Things I wish She Would Listen To

I have been in the process of actual mothering for over 20 years. Plus 6 if you count “parenting” a, let’s call him a ‘youthful’ spouse, before that, plus nannying a few years too. And it has been mostly an honor and privilege. All parents know that when you receive your child (and I do believe you receive a child and don’t really and truly make it from scratch), it’s like a million piece puzzle you have to put together without a box with a photo on it to show you what it’s supposed to turn out like. And I think sometimes some pieces are missing besides.

All parents who try, in earnest, to parent, to assemble that puzzle, understand it’s hard, it’s frustrating, sometimes you get things wrong. You might also lose pieces through your own actions, or mangle one by trying to force it into a spot where it doesn’t belong. I guess that’s what therapy is for, right? Nobody comes through childhood without some minor trauma from their parents. At least I have never met anyone who did.

I know I have not been a perfect parent every day for 20+ years. I am sure I said or did things without understanding how they would be received or interpreted by my children. Occasionally I might even have done something without caring how it would be received (rarely). I also had no crystal ball to see how something that seemed logical or good could turn out very badly and impact the kids negatively. I am not making excuses, because I do have regrets. If I could go back and redo only one thing, I know exactly which thing I would undo. But I can’t. And sometimes you see something unfolding before you and instantly understand how it impacts your kids. And you die a little inside.

I have died a little inside for my children hundreds of times. So much anguish, so many tears flowed for their sadness, disappointment and hurt. And the worst thing is being powerless to fix it. So all you have is a broken heart for them. I don’t know if that does any good at all. This is true categorically. Also true categorically, I have made this statement to my children – You can always come home.

As a young adult finishing up my Bachelor’s degree, my folks were splitting up. There was no home to return to after college, and looking ahead to financial insecurity and high rents, I married. It wasn’t so cynical an arrangement, but financial insecurity definitely played a role. It played a similar role in my ill-fated second marriage as well. I never want my kids to feel forced into a not great situation just to make the rent.

Fast forward to now, somehow along the way one of my children has developed so much venom, anger and rebellious behavior, I hardly know her anymore. How does this happen? How does a headstrong, but sweet child, turn so hateful and self-destructive? MUST she learn every. damn. thing. the. hard. way??? I want her to get help. She even admitted she needs it. I have tried talking to her calmly. I have reminded, encouraged, even threatened. I’ve yelled, I’ve cried. She has GOT to get help. Obviously there are mental health issues at play, and she has not followed up with counseling in or out of school (but I have).

She was late to school so many times this spring, I called the school to see if they will even let her graduate. The school never reached out to me so I was genuinely inquiring about the penalty for such egregious tardiness. I got a call telling me that they took away her early dismissal privileges (she was getting out of school at about noon every day). She now assumes I made that happen. Her response was a post on social media that she is “seriously considering moving out.” And she’s giving me the silent treatment. Apparently this was the last straw after having asked her to help me rake sometime before May 6th.

18, no diploma, a job life-guarding, self-destructive behaviors, no college applications submitted, no scholarships in the works, a car with bad brakes and a broken fender, and she thinks she’s ready to move out. With whom? Druggies and losers with no future? Because that’s who she’s been hanging around with. Other people hellbent on destruction All I want is a pleasant, cooperative household with everyone pitching in. I don’t tell her what to wear, what she can and can’t do or where she can go (except that she can NOT bring drugs in my house, and if she is found to be using drugs again, I will report her. Driving around under the influence is NO joke!) Twice a year I ask for help bagging leaves in the yard. 1 or 2 times a month I ask her to take out the garbage and wash dishes. Occasionally I ask her to pitch in on a project in the house. She’s basically refusing to do any of that. She’s like, “I’m 18, you can’t make me.”

THAT makes me want to show her the door. Buh bye! That is complete bullcrap and disrespect. That is a PUNK ASS ATTITUDE. Who does she think is running this house? June Cleaver? She seems to think every kid in her school is driving a new BMW and their moms all still wash their underwear for them and clean their rooms. Even if that were true, which it isn’t, I am never going to be that mom. And I’m REALLY not while I’m a single mom working 2 jobs, volunteering with multiple organizations, and helping support my 95 year-old grandma as she recovers from a broken hip. I have said this before, my job is to prepare my kids to be independent. I appreciate that she thinks she’s ready. But every adult seeing this situation is like, “uh, …no.”

Many people have told me I am a fine example for my kids. I’m trying to be. I mean, being a mom and working full-time could be 100% of my identity right now and for the last 20 years, but it’s not. I know right out of the shoot I am also a damaged person. I struggle and strive to improve, to have enriching experiences, to do good in the world, and frankly, to have a life worth living. When my kids were small they were my reason to live. Those precious babies got me through unimaginable hard times. For their sake I soldiered on. For their sake I kept doing the hard, but correct, things. For their sake I kept my chin up.

As they have grown and become more self-sufficient, I have taken on more, acted on and developed some of my own passions, especially around activism. My kids were by my side or right behind me as I embarked on these things. Again, the goal is not to fill your kids up with all you have to be left behind as a dried husk when they leave the nest. Ideally we parents bloom in our own right as we enter a new phase of our lives. For the transition, as my youngest child approaches graduation, my parenting has shifted to keeping the task list and trying to help her stay on her timeline so she can leave in the fall, as we have both been planning for years.

But she is so miserable. So awful to live with now. And doing exactly 0 of what needs to be done for her to fly out of the next in August. I want to say, “Just go.” I don’t know how much longer I can endure the cold shoulder, the scowl, the rolling eyes, the shushing, the lying, the willful ignorance, the glassy eyes, the mood swings and disrespectful behavior. I prefer to sit in my driveway in my car than to come in my house. It’s such a bad feeling. But I don’t want to send her out of the fire and into the frying pan either, and she’s the kind of person who would cut off her nose to spite her face.

I mentioned one of the tasks I need help with being leaves. I rake them out of the bushes and from under the decks and so on, into piles. The piles then get bagged and brought to the curb. Since my child works every day until past her natural bedtime, she always says she is too tired to help. I told her she needs to get her hours cut back because it is interfering with school and home. She refuses. So I posed that if she wants to not pick up the leaf piles, she has to hire someone to take her place. She told me I should hire someone. Now, why should I hire someone to do it, when I have an able-bodied teenager living in my house who has more than 4 hours every school day before work when she could do it, and it would probably take less than 2 hours total to do?

She replied, “This is why I never eat dinner at the table with you,” and she stomped off to her room. The last time I told her I wanted her to bag leaves, she loaded them on a tarp and dumped them in the park across the street in full view of all our neighbors. So, of course we got written up for it and she had to go back and pick them all up again, bag them properly and put them at the curb. Looks like we’re going to have another fight. Does she think paying half the rent on an apartment, plus groceries, plus utilities, garbage removal and laundry is going to cost less than paying for someone to pick up leaves? If this, plus the school punishing her for excessive tardiness, pushes her over the edge, what kind of cost analysis has she done to weigh out this decision?

Some people have told me they had wayward children who came back around. I am afraid this one will go to a place of no return. Not every kid can do drugs and sleep around and get tattoos and just turn out to be fine 5 or 6 years later. Some kids make such bad choices they define the rest of their lives by them. I am afraid. And I am heartbroken. I feel completely powerless to fix this for her.

Also, she respects no one – not family members, not school officials, nobody in authority or who cares about her is perfect enough in her eyes to give her advice on “how to run” her life. She has addicts on both sides of her family tree, up in the branches and down in the roots. She’s been warned all her life about the dangers, and she’s seen many people in real life whose lives have been wrecked by alcohol and/or drugs. But she made these bad choices anyway.

And she thinks I am all about me. She won’t let me be about her. She won’t let me talk to her, look at her or be in the same room with her. Literally. And this has been growing for about 3 years. So… yeah, this is about me, and me trying like Hell keep her from ruining her life.

son of kong

P.S. – this gif is from Son of Kong (1933). Since I was a child this scene moved me to tears. I have replayed it in my mind a thousand times in the last 2 years, wrestling with my child and this nightmare situation. Some part of my psyche pulled this clip out of the file, and I realize it represents how I feel. What’s happening in the scene is Skull Island is sinking following a volcanic eruption. As the island sinks, Son of Kong and a man are left on the island. Son of Kong lifts the man up over his head so he can be rescued, even as he himself drowns. I have been holding my kids up, even as the water rises around me, hoping they can be rescued, even if I am doomed. With my dying breath I hold them up.

Ways I Hurt Myself

By some magic or twist of fate, I have found myself seeing someone. But from this blog’s title, you may detect something is amiss. And so it is. I’ll just say it’s me. I guess I don’t know how to be. I’m excited so I want to talk or spend time together. And I’m not a child – I don’t mean every second. I am patient. But I told myself before that I would not wait for a man. And now I remember why.

Because I am a patient and devoted person, my tendency is to wait. To wait and wait and wait. To eat myself alive waiting, with nowhere for my enthusiasm to go but to question why I have not had contact. Soon my enthusiasm has turned to tears of frustration and to the other, or casual observers, I look like a lunatic. What’s wrong with her? Crying and getting all hysterical because she had to wait or someone didn’t call? That’s emotionally immature. Grow. Up.

Every time I meet someone, I reveal a little about myself. With each meeting, I see people seeing, I guess, too much and turning away. So when I have made myself, over a few months, completely vulnerable, shared my inner-most, deepest, darkest moments, feelings, fears and attributes, and someone is still standing, I’m more than surprised.

I recently crossed that threshhold with the other in question. Not having turned away, my heart swelled. My defenses have been melting away faster and faster. I thought, this has a chance to be great! But a pattern was established early on, something I objected to right away, but that has continued. Bad communication.

Understand this relationship involves some distance. We’re not across town from each other. Getting together requires triangulation. We’re both willing to do that. We have decided it is worth it. But I said right away, the ONLY way this can work is if communication is strong. Between visits communication has to be excellent to make it feel like it’s still there.

When he fails at it, he fails badly. He makes plans and doesn’t tell me about it, and then when I try to talk to him at the usual time, he’s not available. The whole night will pass and I have no idea what’s going on. No texts, no calls. No nothing. I’m left sitting there wondering. When we talk, there are frequent interruptions. “I gotta go, I’ll call you right back.” Most of the time his return call is hours later, if at all.

It was easier when we first started talking, to just carry on with what I was doing. I wasn’t emotionally invested. I was interested, but not attached. Now we passed some critical hurdles and I’m ready to be wide open and unguarded, and this choppy, inconsistent communication is making me question everything. Everything now is suspect. Maybe he’s not really free. Maybe he was just flattering me and he’s not really interested. the gerbils in my mind begin to run. The more they run, the more upset I get.

On one hand, obviously this level of caring and attachment hurts me. I should withdraw to preserve my mental and emotional health. On the same hand, my “hysteria” may be an early warning system. I am an empath… the yucky feelings I have may just be my spider senses warning me that something is off. Typically I would write this stuff off as annoying emotions that do not serve logic, but I vowed that this time I would let intuition play a larger role.

The trouble now is, I don’t know how to step back from this longing and disappointment pattern without blowing the whole thing up. I’m sad already about gifts I’ve bought for his birthday in a few days I’m afraid I won’t ever give. That’s how imminent this feels. It’s like, I don;t want or expect anyone to change, and since this communication pattern does not work for me, I guess this just won’t work.

How do other people ever get close enough to have a relationship without having a level of yearning that hurts? Our mutual daydreams started to feel like plans. He was already becoming my North star. Is it just that the feeling isn’t mutual? He’s obviously not motivated to keep up his end in this area. And with the distance, if you can’t hold up your end of communication, there’s nothing left. He would probably say he communicated with me throughout the day and act confused by my frustration. A few texts at work are not the same as a conversation in the evening.

I don’t know what to think or do. I just know that this anxious, defeated feeling has no place in my life so something has to change. I don’t like feeling unstable, or viewing myself as emotional from the outside, that’s just not how I am. I have to find a way back to not giving a shit and see if he’s still interested. If not, someone else will come along or something. I guess. I’m tired, honestly. Life is grinding me down. I just thought finally something good was happening. But if it’s good I shouldn’t feel so shitty.

This is why I never take these kinds of chances. This is how I love. And it hurts.

Mother’s Day Blues

27 Notes to Moms: is someone slicing onions?

About a month ago, I noticed I wasn’t sleeping well. I thought it might be the stress of the NAACP fundraiser gala I was helping to plan. But after the gala, I didn’t feel relieved. No pressure was lifted. I continued to sleep badly, waking often, no dreams, back aching, sometimes head aching also. Just restless. Whatever this thing is, it’s kind of like fine grit sandpaper. A few rubs feel like nothing, maybe they even exfoliate. But as the abrasion continues it becomes irritating, uncomfortable, painful and then unbearable.

Monday we had a department meeting. We never have department meetings, so I should have been suspicious. My boss told the 3 of us who are on her team, that she is leaving in July for another position. It’s a great thing for her. She’s been living away from home for over 2 years and commuting to her house and family on weekends. This job is near her house. And it’s a WAY big promotion. It’s got running paths that she loves and runs on every time she’s in the area. And on and on.

I don’t know why, I really don’t, but I started to cry. I tried to stifle it. I tried to keep it under control. 2 tissues later I was thinking, “What is going on here?!?” Following this meeting was to be a staff meeting with the whole facility. This also never happens. And the CEO was going to be conducting it. He is seldom in our office, especially this time of year. So we broke our dept. meeting and I returned to my desk. My colleague/roommate, also in my department, tried to ask me something about why I was upset, and I broke down. Then I was like sobbing at my desk, wads of soggy tissues in hand. Someone came in from finance to ask me something and asked if I was okay. You know that just makes it worse. I was on a freight train going out of control.

Time came for the staff meeting and I was like “NOPE! I can’t go in there like this.” You may or may not know, I’m as Irish-complected as they come. If I cry, I look like I went 10 rounds with Rocky Balboa. I can’t go into a room full of unsuspecting people and pretend I don’t know what’s happening. Everyone is going to take one look and know something is up. Nope. I’m staying at my desk. And that was a scary thing to do – I missed the one and only staff meeting. Everyone noticed I wasn’t there. My boss tried to cover it up. The Controller texted me asking where I was. “In my office,” I said. “Kind of a mess.” Afterward I heard that the CEO got scared. Oh God, what have I done?

And I don’t know what set me off! My God I’ve been through so many staff changes and moves, new hires, re-orgs, title changes and firings, why should this bother me? 2 things came to mind. One felt more true than the other:

  1. After all the staff changes I did go through at my last full-time place of employ, I was downsized after 6 years. That is true and there is stress involved in thinking about a new manager. A bad manager can make your life hell in a real hurry or even result in your job ending. I certainly have had more than my share of that. But this isn’t really what felt truest.
  2. What felt more to the core of this inexplicable outburst is that I really don’t like my job (it’s killing me inside, actually), but my manager was so flexible with me, went out of her way to praise me, to flatter me, to encourage me, befriended me, that I stopped making a big effort to find another job. I actually was scared to leave for fear I wouldn’t have such a great boss. I like my colleagues for the most part, but my boss is the reason I took the job, and the reason I have been able to stay so long. And now she’s leaving. And she announced it on the day I had worked there 1 full year as a full-time employee. Something about that hurts.

Every re-assuring thing she said made me cry. She literally said the words, “I won’t let anybody hurt you,” to the three of us. *Sob* The following day we did my annual evaluation. I tried to hold it together and look upbeat. I wasn’t expecting anything dramatic. I had written my eval, she had her notes too. As soon as she started saying nice things, I fell apart. The entire week I was in a fog; weepy and out of control. It was like her announcement was the straw that broke the camel’s back and I can’t seem to get myself back together again.

A couple of people have suggested it’s hormonal. I have had these kinds of waves of depression before and it had nothing to do with my hysterectomy. This is not all a figment of menopause, just as it wasn’t PMS when it happened the other 20 times. This is me pinched between 1000 rocks and hard places, feeling powerless to get free. This is the same impulse that makes me want to run away periodically. I feel like, if something doesn’t give, I’ll burst. And by burst, I guess that means implode.

Because as I am driving, I think of Mother’s Day this Sunday. My mother is dead. It’s been almost 9 years now. We had a difficult relationship. In many ways I felt, and still does, like she poisoned the well. She told me, as a child about every bad thing that ever happened to her. Much of it involved bullying. Now, I was not much like her. I was a very outgoing redheaded child and stuck out like a sore thumb. And I didn’t mind that. To the contrary, I felt like I was special and everything was going to be great. But it was quickly apparent the ghosts of her past were going to be re-visited on me. She was intimidated by authority, whereas I challenged it. She was an extreme introvert. I am the opposite. I sang, performed, acted, loved it. But I married at 20 and so did she. I had miscarriages, and so did she. I had two kids, so did she. I divorced, and so did she. Unlike her, I went to college and got a Bachelor’s.

I didn’t have any particular career in mind as I entered school. Everyone seemed to say you will find your way. Even with a degree, you might find yourself doing something else. But I found myself needing money after graduation so I took a job at a desk, doing the same type of work I had done as a student. Switchboard, data entry, filing. And for very low wages. Not only that, but I was treated poorly by the other staff. Job after job, I hated it. Huh… same as my mother. *GRRR!*

Another thing about my mother, she was the most indecisive person. I have always prided myself on being able to make decisions soundly and swiftly. Except about my career path. It came to a head when I divorced, now 16 years ago, and I had to find a job. I couldn’t wait around until a dream job called. I applied to those, but I never got a call. I had a hard time just getting office work, despite so much experience. I was competing with people without degrees and they were getting the jobs. After years of taking whatever I could get for as much as I could get, and being laid off 3 times, I went back to school to get more training. I DARED to think I could really work in the field of my Bachelor’s with just a bit more training.

If you’ve read my blogs or know me, you know what a success college was the second time around. I love college. I’d love to teach it. I love the environment, the students, the material, constantly learning and sharing. I felt more alive there than I have, literally, since I graduated from college the first time in 1993. I had a paid internship that was going well and the idea was to stay there when I graduated as a f/t employee. Well that didn’t happen. They had a change of plans. So I tried to spruce up my digital portfolio and applied like crazy, started an inbound marketing course to keep momentum, and nothing happened. No offers.

The clock was ticking, I was out of time. So I took a temp job. The same job where I am today. Doing data entry and administrative work. And my freshly-full spirit is now a shriveled husk, dry as a bone. My tears, I think, are the last drops of moisture leaving. I recognize there are a few moving pieces to my problem. 1, I don’t have a concrete, set in stone, exact perfect career in mind with universally prescribed criteria, qualifications, and salary, 2, I’m broke so working comes before trying to find work that will be fulfilling, 3, working at something so soul-draining leaves me empty at the end of the day so I don’t have the drive and energy I need to do a great search.

I made the mistake of clicking “Yes! I want more information on Master’s Degrees” on some website, and a college recruiter made the mistake of calling me. They don’t have an MFA, but they have a MBA. I don’t want to get an MBA. They tried to say I would have more options with it. I said I don’t want to pay big bucks to study something I find completely uninteresting, to get some random job that nobody will want me for. Nobody wants a generalist with lots of options. Everyone wants a specialist, with laserbeam focus only 1 thing. I need to show I have that level of mastery in my field.

But in the process of having this conversation I broke down again. I said, if I left my job tomorrow, someone else could sit down and do my job and it would be no different. But if I’m designing, nobody will come up with the exact same solution that I will. My work is special in that area, and I need to be doing something that not just anybody with average aptitude could do equally well. I need to be in a role where I can use all my best skills. Problem-solving, analysis, communication and all things aesthetic & creative. There must be a niche for me out there. Surely what I have to offer has value, no?

Why do I not have my own business? I’ve been asked that several times. Because there is too much sales involved. You spend half your time doing the work, and the other half trying to convince people to hire you. I don’t want to have to be a salesperson, as it were. And the risk when you work for yourself is that if you fail at the sales part, you fail. No money, game over. I don’t have another breadwinner in my house. I can’t move into my parents’ basement. I have a family and my income has to support us all. There’s no time for start-up failure, and are no investors to put my hand out to. I also need insurance, and that’s a big factor when I look at a workplace. And I like interacting with people. As much as I enjoy being able to work autonomously, I like interacting with people too, so having colleagues is important to me, both in the short and long-term.

So I am grinding my mental gears on this, and have been for a year. My level of discomfort is approaching a 10 on the hospital pain chart – I’m crying, depressed, have lost my zest for life. What compounds this, thinking again of Mother’s Day, is how it impacts my kids, and how my whole adult life has been from their perspective. It’s sucky enough that 2 decades have gone by and I’ve been downsized or let go from 3 major yucky jobs, lost my internship-to-perm doing what I loved, and am back doing work I dislike and still have no idea of my career path.

It’s REALLY sucky to be raised by a single parent who has been downsized or let go from 3 major sucky jobs, lost an internship doing what she loves, then watching her go back to work she doesn’t like and still has no idea of a career path. It’s super-sucky to have an exhausted single-parent who’s having trouble getting up for work every day because she’s depressed. It’s sucky to never have enough money for all the bills, let alone stuff you want. It’s sucky to never be able to go on a vacation. It’s sucky to have to skip buying groceries on a regular basis. It’s sucky to have one car with 3 people working 5 jobs in an area that doesn’t have adequate public transportation. It’s sucky to do poorly in school and not to be able to get a tutor. It’s sucky when your parent has to borrow money from you to pay bills in the winter. It’s sucky to have anxiety and financial stress before you hit middle school.

It’s sucky to have a parent who can’t help you choose a direction for your life because they don’t have their own life together.

And this is what hurts the most. Because though my life’s twists and turns have been very different, in this way I have ended up just like my mother. Unable to help, unable to guide, unable to offer perspective because she herself had no idea and no direction. I know it’s typical to have these identity struggles at various stages of life where we either identify with our parent or are trying like hell NOT to be like our parent. I’m in the latter camp, and I’m pissed off that it has ended up like this.

I have a child in college and I can’t contribute to her expenses at all. I have one finishing 11th grade who doesn’t know what she wants to do and I’m trying to help her figure things out but she doesn’t want to hear it. She’s stressed. She’s got 2 jobs. She’s helping out at home. And I’m hardly a role model for career counseling. What the hell do I have to offer? I know what I’m NOT going to say. I’m not going to say, “Do whatever you think is best,” – my mother’s famous line. What a cop out. My only advice is, look at how you spend your free time. What are you passionate about? Do more of that. Find a way to monetize it. Find people who do that and talk to them about their careers. That’s all I have to offer.

And a sincere apology. To my children, I’m sorry. I wanted to take you to Disney, just one time. I wanted to show you more of the world. I wanted more fun, more adventure, more happiness, more time with you. I can’t show you an example of a healthy relationship. I can’t show you how to maintain friendships. I can’t show you appropriate self-care… but know that YOU should have those things. And I want you to hear me loud and clear, my woes are not your fault. Your life has not derailed mine at all. If anything, it’s made me try harder, fight longer for what I deserve. If I didn’t have you, I’d have nothing. You have been the best part of my life. It’s just terribly sad that raising you happened during the hardest parts of my life. I hope that one day I can find my path and be that great thing I was meant to be, and you’ll be proud to say you’re some little bit like me.

What’s in a Name?

I have had many names in my life; Erin Heather Wade, Erin Wade-Vasquez, Erin W. Vasquez, Erin Heather Trombley are just some of the incarnations. I’m in an identity crisis I guess. I haven’t been Erin Wade since 1992 (I was 20). I was Erin Wade-Vasquez and then Erin W. Vasquez between 1992 and 2006. And unfortunately I re-married in 2006 and took the name Trombley.

When my kids were small nobody questioned why I didn’t change my name because it matched my kids’ names. But when I divorced the 2nd time in 2012 (2013 legally, finally), I began getting the question on a semi-regular basis.

First of all, changing your name is a huge pain in the ASS! The title to my house, my car, insurance, employers, IRS, Social Security, DMV, credit cards, banks, websites, etc. etc. etc… all have to be changed. I decided it wasn’t worth it, at least not until I sell my house. I’m hoping to sell after June 2018 (keep that in mind, potential homebuyers!).

Even then, though… what should my name be?

At 45 it would feel strange to go back to my maiden name. I don’t want to go back to my first husband’s name either, for obvious reasons. I could just make up a name – a friend of mine was at an Indian restaurant and saw the definition of Vindaloo. It was something like spicy and exciting. We joked that we should take Vindaloo as a last name. But then, out of context, it would be weird.

I could go flashy, and pick something like Golden. I have relatives with that last name so that might be confusing. And I don’t want to sound like a stripper or show girl with a stage name like Erin Jaboody or Erin Sails or silly stuff like that. I could pick a famous name. I could be Erin Grant or Erin Crawford, Erin Hepburn, Erin Clooney, Erin Hamm, Erin Jackman, Erin Momoa (I can dream, right?!?).

But I think, adopting a random family name is like attaching yourself to a story you’re not in, with characters you don’t know. Do I want to attach myself to that? Do I like what I am bringing on myself? If you believe in Numerology, you may or may not believe that changing your name changes your path, and that could be a good thing or a bad thing.

The reason this has come to a head right now, tonight, is that I am trying to make a new digital portfolio. My first attempt was clunky and difficult to move through. The second was straight-forward, but isn’t what I would call a showcase of my best work. It’s almost more of a journal for a bunch of random-looking pieces of my work. Step one of a new site is a domain. Domain = name. Name = brand. What is my brand?

Best practices say to use your name so people can find your site by googling your name. It won’t become dated or passe’, just clean and functional. Except my current name is a placeholder… a formality until something better comes along. So do I just focus on my first name? It could end up sounding like a high school class project. I’m stuck on this. HELP!

The Dating Game

I have had a cumulative online dating experience of roughly 11 years, which is nothing to brag about. It’s the equivalent of being a grizzled veteran. You might say I’m jaded, or you could say I have a healthy skepticism, depending on how well-versed you are with “the scene.”

I have enough experience to know, to feel, to intuit the bad and keep it at bay, but I’m not so confident that I think I am infallible. Because of that, I am a bit cautious. I move slowly and I don’t get my hopes up. That sounds bad, right? If I am not hopeful, why am I trying to date?, you might ask. I put myself out there because at heart I am an optimist. I think anything is possible. But I’m also a realist, and experience has taught me that a really good phone call following a series of upbeat digital communications is not enough to give you a sense of whether it could work out. In fact, even if you’ve chatted or spoken or even video chatted with someone for months, you can’t be sure.

Now you’re thinking, “Well duh!” But when you’re single, and outgoing, as I am, you might send a greeting to 100 people to get a reply from 5. Of the 5, 3 are dreadful and after one exchange, neither of you replies back again (like the guy whose headline was “Trump supporters only”). 2 exchange a few, friendly, maybe flirty messages, show signs of intelligence, have jobs, cars and someplace to live. Honestly, you start to get your hopes up. For me it’s automatic, and I have to catch myself feeling that and stop it in its tracks. You can’t get twitterpated over someone you haven’t met.

I know there are people out there who fell in love over the internet from afar. I know there are people who just know, love at first chat or text or whatever. Not this chick. And wouldn’t you know, 1 of the 5 people who reply to me… 1 of the 3 who are bad news right off the bat, seems to fall madly in love with me immediately. And there is NO. WAY. In response, I have developed a special talent for turning off people that I don’t want in pursuit of me. Really, it’s a super power. It’s the amazing power of awkwardness… the ability to say the honest, direct thing, and the thing you know they don’t want to hear. They want me to complement them or to flirt or to somehow act interested. And I am a tactful person, so I try not to be mean to anyone. But sometimes…

I am really honest in my profiles about myself and what I am, and am not, looking for. Some of my specifications include a leftist political persuasion and higher education. Invariably, I am contacted by, what I am sure is a very nice guy, who is not attractive to me visually, and he is neither educated nor liberal. The messages are overly complementary, and borderline pushy regarding getting together for a date. That is, if I can make out the mangled messages.

My first response would be, “Have you read my profile?” If they have not, they usually will not write back again, or they will write back to tell me off in reaction to something they find offensive in the profile (like, that I support Black Lives Matter), and they will block me before I can reply. The rest will say yes, they read it, and they don’t mind. As if I need their permission to be who I am. They completely miss that they are nothing like the person I am looking for.

I will then point out that I am looking for someone with this or that quality and ask if they think they meet those criteria. It’s particularly easy when it comes to education level because that is usually an item on your profile that you complete when you set it up. I already know they do not have any college under their belts. So I ask if they have any higher education. The last guy who did this said, “No, but I’m smart.” Uh… no. I just didn’t answer.

So approximately 3-4 times a year someone gets through all of the preliminaries, chats with me successfully, moves to phone conversation, and even to a face-to-face date! Well, still it’s too soon to get hopes up. Unfortunately something is really, really broken in society and men (probably women too, but I don’t date them) don’t know how to conduct themselves.

Best case scenario, the date goes well, good conversation, good rapport, a certain level of attraction, and as the date concludes, you both say it was great, let’s do it again. 90% of them won’t ever see you again. Either they just never contact you to get together again, or they do but they fizzle out before you arrange a second date. The few that do make it to a second date will tend to either also say date #2 was great but fail to make date #3, or they will be inappropriate in some way during the second date. These are the best case scenarios, where you would even entertain a second date. Honestly, there were many I thought would be wonderful, but date #2 never materialized.

Then there are the ones you never want to see again or who do things that raise red flags on date #1 that don’t make you run away, but make you think about walking. One thing I hate passionately is when a guy shushes me. Sometimes they will say something like “You talk a lot.” Or they will cut me off in the middle of telling them something by trying to kiss me. Who do you think you are, James Bond? This is not 1962! I’m trying to tell you about myself and asking you to tell me about yourself so we can get to know each other better, and all you want to do is suck face? *eye roll* It’s childish. To even get this far, one has to know and at least feign an appreciation for the fact that I am a thinker, and a talker. If either of those 2 qualities rub you the wrong way, don’t even bother setting up a date, because I’m not going to sit there and play dumb or mute.

I’m also not going to have sex with you on the first date. Or the second. Probably not the third either. And if you apply pressure to try to change my mind, you’re never going to have sex with me. The idea that a man in his mid-to-late 40s or early 50s is expecting a BJ on a first date really shows the level of moral decay one faces in dating in 2017. I’m not even talking about religion. I am not of the mind that sex is bad. But I am of the mind that exposing yourself to lots of people, and therefore all the people they have exposed themselves to, is a bad thing. I have been in a feisty mood at times and had someone online start a debate with me about whether it is ok to not have sex right off the bat, and instead of ending the conversation, I chose to educate them about HPV. More than one told me he never wanted to have sex again afterward. Mission accomplished. Maybe he’ll think twice before he lays down with any toothless Sally who is looking for attention in the future.

I have conflicting feelings about free love and women’s lib and the impact of birth control on female sexuality in the 20th and now 21st Centuries. I am all on board the anti-slut-shaming bus. The double standards for women and men when it comes to sexual practices are just stupid and serve nobody. A healthy sexuality is a big part of being a healthy whole person. On the other hand, if you aren’t 100% comfortable with someone and they want you to be, it’s not right. And even with all the birth control available (and who knows for how long, the way 45 is going), something like HPV is still transmitted. There are still serious consequences to potentially face. And for what? Maybe a few hours of pleasure? Like the song says, “Well I should know by now that it’s just a spasm…” All the hype and drama around a spasm, really boggles the mind.

And maybe it seems ridiculous to me because that’s the LEAST important thing about having an “intimate partner.” The most important is the contact and togetherness. I mean, you could be fully dressed, and a gentle touch on the cheek could be more intimate than some of what is happening in people’s bedrooms today. People are too wrapped up in themselves, how they feel, what they want to do, how they imagine it. It can never be great until you get out of yourself. But people don’t care about that anymore. Like anything else, it’s all about what they can get, and how fast. So this is where the ones who make it past the initial meeting seem to hit the wall the most – their expectations of sexual behavior too soon and without any kind of emotional bond. I’m just not into it. It’s too risky, and that takes the fun out of it for me. I guess I’m just not made that way.

So there’s the disconnect – I’m trying to learn you, get used to the physicality of you, see if we have basic personality and lifestyle compatibility, and you’re thinking about putting the moves on me. I was actually told recently, when I expressed how important I thought it was to know each other better, and to see if there is compatibility, that being attracted was enough. Nope. Not for me. You made it far enough to get a meeting, but certainly not past the point where I would feel comfortable having sex of any kind. The response I get to this is almost universally that there’s something wrong with me. That I am not normal. Au contraire, I think it’s completely abnormal to expect anything upon meeting except to be treated with respect.

This tells me that either all men are wired wrong, or women are giving them whatever they want without having to work for it at all. By work, I mean work with you to start to build something. Even if it’s not a forever arrangement, you have to have trust and respect, even to have a FWB situation, or a hook-up. That requires some work, and willingness to be candid, which requires TALKING. And we come back to my #1 peeve. Do not shush me. The way to my heart and mind is not through my vagina. And for sure the way to get into my heart and/or vagina IS through my mind. If you can’t appreciate my intelligence or at least understand I have a team of hyperactive gerbils in there running on a wheel 24/7, we’re going nowhere fast.

And so it is, I am into year 11. I have certainly tried to find candidates to date offline – at the local college, through volunteer organizations, church, etc. I’m still single. I look at the second half of my 40s and wonder if this will ever change. I’m ok single, but I really prefer to be in a relationship. Not at the cost of signing up for another bad one! I have certainly been single long enough to recover from my last one. No danger of a rebound here. And I am not getting younger, slimmer or more attractive. It’s depressing to think of. Somewhere out there is a person who would love and appreciate me fully. When he and I cross paths, will I even catch his eye?

And with that I shall bid you adieu. Thanks for reading.

Dystopian Reality

In his first 10 days, this lunatic has signed 20 executive orders. They chipped away at the Affordable Care Act, softened environmental reviews of infrastructure projects, banned travel from 7 predominantly Muslim countries in the name of security (none of which have been responsible for previous attacks), reduced regulations on any number of things. People all over the country and around the world are marching in the streets. The Women’s March of January 21st was massive, hugely overshadowing the inauguration, which was poorly attended, despite what the administration chooses to say.

Every hour, it seems, some new bad news comes from the White House. 45 has put a white supremacist in charge of the national security council, even though he has no qualifications for that role. The attorney general was fired for refusing the defend the unconstitutional travel ban. His press secretary, Spicer, is a complete bumbling IDIOT. He tweeted his password twice, and then shared an Onion post saying he, himself, was responsible for spreading misinformation, affirming it was TRUE. Does the guy even read? That hag, Kellyann Conway, chooses to call lies and misinformation “alternative facts” – the term has since spread like wildfire.

The first military action taken by the administration was a colossal failure, resulting in one American death. Apparently, 45 didn’t even bother to go to the situation room. His nominees for cabinet members are ridiculous. Would you nominate someone who doesn’t believe in public education to be in charge of  public education? How about the guy who wanted to repeal the EPA in charge of the EPA? How about a literal brain surgeon in charge of housing? None of them make sense. Most of them are scary, dangerous choices. Yesterday Rex Tillerson of Exxon/Mobil, one of his choices, was approved for Secretary of State because some Republicans who committed to oppose the appointment changed their votes. And already we’re gearing up for war with Iran. Iran, Iran… what might Iran have that we want? Anything to do with Tillerson’s former employer, perhaps!?

Oh yes, Hilary would have been MUCH more likely to bring us to war, both right wing and extreme leftists said. Riiiiiiight!

Other actions already taken including Federal hiring and pay freezes, media blackout by agencies, authorization for the oil pipeline to continue through native American territory, despite about a million protestors, and native peoples coming from all over the country and other countries to support them. They faced freezing temperatures and police brutality to bring the project to a halt before the project was scrapped by Obama. Well forget all that, Trump said Go ahead with it!.

Manufacturing regulations were softened, a gag order was issued for all healthcare organizations funded by the govt, both inside the country and around the world, removing any mntion of abortion, launching a new Roe v. Wade fight. The last 3 memos signed have to do with the military and Isis, no idea what that is going to involve. One of the things I saw today made it legal to dump coal sludge in waterways.  It feels like the world is ending. As our climate is in crisis, this asshat is dumping coal sludge in rivers. Great plan, asshole! Maybe we should all start burning trash in our backyard too, why not? Auto manufacturers are having regulations loosened so they don’t have to run cleanly. I’m sorry but the market won’t support that. Everyone wants an efficient car now. Except Hummer drivers, and we already know they’re douche bags.

So women’s healthcare, especially Planned Parenthood, and specifically on the matter of abortion, is under attack. The environment is under attack. Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is under attack. Native Americans are literally being attacked. A new CIA report shows that white supremacists have infiltrated law enforcement (as if it weren’t evident), and as we see, blacks are under attack. Mexicans are under attack, as 45 promises a giant, impossible, impractical, ineffectual wall and a 20% tariff on Mexican goods to pay for it (in other words, Americans are paying for it AND paying more for Mexican stuff we already get, like 1/2 our produce!). Muslims are being attacked, literally. Trump supporters, naturally, have been responsible for thousands of hate crimes since the election, including the recent burning of a Mosque in Montreal, resulting in multiple deaths. Yep, white kid who supports Trump. The travel ban literally targets Muslims, including those who are residents, those who have been working with our intelligence and military agencies to translate, and refugees from Syria who have been being screened for upwards of 2 years who have valid visas and who were approved to fly here.

They were turned around and sent back in some cases before a lawsuit by the ACLU and several judgments placing stays on the orders. Some of these people will die if they go back. If they aren’t the truest, neediest people of asylum, who is? They are fleeing the same “bad guys” we are supposedly after but we’re putting them in the same group as Isis because of the religion of the majority of their countrymen? Maybe we need to take Trump to Ellis Island to read that placard. Or maybe he needs to have the Constitution read to him… you know, the first amendment?

So I won’t go into all the heart-rending videos and stories I’ve read, all the nights I’ve spent ugly-crying. My backdrop for all of this is that I had a radical hysterectomy 4 days before inauguration day. All of my anxieties about that day came to pass as I was recovering from having my insides pulled out. I couldn’t march. I couldn’t go to Washington DC, Albany or even Glens Falls to march with like-minded women in support of women’s reproductive rights and against the terrible things Trump promised to do (and has since done). I couldn’t drive to the airport to demonstrate against banning travelers from the 7 select nations.

I tried to talk to my father but was too upset, and he was too sure “some level-headed Republicans” would join Democrats to end this reign of terror. I am sure they won’t. This is exactly what they wanted – total power at all levels of government. I watch Robert Reich’s Resistance Report every day. “I am the resistance,” I say to myself from a recliner, inside my house. I photoshopped a Trump toddler meme. I made an illustration of Bannon and Pence having a puppet show, and Trump is the puppet, with Putin in the wings. I made a graphic to remind people about mid-term elections next year and what’s at stake. I shared pithy photos, articles, videos and comments on Facebook. On Inauguration Day I made donations to the ACLU on behalf of myself and my daughters. I found phone numbers and instructions for how to call different government offices to register opinions about the various matters I’ve mentioned. But I didn’t call them myself. I continue to have roles in my local NAACP, but I wonder what we, as an organization locally, are doing to make an impact. Certain members participated in the marches in Washington and Albany, but as an organization, what do we do?

There’s a tiny flicker of light… 45 is taking a vacation… after less than 2 weeks of fuckery. The same guy who criticized Obama for taking vacations is vacationing not even 30 days into the job. Oh, and did I mention the stock market is crashing, the dollar is down on the world market and his approval ratings are lower than any other president in history? Yeah, he’s doing a real bang-up job.

What’s really incredible to me is still how frothy-mouthed so many Trump supporters are. They all make circular arguments on any topic – defense, Isis, gun rights, not enough for us, we need more, keep them out. They are like zombies unable to process facts. Any information you give they call brainwashing (irony alert) or alternate facts. No, these are facts. Alternate facts are what you’re getting from Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. There’s no reasoning with them. Literally. I have tried. I blocked a bunch of people before the election for being belligerent and unable or unwilling to have an intelligent discussion. I am about to have another round. This is miserable enough without Trump’s trolls making ignorant remarks on everything I post.

Just when I thought I couldn’t make it another day…

I happened upon a Facebook post by Michael McDonald, who I revere and adore. He recently collaborated with Kenny Loggins and Thundercat on a single. One listen, and I was so in love with it! It caused me to explore Thundercat’s other music and collaborations, which has taken me down a musical rabbit hole I wasn’t expecting but desperately needed. I compiled a playlist on Spotify and when I play it, I simply feel joy. I get goosebumps. I want to dance and sing. It’s like someone flipped a switch. Whereas I was dangling on a thin filament before, I feel restored, rescued from falling into complete depression and despair. Michael McDonald saved me from Trump. I’m sure he’d be happy to know that. And tonight he was playing in Albany and I desperately wanted to be there, but I don’t have that kind of money now. So long live Michael McDonald so I can see him another day and sing and weep with joy.


The Eve of Destruction

The 45th president of the United States is set to be sworn in tomorrow. The feeling of doom and despair is palpable. I was watching/listening to the resistance movement event on CNN and the comments really crystallize the tone of the nation and of the election cycle we have just been through. Those who support the president-elect say things like “Shut up you snowflake libtards. We lived thru 8 years of Obummer you can survive 4 years of Trump.” The resistance says, “You prospered under president Obama. What do you mean ‘survived’ it? The new president is promising the take away our rights? That’s what we’re fighting for!”

See, you can’t reason with willful ignorance. You want this change even if it makes no sense on any level, so you can’t make a rational argument for why anyone should agree with you. And therefore all you can do is call your opponents names. Snowflakes they are calling us now. Snowflakes? Is that supposed to be offensive? They also say these Hollywood elites don’t know anything about real life…. really? Most all of them weren’t hatched as famous celebs in Beverly Hills. They are people from anonymous towns all over the country and the world, from every demographic. So because they have a public voice today, their life experiences are invalid? No, don’t even make that argument. It’s not meant to be debated, like every flip statement designed to wear away at the validity of the resistance’s positions. It’s just meant to be said over and over and eventually swallowed.

You know who has no idea what real people deal with every day? DONALD TRUMP. And most of his potential appointees to the cabinet – billionaires with no experience in the areas they are being appointed to. Including the idiot who isn’t sure kids with disabilities belong in classrooms, but is sure we need to get rid of gun-free zones around schools because of grizzly bears. GRIZZLY BEARS??!!!

What the incoming president did was tap into the ignorance, dissatisfaction and bigotry/misogyny of the blue collar, white, straight, male community. How he ever got support from white women or any church I cannot understand. He’s brash, bold-faced and not even subtle about his many sins. Over and over we’ve heard that the Democratic party failed. I think they failed in trying to tow the line down middle of the road. We DID appeal to sanity, we did use logic, we did have every issue on our side. We did not throw enough sequins and fire and glitter on it for the current electorate. We did not sprinkle our messages with enough mid-Western appeal. We thought the message was too good to need gimmicks and THAT is where the party went wrong. We put forth the most qualified, polished candidate, who had worked the center aisle for decades.

The party did not read the wind correctly. And really the wind shifted years ago. That is how Al Gore lost. The stupid, folksy, know-nothing, richy-rich won despite the fact he was an imbecile who failed at literally everything else he had ever done. And he surrounded himself by members of the sith… but middle-America just liked his folksy ways and mis-speech. He was just so dang relatable! For 8 years we were so blessed to have a classy, sensible president with no drama, who got important things done despite fierce opposition from the right. No recession, job and financial growth across the board! Somehow, the white folks in middle-America felt left out. And apparently they will believe anything. There are things I wish Obama had taken a hard stance on, that he did not. But overall, he performed well. And he was not my choice during the primaries 8 years ago!

How did the right find enough little things to pry away at to make all of these people believe the left was about to bring about the anti-Christ? It’s true, this is not the America if the 1960s. You can’t just graduate from high school, get a beater car and a job at the local factory and expect to own a home, go on summer vacations and have back-yard BBQs and brewskies every weekend. The de-regulation of corporations of the Regan-era resulted in companies outsourcing, hiring temps without benefits, moving operations overseas, busting the unions that fought for worker wages and protections. That’s the same de-regulation the Bushes endorsed which led to the banking and international financial collapse, and the same ones Trump can’t wait to enact during his administration. De-regulation has never brought jobs to the USA, it allows American CEOs to move to foreign lands where wages are not regulated, where workers are exploited, all for the benefit of the investor, not American consumers.

And deregulation allows for environmental degradation as well. No surprise then, that DT denies climate change. And instead of saying what logical people know, which is that coal and other dirty industries are a thing of the past, and must be eliminated, he says to families in coal country, “Nobody listens to you. I’ll get your jobs back.” No, he will not. They aren’t coming back. And why do you want them back? Does death from Black Lung Disease sound good? Why do you want that for your sons and daughters? Instead, why can’t we find good work for you in a new field, an industry of the future? In general, we can not rely on factory assembly work and labor. Any job of that kind can be automated. That is where the bulk of our jobs have gone. Automation. You can’t expect a company to keep paying for wages and benefits for a person to put tube A into line B when, for an up-front investment, they can get a machine to do it 20x faster for almost no maintenance.

So if assembly and mining are out, what does that leave for blue-collar workers? Service industry jobs are #1. You can’t outsource your plumber, electrician, hairdresser, short-order cook, nurse, mechanic, repairman, grocer, cable man, solar installer, computer repairman, housekeeper, babysitter… and all of the municipal employees who maintain roads, haul trash, maintain water lines and sewer systems, highway depts and Departments of Public Works. Also, we need local white collar positions in every community – doctors, dentists, social workers, counselors, teachers, administrators, lawyers, police. We have to think in terms of our community needs – what do all communities need and do we have them already? If not, that’s where training is needed. If so, one might have to relocate to a community whose needs match the abilities of the individual.

So anyway, I just felt compelled to stick my flag in the sand, on this eve of change, and make it clear what side I was on before the crap hits the fan. I have been protesting Trump since the early 90s. The arrogance, decadence, ignorance and self-righteousness turn my stomach. And his top priorities for his administration are all anti- something. Against universal healthcare, reproductive rights, LGBQ rights, environmental protections, immigration, Muslim faith, against the arts, racial equality, and to boil down the rest – against sanity and reason. Every demographic is under fire except straight white men. I hope they realize what is at stake before they are being fired on and there’s nobody left to defend them.

Tomorrow I will be wearing black and boycotting the inauguration. And donating to the ACLU. I hope to be one of many voices of opposition all giving a small token to help the organization fight the good fight.