Tuesday, November 27, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Solace

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


We are all just a car crash,
a diagnosis,
an unexpected phone call,
a newfound love,
or a broken heart away from becoming a
completely different person.

How beautifully fragile are we
that so many things can
take but a moment
to alter
who we are
for forever?

Friday, November 23, 2018

Thankful

Yesterday, Grey and I were invited to join Rain and McRuger for an annual holiday tradition of spending time at the beach. Initially, we worried that the trip would be canceled due to rain and I was worried that everyone and their mother would have a similar idea leading to crowds, but driving out to the coast proved both to be pleasant and we were rewarded with an amazing day of an empty beach and warm ocean waves.




On the drive home, with everyone covered in sand and smelling of the Pacific, Grey and I talked about how much we had missed this coast. While in Seattle and near the end of graduate school, we had made it a tradition to go to the beach as much as possible. From the kite festivals to sand castle contests to simply hunting for shipwrecks, the ocean was a place of refuge. It's something we haven't been able to do reliably for the past few years, and yet the benefits from yesterday made it clear it was time to prioritize.

In addition to ocean time, Maddy has been hounding me for a knit unicorn. Documenting the Guatedamas toys resulted in her discovering a unicorn knit toy that made her insistent for one of her own. Three days ago, while in the midst of being stuck indoors, I caved and we raided my stash of leftover yarn to make this a reality.

The end result: meet Neela.


Sitting up last night, adding the final strands to Neela's mane, I reflected on where I'm at this year compared to years past. Unemployment sucks and I'm a bit bummed I haven't heard anything about the 2 interviews last week. We're also in the thick of transition with Grey's work, with his boss and boss's boss being pleased about what he's producing, but him still needing to meet goals before the end of the year. Finally, Maddy and Teddy, though doing awesome in some aspects (school is something they both are enjoying and excelling at) are struggling in others, with hyperactivity being very much on my mind.

Despite this, we have a lot to be thankful for. That we are on the other side of so many hard things and working to overcome others. That we still have the ability to do certain things that we once thought would be impossible or forever lost. That certain joys and gifts never really leave us. But also that hurts and heartaches can evolve, becoming something we never would have imagined at the beginning of the journey.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Let it rain

It's been a smokey past few days. With school canceled and warnings about air quality impacting health, finding forms of distraction has been quite a project. Something that is hard enough to explain to two Kindergarteners, never mind two cats.


Hence waking up this morning to raindrops brought a lot of cheering in our household. The promise of umbrellas, puddle jumping, but most importantly, more than a few minutes spent outside.


The air already smells different, like smoked tea as the smoke particles mix with the water. The promise of squelching the fires while quenching parched earth. Each drop bringing relief that is long overdue.

All while the four organisms that have been beyond excited about listening to the rhythm on the roof.

Let it rain

Friday, November 16, 2018

Plan B

Yesterday afternoon, within minutes of arriving home after my interview, I received an automated phone call from the school district informing me that school would be canceled tomorrow due to air quality. After driving through the haze all morning, I wasn't surprised, but it doesn't make the situation any less scary especially learning that all the universities and community colleges had already suspended classes for the same reason.

Racing to Teddy and Maddy's school to catch the teachers before they left (turning in homework that had thankfully already been completed and getting planned activities for the break), I found myself reflecting on all the natural disasters that caused school closures that we've lived through. From blizzards to hurricanes (and blizzard hurricanes) to floods, we've seen a lot. Poor air quality is a new one and something that I frankly am not prepared for.

Today is about learning how to manage. With school canceled and warnings about being outdoors of extended periods, I've been trying to find indoor activities knowing full well others likely have similar ideas. Grey has been researching getting another air purifier (we have a small one that we fished out to use), but I've actually also started considering face masks given that recovering from a cold has taking a lot longer and my lungs are starting to hurt from all the particulates in the air. All this on top of monitoring maps of local fires and being vigilant about any signs of smoke.

This morning, I'm forming a new plan B. Because, given all the trends and the destruction, I'm thinking this will become a new norm.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Facade

Today is day 4 of interviews; all of which wasn't originally planned.

The original plan was an in-person interview on Monday and follow-up with two of the scientists who weren't able to be on site due to the holiday. The original plan was all the stress would be front-loaded in the week, and to continue job hunting for the rest of the week.

Then I got a request for a phone interview for another company, with me thinking "why not" as the opportunity was very different but also very interesting. Meaning back-to-back remote interviews on Tuesday that resulted in scheduling 2 days of an in-person interview for Wednesday and Thursday to work around the upcoming holiday.

Add in the fact the air quality has been at unhealthy levels for a week now and I can easily tell I'm hitting burn-out.

*************************
Grey informed me today that there's another fire, with this one being only a few miles from where we live. Looking at the hillsides, it's not surprising that one would start given that we are surrounded by a lot of brown, but it's still disconcerting to know these are getting closer.

That the rains most normally expect haven't come.

How in denial so many around me are about the changing world; something Grey and I have been hyperaware of for so long which is in stark contrast to the reactions we see from so many.

*************************
Yesterday one of the people interviewing me asked why I was making a career shift. I'm armed with many answers to this question given all that I've lived through over the past few years, but the response that seemed to surprise them was that I not only saw so many amazing things happening within this industry but also felt that my training as an educator and a scientist has uniquely prepared me to work with clients when facing unexpected outcomes or encountering unforeseen complications or problems. Talking more about this, we discussed how managed chaos is extremely common in many start-up environments, with those who excel having mechanisms in place to manage the stress and anxiety that comes would so many balls being in the air. That success not only requires effective communication but also being able to project a sense of calm while internally all your cylinders are firing.

Driving home yesterday through the haze and encountering people wearing surgical masks to counteract the smoke (even though it's well known the masks don't work), I began to realize how important a facade of calm is in daily lives but particularly in moments of disruption. Giving people something to grasp or look to when faced with uncertainty is extremely valuable, often being the element determining success vs failure.

The problem is this skill, though valuable, is often not something most will learn without having to sustain a fair amount of discomfort for an extended period of time. It's hard to teach resilience in a culture that currently promotes avoidance and echo chambers with the fear of prolonged discomfort and pain being driving factors for avoidance.

All this made me wonder how to counteract that avoidance, encouraging people to face uncomfortable truths and situations that don't have easy answers. Something I certainly don't have the answer for how to overcome

*******************
Part 2 of interviewing happens today. All while dealing with so many other things.

Hopefully I'll be able to stay awake for the drive home.

Monday, November 12, 2018

#MicroblogMonday: Before the interview

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


Interviews are a double-edged sword. Though I'm terribly excited about this position and am honored to be invited for a formal interview, I am also dreading the talk I'm giving and being on the spot. My brain wants to be in a million other places instead of sitting in front of my computer, rehearsing my presentation and reviewing the published literature from the different members of the group (all of which is extremely interesting, btw). 

Sensing this, Grey took it upon himself to take a day out of work to watch Maddy and Teddy and kicked me out of the apartment so I could focus. There's something enduring and loving about someone who knows all your bad habits and puts mechanisms into place to prevent you from self-destructing.

The problem I now face is I've found myself at a coffee shop where other procrastinators have also set up shop. Glancing to my right is a woman alternating between her phone and cat-napping, all while the LSAT practice test is visible on her laptop screen. Directly across from me is a man who has appears to primarily be engaged with writing something involving, but has a secondary project with flirting with anyone who's attention he has caught. Never mind the usual coffee shop patrons that are there for social purposes. 

Oddly enough, all of this is helping me focus while distracting me from the underlying jitters I've been feeling all morning.

Still, Grey would likely be smacking if he saw where I was currently planted.

I'm preparing as best I can, getting myself back into a mindset I haven't been in for a few months. Earbuds in with me using the background chatter as an excuse to practice in a hushed tone and focusing on transitions and cues as well as questions I have for the different members of the team.

Because no matter the outcome, I want to nail this. Wish me luck.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Surrounded by smoke

There are 5 fires rage in California at the moment. 5. To people watching the news, the images coming from the front lines can seem surreal but here in the Bay Area the smoke is evidence of how destructive everything is.

For the past 2 days, we've been told to stay indoors. The sun is blocked for much by all the smoke that it is a red ball easy to stare directly at (something I normally wouldn't advise doing).


Breathing has also been an issue. Give that we are all fighting off a cold virus, Grey and I have been vigilant about Maddy and Teddy's breathing while watching one another. Apparently, I've been the worse of the lot, coughing and feeling fatigued easily. It's been a bit humbling.

It's been an interesting past few days. I watched my neighbors confront smokers, asking them to be mindful about where they dispose of their cigarettes (something they normally don't do) due to the fear of losing everything. I've seen people wearing masks to protect themselves while outside (which has been abnormally quiet). And I've witnessed severe anger at political leadership over flippant comments about how all of this is being managed, with them having loved ones currently on the front lines fighting these fires. 

In summary, we're living in a world surrounded by smoke. I'm hoping that it clears soon, ushering in the rains that are long overdue.
 
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