I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed

So I didn’t get the job.

Before you offer your condolences, I’m okay with it. Sorta. More along the lines of “You broke up with me before I could break up with you.” Ultimately, I knew I wouldn’t take the job, but no one likes to feel rejected. It is, in fact, only the 3rd time ever I have interviewed for a job and not received an offer. This feeling is weird, but I’ll get over it. (This is just me stating facts, haters.)

I found out I didn’t get the job the same week as my birthday. For the first time EVER, I was not looking forward to my birthday and that’s odd. I’m usually all into my birthday because I am awesome and like to take at least one day a year to celebrate said awesomeness.

Instead I spent the day in back-to-fricking-back meetings, doing double duty on pick-up and drop off because Mr. O had a haircut after work, then bitching him out because he didn’t actually wish me Happy Birthday until I reminded him it was my birthday… at 8:00 pm.

Then I cried. Then Chick fell and hit his head. And we both cried.

My birthday present to myself was a historic tour 5K. (#runningnerdalert) We were supposed to do it as a family– me, Mr. O, and Chick in the stroller. I was all set, but Mr. O fell ill so he stayed home with Chick. Instead of the family run I had been hoping for, I was going solo.

On my way to the meeting point (alone) I thought:

I’m just tired of being disappointed.

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#sadturtle

That’s where I’m at these days. I’m disappointed in so many things, I can’t even begin to list them (and we know how I love lists.) Nothing is out and out terrible any more –infertility and death of a loved one have a strange way of putting things in perspective. But I’m left with this general residue of severe let-down-ed-ness. And I don’t think I have been asking the Universe for too much. Honestly.

A few years ago at Christmas, my family requested a list of things I wanted as gifts. This has been a contentious issue for years– my family is notoriously cheap so you can’t recommend anything over $20 which is tricky because if I see something I want that is under 20 bucks, I’ll just buy it my damn self. Anyway… I spent a lot of time coming up with a few ideas that I wanted, needed, and magically came in around budget.

I had asked for a pair of black gloves and a Stevie Wonder CD. Instead I got a pair of socks from my brother, a book of poetry (by my dad’s favorite poet) from my parents, and a statement necklace from the J. Crew sale rack from my sister. Oh, and I also got the gift of white hot rage, because I was pissed. Why ask what I want when you’re just going to get me what you want anyway?! Then I felt horrible because I also felt ungrateful.

Because on top of feeling disappointed that my life right now is not what I would like it to be, I also feel immensely guilty for not being grateful. I have a good job, a roof over my head, a mostly decent spouse when he remembers not to be an idiot on my birthday… I look down at Chick and am filled with a wee bit of self loathing because he doesn’t make up for all the short-comings. It took me ages to have this baby, shouldn’t he just wipe away all my cares and woe? (Um, no… because it is uncool for a parent to make their child responsible for all the happiness in the world. Or at least that is what I tell myself for feeling like a bad person when Chick isn’t the only reason my day is awesome/shit.)

Should I pull an Oprah and list out my gratitude? That’s a little too Shiny Happy People for me… Besides, I’ve always hated this exercise because it seems to imply that if you have anything to be grateful for, you magically shouldn’t care about all the serious crappy things going on.

Good things in life don’t erase the bad ones. They just add to the texture.

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Panic in the Mother’s Room

It all started innocuously enough.

It was an ad.

As I was feeding Chick breakfast and listening to the news, I heard an ad announcing that a very large company will be moving to my city. It will take a few years– 2018– but they’re relocating their entire headquarters. My first thought was “Man, housing prices are going to skyrocket.” My second thought was “Man, I either need to buy now or get out before it happens.”

As you all know, I’ve been seriously thinking of leaving the East coast. I’ve been looking at a few cities. In typical fashion, I created a spreadsheet comparing said cities with an Ostrich Quality of Life Index (patent pending.) I like to make informed decisions, and this process helped me quickly eliminate some options and zero in on others. Using my proprietary formula (factoring potential income, average commute time, average cost of a 3 bedroom, and average cost of daycare) I quickly tossed out San Francisco. LA would be possible, but Seattle was looking like the very best alternative. I shared my findings with Mr. O and started to dip my toes in the Seattle waters.

Mr. O had been rather silent. Not entirely out of character, but in retrospect I should have known better. You see when Mr. O doesn’t want to do something, he ignores it. Pretends like it just isn’t happening. And because this Ostrich abhors a vacuum, I fill the silence with whatever I *think* he thinks. And I thought silence was complicity.

With the dawning realization that Very Large Company is coming, my urgency to leave kicked into high gear. I went to work and started looking at how to make this move West work. The trouble was, I couldn’t. Even with all my spreadsheets and research, the three places we were looking at weren’t working out. The logistics were wrong, the cost of living one I can’t support, or commutes I can’t bear. I have been working on this relocation puzzle for weeks, and no matter how much I tried I couldn’t make it fit.

I started to spiral. I couldn’t breathe. My chest felt tight. Cue panic attack! So I ran to my one refuge at work– the Mother’s Room.

While trying to get my shit together, I tearfully called Mr. O because I really needed to talk. More specifically, I needed someone to talk me down.

ME: I’ve tried and tried, and I can’t figure out how to make this work. I’ve looked at all the pieces, all the variables…

 

O: You’re putting too much pressure on this one decision. You need to slow down. Why don’t we just move and see what happens?

 

ME: I can’t do that. I want a home, Mr. O. I want to settle down with our family. I don’t want to move across the country, only to pick up and move again because we can’t afford it.

 

O: Maybe we need to compromise on somethings. You’re not going to find everything you want in one place. Maybe it will mean a longer commute…

 

ME: I know, but there are somethings I won’t compromise on. I want our own home, and I want to be with our family. Chick is growing up so fast, and I don’t want to miss that because I’m driving two hours in a car everyday. That matters to me.

 

O: …

 

ME: I’ve tried and tried, but I can’t make San Francisco work. I know that’s where you want to be, but I can’t figure it out-

 

O: Well, I don’t want to move to Seattle.

 

ME: … What?

 

O: I never wanted to move there.

 

ME: I can’t make California work, Mr. O. I don’t know if we can move at all.

This, it should be noted, triggered more crying and chest heaving. Because I realized that when Mr. O said he wanted to move West, he really meant he wanted to move to San Francisco. There is a part of me that feels this is totally irrational on his part. It’s like a kid who says they want to live in Disneyland. That’s charming, but completely unrealistic.

69025388This is where our partnership typically hits the skids. Mr. O is the dreamer, the kid who wants to live in Disneyland. I’m tethered to reality. It isn’t like we don’t know this about ourselves– we even have a joke about it. This dynamic first came to light when we went on vacation together for the first time. Mr. O doesn’t plan anything and just likes to let serendipity take over. I have to plan everything because… well if I don’t, who will? Thus Vacation Ostrich is the planner, while Vacation Mr. O is the free spirit.

(That makes me sound like a total kill joy, but if it weren’t for me we quite literally wouldn’t have places to stay. Mr. O doesn’t even want to pick a hotel because “Let’s just see what happens…” I’m not okay with just rolling into town without a bed booked because I did that in my 20’s with very poor results. This is not my default mode- you can tell because I looooathe the planning process. In fact, I’ll admit I even resent it. But I’d rather that than sleep on a park bench, literally or metaphorically. Yes, I am justifying my behavior. It’s my blog. Deal.)

Anyway… Where was I? Ah yes… panic attack in the Mother’s Room. I was crying while mumbling “I can’t make this work, I can’t fix it, I can’t fix it…” when Mr. O told me to stop and breathe. And made the radical suggestion that we swap roles. He will be Vacation Ostrich and I will be Vacation Mr. O, at least for a few weeks. We come at problems differently, but we’re not going to go anywhere unless we meet some kind of middle ground. For the next few weeks anyway, I have agreed.

Since then, I’ve been trying to define what being Vacation Mr. O really means. It isn’t so much that he isn’t realistic, but that he sees possibility. I’m trying to broaden my perspective a little bit, even opening myself up to staying where we are.

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What do me and Donna Reid have in common, besides a love for home appliances? No really…

I’m also trying to sit back and figure out what is important to me and why. It’s been a good clarifying exercise so far. In the midst of my sweaty panicky freak out, I blurted out the two most important things to me: Home Ownership and Family. Smack me with a wet noodle, I never thought I’d say those things. It’s just so damn Leave It to Beaver, but there you have it.

Family… okay, yes. It isn’t uncommon for a mother of a small child to want to spend more time with said small child. As much as it was a surprise, I wasn’t really shocked by that response. The specificity of home ownership? Yeah, that seemed weird. While I was driving home from dinner with friends last night, it dawned on me where that is coming from.

Since my mom died, my father’s mortality has become more real. No, he isn’t going anywhere any time soon. (Hopefully. Seriously, Universe, if you even think of screwing with me like that right now, you and I will officially have a smack down.) But I’m also keenly aware that he will die some day. When that happens, my family home will be gone. My siblings and I will have to sort through ~40 years worth of our collective identify, and decide what to keep. At that point, I will be without a mooring… Unless I moor my goddamn self.

There are other things here that need unpacking, like the realization that my income is what keeps my family afloat. I am the head of the household, which wasn’t really a role I was prepared for. With that comes responsibilities I haven’t even started to grapple with. You’d think Vacation Ostrich would relish that, but I don’t.

Mr. O and I have agree to regroup in a few weeks to see what this Freaky Friday swap yields. Until then, I will do my best to dwell in possibility.

Short, Sweet, Sad

I have cried every day since last Sunday.

I view what happened in Orlando as a deep, painful rupture of our humanness. 49 beautiful lives are gone. To say that this breaks my heart is a complete understatement.

As with all tragedies I’ve experienced over that last few years– the public and the private– I am shocked that the world has the audacity to keep spinning. In a few short days, we’ve turned from outrage at the shootings in Orlando to the regular drone of pointlessness that is American pop culture. The only related trending topic in my FB feed this morning was about JK Rowling sending flowers to victims. That’s nice of her and all… but.. What the actual f@ck, people?!

As much as this is devastating to me as a fellow human, I recognize that my friends and family who are gay experience this tragedy on a different level. I’ve done my best to avoid knee jerk reactions, to sit back and listen, to offer support when I can. I struggle to find the *right* words to say, worrying that I’ll contribute to hurt and fear instead.

Then I realized that perhaps my relative silence was part of the problem, because the rest of the world seems to be going silent or brushing this under the rug. I don’t want to be complicit.

Growing up, I went to a Quaker school. If you don’t know, Quaker service revolves around the act of silence. Imagine getting school kids to sit still for any period of time… Yeah, it was a challenge. And yet, it taught me that there is a value to periods of reflection, and there is a value to finding your voice and speaking from the silence.

My first instinct is Love. Because that has been my saving grace so many times before. It isn’t much, but it’s a place to start.

There Ain’t No Easy Way Out (of the East Coast)

(Pardon my use of poor grammar. Blame Tom Petty.)

Blaaaaagh.

I’m being a total weirdo right now. But if you can’t be a weirdo on your own anonymous blog, where can you?

So.

If anything good has come out of my interviewing for the best job I will never have, it is the realization that I’m ready for something new. I’m fairly certain that something new is a drastic change in scenery. After 18 years as a Southerner and almost 20 as a Northerner, I’m ready to move West. This isn’t wholly arbitrary– Mr. O and I have visited various western cities over the last few years and really love it out there. Besides… why the hell not?

Now that Mr. O and I have pretty much agreed on a move being vaguely in our future… I agonize. Did you know that “West” is a pretty large portion of the country? We’ve narrowed it down to “Somewhere in California” and “Generally Seattle.” I start googling, feel nauseous, then google pictures of puppies in order to avoid any real decision making.

Because this is the only way I can tackle large problems, here is my list of criteria:

  1. Mid-sized city with a few larger employers. I tend to bounce every 3-5 years, so there has to be another game in town for me to rationalize moving there.
  2. Decent standard of living. I would like to be able to buy a modest house wherever I live next. No McMansions, just a nice lil’ bungalow with room outback for a smoker. (Cue my dream of smoking my own meats.)
  3. ~ 30 minutes commute time. I would rather spend time with my family than in traffic with thousands of my closest over-worked and over-tired friends.
  4. No hyper-conservative local governments. Look, I spent my entire childhood in a state that is currently under travel advisory by the UK because of its idiotic policies. I’m not subjecting myself or my family to that level of inanery.

Other considerations… I would like a good-ish school system, but I’m not above sending Chick to private school. I would love to send my kid to the public school system, but ultimately I’m okay with being bourgie if I have to be.

That makes it sound soooo easy, right? I want there to be some form on the interwebs where I can plop all this information and it will give me a list of the top 5 cities for me to focus on. But the best I can come up with are useless Buzzfeed quizzes that tell me my spirit animal is Wyoming or something else equally unhelpful.

Regardless, I need to come up with a plan to escape the east. Any thoughts, recommendations, or pictures of cute puppies welcome.