May 28, 2010

May 23, 2010

Cave dweller.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that not too many people get what I'm doing right now. Most family and friends are, after all, under the impression that I had everything I wanted, and lost it all through a series of mishaps and bad decisions. I went through that self-pity party myself. I now, however, feel the need to clear up something important to me: I am doing exactly what I want. Yes, I live in a basement; no, I don't have a job; yes, it's a challenge being a divorced, downwardly mobile single mother. But I've arranged my life very deliberately so that I can focus on endeavors other than dinner parties and buying shit I don't need. I have created this window of time in my life where I can be a mom and a writer, in that order. I'm also a friend, a sister, a daughter, a lover and, most of the time, a card-carrying whack job.

I've spent too much of my life trying to fit in. To blend, to not draw attention to myself, to be appropriate. Problem with that is that I was so good at it, I ended up feeling invisible, and wondering why nobody really knew me. Growing up in rural Washington as an east coast transplant gave me a very tangible goal: DON'T BE WEIRD. Learn the country lingo, dress the part and don't let on that my family was at all different than everyone else's. (In that we hadn't lived there for generations, among other things.)

This was fantastic practice for when I went off to college in St. Louis, and found myself surrounded by kids from the east coast. Rather than feeling reunited with my people, I was so thoroughly countrified that, once again, I was a fish out of water. College, for me, was a giant game to which everyone else knew the rules. I was lost, and terrified of being considered weird. So I switched gears and did the best I could to emulate my peers, but I'm not sure I ever really fooled anyone. I certainly didn't enjoy those four years of putting up walls and then waiting for at least one person to tear them down. (One did make the effort; all I can say to him is, "I'm sorry.")

When I moved to Chicago, I felt at home. Something about the anonymity of a large city made it easier for me to move about undetected. Perfect. But then I made a bunch of friends, and had to go through the process of trying to be close without anyone figuring out how weird I really was. I got really good at this; some of my neuroses I was able to pass off as quirky, which provided a release valve. A few toxic friendships torpedoed my self esteem, though, and I still carry around parts of that scared, twenty-something girl who was never pretty enough, successful enough or cool enough. At least I was funny; funny was my thing. But the rest of it eluded me, until...

...I moved to Portland. Here, I finally got comfortable with myself. Not so comfortable that I didn't hate visits to Chicago, but I found my niche pursuing the American Dream with a vengeance. (This blog is about how that didn't work out so well for me, however, as both of my readers will attest.)

I'm more comfortable with myself than I ever have been. Getting in touch with my inner weirdo has proved much more enjoyable than I expected. Much the way I've always imagined a schizophrenic feels when they go off their meds and just listen to the voices in their heads for a change, it's a huge relief. For me, it's been a healthy relief. It's allowed me to write without worrying about what people/readers will think. (Let's face it, most writers are anything but normal.) It's brought friendships that are real and messy and intimate and all that other stuff I avoided for so long, because I've surrounded myself with people I find interesting, and who don't think I'm all that weird. I now find that for me, normal = B-O-R-I-N-G.

I live in a cave. I'm a little weird. And it's okay.

May 18, 2010

My little baby.

I haven't posted for a while, largely because the batteries in my camera have been dead and I'm too lazy to do anything about it. I consider this a place to post photos with witty commentary, so friends and family can see Grace as she grows. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but today words will have to suffice.

It's been over a week since I've seen Grace because of the speed bump I mentioned below. Today she came over for the afternoon, and HOLY CRAP. For one thing, she looked so lanky and grown up; that growth spurt I was predicting happened with a vengeance. At this rate, she will be taller than I am by the time she's flirting with tweendom (John's 6'2"). Also, she has a cold (natch), and her husky voice made her sound older. It was weird. Like, who's this strange kid in my house? weird.

By the time she left she no longer seemed like a stranger, fortunately. And while I used to believe Grace would drive me to therapy (if I weren't already there), I now realize she is the best therapy around. We crammed so much fun into a few hours, because that's who she is. If I was lost the last couple of weeks, color me found. (I know it's a lot to lay on a kid, keeping her mother grounded, but what harm can it do if she doesn't know?) I am someone's mother, as a few wise friends keep reminding me when they see me flailing. And I realized today that I love every wonderful, crazy, frustrating, hilarious, terrifying minute of it.

Speed bump.

Most of the time I am brutally honest when I blog, because I find such release in writing, regardless of who reads my thoughts, or doesn't read them. I can't do this now, however, because I have a certain sense of crossing a line when it comes to very personal experiences. So, the short version.

I was in the hospital for eight days. I was sick, and then they almost killed me by giving me a drug to which I had a severe allergic reaction. For days, they did not listen when I complained I felt worse. Fortunately, my admitting doctor went on vacation and the doctor covering for him did listen to me. She did some blood work and a couple minutes of research and figured out what the problem was. Once I felt better, I wanted nothing more than to go home, but this was not in the cards, since I needed to be monitored. I almost checked out AMA (against medical advice), but this meant my insurance wouldn't cover my stay, and that seemed like a very bad thing.

The worst part about being in the hospital, other than almost dying? No Diet Coke. The best part? Waking up every morning to the adorable, 22-year-old face of the med student who came to draw my blood. Thank you, Cute Blood Guy, for all the painless pricks and for taking the time to talk to me about books; you will be a fantastic doctor one day.

So that happened. On with life, such as it is.