18. Problems and Prospects


John’s stress at work and in his relationship to work is spilling over into our lives. I’ve just returned from our second session of couples counseling. It’s good and we both feel positive. We are both committed to one another and are optimistic that a third party can help us learn to communicate and dream together better than we do now. Getting to this point has been a rocky road. Under fire from John’s erratic and unpredictable mood swings, I’ve been struggling to maintain my emotional stability and strength. We are no longer trying to have children. This was John’s decision and there was, and has been, no discussion. Knowing as you do how difficult not getting pregnant has been for me, this has been a hard pill to swallow. I’ve adjusted, and in one sense, knowing where I stand is easier than hoping and being disappointed each month. What hurt the most was having John begin our discussion by pinning his angst and depression on me—saying that he doesn’t feel enlivened in our relationship. I think that even two sessions of counseling has allowed him to relax a little and consider that his unhappiness in our relationship might be a symptom of a larger issue and not the issue itself. Nonetheless, this was an incredibly devastating thing to hear on the eve of our third anniversary.


That said, I’ve realized that I am an inherently happy and optimistic person, and no matter what happens, it’s never long before I gravitate back to this confident state of mind. I am actually pleased and excited that I was able to absorb this serious blow without having it rock my world for very long. I felt scared, frustrated and sad for a few days, moved through that to feeling numb, and now I am actually looking forward to this journey and opportunity to grow personally and, I hope and believe, grow together.



I am enjoying networking and finding it easy. It makes sense that it should be easy to talk to people who interview people for a living. I am proud of how organized and proactive I am being. I have a master list I work from and a daily log of what I do each day toward networking and finding work. If I don’t hear back from someone, I send them followup cards or email, being politely persistent in a way I’ve never had the confidence to do before.


It makes a huge difference to have a clear goal in mind; it’s much easier to sell yourself. I’ve been doing a lot of research and I’ve talked to a lot of people and the following is exactly what I want. I want to work at U.C. Berkeley’s Regional Oral History Office (ROHO) one day a week. This internship will allow me to experience and learn all aspects of compiling an oral history from an academic perspective. ROHO and the University of Columbia are the leaders in the field of oral history and their method is considered to be the gold standard. In all my past endeavors I’ve felt self conscious for being self taught, and this time I want the formal training and stamp of approval under my belt. So good news: I found out last Thursday that I have the internship and I begin in January!


I want to be a freelance writer for Antenna Audio. I know that I would enjoy the work; it offers the best potential for financial reward; and it would also help shape my career with a new skill set and respected experience. I am working on Catherine’s lead and will continue to be persistent in January until I make progress. I feel confident that if I am patient and persistent my focused determination will eventually be compelling.


Finally, I want to collaborate with the Oakland Museum’s History Department on a large exhibit they are creating for 2004 that will look at the impact of the Vietnam War on California. I have two leads for this project and feel confident that my eagerness and flexibility will ultimately help get me involved in some capacity. Working with the Oakland Museum on an exhibit design is the third piece of experience and credibility that I want as building blocks for my career.


After those three goals, I am toying with the idea of eventually teaching a memoir writing class to seniors or something along those lines. Again, I think I would enjoy teaching and it would be another excellent skill to have under my belt. Strategically planning a long range vision for my career feels great.


Finally, I still want to write and publish a book. Although, not the genre I want to be known for, I feel compelled to write a book or creative guide to help other women establish their own w2k groups. I envision (why not think big!) creating a phenomenon much like Julia Cameron created with the Artist’s Way. I recently met a woman who published a guide on gay and lesbian marriages and she offered to advise me on the specifics of writing effective query letters and manuscripts.


I’ll keep this one short. My feelings about the East versus West Coast ebb and flow—something I need to remember the next time that I feel panicked to make up my mind.  I am back to feeling grounded in California, my community, the landscape, the richness of opportunity here.



I am looking forward to spending time with my family, especially because my time with John has been so difficult and I have felt somewhat battered and helpless. A break will feel good—uninterrupted time to enjoy my thoughts and my family.


I feel overwhelmingly optimistic and excited that 2001 is going to be a very good year for me.



I caught poison oak last weekend while we were at Costanoa. I react severely to oak with huge red sores that ooze profusely for days and the poison spreads systemically throughout my body. My last adventure with oak took me three weeks to heal and nearly drove me mad. This time I did some research and discovered that fear is the mind-body emotion associated with contracting poison oak. Makes sense. To fight it, the book suggests repeating the affirmation: I am powerful, safe and secure. Acknowledging that I am in a vulnerable space right now, I doubled my determination, and fought. My oak completely dried up without the insane itching in only five days. For me, this represents how much I’ve grown and matured over the last year—the strength and grounded sense of self I’ve developed.


Thanks for listening. As always, it feels good to take a moment and reflect, then put it down and put it away. Can’t wait to see everyone.