Category Archives: Adulthood

17

Seventeen years ago today I got news that changed the rest of my life. News of a tragic and fatal automobile accident that took my father from me.  Recently it has led me to start rethinking about how to chronicle the 10 years I spent being a 19 year old.  How it took me a long time to deal with the loss and how “dealing with it” often meant just moving on and accepting.  How I ran from responsibility, keep relationships at arm’s length and never admit any internal pain publically.  Rehashing the memories the last few months has led me into some really bad and difficult mental spots.  Occasionally more difficult than the six or so months of bad depression immediately after Dad died.  It probably has a lot to do with how I am repeating his life.

How I am struggling for an occupational identity

How I want to write but struggle to find the time to make it a priority

How projects start small but become massive and time consuming and require a village to implement

How I am staying home with my son instead of working like he did for at least a few years before I was in high school

How I have to wear glasses, have more fake teeth than real, and how my body aches every morning before I am 40

How blue collar work sounds noble to us but leads to more of those morning aches than it is worth

But like him I learning about how simple life can be if you let it.  He was often amazed by things teenage me thought were boring.  How driving for hours on end or sitting in the woods recharges the soul and yet leaves you with nothing still to talk about.  How watching the same movies or shows is often more exciting than finding something new to watch in the limited time to sit you have.  I have also started annoying the beautiful Hannah while I read placards at museums and monuments when she just looks at the pictures and wants to keep moving.  “Because words matter and paint pictures better in our memories” or something like that.

It does make me a little sadder every year to realize that Junior will never have a Grandpa even for just a few years like I did.  That we won’t have multiple generations in a picture on Facebook like friends will.  That he won’t hear Grandpa Jim’s horrible jokes or stories that change slightly every time they are told.

I don’t know why it is harder this year than last to fathom the loss of a Grandpa for my son.  Maybe because he would be able to ask for him now.  And run to him and grab a phone to call like he does his grandmothers and great-papa.  Or because I would be able to watch and learn from him and that is what I am missing.

So instead I have to tell the bad jokes and make myself available to play and laugh with him.  And try to remember Dad’s stories so I can pass them on.

Miss you Dad.

Writer’s note- This time of year depresses me.  I am doing okay—family—and am working through how to figure out life in its newest revelation. Thanks for understanding and letting me still be public with thoughts.

2 Comments

Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Grieving, unfinished thoughts

Becoming SAHD

When I wake up in the morning I will officially be a SAHD- Stay at Home Dad and Junior will be an official SAHT. It is the 3rd career for me in 3 months (but only his second career in toddlerhood). Which on the down slope of 30 has been a little hard for me to wrap my mind/stomach/ emotions to understand 3 in 3.   This is the life I have always wanted but not necessarily the life I thought I would have.

I have long hated work for the sake of work and money.  I have often thought that given the chance I would rather raise my son than pay someone else to do it.  I often think that being able to be at home rather than hauling my head to an office or cramming my legs into (and out of 100+ times) a mail truck would be better.  Better how?  I am not sure.  Not financially.  Potentially not emotionally. But probably physically and familial-ly, it is the best for this season.

We haven’t even started but Junior is my best friend right now.  Because I quickly left the postal service, we had daycare paid through the end of the month.  But the more I was home and in charge of the then 19 month old Junior, the less he wanted to go to school.  The more books were stacked on the reading chair, or his bed or in front of the door.  The longer he took to find his shoes, finish his breakfast, or to finish dirtying his diaper.  I am hoping it was not just to make up for the time I missed while working 7 day weeks.  But in any case that time is over now.

So now I take care of a 20 month old and the family house.  I cook most dinners.  I shop for food…and probably cut coupons. I do the laundry and vacuum the floors…well Neil the Neato- our robot does, but I push the button and empty him.  Also I watch money flow out while I contribute by clicking videos for pennies as my only financial contribution.  I say this in present tense because I have been training the last couple weeks, as I have been home during the day alone working on random house projects…and forgetting to shower most days.

As I enter this time, I hear a lot of questions about how I think I will handle Junior.  If I have things to do with him.  If I know how to feed, clothe and protect him.  Most of these come from my own head.  They come because I was prepared to deliver mail or build spreadsheets while people crafted and molded my spawn.  Now, I get to do the molding and shaping.  The playing and art making.  The teaching and disciplining.  Well, I get to do this while I am home alone with him, but the beautiful Hannah will be doing a lot too when she isn’t doing a job she loves and that pays for us to be home.

It is a difficult feeling because I never thought I would be voluntarily unemployed with a young child and house I own to take care of.  I didn’t think I would be mature and stable enough to run a house or be left with a child for many years there.  I don’t have issues with being a Mr. Mom or Daddy Daycare or whatever gender role reversal term is used.  I was raised mostly by a father that was home, while my mother made the large income needed to keep our family content.  I am more surprised with the speed that it all happened.  But that is the way things work.  If I didn’t leave my stable job of seven years for what I thought would be a 30 year advancing career, I don’t know if I would have ever left.   If I didn’t leave we would still be living a life we planned to change “one day”.

Instead, we have found the “one day” starts tomorrow.  Junior and I will build a vegetable garden and chicken coop…most likely “built” from Craigslist…and learn to be urban farmers.  We will become regulars at Cafe Au Play and the Oregon Children’s Museum.  We will learn which library tells the best stories and which park has the coolest slide.  We will memorize all of the trails of Powell Butte and Forest Park and <insert other here>.  We will learn how to cook again, and bake for the beautiful Hannah.  We will be friends and family at the same time.

Good thing I was bad at delivering mail.

1 Comment

Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Junior, Overthinking, Transparency

Ferguson

Seven years ago when I moved to Portland I became an advocate for many things. I was unemployed, living off savings, just off overseas mission work…and fairly passionate compared to today. But I kept getting one response.

As I spoke to people about sex trafficking, labor trafficking, slave-like work conditions in America and where American products and food were made…

As I spoke with church members of my then new church about segregation in the church and about global riches and how we are privileged as Americans…

As I spoke about homeless issues and its overwhelmingness in Portland…

As I spoke about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and how we don’t feel at war…

As I spoke about my causes and passions…

I kept hearing from people they didn’t have the time to care. I mean that is a little blunter but my summary.

They wanted to but needed to get food on the table. Or only had one pair of work jeans and need to look professional to keep their job. They liked church but didn’t think they had time to make it multi-cultural or go to meeting about how to change it.

They didn’t have time.

I questioned how they didn’t have time to engage intellectually with world issues like Ferguson.

 

Dr. Cornel West being arrested during a protest in Ferguson.

Dr. Cornel West being arrested during a protest in Ferguson.

Fast forward to today…well Sunday. This was the call to worship…

http://www.christenacleveland.com/2014/11/adventdarkness/

Go ahead and read it. I’ll be here.

Now that I am married to the beautiful Hannah, and she gave birth our first born junior, and we bought a house. Now that all happened I spend more time wondering how to get food on the table than where all of it came from. I only have one pair of work jeans. And our budget—our globally rich dual income American household—is stretched every month. We have a kid that takes a lot of time to care for. We have a house that takes a lot of time and planning to take care of.

And…

Sadly…

I don’t have time for Ferguson. I don’t have time to tell people that racism is still happening and that power is still manipulated. I don’t have time to research what actually happened between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson. I don’t have the time to engage about the military equipment used against protesters being too much. Or if the protest groups are causing the police to show up in tanks because of what they are bringing.

I don’t have time to contemplate gender or income inequality. Although I believe they are issues.

I have no more emotional space. I have no more intellectual space. I have no more physical time.

I can’t follow blogs or stories because some have become too stuck in their position and I have heard it all before or… I disagree with them.

I barely have time to write this (most of it during the sermon after that call to worship).

I will be back one day. I will be back to advocating and debating and learning one day.

But until then I will fall asleep on the bus instead of reading. I will play with my son instead of writing another blog with the same thoughts as 30% of what you all read. And I will wash some more dishes to prevent ants and critters in our little home, instead of telling people to know where all their food and stuff is made. Although I care about it. I don’t have time.

But I ask, that those who do have time PLEASE advocate. Please write. Please read. And please for all that is right and holy, know and do something about what is happening in this state, country and world because I want it to be there when I am back!

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Global Community, Heathen Healers, Junior, Marriage, The Jesus Way, Transparency

16 years

Sixteen years.  It has been 16 years since dad died.  Which is a long time…yet it feels like yesterday my world was flipped over.  This year has been most reflective for me.  Having Junior and the stress of medical issues around his birth and post-partum caused me to think of him a lot and wonder how he did it.  How he supported my mom, how he dealt with infant rejection, how he lived without sleep.  It made me wish I could just ask and be comforted.  Struggling to balance work, church, home life, husbanding, fathering, house maintenance and relaxing (in no particular order) made me wonder his secret.

I don’t suspect he would have told me one thing or made it sound simple or even directly answered my questions, but he would have encouraged me.  Which I think sometimes would be better than most other options have I tried lately for coping.

Never has the loss of my father felt more awkward.

I have spent many sleepless nights—some caused by junior, others by my sicknesses…which were caused by junior’s daycare—pondering Dad’s loss.   How any age is bad to lose a father, but 19 is really bad.  Too late to have another father figure in the home.  Too early to have become a father figure myself.   Or something like that.

I thought about how Georgia was never home again…even though I attempted 3 times to make it such.  How it will never be complete again…and I don’t think it should be.  How sometimes the best end to a story is a tragic one.  And how an ending needs to be allowed to close a story.

So as I reflect on another year, I try not to wonder how it could have been different.  Because if one action is changed in the past it could impact every action in the present.  So if he didn’t die, I could be an alcoholic still living in Fairbanks, Alaska who never left but struggled to keep hold to one dream.  If he didn’t die, I could still be single and lonely.  If those cars hadn’t collided, my life could have still been on the same course I planned when I was 15.

A life without Portland, office work, the beautiful Hannah and our firstborn son and a house and asian travel and a strong, realistic faith, and friends that impact life when they move away, and all of the good things I have.

But even that doesn’t make the tears burn less, or time fly faster.

I miss you Dad. A lot. A lot.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Adulthood, Death, Grieving, Junior, Marriage, Transparency

Growing Up


CAM00210Growing up sometimes happens fast.  When I met the beautiful Hannah I quickly knew I wanted to start a life together with her…so we did and in less than 8 months from the first time we talked we were married.  Since we were not fresh out of college and I was edging closer to 40 than 30, we decided to try to have a baby only 9 ish months after that.  Then while home on leave from work with said baby we ended up looking at houses to buy.  So in a matter of less than two and half years I have gone from being single and alone to being a married father and homeowner.

As for the housing decisions…

We had discussed it and liked the idea of renting for a while still because of the costs of upkeep.  But we were in a massive place that required renters for us to be able to ever eat out, do fun things that cost money or travel the state and region like we were apt to do.  So when the first one that was perfect and just a block from where we were fell through we kept looking.   We broadened our search and lessened some of our initial desires and actually had an accepted offer on a home.  But that was before the inspection that concluded it was money pit, so we walked away and narrowed our search criteria to just what was perfect.  The beautiful Hannah also spent a couple nights in the ER during that time of walking away from the less than perfect house.  So when the drama and paperwork on the less than perfect (but great backyarded) house was finished we listed what was needed in a house and waited…for a week… for it to show.  And now we are homeowners.

But the real issue with these recent life changes of fatherhood and home owning I have had to give up some desires in my head.  I have had to become an adult that doesn’t keep a nice debt cushion but attempts to live debt free (besides the mortgage now).  I have a couple someones to protect and look after and who are affected when I just want to travel on MasterCard’s dime and pay it off as I am able.  And I no longer want to sleep on the floor of Singaporean bus stations or on the 8th bunk in the small room of a mildly shadey but very economical hostel.

But I still want to travel and learn.  To visit friends in far away places and experience what I used to and what they still do.  I want to visit new places and meet the beautiful Hannah’s friends in their faraway places.  The desire to explore, learn and continue to grow is there and stronger than ever.  And yet, as I walk to Target on my lunch break to buy some headphones because I droped my old ones in the not yet used but still gross toilet at work, I wonder if it is possible.

I wonder if I have become the adult I didn’t want to become when I visited Portland as a dirty hippie 15 years ago.  The wonder grows stronger when I see a red headed traveler with bad “completely natural” dreads and cut up camo pants and a jean jacket vest.  I am distracted from my book about how to make my baby sleep through the night and watch this kid for a few stops on the bus home to my just purchased house.  I wonder if he is real or a ghost.  To say I see myself in him is an understatement because besides that one large patch on his jacket, I was dressed exactly like him in July 1999.

I watch as people avoid him, make no eye contact and judge him in this town where judgment isn’t allowed.  I see in his eyes some kind of pain or loss.  I watch him mouth the words of some song on his overly large headphones that is what he needs in that moment.  I see him get off the bus when it gets crowded and hear him say under his breath “I’ll just walk”.   I notice that his shoes have more miles than my bike this year probably and he is looking at his bus ticket to see how long he can use it and where else to go.  And even before the bus leaves he has sat down at a public picnic table to watch the world go by.

After getting a glimpse of the old me, I realize I like being an adult.  I wonder if that kid as well will take a job as an accountant, that lets him live in a foreign but adventurous place.  If he will wake up daily for a boring desk job that requires a shower and haircut and insulated lunch sack but pays mid five figures.  If he will keep dreaming and giving to passions that won’t die.  If he will go through periods of trying to figure out life that ends with him buying a house for his wife and three month old son to nest and build memories in.

I wonder if that random dude will let that new less adventurous life become his normal.  Because it seems like I have grown up enough to allow it to become mine….as long I get to travel back to Asia and a national park with my little family next year!

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Global Community, Marriage, Obese Obsessions