Monday, March 21, 2016

Going Back to Work

11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, theLord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.  -1 Kings 19:11-12

It's been too long since I've written. Every time I sit down to write, I get distracted or my son needs me (here he comes now) or I'm simply too tired, but I should probably chronicle the big life changes we've been going through.

I've gone back to work. It's something we've been talking about for months. Well. Something Travis has gently suggested and I have vehemently opposed. Why? We certainly needed the money. But it just didn't seem right. I had just come out of a very difficult year and a half working full-time at a challenging library, first pregnant and then the mother of a newborn. Having a newborn takes a special toll on parents, and mothers in particular. Having to work where I worked AND juggle mothering a newborn was a special kind of awful. Needless to say, I was not anxious to go back to work. I think the main problem was, I had come to the realization that I just really didn't like working in public libraries. I don't like the hours, I don't like the patrons, with the exception of some Districts like Las Vegas, compensation isn't great. If you move every three years, like Travis and I tend to, it is a pain in the ass to try and break into a new library system. I don't even particularly like the work. There were days I loved my job and there were days I despised it. Let it be known that my coworkers were almost universally amazing people, at both public libraries I've ever worked at. But by the time I left my last job, I had pretty much had it with the work.

That's just to give you a little idea why i was not anxious to go back to work: the only thing on my resume was public libraries and I couldn't... I couldn't go back. I have so much love and respect for public libraries. It doesn't mean I need to work in one ever again.

There were other reasons too, reasons that seem foolish in retrospect but felt very real at the time. After we left Vegas I had the amazing privilege of being a stay-at-home mom for a while and getting to be friends with other such moms. It was like a hidden world that comes out to play between 10am and 3pm every day. It was a softer world, filled with play dates and walks to the park and yes, I admit, a lot of TV. I felt I had earned it.

In the meantime, we were hemorrhaging money. No problem. I'd figure out some way to make money from home. I saw countless other families working it out with only one parent working, and I thought, "Why not us? How are we different? We can make it work, too." Predictably, none of my make-money-from-home ideas paid off.

Things really came to a head for us after Christmas. After yet another serious discussion that ended with me in tears again, I reluctantly decided to begin searching for jobs. I literally googled "library jobs Indianapolis" and got a few interesting hits. I sent in applications and cover letters to a few on a lark and within a week or two I heard back from someone. It was from an extremely vague job description that I only applied for because I fit the basic requirements and could perform all the duties. I didn't know if I wanted to work there or what the job even was. But after a series of phone interviews, reality began to set it: I might actually get this job. The night before the on-site interview, I had a nervous breakdown. It was all happening way too fast! I had been casually job-searching--I had even been a little impudent in my cover letter!--and here I was in the final stages of recruiting! I told Travis that it didn't feel right. Nothing felt right. I wanted to withdraw my application. I hadn't even had a chance to apply for other things that might be a better fit! What if I got this job?! How would we figure out childcare?? Dog care?? What if I really wanted the job after all and I didn't get it?? My anxieties began to spiral out of control.

My mind actually went to a pretty dark place. I thought, "Is this some sort of punishment?" I knew I wasn't always the best mom; I knew the ways that I failed my son; and now he was being taken away from me.

Travis calmly talked me away from the cliff's edge. Mostly he just listened, actually, while I came to the only logical conclusion: just go to the interview and see how it feels. I wasn't under any obligation to accept the job if it didn't feel right. Take one step at a time. Cross bridges as I got to them.

I went to the interview. I felt... so calm. No stress whatsoever. I figured I had nothing to lose. And the job site was really, really nice. It was a totally different energy than the night before. I walked away shrugging my shoulders, feeling confident that I would indeed enjoy working there, that my interview had gone well, and that there was nothing else I could do so why worry? I called Travis excited about the interview, and in my heart I knew. I knew I wouldn't surprised if I got the job and that I'd accept if I did.

I'll make a long story short. (Too late.) I got the job. :) I love it. All the things I thought would be worse are actually better in our lives. I'm a better mom. I'm a better wife! We are more equal partners. There are some things that are more challenging, yes, but overall it's much better. I may want to go back to staying at home in the future, when it is financially feasible. But for now, this is what's best for us.

My takeaway:  The scripture at the top of this post immediately came to my mind as I went through this process. Sometimes you have to go through the wind and the fire and the hell before the dust settles and you hear it: the still small voice telling you that everything is going to be ok.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

On My Mind...

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953

A good family friend who has been battling an aggressive bone cancer for four years now is in the hospital and likely dying. As I have sat at my computer contemplating this horrible reality for the last hour, this poem popped into my mind. I do not know if it is this faithful, gentle, wonderful man's time to gently embrace the dying of the light. Perhaps it is. But this I know, for the last four years he has raged, raged against the dying of the light. I've never seen anybody fight so hard and display so much faith against such terrible odds. He has turned his face completely to God at a time when most of us would turn away and curse Him. He has also embraced every possible scientific avenue, tested and experimental, and has probably added significantly to the body of research that will someday hopefully eradicate this horrible disease.


Rage against the dying of the light.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I Wear Mine On the Outside

Eight months ago, I dropped a sleeping Coco off with T at his school and drove myself over to The Skin Factory on Sunset Road in Vegas. There, I met a man who had piercings I had no idea were even possible. I divulged that I was nervous, but his professional demeanor and careful, meticulous cleanliness immediately put me at ease. He took his time, making sure that everything was just right and even took a picture of the solitary gem in my ear at the end. He obviously took pride in his work.

Four days ago, T and Coco came with me, to a different place in a different city. This time I got a tiny hole in my nostril and filled it with a tiny stud. As we walked out, I giggled with adrenaline. "I did it!" I said to my husband. I'd finally done it and it felt a little like getting away with murder.

If you are a stranger on the internet who has randomly stumbled on this post, you probably wonder what the big deal is.

If you've known me for a really long time, maybe you are shocked. Maybe you think I'm stupid or silly. Or worse: "a sinner." Maybe you don't understand why anyone, least of all I, would think this was attractive. Maybe, if you are Mormon like me, you think what I did flies in the face of prophetic advice given by President Hinckley in conference a decade and a half ago. Maybe you remember that I had multiple piercings back then, and that peer pressure coupled with a teenage compulsion to "fit in at all costs" in a predominantly Mormon community finally got me to take out those extra earrings. Maybe you didn't know this, but I still resent that...

It's not about earrings. It was never about earrings.

It's about being asked to "fit in." It's about conforming to certain cultural standards that don't have anything to do with the content of my character. As I've gotten older, I've struggled with my Mormon community. I still desperately want to fit in--but on my OWN terms. I want to be embraced by my community with all my flaws and my doubts and my imperfections and deviations from "the norm" fully disclosed. I'm not brave enough to verbally communicate these concerns with just anyone. Because I come from such a solidly believing background and household--because I have pioneer ancestry on both sides--it is very difficult to tell people, "I don't know if I believe this, but I'm here because I think it might be true. And I need this community, regardless of my faith." For so long, I've lived with the fear that something I say or do will "out" me as a questioner, as a doubter, as my true, edgy self, and that it will drive people away.

I'm done with that now. Here I am. This is who I am. This is, on a fundamental level, who I have always been. Even as a missionary in Brazil, I never could wrap my head around "obedience for obedience sake." I have questions. I have doubts. (And for what it's worth, I've always kind of liked piercings!) I like to peek into the dark corners of this world--not to stay, but just to see what's there so that I know. So that I know for sure that I want to stand in the Light.

For most people, a nose ring is a simple piece of jewelry: an aesthetic choice. For me, it is that, but it is also a signal to people in my Mormon community: That I do not want to be taken for granted. It's a question, and maybe a little bit of a dare: Will you turn away from me because of this? Or will you still embrace me as a sister and a follower of the man who broke bread with sinners and publicans?

Some people wear their questions on the inside...

Friday, July 10, 2015

On Turning 30 and Not Giving a Sh*t (in a good way!)

I turn 30 in less than a month.

Here is how I feel I am different from when I was 20:

1) Music: I no longer exert too much time and energy trying to find new music. Don't get me wrong, I still love music, and I do seek it out, but I am quite passive about finding music and Shazam is my friend. What I listen to has stopped being a status symbol for me. I'll listen to Taylor Swift alongside Fleet Foxes or Radiohead or the BeeGees. I like what I like, and I really don't care who it impresses (or doesn't.)

2) Style: Five years ago, if you'd asked me what I thought about tattoos I would have immediately spouted off some self-righteous indictment against tattoos and those who got them--especially about "those who knew better" than to get one. I would get borderline angry about them. I now find that attitude completely ridiculous. I am also never interested in having any conversation about tattoos, piercings, clothing or the like unless it is to talk about how something looks awesome or bad in a strictly artistic sense. I absolutely believe my body is a temple, but I am more interested in purifying my character than making sure I "look right" on the outside. I also find people's attitudes about these outward things to be a good bellwether of how well I will get along with them. For example, if you express disgust for people who make certain aesthetic choices that you or I wouldn't necessarily make, then the chances are good that we won't be friends. Now the $5 million question: do I personally have a tattoo? No. But I likely will at some point, and it's also likely that you will never see it.

3) Faith: I have experienced and weathered several crises of faith, and my conclusion is that it doesn't stop from here on out. The ups and downs of faith are a pattern that will be experienced from now on. I'm an older and deeper thinker now. I've learned things and I've seen things that do not allow me to take my faith for granted anymore. Faith is hard work--which, I believe, is as it should be.

4) Philosophy: I don't believe in absolutes anymore. Very, very few of them at least. I am impatient with people who tend to see everything in black and white. I don't understand how you can be so sure about something to the point where you are unwilling to concede ANY doubt whatsoever. That, to me, is not a show of faith but a lack of humility. I don't believe in imposing my philosophy on other people. I live the way I live, and if someone else wants to live that way (or not) that is cool. In most things, I am deeply uninterested in trying to convince you that my way of doing things is the right way. I believe in spreading the Good News almost strictly through example.

5) Friendship:  I've had to learn to just let some things go and move on, but to always leave the door open, because it is important being open to friendship, new and old, and to let people choose YOU sometimes.

6) Love: I now know love. I've met and married my best friend. I have given birth to and fallen in love with my firstborn child. My heart is full, full, FULL of love for that friend and for that child. And oh, what a child! To have such purity in my home... it is priceless. To feel a sliver of what God must feel... It is a speechless gift.

I could never have understood any of these things 10 years ago. In fact, I heard 30-year-olds express some of these things and i thought, "That'll never be me." Well here I am, and I'm ok with it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Photo dump: 5-8 months

mother's lounge mirror selfies. Church from the mother's lounge is awesome

watching the pups

date night at Chilly Jilly's!

sitting up on his own!

interviewing Wheatley

making demands

trying to crawl. (Not succeeding)

on the way to Death Valley

Sick! RSV

Cafe Rio with daddy

His first and last time at our women's reunion


best buds

Photo Dump: 2-5 months

swaddled after a screaming session

mesmerized by a street light

looking comically small in his Bumbo



babies are nothing if not flexible

fun in D.C. for Christmas

Christmas lights are pretty

Great-grandma time

being a baby is serious business