jianantonic: (Seahorse)
I don't know what's happening in my life. I asked McKenzie to give me some time to myself, to think about things without the overwhelming stimuli I get from our conversations. I want our marriage to work but I'm being pressured to make choices I'm not ready to make, not confident enough in myself to know what's right. He said he doesn't know if he can still be there for me at the end of this time off (I said I needed something like a week or two). Feels like I'm playing Russian Roulette. But I do need that time and I let him walk away. We hugged, said we loved each other, and then he drove off. He has a flight later tonight to Charlottesville, and will be back in the PNW in early February. I am so scared.

Nothing like an emotional crisis to get me moving on other things, though. I got fish today. Not seahorses -- I want to be damn sure the tank is fully ready before I spend $100 per fish on something that's going to mean a lot to me. So I went to an aquarium shop near me today and got some advice on what I could put in the tank to test it (something hardy that I'm not likely to kill as I figure this shit out), and something that can live harmoniously with seahorses when I'm ready for them. The overlap in that Venn diagram is rather small, though. I ended up bringing home some firefly gobies and some crabs (to be my tank cleaning crew, as suggested by the guy at the shop). I am currently following the instructions to acclimate them to my tank, which is a fairly slow process, but they'll be swimming free in there within an hour.

On my way home from running errands, I thought how much I would appreciate someone to come be with me for a little while. Most of my friends have jobs and other responsibilities that make this not so realistic, but I thought of my aunt Sara. She's retired and exactly the kind of person I want here with me as I go through whatever it is I'm going through. So I sent her a message asking her to come. She hasn't replied yet and I don't know if she'll be able to, but I feel a huge sense of relief just for having asked her. My parents said they'd come sometime soon, and I'm grateful, but my parents can be a little (a lot) too intense in these situations. My mom has a lot of issues with denial, and while she loves me and is here for me, she's not the best comfort. (When McKenzie and I were separated in 2010, I went to stay with my brother for a little while. My mom decided I needed her and came down herself, kicked me out of the guest bedroom onto the couch because she's too old to sleep on a couch, but then stayed up late on the couch watching sitcoms that invariably featured weddings.) I love my mom, but she has a knack for making me feel worse when she's trying to make me feel better. And I know how much I want to be the aunt that people turn to for support in tough times, so I figure maybe calling on my own aunt is a good way to go here.

I miss my husband.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
I bought my fish tank 2.5 years ago, after at least another 2.5 years spent talking about how I was going to get one. Most parts of it sat in the trunk of my car for several months. I eventually brought them inside (probably because McKenzie needed the trunk space rather than because I had a plan for it all), and then all the pieces sat in the corner of my breakfast nook for another really long time.

The fish tank became a symbol of frustration, a metaphor for all the ways I've tried and then stopped trying in so many aspects of my life. Big ideas, often accompanied by big expenses, and then...stagnation or failure. This is definitely a pattern for me. Nearly every hobby I've ever had has been something I worked hard at and enjoyed thoroughly for the first month or so -- long enough to want to sink a lot of time and money into it -- and then it's something that sort of got cast aside. I like to believe that I still do all those things, but the truth is it's been a year since I played my clarinet, several years since I touched my knitting or crochet needles, and even though I've got enough supplies to accessorize the entire city of Portland, my jewelry-making output has dwindled to approximately one item every month.

This pattern, of course, frustrates my husband. Partly because it all costs money, partly because all the stuff I get takes up space and then remains here to clutter, because I am incapable of admitting that no, I'm not ever really going to be that kind of craftswoman or whatever thing it is I once envisioned myself being. I still believe somewhere inside me that one day, I will do all these things. I will at least come back to some of them, if not all, right? Right. Then the real reason this pattern frustrates my husband (and me) is that it makes it really hard to believe any changes in my life will stick. Sure I'm acting like a better wife, but is this just another fish tank situation, where I've put a lot of effort into it for now, but I'll eventually run out of momentum for it and being a good wife will be another one of those hobbies I discard? I got my real estate license, and I go to the meetings and do the work, but will it stick? I want it to. But I wanted all those other things to stick, too. And more than any of the other hobbies, I've been steadfast in my love for seahorses and desire to own them. And if I can't move forward on that...

So I'm moving forward. But it remains an appropriate metaphor. I got it assembled a few months ago. It only took me a few weeks from that point to put water in it. But then it leaked. I had to turn off the mechanisms pumping the water and drain the sump so as not to flood my house. Then I couldn't get the sump out to fix the leak. I was supposed to take it into the store, but the part that connects it is pushed up against my wall and I can't get to it with 55 gallons of very heavy water anchoring it in place. So I sat, paralyzed, for another couple of months, doing nothing, but stating my intentions to do something. Finally I went to the store and told them I can't get the sump out, what can I do? They told me how to fix it on my own, and it took me another couple of weeks before I attempted that repair. I finally got around to it, but I didn't trust myself to put everything back together after attempting to dismantle the guts of the tank some weeks prior.

Finally I found some confidence one day and just did it. I put the pieces back together and turned the filter back on. I quickly turned it off when it made loud grinding noises at me. I needed to put water back in the sump before I tried to filter, otherwise it's just gasping for something that isn't there. I took a sample of my water back to the store to see if it was ready for fish, even though it had been sitting without going through the filter for two months. Turns out the salinity was way too high, probably because so much water had evaporated. I was told to top it off with fresh water. It took me another week to get my shit together enough to go get said fresh water (I get it from the store, not just from the tap...tap water has too much shit going on), but I got it today. Getting it into the tank from the jugs I have is a challenge. I am going to need to learn how to transfer water more efficiently. The top of my tank should lift off to provide access, but it's at least a two-person job, and I'm just here by my onesie right now. So the solution I came up with was to pour the water from the 60-pound jugs into cups, one little tiny cup at a time, and pour the cup into the tank from the top. Anyway, it took me more than an hour and a lot of spilling on the floor, but I got the water level back to normal in the tank. The filter is running. I am a little concerned because nothing is coming out of the tank yet to go back into the sump, but I'm going to assume that's because the sump is full (I poured one jug directly into the sump, because it's underneath the tank and somewhat accessible, but not large enough for all the water I had to add back). As far as I can tell, everything is in working order -- there's no water spilling or leaking anywhere (knock on wood), so I'll let it do its thing for a few hours and see if it looks like the water is actually moving through the filter. I'm about 90% certain that everything is as it should be, but I don't have much confidence in myself, and if it goes awry, it could be a huge fucking problem that I don't know how to fix, so I can't call it good yet.

Assuming everything continues to appear to function, I will add fish next week. I think it will take a few days for the water to cycle through and for the salinity to get back to a level that the fish can handle, and for the temperature to level out since I just turned the light back on for the first time in a while and added so much new water, too. So the goal is the weekend or next week for my first fish. I may see if I can get someone from the store to actually come to my house and check on the setup for me, but that may not be possible since the store is in NE Portland and I live in a far SW suburb. But maybe?

Anyway, the point of all this is to say that even though I've really stepped up my effort to get the fish tank going FOR REAL, there's still so much more to it than just getting over my lack of confidence and paralysis. There are legit speedbumps, and then those speedbumps take away confidence, and even though I know what I need to do or should do or should get help doing, I just put it off because it's too overwhelming...but I am making progress. I am going to have some motherfucking fish in this motherfucker before the month is out. And hopefully they'll live a normal fishy lifespan under my care. And I'll learn as I go, as I do with all things.

So, yeah, a pretty appropriate metaphor for my marriage, my career, my life.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
My fish tank has water in it! Now I just leave it on and cycling for a month and then I can add some fish. I'll start with cheapo fish just to make sure the tank is working well enough, and if they live, then I'll get the seahorses.

I'd been getting all my supplies and info from this little independent aquarium store in Northeast that actually specializes in seahorses. They're perfect, except for being in NE. Anyway, I went out there yesterday to get the water and live rock, and I found out they've moved. The shop is now in the garage of this house. I went in and asked for Woody, the owner, and they led me back into the house and into his room, where he's in a hospital bed and hooked up to machines and basically skeletal. Shit. He was delightful, though, and answered my questions and gave me good advice. Then one of his employees finished setting me up with what I needed and I was on my way with 55 gallons of water in my car. I have to go back this evening to return the jugs I borrowed for transporting the water. If Woody is dying, and it certainly looked like that's probably the case, I wonder what will become of the store. I hope a local seahorse expert will remain to carry the torch.

I booked a flight back to Virginia for Xmas. It's funny -- my family has been bugging me about it for weeks, and then when I booked it, I sent an email to everyone saying I had to get my flight into Richmond instead of Charlottesville, and who wants to pick me up...? Crickets. Finally my mom was like "Let us know if no one else volunteers..." Sheesh.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
You guys.  You guys.  YOU GUYS!  I'm finally getting my seahorse tank!

First it was "I should wait until I get a steady job and am not traveling so much."  Then I got a steady job that required a lot of travel.  Then it was "Well, when I'm done with all this traveling."  Then I quit that job and started over.  Then I got a great job that will keep me in the area and it became "Why get an aquarium now when we're probably moving soon?"  Then it was "All finances go toward the house."  Finally, we are settled into the house, finances are in order, and I'm ready to get going with this.  So I went to the aquarium store in NE Portland after work to talk about setting up a seahorse tank.  Why NE Portland instead of one of the many pet/fish stores closer to me?  Well, that one specializes in seahorses, and I'd talked to the owner before and he definitely has the expertise specific to what I want.  And I'm gonna do this thing RIGHT, y'all.  Which means it'll be like two more months before I actually have any fish, but the ball is rolling for realsies.

Last night I picked out a tank -- a 60-gallon tank with a wood stand and canopy that will fit nicely in my kitchen dining nook area.  Today, the owner is drawing up quotes for all the different possible equipment I'll need and/or want, and then likely tomorrow night, he'll deliver it to my house and I can get the setup started.  It'll take several weeks to go from a dry tank to one that seahorses can make a home in, so for a little while, I'll just be waiting for the water to cycle and get to where it needs to be.  I think that takes around six weeks.  So in that time I'll just be monitoring the water and getting some other basics set up.  I'll get seaweed going, and I'm also basically going to be farming bacteria that the seahorses will eat.  Once I have a good crop of that stuff, I think it will be time to actually introduce the fish.  Seahorses are fish, just to be clear.  So when I talk about the fish that will be in there, I mean the seahorses.  I'm not planning on having any others for now.  So, if all goes according to schedule, I'll be getting some new pets right around my birthday.  I'm so excited!

The other exciting new thing going on right now is that I picked up a new freelance gig.  My former executive editor from Aol co-founded a media brokerage company that is just getting started right now, and asked me to do some work with them.  The company is called CODE20, and what they do is broker amateur video to professional news agencies, primarily for breaking news stories.  My work with them is mainly dealing in social media for now, as the company creates a presence for itself.  Breaking news isn't just police chases and mass homicides (we really don't want video of that), but basically anything from which a news station might want a little video.  So my job is to keep an eye/ear out for these events (today I covered a pillow fight flash mob), write a blip on our website about it, compose a few tweets and facebook updates, and try to get users to upload video.  Then other people on the CODE20 team work to get those user-submitted videos on television or a news website.  If you're interested in supporting me in this endeavor, please go to the CODE20 Facebook page and like us, and follow @code20news on twitter.  There's a smartphone app, too.  If you ever do take film of a breaking news event (using the word "news" liberally), you can upload it to us and we pay you if it gets on air anywhere.

The people behind CODE20 are really bright, fun, good people.  I loved working for Robin at Aol and it's so great working with her again.  She really appreciates me and I love working for someone who values me as much as she does.  I think it's going to be really interesting.  My work with them is really just about an hour or so a day, so it's not taking the place of any of my other work or extracurriculars, and shouldn't add much stress to my life.  We don't know if it'll be a raging success or not, but it definitely has potential, and I'm psyched to be involved.  I'd love it if you guys would check it out and spread the word if you feel so inclined.
jianantonic: (Default)
How did I not know this book existed?


Shanon had checked it out from the library just for me to read to Jack!  I loved it, and while he didn't seem all that interested, he did sit still long enough for me to get through the whole thing :)  As soon as I got home, I ordered it for my nieces.  They'll know who sent it as soon as it arrives, I'm sure.

I had a great afternoon with Shanon and Jack.  He was SO GOOD today.  He's almost 7 months old, and he's basically been the most difficult baby ever up til now, but today he was angelic.  He was all smiles and giggles and just wanted to play all day.  He gives kisses now (hugs were a new thing last time we hung out), and he gave me lots of them.  He loves me...or he's just a whore...but I think he really does love me.  He smiled really big when I arrived and he saw me for the first time.  Aww.  I love that kid so much!  They're on their way to Virginia tomorrow, so I'm hoping my mom will have a chance to meet Jack -- they're staying about a mile away from my parents' place, so hopefully they'll arrange something.  I also really need to get my parents back out to Oregon.  They've never met Katy, either.  Maybe this fall.  I have a lot of travel coming up now through August, but come September I'll be pretty well settled back at home and working my two jobs.  But I always have time for visitors!
jianantonic: (Default)
Each day here has been much nicer than the forecasts have suggested.  I haven't been planning for nice weather, but every day has been a lovely surprise.  Having said that, I'm sure today will be all kinds of yucky, but no worries.  I have some inside things to do anyway.

Yesterday afternoon, I was bored so I decided to take a little drive to the Oregon Humane Society in NE to play with the kittens.  I do love kittens, but it was actually the older cats I really bonded with.  I fell completely in love with a 9yo orange tabby named, sigh, Meowy Zowy.  My favorite kitten there was named Fluffy Pants Kittenface.  Don't people know that cats are animals of dignity?  Anyway it was a lovely afternoon, though a little bit torturous, since I had to leave without taking anyone home with me.

Next up, I called a local place I'd found on Google called SeaHorse Aquarium Supply.  I didn't know if they actually dealt in seahorses or not, and when I'd driven by it before, it didn't look like a public store -- more like a wholesaler of some sort.  So I decided to call before I went this time, and I told the owner I was a seahorse enthusiast looking to start my own aquarium, and asked if I should visit his shop.  He said absolutely, he's the number one seahorse vendor in the area.  He has more seahorses than anyone.  Excellent.  So I went.  He did have an impressive store with lots of tanks and fishes and exotic sea creatures -- and one seahorse.   I guess that's one more than anyone else.  But I talked to him for a while and he told me he could get me some more seahorses, and gave me advice on how to get started with my tank and how to care for them.  He was a cool guy.  So if I end up taking a full time job in Portland, I'm going to start this seahorse tank right away.  I'm excited!
 
I'd promised my friend Zac that I'd play a little online bridge with him, too.  He's a fellow Aol alum.  He was my editor at WalletPop when he was just 19, and when he graduates college this month, he'll already have best-selling author on his resume.  He's an impressive kid.  And he's interested in bridge.  He had played a bit when he was very young, and has recently been reading up, but doesn't really have anyone to play with.  So I played a few hands with him on BBO, then he wanted to enter an online tournament.  Okay then.  Some ridiculous things happened, but luckily most of the luck fell our way, and we ended up 8th out of 200 with a section top and 2.00 masterpoints.  Zac was ecstatic.  I love how excited new players get when they do well.  And I have to say I feel pretty good about how well we placed given that it was a first time partnership and Zac is pretty much a total beginner.  So yay.  
 
Zac does a lot of work in print media now, so the two of us are brainstorming how we can sell some bridge articles to various magazines.  One of the items on my to-do list today is to help him write a pitch.  I actually have quite a bit of writing on the agenda today.  Guess I should get on with it.
 


 
 
 
jianantonic: (Default)
I've been crazy busy the last few days, but in the totally awesome, I'm having a complete blast kind of way.  Picking up where I left off on Saturday in Brooklyn, Ethan and I had brunch with my brother's family and my mom.  I taught Lucy how to make friendship bracelets and made one for Ethan.  At first I thought Lucy wasn't going to get it, but after a few fumbles, she picked it up quite nicely.  Rachel decided to make one, too.  It was just like the old days at camp :)

Around noon, Ethan and I headed into Manhattan to check out the Natural History Museum.  We spent a lot of time looking at the space stuff, ancient humans and animals, and gems and minerals.  While we were looking at a display of animals that are all extinct now, this kid joined us in our wonder as we tried to figure out what kind of what everything was.  These were some funky shaped critters.  One of them looked kind of like a modern snail, only giant, so it had a familiar shape if nothing else.  The kid goes, "At least that one makes SENSE!"  I dunno if this was a "you had to be there" kind of moment, but it cracked me up.  I kept repeating it throughout the day.
 
I joined Chris and friends for dinner and Girlyman/Coyote Grace that evening, and it was nothing short of completely wonderful.  I had just as much fun as I always have at Girlyman shows, which is a fuckton.  I cabbed myself back to Ethan's, and joined him around midnight in his upstair's neighbor's apartment, where many margaritas were consumed.  I only had one (okay, one and a half?), but by the time I joined the two of them, they were most of the way through a pitcher, so it was getting a little silly.  Soon we had Ke$ha on the stereo and were rocking out pretty hard.  It was our own private dance party, and it was tres fab.  Ethan has crazy sexy moves.  I wish I could dance like that.
 
The next day, we got up stupid early and met WT, Rachel, and the kids at the New York Aquarium on Coney Island.  They had seahorses, so of course I was happy.  My brother has a family membership, so the kids knew that aquarium inside and out.  When we were in the seahorse room, I started to look at one display about how seahorses are over fished for use in eastern medicines and to sell as souvenirs.  Lucy saw me looking at it and came over and said "Don't read that, Aunt Meg, it'll make you sad."  I thought that was super sweet.  Lucy can be a real diva sometimes, but I had a great time with her this weekend.  I love that girl hard, even if she is a handful, but this time around she was very fun to hang out with.
 
I went to the gift shop to load up on seahorse souvenirs and found a plush seahorse that I wanted to buy for Ethan.  Frankie saw me pick it out and grabbed one for herself.  I told her I would buy it for her on the condition that she would play with it a lot and think of me whenever she did.  She agreed, so I bought it for her, and Rachel suggested she name it Meg.  She liked that idea, too, and started hugging it and saying "I'm Meg the seahorse!"  It was super adorable.  She also held the one I'd bought for Ethan and played with them both together.  I told her that since she was naming hers after me, I'd name the other one after her.  They were identical, and she spent the next 30 minutes explaining to me which one was which.  When it was time to say goodbye, I asked her to give me the Frankie seahorse.  She said "No, I'm keeping Frankie.  You take Meg."  Rachel tried to explain to her that she was supposed to have the one named Meg, as per our deal, but Frankie wouldn't go along with this plan.  So I let it go and took the seahorse she said was named Meg.  Rachel sent me a message later that they'd compromised and she was going to call her seahorse Francesca Meg Massie.  Aww.
 
That afternoon, I said my tearful goodbyes to Ethan and got on a train to Paoli, where I'm currently staying with my cousin Lauren and her family.  My timing isn't great with this visit -- they're trying to sell their house and move, but weren't planning to put their house on the market until later in the spring.  However, when a house down the block went on the market last week, there was a bidding war, and all the losers are now interested in seeing their house, because they need a place RIGHTNOW and they like the neighborhood.  So they're coming on Thursday.  This house was nowhere NEAR ready to be shown, but I've been helping and I have to say the progress has been amazing.  It would still be nice to have more time, but hey, these families are desperate, right?  So hopefully one or both of them will like what they see and maybe I can say I helped my cousin sell her house.  So that's all very exciting, but it's also crazy stressful and has kept us all quite busy lately.  I'm happy to help, but omg it's exhausting.
 
Today, Lauren and I went to Ikea to buy some things to help stage their house -- new lampshades and white bath towels.  My one and only experience with Ikea was so fucking horrible I was ready to boycott the company forever and ever, but after today, I decided that experience was heavily clouded by my mental illness, and I think I'm going to give the place another chance.  Because holy shit they have a lot of stuff I want for my new place, and it's cheap!  So I'm thinking if I have any energy next week, I might spruce the place up with some cheap Swedish crap.  Only, not crap.  I need to talk to Trung about getting some more origami decorations, too.  I can't have anything alive in my place because I'm not home enough to keep it alive, but Trung's origami flowers are so pretty, I could decorate my whole house with them.  So I'm hoping I can get some more of those soon.  Facebook inquiry sent.
 
Tomorrow, I'm having lunch with one of my childhood heroes -- Jeffra Gausepohl was a star player at UVA back when I was a wee superfan, and now we're Facebook friends.  When she saw that I was near Philly, she invited me to meet her for lunch.  I am so excited, you guys.  I'm having lunch with Jeffra Gausepohl!  I seriously worshiped this woman as a child.  And I still think she's awesome so I'm really looking forward to this.  
 
That catches us up.  I fly back to Portland on Friday, and I'm pretty excited about that, too.  
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Meg

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