Sunday, September 28, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The past few years have brought social networking sites to the forefront of online life. I heard it said you could find old friends through sites like Myspace and Facebook, and so first I joined one, then another. The advantage to a networking site is that you have immediate access to people in your social network that have drifted out of your geological zone, and whom you don't casually run into anymore and have the chance to catch up with each other's lives.
It is in renewed contact with people from different times in our lives that we can see ourselves in comparison with where we used to be. It is where the past catches up to the present.
I find it very interesting from a psychological perspective the unique connection that brings, and how those comparisons play out. For instance, I have noticed that with our world growing larger, we find more in common with those in our immediate world. We have access to millions of people, and so the fact that this person was not in your clique in school doesn't seem to matter anymore when you consider they grew up in your neighborhood and went to all the same schools as you, and therefore has a common ground of experiences with you that most people don't.
It can also illuminate how different you might have become. Lately, I have been considering this idea that an old friend threw at my Facebook page. She questioned if I was having a midlife crisis, based on the things she saw on my profile.
My profile reads basically the same as my info on this site. To me, this is just the same old stuff I have always been into, which is why I think about her comment so much.
Am I supposed to have changed? Have we just changed so much that I seem different to her, or did she just never really know me? Have I changed? Or has she?
I have always been committed to preserving my identity. This commitment to being true to my self started when I was in high school and had some experiences that I had to make it through. I did some soul searching and inner self reconstruction in order to come out better on the other side, and when I finished, I saw who I was and vowed to keep that person intact.
When I became a mother, I saw myself and the women friends I knew with kids the same age lose parts of ourselves to become mothers and wives. I noticed that my experience was a common one with the women I knew, in that the first three years of their children's lives, the mother's life completely revolves around mommyhood. We don't have time for hobbies between holding our babies and keeping our house.
When I was in that stage, most of my reading was Parenting magazines and baby care books. I would list as my hobbies "cooking and cleaning". Changing diapers and making bottles came before reading and exercising, and when you did have time for yourself, you were too tired to do anything with it.
...But in those days, I still had my horse, my dog, my journals, and my Kerouac, my "pop philosophy and psychology", an interest in the esoteric, the reading, the walking, riding, and writing, and my dog Rascal, for the love of I went to work every day...
When I finally woke up one day, washed the baby drool off my shirt and re-entered the land of the living, I realized I had lost some of my essence, and that essence remained vital to my sense of fulfillment in my life.
Some of my friends never made a clean break. Some lost themselves and their identity to motherhood, and that is all that they are now. These are people like the mommybloggers and soccer moms of the world. I didn't want to be like them. I thought I was a pretty hip chick and I wanted to stay that way. I missed the way they used to be, and I didn't want to wake up one day and feel that way about myself.
When I had my second baby, I fought to keep my sense of self. I did something every day with my children, or maybe alone when my husband was home, to keep myself feeling like me.
I spend lots of time in introspection and self assessment, so I have always felt like I had a really good sense of who I was. The problem we run into with introspection, though, is that who you think you are is really only half of the picture. It doesn't matter what we think of ourselves when viewed through someone else's eyes.
Perception is reality. If someone percieves me one way, then I do exist in that way, to them, and no amount of disagreement on my part changes their reality of who I am.
Who are we, then? How do we really know what people think of us? They never come right out and tell us exactly everything they think of us. The only way we can tell is by reading into the clues that they leave in the things they say.
For instance, I have some clues on what others think of me lately.
Out at the piano bar, "Indy" introduces me to his girlfriend with "she's a really good writer, and she shows dogs..." she was so sweet - "And very pretty...!" she said, and I to her....at church, my old friend introduces me to the minister with, "and she's probably the deepest person you'll ever meet.." and the small group study circles all nods in affirmation, murmuring "she's really deep..." and my geocaching girl friend telling me she was surprised with how much I read, and says it probably explains why I am a good writer....my husband doesn't want to tell me something because I "have no compassion" and my best friend scoffs and says he must not know me, then, because you know that's true...
Compassion, the force that drives me to my life direction. I am still the girl who made a vow to her childhood dog to take a stand for animals, after finding the dog being kicked by boys and unable to get away because I had tied her up....a loyalty to a dog that became the collective "Dog" and the collective "Animals". I am still the same girl who later calmed an outlaw horse and made him hers, the same who could touch the male bongo that no one else could touch, and got to name his fall baby. The same one who held dying dogs in her arms in animal shelters, and dedicating herself to animal health care, and shelter dogs, and stress in captivity in general.
"She was overexposed to animal euthanasia," one doctor wrote about me in a letter of recommendation, and so I was injected with passion to preserve the human-animal bond through education and training, a teacher of Puppy Kindergarten with twenty people and ten dogs bouncing around the clinic waiting room.
An old friend sees me the same way as ever, she says, "warm, kind, intelligent, beautiful" and I to her, another sees me as "creative"...and a contemporary friend who remembers me as being really into geocaching...."a true friend, which is a rare thing these days," says an ex...
The thing is, I built this thing, this person in here, with the help of God. God had a plan for me, and I feel fortunate that it was revealed to me early on. I have certain talents, or gifts, like compassion, empathy, and the ability to focus on something intently for a long period of time. I felt strongly that he wanted me to make the world a better place for animals and equipped me with the ability to do so. This has been "me" since around eight years old, this core belief that provides me direction.
Curiosity, the force that drives me to seek adventures and knowledge. I have always been a seeker. I want to know the answers and go to the places and experience everything, which made me open to many different impulses and places. I want to learn, to study, to ask questions. I want to taste all the food and meet different kinds of people. In my younger and wilder days, this spirit would manifest in a general "sex drugs and rock n roll" manner but now manifests in interest in traveling, or the picking up of different hobbies, like dog showing or geocaching.
I am of the opinion that I haven't changed much over time. I am still into the same things. my mother used to always explain me to people with the same line - "she's into the 4 'R's - reading, writing, running, and riding" (horses). The first two are the same, though my tastes on those has changed over time, and although I only run ocassionally these days, I still like to get all self-competitive with solo sports. Dogs have been substituted for horses, and although I can't ride them, I still get the benefit of developing a mutually beneficial relationship with an animal who speaks "another language", but with whom you find a way to communicate with.
Recently an college coworker told me I had changed from the way he remembered me, with my kids and "enjoying what you do yet and want more" not who I was to him. When I questioned why my circumstance would imply I had changed, he suggested because my wild lifestyle when he knew me was incongruent with being a mother. He had me locked in the image of the "party girl" I was in my college years.
In some ways we change, yes. We evolve. We mature, grow up, move past the party life and into the family life. Yes, suddenly we're baking cookies and passing out Kool-Aid instead of cantering along on the back of a horse. We have a trunkful of tack that hasn't seen the light of day in seven years sitting in the garage, and bills instead of tests, and careers instead of jobs.
I, however, have been very proud that in spite of the changes, I remained true to who I was. I speaks of loyalty to me, like holding on to the friends of our youth and former flames. I want to be that loyal, still holding the halter of the horse she sold years ago, still looking through the old love notes from days gone by, silly and sentimental but always honest.
If I let it go, then it wasn't real. I was always real.
And I don't want to be the woman whose past didn't exist after she became a mother, or a lover, or born again. I want to be a woman shaped by her past but not defined by it, nor by the present, but rather somewhere in between. I am who I am, who I'd always been,who I'll always be.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Over the years of being a Kerouac fan, I sometimes would try to examine what it was exactly that I liked so much about his work. Part of the appreciation I have for him as an "artist" with words lies in his ability to describe scenes in such detail that one gained a unique sense of being in the action.
This feature of Kerouac's writing he called "sketching".
Before I realized that was his label for it, which makes sense, I was doing a little sketching of my own. I was never a visual person, but I was driven with a need to explain my existence in the world through a creative medium. I have come to feel that writing is a tool for expression that has more dimensions than a visual still life.
I like my life to come alive.
I, like Kerouac, was known to my friends as always having a notebook in my backpocket, transcribing experience. I usually tended towards free verse. Here is a sample of a sketch of my own, written in 1998 in Manitou Springs, Colorado.
Sketches from a Manitou Laundromat
There's a boy,
A thinker, observer, dreamer
He sits and watches the street
Glances at the others now and then
I wonder what his meaning is
And if he finds it here
A girl pulls up in a shiny red car
Baby seat in the back
Couldn't be more than eighteen
Pensively washes her man's clothes
Twists her lip nervously
Her shorts hang low
So we can notice her navel
And its shiny adornment
Flashing above long legs
Three Mennonite women
Wearing matching silk dresses
And white bonnets
Speaking a strange tongue
Bewildered by machinery
They all wear nurses shoes
And add coins to others dryers
Just to be nice
A woman walks in
Hair a mess
She wears a nice dress
With a fanny pack
And a confused smile
Must be a nice little nut
She wears socks over her
Knee high stockings
And drools a grin your way
Another boy, loner like me
Carries all his belongings
In a duffel bag
Washes his socks and underwear
Long deep scars over his arm
He walks off down the street
To a friend's couch,
perhaps, or a welcoming girl
I pass him on the way home
He is still walking
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Regular readers may be wondering why, after writing about geocaching for months, I would not have a single story about caching on the entire page.
I'm down with caching.
But I'm not the only one around here who has lost that lovin' feeling.
It is catchy, collective, contagious.
It's the post-Ike caching ick.
In the Houston Geocaching Society forums, someone else summed up the general feeling.
This is bbqbob2's comment in response to Georeynozos's thread asking if anyone had started caching in Houston after Hurricane Ike:
"I tried a new cache in Clear Lake yesterday and the mossies were small, nasty and plentiful. Couldn't get into the hunt though - two houses missing fences looked out onto GZ and the people were working moving debris in their back yard. I walked away. Seemed like there had to be something more important I should be doing."
Last night, I got my first smiley in two weeks by meeting up with some other cachers at a hamburger joint. The mood was solemn.
At our first get together at this place a few months ago, about seventy people showed up. The atmosphere was raucous. We were all talking excitedly about geocaches, the runs we were planning, the puzzles we were solving, the trackables we were trading.
This night, some fifteen of us sat around and talked about other places, other things, but somehow coming back to the same subject over and over.
"You got power yet?"
"Yeah, finally. You?"
We talked about clearing up tree debris, about camping out in our house, about how we had been hunkering down, or trips we've been on lately. Noticably absent was the talk of caching. When asked if they had been caching lately, most people shrugged their shoulders and said, "I've checked on a couple of mine, but that's about it."
The reasons are fairly simple, but I find it interesting it would effect the community in such a similiar way.
With Hurricane Ike's 100 mph winds, everyone assumes that most geocaches were damaged, moved, destroyed, or simply disappeared. It is going to take some work to build our hides back up again. No one wants to trudge through wet grass and fallen forests with the premise that they "might" find what they are looking for. We are waiting for owners to check their hides before we go looking for them.
As hiders, as cache owners, we are somewhat reluctant to leave our houses to go check our caches because of the post-Ike traffic (which HAS to be said like you are Jimi Hendrix singing "Cross Town Traffic". This amuses me every day. Oh, to be easily entertained...). Full power has not been returned to Houston and the surrounding areas yet. Traffic signals are on a blinking red all over town, causing congestion. Gas stations are back online, but most people have in the back of their minds a memory of the lines backed up for blocks.
Oh, and the rain has brought out a force of Texas sized mosquitos. I half-heartedly went after a park and grab style hide on the way to the event and although I was only going fifty feet from my car, I was swarmed with so many mossies that I sprinted quickly back to the safety of my Camry. Screw that.
For the entire month of September, I have a grand total of ten finds.
Usually I try for ten finds a week, otherwise I find myself slipping on the Grand High Poobah List.
I haven't even looked at my rank on the Grand Poobah List in at least a month.
I was excited about caching before Hurricane Ike. I had great plans to spend my birthday engaging in this pasttime, ending up at the HGCS September Birthday Event. I wanted to get to my #1200 find in one fell swoop.
Now, though, I am feeling like freysman, who said this:
"I just can't get excited about being eaten by mossies for a string of DNFs and bad news..."
I'm hoping things turn around soon.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Scene: Wal-Mart, surburbs of Houston, 1:30 pm, five days Post-Ike.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Massive power outages
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I have been doing a lot of thinking about people, running around the same theme in scenarios that were bugging me and books I have been reading. Until thinking so much about this, I hadn't realized that I had little tolerance for people drawing false casualities between unrelated or coincidental information. Now that I realize what it is that bugs me so much, I see examples everywhere.
Just because A and B exist together does not mean A caused B to happen.
Although this seems like something I am just realizing about myself, my friend Michelle apparently knows me a little better than that. Michelle, who is one of my oldest friends (twenty years now), is with me in a Bible study group in which we are discussing a Max Lucado book, John 3:16. I don't have a problem with the lessons, exactly, but I have a real problem with Lucado's line of logic in the book. Last week it was Michelle's turn to lead the discussion, and when she brought up the assumption that Lucado makes in Chapter 2 that "if the heavens exist, than there must be a Creator", I was suddenly up in arms.
"I knew you would have a problem with this," she says to me.
Of course. It is an illogical statement. Just because stars are in the sky does not prove that God exists. I wonder, now, about how visible my thought process is to others.
Apparently not always that visible, as in the case of my best friend's husband. We were talking about memory and he mentioned, "you know what I remember about the last time we hung out?" He proceeded to tell me that on the night he came over last, I was acting less friendly towards him because of his recent lifestlye change, which meant I didn't accept his decision.
He actually accused me of acting like he had cooties.
I was acting less friendly. He did have a recent lifestyle change. However, in this case, B did not cause A. I actually had just had a terrible fight with my husband, was sad/depressed/tired, and the minute this friend's husband came in, he instantly offered me a drink called a Green Frog, which is very strong and, as alcoholic beverages tend to do, made me more sad/depressed/tired. And apparently bad at cards, as well.
Perhaps the real reason I was acting less friendly towards him was because the drink he gave me (well, two drinks) caused me to lose the ability to make coherent decisions and therefore blew my chance at beating his wife in the hot game of cards we've been playing. Hmm, think about that one, M.C.!
He put it out there when he talked to me, he said that word, assume. "I assumed you were acting that way because of the decision I had made." That is the common basis for what is bugging me about each of the situations, and you know what happens when you ass-u-me.
My boss does this all the time, and it drives me insane. She takes two unrelated bits of information and tacks them together and calls it "cause".
My favorite example of her doing this is the Pink Calculator story. I am still laughing about this.
I was upset about a decision management made regarding my boss and another employee. This is the story I refer to in my blog story called Pathological Footprints. I was pissed, to be frank.
During this time, my boss told another employee that I was acting weird, and said, "I have this pink calculator I got. Do you think if I gave it to her, it would calm her down?"
Meanwhile, my kids were really sick and I had to take some time off to deal with them. She had been more than generous with my time off requests and asked about my kids, and I responded to her kindness with open friendliness.
She then went and told that other employee that I was acting much better since she had given me that silly little thing.
"I think that pink calculator really did it!"
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Some of you who read this regularly might be curious, then, about the job interview I was going to Washington for. I am still not really sure if the interview was an excuse to visit the in-laws or visiting the in-laws was an excuse to go on a job interview. At any rate, it was the motivating factor behind planning the Best Western Adventures.
I feel like I should briefly explain some background. I moved down to Texas from Oregon when my husband was on military deployment. The idea was always to move back to Oregon. We've been talking about this for so long that our friends just don't believe us anymore. We were supposed to stay six months, we've been here six years.
Meanwhile, he was deployed again while in Texas. He has spent three of the nine years we've been married in a desert on the opposite side of the world. All conditions being the same, he will leave again next summer for another year and a half deployment in Iraq.
He hates Texas, and is expecially miserable in Houston. The heat, humidity, hurricanes, and bugs just really get to him. He would be happier near the mountains, and so would I.
So this has always been there, and then I saw this job opening, and I just went for it. It's not Oregon, but it is close enough and has what we were looking for. We had never been to that town, nor did I know much about the company, but there was an opening for a job I am qualified for, though at a higher level and pay grade than I am now. I sent them my resume, figuring it would sit on someone's desk for a while and maybe they'd call, but they called within two hours. They were pressing to do a face to face interview.
We researched the town, and checked out the surrounding areas in Google Earth, and it just felt right. We were pretty convinced this was it.
Being up there in that part of the world, we were sold. We loved it there and Seattle felt right to us. The mountains were very appealing. So was the fact that if we move, there will be no Iraq deployment, at least as long as Washington or Oregon's guardsmen don't get called.
I had certain conditions for this job offer that I had decided would be the determining factor in whether I accepted it or not. I wanted 20% higher wage to make up for cost of living differences, and I wanted my relocation paid for.
Looking back, it seems kind of unrealistic. The job title I have is not one that would typically offer paid relocation. The wage I was asking is what I was told would be the salary range for the position I was interviewing for, but it also requiring a skill set that I could get to quickly, but wasn't quite at yet. Also, it would mean turning my back on the part of my job that I love the most, and in fact what I really spend the most time doing in my current job, and what I really want to do with my life. And then there is the issue with my paper I am trying to publish on my data, data that I won't have rights to if I leave, but which could make my name in my field.
So as we were traversing through the territory I described in the last two Best Western Adventures, I was on the phone negotiating with this company.
In the end, what they offered was very generous, but didn't fit my stipulations. We did not have the same needs. I needed time or money to move, and they didn't offer paid relocation and wanted me there in 45 days. They offered me a position in their company doing what it is I love, and I feel like they created that position for me, and they offered me a wage higher than the top end of the pay bracket for that type of position and a generous sign on bonus, but it wasn't enough for me to jump on.
In the end, I think I learned many things from going on that interview. I saw what was really important to me right now and in my career direction, and committed to what I wanted and understood more what I didn't want. It was a hard lesson for us, in that we very much wanted to move there, but saw that we just weren't ready. The cost of the vacation, including the price of four airplane tickets, the rental car, gas, food, etc, was a harsh wakeup call that we were just not financially prepared for that kind of move.
Now our plan is to GET READY, so that next time that offer is made, I can jump on it.
As long as they offer me 20% higher salary. :)
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Abert Rim - a great place for hang gliders
Nice house! I want one!
Next and last installment of the Best Western Adventures will cover the journey from Bend to Portland, since it was vastly different than this leg.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
"But can't it sometimes be?", my reply
This day, a couples adventure
Destination: At the End of the Rainbow
A geocache at another mining area
It's lunchtime at the hay fields
Suicidal butterflies dive in droves
Head first into the front of car
Drive past Wild Plum Winery
Past swathers at rest
Bales of hay dotting fields
Along shores of Goose Lake
To the Davis Creek Store
Hmm, been here before
Many times this week
To get useless map and permit
Backtrack along Goose Lake
Past tractors and grass fed cows
To dirt highway to mines
Forest Service truck
Miles up old dirt roads
Twists and turns
Up the mountain
Bumpy, rocky roads
Littered with obsidian
Sharp gleaming black shards
Falling logs, danger
Elusive Rainbow Mines
Elusive wooden signs
No road is the right road
We can't make it, find our way
Series of dead ends and roadblocks
We give up, head back down
Can't get there from here,
Not with the sun in our eyes
Hunger in our bellies
Back down dirt highway
Flying down blacktop
With so many suicidal butterflies
Hitting the dash
Headlong into their demise