Miscellaneous

A Case of the “Uns”

I promised myself and I think you all that I would try to be honest and open about feelings and situations as I navigate through this new reality.

Or maybe I promised only myself. I don’t know.

So this week, I have accomplished a lot on some major items on my to-do list. I hired a handyman to make some much-needed repairs around the house. And it looks great! Is it perfect? No. But it is much improved and much needed. Benign neglect eventually shows. Hopefully these improvements will change that. I have other people coming out next week to do a few things, and then the week after next, I have people coming out to repair the screens on my back porch that children and asshole squirrels have torn.

Squirrels really are assholes. In addition to my screen, they like to nibble on wood and dig up and eat my flowers. Assholes. Don’t let their adorable appearance fool you. They are assholes.

But.

Despite all the good things that occurred this week, I am having a rough night. Maybe it’s fatigue. Maybe it’s just the busy-ness of the week getting to me. Maybe it’s fucking perimenopause because why not??? I’m teary. And emotional. And feeling sorry for myself. I’m having a case of the “uns” as I call it. Think of any adjective: pleasant, intelligent, attractive, loveable, etc. and put “un” in front of it. That’s it. That’s what is going on with me. I feel UNpleasant; UNattractive; UNloveable; UNintelligent; UNimportant. UNremarkable; UNworthy…you get the point.

Why?? Again, I don’t know. I’m sitting here marking items off my to-do list like crazy. I’ve been on calls with district offices trying to help ensure our program is portrayed as well as it can be. I’m planning a retirement party for a dear colleague and team member. I’m wearing real shirts and lipstick every day!

But. I feel the “uns” in the back of my mind. And there is a loneliness associated with it, maybe because I have only myself to talk about these feelings with.

The truth is that I have always had a case of the “uns.” They have always been there as I was growing up. I tamped it down, subjugated it, pasted on a smile and went on my way. I’ve mentioned before that I feel as raw and vulnerable as I did when I was a teenager lately. Well, the “uns” were a part of that time of my life too. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. 44 going on 15. That’s pleasant. Give me acne, and I really am back at 15.

But, at the same time, maybe there is a purpose to these feelings. Maybe they are part of the same forces that are helping me to crack the shell that has been around me and hindering me from feeling. It’s true that these aren’t feelings you necessarily want to feel, but they are feelings. I am feeling something. And it’s acute enough to make me cry through 5 kleenexes on a Friday night.

It’s cleansing in a way. I feel better. Sad, but better for letting these feelings manifest. And I get to realize that I have primarily myself to count on. There is no one riding in on a horse to banish these feelings and take care of things. And that’s good. I need to rely on myself. I need to trust myself. Having feelings and crying on a Friday night is not a bad thing. It’s both discovery and healing.

I’m an only child, and in some ways, there is an inherent loneliness that comes with that. Or maybe not – I have only my experience to go on. But I did and do feel lonely as an only. Lonely Only, right? But at the same time, it’s familiar. I have only myself to count on. To rely on. To depend on.

I can do this. I’m up for the challenge. Me, myself and I. We’re strong enough.

Catharsis?

Whew. lt’s late, and I’ll probably regret this post tomorrow, which will be in 18 minutes as I start this. Or maybe not. I mentioned in prior posts that I talk, talk, talk…the words just spill out of me…word vomit everywhere. It’s quite confessional. I like to think that maybe the universe grants me some sort of absolution as I spill everything in my brain or maybe I am guilty as I am with so many others of the hubris of thinking that the universe cares what I am thinking and have to say. Someone recently told me I was an open book, and I couldn’t decide if that was a compliment or not. Kind of like when someone in high school told me that I reminded him of the characters on Seinfeld. They weren’t exactly likeable.

So, I promised updates in several posts. It’s difficult to come up with how to refer to something as momentous as the date of your husband’s death. Anniversary seems…not right. I know that “anniversary” can be used to refer to anything notable, but I think it has a mostly positive, happy connotation. So a friend coined “Deathiversary” and I think that is perfect. I threw it out in the last post.

This may be a long post.

Friends, what I experienced from mid-October to December 1, I now refer to as Deathiversary Season. I was expecting a day, not a 6-week period. I think what happened was that I didn’t expect the anxiety around the knowledge of what transpired to build and build. Negative anticipation. I know now. I know now what happens on each of those days. We made it through Halloween and had a good time even though I had to give myself several pep talks over the course of the day as I gutted and carved pumpkins with my unwashed hair. But D had a good time, and that is what is important. The next day…I hadn’t slept and neither had D, so we decided to take the day off and withdrew from the world that day. I had foolishly thought I would work. Silly me. So we stayed in bed and cuddled and did nothing.

The next day, November 2, I flew to Denver to visit a friend. I’m still a little shocked I did it, but I needed to get out of town and what better than to go to the other side of the country? It was a short trip, but great and much needed. I consider that a bold act (and maybe that tells you a lot about me and my sheltered existence), and I’m proud of myself for doing it. I won’t deny – it was weird as hell to be back in an airport and flying with a mask. I had become very familiar with travel due to work in the years prior to COVID, but I realized my “travel muscles” had atrophied. I felt like I needed to re-learn everything. But it was a great trip of which I will always think fondly.

And then the rest of November. See, that’s what caught me off guard. November. I was a disaster that month. My anxiety remained high. I found myself staying up way too late. And then I couldn’t sleep or slept very little. And I cried a lot. Like every night. That’s all I did…cry and not sleep. And I think it was because November is in general a loaded month: Jimmy loved Thanksgiving and there were other anxieties building on anxieties around milestones and gatherings and … there was just a lot. I can’t even adequately explain it. But hey, I binge watched Ted Lasso while standing in my kitchen each night and adored it (seriously, watch it if you haven’t). And I still woke up, got Daniel to school and worked. Not looking for a medal; I guess I want to emphasize I wasn’t a complete basket case. I try to save being a basket case from 10pm – 2AM.

And the final milestone. December 1. Our wedding anniversary. A day worthy of the term of “anniversary.” By the time that date approached, I felt more in control. In some ways, I considered it a bookend on “Deathiversary Season”. Last year was significant because our anniversary was exactly one month after he died. And this year? This year would have been 20 years. When the day came, I looked at our wedding picture on the living room wall and sent up a few good wishes and thoughts to…somewhere? And I felt lighter.

Tomorrow (oh, today now) is my last day of work for the year. This week has been rough. Lots of hands-on work that could only be done after hours because I was in meetings all day, every day. It’s Daniel’s last day of school too, and we’re going to go see the new Spider-Man movie after school. First time we’ll have been in a theater in years! And I’m drooling over the thought of popcorn. Yes, please. And all the “butter” I can put on it. Christmas presents are bought. We both received flu shots, and I received the COVID booster today. I’m of the opinion that I will take all the vaccine they want to give me.

It’s interesting because there’s also a darkness about this time of year (and I’m not talking literal darkness although, yes, it was fucking dark at 5PM today). If you think about it, Autumn in general and Halloween and Christmas are all about recognizing death and trying to find light and hope where you can. The cyclical nature of the year always strikes me. You have the summer solstice, the longest day of the year and each day afterwards, it becomes darker earlier an infinitesimal amount until you reach 3/4 through December and the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. But after that day, each day is a infinitesimal bit brighter. It sparks lots of imagery and philosophical musings, but I’ll spare you because I’m trying to rein in my thoughts (not everyone needs a glimpse into the Scream painting that is my mind).

I decided that I wasn’t sure I felt like listening to my usual Christmas music, so I made a playlist of eclectic songs with the help of friends. It may have gotten a touch out of control because it is almost FOUR HOURS!!!! Go big or go home? But I listened to it in its entirety as I was working, and I think it’s quite good. Knock yourselves out if you wish. I think I mentioned how important music has become to me the last year. It has. It really has. It started with putting an Air Pod in and listening while I did stuff around the house. And then it progressed to listening to new music suggested by friends. And then next thing I know I’m creating Spotify playlists. And then I’m creating a 4-hour Eclectic Christmas playlist. And THEN I’m listening to Taylor Swift songs friends suggested, and I’m crying and wondering why I avoided her and her amazing songwriting ability. She has replaced Radiohead as my go-to “gonna wallow and cry” artist. It’s kind of funny because a friend and I were talking earlier this week, and we both admitted to having songs that just wreck us and instead of avoiding them, we listen to them over and over and over. It’s like picking a scab: you know you shouldn’t, but you still do it.

You may be thinking, “KeAnne, are you depressed?” Well, yes…I have 125 mg daily that agrees with you. But no. But yes.

This has been a rough week. I’m down two key positions, which means I am both in meetings all day, plotting strategy and whatever nefarious things everyone thinks we get up to (I wish…rather mundane), and then after hours doing hands-on work. Many, many late nights this week. I don’t mind. I’m happy to do what my teams need. But it’s exhausting. I was asked this week why I was working so hard, and my response was that I can’t not. It has to get done. Some deadlines can’t be moved.

But today (or yesterday I guess) was emotional. Probably fatigue. Probably stress. I put on my “make me cry” playlist (Yes T. Swift is on it. And so is Radiohead), and I’ve cried off and on all night. And it’s so dark outside. And I felt so lonely and alone. And I know that’s not true. The gifts waiting for me at my desk (office day! real clothes!) demonstrate that people care about me. The cards in my mailbox. The gifts from friends across the country. And it’s demonstrated in a million other ways. I guess I’m trying to tie my feelings today to the above paragraphs about the darkness of the season. In some ways, there is an inherent loneliness built into this time of the year that our celebrations are trying to stave off. Safety in numbers at the very least. But there is a part of me that has always been attracted to the darkness and that feeling of being alone (not that I want to be alone). So my goal is not to allow myself to wallow in it. I have magic to make for D.

Some days I wonder if I am 15 or 44. They are both similar: skin issues; hormonal issues; drama (relationship and drama in general); listening to sad songs on repeat; staring in the mirror, wondering if I am attractive; crying; lots of work to do. Of course the 15-year-old doesn’t necessarily have to be the one to clean up the cat vomit in the living room (thanks for getting the message about being part of the team, cat!).

Good lord, this is long. I’m sorry. No, I’m not sorry. This is my reality. There are good days. There are bad days. I think I mentioned in an earlier post – or maybe not – hell, I can’t remember – that I identified with a crab: hard exoskeleton but soft underbelly. In many ways, I feel like the last year has been a crucible that has burned off that exoskeleton. I feel quite raw. But I also like to think that maybe that time in the crucible is helping me to be a softer, kinder person. A more genuine person. These are parts of myself and feelings that I kept hidden out of fear of being vulnerable. And I like it! I like feeling and doing kind things. But…did I miss my opportunity? Do people still value kindness? Or am I out of step? Should I just stick to cerebral stuff since it is what I am good at?

I’m OK. I’m OK. I promise (see 125 mg a few paragraphs above). We all fall on black days from now and then. Next post will be trying to prove I have a sense of humor and involving Christmas ornaments.

And I’m ready to suffer, and I’m ready to hope. (FL+TM)

Got the suffering down. Now let’s go for the hope.

Meanwhile…

Believe me, I have a lot to say. Almost too much. I think some people may be rather shocked by how MUCH I have to say, but I’ve always been chatty. Always. My first teachers commented on it frequently 🙂

It’s funny because I don’t think I come across as especially verbose or chatty (or maybe I do?), but get me in the right situation, and I am super chatty (some of you know that better than others). But yes. I have a lot to share. We had a major anniversary as well as what I consider the end of “Deathiversary Season”. That’s not a pretty term, but it describes a not-pretty 6-week period of time this year that almost broke me. It was brutal. I’ll blog about it later. It was awful. I’ll return to that in another post.

So what have I been up to? Well, good thing I didn’t have to decorate the tree since it has been up in the living room for around two years! I know. I know. The cats love it. I have already had to extricate our youngest cat a few times. But hey…that keeps it interesting, right? I did buy three ornaments for it which will be part of another post.

I’m feeling rather generous right now. You’re behind a paywall? Sure, I’ll subscribe. Plus about 10 other sites. You have a favorite campaign? I’ll donate. It isn’t sustainable in the long term, but I like being able to give. I feel very strongly about paying it forward since so many people were so kind to me in the last year. It’s just money. That sounds horribly entitled, but I like being able to donate to good causes and to friends who are collecting. I’m trying to send good energy out into the world. If it comes back to me, wonderful, but it’s more about sending out good energy.

Gah. I sound like I am all over the place. Maybe I am. I am trying to be a better person. A better mother. A better daughter. A better friend. A better coworker. I’m not exactly sure how those will manifest, but I will let you know.

I had to decide whether to end this blog here or decide to let it go on for several…several…more paragraphs and I decided to stop….while I was ahead? Ha!

Thank you for indulging me. And I will definitely be back with more to say.

44

I turn 44 tomorrow. Technically, I turn 44 at 11:13 PM tomorrow, meaning my birthday was almost Sept. 10 instead of September. 9. But at this point, that and what they may or may not have done to my mother to get my oh-so-large 5 pound self out doesn’t really matter. However, I’ll never live down the broken tailbone they gave her to get me out. Believe me, it’s like the nightmarish bedtime story I cannot escape. Do you ever feel guilty about your own birth? I do.

But. Tomorrow. Thursday. September 9. It’s my birthday. Broken tailbones or not. I’m definitely starting to reach that point at which I shrug off birthdays. Just another day! Except I want it to be more than another day. Just a little bit. Maybe not worth a whole to-do, but maybe a bit of one. Guess I better get to work on that.

It’s been quite a year. And I’m trying to figure out my place and settle within it. To find my mooring. And a lot of times I feel like that involves quite a bit of dissembling: “of course everything is fine!” And it is. Truly. But sometimes I feel like I am collapsing in on myself like a dying star.

Oh and I’m a bit more dramatic. Sorry about that. Or not. Maybe I should stop apologizing for having feelings – some rather fucking complex ones.

So 44. A few fun facts about 44: Obama was the 44th President. 44 is a tribonacci number. 44 is the country code for the UK. It’s also the number of candles in a Hanukkah box of candles. The .44 magnum. And according to Wikipedia, 44 is both a palindromic number and a happy number. I have no idea what that means, but it makes me smile.

Inhale. Exhale. I’ve told a few people that I feel like a raw, exposed nerve lately. And I do. And it is weird when things hit and make me cry. Like tonight. Why am I crying? It’s just a birthday and not even a milestone one. I think, that as Virginia Woolf put it in To a Lighthouse, it comes back to “time passes.” 44. No spring chicken. I could see the thestrals at Hogwarts very likely. And…44. It sounds old-ish. Several hundred years ago, I’d have been preparing to retire to a nunnery, because what other use could a woman of that advanced age have?? Though I suspect I’d raise some hell in a nunnery.

As Prufrock says:

“I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.”

But. But. Though I toy with melancholia, I have good spirits. It’s just another year around the sun. I am very fortunate to have Daniel, the kitties, friends old and new, and a job I love. I have a lot going for me (looks around frantically for something on which to knock on wood).

It will be OK. My birthday will be a good day regardless of what may come.

It’s just a day. But it is my day. Happy Birthday to me.

Trigger Happy Jack

I cleaned the baseboards in most of my house today. If that doesn’t scream “adulthood”, I don’t know what does.  As I moved from room to room, I turned on the music on my phone. Duran Duran, The Cranberries, Jay-Z jostled for space among the occasional Christmas song.

“Trigger Happy Jack” by Poe came on and I listened to it twice.

I’m trying to be more careful with my language and not use words like “crazy” indiscriminately. 

However, I must say that “Trigger Happy Jack’s” chorus of “can’t talk to a psycho like a normal human being” rings very true for me.

It’s Hard Out There for a Working Mom

This piece made the rounds last week. In it, Katharine Zaleski apologized for the condescension and outright disdain she showed towards her coworkers who were working mothers.  Her apology might have been more tolerable if it had come before she herself became a mother and realized that gee, it’s hard out there for working moms.  Zaleski has seen the error of her ways and is co-founder of a company that seeks to match women with work-at-home tech jobs.  Her piece rubbed me the wrong way because of her privilege that eased her decision to lean in or lean out.  The majority of women don’t have C-level positions at start-ups coming their way.  At the very least, I hope I wasn’t nearly the asshole she was to working moms in her office before I had kids.  And really, that’s the crux of it.  Was it really so difficult for her to attempt a modicum of empathy for those women? Was it really that impossible for her to think that maybe she might have kids someday and how would she like to be treated in the workplace?

One of the best responses to Zaleski’s piece was adamant in her refusal to accept the non-apology.  Anne Born notes that being a working mom would have been more bearable if just one person had backed her up or spoken up as she received comments and side eyes doubting her work ethic. By not extending any support, no matter how small,  women like Zaleski became just “one of the guys.”  And Born is writing about what she experienced in 1997, a time not that long ago. She concludes:

I worked with too many women like you, Ms. Zaleski, who reinforced that I was just a lesser version of the other women I worked with who did not have such tedious family obligations. Working women are worth less enough already without your help – or your apologies.

Sometimes I think that with all the media coverage of “leaning in” and telecommuting, we think that it is easier to be a working mom than ever before. This topic has been on my mind a lot, especially since in NC, children missed almost 2 full weeks of school due to snow and sleet in February and for many working parents, that time must be made up or vacation used.  Working from home is not permitted in all workplaces.

The truth is that it is still very hard to be a mom who works outside the home. It’s even more difficult if you need further accommodations.  I think that there is a perception that daycare and programs like after-school care make it easy to work 8-5 if you are a working mother. That’s true if everything goes to plan, but what I and several other women I know have learned, it is as fragile as a house of cards.

  • Think of the mother whose child qualifies for one of the few free preschool options available in NC. The problem is that while these preschools end when the school day ends, after-school care is not available for these students. The mother will need to leave work at 3:30 to transport her child to some other program so she is able to return to work in order to fulfill the hours she is expected to work. The logical answer would be to let her telecommute but sadly, her position classification makes that option unavailable. She also cannot take her lunch hour at that time because OSHA rules dictate that she take a break after 6 hours of work.
  • After-school care is a godsend, but imagine if you are a mother whose child cannot cope in the school-sanctioned program.  Maybe the child is acting out or just not coping well and on the verge of being expelled.  Maybe the mother can hire a student to transport her child home and stay with the child until after work or maybe, if she’s lucky, she finds an alternative program that will pick up her child from school and take her to a program that is more suited to the child’s needs.  While this mother will be relieved to find any option that works to keep her child safe and engaged while she fulfills her expected hours, these options cost money, likely more money than the school-sanctioned after-school program. These are also options that are likely more available in larger cities than smaller ones. What would be the answer for the mother who lives in a small town?
  • Maybe your child is in a small school that is perfect for your child’s needs, and your child is thriving, but the after-school program goes only to 4 PM.  Maybe in this case you have the ability to make up some of the missed hours, but you live in fear of a meeting being scheduled late afternoon and any hint that you might not be a dedicated employee who deserves the responsibility she has been given. You worry that coworkers view you as Zaleski viewed her coworkers who had children.

It is easy to say that these women should find other jobs that are more flexible, but the reality is that many workplaces are less flexible than you imagine.  After all, even Yahoo rescinded its telecommuting policy.  I work for the state and while there are drawbacks to being a state employee (flexibility being one), it has decent health insurance, paid time off and security. It is also one of the largest employers in my state. It isn’t that simple to go get a new job, especially when children are involved.

I applaud Zaleski for her epiphany (even if it is infuriatingly late for those women she worked with prior to having her own child) and her effort to make things better for working women through her new company. The problem is that her company will help only a small subset of working women: those with in-demand technical skills. What about the rest?  What about the factory worker or hourly office worker who finds herself walking a tight rope of child care and praying that the few options that exist will work for her family? What about those women for whom telecommuting is not allowed? What about women who have children with special needs or needs that mainstream programs cannot support but who still need to or want to work?

We still have a lot of work to do to help mothers succeed in the workforce.

 

 

Help for a Friend

Beautiful Janel and her fight against cancer

I have fair skin and after years of being made fun of for my complete lack of melanin in my legs and sad, painful attempts at a tan, I finally gave up and embraced my paleness. Yes, I joke that my untanned legs are similar to the color of plucked, dead chickens but honestly, I don’t care.  I’ve endured sunburn so bad that it gave me egg-sized blisters as a child and sent me to the doctor to have the blisters drained. I’ve attempted to tan with predictable results. I’ve endured self-inflicted pain from sunburns and the weird, cool, jelly feeling that rising blisters give. I’m done. Finally, I slather myself (and my family) with the highest sunscreen. I use umbrellas and hats. I love the sun but recognize it is my enemy as someone with pale skin.

My friend Janel would not fit the definition of a sun worshipper. She used sunscreen, never went to tanning beds. Yet she finds herself battling back from Stage 3b Melanoma for 3 years. Besides her remarkable generosity and concern for others, she is no different than any one of us.

I know Janel thanks (ha) to infertility and our geographical proximity. My first incarnation as a blogger was an infertility one after our FET had failed in 2007. I was bitter and angry. I didn’t know where we were going. I had been following IF (infertility) blogs for a while, and Janel’s resonated because of her story but also because she lived in the same state and about 2 hours away. I followed along with her story as they pursued cycle after cycle, the wonderful pregnancy with O-Man and the bed rest.  Her attitude was upbeat throughout, and she was admirable.  O-Man was born healthy (and is now an energetic kindergartener), and we finally had our chance to cycle for surrogacy.  When we felt comfortable after our several betas and ultrasounds, Janel sent a gift.  She arranged many NC IF meet-ups, and I treasure the pictures I have from these gatherings.  Janel is a connector. Janel is GOOD people.

So it is devastating that she has been diagnosed with melanoma and suffering a terrible range of effects. She has had skin issues, liver issues, dental issues and now uterine issues. She’s had periods of “no evidence of disease”, followed by cancer reappearing in pockets of soft tissue around her body, requiring more surgery, more pain, more weight loss. Each day brings a new complication, a new worry. The fear is unending.

What I’m asking is this: we can’t take the cancer away. But we can help her family pay the bills that continue to mount as new cancers and new effects of chemotherapy make themselves known. We can relieve her heart and show her she IS LOVED as much as she is LOVE to others. We can set the debt account to zero so she and her family can begin the next fight to recover from these surgeries and strengthen her immune system to fight off cancer’s next punch.

And if your generosity exceeds her need, she’ll gladly give it away to another charity. After which she’ll spend the rest of her long and cancer-free life, continuing to be the friend and person she’s always been in the world by being kind, sharing light, and proving that love does indeed have the last word.

What we are asking for Wednesday is this: make a difference for her with your 5, 10, 15 contributions–remember on this day, no one can give more than $25. Share her story widely, with your friends, family, neighbors, at the bus stop, at the coffee shop, on the train and let everyone know that they can be a part of shining light and love into Janel’s fight.

Cancer sucks. Infertility sucks. Janel has had a rough several years but is full of grace.  Let’s help her. Here’s the link to the fundraising site. Again, no more than $25 required. Give what you can.

Donate here.

What’s Your Story?

Lately, everywhere I go, everything I read, emphasizes the importance of storytelling.  It shows up in articles and blogs I read online. It even shows up at a data conference I attended in a session on visualizing data and using it to tell a story for stakeholders.  Dashboards used to be the buzzword; now storytelling is on the rise.  Headlines encouraging you to tell your story, share your story, tell the story.

The question is whether storytelling as a concept, as a tool, is truly on the rise or if I’m just more attuned to it.

It’s more likely that I am experiencing the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, the experience of encountering a new concept or thing everywhere after you learn about it.  I could call it by its more prosaic name of “frequency illusion,” but I think Baader-Meinhof is jazzier.

Storytelling.  I used to think of stories and the telling of them as something for children. It certainly wasn’t something adults do (we call that “blogging” or marketing if you’re in business). Stories are something we outgrow as we move from board books to novels with longer, more complicated plots. Stories are instructive, tools for molding behavior and character.

Ever since the spring and our two Listen to Your Mother productions, I’ve been thinking a lot about stories and storytelling. It’s likely because we had two cast members this year who work with stories, their structure, their form, their history, and their power. And I began to see our production as an important part of the storytelling process, giving our local readers – adults all – an opportunity to share their stories, to have the audience learn from them, and to learn from each other.  I found myself learning lessons from each one: the futility of control, respecting myself as worth a place at the table, learning from our children, flipping roles with our parents. I learned from them and internalized those lessons as I hope Daniel learns from the stories we read him.

It turns out that storytelling isn’t so childish after all. One of the most profound books I read this year was Scatter, Adapt and Remember: How Humans Will Survive Mass Extinction by Annalee Newitz.  In it, Newitz explore prior extinction events (spoiler alert: there have been many); the rise of humans; and finally, what we might face in the future.  The “Remember” part of the title refers to storytelling and how it is not merely something fun to do around the fire or at a party but is in fact a powerful survival tactic and evolutionary development. As Newitz writes, “Over the past million years, humans bred themselves to be the ultimate survivors, capable of both exploring the world and adapting to it by sharing stories about what we found there.”

And this:

It could be that one small group of H. sapiens developed a genetic mutation that led to experiments with cultural expression. Then, the capacity to do it spread via mating between groups because storytelling and symbolic thought were invaluable survival skills for a species that regularly encountered unfamiliar environments. Using language and stories, one group could explain to another how to hunt the local animals and which plants were safe to eat.

And this:

…people could figure out how to adapt to a place before arriving there—just by hearing stories from their comrades. Symbolic thought is what allowed us to thrive in environments far from warm, coastal Africa, where we began. It was the perfect evolutionary development for a species whose body propelled us easily into new places. Indeed, one might argue that the farther we wandered, the more we evolved our skills as storytellers.

Storytelling saved lives and may have even assisted in our evolution. I can’t think of many things more powerful than that.

***

Speaking of stories, this week the videos from the 30+ 2014 Listen to Your Mother shows became available on YouTube.  Here’s the link to the main LTYM channel with all the shows. And here’s the link to the Raleigh-Durham videos. And because I’m not above a little shameless self-promotion, here’s the link to MY reading 😉

I promise that you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll learn. Enjoy.

 

Still Here

I’m still here. It’s been a busy several weeks.  In NC, we had two more snow/ice events in March that led to time off from school or delayed starts.  It has been a crazy winter for NC. I haven’t seen precipitation like this for many years, and wintry weather as a parent is very different!

Work….we are going through another re-org.  It was a surprise to me. I didn’t see it coming, and I found out via Skype that my team was moving. The good news is that I really like my new boss, and my entire team moved with me. I think there is a lot of potential in my new group, so that is good.  At the same time, all of us on the second floor have moved downstairs.  The two people on my team are in cubicles and I am sharing an office with someone I didn’t meet until last Tuesday. I wasn’t thrilled to share an office, but it’s OK, and I like my new teammate. She has a MA in English, so I anticipate lots of great conversations 🙂 And I have to admit that the view from my new office is much better than the one I had in my previous office.

Daniel. Whew. We went through a rough month with him. He was obstinate, defiant, quick to rage, etc. both at home and school. I have read that the second half of age 4 can be rough, and we also think he might have been going through a growth spurt because he looks taller.  The last 2 weeks have been MUCH better thankfully. This is the stuff you don’t read about in parenting books!!!  Our next task is to figure out our plans for summer.  I’m a bit stunned that there are few options for the working mom in my area. Almost everything either ends early afternoon or isn’t all summer. Yay. And we might be switching to a different school for kindergarten, but we aren’t sure. Decisions, decisions.

Listen to Your Mother is moving along.  We’ll have our second read-through next weekend, and I’m starting to publish our cast profiles.  I’m stunned that our show is about 5 weeks away.  Where did the year go? And the next 5-6 weeks will be super busy for me and Jimmy. The good thing is that we go to the beach in June, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I am counting down the days.

I guess this post is to tell you that I’m alive, we’re all still here, and I still want to post. It’s just been crazy.  Good thing is that I’m finally wearing my contact lenses again although I’m on one more week of steroid eye drops. What a year!! ughhhhh. I have lots of things I want to say, but I haven’t been able to get them out. But yay for update.

What’s new and/or good in your world?

Being Enough

We had our first read-through for our Listen to Your Mother show yesterday.  First of all…it is going to ROCK!  We have a wider variety of posts this year thanks to word of mouth, and the show, well, I like to think of it as a diamond with many facets (look at me getting fancy).  Sooo many perspectives of motherhood represented.  I am SO excited about it and love the ladies participating.

Anyway, yesterday a few people mentioned to me that they didn’t know how I did it, managing a full-time job, parenting and Listen to Your Mother. I gave some answer about it being my hobby.

Well, LTYM is a hobby, but the truth is that I don’t feel like a very useful co-producer.  Liisa and Marty are able to handle cast communications and getting sponsors and press. I send a few emails to potential sponsors (who never reply because these are the equivalent of cold calls), handle the web stuff and attend auditions and rehearsals, but the truth is that I feel like dead weight.  I feel like there should be an asterisk by my name as in “sort of” a producer.

And if I’m being truthful, that’s the way I feel about everything. Am I a good employee? wife? parent? My answer would be that I’m fair to middling. I don’t feel like I excel at any of it. Not in the way I’d like to anyway.

The truth is that I don’t know if I have a realistic comprehension of what competence in any of those roles would look like.  Does anyone? Maybe that’s the problem. We have way too many ideals and not enough reality. I know I would welcome a reality check right now.

How do you ever feel like you are doing enough, being enough, simply enough instead of what you think you ought to be or should be?

I’m 36 years old. Shouldn’t I have the answer to those questions by now?