Forever Hold Your Peace

stop-sippin-haterade

I wasn’t nice to my brother’s girlfriend. She was 17, and he was 20, and I was jaded by the string of girls he brought along before and thought “it’s not like he’s going to marry this girl,” and so I gave her the cold-shoulder. And then he married her. And boy was that awkward for awhile (like, even now, 8 years and a sorta-divorce later). I didn’t have the decency to treat her nicely at the beginning, though, deep down, I have a pocketful of reasons to give in defense of my bad behavior, if it’s ever necessary. What I learned from that experience, was my relatively shitty inability to articulate my feelings in the moment, which could have saved years of conflict down the road.

All of this was brought up in my mind, yesterday, when I was chatting with my bestie Ruth about a conflicted experience she had recently. In my brilliant wisdom (sarcasm? maybe?) I reminded her that emotions are stored on one side of the brain, and language on the other, and that sometimes it’s hard to get the language and emotions to match up nicely and to be able to articulate all those fee-fees that you’re having. Not to mention, it’s fucking awkward to confront someone, regardless, because very few of us were taught how to do this type of communication in our formative years (and as adults, do we really want to risk losing relationships if the conflict goes badly?).

It’s reminiscent of the “forever hold your peace,” line they say in movie weddings (because, that’s not a real wedding thing…right?). But you know what, this ‘forever hold your peace,’ shit is pretty fucking hard when you’re someone who has lots of opinions and thoughts and wants things to be logical.

I don’t like things that feel incongruent. I have a hard time when I see people say one thing and then do something else. I have a hard time when things don’t seem to add up or make sense, at least on some level. When I sense these mixed messages, I feel confused, and frustrated, while also unable to articulate my feelings in a way that doesn’t seem rude or attacking because it’s hard to verbalize frustration with unspoken energy actions. Does that even make remote sense?

I’m good with conflict in the moment, when I feel something and am able to say, “I’m annoyed,” or “I’m feeling uncomfortable.” What I have a hard time with, is feeling annoyed or uncomfortable with something, brushing it off as ‘no big deal,’ and then having something else happen, and something else, and something else, until finally I’m at the point where I’m unfriending them on facebook (true story: hi sis!) and they’re like “um, wtf just happened?” If I had just told my sister that I was annoyed with her inconsistent love and open acceptance paired with terribly racist retweets on facebook, the first time it happened, maybe I wouldn’t have been so far down the line that I either wanted to shut down (or cut off) or scream and throw things.

So I’m stuck in this dilemma and I don’t know what to do, how to change, to be a different person. It feels unfair to bring up conflict or frustration over something that happened six months, two years, ten years, ago, especially when realized that is bottled up and I might not be able to say it in a nice way. And yet, I feel like trying to live in the ‘forever hold your peace,’ camp is eating away at me. And I would feel shitty, too, if a friend came to me six months later, I might be like “why didn’t you tell me when this happened? Why did you pretend everything was okay?”

What to do?

Because avoiding it is only adding to the pressure, and I don’t want to be a fucking psycho, you know?

 

What Happens in Vegas…

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…gets blogged about!

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We’ve been planning this trip for months. Ten days after the last tax return was filed, we headed out (super early, I might add) to Vegas with my friend Mari and her husband. The last time I had been to Vegas, I was 14 and playing in an AAU basketball tournament, so the experience was a little less than…debaucherous (to say the least. I ended up with heat exhaustion for the water park and barfed the last two days of the trip). 

At any rate, we landed in Vegas, dropped our bags off at the hotel, and headed out on the town. It was 10 am, and we were STARVING! So we headed out to the Fremont district, where we got some breakfast and spent our time playing nickel slots at Mermaids. 

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Because Mari and her husband have visited Vegas enough, they have their favorite cocktail waitress, Ling Ling, and boy did she not disappoint! I won a few good payouts on my own (to the tune of $14), but Ling Ling found me a machine that someone had abandoned with a whopping $16.50 on it to claim! Woo hoo!

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After a few hours of nickel slots, we headed out to the Tropicana to see my buddy Adam Ray headline at the Laugh Factory. He and I went to elementary and middle school together, and he’s now blowing up (starring in movies like The Heat with Sandra Bullock), and he got us into his show for free! It was fun to ‘shoot the shit’ with him after his show, before he went to his next set. We then stumbled into our hotel around 12:30 pm, and I realized that parenting has made me the perfect candidate for Vegas…able to function off a little sleep and still manage to have fun! 

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On Saturday we had breakfast buffet at the Bellagio, and wandered the strip for awhile, which made me angsty and sweaty. We headed back out to Fremont district to see my college roomie Marie! I love introducing my friends to my friends, and so we had a lovely evening drinking and eating and then finished the night off with some dancing at an old school arcade. All around amazing getaway, that I hope to repeat again in the future!

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On Being Vulnerable

Is this what vulnerability looks like?

Is this what vulnerability looks like?

I feel like vulnerability is such a catch phrase lately. Maybe it’s because I spend hours a day in my office googling TED talks, and listened to Brene Brown’s videos (here ) on vulnerability and shame recently, but it feels like a word that’s in the air. And it’s a word that I often have difficulty with, even just in definition, let alone in practice. I get squeemish thinking about letting people see my soft underbelly, because that could leave me wounded and hurting.

“Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think.” –Brene Brown

But recently I have been compelled toward vulnerability and connection to others in a way that I have been afraid to be before. With my coming out post, and sharing it with non-anonymous people in my life, I opened myself up to friends and family in a way that is often foreign to me. I risked judgment and scrutiny. And in recent conversations, as well, I have found myself both hurt by some, and completely blessed by a connection and intimacy with those who haven’t understood, but have sat with me in the revelation and loved me regardless.

And so I’m reaching out, and up. And making connections that scare and excite me, and letting myself embody the person I have always been, but was afraid to show the world. It’s nice to know I’m surrounded by so much love from my husband Boof, and friends, like Mari, who sits with me drinking wine while our kiddos tear around the backyard. I feel like my marraige and friendships and family life is in such a good place right now, that I am bursting at the seams.

these 'dresses' have nothing to do with vulnerability. but we now know where to go if Mari and I were to start a cult...

these ‘dresses’ have nothing to do with vulnerability. but we now know where to go if Mari and I were to start a cult…

In what ways are you vulnerable with those in your life?

They call them mood swings for a reason…

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Yesterday was amazing. My best mom-friend came and spoke to my classes about her job and how she got into the tech field. Not only was it amazing to spend from 8-4 hanging out with a friend, it was also really nice to have her get to spend time in my world. She got to meet all of the students that I complain brag about daily. And it was so lovely to have her speak to the students and to see  (and read) their reactions to her story. We wanted to inspire and inform them, and it happened exactly how we wanted!

And then, since we carpooled, she got to see our daycare routine and I got to see hers. It was this brilliant exchange of life-experience that made me really happy. Despite my introvertedness, I came home feeling chipper and full of love for my son and my job and life. It was one of those feelings where you think “YES, I got my life together!” and delude your mind into believing that this kind of awesomeness will continue.

But then I woke up today, at 5 am (after only 5ish hours of sleep) and tried DESPERATELY to get Potamus back to sleep. Which means I have very sore not-yet-fully-weaned-but-not-used-to-nursing-for-an-hour-straight nipples. Yeah. I tried for a good hour (off and on). And then we tried watching Handy Manny on our smartphone. And then I tried nursing him some more. Nada. At 7:30 ish we just got up for the day. At which point the dog went insane, chewed up 5 toys, kept barking like a maniac, peed on the floor. And kiddo? All he wanted to eat was cookies. And mandarine oranges. His poor little bum is so raw from his diet of only-oranges. I guess last night all he would eat was french fries and oranges with daddy, and he ate virtually nothing at daycare, so I don’t know if this is just a picky phase or what?

Then my phone did this weird black-screen-of-death thing and I had to go wait at the Sprint store for 45 minutes. And then he nursed for another hour to take a nap. Finally, exhausted, at 1:00 pm we were BOTH asleep in bed together and I did at least get a nap (which doesn’t negate that I got 5 hours of sleep the night before). He tended to be better once he got a nap, but he’s in this phase where he’s really testing boundaries. And I hate enforcing my stern “no hitting the tv table with your hotwheels cars” threat, because then there is tears and hitting me and tantrums. But I’m doing it and trying not to lose my shit.

And thankfully he ate some protein tonight.

So I noticed this morning, that my mood was really surly. I was tired and hungry and hungover from all the awesome of the day before. I wish that I could have hung on to the peaceful post-yoga calm from last night, and the friendship glow from yesterday afternoon. But I didn’t. I was crabby (at least internally) and I was even more annoyed with myself than the annoying things that kept happening around me. Also, my farts smelled really really bad. And that’s never fun.

How quickly my emotions can change. It feels like being on a roller coaster sometimes. And I wish I could just go with it, rather than trying to fight against it, but I rarely do.

Tell me: how do you cope with wildly changing emotions?

Wearing heels makes for quite a workout on Seattle hills…

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Boof’s father retired, which meant we got to go to a swanky shindig in downtown Seattle. His sister got married at the Columbia Tower, and so we had a sort-of-repeat event, with lovely appetizers and wine. The best part, was so many of our friends were invited, so we had plenty of young parents (or young friends) to mingle with! I was feeling particularly good about myself, since I squeezed into a pre-baby dress!

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Potamus and grammy…

My parents came over for the weekend, so that they could take Potamus home from the party early, freeing up us young ones to go on our merry way and have some good-old-fashioned fun-times. It was like being in college…except our drinks of choice were fancy wine and beer over Miller lites…
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Since I haven’t done a lot of drinking in downtown Seattle, I learned a few lessons about how to navigate…

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Hills and heels are HARD on the body. My toes felt like they were going to fall off. But the next day…WOW…that’s when my legs felt like I had done a hard workout. My shins were bruised and on fire, my ankles felt creaky, and my glutes…whoa. Maybe I need to go on the drinking-walking-in-heels-on-hills diet…though the calories from beer will probably add up to more weight than less…

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the fellas.

Speaking of heels…boys have no idea what it’s like to walk in them. They picked a bar, originally, like 6 blocks downhill that we stopped in at. The service sucked, despite the swanky reputation, so we skipped out after having a glass of water. We headed on down to Fado, an irish pub, which was MORE walking. Thanks fellas. But, another thing I learned…it is FUN to drink with a former frat boy. Whoo boy, the middle dude is HILARIOUS when lit…we’re gonna have to do a repeat sometime soon, because, for some reason, breastfeeding moms think him shouting TITTIES, is the funniest thing ever. Yes. We are awesome.

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my mom friends

Drinking with moms is different than drinking with non-moms. Because we started to get nervous about 9pm. Of course, my kid was the only one still awake (didn’t go to sleep until 11:30pm, after we got home). Our hubby’s were fine to stay out, but we started to get nervous, texting our babysitters, ordering our last round of drinks, planning for our escape…before the rest of the city had begun their pre-funking for a night out. Although, we didn’t go home too soon…we had to get in a round (or two…shh…don’t tell Boof) of irish car bombs. While I had never done them before, I rocked it like a champ. There’s probably video of it somewhere…

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was this after we peed in an alley? wha??? thanks post-partum bladder muscles…

Moms can hold their liquor…but not their pee. We risked a fine while going in an alley. And by alley I mean a doorway on the side of the viaduct. Yep. We were banking on our sob story (but officer, our pelvic muscles just don’t work anymore, we pushed kids out of our vaginas!), but the rest of our party could not understand why we didn’t just go back into the bar instead of peeing on the side of its building. Because we’re awesome, that’s why.

Also, Boof tried out SideCar, the alternative to a taxi, since he just wanted to go a few blocks, and taxis around here are ridiculous. He said it was totally worth the few bucks, and that he’d do it again the next time we were downtown. Cool!

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all the girls!

We had fun, my legs are sore, and thankfully I know enough in my old age to drink a SHIT TON of water when I get home. So I’m tired, but not hungover, despite my foray into binge-drinking-as-a-mom. It was fun to relax as a group, spend time together laughing, eating good food, making some memories!

Gold Friends

make new friends,
but keep the old,
one is silver,
and the other’s gold

When we first met we were both awkward, she had spoken up in Bible study saying that she was lonely, had no friends, and after the Bible study was over, I said, awkwardly, “hey, you want to go get coffee, I don’t have many friends either,” or something to that effect. What proceeded was two blissful college years where we spent hours upon hours talking (even racking up a $1,000 phone bill one summer when I was across country). Friendship with her was so easy and made me believe in soulmates. I firmly believe, that if there is reincarnation or past lives, that she and I have known each other in some capacity for thousands upon thousands of years.

But friendships aren’t easy after college. Our weekly phone conversations turned to monthly turned to quarterly and then dwindled to maybe every 6 months when I was lucky. And, honestly, I felt that I made the effort most of the time. I kept calling, leaving messages, and she seemed off in her cool little life, rock climbing and doing major wilderness trips, and I assumed that we had just fallen out of friendship. It’s something I’ve agonized over, but I don’t have time to pursue a friendship where it doesn’t seem reciprocal.

I put up a boundary in my mind: I’ll gladly reconnect if she contacts me first. I love this girl, but I can’t keep putting out the effort.

And that lasted for almost a year, with being busy as a new mom and with a new job. But then I saw that New Mexico was on fire and I sent her a quick text saying “I hope you’re okay, I hear it’s on-fire down there.” One simple text led to more texting lead to her saying she would call this week. I didn’t hold my breath, knowing she’s said things like that before in the past.

But she called.

And we talked. And talked. And talked.

I know that we had so much catching up to do, but we fell into an easy conversation. And it turns out, that she’s been going through a lot of stuff, both health-wise and emotionally wise. A lot of stuff I could relate to.  And she’s been reclusive and talked about that and it was simply so nice to hear that she had withdrawn herself from friendships. While it wasn’t an apology, per se, it was this breath of fresh air to my soul. I can pursue a friendship to the end of the earth if I know that other person wants to be my friend, even if they can’t put in as much effort because of life stuff happening.

We have plans to talk again next week. I’m hoping that this is the restart of something beautiful.

Zoovangelism

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Another lovely sunshine Sunday here in Seattle, and a quick morning text to my good friend resulted in our two families playing hooky from church and heading on down to the Woodland Park Zoo. I’m coining our adventure: zoovangelism. 🙂

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Look! A new exhibit, Dads-with-strollers! A good looking bunch, if I may say so!

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Yep, we’re rockin’ it!

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Flamingos are my new favorite exhibit.

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Otterly thrilled to be here!

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Potamus has been quite the ham lately. He now knows that cameras take his picture and so he waves. He’s also a big fan of the feature that allows him to see the picture being taken. And there’s just something SO wonderful about the sunshine here. While I don’t like the few weeks in the summer when it’s 90+, these 70-80 degree days are amazing. It just makes me super happy to be out and about with friends!

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Baby’s first visit to the zoo! He was born on Potamus’ birthday, so we think it’ll be fun when he’s this age next year, since they’re exactly 1 year apart.

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I laughed so hard at this goose. He was the only goose in the flamingo pen, and he was off by himself…and I’ve never seen a goose do the one foot stand, so we were joking about how he was adopted by the flamingos and probably thinks he’s a flamingo…but doesn’t quiet fit in. Also, I’m happy to be a human, because I keep noticing how ugly girl birds are….the males are just so pretty, and the girl birds and so…frumpy. Though, makes me think twice about being okay with a girl being called a “chick,” eh?

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He enjoyed the otter exhibit, though it was hard to get a good picture of those slippery little creatures!

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Daddy and Potamus enjoying a quick lunch. These two are such hams!

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Seattle sunglass baby!

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This city steals my heart every time, but no more than on sunny sunny days. Man, it’s good to be a Seattle-ite!

We had so much fun that we think we might make this a real tradition. We enjoyed walking the shaded paths and the kids ran around. I think they paid less attention to the animals than we did, but the fact that they seemed just so damn happy to be out and about was enough for us! And I felt really connected to Boof and our friends, getting to share in this experience. So often I just do things on my own because I’m afraid of rejection, or the hassle of having to coordinate schedules and the like. Moments like these just reinforce my need for mutual friendships that benefit me, us as a couple, and the kiddos!

Hope your days were filled with sunshine and adventure, too!

Breaking up is hard to do…

Sometimes, out of nowhere, I am punched in the gut with nostalgia. This week it happened while perusing Offbeat Home & Life’s daily offerings and I cam across the article: Exploring the very painful world of friendship breakups. I could barely read the title before I was bombarded with a rush of memories. There was Peter Pan in the park, laying awake and watching the starts in her pickup truck while we overlooked our college town, and long long loooong talks after church on the green couch in the intern room. There were Survivor Nights and Bible Studies and many talks of demons and the perfect boyfriend and family drama and Narnia.

She was my best friend.

After college we both moved away and life happened. The first year we talked all the time, even racking up a 1,000 roaming phone bill while I lived in New York for a summer, and made all sorts of wonderful plans about our future as friends. And then, we stopped talking.

It probably wasn’t that dramatic, because, she was in my wedding, and then I was in hers. But weekly phone-calls turned to monthly turned to every six months. My heart felt broken in a way that a man has never done. It was this ache for a friendship love that I cannot accurately describe. And, without Facebook, I don’t think I’d know anything about her life. But, it’s not for a lack of trying.

When I tell people about this soulmate-friend, because that’s how it feels, they always question why I don’t call her. And I say, “I did, for a long time,” and it’s true. I called. I called and called and left messages. I waited months and then called again. And, at some point, I need to have reciprocity. Despite my anguish over her not being in my life, I cannot simply spend my energy on a one-sided relationship. I can’t. I don’t know what went wrong between the two of us, if anything, or if time and distance and life have just gotten in the way, so I don’t blame her or myself for the brokenness. But I am sad, nonetheless about the absence of her friendship in my life. And I want to tell her:

Dear Lewis-

Let’s be friends again like old times?

Love,
Clark

Insomnia, Inspiration, and The Moons: A Review of Poetry

I wake up from half-sleep
haunted
by images of closet-starved idea children,
beaten by electrical cords and made
to sleep in cramped corners
on cots
or coats
if they’re lucky.
When were they exiled?
Did it happen one by one?
And why do I wait, anxiously
for the sleepy pied piper to come and lull away
the rat-child-poems,
so that I can dream easily
and forget
that I drifted
or strayed
or fell
so far from the Source
of inspiration.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have gone. But I couldn’t miss the opportunity: 3pm on a Sunday. To reconnect with a few classmates from high school and the English teacher that prompted me to graduate from high school with the equivalent of 6 years worth of English classes AND THEN go on to be an English Lit major in college before realizing that I DIDN’T want to teach…before realizing that I did.

If any of that makes sense.

The amazing part was the re-connection, the re-inspiration toward all things written and being able to see myself even more infusing my class with purposeful writing that will aid in their college transition. One high school classmate lives locally, with a son, and is in social work. We instantly connected again, and I was happy that while we had been loose friends in high school, there just lacked the emotional drama of one of the innermost circle of friends might have had.

And the poet.

Powerful.

The imagery in The Moons spoke volumes, and there’s something magical about hearing the words spoken aloud by the writer creator. Almost like bearing witness when God spoke the world into existence.

And afterward, the poet, the re-acquaintance and a few others, ran between fat Seattle raindrops to a local coffee shop to indulge in their velvet foam lattes. We talked about being mothers, being working moms and trying to find balance (as I explained to one, non-mom, why I was at the reading minus Potamus, even though it was the weekend). We talked about education, for the poet’s day job is the high school version of mine. The social worker and I made loose plans for happy hour sometime in the next few weeks.

We didn’t talk about writing.

Clearly I know the poet writes, and don’t know if the Social Worker does.

What I do know, is that I do not. Not pen-to-paper soul writing like I used to.

My feelings about it are complex.

In one vein, I long to spend those hours, or scrape together seconds to jot something down (even unsafely, like, while driving down the freeway) so that the words can create something true. I wish to be less distracted by shiny blue/white screens that flash instant distraction and updates. I want to keep record, somehow, of my life both inside and outside of motherhood. And even on the way home from the reading, an entire book idea came, fully formed (in big thought) into my mind, and the “simple” act would be to somehow get it from brain to paper.

The other part of me is scared.

Because writing and mental illness are blood-brothers, and I have been trying to live a quiet, simple type life.

Valentine’s Day

I think the biggest lie that we believe is that we are alone and that nobody else could possibly understand our inner fuckedupness, and so in order to not risk people leaving us, or judging us, we keep things hidden inside and inhibit the process of truly creating intimacy in romantic or friend relationships. For example, I have only disclosed to a few people (my husband, mother-in-law, midwife and one friend) that I am struggling with postpartum depression/anxiety and that I am taking medication for it (which is helping tremendously). I haven’t shared this with many others because of shame/guilt/embarassment that I am going to be judged for being a bad mom. After all, people could certainly judge a woman who has thoughts of hurting her baby or herself, as motherhood has this saintly ideal to it.

So I was asked to coffee by an acquaintence of mine (she’s a HS friend of my cousin), who gave birth a few days after me. We hung out a couple times before we had our little ones. We met up at the cutest little coffee shop and talk turned to all things motherhood. About halfway through the conversation she mentioned that she was thinking she had some “post partum stuff” going on, and that she might go and see her doctor. That little opening left me spilling my guts about my own experience being on meds, the events leading up to it, and how crappy I felt even having to go through all of this. It was a immediate connection. When you’re sitting there, about to sob into your latte, telling the deepest secret, that you even contemplated hurting your baby, you can’t help but feel connected, because before this you felt like you were the only one in the world who could possibly be in this dark place.

I am connected to another person now. And in my recovery we can support each other. And because of this, I have expanded myself. My heart has been opened to another, who I can call a friend. And the ripple effect is more love, at the end of the day, for myself, for Boof, our real life dog, and of course the sweet little Potamus.