dreaming

Back in the day, when trying to picture the murky future and choose a college major, I imagined myself in a red power suit behind a stylish desk, molding words and images for people. I could see myself in PR; it seemed a logical, natural choice. I am pretty good with words. I thought I could be good with people.

After graduation, I ended up in an office job, not knowing any better and completely lacking in any ambition. I still have that job. It’s been 24 years.

In the years since, I’ve discovered I do not really  have the skills necessary to make it in the PR world. Yes, I can spin things and write things and organize the shit out of things. I am bossy. But diplomacy is not my forte. I am anxious around people. I am impatient with stupid people.

So maybe it’s a good thing that I still have this office job in a small company with hardly any stress. Am I living up to my potential? Is this what I thought I’d be doing 25 years after graduating college? Um, no.

Yes, I do a bit of PR-type stuff with the bar, but it’s behind the scenes stuff. No one sees me do it; I can hide behind the internet for the most part. It’s pretend PR.

So I’ve been thinking lately – WHAT would I do if I could choose? And since the lease is up on the bar again next year and we really have no idea what will happen, it’s not entirely a wasted exercise.

But what I would choose is only a dream. Complete make-believe, requiring a big pot of money. I’m not even sure if something like this would be profitable, so that big pot of money would have to be REALLY big.

Here is what I am good at/like to do (I think):

giving people food and drink

organizing

hosting

bossing

curating

looking at pretty things

playing with fabric and glue and paper and paint

So if money were no object, I would move to a town like Ellensburg and open a place called Studio Pie (name subject to change). It would be in a big space, one of the old brick buildings downtown, open but broken out into sections. We would bake things and serve coffee, maybe lunch, like the old Still Life Cafe. In another section, there would be fabrics and classes. In another section, there would be paints and canvas and glue and paper for collage, maybe screen printing, etc. And in another section, at night, there would be a small craft bar. With really good cocktails. In a town like Ellensburg, with a student population and creative residents, it might fly. Online sales might be a part. There could be a big space for guest teachers. Did I mention the cocktails? Maybe even bands occasionally? And now that I’m on a roll, there will be outdoor space in the back for dinner parties.

Now. While we are at it, The Geek can have a section for Games. Since we’re dreaming and all.

Off to buy a lottery ticket.

 

hope

We have a 16-year-old daughter. This one.

People say she looks like me. She and I don’t see it. We laugh when they say it, looking at each other like maybe THIS time, we will see the resemblance. The connection.

Physically, perhaps there is something of me in her. Internally, though, I am not so sure. The last few years have been a challenge, as regular readers may recall. Nothing life-shattering, knock on wood. But nothing for which I was prepared. I’ve been dangling, spinning in the wind.

It’s easy when they’re small. For the the most part, I felt like we were doing it right. Not perfect, by any means, but I didn’t feel like I did any permanent damage. You can pretty much trust your gut before they become teenagers, follow common sense, and they’ll turn out all right.

Well. Maybe you can do that with some teenage girls,  but not the one that lives in this house.

You want to give them room to grow, see what path they take, sit back a bit more than when they were little. You want to, really you do. But then they stumble and you rush forward, arms outstretched, trying to gently guide. Only it doesn’t come out gently – it comes out forcefully, bossy, controlling before you even know it. The words that sound so rational and calm come out in a language they don’t understand. Rather than translate it, they delete it altogether.

So you try again, louder, with more words. Like people sometimes do when talking to someone who speaks another language. They aren’t deaf, they just don’t recognize the words you are using. Speaking more loudly won’t make the words make sense.

The path that seemed so straight and clear now winds through dark woods. You try to claw your way to the light at the top of the trees, but something pulls you back every time. Once in a while a sunbeam breaks through, but it’s mere minutes before the clouds take it back again.

I’ve absorbed so many hurtful words that I am numb. They mostly bounce off now, but sometimes they are so fierce and sincere they make my stomach clench. And I am not innocent – though I don’t think my words are hurtful, I know sometimes they are loud and impatient and unyielding, when they should be soft and careful.

They say this stage is called “spoiling the nest”. They are making it an unpleasant place to be so that they will leave it. It’s bittersweet, because the time she has left here with us is so short, I hate to spend it arguing and being frustrated and hurt.

After yesterday’s failure, I took a step back. It occurs to me that I can’t care enough to make her care about the things she should care about, that I can’t fix the things she won’t fix. That even though her choices would not be MY choices, they are hers. Her mistakes to make, her mistakes to fix. And if she chooses not to fix them, that is still her choice. Hard and heartbreaking as it is, I need to let it happen.

I am going to try so very hard to move back to the sidelines, my heart in my throat, and watch. My arms will still be outstretched and ready to be her safety net. But they can’t be so tight around her that she can’t reach out herself.

I’ll be watching for the light in the woods.

 

 

now what

Hey, friends. Been a while. A long while. I’m sorry for that. Bit of a drought, it seems.

I recently went to Savannah for some friends’ wedding. As getting out of your daily rut/places will do, it brought on some thinking. That and various things at home involving raising teenagers. It’s not a pretty business, people.

Things in my brain have been percolating for a while now, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get them out of my head in any coherent form. So this may not make sense. But at least it won’t be cluttering up my head anymore.

I’ve had the same job since January 1990. You do the math. I work in a small office doing office stuff. Is it my dream job? No. But the people are nice and have been very accommodating as my family has expanded, letting me change my schedule as needed, and it’s certainly not a  job I have to take home with me. So that part works.

That doesn’t mean that I’ve never wished for the sort of job that is creative or fulfilling, that I am proud to talk about at parties. Who want to say they work in an office? What’s cool or exciting about that?

In 1995, The Geek and I bought a bar. So since then, his job has been to run that, and I do the books. The funny thing is, he doesn’t think that’s a worthy job, either. Even though more than one person has said how cool they think it is. (I think keeping that place open is important work, but really, that’s a whole different post.)

Most of our friends have “real jobs”. They go to an office and do “real work”. Things they went to school for, things with a career path. Things you need ambition for.

Which is really the gist of it. That whole ambition thing. Do some of us have it and some don’t? Can you learn it, grow it? What if your ambition is just to be happy?

The Girl Child is having some issues in school, mainly having to do with getting work done. It has put her in a precarious position, and may limit her choices going forward. We talk about college, and her answer is always “You went to college. Look where it got you. Such an awesome job.”  Which makes me wonder – have I said that to her? Or did she come up with it all on her own?

Another friend has recently been all fired up and encouraging about my writing, thinks I should do something with it. I write things here sometimes, so I suppose one could say I write. And sometimes I think that would be pretty cool. It’s easy for me. I enjoy it. And then doubts creep in. (Not that I am fishing for compliments here.)

Maybe the ambition comes along naturally when you find your passion? The thing you’d do if  they didn’t pay you. But what if you never find that thing? It’s a bit of a chicken and the egg – which comes first.

Even though I’m a little scared that ship has sailed, maybe it’s time to see what else is out there. Not a new job necessarily because this one works for various reasons still, but a way to add something that feels a little more passionate. Something to feel proud of.

We all need that. Sometimes in the day-to-day of just getting by, we forget.

I ramble. But as always, thanks for listening.

 

 

village people

Tonight I am going to spend time with a couple of girls I’ve known for many years, in the sort of way that there is comfort and ease in each others’ company no matter how long it’s been since we’ve been together. No need to put on a show; I’ll probably wear my soft pants and take off my shoes. There will be food and drink and dishing. And rebalancing and resettling of the business of our lives.

Sometimes when I am overwhelmed and out of sorts and wondering about the point of it all, I stop and breathe for a moment and remember the good things – surely there must be a few. The biggest: my village. The people I’ve known since college have been here the longest and own a big chunk of my heart. The ones who came with them, too. Our Roanoke family – not by blood, but by choice. How different my life would be without that giant circle of good people. Our Rosens and extended Rosens. Our Green Lake moms and dads. The Underwoods and the geeks that came with The Geek.

Social media makes it easy to reach out and stay in touch when you can’t always do it physically. I can’t give that up despite the dumb quizzes. There’s a secret Facebook group called Mommy Dearest – it began with my like-minded mom friends, raising our kids the best way we know how, not afraid to mock ourselves, raise a glass and maybe ask a serious question or two. It’s over 60 people now who don’t even all know each other, but they offer support and laughter. My village keeps growing.

That’s why I make the Geek help me clean the house and do the shopping for parties even though it’s not his favorite thing. It’s why I am constantly feeding people. It’s my way of giving back what they give to me. Those of you know who you are – thanks for answering the call and making my village so bright and funny and necessary.

 

the way back

I posted this status on Facebook a while ago:

Sometimes I still feel like that girl that used to wonder around downtown in the 80′s with a camera, having coffee and a cigarette outside the old Nordstrom. Life was good then.”

 It was so easy then. No doubt there were struggles of some sort, but nothing major comes to mind. It seemed like the possibilities were endless, not that I’d considered any.  Then, like now, I tend to live in the moment. Which explains how I ended up here.  But I digress.

Now that Nordstrom is many spaces, including Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. Back then, the Rack was actually in the basement of Nordstrom and had real treasures. What is now Nordstrom was Frederick & Nelson’s – I actually tried on wedding dresses there. I sat outside the Nordstrom coffee bar with my coffee, cigarette and camera, watching the world go by and probably considered myself quite arty and European.

There were no weighty decisions to make, save when to have coffee or meet a friend. High school and college overlapped these years – I’d go back to college in a heartbeat. (High school can suck it.)

No Facebook to check, no constant tether to anything but what you were doing right then. How much more brain space I must have had.

I’m sure I didn’t give much thought to life in 25 years. But I gotta say, now that those 25 years have come and gone, responsibility blows. The worrying blows. Being in charge of small people and a business is hard. Most of the time, I find myself wondering where the real parents and bar owners are. I am afraid on a daily basis that I am doing it all wrong.

A friend commented on my status, wondering if we’d look back in 20 years at this time in our lives in the same way. I’d say the only thing this time has to recommend it over the future is our relative health, but who knows? I find myself thinking more frequently about the fact that I should probably pay a little more attention to the future (amid slight panic) and a little bit less to the now, but I am afraid to miss anything.

I know that girl outside Nordstrom with the camera is still in me. It might be the only thing that gets me through some days.

At the old Ace Records in Ellensburg - 1987/88?

At the old Ace Records in Ellensburg – 1987/88?

just right

You guys. We did it.

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Moms

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Mmm, snacks!

Dinner!

Dinner!

So, yeah. The days of endless projects and prep are over. I survived and lived to tell about it.

Thanks for your kind words here and on Facebook about my last post. You guys are the best. And in other news, I just saw the before photos of the kitchen – SCARY. A reveal post soon.

giving thanks

It will come as no surprise to many of you that I like a good party. I like to go to them and give them. I am particular and controlling and bossy about my parties. I like the planning and the cooking and the eating and the friends who come.

In early October, I decided to host Thanksgiving. That is not unusual in and of itself – I have done it many times before. But this time it’s special. I coerced my parents to make the trek north from Oregon – the first time ever. The Geek’s parents, his uncle and our good friends Creepy, Lin and Spike (yes, that’s his name and well-deserved) will all come.

Since then, I have repainted the dining/living room, part of the kitchen and hallway, installed new curtains, made The Geek lay a vinyl plank floor, repainted the kitchen cabinets and made new curtains for the lower 3 cabinets that don’t have doors. I have switched out the china cabinet in the living room for a more mod glass shelf bookcase. I have created a Craft Hall.

I have planned the menu and braved Costco and Whole Foods. I have IRONED.

Even for me, this is beyond the pale. But this is no ordinary Thanksgiving. The Geek’s mom is slipping away. Her memory for short-term things is not good. Not good at all. She will ask you the same question every time you talk to her, even though you’ve told her the answer 10 times before. She loses simple things. For the first time a few weeks ago, she forgot how to do the books at the bar, something she’s done for probably 25 years. She cried in the Geek’s arms because she knew. She knows.

This Thanksgiving is special because it might be the last one she can fully participate in. It’s special because we will all be making our own memories. I need the walls to be bright and fresh. I need that nasty kitchen cabinet to be gone. I need a new kitchen floor. I need the food to be how I picture it. THIS is what I can control.

Of course I know the most important part is all of us being here together. But the rest counts – it makes the whole picture. I need it to be right.

I hope your Thanksgiving is all you want it to be.

what i want to be when i grow up

Hi, friends. Been a while. I hope all is well in your world.

Nothing of substance to complain about over here, but I will admit to some mysterious aches and pains that have plagued me in recent months. Due in part to overuse and just plain getting old, I’m afraid.  I’ve been for some PT and gotten some exercises.

All this to say, I  ain’t getting any younger and it’s time to get serious. I’ve never HAD to exercise or diet. I don’t eat crap on a regular basis, but I could eat better. And for sure ANY excerise will be more than I am getting now. Apparently walking to and from the bus isn’t really cutting it.

I did do the running thing for a bit, and I enjoyed it. My knees, not so much.  Although I may give it another go at some point, right now my plan is to take a gentle yoga class and work in a body weight routine I can do at home – I am just not a go-to-the-gym girl.  I’m going to start with this routine.

This has been percolating in my brain for some time. But what really brought it home was seeing the 6 fierce ladies  in this video this week. They are simply amazing. It makes me actually look forward to what the next 20-40 years might bring. We don’t have to fade away with our tight perms and polyester slacks. We can stay stylish and fit and excited about life. Their lives aren’t perfect – some days it’s hard to get out of bed even for them. But they do it – looking great and having fun at the same time.

If I can be like them when I’m their age, I will be happy. I’m starting now.

Get yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and prepare to be inspired by these “Fabulous Fashionistas”.

fifteen

Huh. Seems I didn’t write a post for the Girl Child’s 14th birthday last year. She turned 14 anyway, and now here we are at 15. Already.

Which also means that I have been a mom for 15 years. Those baby days are so far behind me, it’s hard to recall what they were like. I see photos and am reminded of points in time, but the people in them (myself included) seem like strangers or maybe people I once knew.

We took the kids out of school for one day last week to get away early for spring break. The Girl Child’s high school frowns upon this sort of thing, calling them “unexcused absences”. Which I think is silly.  When it comes down to it, the trip we took will be remembered far longer than missing one day of school. And at this stage in the game, family trips like that will be farther and fewer between.

Time in these crucial years is running out and I admit to a bit of panic. What if I’ve been doing it all wrong?

There has been yelling. And impatience. Frustration. Waiting for the bad times to pass. Meanwhile maybe missing some good moments along the way.

A big regret – not enough hugs as the kids get older. My own fault, falling back into the routine I grew up with. I need to change that while I still have a few years.

But there has also been big love, even when we aren’t each other’s favorite person. Silliness. Saying I’m sorry. Encouragement. Growing inside and out. Tolerance and acceptance. Pride.

Fifteen is a tricky one. Just on the cusp, more adult edging out the kid. Needing to let the adult out to make decisions, letting her see where her choices take her while so wanting to protect her, especially in this crazy new world. It’s not my fifteen.

And it never will be. This is HER world now. I will still be there to cushion where I can, nudge when I need to – sometimes even a strong PUSH. But maybe the best thing I can do now is sit back and wait, spot her a little, and clap the loudest and proudest at her successes.

And I know there will be many.

Happy Fifteen.

photo booth, circa 1999

photo booth, circa 1999

highway to hell

This weekend we are going to spend a few days at Seabrook on the Washington coast, with the Professors. It’s a super cute little planned community with houses that look like they belong in Nantucket.

It’s about three hours away and I am looking forward to some ocean air and down time. Except for one thing.

I have to drive. On the highway.

I HATE driving on the freeway. I don’t even like to BE on the freeway. In my everyday life, it’s not so much an issue – I commute by bus, and living in the city means you can pretty much get anywhere by surface streets.

I don’t mind the actual driving, and I am not a bad driver. Unless The Geek is in the passenger seat – that makes me nervous.

But the freeway. Too many tons of metal going way too fast, operated by people too busy texting or talking to pay attention to the road.

It wasn’t always like this. Over college breaks, I drove from Kent to work at Bellevue Square. I can remember driving to downtown Seattle one time, too. But somewhere along the way, it became scary. A few years out of college, I made plans to drive to central Oregon to visit family. I made sure I left really early so I could avoid traffic, but it was still nerve-wracking. I’ve driven to IKEA a few times, a route with some crazy merges. One time a rain squall came through followed by blinding sunlight. By all rights, I should have hit something on the exit ramp – I could not see a thing.

The merging, especially, is stressful. I will scope out on-ramps that shoot you onto your own lane if possible. But that pales next to the I-90 tunnel. The few times I’ve had to drive that, I held my breath the whole time. And it’s not a short tunnel. It is very narrow – the margin for error is very small.

It occurred to me as the departure date approached that maybe I’m not the only one who feels this way. And lo and behold, it’s a thing! Freeway phobia! Lots of people have this problem too! Have to say that made me feel a bit better – that I’m not the only loser whose adrenaline kicks when the speedometer goes over 40 and you’re 4 feet away from big metal boxes.

I read some tips about writing down affirmations, getting hypnotized, hiring a coach. But what seems to be most effective is just doing it – getting on the road and facing your fears. No, I can’t control anyone else on the road. BUT I also can’t control anyone else on the bus or in line at Starbucks.

So Friday morning, I will load up my family and head south on I-5 at 60 mph. I will breathe slowly and deeply. I will make a playlist. I will load the directions on my phone. I will try to have faith that I can do this. (Maybe you could keep your fingers crossed, too? Every little bit helps.)

At least I don’t have go east through the I-90 tunnel. A girl has her limits. One thing at a time.

I hope the traffic looks like this.

I hope the traffic looks like this.