the quiet life

Oh hello! It’s been a while. I’ve kinda gently pulled away from social media, in the sense that I don’t get the dopamine hit from documenting my life and putting it in the public domain the way I used to. That said, I think I might look back someday and miss reading about my life as it was during this time, so here’s what’s new.

I’ve hesitated to write in depth for several reasons, first and foremost, the kids. They are their own people now, no longer helpless toddlers, and I don’t like to talk about them out of turn. I usually make a point of asking them if it’s alright if I post a photo or story online, and spilling more personal details about their lives, which are still so entwined with mine, feels like a breach of privacy. I will say I have the best kids a mom could ask for, and they continue to grow too fast for my liking. This fall I’ll be parent to a high schooler and a middle schooler, and I have a feeling the next six years will flyyyyyy.

Then there’s work, which takes up a good portion of my time, and writing about it here isn’t super interesting to me. I do enough writing about work while I’m at work. 😅 But on a personal level I enjoy the work itself, and my team is, as always, a fantastic group of people. It’s the first time since I joined Automattic that there are no other women on my team. I’ve been pretty insulated from the traditional gender-balance-in-tech issue until now, and there are times when I miss having others “like me” in the mix. But after a fun team meeting in Panama City early this spring, it’s mostly a non-issue. The guys I work with are great humans, and our team dynamic is helpful and kind, and that’s the most important thing.

After work and family comes…me? What do I do with my spare time? Well, I’m pretty boring right now. This latest season has been quiet, self reflective, that of a middle-aged white woman. I haven’t painted for a few months, and though I’ve been tempted to pick up a brush, I’m letting it sit for a while longer. I was feeling really uninspired and bored with my usual fare of flowers and abstracts, and I’m learning to be ok with not letting the things I make define my worth. I am allowed to not make. I am allowed to just be, as I am, and that is enough.

Last summer I read Tricia Hersey’s amazing book Rest is Resistance and the concepts have bounced around in my brain for the last several months. As I said, I’ve stepped back from social media to a degree. I try not to feel guilty for resting when I want to. I’m trying to see capitalism’s tenets hidden in my view of the world and seeing what things I want to keep and what I can let go of.

To turn that thought on its head, we’re spending a lot of $$$ on the house this year. Last year was a year of travel, this year is the year of home renovations. We dropped a buttload of cash to have exterminators do a full audit to see where the squirrels and mice were getting in, and to handle the cluster flies and lady beetles that have plagued the house (mostly my office) for years. As a born-and-raised country girl, I like to think my tolerance for critters is pretty high. We’ve had seasons where we’ve trapped upwards of 30 mice and it didn’t faze me. The cluster flies used to be manageable with daily vacuuming, so we bought robot vacuums for the worst areas. But the lady beetles have been awful, to the point where my office became unusable for 3-4 months out of the year. If I didn’t vacuum daily, I’d fill up the canister with smelly bugs. Then the squirrels escalated from basement-and-attic dwelling to shitting on our kitchen table with abandon. So we called in the pros, and now my office is bug free, with fresh insulation in the attic space above it, and there’s steel mesh surrounding the foundation with special foam in all the cracks. Hopefully that takes care of the pesky pest problem for a while.

While we were taking out a loan on my 401k for the pest remediation, we decided to take out extra to redo the flooring upstairs. Most of the linoleum was installed when I was five, and the carpet in our bedroom has been a lost cause since six months after it was installed, when a bad roof leak soaked and trashed a chunk of it. That was ten years ago, and we’ve been living with half subfloor, half carpet ever since. The cats have done an excellent job ensuring every part of what remains has been puked on at least once, and last year Pippen took special consideration with a spot near the closet and dubbed it his personal pee corner (gotta love a good enzyme cleaner, amirite?) So I will be more than happy to replace all the so-called flooring with vinyl plank “hardwood” that can be flooded and puked on til kingdom come without staining or warping.

Travel for work has also picked up. There was the aforementioned trip to Panama City, and now I have additional trips to Lima, Peru and Munich, Germany in the calendar, followed by a personal trip to Cancun for a family wedding next spring. I’m looking forward to exploring new parts of the world, less so the act of actually getting there. Travel always reminds me of how much I love my little house in the woods.

What else? It’s summer in theory, though it’s been mostly cold and rainy so far. We bought a camper this spring and haven’t taken it out once because here in Maine, it hasn’t stopped raining since April. Sorry everyone, our bad. But I have been slowly putting together camping gear so we can spend a bit of time on the coast or PEI. I have a virtual stack of audiobooks ready to go when we can finally pack up and take our little trailer on the road, hopefully sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I’ve been soaking up the local summer festivities with the kids. We spent a lovely long weekend with my brother and SIL, took a day trip to Bangor for Pride, watched the fireworks and did some shopping at our town’s Midnight Madness celebration, picked fresh strawberries at a local farm, and enjoyed a family dinner with Mom’s homemade strawberry shortcake on the fourth. Again, quiet things for quiet times.

But really, I’m spending a lot of time in my own head these days. I’m thinking…

I’m thinking about climate change and my kids’ future, about floods and fires and that I should learn to be ok with not having grandchildren because I don’t want them to grow up in a world that is burning. Or maybe I just finished reading a novel about that (The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton, very good!) and it hit too close to home.

I’m thinking about the division of household labor and emotional labor and how things have shifted since Tim went back to work and was promoted to manager and I started working a reduced schedule. We’re still trying to find the balance.

I’m thinking about privilege, and fatness, and whiteness, and wealth.

I’m thinking about the recent interest in AI and putting on my skeptical face and really feeling Sonya Renee Taylor’s take on the whole thing.

I’m thinking I should really move my 🍑 more but it’s either too hot or too rainy or too something else and yes I realize those are all excuses and I don’t care. 🫠 🤷🏻‍♀️

I’m thinking I think too much! So I’ll leave you with this photo of me and my new favorite mug, gifted to me by my husband, the guy who knows me all too well, my own personal Pedro Pascal.

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