23 September 2017

The world was supposed to end today, if you believe conspiracy theorists. Today of all days, I find it particularly ironic. Clearly we are still here, though the day is only half-over — so maybe there’s still time? (Laughs darkly)  Or maybe all those prognostications only mean ‘the world as we know it.’

With the Miramar Air Show screaming overhead, I will write about the latest development in my life. Yesterday I had an ultrasound examination of my ovaries, etc. I have not had one since 2010, when cysts were found on my right ovary. I had surgery to remove them, they were tested and deemed benign. This ultrasound seemed quicker. The technician appeared to zero in and then became utterly stone-faced during the remaining course of the exam. It was a quiet sombre ordeal, and somehow that made it seem more worrisome. The technician only reassured me that the results would be ready that afternoon. I half expected a phone call from the doctors, demanding to see me straight away. Then again this was Friday, and doctors aren’t notorious for working a Friday afternoon, are they? You see how impossible it was for me to have cheerful optimism.

I got through the day by being very busy at work. Thanks to “Steptember” I have been walking a lot more (nearly 2 hours each day) and walking to and from work is part of that. The quiet solitary walk home after work causes a loneliness to wrap around me. I miss my friends in Orange County.  I called my friend Lisa and was immediately glad. She was out having an after-work drink with Carmen. The two of them were exactly what I needed at that moment. A group shoulder to cry on, an ear to hear my worst fears, and words of wisdom. These two, even when they themselves are going through so much, will stop whatever their doing and give whatever support is needed. I love them both for being such great friends.

I have cultivated this small but supportive network of people, including a somewhat new friend, Badria. She remembers that I was having pain in the region of my right ovary back in late 2015. So, this has been going on in some manner for at least two years. Based on the length of time that I’ve had symptoms, I’m going to guess that it’s just my one stupid ovary developing cysts like its done for decades, and nothing more ominus – in spite of the serious faces of the medical staff.  Surely if it were ovarian cancer, something every single woman must fear second only to breast cancer, it would have killed me by now.

Looking at ultrasound images online has shown me there are many different variations of cysts and ovarian problems. It is easily likely that my cysts are benign and of no worry except that they are causing pain and other annoying symptoms. For that reason alone I would like to have the invasive creatures removed once and for all.

Monday, I will visit the gyno and hear the results of yesterday’s exam. All shall be revealed then. But, I shouldn’t wait until then to change my attitude. I need a lesson in becoming a positive thinker, and this is the perfect opportunity. I’ve started reading “The Essential Dalai Lama.” One particular statement stands out: The real destroyer of our happiness is always there within us.

He goes on to say that emotions without proper reason are negative emotions.  “Liberation can only arise from a recognition of the third level of suffering, the ‘suffering of conditioning,’ where we realize that so long as we remain under the control of ignorance we will be subject to suffering, and there will be no room for lasting joy and happiness.”  I understand this to mean that I am conditioned to believe that these symptoms are caused by a particular thing. I am conditioned to fear that particular thing. I am conditioned to fear pain and suffering, even when I know that there are many, many people who are currently suffering far worse than I.  Don’t fall for the notion that becoming a positive thinker means one lacks empathy for others who are suffering. That isn’t true at all, in fact it’s quite the opposite.

If this feels like a cliff-hanger, it is.  You see, the world hasn’t ended. It has simply changed. This phase has only just begun.

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Moving Forward, Part Three

So many witty sayings about how hindsight is 20-20, and how only fools rush in. When the hell hounds are at your heels, mistakes can prove fatal. Have I made a fatal mistake? Fatal being a strong, permanent word, the answer is no. But, ‘detrimental’ is absolutely a fine substitute. I know where my mindset was the day I chose Eastgate (my nickname for it) as my new abode in San Diego, and maybe I get points for having my heart in the right place. When it comes to my kids, I will always put their needs ahead of mine – even if it proves painful, and maybe even fatal if the situation were to arise. In many respects, this location seems ideal, particularly if you view it from the perspective of what my kids need in this phase of their lives. It’s unpretentious in a very pretentious neighborhood, and thus the size to price ratio is acceptable, but still pricey for a working slob like me. The grounds are dog friendly and probably as safe as any place I’ve lived in the last 10 years. The neighbors seem to be quiet. Wholefoods and Trader’s are nearby. Familiarity. Transit and bike friendly. An enormous shopping mall (and jobs) within walking distance, and new parts under construction. A lovely beach is but a short car ride away. For me, there is the absolute lack of a commute, something necessary for lowering my blood pressure which had recently begun to spike after 8 years of exhausting 5/405 traffic; and the walk to work contributes much-needed exercise for my stressed, aging body. Sounds like nirvana if nirvana could exist, right?

What could possibly be wrong?  

The problem is me. We lived in south OC for 8 years, and I remember the very first Santa Ana winds event. I called it devil wind, because it felt like it blew straight from the depths of hell. Preceding our move to OC, we had lived in the Del Mar Heights area of San Diego and there was a (too) brief stint in Brisbane, Australia during their fall/winter. Nothing I had experienced up to that point prepared me for the ungodly Santa Ana wind and the accompanying dry heat. I never imagined that I would be bothered by heat. 

Case in point: As a kid in the 70s, I grew up near Lake Texoma in north Texas. I worshipped the sun and hated the cold. We had only a brief 3 month summer, so I grabbed onto the lovely summer days as tight as I could. There was that one summer though, somewhere around 1977, we had a heat wave of 105 for many long days, and our A/C died. That was maybe the omen to which I should have paid heed. Apparently I can’t take the heat. Years later, in OC, I swore, as each summer became increasingly hot (sorry, folks, global warming is real), that when I moved I would go back to cooler San Diego. (Reminder that I can’t immigrate to any other country.) And it’s true that this part of San Diego is on average 10 degrees cooler than OC. But, here I am, face to face with the reality of my own particular level of privilege – and have only myself to blame. 

We are sweltering in a not-upscale condo in an upscale neighborhood full of posh people and posh cars, and sweltering because there isn’t an A/C and the condo has inadequate insulation (or none) and crap 1970s asphalt shingles, and other construction nightmares that were born in the 70s and should have died in the 90s, and that cause the upstairs bedrooms to be 20 degrees hotter than outside. The same way your car gets boiling hot inside while you’re parked on the huge black parking lot of Wal-Mart. 

And I picked this place.

I’m hot. Apparently that is a big problem for my stupid body which seems to freak out, swell up, and magnify the menopausal symptoms that I didn’t quite realize I had until now.

So, we bought a couple fans [insert Valley Girl Voice]. Then a very expensive third fan. Then black/grey room darkening curtains to cover the 12 feet of East-facing windows in the upstairs master bedroom (architectural stupidity). Now the room looks goth. Not a fan of goth. But you can’t have your melted-in-the-sun cake and eat it too. 

I apologize because I’m not normally a whinger/whiner/baby. I’m a pretty tough broad – and I’m uncomfortable with my pettiness. There are plenty of people who would kill for my first world problems. So, what I won’t do is go down without a fight. I’m working on remedies that don’t involve a bulldozer or flagrantly breaking my Two Year Lease. 

Two years. 

Two.

And summer has only just started. Welcome to Hell.

Moving Forward, Part Two

18 June 2017

The big day is here at long last. I’m not going to lie, this is going to hurt. Last time we moved (September 2013) I had someone helping. I was in better shape. I was younger. Fortunately, I have my two daughters and one of their friends, so among us we will slay this beast.

Onward and upward!

Moving Forward 

In a couple weeks, we will be moving from Orange County to San Diego.

So many people have asked me, ‘why San Diego?’

‘Have you been there? Because, how can you not fall in love with it?’

The unspoken truth, one that only those closest to me would understand, is I choose San Diego because I’m not able to immigrate to the UK. A lot more people can’t fathom why I would even want to live in the UK, paticularly my own half-brother who has never lived anywhere but Kent (racist fool that he is.)

It’s my own personal fantasy to live in England. The reasons are multi-layered and complex, and not something I want to spend the time explaining. However, because England remains in the realm of fantasy, I must instead contend with reality. Reality is California and my job here.

I have become massively lucky to secure a transfer to our San Diego office. Hence the move from Orange County.

RSM, or Santa’s Margarita Ranch as my sister calls it, has been fairly good to us these past 8+ years. Even though I have recently become fond of terming it Hellsgate due to the increasingly hot dry weather and persistent drought, the area is visually appealing, quiet and safe. It’s conveniently close to the town center, healthy food choices, and to a good community college. It wasn’t close to my work and the daily 40+ mile commute (I endured for 8 years) wears a car and a soul down at near equal pace.

But let’s face it, life is rarely static. Children grow up, they change schools, get jobs … goals change, jobs change, political climates change. Continued success relies on flexibility. I’ve always felt that to survive here one must be able to ride the waves of change like a pro surfer.

San Diego has a lot to offer us, at least for the next two years, that Orange County cannot. This next phase of our lives will see a solidification of life paths for both of my daughters, while I work to help make those dreams come true. That in and of itself brings true happiness.

I found a place within walking distance of my new office. Until the weekend of the big move though, I’m commuting more than 120 miles a day. Just entered my 6th week of that, and I admit I’m weary. I’m really looking forward to no longer sitting in endless, smog-filled, bumper to bumper traffic. The new people I’m working with are happy, nice people. Good schools abound. The weather won’t be as hot. The city center is lively and diverse (although far more crowded), and there is a large variety of shops. The icing on top is nearby beaches.

Who knows, maybe with less stress I’ll get back into my fitness and lose the 30+ pounds I gained. I will finish my novel. And there is still plenty of time, presumably, to dream of that seaside cottage with a garden, that retired science guy and his Labrador, and me writing to my heart’s content.

May our luck hold.

-updated 6 June 2017