Thursday, January 18, 2018

The best laid plans . . . .

Last night, following Grey's news, I began emailing colleagues to set up meetings. Though some had been alerting about me potentially leaving, plans had been made with the idea of proceeding like nothing was changing. Though Grey hasn't signed a contract yet, we're proceeding with good faith on this offer.

Which means I have to figure out how to structure a transition without leaving anyone but myself hanging.

For one program, this has already been worked out for me. My replacement was hired last week and it's just a matter of scheduling meetings to begin handing off materials.

But the course I'm teaching is far more complex. Given the weird way the institution does enrollment (only after the first week of class) I currently have zero clue how many students I'll actually be overseeing. In addition, as it's a research course, the structure is much less defined. The final wrinkle is a got pretty ambitious and have designed a project that will incorporate engineering with genetics where the students how to do Next-Generation sequencing. Right now I'm floating collaborations between the Physics department, BioInformatics and the Genome Center. Far from plug and play.

E and I met this morning to strategize how best to move forward. On one hand, I have identified someone who would be an ideal replacement, with us potentially splitting the responsibilities and me guiding her through this craziness I've designed. The problem with this is that I would lose health insurance and other benefits in addition to pay. The other option is to have her waiting in the wings, taking over my appointment, but I have zero clue if anyone will go for that.

The added wrinkle is after a year of development, I'm fairly invested in this project. My goal was to put together grant applications over the summer using the data the students generated. Handing this completely off to someone else is something I'd like to avoid doing.

Still, the priority is moving and focusing on transitioning. My current set up is far from sustainable and was always meant to be temporary. So today I'm modifying plans, figuring out a way to allow things to continue without me steering those ships. Despite how much I was wishing I had more control.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Drumroll, please

They made Grey a good offer. He still needs to work out the details with the recruiter, but it's clear this company wants to make this happen.

West Coast here we come.

Hiding out

It's snowing today. A wet fluffy snow that muffles sound and forces everyone to slow down. The Beats awoke shrieking with utter excitement about the white blankets on the lawn, happily opening the front doors to show two less than enthused cats.

But snow is also a symbol of transition for Grey and me. Snow usually brings with it big changes and events.

Which is fitting as today we're expected an answer about the job Grey interviewed for on the West Coast.

The past few days have been ones filled with anxiety. Grey's interview on Friday apparently went very well with a lot of good feedback. He had an opportunity to check out the town he would be working in, that was very bikeable, had access to transit and, most importantly, lots of rental options that didn't exclude pets (which has been a massive problem in Boston unless one is willing to get into the $3000 per month rental category). Grey returned on Saturday carrying with him West Coast glow. Though we know there will be challenges and other less desirable factors to deal with, it's been the most optimistic I've seen him in almost 3 years.

On Monday, the glow disappeared due to an email from one of the project supervisors he's working with. And with that email all the conflicts and frustrations came back, leaving us both feeling fairly insecure. The day ended with a shot of hope, though, with an email from one of the people he had interviewed with telling him the visit went very well and he should be hearing news soon.

The problem with emotional roller coasters like this is I find myself wanting to hide out. Sharing with people seems so premature and foolhardy. Yes, there's reason to hope about the news today and I'm fairly certain this company is going to make him an offer, but I'm also seasoned enough to know that the offer could be low or have some undesirable strings attached. Nothing is certain.

So instead of obsessing about the "what ifs," I've locked myself in the library for the day, working on ordering supplies, drafting a presentation for my class and working on next steps.

All the while knowing that in less than 7 hours we will have an answer and more information.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


At 4:30 am EST, Grey and I loaded two very sleepy children into the car and made our way to the airport. The plan to use Uber fell through when we learned of an hour wait and after some crazy airport shuttle experiences we decided not to gamble with contact other services.

It's been over 2 1/2 years since the Beats and I have been to Logan Airport, but so many memories from that first night came back as we made our way to the terminal to drop Grey off. Both kids alert to all the lights, sounds and movement.

It's hard straddling the worlds between hope and frustration. Yesterday's fight to restore heat to our rental was draining on all of us, so the prospect of returning to that airport with one-way tickets is very appealing. Yet the future is still uncertain and there's potential that none of this will pan out.

Curling up with the Beats on the couch this morning following dropping off Grey, I could feel the unpacking of all the emotions begin. The strain of limbo starting to release as we all are finding our way to move beyond the uncertainty. Whether it be in a damned slower morning consisting of pancakes and a promise of trip to the library for some additional playtime or me forcing myself to complete the assembly of Kindergarten registration packets or putting together a reward system for forcing myself to apply for jobs, both here as well as on the West Coast. Movement forward is the key.

And that can only come with allowing for the unpacking of the emotional side of this process. Allowing for the hope while also acknowledging the fear.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Heat drama, round 4

This morning I awoke to a cold house and realization that we, once again, didn't have any heat. The furnace seems to be trying to work, but (true to fashion) our landlord didn't bother to inspect the rest of the system.

The resulting text from her was one where she hinted that this was our fault, at which point I curtly responded telling her it was going to be fixed today.

I'm so angry at the moment. We get blamed for her being a crappy landlord and knowing that the threat of a lawsuit and having the building condemned by the Health Department is the only thing motivating her to do the right thing. All this while she cries about having inherited 3 separate properties following the sudden death of her mother.

I'm learning the art of putting on a sad face, saying "oh that's awful" and then interrupting with legal issues and reminding them they have an out ("have you considered selling?" is my new phrase). Of not allowing people to snowball me over their bullshit. Because life is full of trauma and unfair events, but I'm tired of shouldering other people's crap.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

When family fails

The day of my grandfather's funeral is one I've been replaying in my mind the past few days. A cold, snowy Minnesota day in the middle of March 2011 that brought all my mom's family together in a church to remember the old man. I had expected to be the center of the gossip given my recent confession to my parents that I had been diagnosed with infertility combined with my sister's pregnancy announcement. Instead, it was the arrival of my estranged aunt, the eldest of my mom's siblings who had been out of the picture for over 20 years, that stole the show.

The moment I've been replaying is after the funeral at my grandparent's house, where all the siblings were sitting at the table. My estranged aunt center-stage, clearly pissed off with everyone around her, my mom's younger sister fawning over the estranged aunt trying to win her approval. My mom and her youngest brother glaring hatefully at my estranged aunt, firing off bitter jabs and retorts. My mom's other brother sitting quietly at the table, visibly spooked by all that was happening. And my grandmother acting clueless to all the hostility. 

It would be later that night, after my estranged aunt had been driven to the airport, that my mom and her brother would replay it all for my grandmother, wondering aloud why my estranged aunt was behaving the way she was and getting increasingly angry over how she had negative interactions with everyone in the house. Everyone except for me.

And it would be moments later that I would silence them all when I answered simply, "She's hurting. Didn't you see the pain?"

The comments from my post last week has had me thinking more about this event and the history I've had with family. This has been mixed in personal conversations, Katherine's post about family drama and on a post by MamaJo23 I've been ruminating over about bitterness. The final icing on the cake was reading about family dynamics in Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson. All of it resulting in a jumbled as each part has brought strong emotions to the surface that make processing things extremely difficult (and advanced apologies for how all of this is coming together), but a theme has been slowly emerging as I've been unpacking all of this which is the power of family dynamics, particularly when those dynamics are less than healthy. Of not only what is considered okay and not okay behavior, but who it is okay to support.

Family is a tricky institution. We define it as a social unit where the connection is based on shared genetics and/or fulfillment of prescribed roles involving parent/child. In the best of circumstances the people involved like one another most of the time and have found a shared bond. But what is often silenced is when the there really isn't a connection or when dynamics have been put into play that leaves some ostracized from the group. 

For as long as I can remember, I've been considered the black sheep of my family. From a young age, my mom was quick to point out how much I reminded her of my estranged aunt from everything from my mannerisms to attractions and even career aspirations. Warnings of becoming like her set the stage for a deep-seated fear of never truly being able to do anything right and being terrified of failing in their eyes and the degree this has impacted me is something I'm still discovering daily. But the most shocking discovery was finding that these warnings of being disowned were not universally held for others in my family; that the shame and admonishment I was warned I would face never fell on my sister or my cousins, instead me being pushed to offer unquestioning support and love during situations I knew would have resulted in me being banished from the family.

It was during a session with David that I learned about that dysfunctional family dynamics are generational, radiating out past the members that were still alive and involving deep hurts that were deeply rooted. That my existence as a black sheep was actually not due to who I was but is instead a symptom of something much bigger than me.

The situation with Moon and me is somewhat similar to this, with there being trauma and loss on her end that has required certain actions and outlooks in order for her to survive. That though all of it has seemed unnecessarily cruel and painful for me, in her eyes doing the opposite would have brought her pain.

To date, my mom's family still is estranged from my aunt with all of them becoming borderline violent when questioned about why they won't engage her and forgive. Granted my estranged aunt has her demons, but getting to the root of the issue that both my grandparents had a role in this pain is something none of them have been willing to address.

And it's this root of family failure that has me the most sad. That it doesn't have to be this way, but habits, insecurities and deep fear dictate for it to be.


Today is interview #1 for Grey at a local company. Tomorrow is about him packing and reorganizing his presentation, preparing for interview #2 on Friday.

In the middle of all of this has been me preparing for the beginning of the semester, figuring out appointments and planning and trying to will myself to apply for jobs when I have zero clue what lies ahead (or where we will be located). All while avoiding questions about what my future plans on.

Because of this, I've been finding myself pulling away from others. On Saturday we missed a neighborhood party, our second one, opting instead to have a family movie night. All with me finding it hard to express why we are doing this; revealing to others all the turmoil that is in my head seems too risky.

The problem is, I know Grey and I need support right now. With so much uncertainty, having some form of support and encouragement would ease some of the stress. But I'm also use to people becoming very uncomfortable when we share all that is happening. The well-meaning warnings of our plans brings it's own anxiety and I'm unwilling to fight with others over the decisions we feel need to be made.

Still, I need to figure out a way to thaw; to let others in if for no other reason than to let them know we do care, but life is filled with uncertainty at the moment. That they don't need to fix anything or somehow offer a light at the end of the tunnel. Because right now the loneliness of navigating this road is an added weight. Something I wish i could relieve.
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