I am, therefore I write

Random musings on my life and the world

First Jobs

I’m not sure that it ever gets any easier to mask the disappointment reflected in a child’s face when life screws them over.

One might anticipate that as teens move into adulthood their disappointments and failures would not cause as much pain to a parent. If you are a parent, I know very well that you have agonized over your child not being picked for the premiere lead in the school play, or felt twice as down as they did when they just weren’t quite first base material, but sent to the outfield instead to stand and wait and contemplate if they would ever get to play in the infield.

The pain may lesson some, but your child is always your child rather they are two, or twelve, or twenty-two. Youngest daughter Alison is just about done with her two-year internship with the USGS. A position came up for a post-Bachelors two-year position in her office. She applied. The decision was not left to her supervisor, but forwarded to someone higher up in the government chain of command. She has been waiting over a month for a decision to come down. Today she found out she didn’t get the position. She was well over qualified by about four governmental grade levels. The position was given to a veteran. The second veteran hired by this office recently.

I am all for this veteran getting this job. I am even more for the honest assessment of Alison’s level of competence and responsibility gained by working in this office for two years. She has learned skills that will be valuable to her next position. The work done in this office isn’t the type of geology that she really wants to do, but two more years there would have provided her with an adequate income and the ability to take some time to search for her ideal place. It was a safety net of sorts and familiar I’m sure. It’s easy to relate to that nervous anxiety, that unease when we find we have to start over.

Even though she didn’t want this to be her forever job, I know that she was looking forward to the independence it would allow. I think that is the biggest disappoint she is facing right now, and I’m sure it feels as if she will be stuck at home forever.

We both know that isn’t the case, and the right job is out there. I have always had this notion that she would not be long for our home state. She is an adventurer, and I still think that her true path is somewhere else, somewhere that will offer her even greater experience and responsibility.

Knowing that she will come out on top doesn’t make the look on her face today any easier to deal with.

Blog Share #13

It’s lucky number 13 in my Blog Share series. I’d like you to meet Carol, who posts at creekviewcarol.com

Carol is a cat, and if you click on her homepage you will be able to see her picture, as well as the hilarious cast of players who inhabit Carol’s home. Carol’s About page is one of those About pages that I mentioned in the predecessor to this post. Clear, honest and to the point. It provides an excellent introduction to Carol’s home life and speaks volumes to what she has to endure.

Most of the posts come from Carol, but since I began following the blog, many of Carol’s brothers and sisters have started posting as well, which usually ticks Carol off. I completely understand how having one’s blog usurped by family members could be quite irritating.

The personalities of Carol’s family members really do deserve a reality TV show. I know I would watch religiously, and tape episodes if I had to be away. I’m not sure how Carol keeps her sanity, although I think blogging is her escape mechanism. She is a very good writer, with exceptional grammar and clarity. I wouldn’t have necessarily expected that from a cat dealing with emotional turmoil, but Carol really pulls her thoughts together and her words always show her sincere wishes to understand her family, the social order of the animal world and life in general, but they also express her deep need to have even just a few moments of peace.

Carol allows both LOUD mom and LITTLE mom to post commentary on occasion as well. I found that we share a broad social science background, something that was exceptionally nice to find and allows for some interesting back and forth social commentary on occasion.

I would never intentionally disrespect Carol, or her place as the rightful author of the blog, and I truly enjoy her writing, but I have to admit that when I met her older sister Violet I was so deeply reminded of my senile, older lady feline Snowflake. They seem to have quite a bit in common, and I think that Carol truly sees the value in the wisdom a mature lady can bring. I had hoped to hear more from Violet, but her main purpose is to sleep. I do enjoy the updates on Violet that Carol provides though.

I also must admit to feeling slightly awkward when I began to follow Carol. I noticed that most of her followers happen to be other cats, as well as a significant number of dogs. I wondered if I would be ostracized, being a human and all, commenting on posts with such a decidedly non-human following. I was never made to feel inferior, never marginalized for my human status, and certainly never made to feel deviant for enjoying a blog written by a cat and her animal companions. This level of maturity is truly powerful, and an example to humans of the ability of animals to accept diversity. Carol, and all her siblings truly live the ideal of acceptance and openness.

Before I close, I want to share a secret. Sometimes I forget that Carol is a cat. Sometimes I forget that the other guest writer’s of this blog are not human. It’s uncanny how they have all developed so many human-like traits and issues. What… you suggest a secret human author who creates anthropomorphic posts using the name Carol. Never, and I dare you to prove that.

When you stop by creekviewcarol I suggest you never present that idea to Carol, or any of her siblings. They have gang connections, military might, and some are just genuinely nasty. You don’t want to offend any of them, ever.

A Preemptive Apology, Of Sorts

Being away from the blog has left my Blog Share series in limbo for some time. I feel a new post is imperative, but first…

Curiosity leads me to ask, How many blogs do you follow? Do you read every one, all the time? Are they diverse, or have you found a genre/topic that you stick with above all else? How do you find new blogs?

While away I did some exploring around WordPress, searching out new and different blogs. I also unfollowed some blogs that had been on my list but had become inactive, or just not as interesting as I once thought, or (being completely honest) a little too ranty for my taste. I know, that last one surprised me as well.

I will often find a new blog and rather hesitantly follow it. Two reasons for that. I want to get a sense of the blog and sometimes I don’t get that by simply searching out random posts to read or checking the author’s About page. I don’t know how great my About page is, so I feel I shouldn’t complain too much, but I do like a thorough About page. I don’t want a life history, just some current and pertinent information, and at least tell me why you write, tell me what your message is meant to be. Please don’t make me guess. That information can only be available if you have an About page on your site. I mostly don’t take the time to check out a blog if I can’t find an About page.

The other reason I click follow without really knowing the blog is that I likely wouldn’t remember that I was interested in the blog in the first place if it didn’t show up in front of me with a reminder that the author had posted new thoughts. Asking me to keep a mental list of possible new blogs to follow is worthless. Nothing much seems to stay in my brain cells lately, and I’d rather not start another notes page in Google docs to help remind me that I might enjoy reading your blog.

When I follow a blog in this way I tend to stay away from commenting, or even liking posts, initially. Really I don’t interact much until I decide if I want to stick around or not. Of course the author was notified that I have started to follow them, but as to investing too much of myself initially…I can only say that I just need time.

I’ve added quite a few new sites to my list. Some will stay, while others may not make it too long so I apologize in advance if yours happens to be one that comes off my list. Maybe being unfollowed feels like being unfriended on Facebook. Maybe no one even notices, especially if you have a lot of followers.

Of course, I am devastated if anyone unfollows my blog. The legitimate bloggers I mean. Not those spam sites or commercial enterprises that click follow and then disappear. Some day (soon I hope) WordPress will allow bloggers to get rid of followers who are nothing more than names in a list of useless statistics. I don’t need numbers, I want real people with real words and thoughts and voices. Just know though, that I will be crushed if you ever leave me, and remember that I will still have access to you…because you can’t get rid of me. If that bit of sarcastic humor wasn’t clear please know I am not a creepy, stalkerish blogger. I will not retaliate if you choose not to follow me. I respect your choices, although I might have a moment or two of sadness knowing that you have gone…

So, let’s take up a new Blog Series post. I have a blog in mind that I’ve come to associate with copious amounts of humor, and fun, and silliness even. It brings me great joy and it’s not even written by a human. Stay tuned, Carol and her diverse family will make their presence known soon.

ZIA: Zentangle Inspired Art

Some early shading practice, and using a pen that I was trying desperately to get every last drop of ink out of. I really like doing these heavily filled designs, but they drain my pens quickly. This didn’t look blurry when I took it but apparently I don’t see very well. Sorry it’s not exactly crisp and clear.



Looking To The Past For Answers

Trophos, writing at The Dancing Professor, posted about her impending move to a new home.

She has been discussing the ‘stuff’ in her life. All of the important, and not so important but thoughtfully needed stuff that one collects. If any one of us has ever moved a home, then it’s likely very easy to relate to all the stuff that has to be packed, moved, unpacked, gone through and decided upon. She has described herself as being somewhere on the hoarder spectrum. Not full-blown, but someone who most likely keeps things that really don’t need to be kept. Trophos admits to the fact that much of her need to keep things probably stems from specific levels of poverty during her lifetime.

Her words brought to mind one of the little essays I wrote during my time away from this blog. It’s not good writing, by any means, but it was the best way at the time that I felt I could convey just one of the harmful aspects my spouse grew up with. On those days when I least want to put responsibility for failure squarely on myself and/or him, I tend to look at his childhood. Rather I am correct or not, I believe I see things that influenced him greatly, much more than he will ever admit.

One of those things was his father, and that relationship, I believe, carried over into adulthood and into his relationship with our children. He knew poverty, in much the same way trophos discussed poverty in her life. In just one example of many, poverty touched him and his siblings heavily by manifesting in hunger as children and obesity issues as adults. He has struggled the entire time that I have known him, gaining and losing and now dealing with health related issues associated with obesity.

I feel as if I need to share the story. A few more comments will follow.

He was about nine. The oldest of the boys, one still unborn – not even planned in fact. He decided that the monster must have sneaked in through the kitchen door when his father left for the last time.

This monster story must begin from that final day. As the narrator, standing outside looking in and lacking most knowledge of the before time, I can only imagine that there were most likely other monsters, already living in other parts of the house. I can easily picture one monster, shaped like a claw to a child’s imagination. A big heavy man-size hand-made of iron and always demanding to be obeyed. Perhaps there were smaller monsters as well. Little, nagging irritating incessant whirlwinds with mouths stretched wide open. They would twirl and whirl and spin all over the house, close to the floor, searching. Always hungry. Never quite satisfied. Chattering in a smacking, wet nonsensical gibberish to each other.

The boy decided that the demanding monster began to fade away soon after his father left for the last time. He felt calmer with the knowledge that one had moved on. He didn’t know it then, but those insatiable whirlwinds…they became even more purposeful after the man-monster left.

When this new monster made it’s way into the house it quickly came to rest in the kitchen, under the stove. Not completely formed at that point, yet it still had the ability to send out long, snake-like tendrils that could silently search out the corners and crevices of each room. At first, it remained quiet. It watched and planned. It took stock of the boy, his siblings, his mother. It knew about the whirling, chattering group that made their home in the farthest corner of the kitchen. That group was going to be useful, but the new monster knew it would have to be patient.

The monster would watch the little group, learning how they often following one or two of the children, or hovered near the mother just out of sight. She often seemed sad, defeated. Both the monster under the stove, and the boy would often catch the mother crying silently as she moved around the kitchen, searching, stretching, trying to find something hidden from sight.

Within a few months the boy began to see the whirling monsters that lived in his home. They were quickly becoming more than just a passing flutter swirling around his middle, or a funny voice talking to him from inside when lunch and dinner was late. His siblings, the older sisters and a few of his brothers, were also coming to understand that they had monsters living in their house. The monster under the stove sensed this new awareness and knew that it was time. As each whirlwind shot past his hiding place, mouths open and searching, it let loose one of it’s tendrils and grabbed each small monster, one after another. They tried to spin away, tried to reshape themselves, but the new monster held tight until they had all been collected. The new monster enveloped each small form, and the energy from this raucous horde ignited a power in the new monster. It stretched. It slithered out from its hiding place. It looked around the room. It watched the boy, his siblings, and their mother. It listened with a smug smile on it’s oversized mouth. It’s sharp teeth gnashing back and forth like the blades of a saw.

“I need all of you to sit down a minute,” the mother said.

A small box sat on the kitchen table. It was one of those breakfast cereal boxes, half full of sugary bits and pieces that all the smaller monsters had loved to search out and devour. The new, larger and more powerful monster could feel the rumbling inside his dark shape as the whirlwinds tried vainly to reach the box.

The boy’s mother said, “This is all we have tonight, so we have to share.” She looked at the older children, the girls and the boy. “I need you three to give some of your share to your brothers tonight.” The monster, and the boy could see tears shining in the mothers eyes.

“I promise that tomorrow, first thing, I’ll try to get us more. It’s just been really hard and payday isn’t until Monday. I think your aunt and uncle are going to help us until then.” The mother turned away, ashamed, and incapable of watching as the words of this lie fell onto six anxious faces.

The monster, now large and strong, knew that this night would be repeated, over and over again. As the boy and his siblings sat down, the monster reached out with its tendrils to snake its way around the waist of each child, first as a tickle, but then squeezing tighter. The little ones wiggled and tried to make the strange tight ache go away by gobbling down their sweet treats. The boy wanted to do the same, wanted to be little again so that he could have more than the others. He wanted to reach out and grab and cram every piece of that cereal into his mouth and swallow it without chewing just to fill his belly. But he didn’t.

The monster wanted to make sure it had a firm hold over all of them. Part of his plan was to make sure that they all knew just how powerful he was, how much of a hold he would always have over all of them. The boy ate his share and glanced down toward the corner of the kitchen near the closet. Just a few weeks ago, those shelves had held food. Tonight they held only pots and pans. He saw the monster there. He saw the swirling whirling dark shape. He saw the long tendrils that were wrapped around his siblings. He looked down and saw the dark extension of the monster wrapped around his own waist. The monster squeezed at that moment, and the boy twirled his head back to the corner to gaze at his captor.

The monster opened its mouth wide, the razor-sharp teeth suddenly lined every side of the tendril wrapped around the boy’s waist, and he could feel them gnawing into his belly. He knew that he would remember that feeling forever.

My spouse has very little self-control around food and god knows he has tried. I too have tried to help over the years, sometimes by example, sometimes with nudges toward healthier eating. With good intentions he has bounced up and down in weight. My words seem to have fallen on deaf ears often, and as with other areas in our lives, attempting to suggest, cajole, plead, or even get angry at him and his obsession with food has proved futile. The point came when I decided that there was nothing I can do, because there is nothing he wants, or is able, to do.

I do truly believe that this issue is linked to his father as my little story suggests. I know very little about the father. Stories circulated within my husbands large family, but he was not spoken of by my spouse save for a few brief times early in our marriage. Even then it was with contempt. Perhaps hatred. I met the father once, for a very brief visit. I found him pleasant enough. I don’t remember how my husband behaved around him. Some years later we learned that he had died. At the time my spouse was still in the military. He was in Japan I think, when his family learned of the death. His superiors were bending over backwards in their efforts to break the news to him. They told his commander first so that he would be able to tell Jerry, to ease the ache of hearing the words father, and death. They were all set to put him on a flight heading home. From what I recall he took the message in, thanked his commander, and then told him that there would be no need for him to leave the crew and mission to fly home. The man who died had not been his father for years. He had no need to say any goodbyes.

When he returned home I was lost as to what to say or do. My actions and concern and need to help was dismissed. It was clear that we weren’t supposed to speak of his father. The door, which had never truly been open to begin with, was closed and locked as tight as it could be. The key flung as far away as possible. The man, who caused the pain in my story, and likely other pain that I will never know of, was gone. Clearly he was meant to be inconsequential and forgotten, wiped clean. Clearly irrelevant he was not and I believe he has hung over our heads since. I didn’t know the man. I cannot be angry with him, but I find myself angry with my spouse because of his refusal/inability to see what his own anger and hatred is doing to himself, and what it has done to our family.


Sometimes All You Can Do Is Laugh

I really need to stop this writing everyday. I am setting my bar too high and I know that I can’t keep up these expectations. Plus I am verging on whining here and I remember mentioning something about not wanting to do that…

I just had to give you a quick update on the earlier post about my lost car key.

After I left the dealership yesterday I didn’t drive anymore. This morning was my usual Tuesday at Miss G’s house. Just as I arrived there a warning light on my dash told me that I had low tire pressure. I said a word that rhymes with truck.

After a 2 mile, slightly anxiety filled drive to a local Les Schwab I found out that even though the dealership had rotated my tires, they had neglected to check the air. All four were low. They are not low on air anymore. I love Les Schwab stores.

At 4:30 this afternoon I arrived at the dealership to pick up my lost car key. The sales manager received my thanks, as well as the information that I had encountered this second issue today, clearly related to my service with their techs.

I am unable to accurately describe his response or attitude when I mentioned that I had actually been okay with the key issue, but when the coincidence of the tire pressure came up I was not so pleased. While assuring me that he wanted me to be satisfied as a customer, I had the distinct impression that I was being dismissed. There was almost the sense that he was trying to say “Enough lady. Just take your key and go.”

So I did, with his assurance that the old key would work just fine.

Something told me to try it, and ya know what…the car wouldn’t turn on. I tried twice.

I walked back into the service department and handed them back the key. A different person this time attempted to tell me exactly the opposite of what I had just heard, that “…well, sometimes when you reprogram the old keys may not work and then they all need to be reprogrammed…”

I looked at this man, not pleasantly at all and said, “I can only imagine that the key I still have at home, the one that was the original backup key to this lost one, most likely won’t work either?”

“Well…it may or it may not. We can reprogram the lost one now if you like. It will just take a moment.”

Rather than try to explain that I would then have to make another trip to have the 3rd key checked I just stood there, literally staring at him. I think I gave him one of my I-am-beyond-ticked eye rolls. He seemed to get the message and in an offhand way, with a chuckle, he said, “Tell you what, why don’t you just stop back when you have time and we’ll reprogram all three for you.

I took the one key that works, the other key that no longer works, and as I turned, said “I’ll be back at some point.”

Leaving the dealership, my car was almost hit by one of the techs taking a car for its after service test drive. He literally never looked in my direction as he pulled onto the road and then nonchalantly just kept driving while looking like it was my fault.

I slammed on my breaks, gave him my best what-the-hell-are-you-doing glare and came so very close to flipping him off.

I wonder if he was the guy who worked on my car.

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