Moving on, yet again

Maybe you’ve noticed or maybe you haven’t, but the daughter and I have moved around a lot these last few years.  It’s happening again; our fifth move in three years and I’m terribly conflicted.

Part of my really really really wants to go back to Portland, to the city I know and love with restaurants I enjoy, cheap movie theaters, the big ol’ downtown library, friends who have made me feel loved and my son, yes, I’ll be near my son again. {Really near, in fact, like living under the same roof again.}

People joke about how your kids will grow up, move out and then move back in again when they realize they can’t afford to live on their own. Ours just happens to be the opposite situation where Mom realized she can’t afford to live on her own.

comebacksoon

Wait, that’s not where this was supposed to go… So I am glad to be going home to the Pacific Northwest, full of clean air and forests and rivers.  My lungs will be happy, too. They are the reason I finally said Yes, I’ll go back. I’ll give up the job I enjoy at a wonderful company. I’ll give up the sunshine and warm air if I can just breathe again without hurting. If my daughter and I can go a whole month without either of us being sick, I’ll take the rain. I will. 

You see, it’s been months of breathing problems and I’m not willing to let it become years. The daughter has missed weeks of school with all the illnesses, all of them validated by my own eyes. The girl has been sicker than I’ve ever seen her; both of us have been bedridden for days with coughs, fevers, vomiting and, the ever-popular, general malaise.  And on more than one occasion.

My lungs hurt to breathe in deeply. I avoid laughing because it’ll make me cough uncontrollably, gasping for air. Walking up the stairs to our second-story apartment makes me wheeze. I can feel the difference in my lungs if the air is being re-circulated in the car or being brought in fresh.

It’s bad, uncomfortable, painful, disappointing. It totally sucks.

In four weeks, I’m packing up a UHaul and heading north again. Away from sunshine and blue skies. Away from smog so thick it hides the mountains.

In ways, I’m so very very glad. Like I said, I’ll be near friends and family and a city I know and love. But there is an overwhelming guilt about moving yet again. I’d planned to stay for the rest of my daughter’s high school years. Stay here until she graduated. I had the best intentions and instead I’m asking her gently to please at least think about packing. Again. Please do this for my health and for your own. Asking your child to sacrifice, knowing they’ve already had to sacrifice so much to follow your hopes and dreams to SoCal, is so much harder than I want it to be. I want her with me. I want her healthy. I want her to be happy.  It just doesn’t seem like there is one place that can do it all.

The push-and-pull between all the things I want and need and all the thing she wants and needs is tough and the answers aren’t easy. Each time I’ve moved us, I though it was for the best…a place of our own, an extended family, away from the relationship drama, to a good job, back to healthy air… but it’s yet to work out as I had so earnestly hoped.

Nonetheless, here we go again. Packing for another move, another adventure. Another notch in the belt and another reason to be angry.

Getting the book covered

The kids and I spent Monday afternoon trying to take care of all the necessary parts of photographing the cover for Phở for Three. I’ve had various ideas floating around for a while, all revolving around eating phở at the open market in Thanh Hoa. It was just across the street from Hong Duc University where I was teaching and we spent a lot of time there, eating both the noodle soup and another favorite: bùn chả. In the evenings, we’d head across the busy street and enjoy ice cream–our pale faces always the center of attention.

It was the memory of that market, along with the one in Tam Ky, that I wanted to honor with the cover photo.

We got the soup, its necessary accoutrements, along with Viet coffee and pineapple, then spent 20 minutes arranging and re-arranging the dishes until it suited me enough to start taking pics. Of course, last night I spent my insomniac hours wondering about every.last.detail.20120807-113508.jpg

But it’s done for now—just need some editing (by a skilled friend) to add in a few other elements and put the title on there. I’m afraid how long it’s going to take me decide on a font, though. Any ideas?

Through the kindness of others, it happened. Special thanks to Susan Beal, for letting us take over her backyard for an hour; to Prado, who let us borrow his camera; to Stuart, my photographer son who shot the photos; to Audrey, my fan-wielding daughter who shooed flies from the feast we’d set; and to both Phở Oregon and Fubonn for providing such authentically Vietnamese foods.

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Thanks so much, everyone, for your support, your shares, your encouragement, and your belief in my little dream.

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growing up

They say time flies, but sometimes in life it slogs along in slow motion. That’s what it seems like right now, except for this: my kids aren’t so childlike anymore.

My son just finished his freshman year of college; my daughter will be in high school this fall. And in circle-of-life style, she will be attending with several of her kindergarten classmates–people she hasn’t seen in more than eight years.

The years between have changed us all.

pre-teen trauma drama

A. had spent the last hour moping around upstairs, sure that her beloved computer game was forever corrupted by her own barely considered and swiftly enacted change of her computer’s resolution. Click. Click. Black. It had happened too quickly for her to back out. Control-Z. Restart. Still black. It was at that point that she’d lost all touch on reality and the wailing started. Like the woman in mourning as her husband burns on the funeral pyre, A. reeled with grief, the tears and strained moans coming haphazardly. She had fallen into the black abyss and her brother came to save her.
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2000-2009: What a decade it’s been.

Back in 2000, I was freshly divorced with two kids and little life experience. Ten years on, I’ve earned my BA, my son’s nearing graduation, my daughter is bumping into her teen years and we’ve been able to visit Vietnam (2x), China, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

Ten years of marriage and being a stay-home mom, followed by ten years of single motherhood. I wonder just what the next ten years will hold for each of us.

2000
2003
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009