologically and spiritually.

Oh or I'll go ahead and honor my commitments and find a cute couple of kids at Sunday school and they can be my church family like how people have work spouses. The possibilities!

And maybe if I'm lucky I'll have a flash of Halloween inspiration, because the time is coming, man!

Three and Thirty-somethin' Bring on the Autumn.

And heck it's almost October! Most of y'all have probably already bathed in pumpkin spice bathtubs while your kid tries on their fifth Halloween costume of the year and hums Christmas carols. Time, she marches on!.

The clouds have rolled in with rain. The smoke has cleared. And any considerations about air conditioning seem moderately laughable as my hands resume their puckered purple posture. Not that we don't still have warm afternoons from time to time, but then they tend to be crisp, glorious and preciously temporal.

Despite the ongoing goings on, I am finding it increasingly difficult to know what to say about our lives, in a sense because Chaya - by far the most interesting feature of our little family unit - becomes more and more her own little person. And I feel increasingly ill-equipped to tell her story. She definitely tells it better at this point, even if she plays it closer to her chest with newer people (Seriously she turns into Homer just around bedtime and can get through her own personal Iliad before settling into bed at night).

 I can merely marvel at the little monster-cherub's daily revelations (and sometimes cringe when those revelations are clearly to be used for future evil). And us? We're so boring! It's all just crank crank crank when my brain can't quite somersault over the lexophilia of old. Little to say. And yet, hunker down for a wordstorm! It's been a while.

I won't dredge you through the deep abyss of potty training, which seems to be our current parental rite of passage. Needless to say, Chaya's figured out that it's a great way to get to watch Potty Monkey (youtube has so many amazing forms of "entertainment" but at least the parents in this video aren't abusive in their "help") instead of going to bed or other responsibilities. She can quite literally go hours sitting on the toilet without producing any human byproducts, possibly including spit, sewat or tears. I often have to limit her "training sessions, because there is a cap on how long I can linger hunched over on the bathroom floor and I worry she'll hold it forever just to milk some more screen time. But we are not in a hurry. Diapers are incredibly convenient. Let nobody doubt that at 3 a.m. in the morning.

August was rapid-fire flurries (producing so much smoke that the air got outright toxic by most measures and we all suffered indoors for a good week, but also metaphorically in more fun ways).

Chaya pulled off her first flower girl gig in Chicago last month.

She was brilliant, of course. So stellar, her light, that she could barely be bothered to sleep the entire time we were there. The second night, she was exhausted enough to crash, but then rolled herself straight off the bed just as mommy had hit a good level of REM sleep. A second attempt at sleeping with mommy led her to wake up howling (nightmare memories I'm assuming). Then at some point she went from freaked out to maniacally overtired. We had a tortured remainder of the night, occasionally soothed by walks around the hallways and golf tv before Andrew and I eventually just pretended to sleep while she ran around the room, ping balling and chanting and trying to climb all things. She did NOT feel like sleeping on the plane until roughly 2 minutes after landing. It was a magically experience all in all. Andrew and I ... may have eventually recovered from the sleep deprivation and excitement. But we're thinking it'll be a while before another grand trip.

We also had our annual visit from Chaya's cousins.

 I failed to capture photos of them all together. But rest assured they joined us at the obligatory Red Robin Birthday excursion along with a couple of lovely mellow mornings together. Chaya watched closely and took notes when the wrestling matches between brothers got WWE quality.

And time marched on. Actually before all that excitement, kiddo officially turned THREE!!! WHEEEE! Old enough to actually know and repeat her age! That feels like a milestone somehow.

 I also aged at some point in there.

Physically, at least. But I've also reached a milestone in which I really have no idea how old I am. Mid to late thirties now I believe.

We've also had an adventurous September so far.

There was the ubiquitous Labor Day hike to Deception Pass (with bonus visit from grandparent and triple bonus cookout in which she momentarily decided she liked green pepper - a VEGETABLE!!)

There was a Caspar Babypants concert at the Salmon River Festival.

There will be another round of Caspar Babypants this weekend. Chaya is invited to come along, but honestly these concerts may be as much for the parents.

And all the while words get clearer. Idylls become more elaborate. Her imaginary friend (I hope), snake still comes to join her most evenings. This seems to be a good thing in Chaylandia.

The greater Wright unit? Where we at? Same place. Still.

We're not moving...in 2018 at any rate. I'd alluded to a few stirrings that would have taken us elsewhere. Largely they were stirrings, but based on my evolving acceptance that (1) Andrew will not find desirable work closer to home (2) the traffic around Everett is worsening by the day, and takes what sounds like a tidy commute into ultra-frustration territory (3) work opportunities in the Valley ain't so good for me either, although I would be considered a high commodity GAL if I could get myself together to get the training knocked out, (4) Andrew and Chaya are much closer now, and his presence is really important to all of us; (5) whatever vicious cocooning that accompanied my splash into motherhood has slowly diminished and I feel far less terrified of a future unknown.

Nonetheless, we are shelving the immediacy as Andrew focuses on attaining his PE license. This is the closest thing to the Bar Exam in his profession. You can be an engineer and not be a PE obviously. But being a PE means you are licensed with the state and have special regulatory super powers. It makes you far more valuable individually and within a company. Andrew's already passed the preliminary Engineer-in-Training Test before Chaya was born. He was then required to spend a certain period of time under the supervision of an already licensed PE. All together he's just finished the requirements, or will have by the test in April 2019. He'll spend all day with a pen and paper, answering questions (probably - he has to be admitted to take the test first and that requires tons of hoops and the like) and then immediately jump on several planes to fly to Alaska in order to jump on a helicopter and go hella-yeah-heliskiing with his brother. Because, when your brother finally gets to be an attending pediatric neurosurgeon, sometimes there are perks to his newfound financial security and high dopamine levels.

As for me,I've graduated from PT for my back. Not nearly healed, but managed. Daily yoga - at home with a crazy youtube version at whom I can swear if it gets too crazy - and prescribed exercises definitely minimize the pain. I still get intermittent headaches. When a bad one hits, I think about getting the nerve block that's on order for me. Then they go away and I forget I contemplated such things. I  obviously just need my own little set of needles and blocking juice for when the urge hits.

I tried to slowly wean down from my omeprazole (reflux/heartburn medication). There's this thing called "acid rebound" that happens after somebody's been taking acid suppressing medications like omeprazole. Basically their body adjusts, as they tend to. So, yank the suppression and body goes into hyperdrive producing acid. It's a reaction that happens even in perfectly healthy adults after taking PPIs for a month or more, but the degree varies a great deal. Naturally, I'm exceptionally reactive and just cutting a pill in half every other day turned my esophagus into Northern California in the summertime. It was starting to hurt my teeth again so I am going back to my full dose. This is frustrating but I have an endoscopy scheduled in December and an appointment after this. Perhaps I may pin a doubtful star upon it for some answers. And I remain on a very low dose relative to recommendations.

I've said goodbye to a PT, so I've taken up another form of therapy: Therapy-therapy. I've been poking around this idea for a while, but it can be hard to fit appointments in (and therapists are usually quite booked). I like my new therapist so far.

 Will therapy cure my ills? Andrew seems so optimistic that he even suggested that if I started therapy I may need fewer medical follow ups I am decidedly less in the "all in the head" category, though I recognize that stress and most conditions have a circular relationship.

I don't think my physical issues are psychological. I don't even think of myself as a classically stressed person (I don't necessarily get racing thoughts, I don't hyperventilate, my heart rate and BP decidedly do NOT raise, and I don't actually have as much a sense of doom/panic as my twisted sense of humor may imply). But my nervous system is genetically hyperreactive to stimuli, and that means not being in a beautifully lit, comfortable cocooon with classical music humming and positive loving friends dropping by for short hugs before leaving me to my own fairy dust can have a pretty significant toll in physiological wear and tear. Emotions (mine or other people's). Pain. Noise. Smells. Etc. All are more intense and potentially more draining. And I do think that can have a toll on my well-being.

My therapist suggested within five minutes that I was an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), without my even mentioning that part of my experience, or suggesting I had flirted with that descriptor before. So we'll work on how to navigate the world as a sensitive person. Learning all kinds of tricks to stimulate the vagal nerve, which does seem tied into reflux and perhaps my vasovagal spells in the past. Ways to stimulate run from fun to weird: humming, singing, laughing, and hugging loved ones all sound good,. But stimulating the gag reflex? Ice baths? No thanks.

I fear I will be a challenging patient. I tend to be the kind of person with a fair degree of self-insight, but I wonder if I get to a certain limit of my own insights and encounter far greater resistance than others. This is just a wonder, but we'll see.

Honestly, I am in a way better places than I have been in a few years, even if my health issues are more annoying. I'm feeling much mellower and more balanced with my meditative practices. I'm working on breathing. So hopefully therapy can just double-down on that and help me develop further ways of self-caring, advocating for my boundaries, and still living with others. Yadda yadda yadda.

But besides, I probably have fewer medical appointments because doctors in many specialties have currently washed their hands of me, absent some glaring operable defect. Which brings us back to practicing mindfulness and patience anyways. So shrink that head, baby.

Meanwhile we've totally abandoned Konmari (the lifechanging joy of tidying up definitely cleared some space in our closets, but man going through papers and komono just doesn't spark any joy to me thanks).

We're on to BUJO! Or Bullet Journals.

Looks elaborate doesn't it? It can be! Some people buy special $20 journals. Others have fancy markers and stickers and ribbons! I mean this could be fullscare art. Or smug minimalism. The sky's the limit!!

Andrew hopped on the train with his usual determination. I figure it's just a slightly more structured version of my symptoms journals and freestanding journals. I won't go too into details. Really it mostly involved starting with a table of contents, including a little calendar, keeping a daily log, and interrupting that daily log with pages dedicated to various things you want ot focus on. More or less. Also the hip fetishization of analog media like pen and paper. Because we're elder Millenials damnit. The clothes worn in our MTV videos and occasionally at our elementary schools (with some clucking that it was "too old for us") is now featuring itself in Target with unabashed retro tackiness! Let us embrace the page while reloading our Facebook twenty times in a row and murmuring "careful" at our collective children.

Chaya does not have her own BUJO yet. But she's made some very fascinating insights in her various journals so far.

Very few of them about snake.

At any rate. That's more catch up (ketchup?) than anyone can probably stomach in a single pass, so I leave my remaining readers with a shake of gratitude and turn to my Bullet Journal to I don't know, log my day with a variety of fancy bullets and markers!