Archive for April, 2010

Is my baby stealing my brain or is it just me?
April 25, 2010

Today I had about three minutes where everything that came out of my mouth was utter nonsense.

We were watching the Bulls lose big to the Cavs and I kept cheering on the Cavs by mistake. They were in red today and I kept thinking that it was the Bulls in red. Of course, Bob kept correcting me. But I kept making the same mistake. And then laughing…. like what is wrong with me?! And then I would try to construct a sentence and it came out all jumbled.

“Seriously, what is wrong with me?!” I exclaimed, laughing. Bob found it hilarious.

“The baby is stealing your brain!” he said.

Yes, yes. I thought. That’s exactly right. The only plausible explanation.

My baby is stealing my brain.

At least that’s how it feels sometimes.

Por ejemplo…

I remember when I used to write every day. Every single day. When I wasn’t working, I’d write for four to five hours a day. And when I was working, I’d get up at 5 AM just to get in a solid couple of hours before work. And at work, I’d write in my head. It seemed like I was always writing. And one thing I’ve learned about myself over time is that I’m happiest when I’m writing well.

Which explains why I’ve been frustrated lately. Ever since we moved to the island, my writing schedule has been… well, there just hasn’t been a schedule.

I write sporadically.

In spurts.

One morning after not having written a new play in almost a year, I wrote a brand new ten minute play before I even got out of bed. This was in January, I think. It took me all but two hours to write the first draft from beginning to end. It felt good. Great,actually. It felt so good because I had been worried that I’d lost something. My ability to write. Dramatic, I know.

In my more rational moments, I chalked this up to being pregnant. It’s not my ability that’s gone. But my usual focus.

So the baby is stealing my focus too?

Maybe. Yes. I believe so.

Well, wait a second.

Let’s not blame everything on the baby.

It’s just a symptom of being pregnant. It’s just been so dang hard for me to focus. And this worries me because I feel this ticking clock. I’m in my last week of my second trimester now. Only a few more months and our baby will be here. And if I think I can’t focus now. Well… ha. hahaha. The joke is on me.

It’s possible that this added pressure that I’m putting on myself is making it even harder to write. So maybe it’s not the baby stealing my focus, but me. I’m stealing it. Hmmmm….

Whatever it is, the result is that I have just not been writing. And it feels icky. It’s not me to not be writing. I have no real excuse for it. Only justifications that go something like this:

I’ve been busy

I’m too tired after work to write

I don’t really have anything to write about (haha)

I don’t want to force it

Perhaps it’s not lack of focus, but my self-imposed expectations that keep me from writing.

I haven’t been writing as much because I’ve been waiting for something really good to say. Or some well-crafted idea. Something inspiring. Worth writing about. Worth your reading time.

Or because it’s too daunting. This now or never mentality. The thought that I better write now because once I’m a mom I’ll never have any time again for the rest of my life!

This type of thinking appears not only in my writing, but all over my life. And it prevents me from taking action.

It’s a roadblock. And there are always a way around a roadblock. Right?

Right.

For example, I’ve never believed in writer’s block. I’ve always felt that writer’s block is a function of fear.

Oh… fear! Huh. Fear. Yep. That could be it. That could very well be what has been standing in my way. Fear. And more specifically, fear of failure.

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere.

But how to get around it?

First, acknowledge that it’s there. Check.

And keep going. Keep writing. Check.

Yes, check. I’m writing this post, aren’t I? That’s a start. That is something. I mean I had no idea what to write about…. but just needed to write. Because something had to be done. An action. Taken. Check! Check! And check!

And here’s the thing… it’s very possible that my pregnancy symptoms have made it more challenging for me to write. Perhaps it’s more emotional than physical. But the bottom line is that it’s certainly not as easy as it was before. Just like bending over to tie my shoes is not as easy as before I had a living being in my uterus. However, I don’t stop tying my shoes. I contort my body to make it happen. Often this means the laces are tied off to the side of my shoes… but they’re still tied.

What about you? Can you relate? Did this post make any sense whatsoever? If not… oh well.

Check.

What?

I just like saying that.

Okay. Check.

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wind, tulips, fire and hail
April 5, 2010

Well, this weekend was not short on excitement.

Wind

I woke up on Friday morning to the sound of fierce winds and rain and knew that Bob’s flight would be canceled. Or at least hoped. I really didn’t want him flying in one of those tiny commuter planes in this kind of weather. In an ideal world, the weather would clear and he could land at 10:00 AM as planned. But no. Not today. Flight canceled.

He hopped a shuttle from SeaTac that would take him to the ferry terminal in Anacortes. There he’d walk onto the ferry and I would pick him up in Friday Harbor. A long delay, but these are the things you deal with when you choose to live on a remote island.

Want to know another thing you deal with when you live on a remote island? Power outages. We’ve experienced them before. No big deal.

Around 9:45 the lights flickered, then went out and all was quiet. No more roaring sound of the furnace. No heat. No lights. No internet. As soon as the power went out, I took my breakfast up to the bedroom and crawled back under the covers where I would stay warm. No big deal. I could handle this. I could always go to town if things got too cold out here in the house.

I was somehow able to text Bob to let him know that the power was out. A minute later the hamburger rang. The hamburger is a phone that my little brother and sister gave me for Christmas a couple years ago. It’s the only phone in this house that works during a power outage because it’s the only one that’s not cordless.

So the hamburger rang and I answered. It was Bob suggesting that I meet him on the mainland just for fun. Since the power was out anyway. I suggested we go see the tulips in La Conner. The Tulip Festival was going on and I’d been wanting to see it. Plus, I had heard that La Conner was a really cute town and only a 15 minute drive from Anacortes. So with our new plan cemented, I raced to get out of the house and to the ferry.

On my way to the ferry, I stopped at the Opalco offices to pay our power bill and inquire about the outage. I was told that it was county-wide. The entire county was without power! See, the power to the islands is supplied by Anacortes. When the line is cut or disabled (I’m so not technical,) it cuts off all of San Juan County. Which means of course, no power in town. No power anywhere on the island. It was, in my mind, a good time to hit the mainland.

The ferry ride wasn’t terribly rough, but was definitely tossing us about especially through the straights of Anacortes. It was by far the roughest ride I’ve been on so far.

We (Pablo and I) found Bob right away, scooped him up and drove to La Conner. Everyone was right. It’s adorable. There we had a leisurely lunch and just relaxed. Bob drank some kind of Pale Ale that I smelled. I do this. Whenever he gets a glass of wine or a beer I ask, “Can I smell it?” And then I inhale the aroma and somehow that’s good enough. It’s a pregnant lady thing. So I sniffed his beer and… Okay, I also sipped it. Just a sip. It was yummy.

Tulips

Next on the agenda: tulips. My thinking was that because of the terrible (cold & blustery) weather, we wouldn’t have to contend with massive crowds that normally terrorize the tulips. I was right. But we did have to contend with the horrible weather. Bob was not happy about this. Apparently he wasn’t as thrilled about seeing tulips as I was. Hmmm.

It was seriously frigid. The wind was cutting. I don’t know how the tulips survived. You can see them leaning in the wind.

I wanted to be able to walk the entire fields. But that wasn’t happening. Bob might have divorced me if I insisted on that and I wasn’t in the mood to get wind burn on the only exposed part of my body: my face. So we agreed, one last photo and we’d head back to the car…

Back on the ferry we heard that several ferries had been canceled due to the weather. The ferry we planned to catch was actually canceled which meant we were stuck on the “local” stopping at every island. Bob slept while I finished reading Middlesex, which by the way is a remarkable book. By the time we got home, the power was on. Our kitchen clock was flashing 8:23. Which means that it had been back for 8 hours and twenty-three minutes, right?

Fire

It wasn’t until Saturday that we heard about the fire in Anacortes. Apparently early Friday morning there was an explosion at the oil refinery that killed five workers. This had nothing to do with the power outage. Or the weather. Just a terrible tragedy I thought worth mentioning. I have no idea what the environmental implications following an explosion like this. But they don’t seem good.

Hail

We spent Saturday morning in Roche Harbor walking Pablo and enjoying the nice weather. It’s amazing how the weather changes day to day. Sometimes hour to hour. Or mile to mile.

After our morning at Roche, we headed into town to look at lawnmowers. This is a fifteen minute drive. As we were headed into town we passed a car covered in what looked like snow. I asked Bob if he’d seen it. He hadn’t. I thought perhaps it was my imagination. Until we got into Friday Harbor proper and the whole town was blanketed in white.

It was hail. According to the owners of Harbor Rental, it came down so hard they couldn’t even hear anything inside. I don’t have pictures, but Ian over at Sanjuanupdate.com does.

Oh- we didn’t have one drop of hail out at the house and we’re only ten miles outside of town.

Sunday Bob was clear for take-off. But before he left, we enjoyed a little bit of Easter together at South Beach.

This is South Beach…

And this is Pablo at South Beach…

(that’s his happy face.)

If anything, the events of this weekend gave me a greater respect for this island. It’s “bigger” than we are. It can be just as hard to get here as it is to leave (like LOST… sort of.) I feel this sense of empowerment living in a place like this that is so subject to the elements. At the same time I feel small. Like I do when I watch the ocean raging in the face of a storm. It’s alive… and so am I.

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what it means to be a commuter couple
April 1, 2010

Whenever anyone asks what Bob does for a living, I just say, “He’s a computer consultant.” Which is true. He is. But a computer consultant can do a lot of things. What he does is highly specified and blah blah blah… doesn’t really matter too much for the purposes of this post. But in case you’re interested, he’s technically a systems consultant and works with Essbase – an Oracle Hyperion product.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… let’s get to why what Bob does for a living is relevant to this post. Well, he works for a company called Key Performance Ideas. The unique model of this company is that they do not have a traditional bricks & mortar office. They all work either remotely or at the client. And up until now, Bob has worked remotely. Which means, from home. Until now.

At the moment and until the end of May, Bob is on a project in San Francisco… making us a commuter couple. The client covers his travel back and forth on the weekends. Last week we had one night and one and a half days together. This week we will have two nights and two and a half days together.

His being on this project is a great thing. For him. For the company. For his career. I just wasn’t sure how it would be for us. For me.

Back in October, I was convinced this house was haunted. There was absolutely no way I would consider being ALONE in this house!!!! Well, here we are and it’s not so bad. I now know the house isn’t haunted. I’m far more comfortable here than I was when we first arrived. And I have people looking out for me. Not to mention Pablo. He’s been a great companion. Oh- and having my new job has been so great. It gives me structure and something else to focus on – other than writing and being alone.

I’m all about the upside

If you’ve know me or have been following my blog “Love in the Time of Foreclosure,” you know that I’m all about the upside in life. And this new set-up isn’t any different. Yes… though we are living apart, there’s still an upside.

It’s the time we have together. Bob and I agreed that we would manage all of our work stuff while we were apart so that when we’re together we can just be together. That means that I get all my writing done while he’s away. I handle all house-related stuff (that can be handled without him.) Simply put, I manage my ‘chores’ and work. All with a purpose. To get them out of the way so that when we’re together… we can really just be together.

Last weekend from the moment I picked Bob up from the Friday Harbor airport to the moment I watched the little six-seater plane carrying him away, all we did was play. And I honestly can’t remember the last time we reserved an entire weekend to just enjoying life and each other. Usually, since we’re together all the time, we have stuff we have to do. Work, writing, bills, etc. We’ve never approached the weekend as sacred ‘us’ time. Now we are and it’s pretty great.

Of course I totally miss him. But we video chat and talk at least twice a day- morning and night. We’re both busy and working hard so that when we do see each other, we’re totally present.

Commuter Couples everywhere

I don’t have to look very far to find examples of commuter couples. In my own family there are two. My dad and stepmom have been a commuter couple for the last couple of years while Dad manages his business and travels back and forth from Monterey, California to Illinois. And my mom and stepdad have been spending a lot of time apart lately as Tom has been in Florida earning his Captain license while Mom remains in Illinois managing her Real Estate business.

Commuter couples are becoming more and more common in this economy. An ABC News column Recession Marriage Trend: Living Apart profiles several couples living apart in order to stay employed. This is far from anything uncommon. It’s another “new normal” thanks to the “new economy.”

A big dose of perspective

The other night I was in bed saying goodnight to my husband over the phone (missing him) and I thought about military couples. I thought about pregnant women left at home by their husbands who are sent off to Iraq or Afghanistan. And I got really sad. For them. Because I have no idea how they do it. How do they cope? It seems impossible and so tragically difficult. And of course it really puts our situation in perspective.

Bob is just down the coast. We’re still in the same time zone. I get to see him every weekend. His life is not in danger. Sure, I’m alone in a big house on an island. Pregnant. But it doesn’t really feel that way. I mean, I don’t feel alone. If anything, I feel focused. Our being apart for most of the week is a small sacrifice compared to the experience of many other American families.

If anything, our new set-up has me be grateful.

I’m grateful for my new job

That Bob is employed and working on such a fantastic project

That I have Pablo to keep me company

I’m grateful for the focus that our separation provides

I’m grateful for the time we do have together

I’m grateful that I’m not afraid to be alone

I’m grateful for the friends I’m making here lately

I’m grateful that I’m never bored

and…

I’m really grateful for my new pregnancy body pillow (more on that in a later post)

Last Saturday we spent some time at Deadman’s Bay. Doesn’t sound very romantic, I know. But it’s one of my favorite spots on the island. Next time I’m there, I’ll take pictures, I promise. Anyway, we just sat on driftwood talking and watching the water. Bob said that coming home to the island every weekend was like going on vacation once a week.

So… for now all is well. We’re working it out. It’s actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. This week flew by. Already tomorrow morning I’ll be picking up my husband from the tiny Friday Harbor airport for another weekend “vacation” together on the island.

Are there any commuter couples out there reading this? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. Also, military families? How do you do it?

(If you’d like to read about why we thought this house was haunted when we first moved in, that post is here.)

(About the picture: I took this picture one night just before turning the lights out to sleep and sent it to Bob to say goodnight. I’m wearing one of his dress shirts. Ever since he’s been gone I’ve been sleeping in his dress shirts. This was a brilliant idea on my part for two reasons. 1. Helps me feel close to him. 2. The shirts actually fit over my pregnant belly and are super comfy.)

And lastly…

I loooove this song and listen to it all the time when Bob is away: