The Radar Metaphor

One of the keys to communicating with a partner is letting them know what is on the horizon. Not just the things that you have done, but some of your vision of the future.

Rose and I have at times used a metaphor of a radar to describe communicating about what is going on in our lives, because a radar has sectors and rings. So, you can describe people and events by what part of and what importance they have. Sectors can be things like: friends, family, romance, work, hobbies, etc. categories that hold importance, but aren’t dependent on each other. The rings are the importance you place on a particular person or event: low, medium, high; consider, pursue, mandatory; maybe, most likely, definitely.

The point here is to add a language about how important something is to you. Because, text messaging and email don’t allow for proper tone miscommunication about intensity can happen. Even if your are talking face to face some people miss non-verbal cues. Communication works the best when the speaker acts to create as narrow a meaning as possible. Using the radar metaphor can help the participants have a way to ask questions about intensity without seeming like they are being judging.

The Only Constant Is Change

Once upon a time, Carlos and I were just two old friends who were having some fun dating, soaking in the sweaty summer fun. It was the closest to “normal” our relationship has probably ever been – on our third date I allegedly told him I wanted to have his kids, and about the same time, he told me that monogamy wasn’t a thing that works for him, and we decided to make this thing work forever.

From the beginning, change has been an integral part of our plan: neither of us really thought marriage would be a factor in our lives, but we dove in. I didn’t think that I was interested in participating in a non-monogamous relationship, but I discovered that being with Carlos was more important to me than not sharing him. Once we moved in together, we had to adapt again, addressing my insecurity about his dating, building tools for communication and learning how to live our life together. Every year, every milestone presents new opportunities for our relationship to adapt and grow.

When we began our partnership, I wanted very little to do with the other people in Carlos’s life. I wanted to know who they were, but I didn’t really want to be friends with them. As time went by, it became harder for me to justify avoiding the poly people, especially as I got to know more of them.  On the one hand, Carlos tends to have pretty excellent taste in people, and on the other, I really do enjoy being part of a community, way more than I enjoy avoiding people who may have been involved with my partner.

I am, and have always been, a weirdo. It has taken me long into my adulthood to figure out the ways that my weirdness is shaped, but now that I have a sense of myself, I recognize that I am lucky to have a like-minded community of people who aren’t tied to the lies of being “normal.” I absolutely, unequivocally LOVE that I can call Carlos’s sweetie when I’m having a rough day. I love that Rockford tries using her to get out of nap time (except for the “trying to get out of nap time” part). I love that Carlos tells me, “you should date that person!” even though we all know I’m just going to chicken out or decide that I like my Friday nights at home better.

In many ways, I think I have been very lucky to have come into my forever-relationship this way. I never started another dating relationship with the same level of clarity about the way things would go. Even though Carlos and I couldn’t predict the future, knowing that change would be an inevitable part of it gives us enough of a roadmap to find ourselves every time the path gets murky. Even if our co-habiting, bill-sharing, primary partnership passes on, Carlos and I will always have a relationship, because we made the commitment to bring children into the world and raise them to be the best people they can be.

Whatever things life brings our way, there is comfort in knowing that they will change. My first boss used to tell me about her mother saying, “this too shall pass,” for the good and for the bad. Some things are within my power to change, and some will change despite any effort to stop them. I absolutely have to remind myself to embrace the changes instead of fighting against them, because I am, after all, still me. It’s always there, though, and that is reassuring (and yeah, potentially terrifying). This, too, shall pass, and that’s how it should be.

Ferguson is Enough

Over this past weekend, something happened in Ferguson, Missouri that has been happening around this country. It was something atrocious, horrifying, and worst of all, mundane. On Saturday afternoon, a Black man named Michael Brown was killed by the police. He was unarmed, and complying with their orders. In the first two days after it happened, White media lied about his grieving community, police lied in attempting to justify their murder, and the mayor of Ferguson threatened to arrest anyone who shows up to protest. The police in Ferguson showed up to community vigils with military hardware. We still don’t know the name of the police officer who fired 10 shots into an unarmed man. This is what the news in neighboring St. Louis had to say about it Monday:

The reporter of that quote, and the mayor of Ferguson, want you to believe that the “much bigger problem” here is the fault of the black people who rioted over Saturday night. They want you to believe that the community full of grief and anger at the unjustified, needless murder of one of their children is the problem. They are wrong.

There IS a much bigger problem in Ferguson, MO, and everywhere. The problem is that we do not value the lives of Black people. We, as a nation, have built our wealth on the suffering of Black people, all the while discounting their very humanity. We cannot, as a nation of ostensibly good people, let this continue. In 2012 alone, 313 Black men were killed by the police or vigilantes. That’s one every 28 Hours. That is too many, hundreds and a baker’s dozen too many.

This is an overwhelming problem, one with roots that reach into dark parts of our past, and show us how dark our present still is. It has to stop.

It is not the job of Black people to stop this problem. No amount of respectability, no Talk from parents to kids, no action taken by Black people is an answer to this problem, because the actions of Black people are NOT the problem. This is a problem of white supremacy, of White privilege, and White complacency.

Don’t believe me? I live in Ohio, a state with Open Carry rules that permit anyone who legally owns a handgun to carry it anywhere, as long as it is not concealed. And yet, in a Wal-Mart toy department, police officers killed a black man for holding a bb gun that he was going to purchase. His name was John Crawford. He was killed for allegedly doing something that is not only 100% legal (carrying a firearm in an Ohio Wal-mart), but something that White-lead Open Carry organizations do ALL THE TIME. How many of them have been shot, I wonder?

So now what?

There are some things we need to do now. Some of them are going to be simple, and probably some of them will not.

You can start by showing up. Communities across the country are observing a National Moment of Silence on Thursday. Show up. Stand together with your neighbors and know who is suffering.

Get to know your local NAACP. Learn about police accountability. Sign this petition to enact new laws protecting us from police misconduct.

Those are the easy things. What are the hard things?

Examine your own behavior. When you hear about a Black person beaten, abused, killed, look at your own reactions to it. Do you think, “what did s/he do? What was s/he wearing? Why was s/he in that neighborhood?” Ask yourself whether you would ask the same of any other victim. Learn to recognize the signs of institutional racism.

We have to protect every American life. We have to stop asking “what did they do to deserve that?” and start saying, “no one deserves to die for being Black in America.”

It’s time for us ALL to start having the talk: The police are not our friends. They exist to reinforce the status quo, and that status quo is state-sanctioned murder. This week, it has been three Black men. Chicago is still waiting for the police officer who shot Rekia Boyd to see trial. The officer who shot Oscar Grant was acquitted.

We have to stop accepting the premise that Black lives are worth less. We have to stop accepting the premise that ANY life is worth less than another.

Faith and Perseverance

Way back in 2009, when Rose and I decided to get married, we hadn’t been dating long. This meant that even by the time we were a couple years in, we still had some kinks to work out of our roles around the house. One of these was dealing with unclaimed tasks.

In the beginning I would generally just jump on tasks and do them, or finish things that I saw dangling. You know, rather than nagging about them or spending time discussing them, since 50-percent of the time it gets delegated to me anyway. So, imagine my surprise when I came to take on a frustrating task and Rose said, “I got this, and I don’t want anyone else to do it.”

There she was, standing next to an Ikea bed. Rose was staunch that she would accomplish the task singlehanded. When we went to bed that night there were still several, thankfully not structurally imperative, pieces left. She told me,”Don’t worry, I know where those go.”

After this I had a new option, just show faith that she will work it out. To be frank this option is sometimes frustrating for both of us. But, it has created some moments of growth for both of us.

  1. It forces her to admit that she wants help.
  2. It helps me remember that I should have a reason beyond *because I can* for getting involved.

Still, seeing a stack of thank you notes sitting on top of the refrigerator for months makes me want to cry out, “For the love of jebus! Why won’t you put stamps on these?!” It is like the weirdest game of chicken, she says, “I’ve got this,” and I want to prove that I have faith.

A couple of weeks ago I figured out what was happening. She didn’t want to send the cards because we weren’t blogging.

Theses last couple of weeks we have just been chipping away at that impediment. My job in this project has been to attend social functions, read blogs, start conversations, and conduct interviews. Rose’s job is the editorial calendar, reading blogs, helping with interviews, and (most of all) being in charge of this blog.

I’m happy that this blog is up again, but most of all I am happy that Rose is reemerging to follow through on the promises we made to you all to write this book. We are getting the thank you notes out this week, and come hell or high water, several of you are getting incredibly awkward ukulele serenades.

Thanks for having faith.

image courtesy of h-bomb

Where did we go?

you-right-thereOh, hi there!

Uh, long time no see?

Yeah, we have been quiet for quite a while, but I promise you, we are not gone, and we have not forgotten you.

Where did we go? Columbus, Ohio! That’s where we decided to settle. We have this cute kid, and these two (2!) dogs, and some seriously awesome people here. And we still have all the things we had before – the magical lying friend that is depression, that project, and some lingering, shall we say, familial complications.

So, we’ve been quiet. But not for long! Now is the era of “just do it now,” and “get that shit done.” So, watch this space!


Are We Adults Yet?

After a recent post, when I shared that things felt like they were going smoothly and like we are finding a home, Joan commented that she is happy to see me blogging about food, because to her mind, it looks like I am feeling like myself. I appreciated that, because it feels true – I’m feeling more like myself, and finding joy in the things that have historically been rich for me. It’s a good feeling.

It got me thinking about the things that act as milestones of “adultness” and markers of being “oneself.” One of my friends told me, “I got a Costco card! I’m an adult now!” and Carlos said something similar when we bought a Shop-Vac.

A friend of mine described herself as becoming an adult when she started making decisions that her parents disliked. Most days, I still don’t feel much like an adult, in spite of the kid and debt and husband and responsibility that make up my life. Today, though, something has happened that changed that, in a surprising way. I didn’t even realize it, and I am unabashedly stealing this from Carlos:

Today, nothing that I own is being stored by anyone else. All of my earthly possessions (ok, except a couple things that are on vacation in Eugene) are right here in the same building with me. No storage unit, no shelf in my parents’ garage. I still don’t have a properly equipped kitchen, because of reasons (see: things on vacation), and we’re pretty short on furniture.

But, dudes. I am reunited with my sweaters, and down comforter, and vacuum. The brewing supplies! OUR ART!!!

Part of me doubts that I will ever really feel like an adult, but I’m definitely doing a triumphant adult dance today.



I am procrastinating.

I have many things to do (don’t we all?), and I am doing some of them, but I don’t feel like writing. As you may have heard, we’re in Columbus, OH, and every day it’s just kind of the best. I found my Shambhala community here, and forces aligned to let me spend this past weekend sitting in intense meditation with many of them. It was profoundly good, and I am still feeling inwardly focused, and not so much like I have a lot to say.

There are plenty of things happening, though! Rock has learned how to put on his own shoes. Carlos and I are making friends, together and separately. Winter is coming. I’m starting a job next week (for which I am STOKED). Soon, we will be reunited with the things we left behind in Portland. I mostly finished my marriage sweater (two years later!), and it’s not good, so I’m going to re-do it.

Oh! And I made Ethiopian food at home, and we’re going to make beer soon. And so many things! But for now, I need to go work on some quiet things. You’ll hear more from me soon!

Happy Day

We are in a place that we want to stay in. It’s different than anywhere I’ve lived before, and I am very happy about it. This past weekend was the autumnal equinox, and this place does not waste any time making the switch to fall. The leaves are turning, and it is positively crisp outside, even though it’s also supposed to be in the 70s today. I love it.

It has been cold at night, and in the morning when I’m walking the dog. It’s time for me to be knitting again, post-haste. Last night I pulled out the hat I started for Carlos, and Rockford gave me a solid demonstration of the level of challenge I’ll be facing. It turns out that my toddler is way more efficient at project destruction than my cat ever was. I spent half an hour untangling the mess he made of my yarn, only to do it again this morning.

Also last night, I dreamt of an epic Thanksgiving dinner, with so many pies and gravy and potatoes and single-serving injera and duck confit. As I’m writing it out, this sounds a little more like a glutton’s paradise than even I want Thanksgiving to be. But it did remind me that I need to restock my spice cabinet and buy some butter. And now I’m thinking that a turkey doro wot might be in my future. I’m about to write the most epic grocery list of my life (ok, maybe just this year).

I feel really happy today. My amazing kid is super cute, even when he’s on a monstrous tear. It’s clearly autumn, and while there has been rain, it’s the exception rather than the rule. I’m feeling like it’s time to buy some furniture and give the cat a name, so to speak. I think it’s only fair to warn you that this blog may date a dramatic turn back to cooking-related, at least briefly, as I celebrate/inaugurate my kitchen by cooking ALL THE THINGS. I cannot wait.

Checking In

Today is a “daytime pajamas” day in del Rio Land.

We’ve done a lot of running around this week, and it has severely disrupted the kiddo’s nap schedule. It also means that the house is a mess, there’s a giant pile of laundry, and I am giving myself way too much slack about my procrastination. Daytime pajamas are half because I need us to stick close to home, and half because I have run out of clean outside clothes. Whoops.

In general, I think we’re doing better about getting back into functional routines, with the last couple days excepted. Coffee, breakfast, toddler dance party, writing, lunch, running around outside, nap time, housekeeping, dinner, snuggles, bath time, bedtime. We’re doing OK on this agenda most of the time. I am starting to feel like we’re functional people again. Like I am a functional person again.

Having told the story about my mom, I think I’m at the point now where I am not carrying any heavy secrets any more. It’s a very strange feeling. It has me feeling philosophical, and a little disoriented, and physically lighter. For years, I have had pain that I can never quite shake. My neck always hurts, my hips always hurt. This week, the stress-pain in my neck and shoulder has shifted. For the first time in literally years, I can feel myself shifting back into alignment. The issues that she and I had were not the only, or even the first, thing that had been weighing me down. Even so, telling you about it, and addressing the other things in their own ways, has had a tangible physical effect in a way that I could not have anticipated.

Way back in the day, when Carlos and I first reconnected, I felt like I had gone home. Then I got caught up in some nonsense inside my head, and I made that home uncomfortable for myself and everyone else in it. Days like today, when I know I’m slacking and should be doing better, feel really hard, but not like they used to. I am part of a team, and every moment is a chance to pull my weight. Even though I should be publishing a better post than this, and I should have done laundry three days ago, I’m not getting bogged down in a cycle of grump about those things.

Today and every day, “do better” is at the top of my list. Thank you for sticking with me while I figure out how to do that.


Someone’s In The Kitchen

My kitchen is 16 inches by 36 inches, made up of a single-basin sink and a two-burner propane stove. I have two pans (I mistakenly left my third pan in Portland, d’oh), four coffee mugs, four bowls, a french press, and a whole gaggle of water bottles. Needless to say, I don’t get a lot of hard-core cooking done in there, though I do usually manage to keep us fed.

I expected that giving up all the pots and pans and tools and accessories from my kitchen would be a lot more traumatic than it has turned out to be so far. I live in the kitchen, but I also hide in the kitchen. The kitchen is a convenient excuse, a refuge. Giving up my own kitchen has forced me to let go of ideas about myself that seemed so deeply ingrained that I imagined they were immutable. Letting go of my attachment to the kitchen feels like a good practice for examining my other attachments, questioning how they came about and what they’re actually bringing into my life.

Living on the road and spending our time in other people’s houses has meant spending a lot of time in other people’s kitchens. Many a day, I start our routine on someone else’s stove, in someone else’s toaster, with someone else’s tools. More than their tools, though, I enjoy seeing the way that other people organize this critical part of life, the kind of priority that they give it (or don’t). Which things are most carefully cared for? Which things are absent? Which are present, but neglected? The kitchen is not exactly a window into the soul of a household, but I think it can be a telling snapshot.

Most of the people who welcome us into their homes have done so intentionally, knowing who we are and what we’re about. They’re like us, in some way, or they simply do like us. Spending time in their kitchens feels like a gift, like guidance for how to take the good things and the necessary things and stop worrying about the rest. The task of purposefully rebuilding our life is immense and often feels overwhelming. There are plenty of lessons we’ve learned from our loved ones that that seem impossibly far removed from where I am now. Coming back to the kitchen gives me a tangible place to start reshaping our life to take the best care of our needs.