hello from the other side!

Well, we are here! After 9 states (counting our home state), 6 hotels, one stay with a relative, three time zones, and some amazing side trips (old plaza in Albuquerque, Grand Canyon, hiking in Sedona, the Mojave Desert, Highway 1 and Big Sur), we are happily settling into our San Francisco life. We arrived yesterday where it was pouring rain and gloomy as hell, but our spirits lifted when we got into the apartment and found it to be lovely and old-fashioned, with crown molding and beautiful french doors separating the rooms. No open floor plan (I hate those)! The kitchen is so large compared to what I’m used to at home, with a full table and four chairs. The living room is able to be closed off completely, so my mother is able to fold out a bed in there and have her own room. The bathroom has a separate room with the bath, and one with the toilet. The bathtub is a clawfoot tub, lovely for baths! We have a private patio which is enclosed with a locked gate, so M can go outside worry-free. She has her own playroom, too. We also have wifi, a full cable line up, and of course I don’t have to worry about any of the utilities because it’s all included!

The rental company is awesome. I had an issue with the TV (half the screen isn’t working) and they sent someone right away to fix or replace it. They also answer very quickly by email. We don’t have a washer or dryer, but there is a laundro-mat on the same block. My Nepali best friend lives about 40 minutes down the freeway, and we’re hanging at her house today and doing laundry here! M is thrilled to be back with her little buddy Mustafa (my friend’s oldest son, who is one year younger than M), and for the first time they aren’t fighting the whole time and are playing nicely together. I’m thrilled to have access to my friend and both of her parents who are living with her! They are coming to our house tomorrow to explore the city with us, and I’m super happy to show it to someone!

I had groceries delivered for the first time in my life. It only cost $15 more for the service and tip on top of the price of groceries. I probably won’t do delivery every time, but to stock up our kitchen I needed to do a big run, and it was so convenient! And all organic and gluten-free, too! M’s first day at preschool is tomorrow, and her first swimming lesson is Friday. In all of this, I almost forget I have to go to work. I plan to check out the hospital and stop by the ICU before I start, just to see what nurses are wearing and know where I’m going. I start orientation on Monday. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could live this life and not have to work though? HA.

I will be keeping up with our adventures over on my travel blog Across the Never Sky, and also you can see photos of us enjoying our new life on my instagram (username rntravelmom).


it’s the red socks

They are cursed.

When I wear red socks to work I have awful days. I only wear them at Christmas so maybe it’s Christmas that is just awful. Today is overtime and for sure my last time working on this unit before California, and it could not be worse. Bad docs, bad patients, bad family members.

Yesterday was misery for me. I basically just wanted to stay in bed all day and cry. But we had a play date arranged with a co-worker from work and her daughter, and we went. I’m so glad I did! We ended up going for a walk (in the dark, but it gets dark at like 5) and then going sledding. M loved sledding, she was into it, head first and fast as a rocket down the hill, no fear. My friend treated us to gluten-free pizza, too, and surprisingly it was good. I so needed to get out of my own head and be around normal, nice, easy people. It was sort of a surprise Christmas gift, as I’ve never hung out with this co-worker before and in fact we’ve only had one conversation ever. It was like the universe took pity on me and my pathetic-ness for one afternoon, reminding me that things can and will be ok. I will meet nice people, I will make friends, I won’t always be alone in the world. In fact, I’m not always alone in the world.

If I could just get out of this hellhole I call work I could get home and situate Christmas for my 3-year-old, who, despite my not talking about Santa, is super duper excited that Santa and the reindeer are coming with presents. I’m going to live through her and soak in her joy.

I’m moving and I’m unprepared

I feel totally unprepared to be moving to San Francisco in three weeks. I don’t even know what I’m going to do about health insurance yet! And packing? I’m sort of frozen. Should I be doing something else? We’re just going to pack and drive and show up. I have all the hotel rooms booked for the cross-country drive. I supposed I should make some sort of packing list… I have no idea if everything will fit in the car but some foggy image in my mind of. like, strapping suitcases to the roof with bungee cords.

I’d feel better if I had a contract scheduled for April. Of course I just got the January contract so why would I have an April contract yet? I wouldn’t. I just wish I knew where I’d be working already. I guess it’s a little pre-life change jitters going on.

One thing for sure is that I’m bored as fuck at home. I’ve been getting headaches a lot, and staring around my cluttered and messy house with that sinking awful feeling again. That feeling where you  just have nothing to look forward to all day. It’s grey and cold and awful here, and there is literally nothing to do. If I wasn’t leaving I think I’d lose my damn mind!

Nepal posts are finished

My blog post series is up on my travel blog Across the Never Sky:

Travel Musings on Nepal with a Three-Year-old: just random advice and thoughts on international, multi-day plane travel with a preschooler.

Daily Life in Nepal: What it’s like to live in Kathmandu, from eating and bathing to how we spent most of our days.

The Kathmandu Sites (with a preschooler): Where to go and what to look for when you’re doing the sites with little ones.

Side Trip to Nagarkot: A nice little one or two day trip for those who don’t have time or can’t go trekking.

Take the Long Layover in Hong Kong: My rave review of the Hong Kong International Airport and Regal Airport Hotel.

I just needed my “bahini”

Recipe for feeling better about life: hang out with your little sister (bahini, in Nepali), order chinese take-out, drink beer, and watch your niece have as many melt downs as your daughter. M and I were both excited to finally hang out with my sister and niece again, and the girls both played/fought all day while my sister inspired me to be the peaceful parent I’ve strove to be all along with her calm responses to irrational preschool/kindergartner behavior. And honestly, being reminded that my kid isn’t the only one experiencing extreme emotions and awful behavior was just comforting. Solidarity.

The hardest part about leaving Michigan will be not being able to hang with my sister on a weekly basis. So instead we’ll be making regular trips and staying with them for like a week. Squeeze in the quality time!

If anyone is more upset about the results of the US election than me, it’s my sister. We probably should be sick of politics but this isn’t something we can just turn off. We can’t just go about our regular lives when we just watched half of the country “put aside” or vote for outright bigotry and idiocy. We can’t stop talking about it because people like Pence, Gingrich, Giuliani, Bannon (and on and on) are being given power over our laws and policies, and are backed by a GOP house and senate. Scary shit. And yes, I’m someone who will “unfriend” you, or think differently about you, if you voted for this shit because it’s not “just politics”. It’s my life. It’s eliminating tax credits that directly affect my bank account as a single mom. It’s calling my daughter’s biological relatives “rapists”. It’s bragging about sexual assault and being rewarded for it. It’s having those things NOT be a deal breaker for you cause you don’t like some policies or the history of Hillary Clinton.

Disgusting. Repugnant. Unacceptable. If you don’t agree with me that those things are unacceptable no matter what, then we aren’t friends. No. We aren’t.

Anywho, if I do start a nursing contract too early to go back to Nepal, I’d like to swing by either the million woman march or the protests in DC near inauguration day, or the pipeline protests out west… that would be very awesome. I’d like to do something, rather than just complain about everything.

I’m so hollow

I just keep pinging around in my own head, feeling profoundly unsettled. I have no one to talk to about it, and the loneliness of my regular life feels like a choke collar. It’s like stepping from a warm bath into a frigid wind. It’s sorrow… I’m homesick, homesick for Nepal. I feel like crying constantly and hopelessness makes me feel sick to my stomach. This happens everytime I come back. It takes months to shake. 

I’m also incredibly tired. With nothing to look forward to, sleep is my only refuge. Truthfully what bothers me the most is how disconnected I feel from my daughter. I have lived for her since the day I laid eyes on her. Being her mother has been my whole world, and I’ve done all I could to foster a closeness between us that would last always. But since our trip, I’m finding parenting exceedingly difficult. Perhaps it’s normal to have these spells, but I don’t know. It feels like we’re pitted against one another instead of being on the same team. That’s a yucky feeling. I feel like I need to get things done and then I feel so tired and the demanding, egocentric behavior of a three-year-old is getting to me more than I care to admit. Everything she does creates work for me… I know I shouldn’t mind that but my frustration with it is eating me away.

I don’t know how to fix this. Any of this. I just know that this re-entry has been as hard as all the rest, plus the constant needs of a little one, the constant messes… I’m at my wit’s end.

loss continued

For some reason, my grief has been heavy on me today. You know how we often say, “I lost my [loved one] last month”? Sometimes it really feels like I “lost” my grandma. Like I put her down somewhere and every time I go to pick her back up, she’s missing. And I think, where did my grandma go? How did I lose her? Where do I begin looking for her? She feels like something misplaced or accidentally left behind.

In some ways she feels so much like she is still with us. For example, the way my mom has agreed to go traveling full-time with us. My grandma always made my dreams come true, and I see that selfless spirit in my mom. Also in the way I’m taking care of my mom’s money now (with her permission) and looking out for her. My grandma made me promise her, on her deathbed, that I would always take care of my mom. That was literally her dying wish. She never stopped wanting to do anything for her daughter. She entrusted that to me… which is a sacred thing. So I now carry on that piece of her. My mom carries on the piece of her that made my dreams come true, and I carry on the piece of her that protected and watched out for my mom. It’s unreal, right? She’d be proud. She’d be happy. But good god, how I miss her.

So many nights in my teens and 20s I would lie in bed either in my grandma’s house or my cottage and self-soothe by thinking, “We’re all here together, my grandma and my mom and me.” I felt the shadow of my future grief even then, knowing that someday I wouldn’t be able to feel what I felt in the presence of my two rocks (mother and grandmother). And then when M came along, I would lie in bed and tell myself that the four of us were here, on our land, together and ok. And now we’re not. The time has come when one of my rocks is gone. No amount of “living through us” will ever really replace the simple comfort of her human presence. Nothing can ever give that back.

Last week we extubated (removed the breathing tube of) an eighty-year-old who was dying, so that she could go home on hospice and live her last days without tubes, enjoying her time with her family. The first thing she said when the tube was out, through sobs: “I want my mom.” Somehow I know that when I’m old, or dying, or sick, or all three, I will say through my tears: “I want my mom, and I want my grandma. I want to all be together.”

Nothing will ever be quite right again.

work, mess, work, mess…

Sometimes it just feels that I’m stuck in an endless cycle… go to work, come home and clean up a mess, and repeat, ad nauseum til the end of time. It seriously doesn’t end. The crumbs and dried cheese and dirty floors and cat poop… what would it be like to come home to a clean environment? I just have no idea. I know that this is life and it shouldn’t bother me so much, but it does. I really does. I hate it. I wish I lived in a hotel room and a maid came every day. I wish I was in a pristine, spartan environment. I would feel so much better. I used to love going to my aunt’s house as a kid because she is OCD (maybe I take after her) and has a spotless house all the time. She never had to work full-time (then) so maybe that’s how she did it.

Also, I just worked 5 out of 6 days. Maybe that doesn’t sound so crazy to those who work Mon-Fri jobs, but I’m there from 6:30 am to 8:30 pm… just answering demands all day. Constant demands. Messes, crises, other people’s shit… and then come home to a nasty house, a kid who is wound up from missing me and eating junk food, and I just feel like… how is this my life? There has to be more to life than this, there just has to be.

But maybe there isn’t more to it. Maybe I should just be grateful that we’re healthy and I have a job and I can go grocery shopping. I mean, maybe it’s stupid to think that there could be more to it than that? Like, the occasional vacation and the occasional good day, that should maybe be enough? Why can I not just be satisfied that we aren’t destitute or starving?

disturbed, yet again, by school

Many kids (and parents) are getting ready for back-to-school on social media, and some friends who have 4 and 5-year-olds entering kindergarten are crowd-sourcing answers to some of their parenting questions. Issues revolve around how to ‘ease the transition’, and basically get their kids to not be so terrified.

The whole idea is kind of, well, terrifying. I mean, we’re so indoctrinated as a society to think that school is as necessary as showering and brushing our teeth, that we totally accept the fact that the vast majority of young children do NOT want to go to school and have terrible adjustment problems (stomach aches, behavior changes, excessive tiredness, “blanking out” after coming home, etc). We’re told “oh that’s totally normal, it’ll get better when they get used to it.” No one ever even ponders the idea that if something is that upsetting to that many children, maybe it’s not in their best interest???

I know, I know. I sound like the crazy one. About 100 people comment on posts like these advising not to “coddle” your child, they need to learn how to deal with life’s challenges, this will force them to socialize and make friends, etc and so on. As someone who grew up with very real anxiety and panic attacks, I vehemently disagree. Being put into a foreign environment, a concocted and unnatural social milieu, with no support, no life experience, and a total lack of ability to cope with extreme stress (as children naturally do not), is just traumatizing. You don’t have to force kids to learn by putting them through that. They will learn just fine without feeling distressed. In fact, they will learn more easily, and they will learn to love learning!

Life is going to deal many challenges and hardships to your kids without shoving them into something they aren’t ready for, not to mention something in which they had no choice. In new jobs or social situations we, as adults, at least have the choice to be there or not, and the option to leave at any time. Children are essentially imprisoned within the school building for a large part of the day, without any input as to where they would like to be, how they would like to learn, and which types of people they feel comfortable around. They cannot leave if they get overwhelmed. They cannot step out and take a break, or threaten to take their business elsewhere. They can’t even pee without a fucking permission slip.

So yeah… I’m not impressed with the way most of my facebook acquaintances think of their children. I’m not surprised, but I’m also a little outraged. Why do we do this to the people we love the most?

And also, yes I send my daughter to “school” and no, she doesn’t have a choice. So am just the world’s biggest hypocrite? I guess because I have no choice (single working mom who needs child care) she also has no choice. I’m not saying children should not go to school under any circumstances… not at all. Some children like their school and would choose to go. Some would choose to go but only feel comfortable in certain “types” of schools (Montessori, democratic, learning community, Waldorf, etc). Some would choose not to go at all. Some parents would take their child’s beliefs and opinions into account and still make the decision to place them into school. And some have to go somewhere while their parents work, and as parents we put them in the care of a school or person we hope will be nurturing and understanding and fun.

I’m just advocating for more compassion, more awareness, and more willingness to take our child’s developmental needs, personal preferences, and individuality into account.

letting the cat out of the bag

I’ve started letting coworkers know I’m leaving by the end of December and plan to let my bosses know Tuesday (I have Monday off) to give them some idea of their hiring needs in a few months. While it feels so dangerously real, and terrifying, thinking of my financial situation right now makes me so glum. It would be glorious to be debt free, it would be insanely wonderful to know that when a vet bill, a car repair, or some other unexpected expense arises I would be able to pay for it. I know I have to do this. Leaving my permanent staff position feels like leaving the womb… but although it can feel like the end of the world, we all know it’s only a birth!

After spending less than $100 my last pay period (gas, groceries, activities), not including the vet bill, I am feeling encouraged. Strangely, my newfound hope has also given me a lift in other ways. I don’t dread cleaning the house or going to work right now. I feel like it’s only temporary. And instead of trudging through another very long and harsh rural Michigan winter, we will be setting up in a simple but uncluttered apartment on the coast of California, hitting beaches and forests in our spare time!

Right now, though, I’m tired but determined to do my hustle. (Hashtag hustle, haha.) I have set a deadline to be “move ready” by December 1st, meaning:

  1. Final sweeps of my grandma’s house for furniture and other items that we want to keep, including sentimental stuff
  2. Seal wrapping any antiques for storage
  3. Downsizing more clothes/toys/kitchenwares for donation, trash, or sale
  4. One more garage cleanse before putting things in for storage
  5. Switch to a bank that serves most major cities, especially in California, with overdraft protection and no fees
  6. Complete all doctor and dental appointments for myself, my mom, and M
  7. Stock up on contact lenses, update glasses prescription
  8. Withdraw investments for safety net nest egg
  9. Month of December: finish off all groceries and donate canned and dry goods left over, clean out fridge and freezer

I plan to start actively interviewing for jobs with recruiters in December, so I’ll also need to have my lists prepared: questions for the recruiter about the pay package, questions for the employer about the job and work environment, packing list for the move, etc.

Remember, from now to December 1st I also have two large trips: one to stay with family in New Jersey for 8 days in September, and three weeks in Nepal in October. So November will really be crunch time!