23 Mar

Vision(s) for the future

If I could “pin” moments in my life like one can pin stuff in Pinterest, I would have pinned a good chunk of yesterday.

A week or so ago, through Facebook comments, I ended up with an invite to visit old friends. I went to high school with K, and we have remained friends throughout the years.  As life went on and families changed, it’d be the occasional email, but Facebook has helped renew the contact. I have always admired K and his wife, E.  They dated in college; I vaguely remember a few breakups, and an epic Halloween party in one of E’s first apartments.  K&E were my first closer friends to get married; It was 1995 and I was  in graduate school and had barely kissed anyone and here they were tying the knot!  I was envious, but not; They made, and still are, a beautiful couple.

I was standing in their kitchen, talking and attempting to wrangle my toddler when their daughter hollered from the front of the house that friends were there. Instantly,  two energetic young women bounded into the kitchen and gave E big hugs.  I heard all about college and nursing school and wanting to get married. Then the daughter and the girls took the baby to play and went upstairs to talk prom. A few minutes later, a friend of E’s walked in the back door, and at the same time, the girls came back downstairs. The two dogs were barking, a fluffy black cat lounged on the top of a cupboard, tomato soup was simmering on the stove, and lamb stew was bubbling away in the crock pot. The conversation was chaotic and awesome, and while I only knew E, I was introduced to everyone and felt included and welcome. The daughter modeled two prom dress options. The young women complained that the baby made their ovaries hurt, and E and her friend talked about upcoming Easter Sunday meal plans. Then K&E’s youngest, a sweet boy, came bounding into the room. He said hello to everyone. I think he snagged a piece of fruit from a bowl on the counter, but he definitely disappeared back up the stairs from where he came.

After all of the friends departed, E told me that it’s often like that in their house. Friends of their kids stop by, friends of the grown ups stop by. I asked if I could do anything to help with dinner, I was told no, and that they were thrilled to have me join them.  We sat on the sofa and talked and caught up some more. We talked faith and religious practice and what I like to call my whackadoodle religious background along with my commitment to raising my daughter in the Roman Catholic Church. We talked about K and their son both planning to become a Rabbis in the Messianic movement, kashering kitchens and attending shul and shabbat candles. I probably could have sat there forever, learning and sharing and learning even more.

A little while later, K got home from work. We all sat down to dinner, and K led a beautiful grace, thanking God for the food we were about to eat, for family, and for friends at the table. He ended it with a Hebrew prayer, which the entire family recited along with him. I only recognized one phrase, Baruch atah Adonai, but I knew enough to say Amen at the end. Even though I didn’t understand all of it, it felt really good to be sharing a tiny bit of my Jewishness with my daughter. While she will go through the sacraments, my daughter will know of her Jewish heritage and what it means to be Jewish in today’s world. Other than the few times that she has grabbed my Star of David necklace and the few bits of a matzoh ball she has eaten, my daughter has experienced so little of that part of her heritage. I know so little myself… I like to think that we can learn, together, while we learn about the sacraments, too.

After dinner we sat and caught up some more, while talking kids and work and careers and life and before I realized what was happening, it was going on 10:00 pm – two hours past the baby’s bedtime, and I still had a bit of a drive home.

I didn’t want the evening to end, and that’s when it hit me – I want my home to be like K&E’s. I want my kid’s friends to feel comfortable enough to pop in, when they’re kids and when they’re all grown up. I want friends and family around the dinner table, planned or impromptu. I want to be comfortable and strong enough in my faith that I can share and teach it. Heck, I want to figure out what it is I actually believe!  I want to be like E – beautiful & graceful even when there’s chaos all around.

04 Jan

Goals

I was writing a Facebook post about my goals for 2016, and one of my goals was to write and blog more, when it hit me that I could accomplish a goal while stating my goals, so here we are.  2015 was a pretty monumental year: I had a baby, became a permanent resident in Canada, started working from home, & remodeled our kitchen. I don’t know that I can top any of those items, but I can still set some goals for this coming year.

In no particular order, my 2016 goals:

  • Get more color work done on my back tattoo. Finishing it would be awesome, but that might be pushing it, time and money-wise.
  • Write more. Blog more. Finish the book project and see if there’s real interest in it.  Continue importing old posts from other platforms into this site.
  • Read more. I used to devour books by the dozens. This past year, I started a few that I never finished, added a slew to my “to read” list on GoodReads, and finished maybe five, total, and that’s only because I spent a LOT of time in the car and discovered that audio books don’t put me to sleep like the did in the past.
  • Do more genealogy research – fill in gaps on my dad side of the family and start digging into T’s family so that the Peep has her detailed family history going back to the dawn of time.
  • Make new friends (but keep the old…) It’s lonely in my new country at times. I have met a few awesome folks in Canada, and while I want to spend more time with them, I need to meet new people, too.
  • Continue to monitor and manage health stuff. Migraines suck, but with vigilance toward my triggers & professional help, it seems I can avoid most of them.
  • Plant a small container herb garden for the patio out back, and design and implement a perennial garden for the front yard.
  • Organize the chaos that is our basement storage. Continue to weed & purge all of the random stuff that I’ve accumulated over the years. Take at least one box of items per month to Goodwill or Value Village.
  • Cook more often & try new things.  When eating out, try new places.
  • Be the best mom & wife & friend I can be.
  • Continue to be flexible as the work/life balance shifts. Because it will shift.
27 Sep

Boob fail, and that’s okay

I wrote part of this two weeks after my daughter was born, and other parts more recently.

A bummer that I’m still struggling with – I’m not making enough milk to nurse The Peep. All babies lose a few ounces after birth, but The Peep really can’t afford to lose very much. We had to start supplementing with formula in the hospital, and even now, nearly two weeks later, she’s primarily formula fed. I find myself both relieved – YAY! Formula means anyone can feed her – and also hating my body. I have had these damned boobs since i was 9 years old, and they’re useless!

T and I talked extensively about nursing and/or formula feeding when I got pregnant. We knew the likelihood was high that I would have some difficulty with nursing, as all of the cards were stacked against me from the get go: my age, questionable PCOS status, post-weight loss surgery, and the final nail in the coffin: c-section.

I held out hope that my milk was just taking its time due to the c-section. I made a batch of lactation cookies, which are delicious but upset my stomach something horrible. I drank tons of mother’s milk tea (imagine melted black licorice) and added enough fenugreek to my supplement regimen that I smelled like maple syrup. None of it made any difference. My breasts never swelled with milk; in fact, my production, which had never been much, declined. After the third week, we switched to formula. I know women who have sought out and fed their children from milk donors. T and i were not comfortable with this, as we had no idea if the milk we’d be getting was truly safe for our girl. Our hospital lactation consultant was leery of this practice as well, and we decided against it.

I am THRILLED that I was able to give her that first week, even if it wasn’t much. Feeling her amazing latch after she was born and seeing her milk drunk that first day calmed some of the panic I was experiencing at having an IUGR baby. I was heartbroken when we were at the pediatrician’s office and saw that she hadn’t gained an ounce since leaving the hospital and it hit me that my baby was likely starving, which was confirmed when she gulped down a 2oz bottle of formula in mere minutes. I don’t regret the decision to exclusively formula feed our child. Watching her bond with her daddy while he feeds her, seeing her progress on the scale each week, and the fact that I’m still (mostly) sane & returning to work in just over a week is proof enough that it is the right choice for my family. My girl is fed and growing and doing wonderfully.

02 Feb

IUGR what?

When we found out we were expecting, we started referring to our baby as The Peep. We had made the decision to not find out the baby’s sex until it was born, so using  The Peep made it a bit easier. I was trying to avoid assigning gender roles to a baby so early on, and honestly, we (I think it was more me, but T went along with it) liked the idea of the surprise – there are so few good surprises anymore, right? Everything about becoming a mother has been a surprise of some sort, now that I think about it. I imagine that’ll only continue as our girl grows up.

I went for my 38 week checkup on Monday, January 19. At my prior checkup, I was told that I’d be having an ultrasound, and an exam to determine the baby’s positioning. I headed to my appointment at 3:30 pm, and around 4:00, everything changed. While I was waiting for my ultrasound appointment, I heard the secretary tell another patient that Dr. F had been called away on a delivery. I figured I’d at least have my ultrasound and reschedule my checkup, or just wait until week 39. The technician started the scan and immediately informed me that The Peep was frank breech, which meant butt down and face down, as if she was looking at my back. All of that kicking I had been feeling was indeed her feet, or more likely her knees & feet, as they were crossed. There I was, laying on the table, wondering if it was too late to get her to turn, wondering how much more it might hurt to try to deliver her, and then the technician told me that the baby’s body was measuring small. Too small. I think I had a minor heart attack right there on the ultrasound table. The Peep’s head was measuring at term, but her body seemed to have stopped growing somewhere around 32 weeks, and her estimated weight was around 5 pounds. The technician did a procedure called a biophysical profile and said that the baby “passed” all of the tests, but that she wanted to call over to Dr. F, who was at Labor & Delivery, to get his opinion. After I got the ultrasound goo off of me and had a good long pee, the tech gave me the CD of my ultrasound images and the few prints she could get, and sent me over to L&D to talk to the doctor.

I toddled up to the fourth floor of the hospital from the professional building, figuring I’d have a chit chat with Dr. F and we’d come up with a game plan for getting the baby to turn, or we’d schedule a c-section for a date closer to my due date, which was hovering between January 31st and February 2nd. I arrived at L&D and the staff escorted me to a room. Dr. F was on a phone at the desk and waved at me. Once I was in the room, two of the nurses introduced themselves, and one pulled out a gown. “Put this on, put your clothes in this bag, and we’ll be back.” I was in shock and asked, “What’s going on?”  After a few seconds and some looks that passed between the nurses, I asked, “Am I having my baby today?” The nurses realized that I was not clued in and replied with, “Let me get your doctor.” Dr. F came in a few minutes later and explained that between the frank breech presentation and her size, he felt it would be safer for both of us if she were to continue to grow on the outside. He wanted to do a c-section immediately to get her out.

“I need to call my husband. He’s at work, 2.5 hours away. Is this an emergency? Can we please wait for him?” “No, we can wait. but get him here soon.” Dr. F and the staff left me alone to make my phone calls. T and I agreed that unless it was an emergency, I would BBM him, so the minute the phone rang on his end, he knew something was up.  I could hear the noise of a busy restaurant kitchen in the background when he answered.  “Hi sweetie. We’re having a baby today.” “What?” I could hear the surprise in his voice.  “Dr. F says the baby’s body is too small and they want to get it out now. I need you to get here.” I heard him yell, “Guys, I gotta go. I gotta go now.” That was 4:20 pm. T  ran home to snag his passport, dropped our housemate off at the restaurant, switched cars and was across the border and was at the hospital with me in Jackson by 8:00 pm.

I called my parents, family and friends, and T took care of calling his parents, so that all of our closer friends & family were in the loop. While we waited for T to arrive, the nurses hooked me up to a fetal monitoring system. I had sensors on my belly, held tight with wide elastic straps. One was monitoring if my body was having contractions, and the other monitored The Peep’s heart rate. Thankfully I didn’t have a single contraction – had labor started, a c-section would have commenced immediately, with or without T and I would have likely been totally knocked out for it.

The anesthesiologist came in to see me and explained the options of an epidural vs. a spinal anesthetic during a c-section. I don’t honestly remember the difference now, but at the time, he was very precise in his explanation, and didn’t mind that I asked a million different questions. Dr. F was concerned that the surgery would be longer than a normal c-section due to my tummy tuck, which would mean an epidural instead of a spinal, but the anesthesiologist was thinking spinal was the way to go. I guess with the epi, they can always add more juice if you need it, but with the spinal, it’s harder to increase the dose if a surgery goes longer than planned.  I think – it’s all very confusing to me even now! He was also very concerned about when I last ate. Since I had NO IDEA I’d be undergoing major surgery that day, I had lunch while I was en route to my appointment!

During this time, there was a shift change with the nursing staff and the nurses I had been dealing with came in with the new nurse to do their hand off. This is where they introduce themselves to the patient and then the departing nurse briefs the new nurse on the situation. That was the first time I heard the phrase IUGR. Intra Uterine Growth Restriction. I had read a little bit about it when I was reading everything I could get my hands on during my pregnancy. IUGR was mentioned, but there was little detail and it never crossed my mind that it could be my reality.

A little bit after T’s arrival, our nurse informed us that our c-section was set for about 10:30, and that they’d come in around 9:30 to get me  ready. They were waiting until 10:30 due to digestion – there was concern that if they had to totally knock me out for surgery, I would aspirate the contents of my stomach into my lungs. Nobody wants chicken tacos or a bean & cheese burrito in their lungs.

9:30, then 10:00 came along, and then the nurse came back. Turns out an emergency c-section case came in; They were finishing up with that patient, and would get the OR cleaned and come back for me in a little while. Finally, a little after 11:00, they came in. I figured it was go time, but we were given the option – go now, with a tired doctor and tired nurses, or we could let Dr. F & crew have a long nap and be their first case in the morning. I opted to be the first case in the morning – I’d much rather have a fresh doctor cutting open my innards and handling my baby than a tired & fatigued doc. Surgery was scheduled for 6:30 am on Tuesday morning. T and I hunkered down for the night. I was starving and they allowed me to have a popsicle and a cup of orange sherbet, which was the best popsicle and sherbet I have EVER eaten. Ever. T was able to stretch out on this chair that opened into a bed, while I attempted to sleep in the hospital bed with the monitors strapped to my belly. If I moved wrong, it’d stop sensing The Peep’s heart rate and a nurse would come in to adjust things. T slept, and I dozed on/off for a few hours, but was wide awake from about 4:00 am onward. I sat there and listened to my baby’s heartbeat and knew that I’d be meeting her in a matter of hours. I also found myself praying.

Around 5:15 or so, staff started swarming around me. They increased the fluids being pushed in my IV & put these ridiculous yellow traction socks on me. The yellow indicates that I was a post-surgical fall risk & I wasn’t allowed to do much of anything without help. I had to drink a shot of awful gunk that was supposed to help cut down on acid in my stomach. It was like a liquid sweet tart and it made me feel horrible. T got suited up in this head to toe surgical outfit – cap, suit and shoe covers. We headed to the OR. I sat on the table and the anesthesiologist was there, attempting to insert the juice into my back. It took him a few tries, and at the same time, I was feeling woozy and getting the cold sweats from the crap they made me drink earlier. T wasn’t allowed in there yet and I wanted nothing more than to hold his hand. It took the anesthesiologist a few tries to get the damned epidural placed right, but eventually he did. I was laid out on the table, all Jesus-like, and the blue curtain went up. There were people everywhere – surgeons, nurses, technicians, and pediatricians. They all introduced themselves to me and the seriousness of our situation was starting to become real: There were as many people there to care for the baby as there were for me. There was a real risk to her health and survival and there I was, trying not to lose my shit. T was finally brought in and he was able to sit to my left, behind the curtain. They kept tapping on my chest & belly to see if I was numb enough, and when I was, they got the show on the road. I couldn’t feel a thing, but I could hear and smell everything, especially my blood and the burning skin smell of the cauterization tools. Dr. F gave us a minor play-by-play as he went along, and announced when he was getting ready to pull the baby out.

T: “You know, we never did settle on a boy name.”
me: “I know… I just want William in there somewhere…”
Dr. F: “I see girl parts. Dad, do you want to stand up and see your baby?”

T got to watch as our little girl emerged from my belly, butt first. He sat back down next to me, and we both said, at nearly the same time, “We have a little girl!” I looked at him, and said her name. He nodded and we both sobbed joyful tears. At the same time, the baby had been taken over to a table to my left and was being vigorously rubbed down by the nurses and that’s when I finally heard her howl. It was the most amazing thing to hear. I kept asking how much she weighed, but nobody had any answers yet. T was invited over to cut the cord and they delivered my placenta and set about closing up my belly. I was feeling kinda funky. I was nauseated but elated and then nauseated again. They pushed something in my IV and holy moly I was flying and fully elated and babbled a LOT at T and Dr. F. I was wheeled into recovery and a minute later, The Peep  was brought to us. That’s when we found out she was 4lbs 9oz. So tiny!  We called T’s parents via BBM video call and introduced them to their granddaughter. I started to get feeling back in my legs. It was slow and gradual, and my right leg came back long before my lef. After the hour in recovery, we were rolled to our room. The movement made me incredibly nauseous, and it took quite a while for me to feel somewhat okay.

The hospital stay itself was pretty low key. We learned that The Peep weighed 80 grams over the cutoff for the NICU – had she been 80 grams lighter, she would have gone to the NICU regardless. All of her tests – apgars, hearing, blood work & labs, weight checks, were done in our room. With the exception of the car seat challenge, we had her with us the entire time. She was in her little bassinet, or with one of us for the entire hospital stay.

T’s parents arrived from Florida on Tuesday night and came right to the hospital to see the baby. That was when we realized that all of the clothes and things we have and brought for her were way too big. The Peep spent most of her hospital stay in a diaper, the hospital issued wrap-around cardigan, and the hospital standard swaddling blanket. She was perfectly content.

I can sit and watch the baby for hours. I marvel that we made her & that I carried her for nearly 38 weeks. It’s surreal now that she’s on the outside. My body doesn’t feel empty, and I keep expecting to feel the baby kick. I am wearing regular clothes and only slightly swollen around the incision site. I suppose that’s a side effect of having a small baby – I didn’t get huge. Dr. F commented a few times during the c-section that my tummy tuck had my abdominal muscles pulled really tight, too.

I get tired pretty easily, and find that I can’t stand still for super long. I still have some post-surgery edema going on in my feet, calves & thighs. The skin on my legs hurts from being stretched due to the swelling. Most of the time, though, it doesn’t feel like i just had major surgery  and had a baby. Just the baby part feels real.

I’ve been doing some research, as Dr. F mentioned that my placenta was sent to pathology. It seems that IUGR can have a variety of causes, and some are totally unknown. I’d like to know if there was a reason. Some of the research I have found indicates that it’s possibly related to the malabsorption my body does due to my having had weight loss surgery. The Peep’s pediatrician and my sister-in-law were both shocked to learn that I was not considered high risk and that I wasn’t monitored closer throughout my pregnancy. My age alone – I turned 43 the same month I found out I was pregnant – should have made me high risk, not to mention the weight loss surgery part. I appreciated Dr. F NOT treating me like I was a delicate flower, but I sometimes wonder if he should have taken a closer look. I’d really like to know more, especially if we decide to try for a second child. Up until everything started happening the day before The Peep was born, my pregnancy was very easy.

12 Jun

Coming out as a gamer girl

For a very long time, I hid my inner gamer. I was embarrassed by my love of gaming, and to this day, I’m not sure why. Maybe I was afraid of further ridicule – I was a smart, fat kid with a big mouth and often was the target of teasing and torment. As a kid, I loved video games in the large console – hello, PacMan birthday cake! We had an Atari 2600, and yes, I took a picture of the TV and somewhere I have my patch from conquering Pitfall.

As I grew up, I shied away from gaming – don’t know if it was lack of access, lack of money for new games/consoles, or the fact that most of my close friends were women and they weren’t gaming. Well, other than the summer between high school graduation & freshman year of college when we compulsively played Kings Quest IV (first big time female protagonist, btw) in our friend’s basement in between trips to Denny’s. Anyone who lived with me in Trout Hall at Central Michigan University knows how much I loved the Galaga console. I got a little bit into PC gaming, mostly because of irc friends, and of course, a boy. I actually dragged my entire PC to his house so we could play Quake II together. I even beat him. Once. I still have the screenshot to prove it. A few years later, I discovered Katamari Damacy at a NYE party and was OBSESSED and just *had* to buy a PlayStation 2 so I could play it at home. I got really into Guitar Hero on the Wii, but mostly used the Wii to stream Netflix. I ended up giving the Wii to my parents, the Wii Fit & Mario Kart steering wheels to my nieces, and traded in the PS2 to put toward the purchase of my Xbox360, which I got when the first model with the Kinect sensor was released.

I remember early on in our relationship, T and i were playing Left for Dead and his mom came into the room and said something along the lines of “you know you don’t have to sit here and watch him play…” and then she realized it: “Oh, you’re PLAYING!” I don’t know if it was meeting someone who was WAY more into gaming than I was, or if it was that I felt “safe” letting my inner gamer shine, or the fact that T was patient and showed me how to adjust controllers and how to play various games, or a combination of all of it, but I’m finally proud of my gamer status. I still have a hard time with some games. I really prefer to play strong, well-developed female characters (yay, new Tomb Raider for Christmas!) that aren’t just b00bs. I struggle with the misogyny, racism & homophobia I see and hear often in online games, and often will play only with people I know.

23 Feb

(Try to) make new friends, but keep the old

I keep finding myself humming the words to the song I learned as a Girl Scout, many many years ago. I recently discovered that it has many more verses than the two I learned and have had on repeat on my head:

Make new friends, but keep the old
One is silver, the other is gold
You help me, and I’ll help you
and together we will see it through

I learned that second verse as “you hold me, and I’ll hold you,” but the rest of it is the same. I find it interesting that as I age and my life takes its twists and turns, the words to this song ring so very true. I find it even more interesting that other people I know are finding themselves in the same position, wondering about the nature of friends and friendships, especially in this age of instant communication and Facebook. A colleague recently commented, “you sure have a lot of friends.” We’ve worked together for six months now, so we’re still in the getting-to-know-you stage, but it seems that every day or so, one of us will relate a story or situation, and more often than not, I find myself starting my story with “I have a friend who…” or “I had a friend that did…” and that’s when L commented on the sheer abundance of friends in my life. At first, my reaction was “well yeah, I do have a lot of friends, all over the world…” It got me to thinking, though, on the nature of my friendships. I made a slew of friends due to my online activities. I spent a good portion of the 1990s and early 2000s surfing and chatting on the internet, back when almost everything was text-based. There was no Facebook, and MySpace hadn’t even been thought of yet. I made online friends through Usenet newsgroups and through IRC (internet relay chat). I met one of my oldest online friends in person nearly twenty years ago because we shared a common interest in tattooing and body piercing. As a result of that same interest, we traveled together and met up with groups of other bodyart fans all over North America. I traveled to Europe in the spring of 2000 and spent nearly three weeks couch surfing, clubbing and going to synthpop concerts with IRC friends who, until that trip, I had only talked to on screen and on the occasional phone call or stilted voice chat. I joined local e-mail discussion lists and met local people and hung out in their homes, held hair out of the way while someone vomited in bar bathrooms, and we all took turns designated driving each other home from house parties and bar nights. At that time, most of us were in our early 20s and 30s. We had disposable income, we were all a bit on the fringe of whatever “normal” society was doing, and we found each other. Some of the friendships strengthened and became lifelong and life-changing. I stood in the wedding of one such friend, and we still have inside jokes with each other. Another friend unwittingly introduced me to the man I married, and has shifted from a friend to a best friend *and* a sister-in-law.

Add to this the fact that I maintained my “real” friendships. I hesitate to use the phrase “real” because it somehow insinuates that my online friendships are or were not real. I mean real here in that these friendships existed before my online existence. I’ve managed to stay in touch with most of the crew I spent high school with, even as our lives have gone in different directions. I’m closer with some of my older friends than others, but the core group has been there with me, and I with them, for every one of life’s big adventures – surgeries, housewarming parties, moving, relationship beginnings and ends, weddings, funerals and all of life’s ups & downs.

I had a situation recently where a friend, someone I know primary from online activities, was going through a tough time. The vast majority of our interactions in the nearly twenty years that we’ve known each other, have been via online methods. We have been in the same place at the same time for maybe a total of 10 hours, though I can’t even begin to imagine trying to count the numbers of hours we’ve “talked” via online tools. My friend shared some of the details of the personal difficulties she was experiencing, and in my attempts at understanding what was going on, I hurt her feelings and was told that I was not being helpful. It stung. I backed off, as the last thing I wanted to do was cause harm or not be useful to a friend who is already hurting. The situation left me in tears, but it also got me to thinking about how our online friendships often feel deeper and more substantial than they actually are. Why is it that totally or mostly online friendships can seem and feel so deep, yet at the same time, they can be very one-dimensional and fleeting? If I had been near where my friend lives, I would have gone to her home, or had her come to mine. I would have provided a listening ear, food, tissues and comfort. If we had spent more than a part of a day together, in total, I might have had a better understanding of the situation and why it was so difficult for her, and why the questions I was asking seemed hurtful. I might have known better ways to help her or to just be there as a friend. I realized that I only know the parts of her personality and life that show up on the computer screen. I don’t know the full person. While my friend is pretty open, online I’m still not getting the whole picture. I’ve let her know that I’m thinking of her, and thankfully, I don’t think our long term friendship has been harmed, as we’ve talked a bit since. I still hate thinking that I hurt my friend, and will continue to reconcile that within myself, and at the same time, I’m somewhat comforted by my realization that our friendship isn’t a deep abiding thing thing and it doesn’t have to be in order for us to remain friends. It IS a different sort of relationship than my in person friendships, and that’s okay and I’m working on being okay with it.

There are other friends that I miss, and I struggle with reaching out. Maybe it’s the abnormally harsh winter we’re having here in the Midwest – we’ve been spoiled for many years by mild winters. They were always cold, but we didn’t get the piles of snow that we’ve had this year. I find myself missing friends and find myself struggling with my continually evolving friendships. I mourn the loss of friendships, and I catch myself questioning whether or not they were as important to the other party as they were to me. Sometimes I just want to call or text someone and say, “Hi, I miss you.” I’ve done that in the past, and been left disappointed. It sucks to learn that the feeling is not mutual. I struggle and worry that I’m trying too hard to maintain friendships, or conversely, that I’m not trying hard enough. This article, Why Friends Drift Apart, was very helpful, especially the section on “is it time to let go?” Our interests do change, and the things that are important to me now are different than what was important to me when I met someone. I’m realizing that I don’t have things in common anymore with the folks that have drifted away, and that’s okay, too.

Another article, one that just showed up this weekend, was the final push for me. The 5 Types of Friends Everyone Should Have, made me realize that it’s okay that friendships change and for some end. Lives change – heck, just since 2012 I have experienced unplanned job loss and almost a year of unemployment, while at the same time I got engaged and then legally married. Then I spent time job hunting and interviewing all over North America while planning a large formal wedding & reception. Then there was accepting the offer for a new, fantastic position in my field, packing and moving to be near my place of employment. In between, I was trying to maintain friendships, meet friends for coffee or dinner or even a quick snack. Some people do come and go from our lives. Some stick around longer, some we’re stuck with forever, and others are fleeting. It’s okay to miss the ones that have left. It’s okay to mourn the loss of someone who, in the past, was someone I spoke with daily on instant messenger. Clicking “like” or leaving a comment on a Facebook post does not a friendship make. Academic research says that Facebook and the like do have an influence on friendships, but they also ask if such friendships are “real.” And finally, this article, Stuck in the Middle? Exploring Adult Friendships: Part 1, really hits the nail on the head for me. So much of how we define friends is set when we are children, but it’s really not so simple. This paragraph sums things up, and helps me while I struggle with my own buckets. It makes it easier for me to decide where to focus my energies.

Adult friendships are complicated. The best ones make you feel happy, complete, and supported no matter where life takes you. The others, if not properly managed, can suck the life right out of you. Figure out who you want in your life and put your efforts into these relationships. Carefully scrutinize the others and understand what benefits they bring to the table. If the negatives outweigh the benefits, you need to stop trying and let the relationship take its natural path to another bucket.

I’m trying to be a better friend, to all of my friends, in person and online. At the same time, I’m attempting to distance myself from friends that are less than stellar. It’s not easy, but it’s vitally important.

21 Jan

state of the kate

I try to be a good person, I really do. I am discovering things about myself that are less than good and I don’t like it. I hold grudges. I revel in schadenfreude a little bit too much. I sweat the small things and sometimes make them into really big things. I have a hard time letting go when my feelings get hurt and can hold onto the anger, fear, rage, ire and every other emotion associated with it for years. I can be super judgey about the things someone else likes, but if they have the nerve to be judgey about the stuff I like? Instant hate. Seriously. This has gotta stop. Life is way too short to be an ass. Sure, it’s a wonderful thing when you actually see karma come full-circle, but it’s shitty to revel in someone else’s bad situation. I want to be a better person. I want to celebrate the happy things and be mature about the not-so-happy situations. I want to be the kind of person that my nieces and nephews and future children will look up to and emulate. I want to be a great role model for my friends and colleagues, and the state of the kate right now is just not that.

27 Feb

Blubber Bra

Bullies called him pork chop

My bullies have called me a variety of things over the years, but the one that I can still hear clearly? The one I can still see written on the lined notebook paper, folded so it could be a note passed from girl to girl? Blubber bra. I developed early, and needed to wear a bra by the end of fourth grade. I resisted, as I was dreadfully embarrassed by my changing body. I was taller than almost all of my peers, and throwing boobs into the mix just added insult to injury. When the fifth grade school year started, a few of the girls in my class, girls that had, up until that point, been my friends, didn’t believe that I had developed real breast tissue. They told me the only reason I needed a bra was because I was so fat that my belly had run out of room and had therefore shifted my fat into my breasts. Yes, really. I spent the school year with my arms crossed over my chest, trying to hide my breasts, trying to draw attention away from the very thing that made me a target. Nothing worked, and I spent most of fifth grade being called blubber bra. The name eventually spread from a few girls to most of my class.

The name calling stopped when the girls in my class started developing and wearing bras themselves. They never quite apologized, though at one point they attempted to win back my friendship because they wanted my help with a project, but the damage had been done. It has been 31 years since the fifth grade, and I can still hear their voices.