Thursday, November 03, 2011

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

I used to sleep through the night.  Well, as much as “through the night” meant. 

When I was younger, I only required four to five hours of sleep a night.  That would have been in my 20’s when night-clubbing in San Diego was key to my existence.  I was living along the coastline (Encinitas, Del Mar, Pacific Beach) and kept a busy social calendar.  Margaritas and dancing the night away or hanging out on the beach at some beach party or having cocktails on the deck of some beachfront  bar. 

I would blast into my beach apartment around 2:30 a.m., sleep until 6, pop out of bed getting ready for work and head out the door.  Feeling fatigued never entered my consciousness . 

In my 30’s, sleep gradually crept up to six to seven hours a night of sleep.  One day I realized how good I felt and when I assessed what was different I realized I was sleeping more.  That then created the battle in my head of ‘oh my god, I’m getting old.’  I fought the added hours and tried to go back to four to five just to prove a point but it just wasn’t worth it - although I did lie for a long time and say I only needed four to five hours because I thought it made me seem invincible.  Dumb.

When I was 34 I had Auburn Aries.  At that point I’d have given anything I owned for four to five hours of sleep.  Talk about fragmented.  Eventually though it levels out in a few years you get back to a full night’s sleep.  Yes, I said years.  Here’s the deal once you have a baby…  gone are the days of “dead to the world” sleep.  You instinctively sleep lighter because you're listening for the baby.

As I entered my 40’s and she got older I embraced eight hours of sleep.  I acknowledged my body’s need for a good night’s sleep and was no longer embarrassed when I said I went to bed at 10 p.m.

When Auburn Aries turned 10, Golden Boy gave us a Chihuahua puppy.  Seven weeks old, 13 ounces and not potty trained.  Auburn Aries is such a heavy sleeper, the training became my responsibility.  So at age 44 I was getting up every couple of hours to take the puppy out.  Which, by the way, took longer to walk her outside than it did for her to pee her six little droplets of pee.  Damn dog.

At some point in my mid-forties and without me realizing it I began to pee in the middle of the night.  Much the same way the dog was training me and not vice versa (she still needs to go out in the middle of the night – who am I to expect her to hold it if she has to go?  It’s that or check the carpets non-stop), I may have trained my bladder to go as well.  Take the dog out, pee before crawling back into bed. 

Now even during the hours the dog is sound asleep, I STILL have to get up and pee.  What the hell?!  I’ve actually digressed to childhood and don’t drink beverages after 8 p.m. (or I try not to).  I steer clear of caffeine.  I have dreams about needing to pee and realize I really do have to go and wake up shocked at how bad I have to go.  What is that?!  Is there some magical switch that gets flipped once you cross into your forties?

So let me summarize my sleep habits.  10 p.m. bed, read until 10:30, sleep until around 1 a.m. when the dog wakes me to take her out, come back in pee and go back to bed, sleep until around 2:30 and pee again.  Sleep until 4 and pee again.  Sleep until 5:30 and wake up before the alarm with a full bladder and lay there trying to convince myself just to enjoy the last 15 minutes until the alarm goes off.  Infuriated I throw back the covers, go pee, and crawl back in bed for the last 15 minutes.  I should just stay out of bed at this point that last 15 minutes’ll get’cha.  15 turns into hitting the snooze twice and waking up exhausted at 6 a.m.  I throw on some yoga pants and a top and drag my tired ass down the hall to my home office to login to work.

Gone are the nights of eight glorious, uninterrupted hours of sleep.  Shit, gone are the days of four to five hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Sure, I can sleep in on the weekends but during the week I’m getting my ass handed to me.  I’m up every two’ish hours all night long.  And it’s not going to get better when Auburn Aries goes to college because guess what?  I’LL STILL HAVE THE FUCKING DOG WHICH WILL PROBABLY LIVE UNTIL IT’S 18 YEARS OLD.  She’s on four and a half now.  Damn small dogs.

There are things I love about being in my forties.  I love that fewer of the little things bother me anymore.  I pick my battles and simply just let the other shit go.  Being at peace and having that kind of power in your life is amazing.  I love that I can get a read on a person in two seconds and be dead on.  Of course that’s been a gift I’ve had most of my life but it’s rarely wrong now.  I love my laugh lines because I’ve earned them.  I appreciate a good conversation more than going out dancing.  This chapter is good.

I have conversations with Golden Boy where talk about life.  He’s in his 20’s.  I am able to tell him what to expect, what to do now versus later, how to deal a given situation and look outside the box.  He has the advantage of someone with more life experience to guide him.  Why didn’t someone warn me about some of this getting older stuff?!  

 Hot Toddy and I talk about how our conversations have changed over the last almost decade.  It was once boys (and girls) and getting laid.  Now it’s about what prescriptions we take and how we’re starting to feel the aches and pains now we’re no longer bulletproof.

Eh, what can ya do?  Maybe tonight I’ll grab an early bird special and go to bed around 8.   Centrum Silver anyone?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


I frequently find myself assessing my life and I have to shake my head at how it’s changed.  It’s true what they say, ya know.   The events in your life are simply chapters of the entire story.  Sometimes the chapters are short and sweet; other times they are chapters filled with detail and take a while to get through.  

I became friends with Hot Toddy in March of 2003.   We were instant friends.  I love his wit and sense of humor.  His compassion is unmatched and he’s honest.  I love these things about him.  For seven years we did everything together.  We shared many a tear, many a laugh, many a cocktail.  We were roommates.  We looked out for each other.  Not a day went by that I wasn’t thankful for his presence in my life.  In fact, there’s a psychic that I’ve seen a couple of times and she looked at a picture of Toddy and said we were related in two past lives.  Once as siblings and in another life he was my Dad.    I never questioned that Toddy and I would forever be friends nor do I do now.

But if someone had told me two years ago that he’d be living in Minnesota and I’d be here in Portland without him as part of my daily life, I would never have believed it and probably would have called you an ass for saying something so mean! 

We’re still friends and talk all the time but our time together in Portland was a chapter.  I just didn’t know to see it as that.

I look at Auburn Aries’ progress in the last few months.  Oh, there have been hiccups.  There have been things that have downright floored me and not in a good way but now that she’s headed toward being 15 it feels like it’s all happening too fast.  I know she still has more teen years in front of her than behind her, but the end is in sight and I can’t stop it from coming.  Soon enough she’ll be headed off to college to find her groove and conquer the world writing her own chapters.

In mid-school she struggled.  Her anxiety spiked up, she had stomach aches all the time.  Kids bullied her about her weight.  She was miserable.  She missed a lot of school.  It seemed like there was no end in sight.  It was a tough chapter.

Then she strides into high school with her head held high and in what now feels like “overnight” she’s become a young woman.  Another chapter.

I look at my life here in Portland.  At one point I had friends and did things and shared laughs and dinner parties and evenings out and went to plays and now I live a really quiet existence.  Admittedly when Toddy and my friend Do Rag Dan moved away it was like I was left to deal with the ghosts of friendships past (to borrow a phrase from my friend Pua).  Toddy was in a new town and lonely.  I was suddenly lonely and I hadn’t gone anywhere. 

Now I’m home every single night.  I have no real social life, no dating life, no circle of friends that live close by, no one to meet for coffee while I vent (which I really could have used this morning).  And although this sounds like a pity-pot party for one, it’s truly not.  I’m okay being alone (a refreshing chapter).   It’s not that I’m “too old” for a social life but the chapter that was the bar scene is closed.  

The never ending hunt for the perfect mate feels unnecessary (glad to close that chapter for now).  I spent the first half of my life in relationships with both men and women and let me just say that there’s a lot to be said for hogging the bed and not having anyone freely sharing their opinions about my parenting.

I see my time in this small town where we live outside Portland as a chapter.  We moved here from the island to be closer to Auburn Aries’ schools.  It’s admittedly too small a town for me.  There are only five stop lights and no culture.  It’s a sacrifice I make for Aries.  She deserves to have consistency in her life and I’d like for her to graduate with the same group of kids she started out with.   

She, on the other hand, would love to move to SW Washington to be closer to her Aunt and her Dad.  Moving her closer to her Dad would be a huge chapter and I don't want to keep her from that.  Goddess knows their relationship has been strained for a long time.  I hesitate until I can *really* contemplate that request.  It's not like I'm giving up a life I've built here.  I'm pretty mobile and I have nothing keeping me here.  
I best think about that one a while longer.  Although I can’t wait too long, she’ll be out of high school soon.

As I get older I realize that these are all the things that make up your life.  All the decisions.  The good and bad, highs and lows, the struggles and the heartache, and trials and times you think you just cannot take one more fucking thing.  Eventually we all deal with the hand we’re dealt and the chapter ends and another begins.  One day you look up and you realize you’re no longer spending time within the pages of that life event and you’re smack in the middle of different one. 

I’ve learned to appreciate where I am in the moment and appreciate what I have because you never know.  One day your best friend will move away or your daughter will graduate high school and you won’t see the opportunities for growth right in front of you because you're so caught up.

I know these are the ramblings of a woman who's not blogged in a very long time.  Perhaps I just needed to get my groove back in blogdom.  Perhaps I needed to use this space to take stock of where I've been and where I'm headed as I contemplate the decisions before me. Either way it'll be a chapter in the pretty decent story of my life.  If I don't like it where I'm at, I have the luxury of picking up a pen and writing something new.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Don't Sit it Out - Poet Laureate 2011

Poet Laureate Speech
By McKenna Hendrickson
Scappoose Middle School
June 2, 2011

Don’t Sit it Out

I love to dance.

I love to dance, except when I let myself listen to the voices in the hallways at school that say, in so many ways, “you don’t look like a dancer.”

I’ve been big and tall and red haired for years, and I have learned a thing or two about trying to ignore unkind laughter.

And this is what I know: you have to take it as a dare, and then you have to take the dare.

You have to come back to school when school sends you home crying. You have to get up, put on your game face, fight with the doubt inside yourself, stand up straight even though you want to disappear and insist upon your right to public dignity. You have a right to that, and you have a right to more. You have a right to dance.

People will tell you to hide – to make yourself less visible. Don’t do it. Don’t listen when they say that you’re too big, you’re too small, you’re too slow; that you’re too cool, you’re too clumsy, too awkward, too loud, too much, or not enough. Even if the steps you make aren’t elegant, for a few minutes, you might find that everything makes sense.

Dancing is more than a string of movements. Dance is more than dance itself. It’s writing or building or cooking. It’s painting, collecting and singing. It’s clarinets and trombones and soccer and programming Java. It’s picking flowers and growing tomatoes, building computers, and solving equations. It’s jumping and spinning and leaping. It’s knowing that having a good heart is the most important thing. It’s having a voice.

This is what it is: it is awe, and it is wonder.

To dance is to tell a story. Tell your story. Find that dance that makes things right. Find the dance that pushes away the worries about peer pressure, being clumsy, and the SATs; about looking like a clown, homework, and untied shoes. Find the dance that sets aside fear about grades, getting a job, gossip and asking the right questions.

Classmates, parents, teachers, I hope you all dance. I hope you all recognize the right of every single person to be in the dance.

I hope you swim, think, and fly. I hope you sing, fall down and get up. I hope you think about what you say, run hard, laugh loud, and spin around in circles until you collapse in the grass.

I hope you have someone like my mom, who trusts me to be a decent person, who knows I’ll pull through the hard stuff, who reminds me that I am capable of great things, who gets me out of bed, pushes me out the door, dares me to prove my excellence, tells me that it’s all about the ride, and most all, says to me every single day, “you can dance.”

May you be so lucky. But if you aren’t, tell someone. And if you’re afraid of looking like a fool, I’ll dance with you. We’ll dance together until there are so many of us that everyone wants to join. Shut your eyes if you need too. Take a deep breath and leap into the song. Dance.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hate it Here

I'm in a funk.  I hate it here in Portland right now.  I can write this because no one reads my blog anymore.  I can vent here and no one will judge me.  I'm alone with my thoughts.

Hot Toddy moved away.  Do Rag Dan moved away.  I'm not close with Pony any longer.  He went through so many changes and transitioned into a different place.  The Professor is back in San Frandisco.  The Handsome Prince and The Math Whiz - I guess once Toddy left it proved although we're all still friends, it was apparently mostly because of Toddy.

I feel alone.  I have no friends.  No one calls.  I reach out to spend time and it never happens.  Why do I live here?  Why am I not down south near Pua or Cathy?  At least it's warmer there.  I work from home full-time so I am literally in the walls of my house 24/7.  I work, I cook, I clean, I sleep.  I start it all over the next day.

I was staying here because I wanted Auburn Aries to go through mid- and high school with the same groups of friends like I had.  At what expense?  We don't go to have dinner with friends.  We don't go to barbeques.  We don't socialize in any way.  It's me and her all the time.

I don't mind that it's her and I.  We laugh all the time, we communicate well, we enjoy each others company.  But there's more to life and we're not living it.  How can I teach her life lessons and how to deal with things unless we're living it once in a while.

I'm lonely.  I'm unmotivated.  I'm searching - but it's all in my head.  

I spent the first half of my life in relationships.  It was hard to be in relationships with people who didn't have kids.  Now Auburn Aries is older and would understand me being in a relationship.  She wouldn't feel so robbed like she did when she was younger.

I'm happy being single - if I had a life outside this house.  My social life has died a quiet death.  There's more out there.  How long will I sit and think about it before I do something about it?

Only time will tell...ain't that the bitch of it!!