Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Days go by

I've started and saved half a dozen posts, but between the packing and the shopping and the moving, they're still sitting on Blogger waiting. Like my new website. So not gonna happen this year.

I have stories I want to tell you, like the one involving the massive statewide flood, a malfunctioning fuel pump, and my favorite jeans. (Traumatic, people. Traumatic.) The truth is, though, I've also had a really rough time lately, and part of my way to deal has been to withdraw from the world a little. It isn't easy to explain the roots of the crisis without sounding ridiculous, but I am going to try one of these days.

For now, I ask you to be patient with me. I'm trying. Things are getting better, a lot better (apart from my poor jeans), but I'm just not ready to write about it all yet. For everybody I've talked with lately, I love you. Your support means more than I can say. To anyone who's waiting on a comment response or who's wondering why I don't write on your blogs anymore, I'm sorry. I am here. I am reading. I'm just a little quiet; I won't be for long.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hanging in there

I'm here and tired, but man -- I barely missed getting stuck on I-5 yesterday when it closed, and now I'm stuck in Seattle while Mom languishes down in Portland. This It would be really nice to go home, see the cat, pack my apartment -- but I don't have a clue when that's going to happen. I'll tell you all about my awesome travel day when I'm a little less exhausted.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Last days

Is: 7:40 pm.

Number of drinks have had:
1 double gin and tonic
1 stoli's and rootbeer
1 irish car bomb
1 shot whiskey
1 irish car bomb

Number of co-workers have outdrunk:
4. Could be 6 or 7, but double vision makes it hard to tell who might be figment of drunk-ass imagination.

Number of times have said "I'll miss you":
Oh god, do not ask.

Minutes until I will severely regret past 3.5 hours:
Five, maybe 10. Depends on how much water I can chug. Considering that ceiling already spins like a record baby, could be very soon. Then again, did manage to order pizza. With vegetables. I think. Maybe called Fred Meyer's instead. Not sure yet.

General assessment of evening:
Fun. And oh, shit. Do not remind me of existence of Irish Car Bombs, as response is to say: "Shit, yes!" and chug, willingly, repeatedly.

Going back to floor now. Fuuuuuuck.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Edward Abbey knows my soul

One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am-a reluctant enthusiast... a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards.

Many thanks to Bryce for posting this quote. I've been struggling for the last year with some serious environmental burnout while my fellow Udallers do amazing things without me. I think the tide of apathy is finally turning for me. Tonight, I needed this quote.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Oh, hi!

Oh my god. It has been 12 days since my last post.

TWELVE! I have become one of those awful bloggers whose page you refresh and refresh and refresh until your key seizes up and you delete the whole thing from your RSS feed in disgust.

Forgive me, dear readers. It's going to be a long month. Oh, shit. Month is basically over. It's going to be a long...quarter?

I was going to blog yesterday, but then I got stuck in holiday traffic south of Olympia. This was particularly irritating because THERE IS NOT ONE GODDAMN THING SOUTH OF OLYMPIA. There is an asinine billboard run by a right-wing conservative. There is a perfect example of why people with money should not be allowed to spend it without some form of oversight. There is a small town whose location I can identify only because it is directly south of the two smashed-to-bits freight truck cabs that have been perched atop a 20' pole for as long as I can remember. I think it is an advertisement for a junkyard. Or maybe a memorial to drivers who went insane after navigating this long, unforgivably boring stretch of highway week after week. Last night, I could not reflect upon the meaning of the trucks, because I was sharing the car with a cat who does not understand congestion. He'd behaved very well until traffic slowed -- probably because I sprayed Feliway in his carrier until he hallucinated -- but we were doomed as soon as the tail lights lit up.

Want to know what cats think of highway backups and air pollution? It goes like this:

"Meow. Meow. MEOW. MEOOOW. Meow. Meow. MEOW. MEOOOW."

A little tip? Do not attempt to soothe a road raging cat. It may clamp down on your finger and continue its monologue thusly: "Mrmph...mprhwo...ooooow."

After four hours, I wondered whether I should pull over and find somewhere to stay for the night. You see, my cat also has a few gastrointestinal delicacies, fancy talk for: he's prone to farting whenever he's excited. Or pissed, apparently. Just as I reached the point where I was willing to stay in a room next to a giant Veggie Tales outlet (you so wish I was kidding right now -- welcome to the parts of Washington State we don't talk about in polite company), traffic cleared. And then I drove like the proverbial bat from hell except I can see so I didn't have to use the sonar which was good because I think bats would have trouble navigating at 80 mph+.

Did I mention this week is the week from hell? No? Well, it is. So this semicoherent post may be all you get from me until Saturday, because in between now and then I must:

1. Work until 10 p.m. tomorrow, because nothing says, "I'm a short-timer!" like a 14-hour day
2. Take the cat to the vet to have a lump examined Wednesday. This involves putting him in the carrier, which he didn't used to mind until we started going on 3 hour excursions. On Sunday, he almost took down a lampshade in his attempt to escape the plastic jaws of doom, and that was when I had someone else to help me. This should be fun.
3. Work a full day Thursday, go to physical therapy (oh, crap, you don't know about that yet) and then drive to Seattle because
4. I have an interview at 9:30 Friday morning (and I have lovely pre-interview questions I have to think about and write beforehand because, you know, you really need to go through the wringer for a 15-hour per week job) and then
5. I have to drive back to Portland by 1:00 to finish my workday. Because they hate me.
6. Did I mention I need to pack all weekend?
7. And CB comes into SeaTac on Monday? Which involves (yes) another drive to Seattle (nonononono).

It is now past my bedtime and I am going to take a bath because, damnit, at this point sleep deprivation might be a good thing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Fact not fiction

Twenty-six years ago, my mother sat waiting for a bus near San Francisco's Russian Hill. She was in her third trimester and her body hummed with anticipation and anxiety. This was her first child. What sort of future lay in store for it? She waited and daydreamed.

When she looked up, Dianne Feinstein was sitting next to her. Mom wasn't a shy person, and soon she and the young politician were engaged in an animated conversation. Before they parted, Dianne patted my Mom's belly and told her she'd be a great mother. I know how much that moment meant to my mom because every time she tells it, she glows a little, like she's still in her 30s and turning to a fresh chapter, like someone's just reached out again and let her know that everything is going to be new and different and good.

Maybe growing up with that story explains why I am so sad about this, why I won't even ask my Mom if she's heard the news -- in case she hasn't -- even though I've never met Senator Feinstein myself. I don't understand her decisions lately, especially to back the cowardly Mukasey, but I don't have the same level of distaste for Feinstein that I might feel for anyone else in her position. I just keep thinking of those two young women, both in the midst of extraordinary lives, sharing a moment of joy and hope together in a world where the two can be hard to find.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Just give me something to hold onto

Dear readers,

It feels a little contrived to write the letter that every other blogger's written, but I don't care. Your thoughtful notes and encouragement have helped me realize something: I am brave, and it's okay to feel good about this decision. I love you all. :)


I've killed two hours tonight sitting in front of the computer trying not to think about the awesomeness ahead of me. Damn, I know that having a quarter life crisis is about as original as writing blog love letters, but it doesn't make it any easier.

I'll write a lot about this in the months ahead, because it seems like it's the unspoken truth we all face after college, or high school, or whenever your time arrives. Whatever we thought we would be doing after we finished school? So not even close to reality. Whatever we thought we'd want to do? Probably doesn't exist, or if it exists, it's not what we expect.

I'm not sure what I should do now. Career counseling seems expensive and possibly unhelpful. Banging my head against a wall, while therapeutic, isn't doing much, either. There are only so many times I can email my mentors with a "Hey there, guess who's confused again!"

Sometimes, I just want to curl up and cry. I'm afraid I'll disappoint my brilliant husband, frustrate my friends, let myself down. I'm terrified of becoming That Girl Who Had Such Potential. And it's stupid. It's all painfully, obviously stupid...but I still feel that way.

Yet, I know this was the right thing to do. This morning, I sat in my cubicle listening to a co-worker talk about how she won't go home for Thanksgiving this fall, because it's too far away and there's too much work to do. She's right: we have a four hour evening meeting for the community and our project advisers immediately after the holiday weekend, a meeting so arduous that everyone has been talking about it for months. The other person in the conversation sighed and said that he guessed that was how it had to be these days, the challenge of having a successful career outweighing the desire to keep your loved ones close.

I don't believe that's how it has to be -- but, if I'm wrong, I think it's time for me to start letting the career mean less than the life it supports. It's hard, you know? When you want fulfilling work, challenging work, a job that makes you think. When you wind up instead with a stack of 45 telescoping easels and a large bag that has to hold them all. (No, really, that's how I spent the better part of my day at one point.) I don't want to complain because I know there are many people who would kill for the crappy job I'm leaving, and I'd actually stay with my company if it weren't for the LDR-related stress getting to the point where it's a productive night if I remember to eat and do the laundry. I hate feeling like an entitled whiner; I hope that's not what I am. Still, I can't believe it isn't worth searching for a job that makes the time I put in worthwhile. I don't have to love it, but I'd be so happy to like it.

I'm rambling. I'm sorry. There's much on my mind, and it came to a head recently, when I spent the better part of an evening on the phone to my mother, anxiety beating against my ribs like a trapped bird on a windowpane, walking block after frigid block of my neighborhood because I had to keep moving before it all caught up with me. (Have I mentioned how much I love my mom?) Anyway, things are better now. I can recommend treating mounting career woes and personal crises with the following four-step program:

1. Get thee to a video store. Rent the crappiest, stupidest romcom you can find on the shelves, paired with a legitimately funny film like Office Space. (Which hits so much closer to home now -- I don't know if I would have found it so funny the first time, had I known how accurate it would prove to be.)
2. Purchase vat of favorite ice cream.
3. Purchase six pack of beer. Or whatever. Something that makes you giddy.
4. Watch films, eat ice cream with teaspoon because it seems like you're consuming less that way, and drink until you establish a good beer buzz. Ideally, you should perform this step wrapped in a comforter and sporting really ugly, super-comfortable pajamas. It helps to have a bewildered cat on hand who just wants to know why the hell you aren't in bed yet.

I'm going to be pretty up and down on this blog for a bit. Well, until I move to the new blog (meet the new blog, same as the old...oh, god, I need to maybe get more beer before I actually think I'm funny). You're welcome along for the ride -- at least I can promise interesting commentary.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Any TypePad lurkers out there?

For I am an idiot who cannot figure out how to map my newly purchased domain to my new TypePad account. It appears to be mapping in reverse, thereby pointing users to an annoying domain host site full of frightening cartoon people with bad haircuts.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The camera makes you thinner

Well, isn't somebody famous?

That's my boy, mugging for the camera. Head on over to and say hi. Seriously, it's a great site -- although, if you're like me, it's hard to resist adopting every damned animal they feature.

Now he's just going to expect more treats. These 15 minutes of fame will do me no good.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Oh yeah, about the furball

Kristy of Eats, Shoots & Leaves! rightly noted that I forgot the most important part of the move. Marlowe is coming, and he will arrive in style at my parents' sometime in early December. No, seriously. They've filled the entire house with cat toys and scratching posts. There are litter boxes in the pristine hallways where show-wearing deviants cannot tread, and my mom bought freaking catnip bubbles. Honestly, I think he's the reason why they're letting me move home.

He made his first trip to Seattle last week and did quite well, then celebrated his excellent car manners by throwing up on my rug once we returned to Portland.

Monday, November 05, 2007

and now it's time for you to go

This is it. I'm sitting here in my office (yes, blogging in my office, but on my own laptop), and there is a three-paragraph resignation letter face down beside my potted fern.

I've talked to so many advisers, mentors and friends this month that I can barely think for myself anymore. The fact that this isn't going to work makes me incredibly sad, because it really could if I just had something or someone to balance the crazy hours, the miserable supervisors, and the soul-sucking tasks. No, really: life beyond job would make the job tolerable. But 3 hours north, there are friends and family and all of the reasons I came home from England. As frightened as I am right now (and if you've talked to me lately, you know I'm terrified -- my confidence and trust in my own abilities are as low I can remember them being) much as my stomach feels like it's taking an acid bath, I also think this is something I need to do. I want to believe that my life is more than the job I do. Here, it's literally all I have besides a cat who barely sees me and an apartment I love but really can't afford.

If I had time for friends? To make friends? I would stay. But I am tired of feeling like I need more excuses, so here are the bare, dry bones bleaching in the sun:

I am lonely as hell;
The LDR is survivable when I have people nearby to help me forget it;
I work too many hours to go home;
I can barely stand my job, and I think I'd be fine with that for the short-term if it weren't for the rest of the ribcage above this;
For whatever reasons, professional and personal, I need to go home;
and I am finally okay with admitting it.

I have a reference here, and I'm leaving in the best circumstances I can. They're getting almost six weeks' notice. Really, I think it's a better deal for them than me. But I can't hold onto something just because it's safe. I can't ignore all of the signs -- and there are many -- that I'm not doing so well right now.

It doesn't make sense to some of you, I know. I wish I could explain it, but all I can say is that I've learned a lot, and maybe that's enough for me to take away from it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

What you do to me

He arrived late Saturday night, and I spotted him first, separated by a pane of glass, his back to me, short hair ruffled from hours on the plane. Within those first minutes, after I burst through the revolving door and caught him by surprise, we'd returned to a life together as if we'd never left off, conversations flowing together like tides, unimpeded by time or distance.

He left on a frost-tinged Thursday evening, and this time I actually thought I wouldn't cry. I watched him wave from the security line, and then I turned and walked back through the empty airport to my car. After a few of these long, silent passages, I've learned never to make eye contact with anyone until I'm out of the airport, because I will cry at the sight of a stranger with a suitcase. I made it out to the car, cursed my battery-drained Ipod, and started back to Seattle, for I am spending the weekend here while I decide what comes next.

Halfway across the Viaduct, as I passed the ferry terminal and caught a glimpse of the Yakima floating across blackwater, a song came on the radio, a song I've adopted as one of "ours". And I fucking sobbed, as hard as I ever have, for everything we've been through and for everything yet to come. It doesn't get any easier, and yet, I am so proud of us. We are at the halfway point, and we've made it through moments that I thought could be the beginning of the end. Our relationship is stronger now than I'd ever believed possible, and when I look at him these days, when we happen to be in the same room on the same continent, the conviction that we are right for each other sits like a lighthouse in the middle of uncharted waters. It is the only thing I believe right now, and the strength with which I believe it is almost inconceivable. I never knew I could feel this particular way about anyone, even though I would not have married him if I hadn't thought we were meant for each other...but it's one thing to think it, and another to go through enough that you know it, beyond doubt, beyond everything this world can throw at you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wake up call

Tonight, in a lengthy phone call, I bemoaned my fate to a trusted friend and valued adviser.

"If I could do anything, I'd get a PhD! But I can't!"

He paused on the other end of the line. I listened to the three year old toddle across the floor into a pile of blocks, watched my cat traipse across bookshelves.

"Why can't you?"

"Because everyone knows two-PhD couples can't get jobs in the same city."

"Who said that was a fact?"

A revelatory discussion ensued.

And suddenly, everything changes.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I worked another six-day week and woke up four times last night to the sound of my neighbor clumping across the floor on Clydesdale feet.

I go through so much back-and-forth here. I want to make this work: Portland, life alone, the new job. But the job, painful as it is, isn't really the kicker here. It's the fact that I have no time to go home -- I realized this morning that I'd spent the last seven days talking to no one but office mates. I miss my friends. I miss my family. I'm tired of making excuses to people who don't understand why those two parts of my life matter so much to me.

They do. I don't know what it means, but I have some thinking to undertake this week.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Getting off my fraking butt

My working hours are insane. Physical therapy exercises take up lunch. By the time I get home, I can barely cook a meal, clean the apartment (goddamn, how is it that there's always more dirt??) and play with the cat before I succumb to an hour on the couch staring at the wall, then crawl into bed.

However, after my team's manager decided to trash not one but all of the public information documents I'd spent eight days writing, I've had it.

The reason I've never pursued writing is simple -- I'm terrified of failure. Imagine finding out that you can't do the one thing you love, either because you're bloody incompetent or you're just incapable of turning a dream into reality. I don't know what I'd do if I tried to write and discovered it wasn't going to happen...but not-writing guarantees the outcome, doesn't it?

This isn't the best time to begin. I really do work at least five to 10 hours more per week than I'm supposed to (thank you, American work ethic) -- which may not sound like much, but it drains me just enough to dull my appetite for voluntary evening labor. Nonetheless, I'm doing three things, starting yesterday:

1. Editing my novel page-by-page so I can reach where I left off with a renewed understanding of my characters and a reinvigorated desire to finish it
2. Thinking long and hard about where to go from here, be it journalism school or unpaid internships. The prospects seem daunting now, what with CB's looming postdoc, our desire to buy a home sometime before we turn 80, and the fact that I know nothing about freelancing...but I have one year to educate myself as much as I can so I'm positioned to get started when CB returns. Given my daily schedule, one year will be cutting it close.
3. Pitch when I can, where I can. I may not have time to build a flourishing freelance career now, but I can lay the groundwork. I started tonight by contacting a struggling local monthly looking for an editor -- I figure if they need an editor, they might need a writer or two, as well. The worst that happens is they ignore me, right? If they say no, I'll just try harder.

I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I need to give writing my all before I throw in the towel and settle for a soul-sucking career in public outreach. I'd like nothing more than to find a part-time job in the next three years that lets me spend the other 20+ hours per week pitching, writing, editing, whatever. How do I get there? Not sure. I'm sure I won't be nearly so motivated by the end of this week, as I'm scheduled to work 50+ hours between tomorrow and Saturday (no, I'm really not exaggerating). Still, if I can't push through to the other side, I'll look back years from now and wonder what might have been. This isn't going to happen overnight, but it has to start sometime. It might as well be now, even if all I can do is take the seed out of its envelope and look for a suitable planting site.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A photographic synopsis of my life

When he's not toppling my laundry hamper in search of warmth, Marlowe is busy being sick. I've managed to adopt the world's only partially blind, hard-of-hearing (we think), broken-toothed, colitis-stricken cat. Well, we think it's colitis. Really, all I know is that it's kind of gross and probably uncomfortable for him -- although he does get to eat rice now. Want to know if your cat's been on the streets? Offer him bland, lukewarm white rice. If he gobbles it up like it's a slab of fresh mouse rump, he's probably done his share of garbage can dining in the past. Marlowe and I have many a vet appointment and food experimentation ahead of us, but at least he gets to snuggle up on a warm, fuzzy blanket at the end of the day.

When not tearing down I-5 on the way to work, Fitty is letting me know that he hates weddings. During the first summer wedding, he backed into a picnic table (I would do no such thing because I am a competent driver who knows the difference between gas and brake). This weekend, he bottomed out on the pothole-strewn excuse for a road that lead to my friend's ceremony. I think this is a sign that I should stop attending weddings, which is fine, as they only cause me to spend the rest of the weekend in a bubble bath wondering why I ever left England. I'll be taking Fitty to the repair shop, although I'm tempted to leave it alone unless my bumper is in danger of tumbling across the road during the morning commute.

When not spasming in the middle of an evening get-together, my back is...well, it's spasming at every opportunity it finds. We won't dwell on that.

Finally, when not working through the night, CB is preparing for a week home! There's really nothing more to say about that, is there? :)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Things I am tired of right now

1. LDRs and the accompanying time zone differences that mean we miss scheduled conversations whenever one of us accidentally sleeps late, which means talking only twice each week instead of three times
2. The US health "care" system, which has decided that my thyroid problem is my fault and therefore I deserve no insurance unless my employer makes them cover me
3. My employer's crappy health insurance, which does not cover physical therapy
4. My apparently-defective-since-birth spine, which desperately needs physical therapy so I don't have another Saturday like the last one, in which I spent four hours on a friend of a friend's floor trying not to cry

Sorry. Bad week. Would very much like to skip ahead to my thirties now.

Monday, September 24, 2007

When the stars go blue

I spent this evening cooking a sweet potato gratin and listening to a This American Life episode from September 21, 2001, the episode where Ira Glass offers David Rakoff and David Sedaris's takes on 9/11. It brought to mind a lot of things I've been contemplating lately.

You see, in about 15 months, life is going to take another turn. CB and I will be on the way to somewhere. Our location might be Chicago or even London. It won't be Seattle; not yet, because our return home comes about 24 months after that.

I've experienced several mood swings since I returned to the U.S. Once I figured out that my dysfunctional thyroid contributed heavily to my poor experiences in the UK, I started wishing I could have a do-over, another chance to see whether England and I were at loggerheads for no reason. There are things I missed about the States that I cherish now: my family, my friends, good food, and even the American people -- at least when we live up to our better stereotypes, moving through the world with good intentions and offering whatever we have to each other. But there are things I'm finding I never wanted to come home to: our ignorance, not only about world affairs, but also about our own government; our conservatism; our crappy health care. I've been turning it over in my head to understand whether the things I love outweigh the things I loathe, or whether my values are diverging so far from where our country's headed that I no longer belong here.

I still don't know, at least when it comes to the short term. In the long term, I can't see myself anywhere but Seattle. Thankfully, CB feels the same and understands my fierce devotion to friends and family enough to move back, even when we're both realizing that his potential could take him anywhere he wanted to go. The fact that he wants to go where I need to stay tells me more about our future as a couple than anything else could.

But for the short-term, I want to go where he chooses. I realize that's a rather un-feminist thing to say, but here's the situation. I don't have a clue what I want yet, at least not when it comes to my career. Correction: I have several conflicting clues. I want to be a writer and an environmental lawyer, a planner and a journalist, a librarian and maybe a professor. I can't be any of these now, and I don't really want to jump into any one before I have a better understanding of myself. In a way, then, the next two years are experimentation time. While CB conquers the statistical genetics world, I can work part-time and try it all out: freelance until my fingers go numb, think long and hard about law school, find out whether planners ever do anything besides sit in rooms approving permits or bickering over growth management guidelines.

It's important to note that I don't always feel this way. Deep down, I'm also very afraid of losing sight of myself and my goals. In some ways, this year feels like the first step down that path: I take a job out of sheer panic, make it work, and promise myself to do better next time. I can't promise then that this post is going to be the definitive exposee on how I feel about our future...but it's the definitive post today, and part of me thinks it could stick around even longer.

Back to the original thread. As I look ahead to careers and (maybe) children and mortgage payments, I find myself wondering: why not now? Why not live abroad two more years, why not pack up the cat, park the car in storage, sell the furniture and head back to jolly old England? What's two years in the grand scheme of things, anyway?

I don't know how I feel about this country sometimes. I think it's home, but that doesn't mean I won't capitalize on the opportunity to live in a place where politics are more nuanced, where health care matters (even if it's still flawed), and where people actually believe that the community matters more than the individual. I miss the latter the most. I almost cried the other day listening to people on Oregon Public Broadcasting complain that they shouldn't have to fund health care for anyone's children but their own. What the fuck is wrong with this place? For a few days after 9/11, I thought we might come together in more ways than one. Now, look at us. Our civil liberties are frayed, our social values are racing backwards, and liberals like me are a bigger threat than the terrorists in some Americans' minds.

I'm rambling badly, and I don't think I've written one tenth of what's on my mind, but if I'm not posting often it's because most of my thoughts take shape this way: in fragments and long threads I'm still pulling from buttonholes. Blame it on the age or on post-college disenchantment; attribute it to my LDR. Really, they're all complicit...and so am I.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sharing the road

All car drivers should have to bike commute to their office, school, or grocery store at least once each year. Trust me on this one: I am a much better driver now because I cycle. When you're in a car, you don't realize how dangerous your mode of transportation can be. Try sharing the road from the security of a small carbon frame, open-air, you-powered vehicle, and all the bad habits we develop as lifelong drivers become abundantly clear: the California stop, the cell phone while speeding, the fiddling-with-the-radio while turning, the blind turn with only a glance at oncoming traffic...Don't get me started about the speeding semi trucks, the cars full of teenagers who think it's hilarious to see how close they can get to your elbow, or the idiots trying to discipline their dogs/kids/friends while passing you.

I know there are plenty of bad cyclists out there -- really, really bad cyclists who make your commute and mine hell. I'm all in favor of bike licensing; I think fixies don't belong on roads; and I would like to see us all pass a basic cycling skills test before we get to take our bikes off designated multimodal paths. But to me the difference will always come down to this: if I'm a bad cyclist, I might die. If I'm a bad driver, someone else might die. If I'm a good cyclist who meets a bad driver, it doesn't matter how many laws I obey, because I'm going to be the one who pays the price.

Lately, I've noticed an uptick in crazy drivers all over the Northwest: I nearly lost the back half of my car in Seattle when I stopped for a red light that the guy behind me assumed I'd run. I've been halfway through a crosswalk when someone decides they don't need to slow down for me. I had a sedan miss me by about four feet today as I cycled home because he didn't yield to the right of way. It was easier to run the stop sign than to see if anyone might be entering the intersection.

I know we're all busy, stressed out, and sick of the region's growing traffic, but what happened to being kind to each other? Or to recognizing that slowing for a yellow light -- or stopping for a freaking red one -- is not going to take hours off our day? If you're in that much of a hurry...maybe you should try leaving earlier?

What really bothers me is that you aren't going to get a lot of jail time if you kill a cyclist down here, even if you're speeding, running a light, or performing other acts of negligence which distract you enough to run down a human being. Last month, a guy road raged on two cyclists because he didn't like sharing the road: he intentionally hit one, sped off, struck the other, and then tried to flee. One cyclist went to the hospital; the perp is free on reduced bail.

I know we aren't always easy to see, and I know sometimes the laws for cyclists and drivers get confusing...but please, try it from our perspective once. Think of it as drivers ed redux. I guarantee you'll be a kinder, gentler, safer driver afterwards. I know I am.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tumbling after

Ack. Oh, ack. It has not been two weeks since I blogged. Could not be. Oh, wait. It has been more than two weeks.

So, hi! Here's the thing: I am coming down with the office plague, and it's 9:00 in the evening, and while I'm becoming less frightened of all of the office reorganizing (which you of course don't know about because I haven't blogged in two weeks), it did occur to me today that I am now doing the jobs least two people, which means I am either going to have to move Marlowe to the office or I'll just have to clone myself.

Can I bring my ball to work so we can play fetch? Why are you banging your head against the keyboard, Mama?

Naturally, I actually started rounding up some potential freelance leads these past two weeks, all of which I have to turn down because I can't really fit them in unless I stop doing laundry. Something tells me that would get me fired. Of course, there are advantages to being sacked. Like having time to sleep.

Oh! Someone keyed my car while I was in Seattle for a home office training this Tuesday. Thank you so much, you filth-encrusted gum on the bottom of my shoe. I'd just been thinking that my car looked far too new for being 2 months old. You sure took care of that little problem.

Oops, gotta go. Kitty has just placed paw in my genmaicha. I will keep posting, even if it's infrequent. Thanks for understanding.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

No you did-n't


If I get one more lecture about how to write a #*!@ email ("Just a line or two, explaining what you need and what you've done already") in a voice that oozes condescension like a sappy tree, I may fucking snap.

I'm sorry -- I don't mean to be so angry, but I write the exact crappity-ass emails Passive Aggressive Boss tells me to write. I just want to scream that I am not actually that stupid (which PAB knows), then throw something and walk out.

AUGH!!! AUGH!!! I was having a reasonable day, I was going to write a nice contemplative post tonight asking you all advice about what to do in my situation, and now I just want to fire up my Blazing Glare of Disdain and skip away towards home.

Okay, I feel slightly better now.

And yes: I am blogging at work. On a non-work computer connected to a non-work wireless network. Really, it's snark from my own laptop or start making tiny voodoo dolls and skewering them with blunt implements.

If I weren't interested in self-preservation, I'd get blind blitzed at the farewell party tonight and send Passive Aggressive Boss short, "ideal" emails that sum up why it is a terrible manager in 10 words or less. Perhaps its departure will help me endure this a bit longer. Although, it gets to choose its own replacement. Maybe getting blitzed isn't such a bad idea after all.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bath time

You know, there is nothing like returning home from the vet's office with your terrified kitty to make a Wednesday morning interesting -- especially when you open the carrier to discover that your kitty has peed all over himself, his blanket, and the inside of the crate.

I was on the phone at the time, explaining Marlowe's dire health to my mother, when she suddenly heard me saying, "Shit. Oh, shit! Oh my god, oh shit!"

This is because Marlowe had just streaked across the apartment, trailing a whole lot of unpleasantness. Naturally, my reaction was to sit in front of the puddle swearing while my mom implored me to go find a towel. Five minutes later, the carrier hastily tossed through the front window to my deck, and the blanket double-bagged in garbage liners, I went in search of the cat. I found him huddled miserably in the closet. On top of my shoes. Thus began another round of violent cursing, causing the cat to shoot straight over my legs and under my bed as my ever-patient mom suggested perhaps her dim-witted daughter might consider putting the cat in the linoleum-covered bathroom until I found a store that sold pet shampoo.

I coaxed him into the bathroom with food and water, then pulled the door shut and bolted down the street to the nearest pet store. Ten minutes later, armed with heavy gloves, towels, and cat shampoo, I returned to find Marlowe perched atop the toilet seat, wondering what the hell was wrong with me. Murmuring false assurances, I filled the tub an inch or two, pulled on enough clothing to avoid any major scratches, picked up the cat, and dropped him into the water.

As I may have mentioned, Marlowe is partially blind. Consequently, he saw just enough to notice that I wasn't guarding the open space behind my left shoulder. He leaped -- headfirst into the heavy ceramic sink. Undeterred, he repeated this procedure two or three times until I managed to grab his scruff with one glove-encased hand and pry him off the side of the tub. He then went for the shower curtain, and we began a long tug-of-war that ended when I decided it might be wise to let him stay tangled in the plastic.

Working frantically, I didn't notice the low rumbling emanating from the sodden mass of fur beneath my fingers. Marlowe chirps and churls, so I assumed I must have been hearing the pipes rattle in our archaic plumbing system. My happy illusion shattered when Marlowe turned and issued the loudest, shrillest shriek ever recorded during human-cat interaction. The shriek ended in a chainsaw growl, and suddenly I went from scrubbing a paralyzed cat to detaching a crazed monster from my sweatshirt.

During the fray, he kicked the drain plug out of place and wedged two of his hind toes in the drain. For a few moments, I thought I'd have to call 911 and have them come out with a sledgehammer and some kind of tranquilizer gun. Think bathing a cat is challenging? Try bathing a half-blind, raging ball of fury who has a foot jammed in the train of your tub. I finally gave up, dropped a towel on his head, and bolted into the kitchen to retrieve my olive oil. After dumping it all over his head while the towel shook ominously, I managed to pry his foot out of the drain. We then had to repeat the entire bath to remove the oil from his fur.

After 20 minutes, the bathroom looked like several furry gerbils had exploded in it. A layer of wet fur coated the tub. My back ached, and my sweatshirt looked like I'd hugged a cactus. I picked up the remaining towel, wrapped the cat in a neat package, opened the door, and deposited my bundle in the kitchen before shutting myself back in the bathroom. From outside, the sounds of a monumental struggle filtered through the door. Eventually, the tearing cloth gave way to silence.

I checked my watch. It was only 9:30. I probably needed to stay in the bathroom until at least noon, and I didn't have a book. I nervously peered outside: no cat.

I waited a few minutes, then went into the bedroom and snatched a random book off the shelves. It occurred to me that I was being ridiculous: cats don't actually wait for vengeance. It was all some anthropomorphic projection, probably guilt brought about by authorizing his overnight vet stay. Indeed, as I entered the main room, I found Marlowe sitting stiffly on the floor, looking puzzled but congenial. I slipped onto the couch, feeling my worries slip away.

Last night, at about three in the morning, the cat who avoids laps galloped headlong into my room, took a flying leap, and landed on top of me as I slept before bounding straight back off the bed to hide in another room. I'm pretty sure my scream woke both neighbors.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Now with more kitteh

I think I aged five years overnight, thanks to vets with poor phone manners.

Luckily, the same vets are much clearer about Marlowe's prognosis when they come face-to-face with a hollow-eyed, grief-stricken owner.

Details forthcoming, but it looks like it's going to be okay. Expensive, but okay.

After the day he's had, however, Marlowe disagrees.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Only time will tell

It's like this.

My cat, my new best friend, my only companion here...

A routine vet appointment has now turned into an overnight stay and bill estimates upwards of $800 to $1000. The shelter that had him for the last two years never looked in his ears or his mouth, so once-treatable ear mites and a broken canine have morphed into severe, chronic infections, cysts, possible hearing loss, and severe dental problems. The kind that might involve bone infections.

And after only three and a half weeks, in which time we've already bonded to the point where he leaps into bed as soon as I glance towards the sheets because he knows it's snuggle time...I can't afford to fix these things. Not even close. Plus, they maybe can't be fixed: the ears could be permanently damaged, and his constant scratching and head shaking might never go away. (Hello, shelter? How fucking blind are you?) The teeth? Who knows. The countless other problems I haven't even listed here all add up to a vague sense of dread. What happens when this five year-old turns 10? How much should I put him through trying to heal what can't mend? And, horribly, how much can I afford to spend when I'm already scraping to get by? What corner do I cut?

I love him. I know it seems strange, having known him so briefly, but I love him already like the kind of pet you've known most of your life. Right now, he's huddled in the back of a sterile sea green kennel, wondering why I left him.

I am not leaving. I'm supposed to return him to the shelter if I can't care for him. Fuck that. They cared for him so much they sent him straight into a hospital. A few months ago, a year ago, 40 or 50 bucks would have fixed all this. Didn't anyone notice the scratching? The trouble eating? It took me two days to catch on.

I'm taking the day off work tomorrow to see if I can meet the vet, face-to-face. I need to look in her eyes and ask her about the long-term prognosis. I want to understand what it will do to him if we try. Because he's been through enough, and the last thing I want to do is heap more pain on him.

Even if that means coming home to an empty house far too soon.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Getting out of town

Yesterday, I worked 13.5 hours straight, culminating in a three-hour meeting where I took notes on a giant flipchart for the duration.

I also found myself ever more ensnared in office politics, cornered by one boss to explain what was going on between me and another boss (the short story is: I don't know, but I think she hates me). I crawled home and managed to fire off an email to the first boss asking her to keep that conversation off the record...which seems fair to me, since I got pushed into saying anything in the first place.

I think we can confirm that I suck at office politics. I am not skilled enough to lie to someone's face, and so when anyone asks a leading question, I have a hard time dodging it.

I'm exhausted and going to the ocean in an hour. My good friend from college is getting married tomorrow, and I'm lucky enough to be in the beach-side ceremony. Hopefully, Marlowe won't kill me for neglecting him when I come back Sunday.

I think the uncomfortable realization I'm reaching is that there is no dream job after college. Still, I also don't think it does you any good to settle for something you really dislike. Considering how much time Americans spend at work, the least I can do is look until I find something that makes me happy more often than it makes me crazy. I'm giving this one a year, assuming it stays about the way it is now, because the personal stress far outweighs everything else.

Talk to you next week.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In motion

It's ten minutes to noon, and the office is humming. Voices rise and fall beyond my cubicle as project managers race from one task to the next, pausing long enough to dump another request on our desks. Outside, beyond the hermetically sealed windows, the sun beams down from a naked sky. I look down at my feet in their sandals.

"I'm going for a run," I announce.

A quick stop at the gym, then out the front door. I'm in full workout regalia, except I've forgotten my socks. My feet stick to the orthotics I wear, but I don't mind. It is glorious, warm, the air thick with midday humidity. I head towards the river.

There's a long path along the edge, and I run steadily along its perimeter, passing clusters of office workers, their ties flipped over their shoulders, collar buttons open, blazers hanging off their arms. I am one of them, but not now. It's been days since I've crammed a run into my schedule, and my joints are quick to remind me that I'm not really supposed to go without stretching anymore. I shrug them off, ignore the cramp tearing a hole in my stomach, and slog on down the trail.

By the halfway point, I think I could run home to Seattle. With the light foot traffic, I can afford to look around, and I watch a lazy canoe plash over the currrent. Far below me, a cat's tongue of sand stretches from one horizon to the next. I debate sticking to the path I know, then veer right and pick my way down the ravine, dappled light shimmering between cottonwoods and maples. I burst out onto the sand and feel the tightness in my muscles release.

Down here, the air is sharp and cool. No one else is on the shore, and so I run in the company of breakers lapping hardpacked sand. It's rockier than I expected, and I switch into a high, prancing jog, feet flicking over uneven stones. For 15 minutes, I concentrate on the ground immediately before me. One slip, and I'll be limping a few miles back to the office. I'm not sure what I've gotten myself into; I think about turning back, or clambering up the wooded hill to the security of paved road. But there isn't much farther to go, and my steps are growing quicker.

The last 100 yards are loose sand, and before long I have half a pound in each shoe, chasing the skin where foot meets fabric. I'm red-faced, dripping sweat, and out of breath, but I maintain a brisk trot as I work back up the gentle hill towards the office. By the time I'm out of the shower, I feel invigorated, completely alive. I flick the towel over my shoulder, smooth the wrinkles from my skirt, run a finger comb through my hair, and open the door. I'm ready now.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I'm so tired, I'm so tired of tryin'

We see a lot of regulars in my line of work. Usually, they're middle-aged, lifelong residents of the community, people with a lot to lose if our project lands on their street.

I spend my Saturdays under a blue tent for the job I'll refer to as Mayhem Inc., alternately sharing information with curious residents and being snapped at by people who think what we're doing is a front. This used to be funny, but now I find I'm breaking the cardinal rule of neutrality by nodding along as the critics rant. The thing is, they're right. We do know what we want to do. Most likely, we're going to do it, unless a vote or a major funding glitch derails the project. I want to tell you more, but I can't. Just like I can't divulge anything to the public beyond what I'm instructed to say. People come to me with hopeful expressions, asking if I can tell them what will happen to their street, their house. I tell them the half-truth: no, I can't, because we don't know. Often, we really do not: big projects take years to gel, and the block-by-block effects change over time...but I do know that their neighborhood is going to be impacted, and I usually know whether it's going to be serious.

And I cannot say a thing.

This afternoon, a man I know from one of our advisory groups said he felt sorry for us, because he wouldn't want to be in a position where he had to lie to poor people. He wanted to know how we slept at night when we did such dirty work for our supervisors.

"Put yourself in my shoes," he said.

"You don't know anything about me," I told him.

"No, but I doubt you've been as hard-up as the people I know."

By conventional definitions, he's right. Still, I wanted to take him by the hand and walk him to my car, where we could drive to the apartment I'm renting. I wanted to show him the empty spot next to me in my bed. To haul out the bank statements, the expired visa, the month-to-month lease and the health insurance I'm fighting to keep. I wanted to tell him that I spent Thursday being lectured, like a dog, behind a closed door in a conference room, because I'd been audacious enough to ask for more work than I was assigned. I'm not fitting in. I'm not willing to pay my dues -- I've never complained, never left a job incomplete, but apparently suggesting I could be challenged with new tasks makes me a problematic employee in their eyes. I need to stop thinking I have anything of merit to offer, because I'm supposed to be grateful that they even decided to give me a job. I thought about sharing how my boss quit two weeks ago, how our other boss is going to have a baby during the worst possible time for our team, how I've worked six days per week since June for a job that's nothing like I was told it would be when I started. I haven't seen my family since I moved, and they're three hours away but I won't be going home until at least October. I wanted to tell him I've lost close to 10 pounds in the last two months, to sit beside him on the floor and tell him that some days everything is fine, but other days, it's all I can do to get home and collapse on the sofa.

Instead, I just smiled a half-smile. As he filled out a comment form, he teased me, saying he was going to write down how I agreed with him about the project being a farce. I laughed nervously and asked him not to.

"I wouldn't do that," he said. "I just like seeing you smile. You have a nice smile."

I clung to those words the rest of the day, trying to believe that people still see the good girl behind the morally questionable job. Hoping they went through something similar when they were young. There has to be more to life. I can't believe work is always going to be this draining and time-consuming, or that I'll feel so little contentment from what I do. What it comes down to is that I need to believe this, too, is going to pass, and that I'll still have a smile that makes people happy when I'm finally done here.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Happy together

Because I can't bring myself to write about work or life, let's go for more distractions: kitty pictures! You know you want 'em.

I'd entertain you with tortoise pictures, too, but my poor boy can't be with me right now. There's just no room for a giant pool in any place I can afford...sigh. Soon, soon I'll have both our babies under the same roof.

Don't mind the crazy green eyes. His pupils don't contract, thanks to a congenital defect that leaves him partially blind. Poor guy went to the vet and failed the vision test completely -- we tossed cotton balls at him, and they bounced off his face. He's also fallen off the couch a few times, thinking he had more room to walk. Is it wrong to laugh at your embarrassed cat because their shame is so cute?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Round and round

How's your week been? Mine's been interesting. Here's a random snapshot.

Bosses quitting on a Tuesday totally suck! Especially when they take you out to lunch under the guise of "Let's all celebrate," only to begin the meal by preluding the announcement of your group's impending doom with, "Now, there's no such thing as a free lunch..." And they wondered why we spent the rest of the day in a shell-shocked trance.

Weird old-men clubs with funny animal and/or telephone-related names? Interesting places to give a presentation. Or, in my case, click through the PowerPoint while someone else gives the presentation. 'Cause that's why I went to Cambridge: to hone my slide show skills. That, and improving my ability to butter up large-nosed, 80-year-old white guys who want to wow me with their tales of anti-Communist activities in 1970s Siberia. Hell's yes, that's what they pay me for! Ladies and gents: your tax dollars at work.

Kitties freaking rock. Especially nice kitties that still let you touch them after vet visits involving blood draws, matted hair removals, and ear mite treatments. I don't think I'll tell the nice kitty that he has to go back to the vet for a full day soon...yeah, we're ignoring that part because the possibility of his being diabetic or in kidney failure is too depressing to contemplate right now.

Oregon drivers?? SUCK. Turn signals, people. They actually didn't install them in your car just for show. Speedometers are also important, because they tell you when you're going 25 miles over the speed limit so you know that maybe you should use those little blinky turn things before you swerve in front of my car without notice. I swear, if you hit me, I will break your arms with your own turn signal lever.

The public process? Dear god. Nope, sir, no, you can't build a tunnel through them there acreage. Little thing called liquefaction. Liquefaction. You know, "smash, crash, bang," instant catastrophe? You don't see why it has to be that way. Well. I know your brother-in-law's second cousin's daughter draws bridges for her industrial art class. That does not make you an engineer. Please go away. Please? Oh, you want to fill out a public comment record. About a tunnel. Sure, just step right here while I get a form and a big stick. It's to hold the paper down while you write. Yes, it is. Now, just look that way...

It's a bit disheartening, really. We have a public process in place so people don't wake up one morning and discover major infrastructure projects running through their neighborhoods. But when a handful of nutty people dominate the entire process, and you have to treat them like they're sane? I wish we could have a cut-off point at six months or a year, where you're just SOL if you didn't get your comment in on time. We waste so much money trying to reach everyone, when half them don't have anything to contribute (but do anyway) and the other half don't care. I'll write seriously about this at some point, but for now...I'm wondering if the process is broken, or if this is just how it has to be when you want to create a collaborative process.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007's it going?

This is a strange time in my life. Married, but living alone. Three hours away from family, but struggling to find visiting time. Happy to have my own place, but a little lonely.

I'm working hard to be mellow about it all, because otherwise it just terrifies me. The health insurance questions -- the joys of having a preexisting condition in America. The brink-of-broke budget. Everything from career to where we'll live next, in question. When I let it get to me, like I did today, I wind up on the couch, crippled with psychosomatic nausea that's dogged me since childhood. Today's trigger? The new addition to my family.

I've talked about getting a cat for awhile, and for the last few months I have carefully planned it out. Found an ideal kitty, acquired the necessary supplies, made sure I found an apartment I could be in for awhile. Marlowe came home today. If ever a cat deserves to be cranky, he does -- and he's not. A little vocal? Sure. Anxious? Definitely. But sweet, terribly sweet, and already looking like he might be able to call this place home.

He lived in the shelter for two years. A family adopted him six months ago, then dumped him the following week. He wasn't outgoing enough. Have I mentioned how long he lived in that shelter? Or the fact that he is partially blind? Or that he appears to have spent the first four years of his vision-impaired existence fighting it out on the streets?

So, why the nausea now? Because suddenly, it's not just my life I'm gambling with. I'm terrified I'll do something wrong: miscalculate the budget, screw up my job, hell - anything I can imagine - and it will be both of us out in the cold. I'm afraid that maybe I'm not going to be good enough for Marlowe. I work a lot. I'm not always around. I couldn't get a second cat, both for financial and logistical reasons (no more than one cat per apartment). We will be moving at least once, maybe two or three times, in the next five years. There are old cat smells on the carpet from a previous tenant. What if he starts marking in response, or if he cries all night, or if he's never happy because he can't go outside? What if I can't do it, and I become another person who dumps him again? What if I fail him?

See what I do to myself?

I can't shut it off. It's like some women-only sickness that afflicts everyone I know: you contemplate every possible outcome, every worst case scenario, just so you know how to react if it happens. You lie awake at three a.m. wondering what the hell you'd do if you had to move somewhere that the cat, or the tortoise, would have a hard time following. If you're like me, you get so frustrated by your own what-ifs that the mounting anxiety escalates the whole thing. All the little fears you harbor rise and swell like high tide: the loneliness you feel on a Friday night, the weariness after working 13 days straight, the financial and health-related worries, the constant reevaluation of your own decisions. Until you're on the couch, wishing you could just get sick and get it over with -- but you can't.

So, I'm doing the only other thing I know how to do. I'm coping. Accepting. The novel has to wait. The big career dreams need to pause, just for a little while; this imperfect but decent job is fine for the time. Right now, I miss my husband, and I don't really understand what this period in my life is supposed to accomplish. So, I don't think about it. I just live day-to-day, finding pleasure in little things: walks, cooking, Marlowe's fascination with the front window (and his already noticeable tendency to walk across my keyboard, rather than around it). Sometimes, I think that means I'm settling. Most of the time, I think it means I'm surviving. And you know? That's good enough for me, right now. Frankly, it feels like a big accomplishment.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Being grown up isn't half as fun

Dang blurry camera. Sorry. I have clear pictures on CB's camera, which I'll upload as soon as he sends them. (Hi honey! I know you need to sleep and eat and work and all, but could you just stop worrying about feeding yourself and send me a bunch of photos for my all-important blog? Thanks!)

Things I like about the new* car:
1. Paddle shifters
2. Awesome mileage
3. High safety ratings
4. Ridiculous carrying capacity
5. Air conditioning
6. Functioning speakers
7. No more "Hey, you're going 60 -- I think I'll sputter and die!" moments
*Yes, it's new. No, generally brand new cars make no economic sense. We had two days to find a new car after the old one imploded, so our options were limited because I do not buy used cars without doing thesis-level homework. We should pay it off early, and we plan to drive it until the damn thing dies; hence, it should actually be worth the cost.

Things I dislike about the new car:
1. Payments
2. Did I mention payments?
3. Caring about scratches
4. Caring about muddy shoes
5. Having to remind myself that I no longer need to hope someone steals my vehicle to get it off my hands
6. Driving it to work

Oh my god, I feel like a caricature of an American right now. Get a new job? Buy a new car! *shudder* My British friends will mock me forever if they find out about this.

Seriously, after years of biking, walking, and bussing everywhere, the fact that I have to drive is painful -- but there's no way around it. My commute is 11 miles one-way. It takes 20 minutes by car; 45 to 55 by bus. I live alone, so all that laundry, cooking, running, and writing requires every last minute of my time. Adding an extra hour a day to my commute? Not really optimal for quality of life. I could bike that distance, but there's the matter of the bridge between where I work and where I live, a bridge so frightening to cyclists and pedestrians that even my bike club-crazy coworkers refuse to use it unless the weather is f'ing perfect. If you don't get blown off into the Columbia by high winds, you slip and slide to your death on bird doo, or some errant gravel flies off the back of a semi and rearranges your face. So yeah. I drive...and even though this car embarrasses me because I love it so, I still feel very, very wrong. I'm the kind of person people on bike boards hate. Hell, I'm the kind of person *I* disdain. I'm thinking about offsetting my emissions with TerraPass, despite harboring mixed feelings about carbon offset programs. Still, it's something, right?

It also beats my current method of alleviating guilt, which is to ferry as many co-workers around as I possibly can. See, if I'm carpooling, then I'm helping the environment. It does make work a little awkward, since I've basically started acting like a drug dealer:

Me: Need a ride home?
Jack: Um, actually, I was going to take the bus--
Me: It's really no problem.
Jack: You don't even live near me. Aren't you on the other side of the city?
Me: Aw, c'mon, it's brand new! You know you want to.
Jack: Really, I don't think I do.
Me: That new car smell? Smell that? Like a goddamn baby.
Jack: It's nothing like a baby.
Me: Just get in the car, Jack!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Feeling strangely fine

If I'd had any idea how content an unpacked apartment would make me, I would have finished sooner.

I'm trying hard to be more Spartan. No more piles of useless papers, or random junk purchased on a whim. I might not be able to control it all, but I can at least try thinking about how much I really want to carry around another set of mugs on our next move. This way, I have a living room I actually want to spend time in, which is key to helping me save money in an activity-oriented neighborhood that just screams "Spend It!" Despite the crazy schedule, I'm determined to be better about keeping things clean. I wonder how long it will last...

I love funky buildings, quirks and all. The cabinets in the dining nook here make me happy, even if none of the doors close on a hot day.

I'd include pictures of the deck -- my primary reason for renting this place -- but a certain husband hasn't had time to send them from his camera. The guy's trying to move across Oxford without a car, so I can't really give him a hard time. Yet.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bound to make you crazy if you let it

Man, I just have a knack for positioning myself Current job (aka "Paying My Dues") goes something like this:

8:30 Get to work after terrifying drive through Portland traffic. Contemplate biking, then think about the 17 near-misses one has had since 8:15. Decide to continue driving and to increase auto insurance.
8:45 Check email. Feel frightened by size of inbox.
8:47 Email interrupted by request from co-worker for some aspect of the project you've never heard of until now.
8:51 Continue reading email until other entry-level person comes in, since she's the only one who can tell you what the heck the first person meant.
9:01 Rapidly assemble packet of materials for an afternoon outreach presentation that no one remembered to tell you about until now.
9:17 Rapidly dissemble packet after being told this one wouldn't look quite like the others.
9:24 Rapidly hurl packet through vacuum-sealed office windows after finding out about yet another change.
9:32 Hold head in hands.
10:14 Chase all three levels of people needed to approve changing "freeway" to "highway" in a document which approximately four people will read.
10:51 Discover you are scheduled to work every weekend from July 21 to September 4. Give up on finishing novel until sometime in the spring of 2011. Also give up cooking, long workouts, and personal hygiene.
11:05 Realize you never followed up on that first co-worker's request. She has now had to do it herself. And she hates you.

It's actually not that bad -- although my schedule is about that crazy, the fantastic, supportive coworkers help quite a bit. Nevertheless, it is definitely making me think that a career in government/private industry is not what I want to pursue. For months, I've had the idea of returning to school to become a librarian, and now I'm leaning even more in that direction for a multitude of personal and professional reasons. Still, I don't want to give up on environmental policy just yet, even if what I'm doing isn't as related as I'd hoped. Fortunately, until CB returns, I'm here doing this. So, by my estimation, I have at least 7.21 minutes to contemplate my life's work between now and when he graduates next winter. That should be plenty.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Be good and don't you miss me

We stood in the far corner of the departures terminal at SeaTac, rooted fast into the tiles while a sea of people parted to either side. I might have seen their faces if I'd been looking. I crushed my cheek against his chest, the side where the ridge from a bad collarbone break nestles against my jaw like they were part of the same bone. I thought about holding on, screaming, begging, doing anything that might make people suspicious enough to kick us out together. Instead, we slowly peeled apart, my arms relinquishing their grip like sand slipping between toes at ebb tide. I watched him turn and join the flow, while I remained, waiting, a lonely piece of driftwood cast ashore.

The drive back to Portland felt twice as long, with that empty seat beside me.

Soon, there will be blogging and new adventures. A fully unpacked apartment. Stories about a job I don't love but need to keep. Dreams. Maybe even that novel, waiting quietly at the sidelines until I can clear my head. Tonight, though, it's just me and this city and three weeks of memories I'll turn over and over until they're worn smooth.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

so tonight that I might see

We are in the car, the new car, the one with the clean interior and the shiny paint, the one we purchased last weekend after the Jetta decided to die at 60 mph on I-5. It's midnight in Portland, and we're waiting at an intersection while the light changes for phantom autos. The stereo is cranked to eleven, and we are rolling, rocking the whole damn car with our self-parodies as a bad hip-hop song makes the seats shake. At the corner, three slouching hipsters in carefully torn denim cast kohl-rimmed gazes in our direction. They look at us with pity, we two painfully adult, painfully un-hip people on the late side of twentysomething. And we look back and laugh, because we are so in love, and we only just remembered how beautiful the moonlit streets can be.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Homebird, sing

It is Friday afternoon, just past rush hour, and I am loitering by the bus stop with an elderly woman who's taken refuge beside me to avoid the herds of disaffected youth roving between transit centers. She is talking to me about her husband, who passed four years ago: how she cared for him every day until he died, how she's doing the same for a friend now. She is waiting for that friend's daughter to arrive from Bend so they can go back to her friend's apartment and pack a lifetime into cardboard boxes.

I am waiting for him, and I'm a tumbling mess of emotions. Excited to see him, anxious we won't feel the same, frustrated it's had to come to three weeks of sanctuary between six-month storms. Afraid that things changed, that somehow what we had slipped through our fingers before we tightened our grip. Over these months, I've felt my heart stiffen to ward off the pain. It's easier to pretend he isn't there at all than to acknowledge how far apart we are.

The bus arrives, and I break off the conversation I've only half-followed. Shadowy figures rise behind the tinted windows, all remarkably similar except for the fourth one. Suddenly, I'm sure I'll cry in the street.

And then, he is off the bus and in my arms, and I don't know if the elderly woman found her friend's sister, or whether the teenage hordes scoffed at our awkward embrace, encompassing backpack and purse and six months of separation. We pause and hold each other at arm's length, like we can't quite believe this is happening. And though soon there will be difficult conversations and (too brief) awkward resumptions of life together, for now, we just stand and stare, as the dam I've been building swells and bursts.

I find myself still doing that now, watching him when he sleeps or when he's at the computer. Like everything in life is new again.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Meet me at the crossroads

There are, as you might expect, good and bad things about what I'm doing.

The good: my co-workers are nice, my apartment and neighborhood in the Southeast are pedestrian-friendly and beautiful.

The tough: my job isn't quite what was presented to me, my commute is long-ish and requires a car most days, the absence of any and all family and friends is getting to me.

See, here's what you need to understand about me. There's no reason you should know this, since it's something I've only really figured out this past year or so. Relationships are the central part of my life. When I'm around people I love, I thrive. Life may have been pretty dismal these last six months, but the presence of a few key friends and my parents did wonders for my mental state on most days. Which, of course, coincided with many of the days I didn't blog. I need to fix that. Anyway, now? The one thing I didn't factor into this move -- because how could I know? -- was how empty it would feel without anyone here. Sure, you're right: I can still talk to them on the phone...but while that works for some people, I need to see you, to touch you, to be able to pop over to a meeting spot on a moment's notice so we can vent about our days or laugh over a pint.

So right now? Right now, I'm a little scared. A co-worker confided in me today that this job -- environmental consulting around a major transportation project -- isn't like she thought it would be. You don't get to do the environmental work. You don't have time. Your hours are sucked away by menial tasks and public meetings, and because we are at a satellite office, there's really no one around to talk to about the problem, as our own supervisor is so swamped that I've seen her all of three times this week (for five minutes, maybe). I think I can spin this work in a positive direction after a year or two, pitching it on my resume as a skill-builder in a related field, but transportation is terribly boring work for most of us (and, as I'm learning, I fall under the "most" category there). The thought of being trapped in it makes me a little queasy. I have to work to find the positives here, and I'm sure there are many. It's just a tad disappointing, especially when I find out this morning that they are hiring new people for my position in Seattle. And everyone here seems so amazed I relocated for this. The timing, it's a bitch.

And the commute? By the time I get home, I'm beyond exhausted. I can cook, unpack a box or two, and then it's 9:00 and I have to get ready for bed. No real time to explore my cool neighborhood. No time to write. Definitely no time to meet new people, which really sucks. I know it won't always be like this, but I'm starting to wonder if I need to take advantage of my month-to-month lease and move closer into where my office is located. I'm so tired right now that I want to curl up in bed and cry, but that won't help. Still, it's tempting.

The absence of friends? It's confirmed things I was starting to realize, like how I never want to leave my town again. I went back yesterday for a training at the main office, and the very sight of it made my heart hurt. Spent an hour after the training with a friend at Seward Park, and everything clicked. I know this sounds stupid. It's three hours away, right? Even working as many weekends as I do, I should still be able to get home once in awhile. Why can't that be enough? But I know a few people who feel the same, and all I can say is that right now, it's the absence of people I love which comes the closest to making this all unbearable. I can't articulate it, but trust this much: it is everything to me.

So, herein I also realize something crucial about the major relationship in my life, even if it is sort of on hiatus most of the year because of the 8000 miles between us. I don't want us to live somewhere else after he finishes his degree. I'm tired of feeling like our life has to wait. After 10 moves in four years, I'm sick of being nomadic. I want us home. Starting a life together. Buying that first, scary house together. Spending our evenings lingering on friends' front lawns, talking and laughing. Doing all the things that we can do now: let the moving boxes gather dust, find a place we can call our own, have two incomes in one household again. Back to school? It will happen for me, but I've already decided to do it close to home, and I'm content to wait awhile. That dream job? You know, if I can fulfill the personal side of life, I think I'd even be okay with transportation. Well, maybe not quite, but I don't think so much would hinge on finding the "perfect" job. Right now, that's all I have. I don't want to feel that way for long. Am I doing this without him? Yes. Does that mean I want to? God, no. We could each spend our lives working to reach the tops of our fields, and that would be all we had. Instead, I want to reach somewhere good enough career-wise, and end up with so much more in the process.

I'm done being transient. I want to put down what remains of my roots and stay there until there are too many rings on my trunk to count. With all this looming, my other half comes home to visit tomorrow for two brief weeks. Seventeen days to balance the fun with the seriousness. Things I don't feel right posting yet. We have so much to discuss. And it terrifies me.

Monday, June 11, 2007

I'll sing it one last time for you, then we really have to go

Recently, I operated under the delusion that I could be one of those people who travels light. The kind who can move entire lives in an oversized van. The ones who don't accumulate much and don't feel like they're missing anything.

This evening, I'm collapsed on the couch wondering how I managed to fill a 12' moving truck with our stuff. Granted, I'm essentially moving an apartment that used to have two occupants, but still. Books and clothing, furniture and's enough to embarrass me, and I'm still leaving all of the childhood memories (the schoolwork and yearbooks and well-worn stuffed animals) in my parents' garage.

I am exhausted and bone-weary. I do not want to leave my city, or my friends, or this life I've finally been cobbling back together. A thousand stupid worries stampede over my bed at night, keeping me awake: What if the neighbors are noisy, and I have to move? What if the commute is too long, and I have to move? What if this job doesn't work out, and I have to move BACK? I'm learning lately that I'm not a person who can turn off concerns like you'd extinguish a candle. My worries smolder in the fireplace. The biggest one, as always, involves leaving my friends and family behind. I'm tremendously insecure about losing friends, thanks I think to childhood traumas and adolescent ostracization. Every move scares me: maybe this will be the one. It's stupid, I know, but there it is.

I know I'll be back soon. You can't feel this strongly about a place and stay away for long, but I still leave another piece of my heart behind every damned time I go. I think it's just all happening too fast for me to feel comfortable yet. Hopefully, in a few weeks, it will be fine. For now, I just have to keep moving -- heh heh, like I have a choice.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

How to find an apartment on short notice

Scene: Chilltown, Portland, coveted neighborhood of my dreams. Memorial Day weekend. Saturday afternoon. Jay and I traipse for miles, seeking "For Rent" signs, having arrived in Portland with nothing but a dyslexic, outdated road map and a faint clue about neighborhoods I might like.

"Ooh! That girl just came out of those cute brick one-stories. Look at her dog! Do you think she's a renter?" I notice I am speaking unusually fast, perhaps because I've had three cups of coffee since we arrived.

"I don't know." At this point, after a madcap drive to P-town and several hours navigating a confusing street grid with my poor directions ("Go north! No, hold on, I didn't mean north. East! Maybe? Wait, where did that river come from, and why is it on our right instead of our left?"), I'm pretty sure Jay wishes I'd just affix my name to the nearest dumpster, squat in it for a few years, and let him move on with his life.

"Excuse me!" I dart up the walk to the woman, whose dog is relieving itself on the curb. She looks frightened, probably because I am sweating in the 85 degree heat. Or maybe it is because I am brandishing a pen. "Do you live in there?"

She looks down at her dog, which unfortunately is more interested in smelling my shoes than ripping me to pieces. "Erm...well, yes," she admits.

"Is it an apartment, or a condo? Do you know if there are any coming up this month?" I sound like a high school reporter on my first assignment.

"Well, it's an apartment," she says. "I'm not sure if there are any for rent, but the manager runs a few other buildings --"

"Do you have his number?"

She blinks. I'm pretty sure Jay's hiding behind a tree by now.

"I, um, yes, actually." She gives me the number, and I thank her before jogging off towards another interesting-looking building. Later that night, I will respond to our waitress's "How are you folks doing?" by saying, "I need to find an apartment by tomorrow afternoon. Do you live in a cool building?" She, too, will give me her landlord's number, which I mistakenly assume is a property management answering service and call at 10:00 pm, only to wake up a very confused manager. He actually agrees to show the place the next morning, proving that Portland people are one heck of a lot nicer than we native Seattleites, who are more likely to tell you that we don't want you in our city, ruining the atmosphere, so please go away before we subject you to baleful, intellectually superior stares.

The next day, on our way out of town, I remember the woman with the dog and call the number on a whim. Another very confused manager answers, wondering how exactly a random stranger found his unlisted number. I explain and ask if he has any rooms for rent. He mistakenly responds by saying, "Well, I'm on Xth street and Chilltown, but only until I empty out the laundry coins..." As luck would have it, we've just passed the street. Half an hour later, I've rented my new apartment.

Half a day later, I learn it is two blocks away from an all-ages club. Suddenly, I am grateful for the month-to-month lease.

Eh. There's only so much you can accomplish in 24 hours. Also, I love the place and am planning to wear earplugs for the next two years if that's what it takes to stay. Besides, I'm pretty sure my finely honed Northwestern glare can burn bass-bumping buildings to the ground.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


WARNING: profanity ensues

We are on the MAX yellow line in Portland, after leaving our cheap, two-star hotel in the Rose Quarter -- where, I noted, we are the only two occupants who aren't entertaining guests by the half hour. While it would be quicker to drive, or even swim across the Willamette, we are riding the MAX because my best guy friend, Jay, decides that the entire reason he's accompanying me to Portland is so he can ride both the MAX and the streetcar in the same trip. As a result, the fifteen minute ride to dinner takes forty-five, exacerbated when we take the streetcar just because, and then have to walk back to where we started. But all that comes later.

After the MAX crosses the river, we stop in the Pearl District, where rows of trendy shops and high-priced lofts crowd the area's less successful residents. The train's doors whisper on their sliding tracks, and I gaze idly at an eight-foot high Banana Republic advertisement until a massive, inebriated woman obstructs my view. She slings a hank of greasy, dishwater blond hair over her shoulder like a sack full of dead fish, shouting loud enough to rouse the train's dozing passengers. Three or four men, all of whom appear loosely associated with her, follow, coming to roost along the opposite rail.

"I wanna fuck," she announces to no one in particular. "Do you wanna fuck? No -- not you," she says, catching the shocked expression of an elderly woman. "Not you, sweetie."

Behind her, one of her cohort makes a snide remark. Unfortunately, he is too drunk to be intelligible, but she gets the gist. "Hey!" she yells, and gets up with her fists balled.

Jay and I exchange sidelong glances. "Toldya we should've grabbed a seat up front," I muttered.

"Whatever," Jay says. "Maybe I *wanna* f--" but he's cut off by the woman's outraged caw. "Hey, you owe me money!"

All eyes on the train rotate towards the front of the train, where a scrawny man with a rat's nest of white boy dreads is slinking towards the door.

"Oh boy," her friends jibe, "Go get 'im." They laugh, but we're watching as she storms towards the front of the train. Naturally, the doors close as she reaches him, and he proceeds to turn on his heel and walk the length of the train with extraordinary poise, never saying a word. She follows him, a torrent of curses filling the space between them. "My money! 'Scuse me," she adds, knocking past a pair of necking teenagers.

We decide that perhaps we will exit at the next station...which we do, followed promptly by the skinny guy, the raging drunk, and all of her oafish friends, who lollop behind her like junkyard dogs. Only, not so bright.

I turn to say something to Jay, but the next thing I know, she's shouting for her guys to "get him!"

"What's in it for us?" one asks.

"Bitch owes me $80!"

We swap skeptical glances with strangers. Eighty bucks split five ways is, well, apparently enough, because their quarry comes skidding by like a fox going to ground, followed in hot pursuit by a pair of hounds. One of them appears to be carrying a white tube sock filled with quarters. He raises it over his head and begins swinging in irregular ovals.

"This can't be," I say.

"Oh, but it can," Jay replies.

"It's broad daylight! It's seven in the evening! Are we seriously watching two grown men chase some guy with socks full of quarters?"

A dull, metallic thwock removes any doubt, as the prey suffers a glancing blow to his shoulder in front of a Crate & Barrell. Fortunately, the man swinging the sock is too drunk to aim. Moreover, the sock itself is not designed for full-scale deployment, as the heel seam splits upon impact. A shower of quarters cascades onto the sidewalk, and the scrawny man turns tail and vanishes down another street.

I look at Jay, who's sniggering. I can't say that I blame him. Along with a crowd of people dressed for the opera, we still can't quite decide if what we've seen is funny, disturbing, or a bit of both. We look up the street, where a bored cop leans against a low wall, oblivious to the entire scene. Behind me, a new person who's just entered the scene tells his friend, "They better not bring that back here. I will own their sorry asses."

"Welcome to Portland," I mutter.

Jay turns to me, and now he's laughing uncontrollably. "When they ran past me, I really wanted to say, 'Naw, homie, don't play that'...but I kinda figured they'd turn their sock weapons on my sarcasm."

"A wise decision."

"The odds just weren't in my favor. Besides, I doubt you could take on the loudmouth."

"Come on, you know I fight dirty."

"But quarters-in-tube-sock dirty?"

"You're probably right." We turn and walk up the street, past the officer, who's turned his attention to a troublemaking trio of eighty year-olds.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Spin, spin, spin

So, you are going to have to forgive me for the next few weeks. Between the move, the job starting, me going into mourning as I leave Seattle AGAIN, and CB coming home for a visit, I apparently don't have time to do anything besides catch up on approximately 1/3 of the things which need doing. I will try to get a decent post or two per week, and I feel terrible about it -- but the blog shall survive! I'll write as often as I can. Thanks for understanding!

Monday, May 28, 2007

I am still here

It's just that I had 26 hours to find a place to live in Portland, which is neither as cheap as people claim nor as renter-friendly as you think. So now, I am back. I have a few blessedly non-Portland related things to do tomorrow, and then I will regale you with my trip in Portland, which included:

1. The first time I've actually seen socks full of quarters deployed as weapons
2. Finding my potential pads by bothering the waitress at the pasta restaurant and the woman walking a dog down the street I liked

Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Oh boy...

I have a job.

It is in Portland.


Monday, May 21, 2007

So I am a bad person

Dear reader, please forgive these time lapses as of late. I had an interview today and one which requires a three-hour drive tomorrow, and I just can't put it together to write a post tonight. My multitasking skills apparently took a vacation and have no interest in returning. What about the rest of last week? you ask. I had terribly important things to do last week. Like, unwittingly wander into Flowers with some friends, where they were serving three dollar margaritas. All I know is that, six hours later, the conversation devolved into philosophical treatises on the existential behavior of ghost shrimp, and a little while after that we thought it would be brilliant to play DDR. On Expert level. I think I might have broken someone's foot. The aftereffects of that night essentially negated my week.

So, thanks to my interview, I won't be back until late tomorrow night, which means I have no excuse if I don't post Wednesday. Hence, I will. Because I am not...that...lame...yet.

Interesting tidbit to tide you over: it took me as long to fly home from Kansas as it took my best friend to fly to Italy that same day. Why is it that any respectable hotel would be drummed out of business if it double-booked its rooms, yet airlines can double-book seats and act like it's our problem when we complain?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Stupid internet

Internet = down every five minutes
Kansas = pretty cool
Update = coming tomorrow, when I'll be crashing a friend's house since a certain evil internet company can't come fix this until Wednesday

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Taking a breather

In light of my current situation, my best friend is flying me to Kansas to visit her this weekend. Have I mentioned how much I love my friends? Shut up, going to Kansas is *not* punishment. I'm sure there's something fun to do in her tiny little town. Like seeing how far the car can drive in a straight line without touching the steering wheel. Now, if I can just get over this random fear of flying thing. Perhaps I shall drink my way across the flyover states. On second thought, that would probably be a bad idea. Guess I'll just have to annoy the person sitting next to me instead. Be back Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

From bad to worse

Twenty minutes ago: I'd just finished emailing my specialist about the thyroid, when my dad came upstairs with a thin envelope from the clinic in his hand. I knew before I opened it. Funny, I'd been dreading it for weeks without having any real reason. I read the letter and burst into tears. Yep, that's right: in the last four hours, I've allowed the full reality of my disease to hit me, my fake thyroid is out of whack, and I've learned that the one person who's helped me cope with all of the hell, both here and in England, is leaving the clinic in four weeks. I don't know if I can handle this.

Also, not having insurance? Doesn't help.

Something needs to go right soon, because for the first time I don't feel strong enough to take any more.

Feeling low, here I go

So I'm not really sure what to do here, and I'm kind of freaking out.

Ever since they removed my thyroid, my whole metabolism depends on a pill. A handful of pills, actually: little white and pink pills, smaller than a string of beads. T3, TSH, T4...these letters and numbers are meaningless to most people, but not to me. Every night, I line them up along the crease in my palm and gulp them down, like clockwork. They control my life. I wouldn't mind, actually, but the thing is that they aren't very good at their job. Everyone's metabolism is different; every thyroid patient responds to an individualized dose of synthetic hormones. In my case, regular doses don't work. We have to bump mine up, again and again, just to keep me functional. Bump too low, like we did in England, and things crash. Depression, lethargy, weight gain...Low thyroid levels pull me down a dark, cavernous hole until I can't see the surface. So I came home, and we bumped back up.

Now, six months later, it appears that the dose I've been on is a bit too high. I found out the hard way when I was speaking to a group of undergraduates today. Suddenly, an ancient symptom I'd forgotten completely came rushing back, and in the middle of my impromptu remarks, my tempo accelerated. Then, my heart started pounding. And then, best of all, I started shaking. Like, scared shitless of crowds shaking. It's not something I can control, because it isn't psychological. It's like a shot of adrenalin straight to the heart, or a quad-shot espresso slammed back, chased with sugar. It is an absolute nightmare. Four years ago, I'd reasoned away every indication that I was sick, and then I stood in front of my favorite class and quivered like the last leaf in fall. It was humiliating, and I finally had to admit that something was deeply awry.

I love public speaking, which is what makes this symptom the worst -- when I'm up there, and it happens, people look sorry for me. Some avert their eyes, and others smile reassuringly as if they think they can soothe the wild creature flying around the front of the room. This, of course, actually makes me nervous, and then my voice starts galloping like a horse unbridled.

I am about to interview in the final round of a job opening which involves a lot of public presentations, as do all of the other positions which I have a chance in hell of securing. I can try to knock the dose back down, but it will likely take months again (all after I see my doctor, which itself takes weeks). Worse, for the rest of my life I have to operate without knowing when this is going to hit. Hormone levels fluctuate, even when they're strictly prescribed, so I get to attend every presentation for each of my jobs knowing that at any moment I could blow the talk. I had no real indication that things were askew again until today! What's to stop that from happening years from now, when I'm giving a talk that really matters? Heck, I could get hired by this current place, only to be fired within weeks for acting like a frightened child in front of a major board meeting.

I'm suddenly so sick over this that I'm wondering if I should maybe stop thinking about careers that involve talking to groups of people. What can I do? Get hired by some company and say, "Oh, by the way, I have this autoimmune disorder that's been treated, but the side effects of the treatment can include adrenaline-fueled craziness in front of an audience."

I feel really, really sick. Most of the time, I manage to live with this disease without thinking about its implications on any meaningful level. Last year, I battled through some of the worst depression of my life in a new country, and I was so relieved to get home because at last, I thought, I'll get to be normal again. What the hell am I supposed to do now?