Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


I haven't blogged in a long time, a month or so, which for me is a long time.  I usually have something I think is important to say about everything, all the time, but lately I haven't felt inspired or inclined to share anything personal or impersonal and so I kept quiet.  I must be maturing.

I have one child in a charter school this year and it is about a half hour drive from my home.  I have another child in our neighborhood school.  I find that I am spending more time in my car each week than an Uber driver.  Or at least comparable.  And I'm not getting paid.  And that doesn't include volunteering at either school, that starts next week.

I have been able to shop, prep and cook dinner each day for each night with the exception of weekends.  This means that we either eat leftovers or hotdogs all weekend.  The girls and I eat a peculiar veggie dog that comes in the can called BigFranks and I'll be blogging about BigFranks later on.  And for the first time since 2001 when I met my husband, we have leftovers which means he is eating less and we actually have something to eat on weekends that doesn't require anything other than a microwave.  It is exciting!

I have been balancing the feeling of failure at having only lasted 9 months at a job that I really wanted and enjoyed for at least 3 months.  Several days ago I was driving back from the charter school and I was listening to XM Radio and a woman comedienne was adding up how much it cost her and her spouse to pay someone for all the things she did and it came to nearly a half a million dollars.  And then I thought about my kids and my relationship with my kids and I realized that I was doing the right thing at the right time.  And that I didn't have to justify to anyone why I quit a job after just 9 months regardless as to whether it was the worlds best job or or the worlds worst.

So I'm back on the pen and I have lots of things to write about like politics, dinner, soccer, dancing, trips to California, weddings, walking dogs, friends, books, holidays, knitting, volunteering, BigFranks and so much more.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Unemployed and Sore

I am unemployed.  Again.  I guess it was too much to hope for that the first job I got outside of the home after choosing to quit a career to raise my children, would be the job of a lifetime where I could grow and learn and build on my expertise and apply my education, experience, wit and personality and soar.  Instead it turned into the same thing every 3 days and sometimes I almost fell sleep because nothing was going to change at all.  Here is the downside to working only 3 days a week, you are considered a part timer and no one is going to give you more responsibility or training.  You are stuck doing grunt work forever, or at least for 9 months.

I took the girls ice skating on Thursday afternoon which was wonderful and exhilarating.  Wonderful to escape the humidity and heat and have to wear a hoodie for a couple of hours.  Exhilarating because at the age of 46 I not only can skate better than my kids, I didn't fall once.  But then I got out of bed on Friday and my back aches.  And this morning I can squat down but my knees won't allow me to stand back up.  It means that either I need to quit ice skating or I need to do it more regularly.

The pool closes in 3 weeks and honestly we are sick of swimming.  Never ever saw that one coming.

And Heidi leaves on Friday and we will miss her so much.  It was like Christmas in summer having her with us for so long but I know she needs to go to college and I would like to have my closet back, so she is coming out of the closet, getting in her new little grey car, and zipping off to Washington where she will study hard and maybe we will get her back again next summer.  She is under strict instructions to not zip too fast - or else she will get a speeding ticket.

And finally autumn is coming.  As I stepped outside to walk the dogs this morning I realized that there was zero humidity (or at least zero humidity to me) and a light breeze and I could feel fall in the air.  It was lovely.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Next to the last day

One of our neighborhood groceries has a Starbucks coffee kiosk thing and I didn't realize it until I'd been here a year or so.  Since I have found this little tiny coffee kiosk I have been stopping 3 mornings a week for a small coffee for the drive into work.  I started working last October and now we are in July so I have been stopping quite a bit.  In my own defense, I pack a lunch to work and I am buying the smallest size coffee they have which has gone up to $1.97, so I feel like I'm not spending a ton of money. 

I have often complained that this is the slowest coffee place on the planet and why don't I open a coffee shop but it seems like too much work so instead I wait in line and complain liberally.  Oh and have I also mentioned that they always run out of dark roast coffee right when I get to the register?  I worked at a coffee house, just put my cup under the stream of brewing coffee, I don't care if it is too strong or too weak!   Anyhow, after 9 months of buying coffee 3 days a week and waiting forever the lady behind the counter today remembered what I was ordering and was super proud of herself.  She then said, "now I only have to memorize your name".  

Since I'm not one to pass up a good opportunity for a positive reinforcement I tell her that my name is Joy that tomorrow is my last day of work, so I will not be seeing her 3 days a week.  She looked crestfallen for a moment but then she perks up, "are you going to be working somewhere else?" to which I replied, "No, but great job on remembering my coffee drink."

Monday, July 27, 2015


My family loves Pho.  We love Vietnamese food, Thai food, Chinese food, Korean food, Japanese food, Indian food, Middle Eastern Food, Mexican food, Italian food, you name it, we like food.  And while I love going out to eat at ethnic restaurants and trying new things, we have now been living in a what I like to refer to as a "void of ethnicity" or at least within a 30 minute driving distance.  Gone are the days of heading out 2 miles from home for some steaming noodle soup or walking up the road for Korean BBQ or the best, going to a food court that allowed one person to get Chinese noodles, one person to have sushi and the other to have braised short ribs.  Oh the luxury that is Santa Clara, Cupertino, Sunnyvale and San Jose.

Thanks to the wonders of the World Wide Web, I can order all my ingredients on, and then I can then head over to Youtube and watch an authentic meal prepared.  It has really become my "go-to" in times of living in rural North Carolina.  And I have really perfected some great dishes that might even pass for authentic.

Of course it helps that I love to cook and consider 4 or 5 hours in the kitchen on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon as therapeutic and enjoyable.  I know that there are those of you that cringe to read that sentence but it is true, I love to cook and create dishes.  So I definitely suggest if you hate cooking, stick to eating out.  Which is what we did Saturday night, we took my niece out to try Pho and while she didn't have the soup, she had some kind of charred meat with rice and loved it.  She stayed away from the fish sauce and the fresh salad rolls but she liked everything else.  We are giving her a real international flavor tour.

Here is what my soup looked like for those of you that love to see what folks are eating.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015


My kids both play the piano.  They take lessons about 10 months a year with a break around the holidays, a break at the beginning of summer and then a short break right before school starts.  They don't always like the piano but I like that they are continuing a tradition of Kim kids playing the piano.  I know they aren't Kims but I am a Kim and so I get to choose.

I was talking to a lady at the pool last week, a friend of a friend who explained that her kids no longer took piano or instrument lessons in general and why when they got older and wondered why they didn't play instruments that it would boil down to them not practicing.  She said she got tired of pushing them to practice.

I thought about it later because I was not given a choice on taking piano or on practicing and when I complained about it, nothing changed, I still took piano.  And when I was older, I took the violin.  And then I moved on from the violin to the cello.

The only reason my kids play the piano is because I tell them they have to practice, just like I tell them they have to do their homework, just like I tell them it is time for bed.  I get it, kids don't like to practice, it is hard, it is boring, it isn't always fun.  But the end result is, they both can read music, they both can play with two hands, they both are really talented with music.  Playing the piano has helped them develop their music ear, helped them learn to sing on key and is helping them learn how to harmonize.  It is helping them become ambidextrous, it is helping them learn how to develop their hand/eye coordination, it is giving them something they will always be able to do. But I am the boss and while I don't care what they wear to school, I am going to continue to make them practice and take piano lessons as long as I am their mom.

And I don't care how much they dislike it, they will have to do it until I say they don't have to.  Or until I'm bankrupt.  Whichever comes first.

Monday, July 20, 2015


I am having a hard time believing that it is already July 20th but that is what the calendar says.  I put my notice in at work, since I only work 3 days a week, I gave them 3 weeks notice instead of 2.  My last day is July 29th.  I have had a hard time coming up with things to blog about because quite honestly not  a lot of exciting things have been going on.

Last weekend me made a whirlwind trip to Charleston, SC and the city has topped my list of favorites.  It is charming, quaint, tiny, beachy and lovely all around.  If you haven't seen it, it is a perfect combination of Caribbean charm meets European style complete with cobblestones and steeples.  If it hadn't been 99 degrees and high humidity I might have wandered the streets all day.  Instead we explored to the sounds of two very whiny and tired children.

I have hit my swimming goal for the summer and am doing 25 laps in an easy 35 minutes.  I can't say that the waist line is any slimmer for all the swimming but my lungs feel great and I sleep like a baby.

My garden is a great success and I wish I had planted more things.  I have tomatoes galore, zuchini that is bigger than I've ever seen and habanero, jalapeno and thai chilies coming out of my ears.  Just not sure what to do with the fiery hot peppers at this point, maybe I need to google some recipes.  I have not had to water the garden thanks to all the rain and I have not had deer or bugs consume my produce.

The McKeons are descending next week on North Carolina for a weeks vacation the following week in South Carolina and we cannot wait.  We miss all our West Coast family dearly so this is a wonderful end of our summer vacation and a way for the cousins to hang out and play and play and play.

For someone who doesn't have a lot going on - I managed to have a lot going on.  To quote another great writer "Life seems but a quick succession of little nothings" (Jane Austen).

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


I took the summer crew to see the new Pixar film on Friday, Inside Out.  It is about an 11 year old girl that moves from rural Minnesota to San Francisco and her adjustment to moving from the country to the city.  She used to ice skate outside on frozen lakes and enjoy the freedom of roaming around to all of a sudden living in a city and navigating in a new environment.  Her Dad who was previously around all the time is now gone to work all the time and not available.  Big changes.

I usually take the kids to a summer movie and push my chair back, have some popcorn, distribute the snack/candy bags and then promptly fall asleep.  This is what I did in the Lego movie, the Cinderella movie and anything Disney/Dreamworks/Princess related.  And when the movie is over I feel refreshed that for the price of $20 dollars I got a good hour long nap in a cool air conditioned room that is dark and noisy.  And I blocked out a good amount of crap, like the song about everything being Awesome from the Lego movie.

This movie caught my attention immediately because it has a peppy and upbeat character named Joy.  How can you lose with that name?  Seriously.  Its a verb, its an emotion, its a name.  And also, those beautiful red arches of the Golden Gate Bridge instantly made me homesick and wish that I was also driving across that bridge with Riley or whatever the characters name is.

But we did the opposite, we flew away from those arches and ended up far away from our family and friends and had to make new friends.  And when we go back to visit it doesn't quite feel like home anymore because our house and our animals and all our stuff is somewhere else.  Anyway - I'm getting off track and at some point in the movie, Joy and Sadness get lost and Riley is left with Anger, Fear and Disgust.  And at some point my little Fiona snuggled into my left arm and whispered, "that is what I felt like when we moved here Mommy" and I looked down at her and she was crying.

They say Home Is Where The Heart Is and my heart is definitely here in North Carolina.  My husband is here, my kids are here, my pets are here, my new life is here.  And while I miss family and friends in California - I don't know if we will ever get back there other than for the odd visit now and then.  But in the meantime we have Pixar and their ability to keep me awake for 2 hours and to do a little more than entertain.