Letters to Eleanor: 5 1/2 Weeks

June 28, 2016

Rather than spend the time to summarize everything that happened between the last post and today (I continued to be pregnant! I worked! I lifted weights until the day before I popped out a little girl baby! I had kind of a rough go after the baby came out!), I’d rather share a letter I wrote to our little lady, miss Eleanor.

I had gotten the idea somewhere online to create an email account for your baby, and send them emails periodically throughout their childhood sharing thoughts, memories, and moments. When they’re old enough to appreciate it, you give them the login and they have first hand recollections of their childhood.

I’ve shared the address with just my husband and our very immediate family. It seems easier to record a quick thought or quote when you can put it down on your phone or laptop, and from multiple parties, rather than rely on the conventional bedside journal or notebook.

So here’s one of the letters I’ve written her thus far, sent a week ago.

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“Today you are 5 1/2 weeks old, and as I write this on a rainy and cool June afternoon, you are sleeping in your crib, bundled up in a swaddling blanket, finally calm after hours of active squirminess.

The other day I picked you up out of your crib and you did something marvelous. Your whole body went stick straight, upright and rigid in my arms, and you held your head up high, like a proud exclamation point declaring, “Eleanor!” I brought you into the kitchen to show your dad and we were both amazed at how confidently you held up your head. Up until that moment you would bob and weave your head around, building up those neck muscles to hold up that adorable noggin of yours.
But this.
This!
Wholly unexpected.
Why at that point I don’t think I’d be any more surprised if you then turned to me and said, “Hello mama.” In that small moment you seemed like you could accomplish anything in the world, and we’d just watch, dumbfounded, proud, and incredulous all at once. It was probably your first big accomplishment, the first of many, many to come. I can’t believe it’s already happening.
Everyone tells me, “You’ll miss this,” and “It goes by so fast, cherish every moment.” That advice is always hard to understand in the moment, I think, and easy to reminisce upon later in life. I remember when I lived in Italy during college and I tried to repeatedly remind myself to remember this moment, remember how this feels. The cobblestone streets under wobbly heels, the taste of a lemon pastry, the sparklers and champagne in a night club. You do, to an extent, but the act of attempting to force it into a memory ends up ringing false somehow, and you later remember the act of trying to make it a moment, rather than the moment itself.
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Anyway, I digress. Many other moms tell me they miss how snuggly babies are at this age, so I’m trying to get all the snuggles I can, especially since next week is my last of maternity leave. Currently my favorite routine is to get up with you and get a little station set up on the couch for the morning. It includes a cup of hot coffee (brewed by dad), a glass of water, an easy breakfast like cereal or hard boiled eggs or an energy bar, and setting that all up with my cell phone and remotes on the coffee table. Then we get snuggly under a fuzzy blanket on the couch and watch a movie. You usually curl up like a comma in my arms, your head buried in my chest, peacefully sleeping. I smell and kiss your head a hundred times, an act I’ll repeat throughout the day because I’m pretty sure it’s better than any drug possible.
We currently love calling you Buggles, so I’ll sign off by saying how much I love you, Buggles. Every day, no matter how tiring or frustrating or confusing, is greater with you in it.
Love,
Mom”

Ebb and Flow

November 27, 2015

I’ve attempted to write here in the aftermath of the previous posts, but it all seemed simultaneously overwhelming and trivial.

This year has been so, so hard. Probably the toughest of my adult life.

From finding the sodden and stiff body of our healthiest cat outdoors one February morning, to watching my closest, dearest grandfather cry, “IT HURRRRTTTSSS!” as his last comprehensible words before he passed away in front of our eyes, I think I’ve cried more this year than any other.

When you add the death of my husband’s last grandparent, just days after we had visited with her perky self, and the very unexpected death of his 40-year-old cousin from complications incurred from her service in Iraq, AND the death of my last childhood pet, our dear dog Porter, on top of the miscarriage, ugh… The inevitable understanding of grief that we all must struggle with in our lives came roaring to our door in 2015.

That’s made the moments of levity in between all the more worthwhile and treasured. The laughs shared with my posse at the gym. The lighthearted commiseration with coworkers. The spades sunk into the soil of our darling little garden. The drinks toasted with friends in backyards and forests and weddings and pubs. The bike tires spun over Portland’s side streets. And Sean. There is always levity and light with him, no matter how down we are. Our shared black humor makes so many things more bearable.

That also makes the recently-announced news that we’re expecting our first kid that much more poignant. As I write this I’m nearly 14 weeks pregnant, and it’s still such a strange, fascinating thing to believe. I’m like my own biology experiment, and the changes that have already happened to my body constantly blow my mind. They also underline the fact that human bodies are weird and amazing and gross and there’s no way any of us can go through life with 100% dignity in tact.

We’ve passed the benchmark where the risk of losing the pregnancy is much, much lower, but the wariness from our previous experience remains. I’ve given in to the fact that a bunch of my clothes already are either too uncomfortable to wear or just don’t fit, and have a number of maternity clothes now in my wardrobe (side note: maternity pants are fucking legiiiiiiiiiit), but buying other baby things at this point just seems too… presumptuous? Like we’re taunting fate? Just too early.

But that hasn’t stopped enthusiastically loving people in our lives to already begin gifting us with baby books and tiny stuffed animals. We don’t know where to put the things yet– they just live in limbo on a bookshelf in the office that will eventually turn into a baby’s room. And while we begin grasping with concepts like losing almost half our income while I take maternity leave (side note: fuck the American parental leave system) and balancing our identities as individuals vs. parents and CREATING A HUMAN and everything in between, we kind of… wait. In this hopeful window that gets a little bit brighter as every day passes.

Healing, in Time

April 15, 2015

Whew, has this past week ever been the most intense hormonal ride that this relatively even-keeled girl been strapped into. I’ve had considerably more downs than ups, a lot of hugs, a decent amount of alcoholic drinks, a few more cookies than likely recommended, many good, honest conversations, and a number of repressed emotions while at work. Only yesterday did I feel I had just hopped off the ride and was regaining some sense of levelheadedness.

A couple days ago I had what I can only lazily describe as the craziest PMS of my life, as I was ultrasensitive about everything. My sweet, dear husband has been taking care of so much around the house during not only the last week but also through the previous weeks when early pregnancy fatigue whipped my ass at the end of each day. I felt such guilt about it. To the point that after I went to bed early (my solution to having too many emotions), I asked him from across the room, while buried underneath the covers, “DO YOU RESENT ME???!!” When he understandably responded with an incredulous, “What?! No. Steph, come on, go to sleep,” my (thankfully) inner voice responded with, “I’M NOT CRAZY!” while a smaller, more sane, inner voice responded with, “Steph, chill the fuck out.” Yikes.

After overcoming those delightful moments and finally feeling closer to my normally cheery self, i had my first follow-up doctor’s appointment this morning. It was originally scheduled to be my first official prenatal visit, so when I checked in the girl at the front desk tried to confirm it was that appointment. I didn’t blink but only awkwardly said, “Uh, no, not… anymore…?” Luckily, she immediately understood.

When I went into the doctor’s office, we exchanged mild pleasantries as she waited for her computer to load my files. “How are you feeling?” she asked. “Oh, I’m okay. I’m still spotting a bit though. I assume that’s normal?” She was quick to reply that yes, during the first trimester spotting here and there was common and it would go away near the beginning of my second. I just stared, absolutely dumbfounded.

She totally forgot I was in here last week.

Granted we’ve only met twice, and when I came in during/after the miscarriage I spent most of my time with the ultrasound doctor, but still. Ouch.

“I… I miscarried last week,” I managed to stammer out before abruptly bursting into tears. Despite everything, despite the depth and breadth of emotions I had felt over the week, I still had not cried. But the realization that someone with whom I’m supposed to confide completely forgot this event that was so recent and so huge in my life (thus far), and that she alluded to this pregnant future that we’re not having (just yet), that caused sobbing.

The doctor immediately and clearly regretted her words, and the apprentice that was shadowing her that day squirmed awkwardly in her seat on the other side of the room. The doctor’s sympathetic face only made mine crumple more and I had to look away to try and regain composure.

The rest of the appointment was fine, concluding with the confirmation that we can try to get pregnant again soon and are doing everything right, but man. That swiftly kicked my ass out of my all-too brief “over it” reverie. I need to be at peace with the fact that this, like everything good and worthwhile, takes time.

Of Grapes and Champagne

April 8, 2015

Ever since we found out I was pregnant, I was bracing for the chance that I’d miscarry. During the first few weeks it seemed impossible that I’d be able to safely carry this tiny, tiny being, this cluster of cells, into fruition, like grasping a grain of sand while running on a windy shore. Nine months? A single week felt like eons. One day I’d want to tell everyone I came across, everyone I knew, and the next I’d desperately need to keep it deeply private and secret. I’d see a random pregnant woman in my office building and suddenly want to confide in her, but then come across a casual friend and conduct a vigorous internal debate whether or not they were someone I’d tell just yet. Just in case. That looming “if” that every text warned me about.

Before I was pregnant I had read about how common miscarriages were and how little they were discussed. “I’d tell everyone I was pregnant when I find out,” I thought at the time, “because miscarriage is so common and yet spoken about so rarely, and I’d want people to know why I was sad.” My feminist self wanted this woman’s issue to be discussed openly and forthrightly. However, the second I became pregnant, those thoughts changed, and that twelve week mark loomed ahead like twelve months.

Then I fell into a certain groove of early pregnancy. I experienced certain symptoms (fatigue, but no morning sickness, acne breakouts, but no extreme mood swings, random food aversions, but no weird cravings, boob pain, but only headaches when I kept to my normal low-carb diet) and somewhat gleefully chalked it up to that ol’ pregnancy. “I’ve been eating chocolate almost every day!” I’d joke to friends who knew of my previously super healthy eating habits. “I found a decent mocktail recipe!” as I jealously eyed someone’s alcoholic drink. But it was okay. I was healthy. I’d been taking prenatal vitamins for six months by the time we conceived. I’d been off the pill for four. I worked out at least four days a week. I was taking probiotics, fish oil, and vitamin D on top of the prenatals. I ate so many leafy greens. We’d had the names picked out since before we were engaged. I even had the baby’s room decor all planned out (partially because it’s my job and I love it, partially because certain close relatives wanted “our colors” to begin beautifully handmade quilts). I had read all immediately applicable information in my five books on various pregnancy related things, and was ready to read more as time progressed. In short, we were READY for this.

We’d get the same weekly updates that many expectant couples receive. “This week your baby is now the size of a blueberry and his or her eyes are developing!” We’d then affectionately refer to our blueberry for that week. “To the blueberry!” we’d toast when we shared the news with a few close friends. Every week we were closer to that twelve-week goal. Every week the odds were lessening. Then it was a week of praising a kidney bean. “Oh, little kidney bean,” I’d lament as I fell asleep at 8pm. After that, it was a grape.

We never moved past the grape stage.

According to the app, it was an inch long, had joints, a beating heart, developing finger pads. It no longer had an embryonic tail. It seemed to be… almost a tiny human. Still alien-ish looking, but definitely humanoid. There’s hope, I allowed.

Then I started bleeding. I called my sister, who is a doula, and she said spotting was common. I read half a dozen internet articles and entered at least as many search terms into Google. On the third bloody day, I knew for certain something was awry. I left work midday and bought a pregnancy test, which I took in the office bathroom. Pregnant, it said. I knew that with my symptoms, that wasn’t entirely conclusive. Calls were made, appointments were set, and I left work to head to my mom’s for a previously-scheduled family dinner. As I left the building, a baby spotted me from 20 feet away and pointed and waved. The adorably little pig-tailed thing stared and smiled and pointed and waved until I had walked past her. 10 feet later, another baby stared and smiled. What the fuck, world, I thought.

Cramps developed as I drove. After greeting my mom and visiting sister and nephew upon my arrival, I all-too-casually announced I thought I was miscarrying and shit slowly hit the fan. Everything– the cramps, the bleeding– got worse. The worst I’d ever had. I curled in the fetal position on my mom’s couch, a heating pad on my abdomen, as my nephew asked if his favorite auntie could play with him. “Not now, sweetie,” I’d try to chirp back semi-cheerfully. “Auntie has a bad tummy ache.”

The next morning tests and ultrasounds confirmed what we knew already. It was gone. Natural selection had likely determined it wasn’t ready for the world outside the womb, and poof, spontaneous miscarriage.

What’s left? Well, disappointment. I know I feel grief, but honestly my grief feels like numbness because in my beautifully sheltered and easy life, I’ve experienced grief very, very few times. People ask me questions and I have no answers. I shrug. I haven’t cried. I’ve teared up, but nothing beyond the welling of the eyes. I’m not sure if I have further grief with which to deal (probably), or if steeling myself for this possibility throughout these weeks has left me somewhat prepared for this loss. “You know the verb people always use for this?” I asked my husband. “Suffer. I suffered a miscarriage,” I intoned somewhat dramatically. I’m not sure what level of suffering this is. I’ve eaten a lot of junk food, mostly in the form of chocolate and potato chips. I’ve had one beer and a couple glasses of champagne. Eating and drinking my feelings, I joke.

I know we didn’t do anything wrong and that it isn’t our fault. I know it’s common. I know we can try again soon. I know there is still great potential for future babies. It’s just… well. A lot. It’s a lot. Many things have changed in the last few weeks, and many have changed in the last few days. This will take time to process and discuss and settle. A miscarriage is now on my life’s resume, and it’s something I never expected to find there. I’m hoping it’s the only one.

For now, my husband and I hold each other and kiss each other and watch things that make us laugh. We joke, because we always joke, and that’s how we both have learned to cope. I write this out because it helps me process the jumble in my head. And maybe, just maybe, that feminist ideal I had before ever getting pregnant, of talking about the common miscarriage, will help someone else who’s never openly discussed hers before. I toast my glass of champagne to you, my dear. You are so, so not alone.

Gaining Strength: One Year Later

January 4, 2015

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Exactly one year ago I signed up for my first ever Olympic weightlifting meet, having NEVER done anything beyond traditional lifts. I learned the basics in three weeks and at the meet, successfully completed both the snatch and the clean & jerk. I lifted the lightest weights at the meet, but I was hooked. I documented that whole process last year in a four part series, starting here: The Strength to be Strong.

Since then, I’ve continued training both Olympic lifts and in general strength and conditioning. I’ve now competed in two unsanctioned Oly meets, and one sanctioned one, where I proudly sported our team singlet. Let me tell you, I would have NEVER expected that to happen in my life– owning a singlet OR posting pictures of me wearing one online OR lifting weights in front of a crowd while wearing one.

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A new C&J PR set in competition: 48kg!

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If it isn’t obvious by now, I love weightlifting. I seriously appreciated it before this year, but it has now become such a mainstay in my life (4 days a week on average), which meant a lot during a fairly crazy year. A busy new work schedule (including one 33-days-of-work-in-a-row stint, and domestic and international work trips) would have normally deterred me from maintaining a regimen, but it honestly kept me sane. Focusing on physical work allowed me to take a mental break from everything else more times than I can count this year, and I am so, so thankful for that. Also? I swear that lifting weights in the hotel gym after flying to China erased my jet lag. That and I super impressed the Chinese businessmen by being the only female in there, and the only one throwing around any significant amount of weight.

Not only did I gain sanity and mental peace through weightlifting, but the community that I’ve joined at Industrial Strength Gym has made working out a social appointment I am more than happy to keep. The support, the camaraderie, the friendly competition, and just a giant room full of smiling faces make it one of my favorite places in the world right now. I see these people more than any of my other friends or any of our families, so liking them makes an hour in the gym a breeze.

Vickie (my "bartner") and I are currently racing to be the first to deadlift 300lbs.

Vickie (my “bartner”) and I are currently racing to be the first to deadlift 300lbs. Bitch, you’re going down!

As a result of this love and commitment, I am the strongest and most confident and comfortable with my body and myself than I have ever been. The large thighs I used to loathe are something I am proud to sport now. Nothing but slimming black yoga pants? Fuck that, give me a crazy ass pattern and let’s get wild. My ass is actually gaining a good curve, rather than just being a wide and flat white girl’s ass. And I have guns! With shadows of triceps! Some shirts don’t fit them anymore! What?! And I’m so okay with this!

No longer am I concerned with getting smaller. I just want to get stronger. As women we’ve had the messages of “take up less space,” “be smaller,” “shrink yourself,” and “don’t be an inconvenience” drilled into our brains from an early age. To shirk that and gladly acknowledge my strength and appear muscular is one of the most refreshing and liberating things I’ve experienced as an adult. Plus that feeling of denying someone’s help when they’re concerned your bag of groceries or that box you’re moving is too heavy, and showing them you’re more than capable of doing it yourself is, admittedly, amazing. I blew my grandparents’ minds when I moved a massive old TV for them on my own.

So, on the year anniversary of signing up for my first Olympic weightlifting meet, I signed up for my first powerlifting competition. Squat, deadlift, and overhead push press are the three lifts I’m competing in. Again, I know I’m not the strongest person out there. Not by a long shot. But having that goal to work toward is incredibly inspiring and I am more than stoked. Plus I’ve learned that it’s not about who lifts the most out of everyone, but just out of the people that had the guts to sign up that day. I could place last in my division, I could place first, I could place somewhere in the middle. I’m totally cool with any of those outcomes. To me, it’s all about the journey and seeing how far I come by the end of that day.

My husband and I are beginning our annual Whole30 on Monday the 5th (after some seriously fun food and drink indulgences over the holidays), and I plan on extending that until the powerlifting meet near the end of February. Not only that, I recently took a GEMS test to determine what foods work best with me on a lifelong genetic level (learn more about that here). Beyond the normal Whole30 guidelines I’ll be cutting out bacon, sausage, fermented foods, shellfish, dried fruit, and a few others. I’ve heard from people who’ve taken the test and eliminated their respectively appropriate foods that their health, well being, and even gym performance have improved significantly, so now it the perfect time to test that out. I signed up for a weight class that is right around where I usually hover, so this will be the first time I’ll have to monitor my weight, which should be interesting. The big takeaway from that though is not associating that number with an emotion, which I’ve gotten much better about during 2014. After all, it’s just a damn number.

I received a lot of great feedback from people regarding last year’s Strength series posts, as I’ve previously mentioned. I don’t plan on fully continuing that again this time around, but keep an eye out for updates on my training process and how the competition turns out. I’m so excited for it.🙂

And the World Continues Turning

August 12, 2014

BLOOOOGGGGGGGGG!

Hey there. I’d ask you how you’re doing, but you’re a website that just hangs out, and this conversation is entirely one-sided. But that haircut is fabulous, dear. Just superb. Sooooo, a number of big things have changed since we last spoke!

That new house I had mentioned moving into? Well, we did, with the help of a diverse group of friendly people armed with high fives and arms around boxes and toasts of cold beers. That little house we moved into has proven to be better than we anticipated. The backyard we initially viewed under a blanket of snow? Best thing about the place. We’ve planted all types of veggies and fruits there (with some help of our next door landlord/master gardener) and I’m currently buried in produce that I’m trying to preserve/can/dry/soak in alcohol as fast as my free time allows. Plus the adjacent patio is the ideal entertaining/happy hour location, and we’ve been soaking up sun, fun, conversation, and contemplation in that little spot as much as possible.

Surprisingly, this is BEFORE the garden went nuts. Now you can't even see that trellis with all the tomatoes, cucumbers, spaghetti squash and zucchini that are snaking their way through it..

Surprisingly, this is BEFORE the garden went nuts. Now you can’t even see that trellis with all the tomatoes, cucumbers, spaghetti squash and zucchini that are snaking their way through it..

The previously mentioned next door landlords? Oh, are they the definition of Good People. They built us raised beds filled with the best soil. They tore down an old shed and built a new one, stocked with all the yard and garden care equipment we could need. They’ve had us over for cocktails in their beautiful and immense backyard, and they shared their family’s Easter feast with us. They’ve introduced us to a bunch of other really super nice neighbors. Heck, they even waved me over one Sunday morning and gave us a couple of freshly made crepes stuffed with fresh crab and topped with creme fraiche. Truly, truly great, generous people. Our hesitations about living next to landlords are gone.

A big change is that I am no longer driving 120 miles a day to a job marketing tasty craft beer. It had been a long and emotionally tolling job search.

(A quick aside with a few examples of that endeavor… I was a final candidate four or five times over the course of 18 months. I was offered a very mediocre [but well paying] job marketing a product in which I had no interest… that I turned down. I did a shit-ton of research on every place that I applied and produced detailed, personalized cover letters over and over and over again, oftentimes to no response and no avail. One snowboarding clothing company VP had me write an after-interview essay on digital marketing strategies, and after I sent it to him I never heard from him or the company again. Trust me, the list goes on.)

I loved the brewery, loved the product, loved the people, loved the place. Still do! But it wasn’t working for where I wanted to go and where I want to be. When I was offered the new gig of being a full time designer for a wholesale home decor company, I bid a friendly adieu, toasted a few pints with coworkers, exchanged a couple tears with my boss, and very amicably parted ways.

This is my first time being a 100% designer (no hyphenated job titles or duties for this gal!) and it’s already been so exciting. Skills are improving, influences are growing, confidence is… biggening. Biggening? Getting bigger. Broadening. See? I’ve stopped including “copywriter” in my job description and look how my vernacular has languished.

In the three months I’ve been there I’ve already traveled to Memphis and Atlanta, and will likely head to China sometime within the next six months. One of the neatest aspects is seeing conceptual products that I’ve roughly illustrated or patched together in Photoshop turn into real, three-dimensional products that don’t look like utter crap! I’m not diminishing my skills with that statement, it’s just amazing to see something I once considered a hobby, an afterthought, not even my major, turn into a full-fledged career that produces items that people will purchase and give meaningfully to friends or bring out each holiday.

Go to Memphis for the first time? End up in a "Who's Who of Memphis" magazine.

Go to Memphis for the first time? End up in a “Who’s Who of Memphis” magazine.

We’re midst a summer that’s already been a busy whirlwind, and as per usual I’m already bemoaning the oncoming fall. I haven’t gotten enough of a tan yet, haven’t jumped into enough swimming holes, haven’t napped outdoors, haven’t played enough. The weekends are quickly filling up and still it feels like not enough time before the rains return and I can’t comfortably drive around with the windows down.

That all being said, life is darn peachy right now and I couldn’t complain a bit.

Things I Accomplished This Weekend

March 16, 2014

… in no particular order.

  1. Herb roasted a giant turkey breast
  2. Packed up the majority of immediately unnecessary items in our kitchen
  3. Slept 8+ hours each night
  4. Cooked a giant pot of Filipino beef stew
  5. Deadlifted 220 pounds for the first time
  6. Walked to the store in a tank top and was not cold
  7. Drank several beers, two glasses of wine, and a mint julep
  8. Squatted 140 pounds for the first time
  9. Watched my first episode of Scandal
  10. Watched six episodes of Scandal
  11. Got the keys to our new house
  12. Dropped off the first load of boxes in our new house
  13. Had to write an unexpected and un-budgeted check to our new landlords for a deposit we had never discussed
  14. Jacked up my upper back/t-spine area doing military presses
  15. Walked the 5k Shamrock Run with my mom, husband, and father-in-law
  16. Listened to a quarter of the audiobook for Neil Gaiman’s American Gods while packing and doing chores
  17. Ate some candy
  18. Fielded a phone call from my nephew who thought every sharply dressed female mannequin in Banana Republic was his auntie, was sad when it wasn’t, and needed to talk to me because he missed me

It was busy enough to be notable.

 

Moving Along

March 13, 2014

We’re moving from NE Portland to SE next week. Midst the expected chaos of packing, sorting, cleaning, and getting rid of stuff, we’ve had time to reflect upon the things we will miss and the things we will certainly not miss in our current abode. Comparatively, the lists are a little unbalanced.

THINGS WE WILL MISS

A very private backyard. Enclosed almost completely with a freestanding garage and giant laurel hedge, the backyard made a nice little retreat. Also: there was a few square feet of grass where absolutely no one could see you, unless they were in the house. Scantily clad sunbathing days are gone.

A bathroom with lots of natural light. I actually made a greenhouse out of the sunny, south-facing expanse we had out of our bathroom window and it always seemed cheerful.

My raised beds. Sean, my dad, and I built four 2’x4′ raised beds last year and filled them with excellent organic compost and soil, and in them I had my best garden to date. 
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Our firepit. Another thing we built last year and thoroughly enjoyed, especially when having friends over for a few beers around the fire on warm summer nights.

Our neighborhood. It’s a nice place near parks and schools with lovely neighbors, within walking distance of a grocery store, theater, liquor store, and a few decent restaurants, and has easy access to the highway and airport.

It was our first house together. So, you know, sentimentality and all that malarkey.

 

THINGS WE WILL NOT MISS

Not having a dishwasher. HOLY CRAP ARE WE SICK OF HAND-WASHING DISHES. Especially because I cook a lot of awesome food and we both have busy schedules. Dishes pile up easily in this place, so washing them is an hour-long chore of dread. This will be a HUGE timesaver.

Mowing lots of lawn. Our new place has modest patches of grass in the back and front yards, with everything else being established beds of neat plants. I hate mowing and our current place, with large front and back yards AND long sidewalk strips of grass, was the worst. Add in a crappy electric mower and it was my most hated warm weather chore.

Having only one bathroom. Where everything you do is easily heard by anyone else in the house. (That part of hosting guests was always awkward.) And your husband camps out in there for what seems like hours. And two people getting ready at the same time was near impossible due to its tiny size.

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Fabby hogs the sink. AGAIN.

Not having a fan with our stove. There’s a nice layer of greasy dust on everything near the stove because the ventilation in the kitchen is A.) a window, or B.) a door.

Stinky cupboards. For whatever reason, the cupboards and drawers at our current place have a weird old wood, old cardboard funk to them. If anything has been in there for a long time, you need to wash it first before using it because you’ll then taste it in your wine or dinner. While packing I found a stash of paper plates I had kept in the back of one and I immediately threw them out.

Oil furnace heat. Spending somewhere between $700-1000 once a year to fill a tank of fossil fuels to heat your house is the worst. Granted it does heat the house quickly, and if the place is smelly for whatever reason (say, the garbage wasn’t taken outside early enough), a spritz of perfume in the intake vent did instantaneous wonders. However, fuck that inefficient, unsustainable, and expensive noise. Literal noise, because that shiz is loud.

Bad bathroom lighting. Despite me loving the natural light in the bathroom, it’s a pain in the ass for eyebrow plucking. And the small spotlights directly over the mirror create harsh shadows that point out every conceivable bump on your face.

Weird laundry system. The washer empties into a large sink basin. If you don’t watch it vigilently, the small drain could plug up, the sink could fill, and the whole thing overflows. It only happened to us twice, but you could never just put a wash on and go. Also, the dryer doesn’t vent outside the house. Instead it vents into a little plastic basket on the floor, in which you’re supposed to pour a little water to trap the inevitable lint. That… kinda works? As a result, the basement turns into a sweating sauna. Nice in the winter, awful in the summer. And lint covers everything, including the popcorn ceiling.

 

You could easily just summarize this entire post with FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS. Because they are. But! What you can easily deduce from these lists: we’re really looking forward to our new house. Onward and upward!

Truthiness

March 10, 2014

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Night creams, day creams, creams for your wrinkling decollete, creams for rough elbows, creams for rough days (TAKE A GODDAMN CALGON MOMENT YOU UNFEMININE AUTOMATON), cellulite erasers, spanx, lip plumpers, hair straighteners, high heels, push-up bras, self tanning lotions, shellac manicures, brazilian waxes, microdermabrasion, eyelash extensions, hair extensions, chemical peels, teeth whitening, diet pills, diet drops, diet drinks, vajazzling, rhinoplasty, labiaplasty, liposuction, butt implants, cheek implants, hair transplants…

Play us the theme song, Beyoncé!

A Work in Progress

January 26, 2014

In an amazing feat of table turning, within an hour of me posting about being proud of my weightlifting accomplishments, this photo was posted of me performing the exact thing I was proud of.

1509730_1453613204857540_55759594_nAnd despite words of praise, my initial reaction to this photo was ANYTHING BUT PROUD. Let me illustrate my thought process a la doge memes. (Click to embiggen.)

olymeet_dogeMy first reaction is to criticize my appearance, look for faults, hide from public view, and overlook the radness of what I’m doing (with decent form, might I add!). And that fucking sucks. It’s also proof that despite my bluster, despite my efforts to be strong and proud and to look past what society expects from me, my superficial ego still holds tremendous sway over how I view myself.

In other words, I have a long way to go.

I think this is also the appropriate time to share this beautiful video on, of all things, selfies. I didn’t realize until the end that it was a Dove promo, which kinda pissed me off since I’ve railed against their heavy-handed “Redefine Beauty” campaign in the past. But this video made me want to cry multiple times. Our own criticisms are often ridiculous in the eyes of other people. One girl hates her big hair, which I would personally ADORE. But as another girl stated, we often hate the things that make us different, when those are the very things that make us unique. Strength is accepting your differences and finding beauty within them.

Watch, share, discuss. And maybe try to lose (or lessen!) your fear of a bad photo.

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This is Part 4 of this whole challenge. Need to catch up? Here you go, champ!
Part 1: The Strength to be Strong
Part 2: Training, with GIFs
Part 3: The Strength to be Proud