in summary…

I was going to start by saying that I’ve been in my head a lot lately, but that’s only true if by lately you mean the last thirty-five years or so. I am, by nature – a private, introspective kind of gal. There is a lot of processing that goes on inside my noggin that no one else is ever privy to – I’m so private and introspective, even I am not always privy to the  emotional and philosophical equations being calculated inside my head. The unconscious or subconscious, by design, tends not to show its work. I just see the result and for the most part I think that’s fine. I’d never get anything done if I spent all my time sifting through every thought and emotion that passes through my hippocampus. It’s not that I don’t know what I think and how I feel but rather that I don’t know how I got there.

Those who want to know me better – who want to know what I’m “really” thinking, or “really” feeling often end up with the Cliff’s Notes of the summary, which isn’t much information at all.  I’m good. I’m fine. I hurt. I’m angry – not enough descriptive to fill a thimble. They want more. I can appreciate that. So do I – because challenging or just elaborating on what I think or what I feel means, recreating that analysis – which, if painstaking, is also just painful.

How do you get to the point where you can show your work, and then know what part of your work to show?

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Dusting off the cobwebs…..

You would think a writer would write their way through a transformational event.

Not so much as it turns out – certainly not this writer. No, when the storm comes, all black clouds and hard rain – I’m not one to stand at cliff’s edge, railing against the wind; I, very sensibly, pick up my journal , go home and wait it out.

I’ve been processing my emotions about the lay-off and everything that came after unconsiously, which is another way of saying that even at a molecular level I don’t like people reading my rough drafts. Rough drafts are messy – with scribbles in the margins, logic issues to be resolved, and bits of outlined to be filled in later.

In my writing and in my life, I like to start with my final draft.

And here is where all my writer friends, the writer within me, and anybody who’s good with a metaphor cringes –  because writing is re-writing, and in life there is no such thing as a final draft.

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…cubeland diaries – the lay off.

How do I feel? Now that the announcements have finally been made and my last day in cubeland will be 2/22?  Terrible! What do you think?  This really sucks.

The meeting with my manager (and the HR guy) was at 9:15am on Tuesday. He sent the appointment out a week ago. I knew what was coming, because, if it were me, and I had the wrenching job of telling my team members who had been laid off and who hadn’t  – I’m pretty sure I would get the “I’m sorry to inform you…” stuff done first.

I had the second appointment of the morning and my manager – bless him – looked like a train wreck. I’m not mad at him. On the contrary. I think my boss was very honorable in the way he dealt with the whole situation.  That matters.

It’s just business when your department’s budget is significantly cut. It’s just business when the strategy for overcoming the budget cuts  is set to paper. Then leadership puts a name next to the position to be cut – and now you are in a situation that is very human.

Something else happened last week that made me know it was coming.  One of the managers – not mine – kind of looked through me as we passed each other in the hall.  It’s not like we had any reason to talk…or even make eye contact for that matter. It’s not like I felt slighted – I didn’t. I just struck me in the moment that he was working very hard not to see me – to make me not there. It struck me that – well, if he knew my name was on the list, and he  couldn’t say anything – looking through me might be a coping mechanism. He looked at me like I was already gone. I’m not mad at him either. We all cope with challenges and uncertainty differently.

So, today is Wednesday, and I’m in the office. I’ve laughed with colleagues. I’ve cried. I’ve cancelled appointments and have sent at least one person a note telling them that I’m not great on the phone right now.

Change comes to us all – it’s just that you would prefer to get to the change on your own, not have it thrust upon you – not that you often get a choice.

I think everything will be fine. I have a lot of love in my life. My partner, Lyn; my family, my friends. The outpouring of support has meant so much to me. I’m feeling a lot of emotions right now – but one of the loveliest and most unexpected is gratitude.

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…my post on why I’m not posting tonight.

I’m on the #19, fighting to keep my eyes open as the bus crawls through the traffic on Milwaukee Blvd. I could fall asleep right now, except for the fear that I would miss my stop and end up in the wilds of Mt. Scott. Or worse, I’d sleep so soundly that this bus, this diesel chameleon would transform from the #19 – Woodstock, to the #19 – Gateway and back again until we both finally came to rest in the TriMet Bus Depot down on Holgate. 

More tomorrow about my New Year guidelines. Thanks for hanging with me on this whole guideline thing. I’m really digging it – and that fact that I actually did about 24 flights of stairs today while I was at work, makes me think I might be on to something.

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…getting physical – guidelines

You can’t help but be active in New York. I didn’t have a car. I walked EVERYWHERE. I thought nothing of lugging six bags of groceries the several blocks between my market and my home.  I lived on the sixth floor of  a seven floor building. Yeah, I could take the elevator; but it was slow and rickety, so most days, I opted to take stairs.  I climbed more stairs in New York than I ever have in my life, before or since; up and down flights of stairs to get to auditions and classes; up and down flights of stairs to get to and from the subway.

I would take the A – train from 207th and Broadway down to mid-town and then walk across Central Park to get to my fancy Park Avenue job. (Don’t get too excited – I was an executive assistant at CitiGroup, back in the glamorous days when they everyone said they had grown too big to fail.) I would walk from the mid 50s down to Union Square (14th Street) to get to my doctor’s appointment, and then from Union Square down to the Village, just because I could.

I went to a gym after work. Everyday. Cardio, weights – the works. This was a prescription from my doctor at the time, who said that exercise would help relieve the my depression and anxiety. She was right.

I came back to Portland in 2003 and all but stopped moving. I worked (and still do) in front of a computer all day – suddenly I was doing nothing to compensate. I got a car, because – well, that’s what you do. Having a car means driving a car, which really changed my perspective about walking. Walking became what I did once I got to my destination, The goal was to get close enough to my destination with my car to avoid extra steps – and to be clear, to avoid getting soaked in the rain.

Oh yeah. The whole rain thing. You may be shocked to find out that it rains in Portland. The damp, grey weather inspires me to sit in on my sofa with a good book and a cup of tea, nestled in my cosy, hypoallergenic, simulated goose down comforter. The rain does not inspire me to be active. It inspires me to hibernate.

So this is a lot preamble for my first guideline of 2011  – but you’ve got to know where you’ve been in order to figure out where you are heading, right?

So here they are – guidelines for getting physical:

  • If I have a choice between the elevator and the stairs, I will endeavor to take the stairs more often – leading up to a goal of more often than not.
  • Just because the car is convenient doesn’t mean I have to take the car.  If there are places to which I think can walk, or bike then I will give it a try (at least once) and if it isn’t completely awful – I will endeavor to do it again.
  • When I take TriMet – I don’t have to take the stop closest to my destination, I can take the bus or train as far as I want, and walk the rest of the way.
  • I don’t need to join a gym to be more active – but if I choose to do so, I don’t need to quaranteen myself to the elliptical  or the stationary bike – I can take classes – at things I’m not good at and enjoy getting better at them.
  • I will  try to remember that I am not made of spun sugar nor am I any relation of the Wicked Witch of the West. Rain is a fact of life in Oregon, not an excuse not to move.

That’s a pretty good start. More guidelines coming soon.

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…more like guidelines

I don’t do New Year resolutions because, if I have to be really honest, I don’t take them seriously. I always fail to keep them, then I feel slightly guilty even though I never really expected to succeed at them in the first place.

“So did you make any resolutions for the New Year?” The stranger asked her, mouth full, as he dragged his half eaten potato chip a second time through the onion dip. 

Resolutions are New Years Eave party small talk, when you resolve to:

  • Get in shape
  • Take mass transit
  • Write more
  • Worry less 

As resolutions they kind of speak for themselves, these are the things I want, but it’s just a wish list. I’ve created no action plans, no schedules, no success criteria. If I were serious about a resolution then I would plan for success: I would mitigate risks and develop contingencies because to be successful at something takes some thought, some planning and some discipline. So, to recap – no New Years resolutions – building a list of will do’s and won’t do’s that I am bound to fail at – holds no interest for me.

But I’m thinking New Year guidelines might be more my speed.  Guideline is a great word. I like the idea of  laying down a rope to guide my step through a new year’s uncertain terrain.

So let me be completely honest. I was going to end this blog with four guidelines that neatly dovetailed into the resolutions that I generalized above, but I don’t want to just be pithy, I’d like to treat these guidelines with more respect. So over the next couple of days, I’ll get back to you on what my New Year Guidelines are- I have to admit, I’m kind of psyched about figuring out what they will be.

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…a toast to my father.

I’ve spent the last year morning my father, and that’s shocking to me. It’s shocking because it was only yesterday that my family held each other and wept and felt our way through the emotional landscape of what came next.

There were weeks at a time last year that were almost okay. Where the loss of my father and the resulting void could almost only be seen out of the corner of my eye. Then there were other times when I was surprised to find myself caught in a rip tide of raw emotion, fighting to swim back to shore.

‘Why I am I so upset?’ I would ask, astonished at the depth of despair I could feel over a song lyric, or a MacDonald’s commercial. “I don’t know, someone would say “… maybe because you are still grieving?” And I’d laugh at that because it’s ridiculous to forget that you are  grieving – or maybe it’s the most natural thing in the world  

 Once I could recognize the grief had returned. I could welcome it back as something familiar, not something comforting exactly, just as something necessary; permission maybe, to be with how I felt until I was ready to let it pass.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do to mark the first anniversary of my father’s passing; just that I wanted to do something to honor him and acknowledge what was lost. We went to the Horse Brass Pub on SE Belmont. We talked about him some, and we talked about other things, some trivial, some profound. We laughed a lot. And by gathering together with love and family and friendship in our hearts, grief retreated again back to the corner of our eyes – still there, just harder to see.

We raised our glasses of single malt scotch, and toasted my father. He would have liked that.

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….so, do you feel any different?

It’s the old joke… you wake up on New Years Day, turn to the one you love, and ask “…so, do you feel any different?” And the one that you love will groan and roll their eyes and maybe hit you with a pillow because truly, all that has change is the date on the calendar. Apart from the Rose Parade, the Bowl Games on TV,  and the resolutions that you made the night before – this day doesn’t feel very different from any other.

Except that today does feels different to me. I’ve transitioned into something new – and I welcome that change. We saw in the new year last night, which is kind of unusual for us. 12:00am Eastern Standard Time, makes  it 9:00pm, Pacific Standard; so when the ball drops in New York City, typically we toast our auld lang syne and call it a night. But it seemed right to see out 2010 – to make sure it was really gone, not trying to linger somewhere in the corners of our lives.

It’s a new day, an new year in a new decade – and I feel lighter for it.

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It is day one of vacation and I am camped out in the living room on our ridiculously comfortable sofa. With the exception of the mail carrier on his rounds and the recycling truck grinding its gears in the distance, my little neighborhood seems as sleepy as I do.

My dog is curled up by my side, snuggled down as much as I am in our hypoallergenic simulated goose down comforter. He’s given up trying to get me to do something really active – like take him for a walk, or engage in a fight to the doom over his squeaky doughnut. I may surprise him later…but for now his tactical retreat is just right.

My goals fo the day are strewn around me – Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal; Granta’s Best of Young Spanish Language Novelists edition; and The Strand Magazine – which has been mostly read from cover to cover, with the exception of the interview with Dennis Lehane, which I want to finish.

Then there is that writey thing I started the other day. I’m still sculpting. I love the things you find out when your writing it all down for the first time. The girl with her head in her hands has a sister as it turns out, and has suffered from insomnia since she was a kid. Just a couple more sentences – and a living character starts to form.

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…the start of something writey

I don’t have much to say today except – that between updating spreadsheets and budget forecasts, I put fingers to key board and  started crafting an image that I’ve been playing with for the last couple of days. It’s just a sketch – maybe not even a sketch, more like a doodle – but it’s a start. 

Wanna see?  I have no idea where this is going – but it’s intriguing enough to want to play with it some more tonight. I’ll keep you posted.

Eye strain was just part of the gig. She rested her elbows on the desk and lowered her head into hands. Pressing the heels of her palms hard into the soft of her eyes, she rubbed until she could see kaleidoscopic shapes and colors beneath her lids.

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