"I am as deep as a puddle after a hard rain"
Really? A blog? How very 2001.
Posted on 1/11/2021 in Books | 1 comment
I have been trying to get through The Brothers Karamazov for probably two decades now. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve started it. I do know that one time I read about a third of the book before I lost it in a move. (I lost a whole box of some of my favorite books during the same move; a fact that still causes me pain to this day but that’s not the point of the post.)
People ask me why I keep trying to finish this book; they tell me life is too short to force oneself to read books, even if the book is a classic. I had a doctor once tell me, when she saw the book in my hand, “I am Russian and I am telling you, do not read that. He was crazy.” The thing is, I do like the story. I do like the writing. It’s just dense. That magical time when I read about a third of the book, I still had no clue who killed the father. I am not giving anything away here. You learn early on that one of the three brothers kills the father. Three hundred some pages in and not one clue! How is that possible?! I have read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and The Idiot and found both to be great reads. I’m not sure what the difference between the three books is - maybe it’s just that as I’ve gotten older my attention span has shortened and dense reads make for really, really slow going.
It’s been so long since I last picked up the book that I’m realizing I will have to start over from page one. I don’t mind - as I said, I do l like the book. But I am awfully tired of having it get the better of me so I’ve resolved that this will be the year it is finally finished. So with this entry I announce my intentions - every day I will read at least three pages. If the mood and time permits I can read more but it has to be at least three pages a day. This means it will potentially take me all year to finish the book, if I only read the minimum but we’re all about manageable goals this year so that’s okay.
So, periodically I will provide updates. Let’s see how it goes, shall we?
Posted on 1/4/2021 in News | 0 comments
Maintaining a personal website, as with anything, has its pros and cons. The desire to have an online presence hasn’t changed since those early days in 2000. I like having the space to write, experiment with coding, post photos, etc. But liking something and actually doing it are different beasts. Over the years I have to admit that I wasn’t diligent about keeping Expression Engine, which is the software that powers the website, up to date. This means that when the hosting company made some changes to the way it handles files some months ago, my outdated copies of EE just stopped working.
I didn’t worry too much about it for several reasons:
- I wasn’t using the site much; the only section that was getting regular updates was the weekly game
- I (mistakenly) assumed that updating things would be simple.
- I didn’t properly anticipate how little interest and energy I would have during a pandemic to making the needed changes.
So, after months of trying to cobble time here and there to get things back the way they once were (except with updated guts) I had to admit that setting things up exactly the way I wanted just was not going to happen. So I simplified the idea. The game and the blog, which used to live on their own domains, are back under the main URL. Something that hasn’t happened since the mid-2000s I think. What’s old is new again, I suppose.
I tried out different content management systems in my attempts to put things back together but I just don’t have the bandwidth that I used to have to learn new things. Gone are the days when I would spend hours, whole weekends, teaching myself how to make my site do what I wanted. Now those are hours are spent taking care of a incredibly cute, curious and very mobile toddler. And when that’s not happening I’m vegging out in front of the TV or in a book, trying to steal a little rest from work and childcare.
But I do still want to have a space to write so here we are. It’s bare bones, using the default EE templates. I have this thought that I’ll spruce things up a bit but we’ll see. I’m trying to remind myself that what matters most is just getting back into the habit of writing. A bare bones, simple site facilitates that just as well as something with more bells and whistles, right?
Posted on 11/26/2017 in Adoption | 0 comments
The home study is almost done. I had the last of the three visits with the social worker almost two weeks ago. Friends have shared with me that they’ve spoken with her and that she seems to like me. Which is nice; obviously it’s a good sign when the person writing a report that can put a halt to the entire proceedings seems to think you’d make a good parent.
Now that I’m closer to actually starting the placement process I’m experiencing moments of hope and excitement. But, because this can be a long process, I keep pushing those feelings back. I keep thinking, “there are a ton of positive, good adoption stories. Why couldn’t one of those be yours?” And I think about the odds, which makes me wish I had been better at math. That’s not really how it works, though is it?
There’s no amount of logic that will make this go faster, that will ensure that if and when I get a child that I get to keep the child. When you spend your whole life hoping for the best but planning (and expecting) the worst, allowing the seed of hope to flower is a dangerous, potentially painful thing.
Still, all those words aside, I ordered this today.
Throughout the years I’ve stitched a number of birth announcements for other people. This would be the first time I’ve made one that I intend to keep. In the past, dong something like this has taken up to a year and since this process can take up to 2 years, I clearly may have more than enough time. I always say that I’m not superstitious but there is a part of me that worries this might be jinxing things. Still, after doing birth announcements for friends’ babies, I can’t imagine not having one for my own and once I have a child there’s no way I’ll have the time (or energy). It’s essentially now or never. I’ll just have to make sure I manage the feelings. That there will be feelings is a given. I just have to make sure I let the good ones have equal or more time than the scary, anxious ones.
Posted on 8/4/2017 in Dailies | 0 comments
Around August of last year I realized that it was probably time to start looking for a new job. I’m a perceptive person and while I couldn’t quite put a finger on why the winds had changed, change they did.
Have you ever looked at someone at work, someone who keeps slamming their head against a concrete wall convinced that eventually they’ll break through, and wonder why in the world they do that to themselves? In my almost 30 years of being in the workforce I’ve seen this more times than I can recall.
I’ve always wondered why someone would put themselves through that. I pride myself in doing good work. Hell, there are even times when I’ll easily say that I’ve done great work. I’m not perfect, of course, but I care; I care about doing my best. I have been known to say, “I know there are people who could do my job better, there are certainly people who could do it worse but I do it to the best of my abilities.” A mistake perhaps to say that to your bosses but it’s the truth.
My best stopped being good enough at some point last summer. I tried to figure out why. I tried to do better but after some months of experiencing unacceptable levels of anxiety I decided it was time to let someone else try to do better. While I don’t feel comfortable going into too many details let me just say that by the time that I sent out my first job application in October things were pretty uncomfortable. I’m the kind of person who, even as she’s signing the offer letter is already wondering, “What’s next?” so I’d wondered what the next job would be like but in that wondering I always figured I’d leave this job sad but satisfied my contributions to the cause would be remembered well. Based on the feedback I received on my way out, I’m not sure that’s the case.
I’d been wanting to get back to Virginia for years but I was, if not always happy at the job, at least satisfied enough that I kept putting off the move, feeling that I was still learning and growing. But the needed change last fall was a good opportunity to get back home, where I’d be closer to family which would be nice if
Posted on 8/2/2017 in Dailies | 0 comments
There’s a reason I chose to focus my work around children and families. Were I a stronger and braver person I would have done what I said I would do - focus on child abuse prevention. But somewhere along the way, without consciously making a decision, I changed my mind. Perhaps because I know my limitations. Or maybe it’s just that, without an advanced degree doing direct work with such a vulnerable population didn’t seem advisable. Regardless, even working in the broader issues that impact children and families I still find myself. I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years now and it still surprises me to see myself in the work.
Not literally, obviously. That level of fame or infamy is not mine to attain but as I read today about the signs of eating disorders in young people, there I was. I read down the list, mentally adding check marks to the things that applied. I’m not a hypochondriac who imagines she has every symptom she reads about so I think I do a good job of being objective.
We all come at life’s experiences with baggage, don’t we? There may be people who say that baggage should be stowed in a deep locker at a train station, the key lost and the things forgotten. But I don’t know how to compartmentalize like that. I am who I am because of who I have been and who I was. That is neither a bad or good thing. it just is. Neutral until it can’t be. And so, I know my weaknesses, the fault lines. I sense the scars but don’t dwell on them. I recognize the limitations and try as much as I can to not let them bind me.
Still, seeing the words. seeing the recommendations for how to address the risk factors. listening as the trainers go on about how to appropriately reach out to a young person in need
It makes me sad.
Not for the person I am today because as an adult, my choices, good or bad, my action or inactions are mine and mine alone.
But it makes me sad for the girl I used to be. The one who could have used someone quietly asking, “Are you okay?” but who never heard those words.
I am who I am because of who I was. And yet, in these moments I wonder, Who could I have been?
Posted on 7/24/2017 in Dailies | 0 comments
My personal computer died several years ago.
Well, having typed that I feel the need to clarify. I might have had a slight role in the killing of said computer. It was a refurbished laptop that my brother had kindly gifted me due to the fact that my old old computer had decided it no longer wanted to do more than five minutes of work at a time. It booted up fine but after a couple of minutes the fan would kick on, give it the old valiant college try and then say, “Nah, girl. Your Facebooking isn’t worth this heat. Bye!”
So to the rescue my brother came. And that new old computer did the trick for a while. And while it was tricking (wait, what?) I would hear tell of this thing called the cloud. And articles and people would marvel about the flexibility and portability of the cloud! The cloud would solve all problems and I am certainly a fan of a problem-free life. But I also have this thing sometimes called procrastination. So I didn’t back up anything to the cloud. Besides, anything and everything I cared about (my photos and thousands and thousands of songs) was saved to my trusty external drive. Pfft. I’ll be fine, I figured.
You see where I’m going with this, yes? Of course you do because you’re smart. Smarter than me, definitely. So where were you when I most needed you?!? Hmm. That’s trouble of a different kind, no? Let’s move on.
One day I decided to upgrade the OS on this old new to me laptop and that’s when that laptop also said, “Nah, girl. Bye!” Except, perhaps knowing that the afterlife of any computer used by me (which means a drive full of badly Photoshopped images and messy CSS files) would be lonely, it decided to take with it, the external drive that I had neglected to disconnect prior to the upgrade. Really, when you think about it - it takes a special kind of skill to kill not just a computer but an external drive too.
I despaired for months over having lost thousands of mp3s collected over more than a decade. I’d say maybe a quarter of which I can recover if I take the time to rip my CDs, which thankfully I still have so that’s something but there’s other music that I’m just not going to be able to recover. Upon hearing my sad tale of musical woe, a friend tried to salvage the external drive and he ensured me he’d been successful. So for a year and some change I’ve been content with the knowledge that once I got a new computer I’d be able to pull my music back in and then do what I should have done ages ago, which is back it up to the cloud.
Sadly, so far the friend’s had no luck figuring out how to extract my music from his iTunes library. So close yet so far. You’d think that after almost 3 years of doing without my music library I’d not miss it anymore but I still feel a slight ache whenever I think of it all being gone. Granted, that’s probably due to the memories attached to many of those songs. Someone I cared for a lot ages ago helped me build that collection and that person and I are no longer in touch. And if we know anything about me, letting go of people I care about deeply isn’t the easiest thing for me to do.
Speaking of music, during the second adoption training class the group somehow got to talking about music and I made a joke about how my poor kid will grow up hearing 80s music and there was a collective groan. “Oh no,” someone said, “Don’t let that happen!”
So who knows. Maybe the loss of the music is the universe’s way of helping me to move on or sparing any poor child that I adopt from endless rounds of t
Posted on 7/19/2017 in Adoption | 0 comments
Trainings are required in the adoption process. Three to be exact; two pre-adoption and one post.
I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it (a sign that these posts are far and few, no?) but I’m finding this process to be quite a lonely one. It’s not daunting in the sense that it’s complex but it has a lot of parts.
Parts that would be nice to be able to divvy up. Whenever I go down that path I try to stop myself and just accept that this is the way things are. Easier said than done at times, as most things tend to be. I hadn’t considered that I would be the only single person at the trainings but that’s how things have shaken out. I have to say, sitting by yourself, having no one to literally lean on or someone to whisper to or do the exercises with hasn’t helped that lonely feeling. When I mentioned that, someone said, “But you’re lucky. At least you don’t have to consider the person you’re with wants this as much as you do. You can make decisions without having to check with anyone.” So, grass is greener I suppose.
At the end of the training last week the trainer asked how we were all coping with the wait. One couple said they’re doing a lot of shopping, albeit mostly virtual at this point. They look at cribs and decide which one they’ll buy when it’s time. But they did share that they have bought a few clothes.
I found myself shaking my head and I spoke up and said, “Oh, I can’t do that. I’m coping by just focusing on the paperwork. Obviously I’d like this to end with a baby but I don’t know if that’s really going to happen so I don’t think too much about all those concrete details. I cope by not thinking about it. Because you can’t really promise that, right?” And this is where my voice broke and I found myself tearing up a little which, even in a room full of people who have experienced their own heartbreak(s), was still embarrassing. “I mean, I know you can’t guarantee anything but it would help so much to know if this is really going to happen.”
“It will really happen,” she said. “You will get a baby. You may have to wait a long time but you will.”
I don’t remember what I said but I remember nodding and thinking, “You can’t really say that.” But that may be a lifetime of protective factors coming in to play. Years of working in fields where one is taught to not over promise, to hedge and leave room for having to walk back whatever.
I’m supposed to believe that some day a birth mother will look at my profile and specifically say, “I pick her.” Maybe that I’m single will be appealing, or Latina, or the mother won’t have any set criteria and if I’ve been waiting long enough, I’ll bubble up to the top.
In the meantime, I’ll complete my paperwork, wait, and continue to not shop, virtual or otherwise because, really, who knows what will be.
Posted on 7/9/2017 in Dailies | 0 comments
For almost as long as I’ve been blogging, I’ve tried to be careful about what I write about work. When your early blogging memories include the knowledge of how the phrase “being dooced” came to be, you learn (or at least I did), to be vague when writing about work - if one even chooses to write about work at all, that is. Add to the already healthy fear of being fired for publishing things online that should best be kept to the confines of the work environment the very real fact that things went downhill quickly during the second half of the last year and that provided no incentive to get back to blogging.
Well, to be clear, all of 2015 and 2016 were anxiety producing both personally and professionally. When I found the new job and moved into my own place in Virginia, with the anticipation of things calming down (and having a personal computer again) I had this idea that I’d be able to turn some of my energy to the blog - both the content and the infrastructure.
I did start writing again, somewhat, as the archives show. I thought, with the start of the adoption process that I would maybe even write about that. But as I work through the (sometimes lonely) process of answering question after question, compiling document after document I find myself worrying about putting too much online. I don’t worry about there being anything technically wrong with my application. I’m not rich by any means but I could afford the care of a child with careful budgeting. That doesn’t set me apart from basically much of the child-having population. I have no worries about the background checks coming back with anything as there isn’t anything to come back. So that really only leaves the faceless, nameless people out there who will be gathering all this information, reviewing and assessing/judging me on my ability to be a good parent. I’m worrying for nothing, I know. The stuff I’ve posted on here, the stuff that’s online isn’t scandalous or even all that interesting and yet, pitted against couples wanting babies, two income families that might be better able to care for a child with less stress or worry about finances, I worry about sharing anything that could land me on the “Does she really think we’d ever pick her?” pile.
And so I don’t write. With not writing about work and not writing about the adoption process what does that leave?
I suppose I could tell you that I’m finally getting around to watching The Wire. Because, why not wait until I’m no longer living in Baltimore to finally get around to watching this iconic piece of entertainment centered around the city I called home for about 6 years? I’m sure that I’ll be able to add a voice to the hundreds of thought pieces already on the web! And have you heard about this actor named Idris Elba? He’s easy on the eyes no? I’m sure he’ll be going places.
Or I could tell you that my latest podcast obsessions right now are Denzel Washington is the greatest actor of all time. Period and Criminal. Because I seem to be the queen of catching on to old content, the Denzel Washington podcast stopped updating back in April, having discussed all of Washingtons oeuvre. But I have about two years worth of content to listen to so no new shows is hardly a problem. By the time I’m done I’m sure I’ll be able to find some other show that was hyped ages ago but that I am just now hearing about.
There is a an abundance of content to immerse oneself in through books, tv, etc that there is just no way to stay on top of everything. Thank goodness for archives, I suppose.
I still haven’t dug into my collection of books as I’ve wanted so that’s still on the to do list. Maybe I should make better attempts at writing at least brief of impressions of what I read; that would help with adding content to the blog and keep the writing muscles in shape. Plans plans plans. Never a shortage of those either!
Posted on 5/4/2017 in Adoption | 0 comments
I had the first of three visits with the social worker yesterday. To prepare for it, I spent some hours on Sunday and a frantic hour or two on Tuesday night, trying to find a place for all the things I have. Why is it that I always seem to have more stuff than I have actual space for? I know this isn’t unique to me but it certainly feels as if I’ve gotten better about letting go of things. And yet, here I still am, surrounded by things. Though, I do have to give myself a little slack - although I’ve gained a whole apartment, I’ve lost an office. So there are several bins worth of “office” stuff that sat on shelves, waited to be used in drawers, etc. While I now have a home office aka hopefully the kid’s room one day, the available space is taken up with craft supplies and there is no room for many sets of folder tabs. I’m not quite sure what I thought I would be tabbing when I bought those things but that’s neither here nor there.
The visit was only an hour and wasn’t meant to cover much business. It was a chance to meet each other, go over the process a bit, and an opportunity for me to ask some initial questions. I suppose I was nervous; how could one not be when someone is judging their ability to care for another human being? But I didn’t feel that nervous. Not because I’m not petrified that I won’t get a child. Because when I stop to consider that notion I break out in tears. Having spent much of the last couple of years fighting back tears I can tell you I’m pretty tired of it so instead I’ve settled on not thinking too much about it. I can’t say I really feel Zen about it all but I’m pretending to be. Whatever will be, will be. It helps, I suppose, that this part of the process is just a lot of document gathering. The home study could take three months or more, it all depends on how quickly I move along, setting up the references, getting finger printed, writing my bio, etc. I’m obviously doing all of this with the hope that there is a child at the end of the process but the sheer bureaucracy of it all also serves as a bit of a balm. Maybe once I get down to simply waiting for that phone call, then it will all seem really concrete.
The conversation seemed fine; I tried to not focus too much on the note taking. But maybe the nerves finally got to me when she asked me if I was aware and agreed with the agency’s stance on corporal punishment. I laughed and nodded. Yes, I said. I’m aware and have no problem with agreeing that I will not use corporal punishment to discipline a child. I felt the need, then, to explain the humor; that ended up being a couple of minutes of me telling her that pretty much anyone that knows me knows how I feel about corporal punishment. Thankfully she didn’t find my laughter weird. Or if she did she didn’t say anything about it. Which is a good thing because I let out another laugh when she asked me if I keep any firearms in the home. If the idea of me being armed isn’t the most ludicrous thing ever, I don’t know what is.
Let’s see, I won’t go into the answer I gave but I want to note the questions she asked. If I don’t write them down, with my memory being what it is, later I’m liable to think she asked what my favorite color is and my views on Pluto being deemed a non-planet.
- Why did I decide to adopt?
- Why a domestic adoption over an international adoption?
- Have I told my employer about my desire to adopt?
- Have I considered how having a baby will affect my day to day life?
- Have I given any thought to the costs that I am taken on, post-adoption?
- Did I consider adopting an older child?
- General questions about my home, employment, family makeup and health.
- Have I ever been to a therapist?
I think that covers the questions she came prepared to ask. There were others that were follow-ups to information I shared with her. During the second visit we’ll do a more in-depth interview though I’m not sure what else there is to ask. During that visit she’ll also do a walk through of my apartment. I guess I could have saved myself the frantic dash to put stuff away in the bedrooms. But, hey, at least this way I’m ahead of the game for the next visit, whenever that may be. If I want it to be any time soon, I need to get on the ball with completing the documents. As they say in El Salvador, a ponerme las pilas! (Gotta put the batteries in!)
Posted on 4/16/2017 in Adoption | 0 comments
I partially completed the first application in the adoption process a few weeks ago but I held off on submitting it because I had a question for the oncologist. Really, I just wanted validation. I’ve often been accused of over thinking things, or being too concrete. I can’t deny either accusation as they are true. One of the sections in the application, naturally enough, is about medical history and one of the questions ask about any current treatments. I knew even before starting the process that I would have to talk about the cancer and the treatment done to get rid of it. When I went to the information meeting the agency folks made a point of saying that most health issues won’t necessarily rule anyone out but I’m a worrier as we know. I’m a worrier and I’m an over thinker and I have this need to be transparent so despite the fact that I was 99.9% sure that my follow ups don’t qualify as treatment I needed/wanted the oncologist to validate that so that I could fill the application out accurately.
With that visit done last week (and two years cancer free) there was no reason to delay submitting the application so submit it I did. Over the weekend I was told it had been approved and that I could now submit payment to get assigned a social worker and schedule the home visit. Sending the payment makes all of this a bit more real though there’s still a part of my brain that’s not quite processing that this is the way that I may be building my family. Maybe that’s just the heart and brain’s way of insulating themselves from possible disappointment. There’s certainly been plenty of that in the last couple of years. The thought of more makes my heart tired.
But, chin up, as they say. Hope is the key to so many things.
One very tangible thing to this process starting is that it’s a good motivator to get my apartment organized. All of the furniture is in but I still have to find a place for a great many tiny things and put the dining room table together. I’ve been a bit slower than anticipated in getting all that done but I certainly can’t have someone do a home visit with all this silliness laying about. It’s going to be a little bit of work but it’ll feel good to be able to complete a tangible, doable task.