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.

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


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


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
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