runlikejoy

Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Friday, April 24, 2015

"I am From"

At the beginning of the school year the 5th grade teacher had each child write something about themselves to post on their lockers at school.  Here is what my 5th grader wrote:

I am From

I am from balls of yarn, from arts and crafts and a nice warm bed to sleep in.
I am from the peaceful streets, kindly made houses and stray cats . . . it sounded like home.
I am from the peppers and the tomatoes, growing in mother's garden.
I am from the Christmas dinners and family game nights, from Gabe and Joy and Fiona.
I am from the early birds and the good grades, from "practice makes perfect" and "always do your best".
I am from "believe what you want to believe in" and "Stop Fighting You Two"!
I am from Cupertino, California, Korean BBQ and Thanksgiving turkeys, from the grumpy old cat with the run over leg, the cute little puppy.
I am from Valley View Lane, North Carolina, Andrews Store Road.

-Chloe McKeon

Every time I read it, it gets me, it makes me want to cry, it makes my heart explode.  I knew i was gonna love my kids but no one ever explained how much.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hello!

It was spring break 2015 here and so we went on a little road trip with some friends of ours.  Besides visiting South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas we got see family, cousins, old friends, new friends and taste all off the fine fast food options between our state and the great state of Texas.  It is pretty grim in case you were wondering.  We did find the Waffle House and for those of you that haven't been to one, they serve a pretty awesome waffle and they know what "easy over" means.

Since I've been on the road and not in front of a computer for many days I haven't taken the time to write or even to think about writing.  But I did get to spend a lot of time with my kids and it just reinforced in my mind and heart that they are some pretty great kids.  And going back to work 3 days a week only solidifies that getting to spend 14 days with said kids is a super treat for me and hopefully for them.

They are growing up and they are getting big and I feel like time is slipping through my fingers.  Someday soon I will wake up and be twice my age and my kids will be gone and we will only connect through phone calls and visits.   I really relished every minute with them including the bickering and snotty ones because that is what I love.  And I also realized that I am a lucky girl to get to share these kids with a pretty amazing man.  Can't do without him either.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bad Words

This is the story we heard this weekend while we were out having breakfast:

"One day Fiona took me into her closet and closed the door and she told me all the swears she has learned at school.

She said, "you want to hear the swears I know?"

"And of course I said yes because I wanted to see if she really knew some swear words."

"Ok, here goes,  Don't tell anyone.  Shat, Damn, Hell.  Garshdarnit.  Shoot."

GARSHDARNIT.  We screamed laughing, it was the funniest thing we had heard for a really long time!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Year 9

Every March I try to write a little something to commemorate the time my sister has been incarcerated.  This March 11th marks the 9th year that she has been on her very long adult time out.  I keep track because I feel like no one really does anymore except her and maybe my Mom.

Unless you have had a loved one that is close to you imprisoned for whatever reason, you don't know very much about it.  Oh yes, I realize she committed a crime and is paying her debt to society, she is serving the time that corresponds to the crime she committed.   But here is what I usually hear, "prison systems, tax dollars, freeloaders, loafers, Orange is the New Black, hang em high, put them to work, useless, lazy, criminals" but I guess that is the beauty of opinions everyone has one and most people love to share them.  I wish sometimes that highly opinionated people came with a built in fact checker.

Most of the time I block out the comments - I have this wonderful ability of fuzzing voices and I literally hear static when I don't want to listen to yet another opinion by someone who knows little or nothing or something their uncle or cousins boyfriends mother told them about the prison system.  What I do know is that I am a highly compassionate woman and parent and I believe in second chances.

In Spanish there is a saying, "si Dios quiere" which means "if God is willing" or "if God wants it" - and it is used many times in the place of just putting the word "if" in a sentence.  It indicates that we are not in charge of our destiny - if a train derails and runs into me, if the river floods and I drown, if the car crashes and goes up in flames, if I choke on a chicken bone, if I get attacked by a jaguar, it makes things kind of up in the air as far as what you are doing tomorrow, the next day and the day after that.  It also absolves oneself of all responsibility should things go wrong.

So here goes, si Dios quiere, in 7.5 years I'm gonna be picking up my sister and we are gonna hug for a super long time and then we are going to spend a really long time just laughing and talking and loving and smiling and when we are done with that we will start laughing again.  And she will get that 2nd or 3rd or 4th chance to start over.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Panic

From time to time I have panic attacks and recently I started to have one, a big one and I didn't immediately recognize what was going on.  Now that I am an adult I can look back and see that I have had panic attacks for many years, even as young as age 7 or 8 but at that time I had no idea what was going on.  I actually know for a fact that I was suffering from PTSD which can cause all sorts of anxiety disorders, panic disorders and much more.

It has been a long while since I have had this level of anxiety and to feel it building into panic was a strange feeling after all these weeks and months.  And I can tell you that the way it built, reminded me of being 8 years old again and my immediate response was to jump out of the car and run screaming through traffic.

Here is what it felt like.  My arms and legs felt like they were 1000 pounds each and they were sluggish and slow and they were moving and pushing the air around like the air was thick honey.  I became acutely aware that I was trapped in my location and unable to stop the feeling that I was trapped.  I started to not be able to control my breathing as I started to pant a little and my eyes darted around unable to focus on anything and then I knew I was in trouble.  My hands got sweaty and I wanted to cry or scream.  When I was a kid I would get out of bed and turn on the light and walk around and sometimes cry.  Sometimes I would crawl into the closet with a blanket or under the bed. Almost always I would suck my thumb.  I was in a car when this happened so I couldn't do that.  As the panic built I realized I was going to have a panic attack so I started with my breathing, since that was what I could control and then I started rotate my hands and feet and I had to ride it out until my blood pressure went down and I could actually get a sentence out of my mouth.

I got in under control but it was a reminder that this is me, I have to deal with this stuff and while I have things in place to help me navigate and cope with panic and anxiety it sometimes sneaks up on me and surprises me at the worst possible times.  And it most likely will never go away.  But in the story of my life, I am in control, it doesn't control me.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Corner

I was talking to my friend Julie the other day when she said something that I got stuck on, she was talking about Social Networking and staying current and she said, "it is important to have a 20 something in your corner so that we can keep up to date with what is current."  She was so right.

We don't email anymore.  Blogs are so 2000.  Nobody reads anything longer than 140 characters.  Everyone speaks in acronyms.  I used to think that conducting relationships via text messages was horrible and offensive but not anymore.  Couples begin and end relationships with fewer words than a dinner menu.  Dealing with tough subjects in person is lame and pointless.

I don't care whether or not people like it or not, what I care about is staying current in a world that is rapidly changing.  Staying relevant so that when my kids are navigating these twists and turns I can have conversations with them about what to do and how to handle things.  So I got a 20 year old in my corner.

Who is your 20 year old?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Yearning

This week I have been homesick for the West Coast.  I have missed the moderate winter and the sun every day.  I have missed the mild weather and the ability to take kids to the park in February and not freeze.  I have missed my family and my friends.  I miss the general outlook of people who live on the West Coast and the melting pot of my friends there; French, Canadian, Belgian, Brazilian, Spanish, Mexican, Vietnamese, American, Chinese, Korean, Hmong, Iranian, and the list goes on.  I miss the early spring that doesn't seem possible unless you are from California and then it is taken for granted.  I miss the quality and quantity of Asian restaurants.  I miss walking down the street and hearing 10 different languages being spoken in the same block.  I miss walking my kids to school and walking back home with them after school.  I even miss the bicycle riding singing Chinese lady, warbling vibrato and all.

I spoke with someone at work today that was calling from San Francisco and I had a physical yearning to hear her talk about the traffic on Market Street and how difficult it was to find parking and navigate the traffic and how she would never do it again. I told her I understood because I was from there.  She could have cared less.

I was talking to a co-worker today and I was telling her about a wedding I am going to in October and how she should come with me because she has never been to California and all the fun we would have and she laughed and said, "you are such a California girl".  But she is right, I am a California girl.  And even though I live here now and there are so many good things about this place, I still so strongly miss the old place.  And while I don't miss it all the time when I do miss it, it hits me in the gut and sticks around and makes me wonder if we will ever find ourselves back there again.   I know they say you can never go back to the way things were but if we went back would it feel like starting over or would it feel like we had never left?  And if I went back there, would I miss this place, the new place?

I've live in a lot of places in my life, but I always made it back to the West Coast.  That was my center of gravity.  That was my home base.  I have a new home base now and it doesn't always feel like home base. . . . at least not this week.