I got the job!

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-portrait-shocked-young-businesswoman-head-hands-white-background-image29844267Just when I had given up hope and was settling in to a warm acceptance of the alternative, I got the call with a job offer.

The waiting was maddening, thanks to two very different possible outcomes for our lives in the next few years.  I was excited about the prospect of us moving to Oregon.  I started making contacts, and we were looking for a house.  The job search for me was kind of lacking, but there was a possibility that I was going to be able to put full-time effort into my writing.

But when I got the call, I had to say yes.  The thrill about the job offer is not just because the company is something of a rock-star in the industry, but because long-term it makes sense.  You might not know it but I have had a lot of setbacks in my career.  This one role will go a long way toward making a whole bunch of goals possible.

All this is why S has been so supportive.   Really love that man.  He is keeping his chin up and we are staying in Bay Area another year.  I think I am going to owe him big.  He deserves it.  I really love that man.

Photo from Alan Cleaver

Photo from Alan Cleaver

I wrote previously about how we were moving to Oregon this summer.  Now things are not so certain.  My job prospects in Oregon are not fabulous, but my husband has an offer that is perfect: work he wants to be doing, perks he is excited about, and pay that makes financial sense for us.

Then I got a request for an interview for a job here in the SF Bay Area.  I applied to a really great job at a firm whose work I admire.  I applied because I was mostly qualified, but since I lack direct experience in the industry, I wasn’t counting on a response.  Hearing back from them was excellent news.  If I get this position it will be the most positive forward step my career has ever taken.

The interview went really well.  After meeting my potential manager and other management in the office, I am more excited about the position than ever.  The scope of the work is intense but thrilling with possibilities.  I am really hopeful about the job.  It must have gone well, they asked for my references.  So now, I wait.

S has been taking the whole thing rather well.  He has told me he will turn down his job offer in OR if I get the job here.  Logically it makes sense.  It would be an incredible opportunity for me, one I am not likely to find in Oregon at this point in time.  Staying does not mean a setback for his career, but it means S giving up a really great thing.  It also means waiting even longer to buy a house, since housing costs are so much higher here in the SF Bay.

As I wait to find out what will happen, S has been there cheering me on, despite the reservations I know he must be feeling.  He has already made it clear that he would make that sacrifice for my benefit.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love him for it.  I can’t even begin to think of how to repay him for his purple-heart sense of partnership.

In the mean-time I am still waiting to find out what will happen.  I am trying to limit the number of times I check my email, waiting for that fabulous job offer.  I am trying not to overwhelm my love with reminders about how excited I am at the possibility of staying, when he is still mourning the possibility of not going anywhere.  I am mostly just waiting.

Waiting makes me crazy.

If you missed it, Part One is here.

Gardens were another theme of our visit to Oregon. In Portland we visited the Japanese Garden.  Sadly, the Maples were only budded twisting branches this early in the season, but there were plentiful blossoms on flowering plum and other kinds of trees in a spring frenzy.  It was appropriate as we visited on Easter Sunday.

Portland Japanese Garden

Portland Japanese Garden

The garden was beautiful and rambling, if a bit difficult for wheelchair or stroller access.  There were plenty of the narrow meditation paths set like a trail of ellipses across the grassy lawns.  These walks are meant as a series of stepping-stones controlling your rhythm as you move throughout the garden.

One of my favorite parts of the Japanese Garden was the Zen Garden. It was the walled and there were no plants growing inside, just carefully places stones like islands in the Japanese sea of delicately raked white gravel. The form of these gardens is iconic of Japanese garden design. You can even purchase Zen Gardens in tiny form for your work desk. I used to think they were silly , but I have decided a little garden is better than no garden at all. We all do what we can.

In learning about Japanese Gardens during a Landscape Architecture History course I was always drawn more to the gardens filled with plants instead of the spare Zen Gardens and the later Modern rock gardens they inspired. However, the experience of this space was far different from what I expected.  I expected quiet, but there is a peace in the zen garden that can only be understood by experience.

S and I sat on a bench at the edge of things. The zen garden wasn’t silent and empty as the design was intended. People came in and out. A couple chased their toddler away from the edge of the gravel. K stalked about, evaluating what he saw as a potential parkour space. My sister-in-law took the photos while her husband chased their toddler. Despite the movement of a dozen people, it felt still. It was shady and cool. A breeze flowed up over the ceramic tiles that roofed the top of the surrounding wall.

I was wrong about Zen Gardens in a way you cannot learn from a picture, which is just as well since I forgot to take any photos in my zen-like state.  Just trust me that you need to visit the Garden on your own.

Later, we visited the Chinese Garden in downtown Portland. The Chinese Dragons guarding the entrance certainly didn’t clue us in to what was inside. They were the silent guardians of the treasure.  This garden was a complex of structures connected by walkways settled around the borders of a small pond. It was a fairly typical setup for a Chinese Garden, but who knew there was a pond in the middle of downtown Portland?

Portland Chinese Garden

Portland Chinese Garden

The path around the garden was a complimentary contrast of rectilinear lines and angles around the sloping borders of the pond like carefully chosen phrases, with specimen plants as punctuation in the sonnet to serenity.  The walk was paved with complex mosaic of river stones set on edge and worked into floral patterns. I took off my shoes to feel the cool pebbles against my feet. Following the path turned me left and then straight, revealing each facet of the garden in sequence.

K lounging at the Portland Chinese Garden

A complex of tea rooms, protected arcades and courtyards with moon gates were lovely stops along a path with no real destination. In a garden the size of a city block, the journey could have taken days. S said he could live there. I imagine waking up and walking out to sit in the pavilion with warming drink in hand while I watch the koi wind circles under the water. Yes. Yes, I think I could certainly live there, too.

The weather had turned rainy by the last half of our vacation. It made it impossible to spend much time out of the car, but we still managed to see some countryside. The McKenzie River was just as spectacular cradled in banks still wet from rain, and the mossy forested areas seemed natural seen through the water coated window panes of the car as we wandered.

We stopped by the Gordon House in Silverton. It is a small single family home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright late in his career. The house was closed so we weren’t able to take a tour. The notable Oregon Gardens next door were also closed and the rain was too heavy for garden strolling anyway. We walked around the Gordon House in a bit of a hurry, looking into windows and standing for a while on the red stained concrete patio. I was in love with the series of extra tall French doors inset with glass that ran along the length of the patio opening up the main living space with the outside. The red concrete ran under those doors into the living room as well.

Gordon House

K in front of the Gordon House outside of Silverton

We stumbled on a few more little gems without looking for them. Driving out toward the coast we ran across the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, the current home of the Spruce Goose. What? Yeah, we were driving one day and ran across the resting place of the largest plane in history. The museum was beautifully designed and full of fascinating stuff, but we decided to save our entrance dollars for when we had more time to really appreciate it. We are really excited to go back.

Later on we ran into a small little town called Mt. Angel as we were driving north from Eugene on our way back to Portland. Throw down a little bit of cobblestone in place of the asphalt, and you could believe you were somewhere in Bavaria. Founded by Swiss Benedictine monks and then settled by a large group of Bavarian immigrants, the German influence of this town in not subtle. We arrived too late to catch the German bakery before it closed, so we ordered desserts to-go from the restaurant under the glockenspiel. No doubt we will be back for another visit to this cute place, maybe for their impressive Oktoberfest this fall.

There is a good chance we will be there this fall. Before we had even left for our vacation S had reached out toward the possibility of finding a job in Oregon.  The response was good and he spent several hours in job interviews while we were in Oregon.

Interviews went well, and job offers followed us home.  All things considered we would be daft not to accept.  So now Spring Vacation is flowing into Summer Relocation.  Soon we will be going home to our vacation.

Ever since I have known my husband he has practically waxed poetic about his time living in Oregon on a quiet road alongside the McKenzie river. My brother-in-law and his wife also lived there, and dream fondly of the homestead they hope to create in Oregon one day again soon.

Until recently, I had never really been to Oregon. I visited Ashland for the Shakespearean Festival once several years ago, watching plays and strolling shops downtown. It was an enjoyable time spent across the state line, ending in an unpleasant dose of reality as I was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol officer waiting just this side of a speed limit change. Whoops.

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

Even so, I was informed my overnight trip just over the border didn’t count. So, partly in order to educate me about the “Oregon Experience” and partly because the longing had finally reached an undeniable peak in my traveling companions, we decided to visit the Beaver State. So it was that the four of us, with a teen and a toddler, made plans for Spring Break amid the rivers and trees of the Pacific Northwest.

We arrived early in the morning on a Friday, still bleary eyed and swearing to ourselves we would just pay more for a later flight next time.  (We say that every time we fly but when you multiply flights by three, the costs add up.)  I knew something was different as soon as we arrived at the Portland airport.  Everywhere I looked there was some version of a guy with a flannel shirt and shaggy hair poking out around a beanie.  It was like they were trying to ease you into the Oregon stereotype before you even left the airport.  Or maybe they were departing, spreading the Pacific Midwestery far and wide.  I’m not sure what was really up, but in my sleep deprived state I found it charming and amusing.

We had a few hours to kill before my brother and sister-in-law would arrive with their two year old son, so the three of us picked up the mini-van rental and went for breakfast at a diner nearby.  It was the same as any number of diners in small towns throughout the country, but we were happy to be there.  Our waitress noted the weather, as waitresses are often wont to do. She seemed to think the weather was endeavoring to put up a good impression for our benefit. We were inclined to agree.

The weather was fine. Not fine in the way of California day where the sunshine is a given.  This was nice in an easy way.  A little bit of cloud cover made it easy on my California acclimated eyes, but the warmth filtering through was a nice contrast with a slightly chill morning breeze.  S and I were both grinning rather stupidly.  “Oregon is my happy place,” he said. I wasn’t prepared to argue one bit.

The first half of our vacation we spent based in Portland, in an Airbnb rental home with two bedrooms and a highly curated mid-century modern eclectic style. The decor really wasn’t my style, but the sheer intention that seemingly went in to it was rather inspiring.

I’d assumed Portland was very artsy from what little I knew of it, and what I saw in our wanderings just confirmed it for me. There is a lot in Portland to be inspired by. My sis-in-law is a very talented designer in her own right, and she was feeling it too. Portland was like a crazy quilt of small towns sewn together at the fringes, complete with downtown walks with artsy shops and cute cafés.

We had fun with the food.  An active toddler in the group made leisurely restaurant meals tricksy so we worked around it by utilizing the kitchen in our vacation rental for prepping some meals and snacks for the road. Even drive-thru yielded some acceptable options when the same old packed crackers and cheese became too much. Burgerville had a decent wild Alaskan salmon  salad (albeit canned) and the scent of rosemary from their French fries with aioli was too much for my hungry heart to resist. I am such a sucker for rosemary, really.

I was pretty amazed by the gluten-free options in Portland proper. Of course we had to eat something out of a truck while we were in Portland. We wanted the whole experience. I found a Paleo food truck with bone broth and coconut flour breaded chicken fingers. The bacon-wrapped, almond-stuffed dates were so tasty I recreated the appetizer at home later. At another point during the wandering, I bought a gluten-free chocolate cupcake made with black beans and topped in frosting with a hint of peanut butter. It was fabulous. I shared it a bit with everyone but my bro-in-law didn’t seem interested in trying a cupcake made of black beans.  I wasn’t offended.  More for me.

A friend of mine commented via Facebook, “Eat aaaalllllll the horrible junk foods” and I didn’t know what that meant at first since it seemed so much easier to do right by my digestive system in Portland than usual while traveling. But I am ashamed to admit, I did give in to the gluten eventually. I quickly learned firsthand how sinful it could be. I really should not have, I paid the consequences later in symptoms returning.

Sea Lion Caves

Outside the Sea Lion Caves near Florence

Like the line in front of a swanky nightclub, the line in front of Voodoo doughnuts was long and roped off with pink divider straps. My sister-in-law and I surfed the Voodoo doughnuts website from our smartphones as we stood in line for hints about what the hype was about. The inside of the bakery smelled like sweet vanilla icing overlaid with strong hints of bacon from the bacon-topped maple-glazed breakfast doughnut being prepped. Aside from the breakfast doughnut, there was a surprising array of colorful options along with some naughty variations on the old standbys. Let me just say, this doughnut shop is not for the easily offended.

I thought the most fun were the doughnuts with sugar breakfast cereals on top. Remember that misfit teen girl’s lunch in The Breakfast Club?  She put cold cereal on white bread and called it a sandwich.  Gross, but I can understand the combination.  The combination of crunchy and chewy textures has always been a favorite of mine.  In the past I’d been satisfied to get that same effect by putting chips on my sandwiches. In the past it was tortilla chips on tuna fish with sprouts. But the type of sandwich isn’t really what matters. Its the textural interplay. The cereal doughnuts from Voodoo really hit it spot-on.  If I can figure out how to get that same mouth feel without gluten, well, I’ll be satisfied for life.

It wasn’t all doughnuts, luckily. When we finally left Portland and headed out to the coast we started onto somewhat of a half-hearted search for crab that took us into a diner-style seafood restaurant that was more fish and chips than cracked crab. The next couple of attempts for crab were closed, or only had live crab for taking home. S threw out a wild suggestion about purchasing a pot for boiling in our hotel room. I’m afraid I had to rain quite soundly on that parade.

Instead we found ourselves as the next to last patrons in a Korean BBQ somewhere in Eugene. The offerings turned out to be quite satisfactory. We have plenty of Korean food in the SF Bay Area, but I still think about that lovely spicy Kimchee Pork dish that was rejected by the rest of the group. It was vibrant with a thick sauce of red chilies and practically smoked on the plate. Ah well. More for me!

In my opinion the food experience in Oregon culminated with a particular plate of pancakes. They were fluffy and golden and covered in melted butter. And they were gluten free. I did not believe it at first. Or even after I asked the waitress “Are you sure these are gluten-free????” There was still a lingering doubt in my mind even after they wrote the brand name on a card and sent me off to find my own pancake mix. A random diner in Eugene could not possibly have pancakes that looked and tasted that much like the wheat versions, could they? I left amazed and planning to find this brand of mix and test it for myself. My gluten-free diner pancakes looked even more commercial worthy that S’ regular wheat pancakes did that day.

Oregon Vacation – Part Two

For all my intentions of posting regularly, a mild freak health crisis threw me for a loop last month.  Allergy season started early here. I blame  Punxsutawny Phil.  The groundhog didn’t see his shadow and doomed us to an early spring.  Although I do love spring dearly and without restraint, I also can become quite cranky in a hay-fever rage.  This early there were no obvious flowers in sight, but the grasses were doing their thing. My itchy eyes told me so.
Photo from Mafleen

Photo from Mafleen

Eating dinner one night I chipped a tooth on a stray peppercorn.  The afflicted tooth was a wisdom tooth on the bottom with a large cavity at the edge of an old filling.  It needed some attention anyway.  I called the dentist and since it wasn’t an emergency, I made an appointment for later the following week.

A couple of nights later I woke up at 2 am with the most painful earache ever in my life.  To put it in perspective, this earache was among the top three most painful experiences in my life.  (One of the other two was non medicated childbirth).  I am not bragging, just trying not to leave you with the impression that I am a baby. (I know you’re thinking, earache? What are you, two?)

I got out of bed to make myself a warm compress, but moving my head away from perfectly upright sent sharp fire needles into my brain. S woke to the sound and found me in the kitchen, alternately whimpering and howling for pain like a kicked dog.  He was insisting we go to the emergency room.  For a second that seemed unnecessary. Emergency room for an earache, ridiculous!  But shaking my head no caused a crackling of fire needles so I was prepared to agree to anything.  S made me a warm compress and gave me ibuprofen.

The combination of the heat and pain-killers was enough to take the edge off so we never went to the emergency room.  S didn’t want me to sit for hours in pain and I just wanted to go back to sleep once the worst was over.  I felt as if I had been wrung out like a dish rag.

The next day, I consulted my doctor.  I started consulting with a holistic MD for some hormonal and digestive problems and I was on the GAPS diet (imperfectly) for gut healing based on his recommendation.  So when the doctor said I needed antibiotics I took the recommendation seriously, if not without trepidation.  Antibiotics really mess with my digestive system, so taking them meant weeks to full recovery.

The Urgent Care doctor I visited for the prescription looked in my ear and said, “Oh, wow! That is the most swollen eardrum I have ever seen.  At least, my husband told me this is what she said.  By then I couldn’t hear much on the left side.  I started the antibiotics that day, a slightly stronger version of the typical scrip given to two-year-old children with earache.

The medicine did not keep my eardrum from rupturing.  I woke the next morning with a stained pillow and an ear full of dried blood.  A follow-up look showed that while my ear drum had broken open, it was closed again, pressure relieved, and healing.  I was mending.  Now I just needed to see the dentist for that broken tooth that was getting a little sore.

I was still on antibiotics when the dentist pulled both wisdom teeth on the side with the chip. My gums were very swollen around the broken side. It seems that the swelling combined with the inflammatory effects of allergies had created a nice recipe for a blocked Eustachian tube.

It isn’t as though I start examining my karma every time I get a cold, but I started to really think about my feelings during this episode of cranial discomfort.  It was a relief to conclude this experience was the logical combination of events and not a sign that the earache cure of my childhood was no longer effective.  I suffered from frequent severe earaches as a child until I had a single session of an alternative therapy after which I never had another ear infection again until last month.  I was afraid this current struggling meant something was going on in my head that was bigger than what antibiotics could fix.

If anything, the period of close examination and physical healing just made me incredibly grateful for what I have.  I have more emotional stability than ever thanks to loving relationships.  My health is steadily improving.  The flowers may not be heralding the seasonal change yet, but the groundhog has promised.  So I will keep watch for blossoms to satisfy more than one itch in my eyes.


photo from stealingsand

I’ve been meaning to start writing again, but I have been at a loss for how to start.  Much has changed in the last several years since I wrote as a way of processing my coming of age.  I wanted my blog to be lighter, with more focus than it did in the past.  The blog name, Creative Disarray, still appeals to me.  When I first chose it I saw it as finding “meaning in the mess” of life, and as a way of honoring the chaos from which all things good or bad must be created.  I made a mistake, though.  I saw this chaos as a state from which, with practice, I would one day burst out whole and complete and perfect, my ideal self.  I realize now how naive that idea really was.  I was so focused on “enjoying the journey” that I didn’t even notice the journey at all!  I am sure I will make this mistake again.  I guess that is the point of this blog now; about finding peace in the mistakes in addition to the successes.

I’ve often remarked at how little resonance I feel with my younger self.  The child I was and the teenager I became as a result made choices I did not understand looking back as a developing adult.  I felt like who I was becoming in my twenties was completely removed from my teenage self, like remembering being different persons.  Perhaps I have come full circle.  I realize now I am the same person I was all along.  I accept I am those contradictions.  Today is my birthday, a fitting day to start new things,  Also a day to realize there are no real beginnings, only markers of change on an ever spinning cycle.

I was stuck about how to make my blog make sense.  I didn’t want to be vague and philosophical as I have in the past.  I wanted to express something of what I have gained in knowledge in the last few years since I stopped regularly writing.  I wanted to share a bit of what attracts me to some of the blogs I have started reading of late (mostly foodie lifestyle related, I’ll admit).  I wanted a theme, but that goal has worked against me.  I love art, design, architecture, cooking somewhat but food more so, connecting with people, being alone, reading fantasy fiction and exploring topics of human health and biology.  I can see connections between all of these things but this blog will not focus only on those connections.  So I guess the mix of subjects you’ve gotten here in the past is what you’ll get, only with more pictures and maybe some actual recipes or articles.  I am okay with that.  I hope you are too.

I am not even remotely afraid to turn 30, but the steady approach of that milestone day by day has gave me much to think about over the past year since I spilled my thoughts onto this blog-site. Some things have changed.

volcanoNo, many things have changed. Probably the most significant of these things lately is the fact that I have fallen perfectly and imprudently in love. This confession may surprise some of you, particularly the older, wiser, or more judgmental, or those who are not aware of circumstances in my life. I struggled with guilt as this feeling of love was blossoming amidst well-wishes for my future welfare as my divorce was announced to more and more people.

This thing that has happened to me is completely unlike anything I experienced before. It does not come from a mistaken feeling of lust; it happened remotely and without promise of fulfillment. It is a kind of resonance. I honestly do not think it is possible to fully understand it unless you have experienced it yourself. I certainly thought I understood what love is, what love should be. I think I had an inkling over a decade ago, before I was experienced enough to understand what it could be and also before I could understand that it is only a spark, a fire which under careless hands smokes and smothers. As I became more and more aware of my 30th birthday coming closer I realized a priority: to hold close those things in my life that give joy and meaning. In that way perhaps I was open to this experience.

I have not written openly here in so long. I felt buried under a mountain of obligations, expectations, and experiences I could not control. Going to Europe this past October was transformative. More so than the beautiful settings and amazing experiences was the thrill of spending time with people who are a joy to be around. I felt like something rattled loose during that trip. R’s mother, at her house for dinner one night, gave us a painting of our choosing to take home from her prolific collection of work. I chose a watercolor of an erupting volcano. The mountain is bluish, serene and surreal but blazing into the sky in a churning mass of un-deniability. There was a crack and now life will never be the same. I am still reasonable enough to know there are no guarantees, but I have decided that it is better to take a chance when that chance holds the thrill of possibility rather than the impetus of fear. I can’t believe I didn’t understand the difference before. I have been a fool more than once. But, better a joyful fool than a tragic one. There is a growing smile on my face, and more importantly on K’s face as well. I am not going to complain. So this post may not really fit the title I have given to it. It has nothing to do with how we spent our holiday but, if you look closely, it is all about thanksgiving.

I suppose I have lost steam, as far as blogging goes.  I seem to be in a long period of writers block.  I would like to keep in mind Barbera Kingsolver’s bit of advice: Don’t wait for the muse, she has a lousy work ethic.  And yet, I have not written anything of consequence or substance for a while.

For the most part, things are going well.  This is good for my life, but perhaps not as good for blogging.  Its just left me kind of subject-less.  In the past there was an equal portion of philosophical angst and growing pains to allow for spouting words.  Now things are too personal.  Maybe due to taking my blog to a more public format that it was previously.  I am not sure.  I don’t want to share the most happy or painful thoughts in my life with the internet.  Just the way it goes, I guess.

I suppose I will have to identify a subject to focus on if I am going to keep up with the blogging.  My own little personal reflections get boring.  Even to me.

I have posted before about this short free personality test. I took the longer version a few years ago. Lately I have been looking closer at myself. I have been evaluating all the ways I inadvertently sabotage myself in the way I want to live and in my goals. Basically, I my actions are not in line with my expectation of what I want in my life. I think most people can relate to what I am talking about, in some way. The solution is to either change the expectation of where you want to go, or change the expectation that is leading to the actions. They must be the same in order to get anywhere. Read the rest of this entry »

I may not be religious, but I can see the appeal.  When you are religious you have a clear direction for your gratitude when life is good, and you know exactly who to appeal to when it is not so good.  With  religion you have a built in set of peers who agree with you, at least on general terms.  Most importantly, you have a set of guidelines by which to live your life.  I am thinking, specifically of Christian religions, although many others apply. Read the rest of this entry »

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In the Past


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