If you were faced with something astronomically challenging what would you do? Would you find the people you love, embrace them and look in their eyes while the tsunami hit? Would you attempt to run to higher ground and escape it? Would you be the scientist in the lab modeling arcs and looking for answers trying to buy yourself time and resolve?
I have to admit, I am a disaster movie fanatic. If I am watching one, don't expect me to become easily unglued. My mouth and eyes will be wide open and my sweaty palms will most likely be gripping something tightly. This has been embarrassingly photo-documented, and while the woman in the photos is clearly me, I am unrecognizable.
Perhaps my cinematic obsession has helped me prepare myself. I have seen a WMD detonate and cause a lot of harm. I have chosen to be the loving support, the fighter and the scientist - all at the same time. I choose this and continue to choose this because it is worth it.
It is worth it for one simple reason: I have so many wonderful things to cherish and to fight for.
When you live for more than a decade playing a game of charades -- acting out what and who you should be, you get a rude, yet beautiful awakening. You ask yourself what do you want? Who are you now and who do you want to be? How do you learn and grow? How do you see the beauty in all of it? How do you learn to get along? How do you stay positive in an environment of warfare and chaos?
To start, I hug. I embrace these two ragamuffins I am proud of in so many ways. I teach them. I set boundaries, and steadily they are learning how to contribute and care. Today, I was asked if I needed help putting groceries away. Yes! And, thank you!
Next, I embrace and listen to my partner. I stay up late, listening, laughing, crying with him. I look in his eyes and tell him what I need. He hears me. He sees me and I feel precious. I feel adored. I feel respected. I feel super loved. I love him back in every possible way.
The best part is, it feels real. It is not a game or a fantasy or a show. It is real. It is hard and it worth it, sweaty palms and all. He unglues me.
The bulk of the projects I am working on involve modifying existing structures. The gestalt of the projects is usually the same: adding more square footage accompanied by making things "work" better: moving walls or taking them down; upgrading systems; taking advantage of natural light; using materials that call to us.
The beautiful parallel is this: *I* am "working" better. Perhaps in a cheesy-self-reflective, pseudo-spiritual way. But, I am. I have done some of my own remodeling along with a rather attractive and functional addition. Parts of this process took years, some took weeks, and of course, some are never ending.
The highlights are these:
1. I have added insulation, not letting things get too hot or too cool. (And for you fellow smart-assers, I am not portly, I have just thickened my skin.)
2. My ceiling heights are taller. I have more room to grow and look up.
3. The landscape plan shifts and grows at its own whim. It is something I learn from and adapt to, yet always fruits inspiration.
4. The driveway has been lengthened. We can get on the road, explore, and return home happily.
5. The wallpaper is awesome. I trusted my partner to pick it out and I helped glue it to the walls.
My dad means more to me than ever. Not just because it is a Hallmark Holiday, but because I adore him and appreciate him so very much. I wouldn't have common sense, a work-ethic, or value duct tape and bungee cords. I wouldn't know how to properly use saran wrap or score the best lamb chops at Costco. He makes me laugh. He makes me think. He drives me crazy and he has a super special place in my heart.
I am more sensitive than ever to what it means to have a father in your life. This is not a given.
Despite how incredibly different our parenting styles are, I would never suggest anything other than joint custody with my ex. Our boys thrive on having us both in their lives. I can say this in the context of a lot of turmoil.
I am also in love with a dad. He comes home in the middle of the day to do laundry. He re-upoholsters chairs, fixes robot legos, makes a mean pasta, and above all - he instills the most important value a parent can have: respect from their kids. He does this in a magical way, through kindness and consistency. I am still learning, and always inspired.
We are lucky, those of us who are con-padres...
I mentioned my patience hat in my previous entry. I wear it often, but sometimes it falls off. Or worse, I misplace it and waste time looking for it - getting unnecessarily angry and stressed out in the process.
The most frustrating thing is this - I spent the bulk of my adulthood not even knowing I had one. If it wasn't for meeting the love of my life, I wouldn't even know how good it looks on me. He wears his almost 99% of the time and even on good hair days.
The truth be told, I hate waiting. I work super hard to avoid waiting... filing my taxes the first week of January, planting tomatoes in early April, holding my breath so I can better listen for the sound of el Guapo (Denny's 67 Beetle) to turn the corner and pull in front of our house.
Like my mother, the retired flight attendant, I was never on time. I was and continue to be early. I do not want to miss a flight. I do not want to miss anything. Procrastinators and those who are always late will never be fully understood. I am sorry.
I also plan - not just kitchen cabinet layouts and schemes for 15,000 square foot recycling centers, but I plan and research and make lists for everything. I especially do this when I have to wait. If I have a plan, or multiple plans, the actual outcome seems less formidable. This is particularly true when I write it down. Perhaps this seems obvious, but I have found that making the list is way more satisfying than checking things off.
One of the many upsides of my new job are thoughtful co-workers. Dietmar, the German, gardening, puntastic architect told me I should write a social column because of all the people I know. I told him I am not that social - I just have an exceptionally good memory for faces. He told me about a 60 minutes segment on face blindness. I watched it and my mind was blown. I am the polar opposite of Chuck Close (duh) and I am not alone. I am a super recognizer or at the least, semi-super.
I now feel a little less offended when the lady behind me in line at the grocery store doesn't remember when we rode the same bart train a month ago. My curiosity is also peaked. Does this also explain why my other senses seem heightened too? Why I cried constantly and never slept as an infant? Why I see things through a different lens?
I would offer myself to science; subject myself to tests and MRIs, if I didn't have super-mother, super-partner, super-employee, and super-home owner duties. To be totally honest, if I wasn't super, this past year would have been exceptionally awful. So thank you brain of mine.
I cannot divulge yet what has unfolded, but i can say this: if you are vindictive, jealous and/or full of hate it is *super* easy to make bad decisions. It is super easy to believe you are right about everything and you have never done anything wrong. In other words, you meanies are soul blind.
Keeping your face means not being able to see anyone else's. And I am not talking about the shape of your eyebrows or the curvature of your jawline, but the sincerity in someone's eyes or the curling of their upper lip when they are extremely defensive or the sallowness in their cheeks as the result of hopelessness.
It is ok.
I have come to understand that these meanies aren't going to change. However, I can learn how to deal with them and the universe hopefully has bigger plans. As the amazing Kepi says, "the Karma Hammer will hit hard!"
The unveiling of the truth (or at the least an opposing perception of events) is eminent. I continue to wear my patience hat and channel my super powers to save myself from those who are not.
I have to admit that I am using this inaugural posting to get my bearings.
Per the logo on my jumpsuit and the safety glasses- I have ideas - lots of them. Actually, this is my desire for re-kindling this old site. I first owned jessfine.com about 18 years ago when I took an html tutorial while working at salon.com. I also remember Chad Dickerson giving a presentation on how basic systems work and what a server actually does (he was my introduction to whiteboard diagrams). And now, well the enormity of the internet isn’t that surprising, but the ubiquity of it in every moment is. I joke that I’d like to do a public art piece showing us all playing with wooden smart phones …
You see, I like conversations. I like connecting with people sans anonymity. Perhaps this is what sustained my time on Market Street (in between 6th & 7th) staffing our studio’s installation “Outpost”. Sure I was yelled at, harassed, proposed to while picking up Swisher wrappers and feces, but I loved it. I loved asking questions, listening, and explaining what the heck we were doing there … all while thinking about how we could make the next iteration better and respond to a multitude of perspectives.
I am a curious person, yes. I thrive on thoughtfulness, of course. But, can someone please explain to me what happened? It is a surprising rarity to find a person who will look me in the eye, or make the effort to hold the door open, or well just say something wonderfully spot on like the Civic Center Station BART station attendant who told “the young man in the super tight black jeans to not take his bike down the escalator.” I am nostalgic for all that is wonderful IRL.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my Instagram feed, you tube videos explaining how to replace the igniter in my gas dryer, and well Facebook allowed me to connect with the love of my life. So now what? Is this just another layer to add to my already uberly-complex existence as a working, divorcee with two young children?
I have ideas on how to manage and how to manage my ideas. This is the place get the ball rolling. Thank you for listening. I will too.
Mom, thank you for teaching me the importance of manners and respect.
While I had a hiatus for several years when my kids were young, I learned my lesson.
Boy am I sorry.
I sincerely apologize for allowing my kids to be entitled and disrespectful and to let them walk all over me. I apologize for enabling them to believe that my sole responsibility in life was to respond to their commands.
I am to blame for this horrible period of time in my life. Thank you mom, I learned my lesson. Thank you Denny, for being a role model.
Now our household has clear rules.
We don’t have a system of rewards. If you act like an awesome person, it is going to get noticed. If you do something awful, there will be consequences
Most importantly, you listen.
If I tell you to put your shoes on, you listen. If you are about to cross the street and a bus is coming, and I yell “STOP!!!”, you listen. If you are being inappropriate, rude, or mean; if you are whining or complaining or being manipulative, and I tell you to stop, you listen.
While this seems basic or obvious, it is not the norm (here*). It has become politically and socially incorrect to yell, to say no, to assert yourself as a parent. This passive-agressive, overly-attached, my-kid-is-going-to-be-my-best-friend-thing doesn’t work. If it did, I would be all ears.
Here is the kicker, it is not just the children who are obnoxious, squeaky wheels, so are the adults. It is a rare occurrence when someone looks you in the eye, opens the door for you, or would rather have a conversation than check their twitter feed. The worst part is when you do have a conversation, it mostly involves complaining, attention-seeking awfulness that is completely a waste of my time.
I might be over-generalizing. Those who I offend are most likely not going to empathize with these values. That’s ok.
I am about to be honored on this Hallmark Holiday. While it is extremely challenging being consistent and enforcing the rules, I am proud. I think Leaf Munro and Emily Post would be too.
It feels good to be in charge. It feels good to be a parent. I am not here to be a fairy princess who grants their every wish. And while we may occasionally go to laser tag or the beach, we are mostly going to work in the garden, clean the house, shop and make food together, read, play music, watch movies, dance and laugh. We will learn how to build things, how to fix things, and not take “things” for granted. We will all help each other, but not be dependent on each other.
*The recently and ironically exposed not so progressive-place called Berkeley, CA.