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).

Fish Out of Water

I never thought I’d be a stay at home mom.

And actually, I still don’t really feel like one.  I feel like a working mom who just isn’t working right now.  (WMWJIWRN?)  For the time being, I know that this is where I am meant to be, and knowing that brings me peace.  Do I want to be a stay at home mom forever?  No.  Do I want to work full time?  No.  Ideally, I’d like to work part time and be home part time.  We’ll see how all that pans out.

As an introvert and a homebody who moved to a brand new state while pregnant and unemployed, making social connections has been a challenge.  When left to my own devices, I will stay at home and watch TV, read, blog, clean, do projects around the house (in addition to parenting duties, of course)…and to get out with the kid, we’ll go to story time at the library, grocery shop (which I generally hate doing), walk/run (hate running, but it’s free), or try to arrange a play date with another mom (Which is SO MUCH HARDER than one might think.  Babies, and their weird, ever-changing schedules never sync up when you want them to).  That’s about it.

When Dylan was 8 weeks old, we started going to story time at our local library.  That has been our saving grace, pretty much.  For a long time, it was Dylan’s only social interaction with other kids, and it was/is my way of trying to awkwardly make new mom friends in the area.

And I’m not kidding about the awkward part.  It makes me feel like I’m still in grade school, cuz all I wanna do is raise my hand during a lul in the action and quietly ask if anyone wants to be my friend and come over to play.  Pretty please with a cherry on top.

And then a lovely fellow mom lady came in to story time and announced she was starting a support group for moms.  It was during a time I could make (which was practically any time, honestly) and kids could come along.  Oh thank goodness.

Note: I wrote the following two paragraphs several months ago, but wanted to keep them in here as I edit and add to this for posting.

I’ve been going now for 4 weeks and, while we haven’t really talked about anything deep or mind blowing…it’s been SO NICE.  I’ve left each time feeling so much calmer and more connected than before, and I find myself looking forward to it all week.

And it just hit me today that I’ve never actually been in a support group that wasn’t being run by me.  Come to think of it, I’ve led or co-led a good number of support groups and it’s a lot of work.  It’s draining and takes up a lot of my energy and concentration.  To be on the receiving end of a support group feels…incredibly comforting.

Sometimes I wonder about getting back into therapy for myself.  Like, as a client.  Goodness knows I could benefit from it.  The first time I ever went to therapy was precipitated by being in my therapy master’s program – I figured that I should know what it’s like to be in therapy as a client if I planned to actually do it.  So that got me into therapy, but the main issues we talked about swirled around the fact that I, like now, felt like a fish out of water.

I had just moved across the country, living outside of California for the first extended time, Brian and I had just moved in together, and I was working on launching from my family of origin in what felt like slow motion.  Everything was new, and adjusting was hard.

The feeling is familiar, but with one difference.  I knew that living in Boston was temporary.  Now, living in Oregon, we’re here to stay for the foreseeable future.  I didn’t see my life ending up here.  I didn’t see being a stay at home mom, either.  And that’s okay.  I mean, how can I possibly be expected, or want, to predict how my life will go?  I’m just dealing with all these changes the best way I know how.


nanopoblano2015lightNaBloPoMo Day 17

We Get To Keep The Sky

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Local Color.”

A world devoid of color…I immediately thought of two things: the book The Giver and my current surroundings.  If you’ve never read The Giver, then do it.  Do it now.  (And don’t watch the movie, I beg you.  They butchered one of the best books ever written.)  After thinking about that book, I looked outside.  It’s Northern Oregon in November.  The light has almost fully left the sky for the day.  It’s starting to rain for a stretch that’s supposed to last several days.  It’s gray.  All shades of gray; monochromatic yuck.  I wrote about this recently, so I’ll stop launching into that again.

My response to the prompt was automatic.  The sky, of course.  In a world where only one thing gets to keep its color, I’d choose the sky.  It’s one thing, but it’s everywhere.  I don’t always get to see it, but above the clouds of gray depressed muck, it’s there.

Now, the prompt implied that I could assign only one color to my chosen object, but I am tweaking this because blogging.  I declare that the sky will get to change colors as it would normally.  From washed-out, faded, shy baby blue to brilliant, deep blues to fiery (Fun Fact – I just now learned how to spell fiery.  Hot damn.) oranges and reds and yellows to the darkest midnight purples and blacks.

In my world, if the world must be all gray, we get to keep the sky.

We get to keep all of it.


nanopoblano2015light

I wrote letters to my representatives about gun control

The shooting in Roseburg, OR last week motivated me to write letters to my representatives encouraging them to pass sensible gun control laws.

I’m listing the Oregon reps (and their contact info) to whom I wrote, and below that I will include the basic letter that I wrote and adapted for each representative.

It’s not okay to take my writing from this site without my permission, but today, everyone has my permission for this post.  Please- take my letter and use it!  Write to your representatives and adapt my letter to make it say how you feel.  Make your voice be heard!

I’m sick and tired and frustrated, but I am also realistic.  I know there’s a good chance that all these reps will ignore my letter.  That is what it is.  But at least I did something.

Today, I did something.

What will you do?

———————-

Oregon Representatives

1. Kate Brown – Governor

contact her

2. Ron Wyden – Senator

contact him

3. Jeff Merkley – Senator

contact him

(I also wrote to my state senators and local representative but choose not to list them here.)

———————

Dear __________ ,

I have never written to any of my representatives before, but I am compelled to write now because of yet another horrific mass shooting, this time in Roseburg, Oregon.

I live in __________ and I am a wife, a mother, and a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Oregon.

I watched the press conference in Roseburg the day after the shooting where Governor Brown, Senator Wyden, Senator Merkley, and Representative DeFazio spoke. Not one of you spoke about possible solutions to the cancer that is gun violence. Governor Brown said that ‘today is not that day’ to speak about solutions. She is alarmingly wrong- the time is now.

This is the time for action. You can best honor the dead and the grieving by passing sensible gun control laws.

I do not know how to solve the massive problem of gun violence in this country, but I do know that gun control laws must be included. They work. They’ve worked for other developed countries like ours. It’s time to stop hiding your heads in the sand. It’s time to stop caving to gun lobbyists. It’s time to start crafting an evidence-based approach and get to work. It’s time for you to start doing your job to help make your community feel safe.

In the time it took me to craft this letter, about another four people have died from gun violence (according to the CDC, a person dies every 17 minutes from gun violence in the United States).

How many more people have to die before you take action?

Please,

Melissa ______

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.

Drifting in Portlandia

So we’ve been here about a week now.

Here means just outside of Portland, Oregon.

It’s been a little rough, as I expected it would be.  I also suppose it hasn’t been as bad as my worst fears, so that’s something.

Brian and I both came down with the flu over Christmas (given to us by the movers who packed up our stuff), and that made for a pretty rotten holiday.  We made the most of it, but we were not able to do everything we had planned, and we were forced to skip seeing loved ones for fear of getting them sick, which really sucked.

We returned to our mostly bare apartment for one night in sleeping bags so that we could rise early, grab the cat, and make the 10 hour drive to Portland all in one day.

I have a love-hate relationship with this cat, and that morning it was definitely hate.  And pity, I suppose.  She refused to eat any of the sedative-infused food we offered her.  We had given her some a few weeks prior as a trial run, just to make sure she wasn’t allergic and to see how she would do.  I can only imagine that she remembered that experience and was like, “No effing way I am doing that again, you guys.”  We tried putting it in dry food.  We tried hiding it in chicken.  And then we tried just forcing it into her mouth and down her throat.  To no avail.  At this point we were behind schedule, so she got shoved into the cat carrier, hungry and unmedicated, and off we went.

Despite the struggles of the morning, Sadie (the cat) did pretty well.  She howled solidly for the first 45 minutes and then would pass out for 20 minutes at a time, only to wake up and howl some more.  I had to just emotionally detach myself from her in order to cope.  I kept telling her, “I love you, and you are safe,” which I think was more for my benefit than for hers.

The drive up was pretty damn gorgeous, and wonderfully uneventful (the cat howling aside).  We passed Shasta and saw a bit of snow in the shade in the mountains.  We stopped for lunch in Ashland, which was good to check out again.

We arrived at our new place after dark and I was just exhausted.  The cat was freaking out and had no bed to hide under.  We unloaded most of our two cars, ordered pizza, and then passed out on an air mattress.

This is the first time I’ve ever moved somewhere and not had something waiting for me on the other side.  We moved because my husband found an amazing job, which is awesome, and we are both thankful for that.  As for me, I am now left with the daunting task of trying to figure out how to get relicensed in this new state and how to find a job.  I know zero clinicians in Oregon, and so I am left to email perfect strangers to answer my questions.  We left the warmth and sunshine of California, and I can definitely feel that tugging at my wellbeing.  I wonder to myself if Oregon will ever really feel like home.

To sum up, I feel scared and sad, and somewhat stuck.  I am fighting it, but the energy only comes in spurts.  I am very, very thankful to have one good friend in the area I know from California, and of course my husband is there for me, as I am for him.

I don’t like moving and I don’t like change and I hate the unknown.  In my moodier states, I feel like I am on a raft, just drifting aimlessly in an endless foggy sea.  That just makes me want to curl up in a ball and wait until the raft bumps into something.

I guess I’d better fashion myself a friggin paddle.

We Put Birds On Things!

I have a big announcement, you guys.

Guess what, Psychos?!

This shit is happening, y'all.

This shit is happening, y’all.

Portland, Oregon is about to get a little bit crazier, folks.

The story is that Brian got his dream job, and this is our time to pick up and move to seek new adventures!

You hear that, World?!

This is our time!

I can’t wait to sign up for clown school and sit around eating vegan muffins on my days off.

But, in all seriousness, I am excited, but I am also scared and sad and anxious.

We’ve been living in the same place for the past 5 years, and this has been the longest time we’ve been in once place since leaving our childhood homes to go to college.  We can’t believe our luck in how our lives just fell into place here in Northern California.  We both found jobs in our fields, we found a town and an apartment we both love, and we were close to our families.  Even though we’ve been complaining about living in an apartment, living in a college town with noisy shitheads, complaining that we’ve learned all we can from our current jobs…I’m scared that we won’t have such good luck again.  This had to be a fluke, right?  Couldn’t have possibly been from hard work and compromise…that would just make too much sense.

This is also the first time I’ll be moving and not have something waiting for me on the other side – either a job or school or family.  That’s scary for me.  I’ll be supported by my husband, and while we both accept that and it’s what we signed up for, I’m still used to pulling my own weight.  For the past 5 years, I’ve been 100% financially independent for the first time in my life, and it’s felt pretty damn fantastic.  I know I won’t be giving up freedom, but I feel like I’ll be giving up a little bit of pride…at least temporarily.

There’s also the logistical aspect of this freakshow in getting all our shizz up to Razorblade City.  I never moved as a kid.  When I was 3, my parents moved us into the house that they continue to live in to this day.  My soul will shrivel up and die if they ever sell it.  Seriously, I’ll chain myself to the front door.

Anyways, the point is that I don’t really know how to move.  I hate moving.  I also hate feeling like my stuff owns me, and right about now I am finding out that I have a crapton of stuff.  The stuff outnumbers me; it could totally bury me and claim my life and make it look like a freak accident.  We’ve made the hard decision to have movers pack our stuff for us, because there’s no other way we’re taming this domestic jungle.

And then there’s the cat.  She’s only been in a car 4 times, and each of those times, she’s howled like a banshee going through a meth withdrawal, save for when we’re stopped at red lights.  I don’t know why, but I love this furry poosack like nothing else, and those screeches just cut straight through my heart.  The only solution – she’s getting doped up.  That’s right, Poopstick, you’re going to get high and you’re going to pass out so I can drive you in peace for 10+ hours.  You are not going to piss in my car.  You’re not going to throw up the meds.  Don’t make me regret signing up to be your human mother.

So there you have it.  I know the excitement will grow on me once I get past the hairy logistics.  I have a feeling we’re going to jive really well in the land of evergreen trees and unicycling hipsters – where composting is mandatory, where food is delicious and organic and plentiful, and where people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (named SAD for a reason) and will desperately need my services.

Please hire me, Portland.

~~~~

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