Monday thoughts

Last week dizzied me, left my brain as worn out as my arms after two hours of battling current at the Jetty.

I don’t write about work much for all the same reasons I don’t write about the intimacies of my marriage and the personal lives of my children: We live in a small town and inviting a certain type of judgment rarely goes well; creating entertainment out of my own flaws works for me, but using other people for discussion fodder becomes invasive. A certain audience hungry for local gossip exists, but I doubt the people who employ me would appreciate me sharing behind-the-scenes moments.

Of course, my main gig for the past year hasn’t been purely local – although in a way the work I’ve done has been the most important to the North Coast community. All this is a roundabout way of saying, I took a job a year ago that I knew would be politically loaded and personally challenging. Fighting for environmental protection has never been easy. Wanting to do it in such a way that avoided polarizing the community that I love being part of – well, that mattered greatly to me. Sure didn’t make things any easier; however, this past week, I managed to help get us to what I think is the best possible place we could be. It was huge. I’m pleased and so very grateful that everyone I work for is amazingly smart and supportive, and everyone I’ve been working with has been solid, decent people. I’ve learned so much over the past year, thrived on the new challenges and remain grateful to have somehow wound up in this position. (Dare I think all those years of hard work actually paid off?)

Here I am, 40 years old, a new chapter in my life unfolding – assuming I survive the next few years, that the teenagers don’t send me over the edge. If so, well, please come visit me. I’ll be the one in the courtyard, drooling. I put so much aside attempting to be a good mom. Like sleep. Finding fulfillment solely through the domestic scene didn’t quite happen, but I always made sure I was the person spending the most time with the kids. I worked early or worked late, balanced college classes against elementary school schedules. In a way, my maternal drive reawakened my personal ambition. I needed to be a good mom, which meant I had to be the kind of person I would want my kids to admire. I have done this in a very imperfect manner – hopefully they’ll remember the hard work and love, the fun we’ve had and that they had parents who always showed up.

So what comes next? My job seems more secure than expected, at least for a while yet. Where will it lead? When will I return to writing? It waits like a lover from long ago – jeez, that’s corny, plus I suddenly realized that with Facebook, no one’s ever really lost to the past any more. Maybe more like a faithful pet? Argos ever ready to greet Odysseus home? I read and read and read these days – an even better tool than booze to quiet my ever-buzzing brain – find myself still turned on by a twist of words, a beautiful phrase, a story so engrossing that the characters merge into my own memories more real than the real people I used to know. And I know I could do the same if I insisted on the time, found the discipline. I don’t need to write a novel now or even in the next few years, but I hold out that some chapter down the line does include that accomplishment.

I feel so hopeful today. I can trace a path through the decisions made, the sacrifices given, the small achievements, the ongoing struggles, the growing rewards – rocky terrain and disorienting detours along the journey, for sure, but pull back and from the larger perspective, I’ve moved ever upward. No hubris – god forbid I set myself up for a fall – clearly a long, long way to go yet – but I see where I’ve been and where I am and I have faith that I might still get to where I want to go.

(And on a where-am-I-going note: Taiwan in November. Crazy, yes?)

Vague and cliché? I am not sure this passes as good writing today, but today all I wanted was words on a page, shitty first draft as it may be.

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1 Comment

  1. You work so hard, Jennifer! And I’ve known you long enough to say that you’ve been working hard for a long time! Kids-family-career: you’re doing it all. I appreciate all the hard work you’ve done for the community too. It’s daunting, but if things get too tough, I might just have to meet you in that courtyard! I’ll bring a beach chair and we can drool together!

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