Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Choices..

Our lives are full of choices we make consciously or unconsciously every day.  One frequent expression is that if you are miserable somewhere, well, that's your choice.  We envision a world where we have an unexhaustable amount of opportunities I think when we say that to others.

But, at some level, we do have options.  We just might not always like what our options are.  Sometimes to get whatever it is we want, we might have to do things we might not always like.

Wow, speaking of throat-clearing...

So, for the last four months or so, I have been back to work.  That sounds much more than it really has been, but it has been nice to get out of the house and bringing home a paycheck.  The job is ideal for me.  It's part-time, pay is nice, commute isn't too bad (I've lived in Southern California and in the Washington DC area - I know traffic), dress is business casual so no uncomfortable suits.

I am, however, by most people's estimations, over-qualified for the position.  My resume is top-heavy.  You'd be surprised how sometimes that can be a bad thing.

So when I was being interviewed for the position, it was not surprised that the folks were asking with some disbelief about whether I'd be happy here.  Whether or not I might get bored.  And my answer, frankly, was that I could do just about anything for four hours a day.  And if I felt any of those things, it wasn't as if I were spending all day every day doing it.  I could manage boredom for four hours a day.

This from the girl who'd been sitting on the couch for eight hours every day waiting for her wife to return home.  Yeah, I think I can handle the potential boredom.

But the other question, spoken by some of the folks who interviewed me, and implied in the questions of others was, "Why? You have a resume that opens a lot of doors, why would you want to do this?"

And my answer then - perfectly crafted for interviewing situations - was that I valued quality of life.  That I wanted to have balance in my life.  I've worked the jobs where they were careers - end all be all and all consuming.  They were fun at the time.  I enjoyed myself, I excelled (as they could see in my resume) and they were great.  But I am now at a different stage in my life, and frankly, what I was looking for was an opportunity supplement my spouse's income.

They bought it.

The other day the Director of Finance wandered near my desk.  She's relatively new to the position, I'd say "young" although I was younger than her when I did some of my management in my day.  She has been hiring a lot of new people to populate her growing domain.  One such person started at the beginning of August, and is already on vacation.  Yes, I admit.  I am jealous.  I am still a contractor so I didn't even get sick pay when I was out in the hospital recently for a few days.  Anyway, apparently the new guy wrote this memo and made some erroneous assumptions.  She was waiting to talk to the CFO to let him know of the discrepancies so that the CFO wouldn't rely on the conclusions in the memo.

And she's asking me what she should do with her new employee?  Probably a rhetorical question.  So, I gave her a kind of rhetorical answer.  "I don't envy you.  I don't miss managing people.  There is a reason I am sitting at this desk instead of yours."

She laughed with me.  Except I was serious.

As a society, we are tasked with making progress.  With "moving forward".  "Onward and upward".  Push, push, push.

And when I was younger, just starting out, I had difficulties understanding a section of the lesbian community I had been a part of that was "downwardly mobile".  That rejected comfy corporate jobs for "jobs with meaning" which were also often jobs with low pay.  I was young.  It seemed too early to give up on the rat race and not to make the most of my potential.

And for me, at that time, that was an appropriate choice.

But it's 20 some years later.  And with experience, I have come to learn that "more" is not necessarily "better".  It can be.  Don't get me wrong.  But it is not always.

I have been very fortunate to have a lot of opportunities, experience, choices and options in my life.  I have been very blessed.  I recognize that.  Not everyone has had the same that I have had.  I will agree with those who think I am pooh-poohing myself that I created some of those opportunities and they didn't all just fall into my lap.  But some did.

I am very fortunate that my wife agrees with holding quality of life as something important. For both of us.  She welcomed the potential of a paycheck when I started tossing my hat out there, but was also sad about the possibility of me not being there waiting at home for her every day when she returned.  There was a part of her that didn't even want me to have to work at all. Which was very sweet.  Although now that she's gotten used to a little extra cashflow, I think that sentiment has passed altogether! :)  But she doesn't feel that I need to be out there garnering a six figure salary.  She knows that we don't *need* all of that, and that what it would take away from us in order to make that kind of salary isn't worth the changes that would come along with it to our lives.

We made our choice.


Throat Clearing...

So at one point what now feels long ago, I was in an educational program where certain writing courses were required.  They were designed to teach us both how to write clearly and concisely, but also how to build and express an argument.

I hated these classes, frankly.  Although I am sure I learned something from them.  As much as I begrudgingly hate to admit it.

One of the things I learned is that when I am having trouble writing about a subject, I often use what the teacher called "throat-clearing phrases".  Words that really added no value to my statement or my arguments or my writing.  Words that I put onto screen (because let's face it, I rarely wrote on paper then) simply to clear my metaphorical throat and begin writing about SOMETHING.  To get SOME words on the paper.

The literary version of "Um"...

When you haven't written in your blog much lately, and not for nearly five months, it seems necessary before one begins writing of substantive topics to have a, uh, throat-clearing blog entry.  Something to get the juices flowing again.  To say "Hi"  "Sorry I was gone for awhile".

Something to remind you how to write.  Except, as that teacher would tell me, it isn't necessary writing well.

I can live with that.  Hopefully so can you.

Anyway - I don't know if I'm back.  I hesitate to make grand promises I might not keep.  I know better than that.  I don't want to disappoint.

So, I'll see what I can do to begin doing this again.  I think one of the main reasons it took a hiatus is that it had served the need I had of it then.  But I'm sure I haven't run out of amusing things to share... so, we'll try again.

Have patience with me dear readers.  I think this is like riding a bike.  We'll see...


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

In Medias Res... or I don't usually get my news from TMZ

In medias res is a Latin term that English majors bandy about to mean "in the middle of".  It's a term used to describe a story that begins in the middle of the action - in the middle of the story - so we know that we're missing something important that just came before.

I've actually used the term before in this blog. because I can be a pretentious English major at times.  ;)

Okay.  Different subject.

How many of you out there have said something stupid in an argument?  C'mon.. we all have.. raise your hands.  You know you've said stupid things in an argument.  Stupidly told your wife that, no, she didn't look good in that dress; or much more stupid things.  When we fight, when we are upset, we ALL say stupid things.  We are human.  We can be idiots.  All of us.  None of us is golden.  Or very few of us.

I'll admit the stupidity of the stupid things will vary.

But how many of us have had a fight with our significant other - or any significant other?  C'mon.. we all have at one time or another, even if the significant other is a sister.  Raise your hands.

How many of us would like that argument aired to any others?

Best way to upset my ex was to raise my voice.  Every time she'd ask whether I wanted the neighbors to hear.  Often at the moment, I didn't care, or didn't think that was I was saying was so offensive if someone else did hear.

But generally, most of us don't want our arguments - our dirty laundry - aired for others to hear.  First of all, if for no other reason, than it's not their business.  Second, because context is everything.  Trying afterwards to explain what set us off to a third party?  Hard enough, sometimes it seems, to explain it to the original party.

And I'm certain none of us want to find our arguments posted on TMZ for the world to hear.

What would it be like to wake up in the morning and learn that the President of the US has weighed in on your private argument with your significant other?  I can't imagine. I'd hope that in the heat of the moment I conducted myself with decorum, but the reality of the situation is that in the middle of a fight, I'm not sure how much decorum I have.  Sometimes we, as humans, argue about things irrationally.  We're upset by things we cannot explain, or cannot explain well, or also might have nothing to do, in the end, with what we're telling the other person we're upset about.  (This happened many times with the ex.. she'd explode about x, when she was really upset about z, and it took us awhile to figure out why she was really upset).

I heard an argument recently between two people where one half was doing just that.  Trying to pinpoint why the person was upset.  And the upset person was saying things that didn't make sense, that weren't clear.  And the other person was trying to clarify what it was about the situation that was upsetting.  And getting nowhere.

I heard the conversation in the middle of it.  After whatever offensive thing had been initially said - so I don't know exactly what sparked the fight.  I've been given some clue, but I don't know.  And I wasn't there, and I'm not in the middle of that relationship.

******

Now, let's look at an entirely different situation.  A man sleeps with a younger woman who is not his wife.  He showers gifts upon her, and gives her money.  The usual story.  The wife finds out about it.  The wife sues the girl.  The girl decides to air the dirty laundry.  On TMZ.  Sadly this happens more often than we might want.  All of it.  But it does.

Why are we as a society spending all of this energy on shit that isn't our business in the first place?  Why are we empowering someone who is unhappy in her situation - who has entered into a marriage that is not her own - and allowed her to manipulate us so that news on TMZ - I mean TMZ - is enough to rock the world.  TMZ aired an EDITED conversation.  EDITED.  *ahem* Let me state this again.  EDITED.  That started in the middle of the conversation, where "sorries" are already being given.  And a woman who is trying to "protect" herself is recording a conversation with her lover and trying to get him to repeat what he said, and to corner him into saying something stupid.  On tape.

If you listen to the edited version, and listen to the dance, it is just that - a dance - her trying to get him to say something, to try and figure out what he might have been saying, and him trying to explain himself, and saying more stupid things.  Sounds like most fights.

******

I will not defend what he said. (And a year from now when I re-read this blog entry, I can already see myself scratching my head trying to remember what this is about).  I don't know, frankly, what he said.  It's not my business.  Not my argument.  Not my relationship.  Not something I was asked my opinion about.

Why everyone else has felt the need and the pressure to be involved in what should have remained a private dispute is beyond me.  What makes me angry about this situation is the chain of events that decided the titillating details of a fight between two people needed to be exploited to make everyone so angry and mad.  That we, as a society, blew oxygen on this fire and made this situation such a spectacle.

The guy who said the stupid things might very well be an ass.  Probably is.  And maybe he deserves the condemnation of society for being an ass.  I won't dispute any of that, or be involved in that conversation.  Because that is not what we were given.  We were given a private argument and everyone rushed to judgment about something that was never our business in the first place.  In medias res.

I hope no-one who sits in judgment ever finds half of their fight on TMZ for others to judge.  I'm not sure any of us would fare that well.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Morning E-Mail

Sometimes a lot of disparate things, once you step back, actually seem to tie together.  It had been awhile since I had read my e-mail in the morning, and various bits of things had stacked up.  But this morning, instead of beginning with losing my time by gaming on my iPad, I decided to read my e-mail.

First there were several days worth of Dear Abby e-mails stacked up.  I read casually through the preventative to the more serious questions she was asked: one woman surprised at everyone glorifying in their pregnancies and not hiding their bundles-to-be under smocks, another man wondering if he can trust his partner after he caught him sending inappropriate pictures to another, a woman who had moved in too quickly and found her boyfriend to be a bit abusive (what do I do now? uh, leave?), a man who had lost his wallet - cautioning others to make copies of everything in their wallet so they know what they've lost, another man bemoaning the fact that apparently after twelve years he is finally discovering that his wife never wanted to have children.

Second there was an e-mail from a friend from my church back home - an inspirational chain mail message of sorts.  Two names on it, send it to the top one who is not the friend who sent it to you, and send them an inspirational message - everyone can use another puppy dog in their e-mail - and then re-send the message to twenty of your closest enemies (because do you really want to harass your friends with chain e-mails) and delete the person in line 1, and move yours to line 2, etc., etc.  Not particularly fond of chain mails, and certainly don't want to invite a potential of 400 emails to flood my inbox full of puppy dogs, and angels wings, etc.  But I did think about the one inspirational quote I keep in my wallet, and whether to at a minimum at least send that along to person #1.

Third there were the blog entries from a high school acquaintance - kinda-friend - of mine whose husband has just had a heart attack in the new year and followed immediately by bypass surgery.  She has two young kids at home, and finds herself swirling with her new world order.  A few weeks back after reading a prior blog post, I had sent her an inspirational message - you are not alone - to her; but she seems to be lost in this idea of a world that is now gone, and nothing but bleakness in front of her.

Leaving my ex-partner of ten years was one of the hardest things I ever had to go through.  Not only because it meant leaving her (although by then, frankly, I was ready for some peace from her, not that she was ready to give it to me at the time), but because given the circumstances (her escalating violence), I felt that I had to leave the area altogether.  Move not only from the physical house that I had bought and had been my home for the past ten years, but also leave the area and the state altogether, cutting off ties with friends, and her family that had been mine.  I ended up moving back across the country to be with my family (a roller coaster of its own).  Packing - or attempting to pack - one night in the middle of it all had proven to be too much for me, so I began wandering the streets of my city - possibly wailing, maybe out loud, maybe just internally, but tears were certainly streaming down my face.  I found myself at my church, a couple miles from where I had started.

No-one was there.  It was 10 PM.  I had a key - I could have gone in.  But the solace I was looking for wasn't directly there.  Instead, I called a church member who I knew only lived a block away - not someone I had necessarily been close to, but I had been getting to know - and I asked if I could drop by.  That I needed to see SOMEONE.  He graciously agreed I could come over.

He and his wife - both long retired - had been retired for the night. He opens his door to this adult woman whose face is covered with tears, and who cannot express in words anything, let alone what she needed or what she wanted.  Or why she was there.  She just had landed there, on his door step, in the middle of the night.

He brought me into his kitchen, and he offered me a beverage, and looked at me trying to figure out what I needed, what I wanted.  What he could do.  And I just sat there and cried, and cried.  At one moment, he excused himself, and he came back with a small slip of paper with words printed on it.  It looked a little like a fortune cookie fortune.

And he just said to me quietly, "This is something that I've found helpful, so I carry it with me, and have a few copies of it."  And he handed me the paper and on it was a verse from Isaiah.

"Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago.  Watch for the new thing that I am going to do.  It is happening already - you can see it now!  I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there." Isaiah 43
After he handed it to me, I started to calm down a little.  Still crying, but less intensely.  Wiping my face was no longer as futile an exercise as it had been moments before.  I was able to gather myself enough to thank him, and to be ready to head back out, and head back to the place where I had been staying.  I put the slip of paper into my wallet.

There were many moments of despondence through the process of leaving and moving forward with my life.  That one was one of the worst lows, if not the worst low.  But I came out of it with some calm.  And when I hit those other moments - as trite as I admit it sounds - I would pull out that piece of paper and try to have faith.

I no longer have the original piece of paper, but I reprinted the quote onto a small piece of card stock, and on the back side I have a few lines from 1 Corinthians 13 - the famous verse read at most weddings and carry that with me in my wallet.  For a long time since in Canada, my wallet has been fairly empty.  I had my driver's license, my quotes, a small wallet-sized love poem from my wife, an emergency $20 (originally U.S. dollars, now in Canadian dollars).  Then we added a library card.  Now I am adding more cards, and my wallet IS getting fuller, again.

And so when I read the Dear Abby letter, I thought about what was in my wallet - what I would need to copy.  And then I read the chain email, and thought about sending my quote.  And then I read the blog entries, and thought of a more appropriate person to send it to.  Life has a funny way of connecting things together.  Or maybe it's just me...


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sleeping with Others...

Every once in awhile it strikes me as odd the ways in which humans sleep.  

I only had one sibling growing up, and I had my own bedroom.  My grandparents were old fashioned and slept in the same room but in separate beds. 

In boot camp and in Hogwarts people sleep many to a room in barracks or dorms. 

In Call the Midwife, you see several scenarios where there are eight to ten in a room.

My mother and father had separate bedrooms because my mother couldn't sleep with my father's snoring. 

What is it in us that dictates the amount of personal space one does or doesn't need while sleeping?

Model homes these days have large master suites for the parents to retreat into, but tiny bedrooms for the kids, often making other spaces in the house more welcoming for children to spend their waking hours (although rarely, it seems, out doors)

Often at night, we will fall asleep spooned and entwined only to end up at opposite sides of the bed with our backs to each other. Usually we still have some body part touching, but not always. 

Then there is the issue of timing. Do you have to go to bed at the same time? Do you have to fall asleep at the same time?

Many times when I am trying to fall asleep, I wonder about my grandparents. There is an episode of How I Met Your Mother where Lily and Marshall try out separate beds after seeing two beds at Robin's boyfriend's apartment. 

Somehow I can't help but think that sleeping in separate beds, or even separate rooms for your family is a very first world phenomena. 

When I sleep - when I am not up typing a blog entry with insomnia- I can sleep. Noise, light, other people moving... none of that seems to bother me when I sleep, and often won't necessarily keep me awake. 

My wife, on the other hand, can hear the sink drip from two apartments below us. With her ear plugs in.  Well, not really with her ear plugs in.. that merely brings her hearing into normal range. And she can't sleep. Guy outside collecting cans.  Nope. Can't sleep.  Sometimes even the girl next door snoring keeps her awake. Or worse. Wakes her. 

Not me. I am oblivious. 

But how we sleep and how we fall asleep and wake truly matters and influences our demeanour. Our mood. Our capacity to face the day and any challenges it might bring. We have a plethora of alarm clocks now to help influence that. One mimics sunlight by slowly brightening the room as it wakes you. My nephew just got a device that he wears on his wrist that monitors his biorhythms on an ongoing basis and it supposedly wakes him with vibration after he has slept the ideal amount of time. 

It has been a long time since I have needed to sleep with an alarm clock - although my wife's alarm clock does go off every weekday morning - and I think my body has found its own rhythms. When I was single, I had a period where I slept primarily from 1-5 each day - both am and pm.  It was what I needed and when I needed it, and I was fortunate enough in my schedule then to have the flexibility to meet those needs. 

Often my wife and I will take an afternoon nap when she comes home. Sometimes these are short snoozes, and sometimes deep sleep. And so sometimes, at 1 am, I find myself awake. 

Thinking about sleep.... 



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy Anniversary

So, this is it.  Two years.  And I am sorta still blogging.  Still remember the password and log in. But two years ago today (February 15th) I started this blog.  And it changed my life. Significantly. 

I feel that it is fortuitous that my cohort encouraging me to do this happens to be visiting me in person. Thank you to Robin Sparkles for all her support. 

Must go to bed now, but wanted to take a moment to note the day.  The day that I started the blog that helped me find my wife.  Pretty damn special day.  


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Applause, Applause, Applause...

I live for the applause-plause..

This is what is going through my head. The only words I know from the Lady Gaga song. 

But it repeats over and over and over. 

I only know it is Lady Gaga, because my wife has told me so.  She is teaching me to recognize pop stars since for the last five years (and really longer) I have fed myself a steady diet of country music. I loved that about the mid-West. Nearly every station was country.  :)

But it is one o'clock in the morning, and I should be sleeping. 

Is there a deeper meaning to the words that I should be taking in?

NO!

Did you not read the line above? I should be sleeping. Nothing deeper. 

And yet... I am awake. And even in the light from the living room, the words carry on.

Gaga indeed...




Friday, January 17, 2014

Someone's in the kitchen with .. Borg...

Okay - so that doesn't quite sound like Dinah. But if you could hear me singing it....

Oh, who am I kidding?

Little known fact. I actually like to cook. In fact I actually once considered going to culinary school. Robin Sparkes will attest to the fact that in college I made a pretty mean crepe. 

Well known fact. I hate to clean. 

Sometimes someone like me can luck out in a relationship and find someone willing to clean if you are willing to cook. 

I really lucked out because I found a woman who prefers to do both. 

Except I like to cook too sometimes. As long as I don't have to clean. Pesky details get me every time. 

Fortunately, my wife is at work for two traditional meal times so I do have plenty of opportunity to cook.  And, like I have after today's venture, I will attempt to clean up. 

But the reality, and the rub, however is that I have low standards for what is clean. Dishes done and food put away works for me. (And let's face It, sometimes not even that much). Apparently there are others, who shall remain nameless, who think cleanup should include the egg drops on the stove and things like that. Silly people. 

However, same said silly people enjoy detective work (see http://theborgblogger.blogspot.ca/2013/07/csi-cooking-and-pancakes.html) So, really, when I leave egg behind it is meant as a gift.  Honest. :)

(Think she'll buy that? No? Crap, better wipe off that egg....)