10/05/2014

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!

9/20/2014

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!

9/03/2014

Philosophical Ruminations

Do you all think it's true that the more vulnerable you are, the more "belonging" you will feel in groups or within a couple?  This is something that seems to be coming up for me in different contexts: I read about it, talked to others about it, and it came up last night in my InterPl@y group, as well.  The idea being that as we show both our weaknesses and strengths, we can experience acceptance and truly being known.  And, in a chicken and egg equation, the more self-acceptance we feel, the more authentic and vulnerable we are able to be.  I think there might be truth to this... I know I experienced the opposite - a feeling of self-consciousness, separateness, and lack of acceptance - in my leadership group when I was "triggered" or feeling small and not good about myself.  I would like to increase my self-acceptance, ability to be vulnerable, and my sense of belonging in my friendships and groups.  Can I make a mid-year resolution?

Another, even bigger, question: What gives our lives meaning, and what specifically will give my life meaning, if not ttc and motherhood?  I have been thinking lately about how focused I was for so long (many years) on trying to get pregnant, and, as frustrating as the process could be, how it gave my life direction and meaning.  Researching fertility, donors (or male fertility for S), procedures.  Tracking my bbt and other fertility signs, then hyper-analyzing possible indications of pregnancy.  Talking to others, supporting and being supported by others through the journey.  It all added up to a LOT of time, energy, and, yes, meaning.  The chance of success was so exciting and trying for the goal of a child definitely fueled a fire within me.  What fuels my fire now?  At the moment, nothing that comes close to that level of engagement.

Do I need to take some dramatic action to change my life?  Right now, I feel somewhat stuck in a rut, and have felt that way for a while, even during the last part of when I was with S.  The activism I did with S did feel meaningful and exciting, which I haven't been involved with since.  Do you ever feel like you just go to work, plan for work, eat, sleep, watch TV?  Okay, I also participate in dance and theater groups once a week and am now working out a couple times....going out with friends here and there.  But our day-to-day activities are the meat of our lives.  My career counseling work is enjoyable and has some meaning, but it's not enough; I need more juice.

And this upcoming move feels like a parallel one.  My new living situation - the houseshare with my theater teacher in Al@meda, which will be confirmed when I meet his partner but is 90% likely, will be similar to this one in many ways: living with a guy who's in a relationship and gone much of the time; small two-bedroom, one bath house with a backyard; nice couch and TV setup in the living room just beckoning for my butt to sit down and watch.  Don't get me wrong, I am grateful!  The rent is right, I am friends with my new housemate, Zoey has her backyard, the house is pretty nice.  But part of me hoped this move would be more of a shake-up; that I would end up in a significantly different, more close-knit friendship/community-type situation.  The one BIG difference is the neighborhood.  It's MUCH nicer and more walkable.  LOTS of fun restaurants, coffee shops, stores, hangout places, and the beach is close-by.  So maybe I will get out more and feel less insular.

But I feel like I need MORE of a shake-up or to find something that gives my life more purpose and meaning.  A relationship would be a good start, but I can't force that.  I am not in a stable enough place at the moment to think seriously of pursuing having a child (in ways that don't involve my own eggs).  Anyone else felt like this?

8/23/2014

Finally: Good News!

So, I have not found my new place yet, BUT:

I have found two possible places in Al@meda, which is not further North, as I'd hoped, but is an awesome community in which I do already know a couple people.  And it's not much more of a drive than what I have now, which is about 20-25 minutes (without traffic).  It's interesting to me that they are both in Al@meda... I've been looking there periodically but was finding most places in Berke1ey.

I am in the process of setting a time - hopefully this weekend - to see the first option: a large, furnished room in an historic house with a huge backyard and hardwood floors.  I would be living with an accomplished 60-year-old puppeteer (she has Disney credits) and holistic health teacher.  She had great energy on the phone and called me "honey," which was endearing.

The second place, which I am going to see Monday evening after work, would be living with my InterPl@y teacher, J, in a place that also has a great doggie-friendly yard.  Actually, he would not be there consistently because he often stays at his boyfriend's.  On the one hand, this is great, but on the other hand, it mirrors my current situation in many ways, and I would like to have more connection time spent with my housemate(s).  I think he and his boyfriend would likely move in together within a few months to a year, however, at which point I could find another housemate.  J is a great guy - fun and kind and communicative - yet, he is an extravert and an actor who brings a lot of energy to the table.  As I have shared, I am an introvert, and so I appreciate low-key, quiet time, as well as space to share back and forth in a mutual way.  Who knows, though?  I've only known him in one context, plus he would be gone a lot.

Both places are in my extended higher range of rent at about $1000.  But remember how I said maybe I could earn more money through my c@reer counseling?  Well, in a bolt of synchronicity, I received free website assistance from an awesome community organization that gives technical work experience/internships to young people and, as part of that process, was prompted to create a business page on FB.  A couple of you already saw this because you "friended" my new page - thank you!  It's under "N@vigating Tr@nsitions C@reer Counse1ing" spelled normally, if you want to check it out.  So, maybe my business is about to increase!  May it be so!  Anyway, I am sure I will know a lot more about the two housing options once I see them, and I will keep you posted!

In yet more good news, my housemate and I had a difficult but good conversation, and we negotiated my move-out date to the end of September!  Yay!  This takes a lot of the pressure off and, fingers crossed, I won't need to stay with my friend.  My housemate's packing and transition to living in his new wife's (now "their") house in S@cramento is taking longer than he thought it might.  And he still has a lot of work to do on this house, some of which they will be doing over Labor Day weekend.  So, once I reassured him that I had options and could stay with a friend if need be, he felt more comfortable agreeing to a longer transition time.  What an awesome guy, right!  Though I may end up moving sooner if the first house works out, because she really wants someone in there at the beginning of September.

This post is becoming super long, but I did want to give the final piece of good news that my class started off very well!  And guess what?  All my students are over 18-years-old!  And my class size is 18 versus 28!  Hallelujah!  I imagine I'll need to teach the youngsters again in the future, but this semester, to my surprise, I was not given the section with mostly high school freshmen.  I. am. so. grateful.

Off to see the movie, "B@yhood" with Ew@n Mcgregor and P@tricia Arquette.  Such an interesting concept - have you seen it?  Hope your weekends are happy ones!

8/16/2014

Transition Time

Sorry for the downer posts lately... it's a "transition time" for me, as they say.  Moving for me right now seems to be a big deal.  On multiple levels, it means my life is shifting and changing, and much of the landscape where I will end up is unknown.

As an introvert, my home is my refuge.  I need to have a safe and private place to recharge and relax.  I don't know if I can find that with the friend with whom I was recently looking for housing.  She is a kind and good person, but also an extravert and seems to "spin out" with anxiety and frenetic talking regularly.  I am somewhat of an anxious person myself, and I think this might interfere with me finding the calm relaxation I need at home.

As an aside: the two places I mentioned before were a big disappointment.  The "urban treehouse" was rundown and dark and the backyard would be a hazard for the dog, in addition to me and the owner and potential housemate not clicking well.  With regard to the other one in Alb@ny, the woman was a semi-hoarder and the place had piles everywhere, was not clean, and had a large, albeit nice, dog lying all over the furniture. :(

I'm going to two open-houses tomorrow; one would involve living with three other people, and the other, seven people.  Even three other people feels like a stretch.  Ideally, I would like to live with one or maybe two other people.  But I don't have all the time in the world to find a place.  "All the time in the world" meaning more than two weeks!  And my girl, Zoey, adds to the challenge of finding a place, as apartment living without a yard would be a much lower quality of life for her.

There is the option of living with my friend for a month, which I may do but would mean more chaos and stress in terms of transitioning.  Better to do that though, I think, than move into a place that doesn't feel good enough to live in long term.  I do NOT want to end up needing to move again in a few months - been there, done that, when I talked myself into a situation that didn't feel right in the past.

So, I'm trying to hang in there and continue to take it one step at a time, having faith that something will fall into place.  I also notice that my maximum rent level seems to be inching up two or three hundred dollars, as most places I'm seeing that sound great are in a higher range.  I may regret not standing firm in my upper limit, but then again, it may push me to earn more money - maybe get my career counseling business going.

The other major change is in terms of social structure.  As I said, I have met a lot of my needs for connection and meaningful conversation through time over meals with my housemate.  That's all of a sudden gone now, and I guess I'm hoping that my next living situation will include someone with whom I feel comfortable and can have these kinds of conversations.

Meanwhile, I'm binge-watching "Or@nge is the New Bl@ck," which is sooo good.  And so distracting.  Right now, I MUST begin working on my syllabus for the class that starts next week.  So. hard. to. motivate.

Part of my stuck-ness is emotion around my mom's illness, as well.  My brother delivered bad news a few days ago that the cancer is now confirmed in her lungs, much lowering hope of recovery.  This punctured the bubble of hope I was maintaining.  I have cried once, but a kind of heavy sadness seems to be hanging over me.  I don't know what I should do, if anything.  They live too far away to help in practical ways.  I need to call but am kind of dreading that, as it will make it more real.  The whole situation bring up a lot of existential questioning for me, which doesn't seem very productive.

Thanks for listening.  Hopefully, my next post will bring better news and a new outlook.

8/02/2014

I am c-r-a-b-b-y


I am crabby and irritable right now.  My fuse is shorter than usual.  I always have a little grump in my nature that can come out when I am over-extended or experiencing anxiety.  But then, at certain times, I'm more reactive and feel more intense anger when things don't go my way or I feel stuck or unfairly treated.  I am aware that my cycle is due to start soon, so I'm sure that's part of it.

This morning, I had zero tolerance for an idiot I was messaging with on a dating site.  He wasn't listening to my responses - was being self-absorbed - and then went off on me when I had to get off chat abruptly to answer a phone call.  Just before I got off the chat, I had expressed confusion and mirrored back what I was hearing - that I guessed he wasn't open to adoption or I-V-F.

I should explain how the conversation went down:  After asking me about my hopes for becoming a mother and hearing my answer that it was unlikely I would conceive naturally (without intervention) but might become a parent through the previously-mentioned avenues, he said he regretted not becoming a parent.  I asked him why couldn't he now?  And he said well, he did think he'd have enough energy (he was around 50), but he would need to date women the age of a daughter.  So I, logically I think, questioned him about not being open to what I had mentioned.  Then I got a call about a possible housing opportunity and told him I needed to leave chat and take it.

When I got back on the site, he had written me a vitriolic email about how rude and high maintenance I was and how could I be a counselor and of course he was open to these things.  What?  Right after I had suggested them he acted as though the opportunity had passed him by and that he would need to date someone much younger to become a parent.

What's funny is he said in his profile he wanted someone who was "baggage free."  I am no longer going to correspond with guys that say that because inevitably it ends up that they have the most difficult baggage of all.  As I should know by now, the hardest issues to deal with are those that are unconscious.  When people say they have no baggage, you can bet they have as much "baggage" or wounds/issues as any of us, but they haven't figured out what they are and therefore don't moderate them or take responsibility for the outburst that happens when one of these issues gets triggered.

He was very uncool, but I recognize I was irritable from the start.  I am definitely hormonal but also could use some TLC like sitting quietly in nature and doing some drawing or art.  I'm stressed about moving and STILL not having found a place (following some new leads), and I'm lonely too.  Zoey helps but some human companionship would be nice.  My housemate is on his honeymoon for another couple weeks.  It's crazy that shortly after he gets back, everything is going to change.  We will never live together again, and we will never have the conversations over meals on a regular basis like we did for so long.  It's like three years of this and then "poof!" it's over.  Very strange.

To end on a positive note, I have been working out at the Y doing cardio and Zumba classes the past couple of weeks.  I'm so happy to have found the motivation for this!  It feels sooo good and my body feels different already.  I think it will give me greater confidence with dating, even though I do know that there are men out there that would love me just as I am.  Maybe, as mentioned in this post, I will even get to change my description from "average" to "athletic" some time in the future.  :-)

7/20/2014

Moving moving moving...

The countdown has started and I'm behind the ball!

First some wedding news (related because I need to be packed and moving when they come back from the 3-week honeymoon!):  Theatre friends and I went to my housemate, K's, wedding last night, and it was meaningful and poignant.  I think it was especially poignant to me because I have known K for several years, and his long-held dreams are finally coming true.

As I might have mentioned, his first marriage broke up because he became crystal clear he wanted children and she became crystal clear she did not.  It ended shortly before I first met him online and went on a couple of dates.  Obviously it didn't lead anywhere, but we became friends and I became his housemate when I moved to this area over three years ago.  And during these last three years, he has been a dating fiend, uber-focused on finding a wife and the mother of his children.

He's now 50-years-old and has found a wonderful partner in T, who I really like.  They have an ease and stability in their relationship that is confidence-inspiring for their future.  And she's 35 and really wants to have kids!  Watching the ceremony last night, he was clearly so happy and ready to make the leap into this commitment.  Watching him tear up at times during the ceremony and hearing the emotion in his voice as he said his vows and exchanged rings was just very moving.

It was nice being there with other close friends from our Tuesday group.  The food was great and they had an excellent and most entertaining DJ, who got the dancing going, as well.   I finally was able to meet two of his brothers and their kids, including his darling god-daughter, after seeing many Christmas card photos of them over the years.

So all that was wonderful... and now, reality is hitting about the huge changes coming down the pike in my own life.  I have two possible places I'm looking at to move at this point.  The first one is in Albany (a great location) with an older woman who rents two rooms in her house.  The house has a backyard and is located not far from friends of mine, which is great.  She said the other woman works and is out a lot, but that she does not work (but goes out often).  She wants to have a sense of community in the house, but of course that means different things to different people.  She seems very nice, if a bit reserved, on the phone.  I'll likely go see the place on Tuesday.

The second option is in a good location in Berkel@y, in a duplex that sounds really awesome and has an enclosed backyard.  She initially described it as an "urban treehouse," with three floors, one bedroom on each floor.  The living room and kitchen is on the first floor, along with the room that I would live in, at least initially.  The only bathroom is on the second floor.  From what she says, she and the other woman living there have been very low impact on the house, as both of them work full-time and are out doing other things, as well.  They don't watch TV, so maybe this could be what I need to reduce my watching time, keeping it to later in the evening in my room.

So, here comes the kicker - not sure if it's completely positive though it could be - she is pregnant, as an SMC!  I had no idea until a couple days ago, assuming from her ad that she was part of a couple.  She's a friend of a friend and seems really cool, if a little tense.  She is due in October, I think, at which time her current roommate will be moving to the front part of the duplex and her parents will be coming to stay for a few weeks to help with the baby.  Things could get chaotic for a while, especially considering her mom is afraid of dogs.  But it could be really nice to have a baby in my life and live in a house with an SMC.  Eventually, after her parents leave, I could likely have the middle-level room, which is larger and has a nicer view.  I am either going to see the place today or later in the week.

So what to do you guys think of the options, so far?  I should have more to report soon.  Meanwhile, I better start packing!  At least I was finally able to get to U-h@ul and pick up a bunch of boxes and packing materials.  I plan to throw out or give away a bunch of clothes and other stuff in the process.