Invisibility Cloak

It’s been really hard trying to adjust to life in Oregon.

People have been telling me that it’ll take time.  Like, 2 or 3 years.  You know, to find friends and get used to the rain.

Well, it’s been 3.75 years and I’m still waiting.  Waiting to feel…adjusted.

I’ve moved before and it hasn’t felt like this.  So I’ve been wracking my brain to figure out what is different about this time and this place.

Many things are different: this move is permanent, with no end date in sight.  I didn’t move here for a reason of my own, meaning that we moved here because of my husband’s job and not because of work or school for me.  We don’t have any family close, not anywhere in state.  I moved here 8 weeks pregnant and have been largely housebound raising kids ever since.  The weather suuuuuucks.

But all this I’d been over in my mind, again and again, and nothing felt heavy enough to be such a roadblock.  Perhaps all of them put together is what is blocking my road?

Of course, there’s more.  My life is pretty unrecognizable from what it was 4 years ago.  I was working full time, not yet married, not yet a mom (of two).  I had friends and family.  Hobbies.  A brain.  A life.

Now I feel like I am getting somewhere – that along with grieving the loss of my homeland (via the move), I am grieving the loss of my identity.  Before, I was a therapist.  A partner.  Active, creative, thoughtful.  Productive.  Energetic.  Mobile.  Free.

I look at the clothes hanging in my closet, and I don’t recognize the woman who wore those clothes.  She’s not me, but I kind of remember her, the way one remembers a grandmother who died when you were a child.  I deeply miss her.

I feel like becoming a capitol M-O-M has wiped out any identity I had that doesn’t pertain to my relationship with my kids.  People no longer ask about me, they ask about the kids.  Or they ask about how I am in relation to the kids, as a mom, and not as a person.  (Because moms aren’t people, you guys.)

Edit: To be fair, my momfriends very much DO genuinely ask how I am doing.  It’s just that most often, I’m unable to answer honestly or with much gory detail because of the circumstances (read: kids running around trying to kill themselves).

Make no mistake, I’ve definitely been making an effort to integrate myself into my new life.  This introvert and homebody has forced herself to join a moms club, get to library story times, and go to various playgroups.  I’ve made friends and enjoyed some of what Oregon has to offer.

What finally hit me was something my good friend said to me recently.  I was bitching about how being a mom gets in the way of making good quality friendships because even when my momfriends and I can get together we’re still always chasing after our kids and can’t have a decent conversation.  I can’t remember how the conversation went, but I think I said that my momfriends and I mostly talk about our kids because that’s what we have in common, but we don’t share who we are as people.  And she pointed out that none of the people I am meeting and trying to forge relationships with in Oregon knew me before I had kids.  I just read back what I typed, and I can see how that may not sound so earth-shattering, but it definitely felt that way to me.  Besides my husband and this particular friend, zero people in Oregon knew who I was before children.  There’s been essentially no carryover from my old life to the new one, in every way possible.  Ugh.

As I take this thought and play the tape through in my mind, I’m seeing another layer of difficulty in trying to make new friends: not only do we lack the logistical opportunities as moms, but I am working blind.  I don’t even know who this new me is yet, and no one here knew the old me, and in that sense I feel completely invisible – swallowed up by my children (and then pooped out for me to clean up).

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From Blogtown to PDX

There’s now been three times I have met someone in person after first getting to know her over the internet, and all three have been fabulous experiences.

The first I met in high school via a Hanson website (!) and we’ve since traveled across the country to visit each other, including being bridesmaids in each other’s weddings.  We are a match made in Hanson history.  Mmmbop, girl.

The second was Dawn from Tales From the Motherland; I wrote about it here.  I hope Dawn and I will be seeing more of each other!

The third happened a few weeks ago now.  You guys, I got to meet Jen from Sips of Jen and Tonic!

Since moving to the Portland (OR) area, I asked Jen if she maybe wanted to meet up.  This was a step for me, since it’s hard for me to put myself out there, but I am so glad I did.

Our little meeting was superfun, and I think my blog-crush turned into a real life one.  Jen’s writing has entertained me for several years now; her blog is so good that, when she posts, I read.  It’s made me laugh so hard in the past that the milk I drank came out my nose as butter.  Seriously, I still need to pick her brain about her writing process because it’s so off the wall and hilariously punchy that I wonder if she just thinks like that all day or if she hires lab mice to feed her speed pills every few minutes.  (You know, the mice would run up her arms and shoulders and then reach her mouth from there.  Speed comes in pill form, right?)

I’m pretty sure Jen and I talked about all the things that ever were.  Awkward stages of making friends in your 20s and 30s, jobs, Portlandia, blogging, reality TV.  She even laughed at my Zoolander reference!  I felt like she really got where I was coming from, especially because she is also a Californian who moved to Oregon.  OMG.  Thank you, Jen, for letting me rant about all the things wrong about Oregon that make me feel like a fish out of water.  I remember reading your blog in the not so distant past and thinking these elitist Californian thoughts whenever you made reference to Oregonian things…and now I’m right there with you.  …Go Ducks?

So.  If you hadn’t had the pleasure of imbibing, I implore you to partake in some Sips of Jen and TonicThis post of hers stood out in my memory as a particularly hilarious one, probably because, like me, she is not shy when it comes to blogging about the important things (poop).  But she has many other good ones.  Like this one.  (And then I re-read it and realized it has a similar theme…so apparently my taste is very narrow-minded.  Go find your own favorite post because I give up because they are all good.)

And now for the obligatory picture:

Bonus - If you look closely, you can see the gentle curve of my butt in the background.  You're welcome.

Bonus – If you look closely, you can see the gentle curve of my butt in the background. You’re welcome.

Thanks for the fun time, Jen!

Hope you see you again soon, fellow CA—>OR.

Radio H-O-M-E

I was inspired by Emily and Ashley‘s prompt about radio, because people, when I was little, I made the radio.

That’s right.

It was actually in elementary school with my friend also named Emily.  She introduced me to this fun activity we called H-O-M-E.  You know those boom boxes where you could record your voice onto a sweet cassette tape?  Well, we took one of those and created our own radio station, complete with original songs, audio murder mystery stories, and commercials.

Our radio station changed depending on the location we were recording from.  If we were at Emily’s house, we’d say, “Hello, this is Melissa and Emily coming to you live from 1234 Smart Court, H-O-M-E!”   Change of address meant change of the station.  We knew our listeners could keep up.

I loved this game so much that I brought up the idea with two other friends on separate occasions and I now have many cassette tapes gathering dust in my childhood closet with awesome H-O-M-E radio recordings.

At one point we used Emily’s keyboard to create background music for our various audio entertainment.  Emily and I recorded original songs we wrote about pollution and how bad it is and how we wanted to save the monkeys in the rainforest.  My friend Leah and I did commercials for a fictional store called Fit It Right, where they guaranteed that your clothes would…fit correctly, no matter your size.

Most of the commercials were just recorded on the fly and if we messed up or got a case of the giggles, we’d just rewind and tape back over it.  But with my friend Megan, we put together and scripted an entire murder mystery tale that would probably get us sued by the people who wrote Clue if it ever goes viral.  We had backstories and physical descriptions for an entire wealthy family, complete with maids and cooks.  We foreshadowed and we dropped hints and we used really bad French accents.  No spoilers as to who the killer really was…but I wouldn’t eat the stew if I were you!

I also went solo for my blue period in radio.  I recorded myself singing My Girl (remember that movie with Anna and Macaulay?!) and quotes from movies or shows I’d heard and didn’t quite understand, but knew enough to know that they were cool.

What’s your sign, baby?

The Hollywood sign!

My most treasured radio show was when I interviewed each member of my family.  And by interviewed, I mean I told my family members exactly what I wanted them to say.  I must have been about 8 or 9 years old, and my grandparents were visiting from Wisconsin, which was a big deal.  Both of them have since passed away, and so I really love that I still have a piece of them on tape.

I listened to this interview so much over the years that it’s been cemented in my mind.  First, I recorded all my scripted parts alone in my room, and then I would run downstairs and tell each person what to say, and the pattern would continue.  Here’s the transcript of what I remember:

Hello, and my name is Melissa ___ _____.  (I always introduced myself with my full name, middle and last.)

Today we’re going to meet the members of my family!

First, we’re going to talk to my Dad, and he loves watching football on TV.  Hi, Dad, what are you doing?

Dad: I’m watching football and they just scored a touchdowwwnnn! (My Dad said this with the appropriate amount of fake enthusiasm.)

Next, we’re going to talk to my Mom, and she loves to cook.  Hi, Mom, what are you doing?

Mom: I’m making a casserole.

Next, we’re going to talk to my little brother who loves playing video games just like I do.  Hi, Brian, what are you doing?

Brian: I just got to the 3rd level in Nintendo!!  (It took some expert levels of coercion to get him to say this on tape, but it was worth it.)

Next, we’re going to talk to my grandpa, and he loves to play golf.  Hi, Grandpa, what are you doing?

Grandpa:  And you know what?  I was playing golf and I just got a hole in one, whooooo-ppeeeeee!  (He went off-script for this one, but I’ll forgive him.)

Last, we’re going to talk to my grandma, and she loves to knit.  Hi, grandma, what are you doing?

Grandma: I’m knitting some mittens.   (Those four words never sounded so sweet.)

——

So that’s all I got.  Thanks for reading me remember my journalistic roots.