September 30, 2015

Fizzes and Tickles

"What'll you have?"

"Beer's good."

The fizz tickled.

An hours-old "It's definitely you, not me" declaration and a final exit's relief echoes in my head.

A job is life's filler. Not the other way 'round.

Fizzes, tickles...taste like freedom.

September 2, 2015

The Time I Copied Kim Kardashian and Wrote A Letter to Myself

It isn’t too often I take a page from Kim Kardashian (like never), but doggone it, she had a good idea: writing to her future self.

Thanks for the find, VProud!

So, with that in mind, I penned a letter to my ten years from now future self.

Dear Rochelle,

Geez, you’re so much smarter than the 46 year old me. Remember waiting for Divine Retribution or karma or whatever to take hold and intervene on people ten years ago?

You peacefully released the cartoon anvil drop fantasy on folks who were all kinds of wrong. You realized it rains on the just and unjust; and your perceived slights are now mere shadows, if you can remember them at all.

You allow a breathing room for your daughter and you to err and to be human. You abandoned the periodic, unsaid mental freakouts over the unexpected, unplanned, unarranged and imperfect.

You live an honest and authentic life. Your daughter sees what you’ve been driving toward, and I’ve got a feeling she’ll follow, even if she strays from it for a little while.

You haven’t wasted the last nine years burning a hole in the carpet pacing back and forth about a visit from Cousin Cancer and his dad Uncle Grim Reaper.

Instead, you enjoy the air you breathe and are present in this leg of the life journey you and your husband are taking. Keep doing that. Seriously.

But you’re still fighting the mirror. The only thing I can tell you about that is this: the smiley gap that seems to widen a little with each passing year? Can't you see the toothy-spaced grin that mom, Grandma Mary Jane and Aunt Josephine passed down to you through the generations in it?

And now you’re looking at your jowls. Stop it and go get a picture of dad. See? That’s Percy's face right there in those chubby cheeks.

The years will go on -- on paper and on your face. But you must remember, your aging face reflects the people you miss along with their legacy.

Now you’re thinking about your daughter. I am too, so I’ll pat you on the back and give thanks to God for gifting that kid with a soft heart, hard head and sharp discernment.

She’s chasing her dreams and flying from the nest you and your husband made for her. It’s a weird mix of hurt, longing and pride I know, but trust me -- she’s on her way into a new life -- and so are you and your husband.

You’re 56 and he’s 61. Maybe you’re both working, maybe not. His hair has long decided it wasn’t worth the fight to even show up and there isn’t enough contouring base to chisel your jowls into sharp definition. And it’s all okay. Really.

You two are happy, in good health and rediscovering each other and what it means to be ten years older. Together.

It’s all good, Ten Years Older Rochelle.

Now that you've finished reading this, send a thank you to Kim Kardashian. This letter was her idea in the first place.


46 year-old Rochelle

July 23, 2015

The Moments That Are Given

Mom! It’s graffiti! It’s art...on a shoe! I have to try it on. Please...can I?

It was my 12 year old’s first foray into heels. A big moment in our little lives. Working full-time when she was an infant had stolen other big-little moments from my camera’s eye -- the first time she rolled over, the first time she sat up unassisted...the first firsts.

Newly, gladly and willfully unemployed for the first time in 15 years, I took a picture.

The picture wasn’t as much of an attempt to catch up on lost firsts, but rather a net to capture a butterfly’s moment of the moment; because if history skips a generation and the math holds out, there are more years behind me than ahead.

My mom died at 63. Her mom died at 47.

I’m 46.

I’ve checked all over my person for a stamped expiration date, from the flabby inside parts of my arms, to the backs of my knees and other parts of my anatomy that shall remain nameless here. 

There is no such date.

Yet, there is a possibility of exiting in one or even seventeen years. It is a specter that reveals itself in the wee hours when sleep eludes me. Sometimes it’s in the peripheral view of everyday moments, like when my daughter slips on her first pair of heels. That’s when I capture the moment, then fan off the specter and tell it to go do something obscene to itself.

That’s just one of the things that happens because I know my history and its math.

Other things happen too. Beautiful things.

I pray differently.
Thirteen years ago, I prayed the baby I was carrying would be healthy. I prayed our marriage would stay stable and intact. I prayed for financial stability. Those requests were gracefully granted. As I edge up to the half-century mark, I pray my daughter will hear my voice when she navigates the crossroads of the teen years; and that my example will help her be a good friend and encourager of others. I pray these requests will be fulfilled whether I witness them from here or from a heavenly view.

I hear differently.
My husband’s workplace saga, the detailed picture he paints with words -- who said what, how they said it, bills of lading, procedures for shipping and receiving don’t sound like a boring account of the goings-on of a warehouse job. It sounds like We’re in this together. I trust you with everything I am and do -- even the minutiae.

I feel differently.
We were infrequent fliers on our way home from a family trip. My daughter still isn’t sold on the gathering speed and thrust of takeoff. Her breathing quickened, her jaws clenched and her heart pounded with enough force to make her delicate neck throb visibly.

I tried to intervene in her anxiety:

Honey, tell me about your happy place. What does it look like? What about it makes you happy? What does your happy feel like? 

As she told me, we approached cruising altitude. She let her tray table down and rested her arm on it. I slid my arm into hers the way a mom who is well past 47 years old or 63 years old would with her adult daughter.

I held that feeling of skin on skin, its weight and warmth in my heart. I thought about the years ahead of me -- of us.

And I captured the moment.

May 28, 2015

Jumping In

Jump in, honey! I’m right here.

Jamie’s voice echoed above the splashes in the indoor public pool where 3 year-old Georgia was taking swimming lessons. Pigtails on either side of her head created alien like bulges through her orange swim cap. She stood at the pool’s edge, stooped over...thinking, weighing the options...and not jumping.

Can’t say I blame her. Ground is solid, secure; while water, no matter who’s standing in it waiting to catch you, isn’t.

But solid isn’t truly solid if you think about it. Earthquakes happen and whole buildings tumble. Floods sweep villages away; and tornadoes and avalanches even use what’s solid to ground themselves and wreak havoc.

Clinging to what’s solid can be a dangerous proposition - in nature and in your career.

I imagine my daughter, stooped, overthinking, weighing her options, missing out on the fun she could’ve had, had she just jumped into her daddy’s waiting arms. The scene was my mirror.

What I saw was myself clinging onto a solid, toes with a deathgrip curl on the edge even as water tickled at them...even as I knew a couple of things about living:

that tomorrow isn’t promised -- and neither is my good health.
that I’ve got more years of living behind me than I do ahead.
that the solid a job provides isn’t really solid. Human disasters - like natural ones - are always a threat.
that’s life’s just too bleeping short to only watch while hanging onto an illusion of security.

So I handed in my notice after fifteen years on the job.

I’ve been asked What’s next? What are you going to do?

For now, I think I’ll just jump in, enjoy a swim and worry about what’s next when the time comes.