Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


From time to time I have panic attacks and recently I started to have one, a big one and I didn't immediately recognize what was going on.  Now that I am an adult I can look back and see that I have had panic attacks for many years, even as young as age 7 or 8 but at that time I had no idea what was going on.  I actually know for a fact that I was suffering from PTSD which can cause all sorts of anxiety disorders, panic disorders and much more.

It has been a long while since I have had this level of anxiety and to feel it building into panic was a strange feeling after all these weeks and months.  And I can tell you that the way it built, reminded me of being 8 years old again and my immediate response was to jump out of the car and run screaming through traffic.

Here is what it felt like.  My arms and legs felt like they were 1000 pounds each and they were sluggish and slow and they were moving and pushing the air around like the air was thick honey.  I became acutely aware that I was trapped in my location and unable to stop the feeling that I was trapped.  I started to not be able to control my breathing as I started to pant a little and my eyes darted around unable to focus on anything and then I knew I was in trouble.  My hands got sweaty and I wanted to cry or scream.  When I was a kid I would get out of bed and turn on the light and walk around and sometimes cry.  Sometimes I would crawl into the closet with a blanket or under the bed. Almost always I would suck my thumb.  I was in a car when this happened so I couldn't do that.  As the panic built I realized I was going to have a panic attack so I started with my breathing, since that was what I could control and then I started rotate my hands and feet and I had to ride it out until my blood pressure went down and I could actually get a sentence out of my mouth.

I got in under control but it was a reminder that this is me, I have to deal with this stuff and while I have things in place to help me navigate and cope with panic and anxiety it sometimes sneaks up on me and surprises me at the worst possible times.  And it most likely will never go away.  But in the story of my life, I am in control, it doesn't control me.

Monday, March 2, 2015


I was talking to my friend Julie the other day when she said something that I got stuck on, she was talking about Social Networking and staying current and she said, "it is important to have a 20 something in your corner so that we can keep up to date with what is current."  She was so right.

We don't email anymore.  Blogs are so 2000.  Nobody reads anything longer than 140 characters.  Everyone speaks in acronyms.  I used to think that conducting relationships via text messages was horrible and offensive but not anymore.  Couples begin and end relationships with fewer words than a dinner menu.  Dealing with tough subjects in person is lame and pointless.

I don't care whether or not people like it or not, what I care about is staying current in a world that is rapidly changing.  Staying relevant so that when my kids are navigating these twists and turns I can have conversations with them about what to do and how to handle things.  So I got a 20 year old in my corner.

Who is your 20 year old?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


This week I have been homesick for the West Coast.  I have missed the moderate winter and the sun every day.  I have missed the mild weather and the ability to take kids to the park in February and not freeze.  I have missed my family and my friends.  I miss the general outlook of people who live on the West Coast and the melting pot of my friends there; French, Canadian, Belgian, Brazilian, Spanish, Mexican, Vietnamese, American, Chinese, Korean, Hmong, Iranian, and the list goes on.  I miss the early spring that doesn't seem possible unless you are from California and then it is taken for granted.  I miss the quality and quantity of Asian restaurants.  I miss walking down the street and hearing 10 different languages being spoken in the same block.  I miss walking my kids to school and walking back home with them after school.  I even miss the bicycle riding singing Chinese lady, warbling vibrato and all.

I spoke with someone at work today that was calling from San Francisco and I had a physical yearning to hear her talk about the traffic on Market Street and how difficult it was to find parking and navigate the traffic and how she would never do it again. I told her I understood because I was from there.  She could have cared less.

I was talking to a co-worker today and I was telling her about a wedding I am going to in October and how she should come with me because she has never been to California and all the fun we would have and she laughed and said, "you are such a California girl".  But she is right, I am a California girl.  And even though I live here now and there are so many good things about this place, I still so strongly miss the old place.  And while I don't miss it all the time when I do miss it, it hits me in the gut and sticks around and makes me wonder if we will ever find ourselves back there again.   I know they say you can never go back to the way things were but if we went back would it feel like starting over or would it feel like we had never left?  And if I went back there, would I miss this place, the new place?

I've live in a lot of places in my life, but I always made it back to the West Coast.  That was my center of gravity.  That was my home base.  I have a new home base now and it doesn't always feel like home base. . . . at least not this week.

Friday, February 6, 2015


I'm packing for a little get away - deciding which uncomfortable boots to bring and packing makeup that hasn't been opened since 2012 and so I turned on the television.  I hardy ever watch TV during the day but I never turn it on in the morning.  But I'm packing and drinking coffee so I decided to turn it on.

They had a segment on a popular television show with a doctor talking to 5 skinny ladies about their cholesterol.  They had done a blood test on each lady - and they revealed their good cholesterol and their bad cholesterol and they talked about how to increase exercise and eat better.  Two of the ladies were super defensive.

Anyway - the doctor doing all the bossing around had clearly had some work done on her face in the last 10 years or so.  And I had a realization - that I never really thought about a doctor getting work done - a face-lift or a rhinoplasty or a chin implant or even something as simple as botox.  

 Is there an age when the switch flips?  All of a sudden I will hate the way I look?  As I inch closer to my 50's I notice more and more woman around me having work done on their faces.  And yes, we can tell you have had work done.  I could care less what I look like, I really don't  And while I've never really cared, will there be a day soon that I really have the light shined on my face and I will want to have someone cut my hairline and pull my skin up and cut it off and then sew me up so I can spend a month wearing face-bandages and then 2 months of looking bruised and swollen to only turn 80 someday and have my throat and face look ridiculous?

But a doctor?  How can I take health advice and how to better myself by someone who is not happy with themselves?  Would you?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

IBS for the working mom

As I write this, I realize that I'm 46 years old and I'm not sure if I'm lactose intolerant or if I suffer from irritable bowel but whatever the case, it was never something I had to focus on when I was a SAHM.  (for Joy acronyms refer to older blog posts please) But now that I share work space with other adults and I am relied upon to stay in my seat and not spend every 20 minutes running to the bathroom I think that this is something I need to get looked at.

When I lived in Portland I used to go every day to this block downtown where they had these amazing food carts.  I loved King Burrito and this Indian food cart.  I could only get my buddy Pat McDade to join me occasionally for a spicy biryani and spinach paneer or some daal with spicy chutney and samosas but every time I would indulge I would spend the whole next day paying the price.  And that was back when I had my own office.  

One day one of my supervisors who will remain nameless for obvious reasons walked into my office very early in the morning, that was my secret, coming in early to do work before everyone else came in, and she said, "it smells like Indian food in here, are you eating Indian food for breakfast?"  To which I replied, "I had Indian food yesterday".  She didn't bother coming back in my office for the rest of the day.

Monday, January 19, 2015


I have so many things I want to blog about but I have been so busy lately that I haven't taken the time to sit down and write about it.  I don't know where to begin but I also don't feel motivated to go through the motions.  This year is already shaping up to be a real surprise in so many ways.  Part of me can't wait to see the changes, the challenges, the growth and the hurdles.  But part of me wants it to slow waaaay down so that it doesn't seem to rush by so quickly.

I'm watching the bachelor as I write this and that dude not only has an annoying laugh but he also is a kissing champion.  He is awkward, uncomfortable and has no business being on television.  But as I watch this really cerebral show, I knit these self striping wool socks.  They are beautiful and are going to be fun to wear.  I can't wait to see the finish project.  I never keep my knitting projects, I always give them to my cousin Lisa. 

I have accepted another part time job that I am doing after hours and on the days I'm not working.  This means I am working all the time but it is so much fun.  That is all I'm going to say about that for now.  But stay tuned for greatness.

My baby turns 8 tomorrow and I cannot believe she is growing up so fast.  I think it all the time but I rarely say it out loud because talk is cheap but my girl is amazing.  She is smart and funny and sensitive and emotional and she makes me feel like every day is a new adventure.  Someday she is going to be an amazing cook.  She is going to rock everything she tries her hand at.  And she is so impatient for it all to start right now.  She is me through and through minus the terrifying childhood trauma, which makes me know that she is a shining star and has a bright future.  

I think I'm going to quit Facebook soon - I think it has run its course.  I have kept it to keep in touch with my California peeps but I find that there are so many negative aspects of it that override the positive ones and I find that more and more time goes by between me checking in to see what people are up to.  Plus I have two jobs, I have no time.

Happy rest of the month everyone, January is almost over.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Book club was last night.  It was our one year anniversary and I hosted.  Because it was our one year anniversary I felt like I had to step it up and make it special.  We even had 2 new members come, yay for newbies!  A year ago when I started the book club aka The Pittsboro Fucklers, my friend Germaine sent me a book her sister had written and suggested we read it for book club.  I hosted the first meeting and so I knew that it would only be fair to wait until everyone got a chance to host before I hosted again.

The book was a real romp - a story of Peter who is the only son of Chinese immigrants and who wants to be a girl.  I was captivated for several reasons, the story of the child of immigrants, a boy who pushes against the dreams and desires of his father and his own discovery of who is is and who he will become.  And to make the book and the book club sweeter, Kim skyped in with us and generously offered to answer our questions as we sipped wine and munched on homemade bao or steamed buns.

Kim is the little sister of a friend from Cupertino and so it turns out that it pays to have friends in many places around this planet.  I got in touch with Germaine, asked her if Kim would skype with us and we were able to set up a time and place and take it from there.  What a bright star and talent Kim is, how brave to sit there and answer our questions and listen to our commentary.  What a good sister too - to honor a request to skype in with an old friend who lives in rural N. Carolina that she has never met.

Bravo Kim
Bravo Germaine
Bravo Fucklers

For those of you that would like to read Kim's book, it is called For Today I Am A Boy.