Category Archives: Marriage

Da Pressed

NOTE: The following has been written and deleted at least a hundred times in various forms and continues to build.  It is real talk about where I am today that I feel needs to be shared.  One for some people close to me to understand. Two for some people to not feel alone potentially. 

Recently I was talking to new friends and telling stories of my past. Those stories led me to think of more as I laid in bed attempting to sleep that night and they overtook my thinking. Lately my thinking has a lot to do with working and careers and decisions in my past that have led me to being a 36 year old unable to find work.  Someone who can put out 30+ resumes and contact multiple staffing agencies and still have only one (failed) interview in a month.

When I was 19 I was a horrible employee.  Actually for the first few years of working I didn’t want responsibility and didn’t think of any job as a career.  But when I was 19 I was horrible.  Twice in a year I called in sick for a day of work and didn’t respond for weeks after.  Both were manual labor positions and both were not fun
(no excuse).  The first was in Fairbanks at a library on campus and I went six weeks before running into a former coworker and him telling me they needed help.  So I went back for a couple weeks until the semester was over and the project I was hired for finished.  The second was worse.  I worked for a temp agency in Atlanta and was placed at a machine shop.  The owner was a complete racist, as were the employees and in response to my lack of effort (most likely) I never was really trained.  I had a lot of little injuries, damaged multiple machines and often just ended up doing custodial work for minimum wage.  So one day I called out.

I watched TV a lot.  I made a massive batch of pancakes and ate those alone for a few days.  I moved the exercise bike into the living room so I could ride it while I watched TV.  I pulled out the sleeper sofa mattress so I could lay down while watching TV.  I went days without showering.  Using the same cup and plate for days.  I didn’t open the drapes or go outside and could only fall asleep if there was background noise so lost track of day and night.

I often say I was a bad employee for this.  But the other night as I remembered this I realized I wasn’t just a bad employee.

I was horribly depressed.

Last year, I quit three jobs…well four if you include putting Junior back into daycare to find a job.   I quit them for various reasons but none the less I made the choice to leave all of them.  The last made the biggest impact on me though because it was toxic.  I was constantly being told I wasn’t good enough and wasn’t following the rules, but then being told in code to cut corners to make my time.  EVERYONE there was depressed and beaten down.  It was not an okay place for a guy that can easily slide into that mindset.

I look back on the last year or so and have a million what ifs.  What if I didn’t get an implanted tooth but just another root canal?  What if I didn’t lose two months’ salary gambling?  What if I didn’t have to work delivering papers for a dollar an hour take home? What if our car wasn’t stolen allowing us to pay off the debt of one credit card? What if I didn’t quit a job with amazing benefits and pay but mundane work and problematic coworkers?  What if I didn’t quit a high pay hard working toxic job for another 3 months?  What if I didn’t get strep throat? What if we went to a doctor instead of the ER?  What if my counselor didn’t leave our session notes in public for an acquaintance to find and crush my trust in the one person I was willing to share all stories and feelings with?

What if I wasn’t depressed? Again? For another winter? For another year?

The answer to all is of course, WHO KNOWS?

Because the what ifs could go further back to meeting the beautiful Hannah, to moving and staying in Portland, to quitting college multiple times, to being rejected by most kids in high school, to moving to the south…and possibly even further back to the babysitter throwing and breaking my Snoopy hair brush in the bathtub (my first memory?).

All of these things have made me who I am.  And apparently today who I am is a slightly depressed 36 year old who failed to find another real job so is pulling his son from daycare again to stay at home dad with him.  Who is married to an amazing woman who has no concept of my career struggles because she loves her work and loves being able to provide for her family.  Who has time to work on his homestead and maybe get some odd jobs to pay for the luxuries he desires.

And that should be nothing to be depressed about, right?

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Trust Broken

Our car was stolen last week. From our driveway, while it was warming up and deicing.  I had a feeling it might happen but needed to have a warm car for junior as we were already running late.  So my back was turned and inside the walls of our house.  When I opened the door after less than 2 minutes it was gone.  And it still is not back.

The first night as I tried to sleep I had dreams and visions. Dreams of what if…

What if I saw the car driving away and jumped inside and yanked the wheel to prevent the guy in a black hoodie from going far.

First we slammed into the neighbor’s Corvette across the street.

The second time I dreamt the scenario we hit the fence next to our driveway and then another neighbor Maria as she brought me cookies. I am sure the cookies had more to do with me wanting to cope eat than anything else.

After waking up and trying to sleep again, I pictured running at super speed down the road and seeing it stuck in traffic.  I saw myself opening the door and telling the driver to walk away or ELSE.

In all these half dreams I was a hero…instead of the guy that left a running car in his driveway.

As I write this I am riding the bus imagining what I would do if I see it pass by.

Honestly, I would take note and try to watch it but lose it because I am on the bus.  But in my daydreams I see me jumping in the back seat since I still have a key, calling the cops and being arrested because I carjacked the wrong car.

After those failed attempts at sleep, the beautiful Hannah and junior came home from a meeting.  She came to bed and we talked about how we are unharmed, and nothing major was inside the car but still worried about why it happened…then we prayed.  After the tears and cussing and crying and screaming at God I did while she was away, we just prayed.  As I prayed I said “Lord you tell us to love our enemies so I ask that you would show me how to do that.”  It didn’t feel like my own thought but we prayed.

I realized that whoever took the car is in the midst of an addiction. Whether to money or drugs or something that takes.  Because addictions take so you take to because you are addicted. They stole a debit card too and used it first at an ATM unsuccessfully and second at Safeway. To spend a lot on groceries potentially. Or maybe it was gift cards and a lot of things to make meth. But I like to think the former.

I’m an addict too. That story will come next week or so.  So today, I realized I am lucky to not have to pursue that life. I’ve made bad choices and told lies to cover them up in the past and recently. I am scared of jail and ever getting a job again.  That is why in the midst of my worst addictive behaviors I haven’t committed similar crimes.

But some people aren’t or can’t be scared. They made a choice a long time ago they are still being judged for. They sold drugs at 16 and now at 46 still have a felony. Or they were raised in a cycle that is harder to break than keeping going. So they steal and lie and cheat but honestly I am sure they would rather not have to.

At least that is the hope I have…and need to have to keep any belief that people are good.

 

PS.  If you are in Portland, we are still looking for it hopefully abandoned on a side street.  2010 charcoal grey Toyota Matrix.  Slight dent in front drivers side.  car seat base in back seat.   Green bin of paperwork in trunk.  Please call PDX non emergency with details…503-823-3333

 

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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!

 

 

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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.

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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!

 

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