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.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Pause

It's 10 am before I decide to look at the news. After a morning spent wrapping my head around interview preparation and weekend activities, I figured I was in a place where I could read about all that was happening in the world we live in. Scrolling through the headlines, I stopped when I came upon one that included "Michelle Obama" and "infertility." Taking a moment to reread what I just read, I clicked on the link and suddenly found myself fighting off tears as I read about someone I considered a role model candidly talking about miscarriage, IVF and marriage struggles.

All of this huge in an of itself.

But what's making my brain whirl is one line from our former First Lady: 

"I think it's the worst thing we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies, how they work and how they don't work."

Suddenly, something I've been putting off as I didn't feel like it was my role is something I now know I need to tackle.

We live in a world where biotechnology is rapidly advancing. From gene editing (CRISPR, TALENs, ZFNs) to Next Generation Sequencing to the advent of Synthetic Biology, we're officially in an insane period where scientists are doing and discovering things that only a few years ago would have been science fiction. And yet, the general public struggles to grasp what all this means and how these advances are already impacting our daily lives. From debates about the ethics of stem cell technologies and tissue engineering to genetically editing human embryos and our crops to grasping what information we get from direct to consumer DNA testing, there's a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings.

The world of fertility treatments is especially prone to these issues. Given that fertility treatments are still treated as optional consumer products, many in the trenches struggle to understand the protocols and procedures that are considered standard throughout the world. Never mind when these new technologies are introduced by medical practitioners who have zero clue how the analysis is done or what the biology behind these protocols actually looks like.

So, I've decided to start sharing that here, given that for the past 7 years teaching diverse audiences about genetics and biotechnology has been my job and is the soup I swim in.

I cannot promise I'll have all the answers to every technical point, especially given that a lot of this technology is proprietary. But I can give those reading a basic understanding, arming you with enough information to understand the lingo.

Because Michelle Obama is absolutely right: we need to understand our bodies, how they work and how they don't. And for anyone facing an infertility diagnosis, you need to understand what is known vs what isn't, allowing you to make informed choices about your body not only while you're in the trenches, but beyond.

So, first up is a brief history about DNA sequencing, an overview on Next Generation Sequencing and the current rat race that's happening in this arena. 

More soon.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Poof

There are moments where I hate being right. These moments usually involve horrible situations, where others get hurt or danger is near that others have ignored. So when the truth comes out, leaving others in shock, its hard not to be left feeling a bit sad.

Today at pick-up, I learned that the kid who bit Teddy last month is no longer attending the same elementary school. I had a feeling this was coming given that I hadn't seen him since the biting incident at aftercare, but upon seeing his assigned spaced removed and doing a quick internet search for the mother that revealed all social media accounts that were previously visible, including mailing address, completely gone, I knew it wasn't a good sign.

It's never a good sign when people disappear. Usually, there are rumblings of a move or new job that the kids chat about but with this situation there's been nothing. And that's not sitting well with me, given all the fire that was happening with this mother. 

Jinx

Back in February, I found myself invited for a job interview for a position I didn't know I would be extremely excited about. Though I didn't get the position (which I was more than a bit heartbroken over), I was surprised that I would even be somewhat excited about the prospect of going back to the bench.

That feeling stuck with me as I began ramping up my job hunting in October. Though most of the research positions left me fighting off deep yawns as I read through the job advertisements (medical device development and health care are areas I really don't have direct interests in), I found a few gems that left me excited as I tapped into my training and knowledge base, making me re-evaluate why I love science, but also the road I've taken with my training.

All this came front and center yesterday during a phone interview. Whereas other interviews have left me feeling like I was stretching (with me once stopping a recruiter and telling them I wasn't going to be a good fit), this one felt easy because I was genuinely interested in the project and could relate my experience to what they were looking for. The person interviewing me (who will be the supervisor for this project) was also very straightforward, making it clear that there's no ego on the line other than the work needed to drive all this forward.

The end result is that I've been invited for an in-person interview. I have to brush up my talk and do so reading to prepare, but the hope is that this will be sometime next week.

I'm not going to lie; I want this job. The work excites me and this opportunity will open so many doors. Plus this is a field that is rapidly expanding, with many companies throwing insane amounts of money at this general field of work, all with the focus on crop improvement and addressing issues like food shortage (hunger and malnutrition are still the number 1 cause of death around the world) and alternative energy development.

The problem comes in that I'm worried about jinxing myself with confessing my excitement, setting myself up for failure and disappointment.

So, here I go again. For better or for worse, putting myself out there and hoping that this time the stars align.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

VOTE!

The morning drop for school started out as usual. Maddy and Teddy made their way to their respective classrooms and were getting settled in when someone asked me what I was doing this morning. As I helped them hang up their coats, I mentioned that I needed to drop off Grey's and my ballots at one of the local dropboxes so they could be counted.

When the other person asked, "Why?" I found myself utterly dumbfounded that they didn't know today was election day. When I probed further, the response of "well, voting doesn't matter" launched me into a tirade that made every adult in the room become incredibly quiet.

Thing is, I don't care that I made them uncomfortable. Given our world today, with so many of in that room actively facing the negative consequences of this current administration, I was floored this attitude even existed.

One thing I really cannot forgive is that anyone with the right to vote not exercising it solely because it is inconvenient. Yes, some groups are being blocked for exercising this right and this needs to be stopped. Yes, voter registration is not readily accessible in some areas and that needs to be fixed. And yes, access to polling stations is not always convenient or easy, which also needs to be rectified. But simply not voting because you don't think it matters? Yeah, that attitude needs adjustment.

We live in a deeply divided country where the rights of a few are being pushed over the needs of so many. I get that everyone has opinions and viewpoints, with some being wildly different from mine, but given that the right to vote is a privilege we have in this country that many around the world do not have isn't something that should be taken lightly. In addition, voting is how you put those opinions and beliefs you hold so dear into action.


In short, VOTE. Instead of lecturing me about your ideals and beliefs, polluting the world with more hot air, get yourself to your local polling place and cast your ballot.

Because every vote does count.

Monday, November 5, 2018

#MicroblogMonday: Case of the Mondays

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

Some days the best option seems to be simply crawling back into bed. After a frantic morning of getting two cranky small humans off to school followed by sending an email to my current boss, avoiding responding to her statement that she has no idea what I'm currently doing, and taking inventory of all the things that need to be completed in the next 24 hours, I'm officially ready for a nap.

Fighting a case of the Mondays. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Embracing the silver

About 2 weeks ago, I got the usual alert that it was time to color my hair. Hints of gray were becoming visible in my roots, indicating it was time to cover the evidence and I already had a plan in place to resolve this "issue."

But when it came time to actually put that plan into motion, I found myself dragging my feet. The idea of spending a long period with chemical soaking my head was the last thing I wanted to be doing with my day. Then there was also the issue with clean-up, additional care to prevent stains on clothing, not to mention the lingering chemical smell.

Most on my mind was me revisiting this idea behind going gray.

I found my first gray hair when I was 21 years old. White and extremely kinked, I remember letting out a scream before scrambling to find a pair of tweezers. For the next 5 years, this method of pulling my grays worked very well, enforced by students and co-workers who were quick to point out any I may have missed (and one student stopped midway when attempting to pull one out). Before my 30th birthday, I had amassed enough gray hairs that plucking became too time intensive and thus I purchased my first box of hair dye.

Then infertility hit and I found myself in a weird place where coloring my hair was to be avoided. For 3 years, I would hold off dying my roots (and often cheating between treatment cycles), dealing with an unusual ombre that reminded me that I was barren and getting old. In my eyes, my gray hair was just another sign of how my body was failing me.

Recently reviewing photos from that period, though, I've been seeing those grays in a different light. Though my face looks sullen and there's pain in my eyes, those gray hairs actually have the opposite effect. In one photo in particular where my face isn't as visible and the sun is hitting my hair, it almost appears as if there is light coming out of my body. Immediately I was reminded of this quote from Rumi:

"I said: What about my eyes?
He said: Keep them on the road.

I said: What about my passion?
He said: Keep it burning.

I said: What about my heart?
He said: Tell me what you hold inside it?

I said: Pain and sorrow.
He said: Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you."

After some research, I announced to Grey that I'm done dying my hair. He's been rocking silver highlights in his hair for as long as I've known him and I'm at a point where I'm ready to embrace that too. I'm not going to lie, this transition isn't going to be pretty. I've already been warned about the temptation to go back to dying, especially as I'm job hunting again (gray hair isn't embraced in the business world). Grey also has his reservations given how women are labeled and viewed when they don't cover their grays (rainbow hair is fine, but graying naturally still gets an uneasy response).

I'm also hoping that as each day passes, I'll grow more comfortable with what is happening on my head. Embracing the silver that's been masked for too long.


Monday, October 29, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Wisdom wrapped up in small packages

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


you 
said to me

this is how the
 universe works:
we love and we hurt
until it's all that 
we are,
or until the end

so here,
i'll love you
until that is all that
i know, and
even if this ends,
the act of 
loving you 
will still be
embedded in 
my bones



Friday, October 26, 2018

Flying solo

Today marks day 9 of a 10 day trip for Grey. Though we've all been keeping busy, all of us are ready for him to come home in order to resume some level of normal.

This isn't my first time parenting solo. When Grey first started his current position, we had 12 days of separation that also involved me flying across the country with Maddy and Teddy so I could do an interview in San Francisco (a story for another time) and from the beginning, Grey would regularly take trips for meetings that would have me alone caring for both kids but this time is different given that Grey is literally on the other side of the globe, meaning that I'm anticipating an additional week of recovery.

In the rare moments I have some downtime, I've been thinking about what it means to solo parent based on access to resources. Many of Teddy and Maddy's classmates have grandparents living with them or nearby, meaning that support is readily available. Though I don't have that luxury, family has been checking in and I was fortunate enough to have Lucas insist on getting together for some time at the park on Sunday. In addition, unlike earlier years, money isn't as tight as it once was meaning that I can afford to hire someone to help with childcare for something of a break. Given it wasn't that long ago none of these resources were available, it's been a bit surreal to think about being in our current situation.

That said, I'm in awe of people who have spouses/partners who travel regularly without them, leaving the other half at home to manage things. There have been so many moving parts on the home front, with me finally making some headway regarding neighbor relations and management. Work still sucks for me, but I've also been interviewing for positions and networking to get into opportunities that could potentially be a better fit. Navigating all of this without Grey around has been doable, but tricky given I'm not advertising he's away (and I don't want to distract him with all the details). It's also been lonely at home in the evenings. Despite Teddy's new routine of crawling into bed around 1 am, I'm feeling the isolation. My whole being is missing my best friend.

One more sleep for Grey before he boards a plane. Two more sleeps for the kids.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: While Grey was away

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

Last Thursday I began my adventures in solo parenting, with many highs and lows. While Grey was away, the goal was to keep a routine and avoid any craziness. So far that hasn't happened.

While Grey was away last Friday morning, Maddy and Teddy were greeted with a schoolyard filled with pumpkins.


Which ended with them insisting we do something with these pumpkins. 

While Grey was away on Saturday, the day was filled with carving, roasting, and baking.






While Grey was away Saturday evening, Maddy and Teddy witnessed their first major car accident. While out biking, we heard a loud BANG and found the driver and passenger of a pickup truck that was now totaled staggering around while bleeding from head wounds. Seems their attempts to beat a red light by taking a left-hand turn went wrong with them crashing into the signal instead. A conversation about distracted driving has been ongoing.

While Grey was away Sunday, more fun events found us. Following another casing incident involving 3 young men (who are clearly bored and acting stupid) who I ended up talking with in order to scare them off the property, the morning was spent calming all my freaked-out neighbors, gathering evidence, and learning about the drug dealing that has been happening.  

While Grey was away Sunday afternoon, I thought had Jaxson died. Seeing this sleeping kitty in his hut, I gave him a quick pat and kiss, which normally wakes him. When he didn't move, I gave him a brief shake. It was when he still didn't move, laying there completely motionless the panic set in and the vigorous shaking started. Maddy and Teddy have since had many questions about death and dying.

While Grey was away Monday I braved the commute into the city, finishing my work early and dealing with being harassed on the BART. Looking for new employment has become the priority.

And while Grey was away, Lucus and I connected for a cousin playdate. We had a moment where he confessed he thought all of Grey's stories were just him being overly dramatic. The gas explosions outside of Boston made him reconsider and he's had many questions for me about how we're handling all our current events.

We still have a few more days before Grey returns from his business trip, with him brimming with stories about his adventures, how great the experience has been, and all the food he's been eating (chicken feet anyone?). So far, though, it hasn't been boring for any of us while Grey has been away.


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Out of the frying pan

Teddy is finally sleeping through the night. For anyone who has ever cared for someone who's sleep is being disrupted (pain, illness, insomnia, etc), typing such a sentence is a bit of a dream. For us, it signals that we're turning a corner regarding pain management; that the healing is finally hitting a stage where the tissue in his throat is less raw and we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (and hopefully crunchy foods again too).

While all of this has been happening, we've been preparing for Grey's first work trip to China. Between getting a visa (an adventure all its own), arranging travel plans (the travel agent assigned to him failed miserably on this end), and doing all things necessary to travel to a foreign country by oneself to represent your employer, there's been a lot of stress. Add in that this is an extended trip and the summary statement is it's about to get interesting.

It's hard not to cocoon oneself when there's a lot of hard happening. My natural instinct is to curl up in bed for the next few days, but the truth is that wasted time will ultimately hurt more than help. Still, even though things are getting better and recent events are actually roads to better things ahead, I'm also craving something to be easy in my life. That instead of hopping from fry pan to fry pan (and sometimes directly into the fire with a miscalculated jump), the landing would be someplace safe, cool and solid, afford us the time to heal and regroup.

This week has been spent finishing a round of job applications, reaching out to new contacts and hunting for new opportunities, all while concurrently medicating Teddy and transitioning him back to his normal. As I've been scanning the internet, it's been hard to avoid the news, making me increasingly disheartened by those who are in positions of power. But one thing I have learned is that hunting for silver linings and paths less traveled is rarely easy, often requiring one to risk jumping out of the frying pan and landing in the fire.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Adding light

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




Even though the sadness is less acute, there's a bit of calm that comes when we remember them. Because though only a handful of people even knew of their existence and short time here with us, they still were here. No less loved than their siblings we are fortunate enough to be able to hold.

So we add to the light, remembering all the others who left too soon. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Cut

The past few days have been spent in a state of sleep deprivation delirium. Teddy's surgery went very smoothly, with us learning that he only needed one eardrum patched as the other had already healed, and his time in the recovery area was fairly standard (we also learned Maddy is now the stuff of legend given how hard her recovery period post operation was so rough). 24 hours post-surgery, we were beginning to feel overly optimistic as Teddy was eating popsicles like a champ and taking medication without complaint. That all changed on Sunday at 3 am, where suddenly I was dealing with a small child who was inconsolable about being in pain and was refusing to swallow medication that would alleviate it. Last night was the first night he was able to sleep through, fighting us when we tried to rouse him at 11 pm for one final dose (he ordered both Grey and me out of his bedroom), but we're definitely not out of the woods.

As I've been living in this small bubble of post-surgery recovery, the world around me has been reeling from the news about Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation. The shock from the lies others in power have told themselves to confirm an overly privileged individual has resulted in societal levels of denial, anger, and disbelief that most who have lived through trauma are acutely familiar with. Watching all of this, it's hard not to see the same patterns seen time and again for those new to ALI community.

What's been most surreal is making the comparison about Maddy's and Teddy's surgeries to what needs to happen in the world. It's painfully clear that the current leadership is irreparably broken, but underlying all of that is also acknowledging that our mindset about the situation is too. Article upon article has come out analyzing how people could support Brett Kavanaugh or any man like him following Christine Blasey Ford's testimony, with enough articles and opinion pieces to fill a small section of a library. The truth is complex, with acknowledging that not only is this not a black-and-white issue but that often humans have multiple layers with their actions and intentions. Good people do bad things and bad people can do good things, but often we all exist somewhere in the gray with treating those we love well while treating those we don't agree with or view as outsiders horribly.

Watching all of this, I cannot help but feel we're rapidly approaching a period where radical change will happen; that things are becoming so intolerable that a great upheaval will happen to correct. What scares both Grey and me is that this tension is fertile ground for war, something that would be horrible for all involved, but it also can usher in a period of reset and reestablishing order. Like with an operation, cutting out the disease and problematic tissue will also result in healthy tissue being disposed of, so the goal is figuring how to minimize all of that to preserve the greater good.

Teddy is healing and we're already seeing the benefits from this surgery. He no longer sweats at night and he's sleeping for longer stretches. But the pain has been something that would test most people, bordering on intolerable during some moments that make me question whether this was a good idea. Being mindful of that, I'm preparing to carry that mentality into this election session with cutting off the life-long careers of some politicians and giving life to those who aren't backed by the parties in hopes of injecting in change.

But I think this needed change will require more than that. It will require also speaking out instead of staying silent, angering many who have benefited at the expense of others, but also calling out that there isn't a black-and-white outcome to our current ills. Acknowledging there are women who are abusers, that there are men who are victims, that racism comes in all colors and forms and that a lot driving this is due to socioeconomic inequality. That it's only when we acknowledge our role in this problem that we can truly begin to enact the change that is desperately needed.

Because without cutting away the disease, it's only going to get a lot worse.

Monday, October 8, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Gudetama

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

I don't know why I got sucked in. Part of it is wanting a distraction from job hunting; part of it is being insanely tired after two straight nights of medicating a 5-year-old (the screaming in pain from swallowing medicine which will relieve said pain has been hard). The other part came from a request to patch an old knit elephant coupled with hearing about how the 9-year-old East Coast twins are clearly obsessed with getting their hands on a figurine, resulting in Lucas's recent trip to Japan evolving into a mission to find this character.

I don't get the appeal of Gudetama; anything that whines leaves me wanting to pull my hair out. But I do know that there are currently zero knitting patterns (and the one on Raverly costs $11.50).  So in a fit of inspiration, I decided to put my knitting skills to use and 20 minutes later this was the end result.


I have a few more that I want to try, including trying to perfect the butt (who knew an egg yolk would have a butt), but I'm thinking what I've got so far isn't half-bad. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Letting go

Teddy is in surgery as I type this. After 8 rounds of being in a surgery center, you think I would get use to this, but each time is hard with me wishing it was me who was about to undergo anesthesia and be going under the knife; that they were operating on me but giving the benefits to these two kids.

This morning, as we prepared to go to the surgery center, Teddy asked Grey if he could be the one to take him in. This isn’t the first time requests for “Daddy” or other people have come, with both kids routinely asking for have other people in their lives do things with them. From drop off at school to trips to the store to even preference to car (Lenny is currently the favorite vehicle given they don’t get to ride in him much any more), the preference for all things not me has been increasing. Today, though, was the first time either kid has requested not to have me there when going into something scary.

I must confess, I’m feeling odd about this. For the most part, I’m proud that Teddy doesn’t require me for everything in his life. Whereas not so long ago, the idea of any separation was not even on the radar, this development means that both kids are learning not only to trust others but also themselves. This independence is important and should be fostered.

Sitting in the waiting room, though, I’m surprised to also be feeling sadness. Because the baby I once believed I would never be holding has grown into a small child and as proud of him as I am, I’m also hit with the fact that those baby years are gone. A selfish aspect given that I’ve been given an incredible gift to even experience them and that both kids are generally thriving.

Sitting here, I’m working on shedding this sadness and letting go of things that have served their purpose. There’s so much ahead that needs focus and attention, fueled by a lot of good. Just wishing my heart was in sync with my head.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Graffiti

Tomorrow Teddy goes in for surgery. My morning has been spent on the phone, making final arrangements for a 2-week absence and rearranging deadlines to accommodate. In addition to this, I'm fulling in job hunting mode, already fielding some interesting conversations from potential employers and reworking resumes and cover letters to circumvent HR entirely. All this while dealing with all the other drama.

So in light of this heavy, you can imagine my amusement finding this bathroom graffiti. The polarizing and provocative statements, poems, and observations written by authors who have newly entered adulthood and are holding an audience who has next to no choice but be surrounded.

A reminder that so many things we see in black-and-white can become grayed as we walk down our individual roads in life.






Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Price of advocating

On Tuesday, I connected with the director for aftercare and asked for an update on all that had transpired from the week before. Following a Monday morning of emails to the principal and some discussions with the aftercare teachers, I had a sneaking suspicion that the mother of the other child had stopped attacking, finally seeing that her aggressiveness was actually making the situation a lot worse, but no one had confirmed with me what had happened. Talking with the director, my hunch was confirmed. I learned that an extended meeting had taken place, where not only were the rules of proper and acceptable behavior laid out for this woman, but she was told what the next steps, which would involve CPS, would be given the seriousness of this incident and the safety concerns for all involved. I learned that this mother was finally open to listening, reversing a lot of her previous story and statements.

Then I learned that she apologized to the staff, the director and the principal, leaving all of them feeling better about this situation. It was when the director saw the look of surprise on my face and then learned this woman had not reached out to me, she froze. Then she asked about the medical bills, learning I had again heard nothing.

I've been struggling since I learned about these apologies. A part of me says to let it go and proceed with this new normal; embracing forgive and forget is something many would like me to do. The problem is that the other half of my brain reminds me of all the trouble and heartache that came from this approach, often exacerbating bad situations and leading to far worse outcomes than if I had addressed them sooner. With Cyrol the end came after he filed a lawsuit against the association with his explicit goal (detailed in a letter) aimed at hurting me. It took a judge ruling against him, the association winning a counter lawsuit and threatening him with jail time to get him to reconsider. Even then, the stalking didn't stop and likely would still be happening if not for the fact he has no way of contacting me. With Latham, the man who raped his 16-year-old daughter, it took social isolation and holding him accountable to debts to get him to move. Fleur literally missed a forcible eviction by the sheriff by 1 day (he showed up the morning she finally vacated the property after months of squatting). And the list goes on. There's also my history of being the whipping boy in my family, with my emotional health taking a beating solely so others wouldn't become upset about being called out. Being silent has not served me well.

What's foremost on my mind is that I don't want Teddy to become a focus for bullying from this other kid. Though I know CPS investigations are stressful, the child is still enrolled in this aftercare program and the mother has not modeled for her child the need to make amends following wrongs. No mediation has been scheduled to resolve this issue. And given all the lies, false accusations and anger, I don't foresee this mother taking ownership.

Yesterday, after doing some reading and reflecting, I contacted a personal injury lawyer about the unpaid medical bills to explore our options and gather information for how to proceed. To date, nothing has been done and no one has been hired, but I also am aware of the power of knowing one's options, even if they are unpopular to those not intimate with the situation.

I'm already paying the price for advocating, even though all of this is speculative; very similar to ones I have paid before. What those outside looking in don't consider is the much larger price that comes from not advocating. How remaining silent and not rocking the boat can ultimately enable unhealthy acts that can spiral out of control. Frankly, the paying the price for silence isn't one I'm willing to face given all we've already been through.

Monday, October 1, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: The journey

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


For the highs and the lows
and the moments between,
mountains and valleys,
and rivers and streams,
For where you are now,
and where you will go,
For "I've always known,"
and "I told you so,"
For "nothing is happening,"
and "all has gone wrong,"
it is here in this journey,
you will learn to be strong,
you will get where you're going,
landing where you belong.

~Morgan Harper Nichols

Friday, September 28, 2018

When they scream

I had hoped the drama would be over by now. That with Teddy healing and the reports aligning that the biting child's mother would see the writing on the wall, being willing to sit down and actually find a way to resolve this situation. Instead she went to Teddy's school principal. This mother is claiming I screamed at her child (I didn't). This mother is claiming the aftercare teachers are negligent and incompetent (they are not). She's still demanding that Teddy to be kicked out. And she's demanding that this facility lose their license.

Writing a long email today to the prinicipal, I immediate thought about Brett Kavanaugh's testimony. How he came in screaming and demanding other's believe his innocence, following on the heels of Christine Blasey Ford's testimony. It's hard not to see the similarities of Mr. Kavanaugh's and this mother's approach, using shame and anger to scare others into backing off and giving them what they want.

It's been hard to witness all of this, being on the receiving end of so much focused aggression from someone who clearly is brimming with anger towards the world.  Equally hard is seeing the responses from those who are uncomfortable with all of this, wanting to make that focused aggression disappear, returning to a more peaceful state. The difference with Teddy's situation vs. that being played out on Capitol Hill is that there are rules in place the school has to follow, while our government is driven by leaders who have their own agenda to promote the norm.

Today the aftercare is meeting with this mother, but I've already requested that they open a case with Child Protective Services. In addition, I've also begun looking into having this mother cover Teddy's medical expenses. As mean as that sounds, documentation is needed to build a case for intervention from outside entities as well as to protect my family from someone who has made it clear that they have no issue hurting my family to protect their normal.

Regardless, it's all been hard and I've been experiencing why so many don't share their stories following assaults or other traumas. The judgement inflicted on them is often unfair. Because too often those in the wrong scream the loudest when confronted. And too often, they are rewarded for it.




Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Fear driven

Yesterday morning, following dropping off Teddy and Maddy at school, I drove over to the office for the aftercare center to meet with the director. Greeting all the staff, I found the director immediately ushering me into her office and closing the door so we could speak. Calmly, I restated everything that was in my email, emphasizing how traumatic all of this must be for her and her staff.

In the middle of this conversation, the director's phone rang and on the other line was the mother of the child who bit Teddy. Immediately she began screaming, claiming that Teddy had been harassing her child for weeks, had forced his entire hand inside her child's mouth, that her child was defending himself and that the teachers had completely failed to stop any of this. She claimed that her child never behaved aggressively, screaming that they needed to kick Teddy out of aftercare. Taken aback, the director calmly stated that she would be investigating, but also how out of character this accusation was both for Teddy as well as her staff. She emphasized that biting was never an acceptable form of defense and that the mother would not only be billed for Teddy's medical expenses, but that CPS would likely be involved. As this mother attempted to escalate, the director responded as calmly as she could, promising to investigate and report back to all involved.

By noon, I learned the mother had lied. The teachers told an entirely different story about this child, how he had been picking on Teddy and how quickly he attacked him. How this child was battling with classmates at school, having already been called to the principle's office due to bullying behavior. How the mother had changed her story within 12 hours, initially admitting fault as she had counseled her son to fight back whenever he felt threatened instead of finding a teacher (completely in contrast to school and aftercare policy).

To say the teachers and director are pissed is an understatement. Given that this woman made accusations that called into question their competence, impacting their jobs and center licensing, there's been a lot of stress. To have all of it be untrue has brought an element of urgency for dealing with this family that most ultimately never want to experience.

All of this calls into question why would this woman lie as well as why she is also teaching her child to lie (which is something all involved have been witnessing).

I've been reflecting on this situation as well as generally on why people are less-than honest for a few weeks now. With my current work situation, I'm facing a boss who I don't trust to be truthful with me, meaning I'm documenting all my work as well as hunting for a new job. I'm also remembering an incident I encountered years ago while working at Teddy's and Maddy's first daycare. There was a parent who escalated follow his 5 year old daughter exposing herself to her classmates, resulting in the other children teasing her. What the investigation revealed was that there was abuse happening at home, with the parent escalating further and further until it became clear that the authorities needed to be brought in. What immediately comes to mind is in all cases, there's fear of discovery underlying the behavior. Just like throwing sand in someone's eyes, the goal of escalating or blaming is to distract from what problem is currently being examined.

There's a lot to be said about fear and how it has impacted my own life. It's true that fear can be a good thing, protecting us from dangers that would otherwise be devastating. But fear has also been destructive. Fear of being an outcast has driven me to behave in ways I haven't always been proud of. Fear of failure resulted in my pushing myself past breaking-points, scared of asking for help either because of rejection or told that I needed to stop. Fear has also resulted in my being less than truthful, both with those around me as well as with myself.

The problem with fear-driven behavior is it doesn't solve the problem and often can make a situation a lot worse. Failed experiments repeated time and again out of fear would later reveal that something else was actually happening (that often was far more interesting). Fear of being an outcast kept me in circles with others who didn't really care about me as an individual. And fear of being labeled stifled seeking help, finding resolution through different paths and roads that I couldn't find on my own.

As odd as this sounds, this current situation has left me feeling sad. Speaking with social services and the county public health department yesterday, I learned that there's reason so many are frightened by these agencies given that their investigations are meant to be thorough. Thankfully Grey and I won't be investigated, but we have passed on all the details of this incident to the aftercare program as it's clear they are preparing to file a report against this child and the mother. Involving entities that have removed children from their homes is something most would like to avoid and I can image how scared this mother is now, especially as I now know that a meeting has been scheduled for Friday.

For his part, outside of the initial trauma from being bit, Teddy has been taking all of this in stride, exercising kindness and happily accepting special treatment from his teachers as his thumb heals. For my part I've been working hard to address the residual anger I feel towards this family, focusing on modeling forgiveness and healing and being sure to thank all the teachers for all their hard work.

But I'd also be lying if I didn't confess the fear I've been fighting that about potential retaliation and further harm to both Teddy and Maddy over this. That I'm fighting my gut reaction to pull them from school entirely, allowing the bully to win as I try to protect my kids. And I'd be lying if I didn't confess that I need help countering the negative thoughts in my head. Even though I know it's all based on fear and that ultimately it's not the road to healing and growing.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Rewire

It was pick-up time when I found Teddy sitting on the bench in tears. Another child close by with a teacher trying to mitigate the conflict. Initially holding back to let them resolve, I was brought into the situation when the word "bite" was brought up. Years of being in a daycare situation had made me numb to biting incidents, but looking at the almost 8 year old child accused on biting in front of me who was actively justifying why the decision to use teeth was okay immediately made my hair stand on end. Somehow I managed to keep my cool, listening for a few moments before telling this child that what happened was far from okay. All the while feeling guilty about having to reprimand them.

A couple of hours later, we would be in the emergency room. Teddy had spiked a fever and upon hearing that he had been bitten the nurse wasted no time on getting us in. Sitting across from the doctor, I watched as her eyes widened in horror as she examined Teddy's wound, looking even more concerned when told what had happened. Following cleaning, bandaging and giving a prescription of antibiotics, we began a discussion about an early discussion I had had with the triage nurse about how this incident would be reported to the county and that it was likely Child Protective Services would be called to investigate. I was upset as calling the police into this matter is something a parent never wants to encounter, especially when the actions are due to someone else. Yet there's nothing I can do other than to let a potential investigation take its course. As we learned, human bites from older children and adults are very seriously and potentially life-threatening.

One unforeseen side effect of infertility and multiple miscarriages is that I still don't consider myself a true parent. I adore my kids and would do anything for them, but it doesn't take much to make me feel like I'm over-reacting or that I don't have as much authority as someone who could conceive without years of treatment. To this end, I tend to hold back, never really bonding with other mothers as they swap parenting advice (seriously, what advice would I dare to give someone?), shared birth stories (the mere mention of a high-risk pregnancy ending with me going into liver failure tends to kill these conversations) or all things "mom" focused. In an odd way, I don't see myself the same way others do in their role of being a parent, making it not only hard to connect but even harder to confront when conflict does arise.

The problem with all of this is I'm often left feeling like a doormat when situations arise where I need to advocate for Maddy and Teddy. I usually end up beating myself up afterwards, even though I'm often in the right, do so respectfully and only do so to protect them. Days will go by where I'm beating myself up.

Tonight's incident takes all of this to a new level. If Child Protective Services is called in, it's very likely the other family will be investigated. With an 8 year old who is biting where many have commented how unusual that is, one can only speculate what will come out of all of that, but what I do know is Grey and I will likely come under the microscope if there is an investigation, with questions being asked about our role in caring for Maddy and Teddy and whether we are protecting them.

After a long discussion tonight, Grey and I decided to act instead of waiting. An email has gone off the to aftercare center director asking for a meeting to discuss this biting incident and how we can work with them to resolve this issue, protecting both our kids. I've also written to Teddy's Kindergarten teacher, informing her of the incident and asking her to contact me if anything is off with him even though he is cleared for school tomorrow. We figure if we're about to be questioned, we'd like enough evidence to show we not only care about our children, but we are taking steps to protect them. All that while monitoring Teddy, making sure he doesn't develop an infection or contracts a disease due to this incident.

Still, there's guilt with sending these emails. That somehow my actions are meant solely for judging another parent(s) who likely may be struggling. I'm working on putting all of that aside, refocusing my attention and quieting the worthiness doubt infertility created long ago. I can't afford not to.

#MicroblogMondays: Meet Norman

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


Knitting has always been a great distraction when life gets too complicated. Prior to Maddy and Teddy, knitting was my refuge following a bad day or when infertility seemed like it was sucking the life out of me. Over the past 5 years, though, its been hard to find time to pick up the needles. 

Thursday evening, though, I hit a wall and knew I would be needing help to get out of my funk.

Meet Norman the Hedgehog


Given that Grey has been working on a project where all things hedgehog have been a running joke and the fact that hedgehogs are not allowed in California, I figured this would be put to good use.



Sadly, only Maddy and Teddy were fans (Grey declared him an armadillo). So I'm off to round 2 of hedgehog knitting and Norman has found a new home with one of the neighbor children. But it feels oddly good to pick up the needles again.

Friday, September 21, 2018

And so we start again...

I'm job hunting again. Following 2 weeks of tension at work, with my boss calling my work sloppy, being excluded from group meetings and me enduring some rather childish remarks, I sat down with another manager where she flat out told me that I shouldn't be enduring any of this and should be looking for greener pastures.

It goes without saying that I'm angry. A month ago I was being praised about my hard work and all that I was helping accomplish. I was also told that moves were being made to keep me on permanently. But the other thing I'm angry about has been the lack of direction and guidance. My boss doesn't believe in task lists, is often vague about what she wants for a final product and often leaves things to the 11th hour, meaning there's a lot of opportunities for mistakes. Which wouldn't be a huge problem if she also wasn't so concerned about final presentation and output, meaning there's not a lot of room for error.

But the final bit that makes me angry is learning that my current treatment is due to her projecting from two previous employees. That instead of being willing to work with me, she's already decided there's no way I can change because the last ones didn't.

Processing all of this last night with Grey, we both reflected on what has happened the last few weeks and how that relates to the past few years. Basically how different things are now then they were even a year ago.

  • Last week, Grey included me in a text message to our complex manager informing her our home was being cased. A young man was witnessed turning to enter our back patio, then tossing a cell phone and coming around to the front door. Following knocking loudly, he was visibly surprised to find Grey answering the door. Mumbling that his brother had thrown his cell phone into our back patio, Grey closed the door and passed the broken cell phone over the fence back to him. Grey responded all of this by installing a security system while I walked over to the neighboring condo association where I believed this person originated and made contact with the HOA president. Between the two of us, we not only secured our home, but made contact with a neighborhood watch group and set into motion plans not only to remedy the casing (it's one family that are facing eviction very soon) but also to move again soon. 
  • In addition to this, Teddy's surgery has been rescheduled because the surgeon made the last minute decision to request a second opinion despite my repeated requests for 2 months. He's now unhappy as I've called him out for unprofessional behavior (and his staff has been dumbfounded), but the result is that now another surgeon is being brought in to address the remaining holes in his ear drums, applying a new type of patch that should resolve the problem and hopefully restore his hearing. 
  • We also had some drama with aftercare given that there was a new teacher that Teddy and Maddy were testing. Working with them, we've come up with a plan to resolve this that appears to be working very well. 
  • All of this is on the heels of both Maddy and Teddy being reassessed by pediatric development medicine. What we learned is that unlike a year ago, Maddy is testing ahead of her peers and they are impressed with her current IEP as they are not only seeing a striking improvement, but they believe it will help her overcome what remains from her speech delay. Teddy also tested ahead, with concerns that he is on the road to an ADHD diagnosis. But when they learned about the sleep apnea, they expressed hope that we may also see a similar change in behavior that we've seen with Maddy following surgery. We have a referral for OT, but the recommendation is to see what happens following surgery.
  • And then there's Grey's job, where after 6 months in his current position, his boss's boss has moved him off his current project (which has been going very well) to a new project that is struggling, promoting him to the role of hiring manager and talking about him building his own team. That and the VP of the company announced last week they are sending him to China for a week. All indicating that not only are they happy with his work, but they are making plans to promote him. All this is contrast to what he was hearing a year ago from one of his former supervisors, who themselves is now facing a potential fallout for poor management, failure to deliver and demonstrating they are completely incompetent. 

Sitting across from me, Grey laid all of this out. And then in an attempt to make me feel better, he told me that though we've been through the wringer before, what we've learned is that sometimes we need things to get so bad that salvaging a situation is no longer an option. That we force ourselves to quit a path that is hurting us, laying the foundation for recognizing paths and opportunities we might have been blind to before.

Despite me knowing this, I'm still struggling. I'm tried of feeling like I'm failing, struggling to dig in for work that I believe is both important and needed. But the truth is, I'm been trying to grow things on infertile ground for a long time now. That though there are those who are doing insanely amazing work, there are also many who don't share my mindset of how to address this need. And there's also demons they are grappling with that can make the work and the environment a poor fit.

So I'm starting again; feeling like I'm traveling done a road I've already been down many times before. The emotions involved haven't been any easier to deal with, but I'm finding that I'm becoming braver about asking for help and absorbing the feedback on what didn't work so I can stop making the same mistakes.

Friday, September 7, 2018

The melting part of a meltdown

This meltdown has been building for awhile. Between stress work, stress from home, stress from Teddy's upcoming surgery and stress in general, I'm been feeling out of sorts for awhile and aware how thread-barred I've been becoming.

So when yesterday I misread an email that landed me in some hot water with my boss, followed by a rough morning with her in general, combined with a follow-up email from Maddy's teacher where she flippantly asked about meeting times and then another email from Teddy's surgeon where he decided Teddy needs to see a hearing specialist prior to surgery next Thursday (he's had 2.5 months to sit on the information I gave him), the meltdown began.

And though my boss apologized later, making it clear she wants me to communicate with her, I didn't feel any better as now I'm convinced my contract isn't going to be extended.

And though Maddy's teacher explained in a follow up email that she just wanted to chat in general, I emailed a request to the principle for a formal sit-down as I already know this type of communication will lead to future conflict and this needs to be rectified now, making me agitated that I have to initiate these boundaries

And though the ENT staff is scrambling to get Teddy in to be seen, the surgeon and I are now angry with one another as I pointed out that this delay really is not acceptable (and he's angry as physicians aren't use to this type of push-back), meaning today is a cooling-off period before an escalation happens that cannot be undone.

Somehow I got through the work day, but last night was spent with me pacing and floating in-and-out of tears, with Grey finding me curled up in the kitchen at one point. I'm consumed with guilt over all the negativity and am gripped by fear that comes with once again having to resume a job hunt. I'm tired of feeling like a failure and less-than based on a career-path I chose.

But above all, I'm angry. And that's not a great place to be.

Despite next to no sleep and a commute that continues to be taxing (~100 miles every day has been wearing), I'm trying to pull myself together today to get final pieces put into place for this event tomorrow. Grey has stepped up and will be the primary parent for the next 48 hours and even Maddy and Teddy have agreed to jump in to help out by showing Grey the ropes to their typical day. Still, I feel like goo, with next to no skeleton for support. And that sucks.
 
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