A new dog, a new day, a new outlook

Well, the time had come for the Fords to finally complete their family, and they did so with a bark. Not a bang. A bark. Yes, we got a dog. Not just any dog, but a kick-ass, fun-loving, 2-year old rescue from the Missouri Humane Society. Upon meeting him, his given name was Maury, and while I tried to remain neutral about said name, every time I heard it, I immediately conjured up images of paternity tests, screaming women, and mental images of Maury Povich saying, ‘You are NOT the father’. Yeah, that name had to go.

Meet Bernie/Bernardo/BernBern/TheBernerator/Bernardino/Bernasticator. He’s a sweet boy with quite the personality. We have had the pleasure of his company for over a month now, so I suppose it seems only fitting to mention him in this blog post.

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I think he’s sticking around for a while. Bernie is my homage to my failed Presidential nominee, but that’s where the similarities end. He’s a typical canine teen and needs some good obedience training and consistency with his humans, but we are up to the task, even if the toddler and cat of the household aren’t so certain.

Finished up a really nice vacation in Michigan, visiting my mom and son last week. Why is it that time just seems to literally FLY by? Ugh. I hate the end of vacations. Seriously. At least we have some guests coming for visits in September, a trip to Boston in October, and a return to paradise (Kauai) in late November. That should round out the year nicely.

One other interesting wrinkle in the recent vacation was the fact that in the hustle and bustle of planing, deplaning, toddler wrangling, and overhead compartment space, I managed to leave my beloved iPhone 6 Plus in the seat back pocket of the seat in front of me. I realized it once we arrived at the baggage claim area, and I was frantically searching for my gadget to check in on Swarm/update Facebook status/text someone.

I was actually quite calm about it once the initial shock wore off.

I mean, so what? I am literally surrounded by technology in the form of my husband’s cell phone, my mother’s iMac, cell phone, and a variety of other connected devices. Was I truly ‘unplugged’? Never. Did I tempt myself with those devices a handful of times during the course of the week?

Yes.

But, it never held my rapt attention as it had in the past. I was happy to be disconnected. I felt free. I felt unencumbered by some perverse desire to share mundane minutiae with ‘friends’ and ‘acquaintances’. It was deliciously liberating. As a result, I went to see a matinee movie with my son and walked in absolutely devoid of any sort of technology to silence, shut off, or otherwise disable for the duration of the film.

Wonderful.

I also enjoyed a relatively tech-free day at Cedar Point amusement park with said son and husband. The only evidence of our day was a short coaster video and a photo or two taken by my husband’s iPhone to chronicle a soaking wet, happy wife to mark my 48th birthday as I rode the wettest flume ride to appease the child that resides inside.

That. Was. It.

Did I glance at Facebook during the car ride? Yep. Did I update a status or two? Sure. Did I allow the phone to pull me into its whirling vortex of time sucking emptiness? Nope. I felt changed. I felt different somehow.

See, the thing is I’ve never been without my trusty cell phone for longer than it takes for me to close my eyes and sleep. It’s always with me. I admit, I even use it when I shower, as it doubles as a streaming audio device for purposes of listening to music or the occasional NPR news broadcast. I am nearly ashamed to admit it was the last thing I looked at before bed at night and the first vision I saw in the early morning before my eyes could even adjust to wakefulness. Such a damn shame.

I found myself waking up during vacation feeling relaxed, refreshed and actually looking forward to real interactions between my family, rather than spending time peering over the top of an iPhone screen, half-distracted between listening (not really) and nodding absentmindedly as my husband details a funny story that happened to him at work.

This just feels different this time. Perhaps it was meant to be, somehow. Eh, bullshit. I left my phone behind out of some absentminded parental lapse. What came after that, however, has left an indelible impression.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry to my friends, family, husband, and children for living in a state of near-constant distractedness. I’m sorry that when you may think of me, you have a vision of a woman with short, colorful hair always with a phone clutched in her hand. I’m thankful that my son grew up in a time BEFORE the ubiquitous cell phone, yet I’m sad that my daughter already may have a memory of her mother staring down at one.

What did I miss most about my phone? The camera. I wanted to capture moments on this vacation, yet I didn’t feel compelled to necessarily SHARE those moments with social media. I shared an image or two, but NOTHING like I would have before. I was grateful to my family for snapping a few photos, and that satisfied my inner shutterbug.

It all feels so meaningless. In the greatest fucking way possible.

I just don’t care anymore. And I don’t care that I don’t care anymore. Ok,  you get the idea.

What do I care about? I care that I’ve managed to devour a REAL book in a matter of days. Oh, Stephen King, how I’ve missed our visits together. I care about the fact that I don’t have the Facebook tab open on my computer, as I complete a grad school assignment. I care that I’m actually LISTENING and having real and meaningful conversations with friends and family, and most of all, my husband. I am looking people in the eye, not darting back and forth between iPhone and face, iPhone and face, iPhone and face. I care that I’m not multitasking. I’m not trying to watch a television program WHILE updating Facebook/reading a post/replying to a comment. I care that I’m here, blogging about it, because damn it, this is important to me.

So, today, my iPhone is being returned to me in the form of a FedEx delivery vehicle. I have tracked it, but beyond that? I don’t feel the usual overwhelming excitement once reserved for that little piece of technology.

I almost feel a little sad.

I’m sad that this little experiment is being forced to an end, yet at the same time, I feel determined to make this feeling last. And one things is for certain:

You won’t find this blog post on social media.

 

 

I’m Free

For those who don’t know, I managed to leave my iPhone on board a Southwest jet last week as we began a Michigan vacation. As I departed in Detroit, it managed to stay snug and secure in the seat back pocket bound for Baltimore, MD, and then on to Las Vegas, NV. However, after a great deal of legwork by my better half, my beloved iPhone is en route, and we will be reunited on Tuesday.

Honestly? While I lamented the fact that my phone was not in my possession, I really enjoyed the freedom. I didn’t feel tethered to social media, much like I have in the past. It’s been liberating, refreshing, and sobering.

I realize how much of my life has been lived through the lens of social media, and after being without it for a week, I have a new appreciation for a few things.

Books. Real books. In a few days I have managed to devour 200+ pages of a new Stephen King novel I have been meaning to start. I also delved into some Kindle selections that have been on my radar for quite some time. Talk about satisfying…

Relationships. I savored a wonderful birthday trip to Cedar Point with my husband and my son without stopping every few minutes to snap a photo, check in via Swarm, or otherwise chronicle the day. I can honestly say it was beyond wonderful to walk into the park with nothing but my driver’s license and a bit of cash in my pocket. Hands free is the way to be.

School. I managed to complete a paper that I had started a little over a week ago that was due tonight by midnight. Without the distractions of social media, the paper practically wrote itself: fluid, beautiful, flowing, and finished by 5:30 p.m.

Life. I have lived life this past week without the scrutiny of ‘friends’ or ‘acquaintances’ via social media. I don’t feel pressure to keep up, inform, or otherwise notify anyone about my whereabouts, my inclinations, or my motivations.

I have enjoyed a fantastic week with my family. I have made memories. I have savored each and every relationship. I have focused on what is important in life without staring down at an iPhone every few minutes.

And I have done so without so much as a status update summarizing as much. Let this be a lesson.

Damn. Time Flies.

Well, there goes two weeks off. Just like that. In a blink of an eye, I have managed to piss away nearly two weeks. Now, granted, we had big plans. We intended on traveling to Boston for a long weekend in order for Julia to meet her paternal grandfather for the very first time. A vague and unknown viral infection put a stop to that, and, in turn, sickened daddy.

Ah, well. Reschedule, we must. Thankfully, Southwest Airlines will allow us to use the dollar amount on future travel until March 31, 2017. So, we’ve got that going for us…

I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. I did manage to complete a paper and a handful of discussion posts for grad school, so that put me a couple of weeks ahead. I am feeling pretty fucking fantastic about having completed nearly a year of my first year in the MSN program. I should preface this by saying that I NEVER envisioned returning to school, so this alone is a major feat. I am also somehow managing to be 3/4 finished with this latest 10-week quarter, and scoring a perfect 100%.

Shit.

How does that happen? Whatever. I’ll take it. Bragging? Hell yes.

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Tomorrow begins a newER journey for me. I have once again put on my leadership cap. A cap I thought for certain I would NEVER wear again. A cap I threw out over a year ago after vowing I would NEVER do management again.

Never is indeed a strong word, and one I should really learn to NEVER use.

In any event, I have accepted an assistant nurse manager position in my current unit, and while I was, and continue to be, excited about the possibility, I did harbor some feelings of uncertainty, doubt, and unease. Just as before, I will move into a management position in my current unit, and, well hell, I don’t know. I guess I just wasn’t sure how it would be received. It’s nerve-wracking to think your peers would give you the side eye when just months ago you may have said, “I’ll NEVER do that job again.”

There’s that damn word again.

But, I’m happy to report that the news has been greeted with congratulations, messages of support, and words of encouragement. I can’t really ask for more, now can I?

I think what surprises me most is that I’m actually excited to give leadership another go. I have those familiar feelings of anticipation to learning new things, meeting new people, and easing into a new role. For that feeling alone, I’m grateful. I think the biggest difference this time around is that I find myself in a unit that truly speaks to me. I am home there. Med/Surg just wasn’t my cup-o-tea, and I knew it.

Anyway, tomorrow it begins. Again.

So, those two weeks literally FLEW by, and while I vowed to read more for pleasure, I didn’t. While I vowed to get out with Julia and do more, we didn’t. While I vowed to get more accomplished around the house, I didn’t.

Oh well.

I can tell you one thing, though. When you find yourself playing with Snapchat filters to kill some time, it’s time to get back to work.

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Never Again

I find myself writing this after our darling daughter has retired for the night, and I felt compelled to share this one thought: 

Never again will I take my husband for granted. 

This isn’t one of those smarmy, sweet, sugar-coated diatribes that serves to pay homage to my other half.

This shit is sincere. 

I have been solo parenting for a grand total of perhaps 36 hours give or take, and it’s long enough to know one thing:

I am not the better parent. Hell, I’m barely the average parent. I lack patience. I lack creativity. I lack any real motivation to do all those ridiculously fun things that sound so great when we are together as a nuclear family.

I don’t even like to cook. Case in point: tonight’s toddler feast consisted of sharp cheddar string cheese, avocado, and a mandarin orange. Thankfully, Julia isn’t a food critic. 

When your husband leaves to enjoy a solo weekend back at his alma mater, and you wake up to a room reeking of the smell of the prior night’s ill-advised chili dinner and the sight of diaper contents randomly placed all over the crib sheet while your darling daughter wails, you know it’s starting out rough. And my diaper-changing partner is gone. 

I love my husband. I love the mere presence of him. He grounds me. He makes me a better mom. He makes me laugh. He gives me so many reasons to smile. He makes me realize how big the void is when he’s not here. But, most of all…

…he cooks. And he does it well. Even Julia would agree. 

But, in all seriousness, I find myself feeling so grateful and somewhat spoiled that my husband is such a presence in my life, that even when he leaves for 48 hours, I feel disconnected, sad, lonely, and longing for his return. 

It also reminds me of those who don’t have a partner whether by choice or by circumstance. My hat’s off to you peeps. I truly cannot imagine this life without my silly, crazy, handsome, handy, funny, and at times, aggravating husband. He’s the glue. My heart aches for you parents who are doing the job of two without the other’s presence. Consider this shout-out a big virtual hug. 

So, tonight, I sit quietly while our daughter sleeps upstairs, knowing that tomorrow we will welcome daddy home. And I will tell him to his handsome face just how appreciated he is. 

That is, if I can get to him first. 

It Sucks Getting Old

Well, shit. As someone at work pointed out last night, I’m beginning to give away my age by peering over my glasses while trying to read something. 

The time has come, and it can be summed up in one word:

Bifocals. 

Until then, I’ll just rock these sassy readers. 

  
I’m still doing my best to grow old gracefully, though. 

Sigh…

MAM Fam No More

Another milestone here. This one is a big one. As any parent can attest, this one is a huge fucking deal. 

We bid the binky a fond farewell. Good riddance. See ya. Later gator. Buh bye. 

  
Five days ago after a visit to the dentist, the decision was made. While I admit, I felt as if I might cave in certain situations, daddy was adamant and firm. I knew how much comfort Julia had always gotten from her nipple-shaped silicone fix. I was nervous, but daddy was resolute. 

Those fuckers were bound for the trash.  

I went off to work for two nights and left the brunt of the work of binky detox to hubby. 

He rocked it. 

Cold turkey. 

Our daughter couldn’t care less that her once-beloved binks are now gone. She didn’t even bat an eye over this new normal. 

I honestly have no idea how we got so damn lucky, but I’ll take it. Now, I’m looking forward to seeing more of our daughter’s beautiful smile instead of a mouth full of plastic. 

   

Is There An App For That?

I watched with great interest, the documentary San Francisco 2.0 by the Alexandra Pelosi, the daughter of Nancy Pelosi, regarding the ever-widening wealth gap in the city of San Francisco. As a former resident of the metropolitan San Francisco area, I can attest to the truths this documentary highlighted. San Francisco has undergone a major transformation. Tech companies have flooded the downtown area, and while that brings much-needed revenue, it also has the affect of potentially displacing a great number of lifelong residents. Housing prices have skyrocketed.

No. Really. Skyrocketed. The median home price in San Francisco now lies at $1.225 MILLION DOLLARS. Yes. You read that right. That’s the AVERAGE price. Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds fucking ridiculous. Granted, I grew up in the Midwest in the state of Michigan where $1.225 million dollars got you a virtual compound with major acreage and a home the size of a small Costco. That might be why I can’t stomach this price tag.

But, I’m not alone in this disbelief. San Franciscans are being displaced in greater and greater numbers. Lifelong residents are being squeezed out by new tech startups and while their revenue brings cash to the city, it also brings higher and higher home prices as people play this bidding war to attain their ‘dream home’. Many once-vibrant cultural areas of the city, like the Mission District are suffering a major blow.

Why?

Well, in this tech boom, one class of people has become virtually extinct. The middle class. It would seem in San Francisco, there are two classes of people: the ultra wealthy and the working poor. Gone are the vibrant middle classes of the city. If you want to be able to afford a home in San Francisco, you need to earn UPWARDS of $200,000 per year.

Got that?

I don’t. I didn’t. We didn’t.

We left. And I couldn’t be happier.

I love San Francisco. I lived there for almost five years, and our daughter was born there. It hurts to see this city once known for its forward thinking and historical counter-culture turn into a homogenous, boring, bland, city with no diversity that caters to those who have no interest in retaining San Francisco’s wonderful history. The sharing economy has residents desperate to stay in their homes, therefore, people literally share rooms in their homes to earn income. Enter AirBnB. Need a car for a few hours? You can rent YOURS to earn a few extra bucks. Need someone to run an errand for you? No problem. TaskRabbit has someone available RIGHT NOW to pick up your Kombucha from Whole Foods.

The Ellis Act has virtually evicted thousands upon thousands of people with an eviction rate in one year of 115%. The Ellis Act allows landlords to abruptly sever lease agreements to take their property ‘out of business’, to then turn around and make it available to places like AirBnB for a large profit. Lifelong residents of San Francisco are finding themselves homeless for the first time. And gone are the days of long-term residency, as many renters find themselves stuck with exorbitant rent increases.

Before you ask, let me just tell you. The AVERAGE rent in the city of San Francisco just reached an all-time high this year of $4,225 per month. Yes. That’s right. That’s not a typo.

Sad. Really fucking sad.

So, as you walk by the homeless person on Market Street, remember this: he just might have been displaced by the very wealth that tech start-ups brought to San Francisco.

Oh, and be sure to throw him a twenty. That organic, fair-trade, small batch, hand-picked, cold-brewed cup of coffee from the corner barista will cost at least $10, which leaves him enough for an organic donut.

Some days I miss San Francisco, but in light of what’s going on there now, I’m perfectly content to blog about it from the comfort of my home on the outskirts of Saint Louis, Missouri in my four-bedroom, two and a half bathroom 2,100 square foot home for which we pay a fraction of what some renters in San Francisco pay for a studio apartment.

My fingers are crossed that San Francisco can find its way and retain its individuality. Maybe a start-up company can make an app for that.