Christmas is coming...

My birthday is tomorrow.  It is also the last day of my class.  I am giving a Final (no fun) but also buying cookies as a treat for my students and kind of to celebrate my birthday.  Tomorrow night, I plan to attend my InterPlay theatre group and maybe go for a drink with a couple friends afterwards.  Then, Wednesday, I am going out with a small group of friends to a birthday dinner at a cool looking Italian restaurant in my new town of Alameda.  After dinner, the plan is for a hot beverage, Christmas lights, and maybe even a little caroling.  In this moment, it feels like too much to do activities on both Tuesday and Wednesday, but I am going to go with the flow - it's my intention to do that more - and trust it will all work out.

Wednesday and Thursday are days to wrap presents, make hot fudge, and grade Finals.  Then, the plan is to drive up to Oregon Friday if the weather cooperates.  I am also fine with waiting until Saturday but hope I don't have to wait any longer than that.  I gave Zoey an early birthday gift of a dog bed, which she LOVES.  She had been using a smaller pink dog bed I got her when she was a puppy but it had become too old and worn out.  Plus this one is more comfy.  She looks so cute in it, doesn't she?

One of my Christmas gifts this year is a recording of an interview I did with my Grandma and Grandpa, about 10 years ago.  If you remember, my Grandpa passed away last year and my Grandma passed away a couple years before that.  As I mentioned, they were like second parents to me, and my Grandma and I were especially close.  The interview reminded of me of that, of how comfortable we were together and how we just "got" and accepted each other.  A wonderful feeling that I miss dearly.

I appreciate having the interview to remember but had been afraid to listen to it for fear the tape would break.  I finally had it made into CDs and am giving copies to my aunt and uncle and cousins.  I think they will like hearing it, even though it a bit slanted towards me and my Mom (birth mom), since I was the one doing the interviewing.  My Grandma cries once during the interview talking about my Mom - it's amazing how the grief over losing my Mom seemed to stay with her and my Grandpa for their whole lives.  Of course, that was one thing that we shared (the loss of my mom) and likely added to our closeness. 

Though my Mom (step mom) and I don't really talk - I've reached out but she doesn't seem to want to connect right now - I have been thinking of her often and sending prayers.  I have also done a couple of things "in her honor," like the care package I sent a while back, recently hanging the art tiles they gave me last Christmas in my new bedroom, and getting the special Campbell's Soup napkins (my Grandpa worked for Campbell's Soup) hemmed that she was going to finish but couldn't because of nerve damage in her fingers due to her treatments.  I also bought all the supplies to make her a special Christmas card, and I hope I can find the time and energy to complete it.  I guess I can work on it in Oregon if need be, but I know from experience how difficult it can be to get stuff done there.  If I leave on Saturday, maybe I can get it done Friday.  Anyway, I'm trying to do more practical actions "for her," if that makes sense, because I want to at least be doing something

I am really worried that they will be telling us bad news when I go home.  My brother asked my dad about the scan my mom was going to get to see if the immunotherapy treatment was working, and he said it had been rescheduled or something.  Then my mom and dad left for a trip to Arizona, which seems kind of odd timing.  So, I'm scared but want to be as present and loving as I can be through whatever happens.  Of course, I am also looking forward to seeing everyone and spending time with my nieces and nephew.

Well, I better go put the finishing touches on my Final.  Sending good wishes to you all.



I am in a no good, very bad mood today.  I think in part because of hormones and in part because I taught an all-day class yesterday, the last couple hours of which were pure hell.  One of me, 25 of them, all trying to create and enter educational plans into a system that was locked up and refusing to cooperate.  After consulting with my supervisor, I finally just had them turn in their plans on paper and spent much of this morning entering them into the system myself. 

Then, my "housemate" (technically my housemate but more like landlord, as he never stays here) J, stopped by completely unannounced.  I realized he tried to send a text 10 minutes before that didn't go through.  But, regardless, it's like he doesn't register my feelings; like they don't matter.  He bursts in the front door with his partner, yelling "HELLOOOO" in a really boisterous way, with lots of energy that he doesn't reign in, even when he sees that I am sitting at the table working (unshowered, in grungy sweats) and am clearly caught off guard.  Then he keeps bustling around the house being bossy and directive and not listening to me.  Grrrrr! 

I feel sooo tired and depressed.  Definitely not in the mood for this housewarming party we are having this evening.  Maybe I should go work out; that might help.  I have had an injured/out of place shoulder/upper back injury since before Thanksgiving, so haven't been working out.  It has slowly been improving, and I think I could go today.  Either that or take Zoey on a long walk.  Something to try and rise out of this run down funk.


A New/Old Idea

Happy Friday!  The corner has definitely been turned heading into the holiday season...

I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving - both the gathering I now have planned with a few friends to eat, play board games, and watch a movie - and having extra time off.  I think I'm going to get a Christmas tree this year, so I'll probably put it up that weekend after Thanksgiving to allow three weeks of enjoyment before I head off to Oregon.  And eggnog coffee is already bringing holiday joy to my mornings. :)

Regarding my last post and "the void" that was left by not focusing on fertility and ttc (and not being in a relationship - and that I'm now noticing more since I'm settled after finding a place and moving): I talked to my new Ecology of Leadership (EOL) phone buddy, and she suggested putting it out to the larger EOL group.  I did this and heard back from two or three people who said they were available for phone calls and would like to get together.  I have a lunch date for next week.  This is all good but has helped me realize that the "void" is definitely more about day-to-day connection, not as much having events planned on the calendar.  Phone calls may help if I can get in the habit of reaching out.  Pursuing a creative project may also bring meaning and focus.  But I think the core of it really gets back to my longing for family.  Along these lines, C asked me about another possibility I haven't focused on in a while...

Guess I need to backtrack first and say that BBBS rejected me.  I was surprised but noticed that I felt some relief.  The woman said policy prevents her from telling me the exact reason, but that I have a lot to offer a child and she hopes I find another avenue to connect with one.  So, it didn't seem to have anything to do with my character but might have had to do with what I shared in the interview about trying to have a child for quite a while and that I wanted ideally to have a positive connection with a child who was able to "attach" (I have worked with youth who have attachment disorders).  She may have felt I had too high of expectations for the experience, and they really emphasize having little to no expectations.  In any case, I have come to think it is for the best, and the relief I felt was about the recognition that I don't think a big sister relationship would likely fulfill much of my desire to be mother.  I was "settling" for that choice, which isn't a good place to be coming from.

Back to the other possibility C asked about... She brought up foster parenting and adoption.  I actually completed a foster parent adoption training when I lived in San Luis Obispo, but then my organization closed doors and I didn't feel I could move forward while unemployed.  I'm still not earning what I feel I should be ideally, but I'm stable and employed.  When she asked about it, I felt excitement and energy to investigate what would be required in this county, so I plan to do that in the coming weeks.  Even if I don't move forward right now, it will be good to have the information.  One obstacle could be that I live in a two-bedroom house.  J is never home but the other room is still "his" room.  Maybe that would limit me to fostering younger children, which is what I would like anyway.  Much to learn.  What do you think of this plan at this point?  Am I being overly optimistic that I might qualify?

It's raining here today, so I am going to have a cozy day working on another full-time counseling application, grading papers, and refining my agenda for Tuesday's class - only one class to plan for this week - yay!  And I have a couple Netflix movies to watch later.  Hope you are keeping warm and cozy, too.


Filling the Void

Happy Hump Day!  "Hump" makes me think of "The Hump Bar" now, which is an establishment on the show "Army Wives"... yes, I have been spending far too much time watching this show.

I had what I thought was a semi-deep thought about TV watching while talking to a couple friends after my InterPlay theatre group last night.  One friend had just returned from two weeks hiking with her family in Nepal (she was not near the avalanche, thank goodness) and was describing how, during the entire trip, she was surrounded by family and other community, including porters who constantly watched her and anticipated her every need.  After returning to her regular life, she felt unhappy with it and depressed that she was returning to watching a lot of TV for relaxation and down time.  She missed the attention and ongoing connection with others.

I responded with sympathy (as I have shared here, I have TV-watching patterns that I question) and also the thought that a "void" wants to be filled.  When something is missing or goes away, other things will flow in to fill the space.  It makes sense.  So, continuing that thought now, it's not necessarily about trying to stop TV watching but about considering other choices that fill the needs for relaxation and connection.  And when you live alone, the connection options are fairly limited, especially when you are an introvert and worn out from the day.  Even introverts, though, need to be seen and heard - need attention and loving on a regular basis.

My work gives me contact with people, but I am in the "giving" mode when it comes to attention and care.  I provide the counseling for the students, and I enjoy doing it.  AND I need, if not counseling, then opportunities to express myself and receive care.  In my last living situation, my housemate, K, and I had meals together on a regular basis; maybe not every day, but at least every two or three days and sometimes more.  Now, somehow, while seeking a "community" living situation, I have created a very similar similar living situation to my prior one, with even LESS connection!

How did this happen?  I think, in part, because it's hard to find the "right" living situation with others, but also because I do need down time by myself to recharge.  I don't think living in a full or "bustling" household would work for me.  I just want one or maybe two other people to connect with at least once a day for meaningful conversation.

In the past, when I was in a 12-Step program, this need for meaningful connection was met through meetings.  When I am in relationship, this need is met through my partner... at least when the relationship is functioning in a healthy way.  When I attend my dance and theatre groups, this need is sometimes met, but often not fully, as group conversation tends to stay on the surface (these groups definitely meet my need for movement and creative expression, however!)  Going out to eat afterwards brings more opportunities, but that generally only happens once a week at the most.  Talking to my brother feels good in terms of connection, but he is busy with his own family and we only talk every two or three weeks.  I have a couple of friends with whom I can talk on that level, but again, we get together every couple/few weeks.

Sooo, in the interim, day-to-day, there is a void, and I fill it with TV.  So shoot me. :) I'm going to cut myself more slack around that, as well as try and create those reflective spaces around it, in which I can consider other choices - journaling/blogging or talking things through out loud into my video phone (to feel more "heard"); maybe a collage or art project (Christmas is coming up), or maybe, when I can afford it, going to see an NVC counselor that could provide empathy.  Maybe I could look at joining another NVC practice group.

Thanks for listening to my reflection and brainstorming around this topic.  It was helpful!  As I wait to be matched with a "little sister," I think it is good timing to recognize I could use more support myself.  I think when I get more support, then I can provide better support for others...

AND, I will try and have compassion for myself around my (sometimes excessive) TV watching.


Settling In, Family, and the Ducks

Sorry for the long absence; it's been quite a transition period!  I am fully moved in and functioning at the new place.  I like it a  lot, and the neighborhood is indeed turning out to have much more in the way of shops, stores, restaurants and coffee shops, etc.  Zoey and I haven't found our ideal walking route yet, but we're working on it.  The commute to work is better than imagined - maybe a few minutes longer but feels similar and very doable.

It was a LOT to try and move and then travel to Oregon the following weekend.  Yowza!  I would not make that choice again.  But it was the only weekend that worked if I wanted to get a trip in before my Christmas visit.  Drove eight hours Thursday eve and arrived at 2am, then eight hours back Sunday late afternoon, getting in around midnight.  Non-stop busy in-between, seeing my aunt, uncle, cousin and family, going to the Duck game on Saturday, and spending time with my mom.  My brother warned me that she was not doing too well and became tired very easily, which was true.  I was able to pick up some lunch and grocery items she needed, which felt good.  I did not necessarily plan this to be an update about her - I will write more later - but will mention she has one more line of treatment, which is to receive immunotherapy drugs that are still being tested.  Apparently, they have shown promise with skin cancer, which has similar properties to my mom's type of cancer.  In conjunction, she may receive some sort of enzyme treatment.  I don't fully understand it and don't think she does yet either, but she had her first treatment last week so praying for the best.

The family is actually here this weekend for the Duck game with Cal (I did not know they had this planned when I planned my trip up there but it's nice to hang out two weekends in a row, especially right now), which happened last night.  The seats were apparently pretty expensive and included the ability to go to club level.  That was probably the most fun part - hanging out prior to the game at a table in the very nice club area and talking.  Many times, I don't feel engaged with the all-family conversation topics, but we had some interesting exchanges about memories, politics, and current events (talked about medical marijuana for example, and that maybe my mom should try it), as well as one-on-one conversations.  It felt more connected than usual.  The game was fun to watch, too, and the Ducks took over after the first half, wining by a large margin.  The one part I did not enjoy was when my sister dragged me and our sister-in-law up to this douche-bag's "box" in the upper level.  I think she thought it would be fancy and have lots of great food/drink but it did not.  The view was great but the company left much to be desired, as the guy was a big schmooze-y cheeseball.  Oh well, I guess we went up there for my sister, as she had a good buzz going and wanted to socialize.  After the game, I had an interesting, but nice, ride with my mom in a pedicab to a nearby hotel where our car was waiting.  Everyone else walked but it was too far for my mom, and I offered to ride with her.  You kind of feel like a big anchor on the poor guy's bike, but I guess he does it a lot and is in good shape.  Tonight, we are meeting for dinner at a steakhouse in San Jose, where they are staying.

Another piece of news to report is that I found out last night that I did not get the full-time counseling job I interviewed for in Santa Rosa.  I don't think I even mentioned the interview - yeah, that happened during the week after I moved, before my trip to Oregon!  I felt good I was one of 10 chosen to interview out of 65 applicants and was able to pull it off at the level I did.  It could have been a little stronger in parts, but overall, I did a good job with the teaching presentation and interview questions.  In retrospect, however, though I felt my rapport with the interviewers was strong, they seemed to have already made a decision.  Maybe it was one of their current adjunct counselors or someone they knew personally, or maybe someone who interviewed before me just knocked it out of the park.  In any case, I am disappointed but slightly relieved, as it would have meant finding a place up there and moving again in the next couple months.  I heard there may be a position coming up soon in Alameda where I live.

There is more to say about the house and my new housemate.  For example, he has yet to stay overnight here since I have been here, but has been coming by quite a bit and he and his boyfriend stayed here the weekend I was in Oregon.  I have had a couple meals with them and enjoy hanging out with the two of them together as much or more as hanging out with him by himself.  His partner kind of mellows him out, it seems.  The odd thing to me is that my housemate (J) has gone through chaplaincy training and worked as a chaplain, which would seem to involve intense emotions, yet he seems to have intense emotions that can overwhelm him.  Maybe that's not strange - he is human after all - it just catches me off-guard when it happens.  Like when the three of us were at dinner the other night, and his partner said something about how it was nice to go through this ritual at an event after his first partner and mother had died.  After a minute, I commented that I felt a little sad thinking about that because my family doesn't really seek out those kind of meaningful rituals or even talk much at that level.  J then became flustered and tense and said, "We can change the subject now!"  Which we did, but it was quite abrupt.  I'm guessing he still feels a lot of grief about his long-time partner passing away - I think it was a year and a half ago or so.  I'll post more about J and settling in later, as well.

I am going to sign off now to take Zoey on a walk, then head out to buy my niece a birthday present.  I have been keeping up with your blogs for the most part, though just got internet going here at the new place a couple days ago.  I will be able to post and comment more often now.  Exciting birth news from Jenny!  and lots happening with Nell and Abby and others.  Sending good thoughts.


Drama! or "Combining Households is No Joke"

Hello All and Happy Sunday!

I am procrastinating working on my lesson plan for Tuesday (though some thought and research has been put into it already), which is an important one as I'm being "observed" (Judged. Ach!).  The woman who is coming to observe me is kind, though, and I think more easy going than the one last year.  Last year's class observation was actually not a problem or "triggering" for me for whatever reason, though - it was the one-on-one appointment.  You can't plan those out; you just roll with whatever the student brings you.  I will have a different observer for that portion than for the class, and she is also kind and more easy going than last year's.  She has been at the college for a long time, however, and is detail-oriented.  Think "kind school marm" type.  I am focusing on doing the best I can and detaching from the outcome.  Please send me good luck!

On to this week's exciting and dramatic installment of the moving process!  It continues, albeit slowly and with many stops and starts.  More kitchen packing has happened this week with the much appreciated help of a friend, but my stuff is all still here at the old place.  I will begin living in the new place Sunday night, after my furniture makes the transition in the u-haul that day.  Zoey has visited the new place twice now.  The second time was last Friday, and she met the two dogs, which I will talk about in more detail in a little bit.  It was intense, and I made it more intense by my subconscious resistance to moving...

Yes, my fears have continued to come up at times, imagining potential negative impacts on Zoey with the environment change and meeting new dogs, and whether my stuff will even fit in the new place.  We have been quite sheltered here in a way, which has been both positive and negative.  I may have mentioned that living here three and half years is the longest I have lived anywhere as an adult, which shows how transitory my life has been, but my main point is that I really settled in to this place.  Even though the new neighborhood will have people I know - more than I realized - and will be walkable with many great places to eat and hang out (much more than the old neighborhood), it is still hard to let go of the old comforts.

One great thing about my old place has been the backyard - the raised beds with lots of garden goodies, the fruit trees and berries, and the expansive feeling to it.  The new place has a backyard that is nice enough.  It's enclosed for the dogs, smaller but not tiny, and has a lovely tree and bench to sit.  But it's not as open and "lush" feeling.  Not as great for Zoey to run around in.  I have sat a lot at the kitchen table here, looking out into the yard, so it's been a big part of my day-to-day environment.  I have enjoyed meditating in the yard and sitting in the sun, reading.  But part of why I have spent so much time there, as well as on my couch in the living room, is that the neighborhood is not a great place to walk and hang out.  So I think what I'm losing in backyard may be made up in neighborhood beauty and expansiveness, if that makes sense.  If I have talked about this already, I'm sorry.  It really helps to talk about all this - apparently more than once! lol

In any case, because of my fears, I have had my brakes on to some extent in relation to the move, without meaning to do so.  Normally, I would have checked in with my new housemate, J, to confirm when we were meeting Friday, but I kind of "forgot" about it and thus avoided the feelings.  I worked out Friday and was running errands when J texted asking where I was.  I let him know I was out running errands and would call soon.  When I got home, I grabbed Zoey and called to say I was headed over there.  As a side note, we had never agreed on a time, but J had "assumed" a time based on me saying I wanted to avoid traffic, and he hadn't checked in with me to confirm either...

In any case, J was quite frustrated, which I didn't find out until later when he had a minor meltdown.  It was so strange - I was feeling guilty for being super anxious about the dogs and making things worse, so I laid a hand on his arm trying to ease tension and said something about how we are just getting to know each other, too.  Well, I guess that opened a door for him to communicate, and "communicate" he did.  His emotions and frustrations kind of caught me off guard.  I may have mentioned his partner and he lived in this house for 10 years or so before the partner passed away last year, so there's that in addition to J having never been a landlord before and feeling unsure about how to handle some of the details.  Also, he apparently needs to have a renter in asap for financial reasons, which I am just finding out.  I can see my reticence and anxiety were adding to his insecurity.

So, bottom line, he has his own "stuff" going on, which I added to and triggered on Friday.  I imagined for a minute the whole situation might just blow up and was thinking, "Oh my God, where will I go?  I'll have to call my friend Elizabeth." But luckily, we hung in there and were able to talk through it.  Then we spent some time moving furniture around and putting up curtains in my new room, as well as discussing how to combine our household items, which helped us to connect and make things more real.  Whew!  And that was just the "people" dynamics...

The dogs were a whole nother layer!  We took Zoey on short walks with each of the other dogs.  The smaller one, a 6-year-old chihuahua mix named Moses, was first and it went okay except for a couple barking/lunging episodes from Moses.  Zoey does not tend to be submissive with other dogs, nor does Moses, who seems to have a bit of "small dog syndrome."  Meeting the second dog, a larger terrier mix named Rudy, was super smooth - both dogs sniffed butts and walked along fine together, no reactions.  Granted, Rudy is 13 years old and very mellow.  Then, J wanted to throw all the dogs in the backyard off-leash, but I put the kabosh on that, due to Moses' reactivity earlier.  We tried introducing the two of them again on leash at the side of the house but Moses barked/snarled/lunged.  Argh!  J thought it was because I had treats, and he hadn't had dinner yet.

So, Moses got fed, the two other dogs were put in backyard (Z was in house) - that's when the big convo between J and I took place - then Rudy somehow slipped in the dog door while we were putting up curtains (he's never done that before)!  Z and Rudy were again super fine and mellow together.  Then we decided J would get on the floor with those two, with a plan that I would let in the little one and if there were any reactions between him and Z, he would grab one and stand up.  I let Moses in the back door and quickly walked to the other end of the house, practicing my detachment.  I listened for reactions... nothing... J yelled over that everything was fine!  Thank God.  Little Moses got up on his bed in the chair, and the other two dogs just walked around the house with us.  At the end, Moses got down and was walking around too, so I think we got through the hardest part, knock on wood.  I hope to move boxes over Wednesday and/or Friday, before moving the furniture Sunday.

Yikes, here we go!


Weekend Update

My friend was supposed to come help me pack up my room today, but she got food poisoning and had to cancel. :( So, I suppose I should jump into the task myself, but that's why I welcomed her help - because it's easier to accomplish with moral support (and a kick in the butt).  The move date of October 3rd is fast approaching!

I did spend several hours today making my famous "Eggplant Enchiladas" from the Moosewood Cookbook, as well as cooking up a few potatoes I had in the fridge into a yummy onion/garlic/cheese/mushroom potato skillet dish.  Taking a break and then going to work out.  I have been going three times a week pretty consistently. 

Yesterday, I finally bought a decent yoga-type workout shirt and pants, so I don't feel so ratty.  I also bought a short-sleeve t-shirt dress with lightweight leather-type material (pleather?) on the sleeves, which I think will look cute with my boots.  I so rarely buy clothes these days, it felt good to get something new.

On Thursday, I took Zoey over to the new house to meet J (my new housemate) and start getting a feel for the place.  The two dogs - one belonging to J and one to his boyfriend - stayed in the backyard.  We are trying to do things incrementally, so the next step will be to meet one or both of the dogs on neutral territory like a park and/or on a walk.  Honestly, I am pretty anxious about it.  Even though I've had Zoey for a couple years now, I am no expert on dog behavior, and she hasn't spent much time socializing with other dogs.  She loves people, but the experiences she's had meeting dogs on walks have been mixed.  Sometimes great and other times, she gets jumpy and they bark.  The worst instance was with another Boston who started growling and then they tangled up leashes and went 'round and 'round in circles growling/snarling.  I thought they were going to kill each other but no biting actually happened.  Oh and then I tried to arrange a playdate with another male Boston and Zoey growled and snarled at him when he got up in her space.  I've since learned I shouldn't have introduced them on her "turf," and also this dog was a scrappy-looking rescue dog who lived with two pit-bulls, so I don't think his behavior was great. 

Anyway, I feel so responsible for her and don't want her hurt in anyway.  But I don't think my anxiety helps the situation sometimes!  At least we are trying to be conscious and follow the "expert's" advice on how to introduce dogs for the first time.  Fingers crossed!  I think if she is able to acclimate with the other dogs, it could be really fun for her to have playmates.

On the people front, J and I went to a play together a week or so ago, as well as talking more during the Thursday visit... Remember what I said about him being an actor and extrovert and sometimes dominating the conversation?  Well, it has unfortunately been the case.  He is a really sweet guy and has had a hard time with his partner passing away last year.  But I am not really interested in being a "groupie" or playing his audience all the time, you know?  He seems to love to "hold court" and expound on any number of subjects, seeking attention and sympathy whenever possible. 

When I was there Thursday, he asked about a date I had the week prior, and I had just begun to share about it when he jumped in and started talking about how he and his partner met in their church community and why it was such a great way to meet, etc.  I tried to pick up the thread I had started to talk about when he interrupted again with a raised voice and further explained his point of view.  Argh!  I'm trying to cut him slack because I imagine any talk about dating and relationships might bring up intense feelings for him around the loss of his partner, but I do like to be heard and seen in a conversation, as well.  Not sure if he will be around enough - as mentioned, he will be spending a lot of time at his new partner's house - but I may need to make a request of some sort if it continues?  We will see, but it was the first time I felt a twinge of nervous "Buyer's Remorse" about my new living situation...

Off to work out!  Hope you are all enjoying your Saturdays!