Monday, June 20, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: the blahs after the storm

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Sluggish. That's how I've been feeling following a month of terrible news. 

First we were hit with the unexpected realization of a badly worded resale certificate, resulting in a roller coaster in the real estate world.

Then we got more news that hit us on a financial front.

Following that came the explosion following the Brock Turner rape case.

Then Orlando.

And finally an alligator attack and news in this community about much wanted children lost too soon.

By Friday all my body wanted to do was sleep. Sleep to heal. Sleep to find peace as me being conscious wasn't bringing any.

Growing up, I remember venturing out into the world following a severe storm. People would cautiously pick their way through the debris, assessing the damage and making note of what was salvageable. But what I also remember is a sense of slowness that would come. Some referred to it as the calm and make note of the peace that had finally returned. But that never felt right. Instead it was a period of blah; a moment where "why do I care?" seemed to be on everyone's lips. 

A tipping point.

Walking out into the world today, I still feel that tipping point. Those moments where others seem to walk through a haze of not knowing to care. My body still feels it too. 

And I wonder, what will be the rally call to dispense of these blahs?  What will wake the world up from the numbness of the pain? Usually there are multiple messages. The question is, which one will win out?

Monday, June 13, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Learning to dance in the rain

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain."
~Vivian Greene

There's been a lot of rain clouds lately. Rain clouds in intimate areas of my life and rain clouds in world events. So many are hurting today. Grey and I are shouldering that pain on top of our own uncertainty.

In the midst of all the hurt, there's a temptation to disconnect from life. To curl up in a secret place until the pain subsides and the sun dries up all the flood waters. At times, this really is the best course of action. But over the years, I've found there's many cases where the floodwaters don't truly subside, or at least won't without intervention. That sometimes it takes marching out into the rain and working with others to fight off the flood waters.

And most interesting are those who know how to dance in those storms. Encouraging others to puddle jump, laugh at thunder claps and find the beauty in what many deem terrifying.

Over the past year, I've witnessed many beautiful moments during terrifying times. During the 3 weeks Grey was unemployed, I remember fondly the walks we would take in the evenings with the Beats. With our condo crisis, there's been the moments where many have commented that if it wasn't for the wording of the reserve study, they would instantly buy our place as it's been well cared for (which has been shocking to hear). With the heartache of those who have experienced lost has come treasured memories of us bonding over insight into trauma. And there's been love experienced in moments that shines so brightly. Rainbows peaking through the storm clouds.

Make no mistake, my heart is still very heavy. But sometimes the best weapon against those who chose to spread darkness is to celebrate the light. To learn how to dance in the rain, even when the storm is at its worst. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Bringing the struggle to light

It's been a couple of weeks, with me sinking into a dark place as bad news followed bad news. I've been confronting shame and guilt. Fear and uncertainty. Moments where I haven't felt safe talking about them as I didn't want to be a source of pity or judgment.

Slowly, I've been reasoning my way out of this viewpoint. Having inner dialogue about how writing about it all after it's been worked out will only leave me miserable and how the best way to counter shame is confront it head on. Funny how easy this advice is to give and yet to follow.

So here's the skinny: 2 weeks ago Grey and I have an excellent offer on our condo. The two hurdles in front of us was the appraisal and the resale certificate. The appraisal would have come back fine, given what the market has been doing, but the resale certificate stopped us dead in the water. It revealed a potential project the HOA board has been talking about for a number of years with one bid we used for developing a savings plan. And it was that information that caused our buyer to jump ship. It made the property toxic.

I've done a lot of crying and screaming. There have been moments where the anxiety got the better of me. The road ahead is very uncertain, but what has become clear is that those guiding us do so to profit themselves. It's hard not to be bitter about that.

But something else has come out of this. For years, Grey has blamed me for this condo. I pushed hard to purchase it early in our relationship, arguing that it would be a good starter home for us. I never expected the recession or to be locked in as long as we have been. And so he's been very angry with me. Losing this seller and my subsequent meltdown has sparked him to reanalyze all of that. To recognize that things have gone far beyond all that we could controlled and our choices didn't cause this. Hence we been slowly working together to come up with a solution.

Despite this, asking for help has been hard. There's a moment of opening yourself to judgment that is utterly terrifying. That something is wrong inherently with you and you somehow deserve this fate. I've found myself drawing away, becoming more withdrawn. Life seems to pass around me without me being a part of it. It's a weird existence.

All of it has me remembering infertility. Though the empty pit of sadness filling my stomach doesn't exist this time, the anxiety and quiet moments spent running scenarios through my head do. And I'm realizing that the only way to get out of this cycle is to start talking about it.

Mali wrote a post today echoing all of this and another post from Jess about wanting her story told really drove this home. That life isn't about the perfect or finished products that society values. Sure, they're nice and wonderful when they happen, but often it's the messy stuff that sculpts us and makes us into who we ultimately will be.

So as of today, I'm bringing our current struggle to light. Talking about my ongoing struggle to understand construction bids and terminology, figuring out financing for a HOA and trying to determine if we need to terminate contracts with those we've worked with. All this from 3000 miles away and while juggling the rest of life. Planning a coup d'etat has been an interesting experience.

Anyone who has undergone a full reclad project, please feel free to offer sage advice.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Small and brown

Ladies and gentlemen, I live with a 7 lbs drill sergeant.

If she wasn't so cute, we would have strung her up by her toes by now.

All of it started (as it does every year) with the birds. Spring means all the birds return. With the birds returning (and mating), comes pre-dawn singing. And with the pre-dawn singing from birds comes pre-dawn chattering and crying for felines.

For years Grey and I couldn't figure out why Jaxson and Daisy were merciless in the Spring. Until I had an office mate who worked with large birds of prey who educated me. So we suffered through this period, with gentle tweeting in the morning. Praying for summer to arrive.

But then we moved from the Pacific Northwest to the New England.

And Oh. My. God.

Not only are there birds EVERYWHERE. They are noisy!!! Noisy enough to wake me up at 4:30 am every day. And this noise hasn't helped with the cats going into full orgasmic mode. Nor has the bird baths outside the windows (bird porn for felines). So we've been miserable with the status quo of Spring Fever mode.

On Sunday, Daisy upped her game.

One of the benefits of our new home is a spacious deck. In the mornings, when I can no longer sleep, I've gotten into the habit of letting both cats out onto the deck to sit and enjoy nature. On his end, Jaxson is in heaven to sit and observe his surroundings. But Daisy has been testing the boundaries; exploring her options for escape. I found every one very quickly and was good about watching her, but she lured me in to a false sense of security with good behavior of lounging and seeming uninterested.

On Sunday afternoon, I wandered down to the garden to check on the plants and that's when I spotted her walking through the garden. She had navigated her way over the deck, down to the landing and to freedom. The second Daisy spotted me, she bolted. Dashing through the garden like a fairy who had been spotted. Only one word crossed my lips.


10 minutes later, as I tried to catch her, "Shit" turned to "Bitch" as she began using the fence to escape any attempt at capture.

Finally Grey came to the rescue with offerings of cream. Luring her in with its milky goodness before returning her to the confines of the apartment.

She's been relentless ever since. Testing windows, eyeing exits and yeowling to be let back out. She's tasted freedom and has decided her life as an indoor cat is something of the past.

Life has been interesting. I feel guilty for keeping her locked indoors. She would love to roam. But I'm very aware of the damage cats do to local wildlife and part of our rental agreement is that Jaxson and Daisy don't eradicate the local bird population. In addition, we've recently spotted a Merlin Falcon that is visiting the garden. And though we're use to much larger raptors (Bald Eagles and such), this one would be happy to have a cat for a meal.

So I'm stuck with an unhappy small brown cat. May summer come soon.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Herbs and fairies

Back in March, I wrote about my wish to regarding Martha's garden. I'm here to report that wishes do come true. Many wishes in fact.

First off, the garden is blooming. Every morning, we're greeted to this.

Secondly, Martha has generously given the Beats access to 3 of her garden boxes. So we planted herbs: basil, thyme, mint, sage, rosemary and parsley.

And strawberries

And in the final box, lavender

Some onions bulbs (just for fun)

And some carrots and sunflower seeds, which we are waiting to sprout.

In addition, Martha has added an extra special treat: Fairy houses.

Every morning, the Beats go into the garden to visit the houses and say "good morning."

Every evening, they arm themselves with their watering cans and get to work watering their plants (and some of Martha's too). And then they say good night to the fairies.

Discussions about flowers and vegetables happen frequently at the moment. Bird and small mammals are also of interest. We'll be talking about bugs very soon.

In the meantime, I'm in heaven. Under Martha's watchful eye, things are growing and thriving. I'm healing too.

Monday, May 16, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Letter to the buyer

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

On Friday, our condo listing went live. Grey and I have been preparing ourselves for years for this moment. Watching the market, doing repairs and updates to our condo that we could afford and would meet our needs. After a fail-start of trying to sell directly to our renters, the decision was made to take the plunge and actually list.

Our unit has been on the market for a total of 4 days. This morning we got an offer for more than the list price, without contingency of financing and a request to close as soon as possible.

In the packet of material we got from this potential buyer was a letter to Grey and me, with her talking about how she loves the unit, the views, the location and all we've done. How there's so much potential with the space. The excitement in this possibility is there and she's hoping we will accept. As I read through the letter, my own narrative began to fill in for a response that likely will never be. The things that will be left unsaid.

Like that first night in our condo after we purchased it, standing out on the balcony to watch the sunset.

Or the time Grey was teaching me how to wire a two-way light switch, which resulted in a pop, leading to a trip to the hardware store. After he rewired the switches and was testing them, I waited till he flipped the top switch 10 times before yelling "BANG!" He still hasn't forgive me for that one.

Or the time S.ears delivery failed to drop off our new stove, leaving me to cancel the order, enlist a new neighbor and drive up to the store to purchase one there, only to turn around and drive it back to our place that evening for me to install. 

And, of course, there's the memories revolving around infertility. The corners I cried in, the doors that were slammed, the stairs I collapsed on when I learned I was miscarrying, the floors that were being replaced during that failed FET.

But also those same stairs the Beats learned to climb up. The windows we stood holding them to show them the mountains. The kitchen sink where they got their first baths and later the bathtub they would bathe in together.

A decade of memories in a place we called home.

Tonight Grey and I will go through this offer, but it is likely we will accept it. Beginning the process of closing this door on a chapter of our lives.

Monday, May 9, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Countering the shame of infertility

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

A few years ago, while working as a lecturer teaching genetics, I spent a class period talking about diagnosing genetic diseases and twin studies. Following spending weeks talking about classical genetics, my students were a lot more alert and immediately had lots of questions about all the different assays. It was during the discussion about twin studies that I learned I have two students who had a twin/ part of a triple. Both students began sharing with the class their family history and answering questions about fraternal vs identical siblings (which helped drive home the distinction). But then they both did something I wasn't expecting. Both of them talked about how they were conceived through IVF. I was utterly shocked not only to hear them share this information openly with their fellow classmates, but to also see the pride that was there as they talked about how they came to be in the world. The pride they had particularly in their mothers for undergoing these treatments.

I thought about these students over the weekend, both with the looming holiday, but also following this video by Leah Campbell (formerly Single Infertile Female). 

If you read Leah's post about this project, you'll find that her request for stories was met with overwhelming amount of entries and people sending pictures. And after watching this video and wiping away my own tears of gratitude, I got to thinking about the stigma and myths that is associated not only with infertility, but also with fertility treatments and the paths to resolution.

And it made me wonder why this is. Why there is still this stigma.

With my students, there was a clear pride about how they were conceived. Talking with them both after that one class, they both were aware of the struggle their parents went through to conceive them. One talked about her mother's 3 rounds of treatments prior to the pregnancy that lead to her. The other talked about PCOS. And both talked about how much their parents rocked and were so brave. "Infertility is a terrible thing," one said. "Which should tell you about how much my mom rocks."

Despite this, there's still a debate about whether to share information like this with children. Unlike adoption, where more data is showing the importance of openness about the child's history, a couple can easily remain mum about ever having dealt with infertility to begin with. For years there's been discussions about how this should be a choice for the couple who survived this trauma and are now parenting their biological children.

Yet, given what I've seen, I wonder if by remaining quiet we're actually perpetuating the myth of shame surrounding this disease. And that we are also underestimating our children in the process, assuming they couldn't handle this information.

I'm the first to admit that I'm coming at all of this with one point of view. That my decision early on to be out of the closet has colored my view point. But, like with adoption, I'm wondering if it's time we revisit this topic. That if we want recognition that infertility is a multifaceted disease that affects 1 in 8 couples in the US (1 in 6 couples in Canada and 1 in 4 couples globally), we need to start talking about this. 

And this includes with our children, sharing with them how they were conceived. Giving them the chance own this part of their story too.
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