When love isn’t enough

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean…

It’s a strange feeling, almost an out of body experience, to see yourself as the quiet onlooker to a broken horizon. To be one of the people who has fought and pushed to help people be better, stronger – and then to feel helpless.

Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens…

So what do you do when your hope isn’t enough? When your love isn’t enough to help? How do you break through that numb feeling that washes over you? It’s dumbfounding.

Give faith a fighting chance…

It’s painful to have your heart be so full of emotion, of promise, of passion for someone who can’t see what you see. When the faith that you have, the hope that you see, is slashed by negativity that moonlights as someone else’s logic and reality. It’s not real at all, and it’s certainly not logical. Sadness is as much an emotion as faith and hope.

When you get the choice to sit it out or dance…

So where do we go from here? Someone once told me that faith and joy are the grease that makes the world run more smoothly. But somehow I’m tempted to target faith and joy as the culprits to my frustration. While that’s not at all true, I’m still left wanting. I’m still here standing as the onlooker, feeling completely powerless.

I hope you dance.

I hope you dance, sweet girl. I hope you dance.

Stream of Consciousness: sleepless nights

There’s a knot in my stomach and another in my throat. This bed is too big.
Too many thoughts are running through my head and this room feels like a black hole.
It’s that time again – that part of the semester when everyone is falling apart. When considerate phone etiquette gives way to 12:30am text messages and people would rather do shots together than speak to each other.
Are we ever going to build this house? Will I be here to see it through?
I’m six days away from my 29th birthday and somehow I feel just as unsure of myself as if this was that 24th surprise party all over again.

Deep breath.

the void

There’s no one waiting for my in the window to greet me when I come home. No paws click-clacking on the hardwood. No noses nudging me awake. No tails knocking against walls and windows.

It is so quiet now. Without having to meet the needs of another life form I find myself remaining in downtown and packing my evenings. I get home so late; I haven’t walked through my door before 9:45p since he died. Reaffirming the change, as if that was necessary, is the reminder that he’s not there to greet me after a long day. Thats really hard.

I consider myself a pretty strong woman. I’ve had more than my fair share of love and loss in my 28 years. But this hurts differently. I knew every part of him. I could tell if he had a stomach ache just by the way he carried himself. We had a schedule. He loved me every day and I had so much fun just being around him. My companion is gone and it wasn’t my choice and it was out of my control and I want him to come back. And everyday I’m reminded that he can’t come back when I walk up to my dark and empty window.

On Tuesday I’m supposed to get his ashes back. I’ve never understood cremation. The first time I encountered it was when my maternal grandfather died. Suddenly my steadfast, strong, noble grandfather who was exceedingly tall in stature and standard was contained in a brown plastic box with a public health certificate taped to it. This was mind boggling to me. How could a person who lived such a full life possibly be reduced to fit in a container and carried around in a craft paper bag? What? It still doesn’t make sense to me and I wish I had a place to go and physically be near him.

I didn’t appreciate his gravitas as a kid. He was a grouch who liked baseball, the stock market, and was set on my brother and I being skillful and respectful. We were rarely both, which only reinforced his grouchiness. Nevertheless, he showed up to football games and parades, supporting us in ways unseen and under-appreciated. He was the foundation that made our successes possible. His quiet love became so much more apparent as I grew older. So often I find myself missing his side glances and wishing I could just sit in my spot in the living room, next to the hearth – three feet from the tv, and be in his presence again. Maybe then I’d feel more assured or comforted. Right now I feel neither.

He would’ve been 91 next week, and only the Lord knows how crotchety his age has made him. He didn’t share much about his past with us kids, but tonight I learned about his Navy service. Turns out that my brother was following in Grandpa J’s footsteps when he pursued HVAC. Unknown to any of us, he was trained in HVAC – was his job aboard the USS Aucilla. He really was fundamental to who we became; Matt stands on his shoulders and has an incredibly successful career. I’m now more convinced that is part of my grandfather’s legacy. He’s been gone since November 2007 and I’d give my right arm to have breakfast with him again.

I know I have to just let myself feel this voided space. This hole. I know that it won’t ever be filled in completely. But as far as I can tell, this crater is as big as the one that killed off the dinosaurs.

“This is a song for anyone
With a broken heart
This is a song for anyone
Who can’t get out of bed
I’ll do anything
To be happy
Oh, ’cause blue skies are calling
But I know that it’s hard
This is the last song that I write
While still in love with you
This is the last song that I write
While you’re even on my mind
Cause it’s time to leave
Those feelings behind
Oh, ’cause blue skies are calling
But I know that it’s hard
I don’t think that it’s the end
But I know we can’t keep going
I don’t think that it’s the end
But I know we can’t keep going
But blue skies are calling
Oh, yeah, blue skies are calling
Oh, blue skies are calling
But I know that it’s hard”
– blue skies. noah and the whale.

Stream of Consciousness: insomnia

Transition. Tears. Union Square.
Susan died.
Fight. Flight.
“Serial” binge listening down the 101.
Winston’s first hotel room in Santa Barbara.
Our fifth Christmas with gluten free banana bread at Finch & Fork and a renewed commitment to each other.
Citrus groves, Grapevines, Valley fog and frost.
French toast casserole and a wrapping paper fight.
Giggles, tickles, and my favorite five year old.
Snowpack and clear skies. Open roads. Still needing an adventure.

love languages


I’m learning a lot about love languages right now. Talk about a crash course…whew. As I process my feelings, I have the blessed opportunity to be part of a community that also has very strong feelings about my transition. Some react with kindness and words of affirmation. Some don’t speak and instead prefer a hug (affection/personal touch). Others wallow a bit, upset about their loss of me (loss of quality time). A few have asked how they can help (personal services). Today, I received the last language: gifts – both emotional and tangible. I am so thankful for my friends who took the time to share their well wishes and memories with me today. That was certainly a gift. I hope that I can respond in kind.

For the last month I’ve been losing sleep over the Housing Impact Fee. Two years of work on behalf of working families, the elderly, younger generations…all squashed into a quickly changing public affairs strategy with a political climate that is changing faster than the polar ice field. We did it right. Our policy position is founded in data and addresses adverse impacts. We worked closely with all stakeholders – even ones that we were categorically opposed to based on the premise. We worked with them even when their advocacy made me feel like I was in a human vice. I know we did it right because at the end of it all, ours is the only position that both the advocates and the developers agree with. The only one that brought two opposing groups together. This is the kind of work that a Mayor is supposed to do – and instead, we did it. We did. And when we were done with the last major policy position I will work on for the City of San Jose, we went for drinks. Sad, celebratory, ceremonial drinks, which were really only a vehicle to stay in fellowship for a few more moments.

The policy process – all two years of it – was a gift. The advocacy exercise was a gift. The final product was a gift. The fellowship was a gift. Hopefully the outcome on Tuesday will be a gift for generations of people chasing their dreams in this place.

I spent the rest of the night with my girls. In a group text that drained my cell phone of every ounce of life today, we realized that we were all having very strange days. So for drinks and sushi and cupcakes we went. That was a gift.

When I came home I found an amazon package with a new book, a google shopping express envelope with pup treats and a bag of dog food, all from the Warrior prince.  Those were pretty heartwarming, tangible gifts.

Feeling lots and lots of feelings right now, as outlined in the beginning of this post. Those are gifts too.
And I am blessed.

“There are ways in, journeys to the center of life, through time; through air, matter, dream and thought. The ways are not always mapped or charted, but sometimes being lost, if there is such a thing, is the sweetest place to be. And always, in this search, a person might find that she is already there, at the center of the world. It may be a broken world, but it is glorious nonetheless.”
― Linda Hogan, The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir

Terminal N

Down two flights of stairs, a ride around the airporter, and a dosey-do around the Starbucks and the Seahawks bar depending on your gate. You can choose between Starbucks and Burger King coffee, get a massage or a manicure, and no matter where you go you’ll never be out of sight of blue, lime green or a Seahawks logo.

Terminal N is much more familiar to me at the end of 2014 than I ever imagined it would be at the end of 2013. And here I am, sitting through my 16th pre-flight sequence of the year, wishing I was on the ground. I love traveling. I love flying. I think I love traveling partially because it usually involves flying. I love airports. And luggage. And while I could do without the germs and the pressure of packing, I especially love sunrise and sunset flights.

But tonight the beauty of the lights is no match for my desire to be comfortably connected to the earth. I’m not even completely committed to where I would like to be, but the stomach churning g-forces are far too inline with life’s transition. (Also, I’m tired of crying and I’d like to wash my face.)

Without question, this was an amazing trip. Dinner at Purple, the Seattle Symphony (better than the SF Symphony), cooking with Nik, exploring the Base and Olympia. Today we went on this beautiful hike along the waterfront at University Place. Small coffee shops and errands and exploring the Commissary (no taxes!). But when will that luster fade? When will this turn into a repeat of our past and my friends say “I told you so” – when will my cynical self say I told you so?

Or has each of us grown up enough to have the relationship we set out to have? One of our biggest issues has always been that we both have led big lives, with little room for each other. And now, can we intertwine those lives? Can I let him in? We always joked that we knew how to be married but couldn’t figure out dating. How much longer with those ties bind? Or, will he get shipped off to Afghanistan as soon as we fall into our rhythm?

Regardless, I’m moving to the state of Washington in January. It’s happening. I need to stop being afraid of this and start preparing for it. Renting, moving, packing, applying. Most importantly, planning my going away party.

This begins tomorrow. I’m counting on my memorial trip to the beach to set me on that path. I simultaneously can and can’t believe that Wednesday will mark eight years without my grandfather. Eight. It seems like a lifetime ago, but when I think about those final moments, it still hurts like it was yesterday. Nonetheless, Grandpa J wouldn’t have much empathy for this cloud I’ve allowed myself to be sucked into. He’d expect his granddaughter to have her plans thought out, documented, operationalized. I’m exceptionally thankful that even eight years later he can still set me straight.

Today, I’d much rather have my feet on the ground instead of sailing 30,000 feet above the twinkling lights.


Today is “Marooned without a Compass Day” according to JeanGrab.
In response to this occasion, I simply replied, “this is fitting.”
She said, “You may get distracted, but you don’t get lost.”

I formally resigned from Gamma Iota’s CAB yesterday. Sent it out to anyone and everyone up and down the sorority food chain who would’ve been otherwise offended at their omission. I charted this path weeks ago, but the growing lump in the pit of my stomach had prevented me from sitting down to and hitting send.

My hesitation was well founded. I immediately got a barrage of text messages from an otherwise loving sister, devastated by my decision. So self-involved in her own discomfort, she couldn’t see that I was quietly crying at my desk as I let the third largest part of my identity go. That this is hard for me.

On the flip side, my National advisor immediately emailed back asking if I wanted to join UW or WSU’s CAB, and did I want to stay at her home over the weekend while I was visiting? National HQ staff have responded with love and praise, none of which was requested, or even deserved as far as I can tell. I guess all I want is to know that in my three years with our women, I didn’t screw up too badly.

So often I lacked vision. So often I made decisions founded only in my gut reaction and commitment to the development of college-age women and not in rules or procedures. So often I looked over my shoulder wondering if I was doing okay and whether those women were going to look back at their time as a collegiate and smile, or whether they would have the same disdain for their advisor that I did.

I think the sadness is a distraction. I know I’m not lost. This isn’t a made for tv movie where I’m supposed to be the sad tragic martyr needing saving. I know where I am and who I am and where I’m going. But it’s still hard. Looking forward to next Tuesday at the beach, spending a moment in the sun with Grandpa J. Missing him especially much right now.


they call me annie

The last week has really grounded me in the faith and lessons of my upbringing. The good natured, loving, hard working, humble lessons that one learns in a town of 3,612 people who all have the right to discipline you or call your mother and let her do the job.

It got cold this week. Walking Winston early one morning I was reminded of the early morning feedings at the farm; the smell of wet dirt and damp hay, the bleating of hungry sheep, the squealing swine who knew the sound of the combination lock being opened. Our night walks reminded me of soccer practice: cold air with just enough moisture to penetrate the outer layer of clothing and force your hands in your pockets.

I miss agriculture. A lot. And fresh air. And humble, hard working, salt of the earth people who honor their heritage by carrying on the traditions of generations. I miss the Friday night lights and parades. I miss the crappy hot chocolate at FHS basketball games.

I had breakfast with a wonderful old friend this morning. Perfection. I saw Joe at Jodi & Steven’s wedding, but before that I hadn’t seen him in years. Somehow we just existed in the same space without ever crossing paths. Last week while on the train back to the Valley I was thinking of the trips we took from the Bay back home. Best carpool ever. As we talked about our lives, catching up over a wonderfully gluten free breakfast (thanks Hobee’s Mountain View!) he said, “I had a choice to make, so I made it.” He didn’t realize how much that spoke to me. I saw his new place, we talked about struggles, there was a long hug and a promise to not let so much time lapse before the next occasion.

My first real crush was a boy who wore his socks under his shinguards on our soccer team. He wrote only in cursive and was a beautiful musician. He was quirky and funny and quiet and very good at multiplication tables. He’s still one of my closest male friends. My Didi. He’s got a few music videos out now and it’s been a really neat experience to support him in this journey. Hard to pick one song – though I relate most to “Making the Best of It” – especially as I contemplate a move back to the Valley.

Here’s hoping for a strong Midterm result – especially in CD 21. Certainly would give me something wonderful to look forward to.