Home > Family, Los Angeles, Personal, TV, Work, Writing > Weekend Coffee Share: Patchwork Umbrellas

Weekend Coffee Share: Patchwork Umbrellas

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you how glad I am to be meeting in a coffee shop for the first time in months. It’s so good for me to spend time here, at a place that reminds me how it feels to be Deborah-as-Deborah, taking a break from being Deborah-as-mom, Deborah-as-wife, Deborah-as-worker, Deborah-as-commuter, or any of the other roles I play. Here at the coffee shop, I get to just be for a while. I like coffee, but this is way better than coffee.

That’s enough about me for now. What have you been up to? What’s been on your mind?

After listening and interjecting questions, I’d tell you that I thought I had nothing to say when I climbed into my car this morning. My week was fairly quiet. I’d tell you how I realized as I drove that plenty has transpired–much of it in my internal world–since we last met.

Last Sunday, my husband and I joined friends and family for Super Bowl Sunday Taxes with Friends Day. Everyone was coughing, sniffling, and generally miserable, gathering for the sake of tradition … and getting our taxes sorted out nice and early.

My husband and I learned that, for the first time ever, we owe. We not only owe, but owe a full month of my post-tax salary.

Our family friend/accountant told us we should be buying a house in the next two years for the significant tax breaks. I smiled and nodded, all the while wondering where we’re supposed to find an L.A. down payment (at 10% down, that’s $50,000 for the crappiest of crapholes) while down one month’s salary this year and forking over half of my take-home salary for rent and Littler J’s care alone.

The good news is that I’m very good at quickly solving practical puzzles, so that I’d answered the tax payment question within about two minutes of learning we had one.

I’d smile at you, shrug, and say, “Maybe next year’s the year we’ll start looking at house stuff!” I might giggle afterward and cough, “But it’s probably unlikely.”

2015-04-27 09.42.42There’s still too much else to sort out, especially while my husband works to wrap up his days as a qualified assistant director! It might be a little while before he lands his next-and-final contract leading him into much more flexibility finding future jobs. Explaining his working arrangement would itself take an hour, so I’d shift conversation to the weekdays.

I stayed home sick on Monday. My husband and I ended up binge-watching The Fall on my just-younger sister‘s recommendation.

the fall rec

Like explaining my husband’s work situation, it would take me at least an hour to describe how much the show impacted me. I have seen people with the same sex organs as me cross screens for decades now, but never, ever before seen women–plural!–who felt so very full and complete, and to whom I so deeply related. I’ve been thinking a lot about representation in media recently, so that seeing just how powerfully positive it was to feel represented as an adult made me feel even more strongly the need for not just symbolic but true representation for impressionable children.

the fall ss

It was this show I paused when I heard clattering at my mailbox and was reminded true connection stands apart from time and physical proximity. Thanks to thoughtful commenters’ suggestions, I’m working on getting my condolences to my postman before he returns to work … if he does return, to the job and this particular route.

I’d pause before continuing to ensure you’re not only still awake but still interested in hearing more.

If “yes” to both questions, I’d continue.

first lost tooth dMy sweet big boy lost his first tooth last week. 

He lost his second this week, prompting me to again wonder how the tiny boy I brought home just yesterday (wasn’t it?) now stands shoulder-high on me, and as his two adult teeth buds remind me how quickly little ones grow. It doesn’t seem like it’s that quick during some rough moments as a parent, but it really is.

And Littler J? His vocabulary grows in leaps and bounds daily. Yesterday morning, his teacher told me he’s taught a classmate to say, “Wassat? Wassat?” His classmate’s parents were thrilled, prompting his teacher to reply that they should thank Littler.

He’s been saying “goo mornin” for a couple of weeks, while reserving “ga na” to request his favorite book, Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site. He surprised and thrilled his dad and me a couple nights ago when turning to his dad and saying, “Good night, Daddy!” (Daddy and I responded with a chorus of, “Aaaw!”)

What else, what else? I know I thought of at least one more thing while I was driving over!

Oh, yeah! I’d exclaim. I remember!

I’d tell you I scanned blogs while walking on my morning break yesterday. One of my colleagues paused and asked if GPS guides me so I’m not bumping into things.

I laughed and shook my head. “My first Freshly Pressed post was called ‘Reading While Walking.’ I’ve been doing this since I was kid!”

10/30/11: Reading While Walking revisited

Reading While Walking, revisited

“Send me the link!” he said as we walked our separate ways.

I sent him the link, following which he later told me he liked the way I write.

Something about the exchange reminded me of something else I wrote but have seldom acknowledged anywhere.

My essay “Patchwork Umbrellas” was published in the anthology What a Woman is Worth almost two years ago. I’d felt so brave while writing it, and submitting it, but felt anxious about it from virtually the moment I realized it would actually be printed.

I don’t like writing about work. If I do write about work, it’s either describing my job function very vaguely or generally addressing things I especially like about a particular position. The fact I’d written something not-great about a past job felt not-great.

But then, revisiting the piece yesterday, I found myself glad I’d written and shared it, in the latter case so that others might better understand that other peoples’ unkind behavior is not a reflection of them or their own worth.

I thought I understood that when I wrote the essay, but mine was only a fledgling bud of understanding, like my son’s adult teeth peeking through his gums. The tip revealed was the smallest part of the whole to come.

Back then, I thought it was my job to resolve any and every problem I saw. If I hadn’t solved a problem yet, it was just because I hadn’t found the right approach. Yet.

In late 2014, I finally realized I was neither responsible to resolve nor interested in resolving every problem I encounter. I have scant little time to focus on those most important to me as it is!

Understanding this has been so much more liberating than I could explain, I’d say, breaking into a grin. There is so much freedom in saying–and meaning–the words, “That is not my responsibility.”

If I encountered today the difficulties that inspired “Patchwork Umbrellas,” I’d quickly walk away from the job. Some small problems are capable of quick resolution, but others reveal systemic problems so deep and wide they are well beyond any one person’s capability to resolve, particularly if no one else is interested in doing so. As I’ve learned from Liz Ryan this year, my only responsibility when confronting fear-driven, “weenie” work practices is to protect myself–and my mojo–from them while finding a more human workplace.

Have you read any Liz Ryan? No? I highly recommend her! Even when she’s answering questions about situations unlike yours, her words are inspiring both professionally and personally.

You do not deserve to be treated like crap. Period.

I’d glance out the window at the fog beyond and tell you I’m glad for today’s gloom. I left Oregon because the weather depressed me, but once in a while, some gray is good to slow down, reflect, and be glad for everything I have … like moments to meet for coffee with you, no matter where or how often we meet.


  1. February 13, 2016 at 8:46 am

    I think if we were having coffee I would just let you talk. lol. Love your posts. I read every word.❤️

    • February 13, 2016 at 9:02 am

      Oh, how I would love to have coffee with you, even if that meant sitting in silence for only a few moments! The thought alone fills my hearts. Thank you. ♥

  2. February 13, 2016 at 10:50 am

    This is why I moved out of California without thinking it twice. The rent/lack of ability to buy a house in the future didn’t seem worth having the ability to go to the beach once a year. Sorry about the tax thing though-taxes aren’t fun 😦

    • February 14, 2016 at 6:37 am

      Anthony and I have definitely learned some useful tips about managing withholdings with intermittent show biz work! We’ll definitely be well served by that in the future.

      We talked about moving north for a while, back to where I’m from, but the job situation for someone in his line of work would be even more tenuous. So, for now, here is where we are … and there’s plenty that makes me glad to be here, even if home ownership doesn’t feel like it’ll be viable for another decade!

      • February 15, 2016 at 6:05 pm

        That makes complete sense. You know… Albuquerque has a growing film industry 😊.

  3. February 13, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    You are wise about holding off on buying a house. They aren’t assets until you own them and have a source of income that will independently pay the expenses. Until then, they are liabilities. Until you own it, the only entity making money is the bank. The income from a job that is funding the house is only as secure as the job.

    Kids grow up way fast. 😃

    Thoroughly enjoyed the post.

    • February 14, 2016 at 6:42 am

      I vaguely like the idea of having equity in something, but I also have witnessed plenty of money-sucking tax and repair catastrophes that sound a lot less pleasant than a little equity sounds pleasant! Before we begin looking for houses, we need to have a sizable down payment set aside as well as plans to address the inevitable, significant unplanned expenditures that come with home ownership.

      With a big ol’ chunk of law school debt following me around, I’m not too thrilled with the idea of paying tens of thousands of dollars more in interest on any other loan … even a home one. Debt it debt, and I want to be handily out of debt before piling on more debt.

      The good news is, with two little kids, I’ll have plenty to keep me busy even without home repairs thrown into the mix! 😉

  4. February 13, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Sounds like you’re in sort-of a lovely place, excepting the tax situation. Sweet kiddos sound and look as though they’re doing well and being generally delightful, though growing far too quickly, as they do, and there’s lots going on in the writing and pop culture worlds. Hope your week is a good one!

    • February 14, 2016 at 6:43 am

      It’s weird to owe as much as we usually have returned, but I’ve more or less made peace with this year’s situation. I really do feel like I’m in a lovely place, and look forward to sinking more and more into that loveliness as the weeks and months fly by. Aaaah. I hope your week’s grand, too!

      • February 14, 2016 at 10:51 am

        Thank you!!

  5. February 13, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Pass the milk, please.
    (Best coffee date I’ve had in a while.)

  6. February 15, 2016 at 12:47 am

    I need to figure out a time to visit and see that tooth gap, 🙂 and hug you all.

    • February 15, 2016 at 7:31 am

      In addition to the tooth gap, our house is as close to clean as it’s gotten since J joined the family! I want someone to bear witness to it, so we can later have affirmation we didn’t just dream it (or doctor any photos appearing to reflect tidiness). 😀 Big hugs.

  7. February 15, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Love how this was written Deborah. It seemed like you were chatting over a cup of coffee.

    I have never had much success reading while walking (a book or electronic device), but I have seen people do this with absolute precision! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂


  8. February 15, 2016 at 9:18 am

    I love these coffee posts. Thank you for sharing. ❤ And I agree on your comments about gray skies. We have so much gray in NE Ohio during the winter. This year it doesn't bug me for some reason. Not sure why – it makes me appreciate the sun that much more when we see it. Congrats to your little one on losing some toofers. 😉

  9. February 15, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Gah, that first tooth lost. LM was busy loosing a mouthful while BG was growing them. Fun times!

  1. March 13, 2016 at 6:46 am

Please weigh in--kindly!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: