Old Photos

WI found THE hard drive. You know, THE one. With ALL the things. As in EVERY picture I’ve ever taken, well, there are PLENTY of pictures remaining on my old Dell laptop that’s sitting in the chest of drawers in my old room at home, but they don’t count.

I did however find this picture – which claims to be from the early 2000’s

What in the world? I know, I know. We were in Little Rock for Barry and Charlotte’s wedding. This was a long, long time ago. And a very, very fun trip.

Which leads to a post that has been developing in my head for a while. Let me start with this, which I will come back to in a later post: I had a long training run on Saturday. In what has been an unusually mild winter, we ran 12 miles in the second bad snow storm of the winter. I have NEVER run in a snow storm. Much less miles and miles of hills in a snow storm. Much less packed snow, with runners whizzing past me like it is nothing! Thankfully there were plenty around me trying to figure out how to keep traction on the icy snow. When I finished the run I felt so proud of myself. It was so hard, it took a lot of persistence to do it, a lot of people ran it on a treadmill. I was so proud. Rightfully so. It wasn’t an easy thing to do. I was also really proud of myself for being ok being proud of myself. It was a HUGE moment of growth for me. I would normally feel really guilty for that kind of thing. No psychoanalytical understanding of why, just, normally I would.

As I look back through these pictures I realize that there are a lot of things that I am really proud of. One is my resilience. I am the come back queen. This is an incredibly important skill, as another thing that I am very skilled at is making mistakes. Now, I used to really resent this. Actually, hate it. I felt like there were blue-eyed, golden people who sail through life just getting it right. And in ways, there are. In some ways, that is, in fact a very enviable life. However; I have learned as one who makes many mistakes, the beauty of grace and forgiveness.  Not the everyday kind of forgiveness where you gloss over things, but the kind Patty sings about

Open your eyes boy, we made it though the night
Let’s take a walk on the bridge right over this mess
Don’t need to tell me a thing baby, we already confessed
And I raise my voice to the air
And we were blessed
It’s hard to give
It’s hard to get
It’s hard to give
But still I think it’s the best bet
Hard to give
Never gonna forget
But everybody needs a little forgiveness
Everybody needs a little forgiveness

Man, there are days that those words ring so deep in my soul I think I can physically feel them. I am proud of myself for learning to communicate, for not backing down from conflict, for accepting forgiveness and for giving it. I have also learned that an apology offered in sincerity should be offered once. No one should have to beg. Obviously, forgiving doesn’t mean the situation doesn’t still smart… Take some time and space. This is one of the things I feel the most proud of in our marriage. When a sincere apology is on the table, but someone’s emotional water is still murky – we make sure that the edict of forgiveness is declared and a request for space is given. The harder part is that eventually you have to get over it, you’ve forgiven, you’ve got to go back over to that person you love and risk it all over again. I am proud of the ways that I have fought it out in many of my relationships. We haven’t always done it right, but those three women in that picture above remain three of my very best friends. I am really proud of that.

Speaking of that. Mimers. That one on the right. She got married to a guy from Little Rock. We didn’t know that when we were in my Dad’s backyard taking this picture… Nor could we have known that her marriage would lead to my own. I am so proud of the choice I made in life partner. Waiting until your mid-thirties to get married is like social suicide in the south. I had people offering me magic frogs in hopes that there was some long lost line of princessry in my blood. I went on some bad dates. Had some un-reasonable crushes. And one horribly broken heart, that I thought I might never recover from. I went back to that moment of love again and again, believing that maybe that was as good as it gets. And then disguised in an Old Navy Navajo shirt and some 1990 white washed jeans, Justin walked into my life and made me realize every cliche I ever heard was true. Every time AM told me to hold on, every story she told me about feeling the same way before UK was true and she was right. It was worth the wait. I am so proud of myself for not settling just so I didn’t have to be alone, because in the end, I would have ended up alone in a marriage I regretted – trying to make it work.

I am proud of myself for loosing lots and lots of weight and keeping it off. As you all know, I never thought I could run a marathon. AM&UK held my hand and carried me through 6 hard months of training and about 10 pounds of weight loss a month. I finished the first race in about 6 hours and 42 minutes to my dear friends running with me and cheering like crazy! I’ve run a few more races since then, lost about 30 more pounds and kept it off. I am incredibly proud of this. I struggle with maintaining a healthy balance of health sometimes, but the older I get, the less I care about what I look like or weigh and the more I care about being healthy and happy. I am also proud of growing in that way.

I am proud of myself for moving to Germany and I am more proud of myself for moving home. There were a series of incredibly hard decisions that went into both of those things, and consequences that were beyond painful as a result of both, but I can say with total honesty that both times were the more courageous acts I have executed in my life. I am thankful for the unrelenting support of AM&UK to remind me that I am NEVER stuck.

I am proud of my relationship with AM&UK. We were all in Brooklyn recently, telling stories and being our normal, ridiculous selves… Justin asked when my relationship with them really turned around. They shared a series of events, exactly the ones that I had shared with him, which led to the precious deepening of our relationship. Don’t get me wrong, when we tell our funniest stories – there is NO AGREEMENT and CONSTANT ARGUMENT regarding the “facts.” And I love that. We forged our relationship and intimacy together and I am so proud of that.

One last thing. I am incredibly proud of myself for going back to school. I am proud of myself for the hard work I have put into it. I am proud of myself for doing so well. I am proud of myself for all that I have achieved. I am proud of myself for being invited to participate in the program that I did at Vassar. I am proud of myself for being on the Dean’s List, in Phi Theta Kappa, the Commonwealth Honor Society… I am proud of myself for being friends with the students in my classes, single mothers, young kids, international students, locals, recent immigrants. I am proud of myself for having fantastic relationships with my professors and faculty. I am proud of myself for being courageous enough to apply to the schools I am applying to. Even though there’s a chance that I might not get in, I am going to risk it. I am 34 years old, I have incredible life experience, I am a critical thinker, I am a contributor, and I would be an asset to any college or university smart enough to accept me. I am really excited to see which schools decide I am the right fit for them. I will be really sad to leave Community College though, this has been an incredible experience. I have had professors at BHCC that I will treasure forever. Natalie Oliveri, Thomas Hooper,  Khaled Abukhidejeh, Karen Hawthorne, Luke Salisbury…  Seriously. I don’t think they get better. I am so proud to be a student at Bunker Hill, proud of the student that I have become there, proud of the work I have done there and I will be proud to promote the school and the Community College system as a transfer student. Going back to college at 33 is no easy task. As a matter of fact, it has felt impossible at moments, but I have done it well, and I am really, really proud of that.

What are you proud of? I think it’s a really healthy thing to be able to look at our lives and puff up with a healthy pride at the things that we have worked hard for. I have not done the above things perfectly, and many of them I have not even done well, but that doesn’t mean I am not proud of them. In turn, spend a little time telling the people around you what you’re proud of. It never gets old. Ever. The entire world would be a little better off if we did a little less criticizing and a little more encouraging… In my opinion at least! On that note, I am really proud of you for reading all 1600 words of this post! Thanks for hanging in through this braggy pants post.

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Unplugged

So I’ve decided to do a Monday dump. The truth is, we go offline on Sundays, but really, for the most part we are kind of off line on Saturdays as well (other than my campaign for Jady Griffin to have 400 followers for his birthday.)

Needless to say, this unplugging means that a lot of things come up in reading or conversation and I thought this might be a good day to turn them over to you.

So the firs thing, is that if you are on Twitter and you like to be amused, you should follow Jady Griffin. His quotes of his son Tait are hysterical. His wife has a blog called Lark and Bloom that I posted for last mothers day. It’s a Christian blog, that has a lot of real life insight. You should check that one out also.

We didn’t directly celebrate Elvis’ birthday. But it’s widely known that Graceland

is a favorite of AM’s. Though I have to admit, I am not really sure that I know why… I need to follow up on that. Also. A line in the infamous Marc Cohn song, Walking in Memphis. In case you missed the horrific drama this post created. Anyway, peanut butter banana sandwiches for all.

Nope, this weekend we celebrated the release of AL from prison the hospital. We got an update Saturday morning on Justin’s Granddad, the lack of update since then probably means that Justin’s sister was in town. Hopefully we’ll hear something today. At last news he was doing better – breathing on his own. In our opinion no news is good news! We look forward to not frantically checking our phones to make sure that no one has called or texted with bad news. It was awesome to get the news that AL was going home! We offered lots of thankful prayers during prayers of the people last night for AL’s release and what we hope is Granddad’s continued improvement.

We LOVED this article in the Sunday Times. Be It Resolved. Seriously. So, for those of you who don’t know my AM, she has resolve of steel. She does most of these things naturally. When I showed her the calorie tracking app she has used it faithfully and her weight has stayed really consistent. It’s awesome. I, on the other hand, almost never use it consistently and I toy with 7 pounds like Sadie plays with boxes. I am going to be better about it though. I am resolved. Seriously. Anyway, it’s a great article and very pragmatic and scientific. So give it a read.

For humor. We live at the end of a dead end street. It dead ends into a cemetery. So people use our driveway as a turnabout. Once a month people yell at us or threaten to ram our car for waiting patiently while they use our driveway as a turnabout. Last night, after church, two cars were backing in to turn around and there were three cars parked in front of the fire hydrant so they couldn’t go there… There we sit. On the street. With two cars in our drive way. Three cars illegally parked at the end of the street and we backed up to let the cars out of our driveway so that we could get in, the cars, of course FURIOUS, thinking we’re backing up only to do the same thing they’re doing, not to park AT OUR HOME. I thought Justin was going to go postal. Currently there is a poster taped to a trash can in our driveway that says, Private Driveway NO U-TURNS. I think it got hit at least 10 times last night.

Warning – small political rant. I’ve never lived in a state where primary advertising is reachable. It’s something else. Anyway, there’s this ad out. I won’t mention the candidate. However, the indication is that faith=moral and non-christian/non-jewish/non-mormon faith=immoral. As I said earlier, we go to church. Yesterday after church, we were pulling out of our parking spot, a cabbie almost slammed into the left side of our car trying to get around us and the woman behind us tried to cut around us on the right – while on the phone, with the window down, screaming profanity. Clearly, I responded by rolling the window down and responding in kind. Moral? Probably not according to a man who uses the word zany as an insult. History has shown that both the atheist and the zealot’s capacity for morality and immorality are on parr, and the religious man is the very one who should carefully head how he yields his claim of piety. You would never find an atheist behaving in the same manner. I think it’s pretty dangerous to associate morality exclusively with three specific sects of faith, and statistics show that in fact that is EXACTLY what Americans do. Just something to mull around, and ask yourself.

So there you have it. The tree is down. Epiphany, Little Christmas is past, AL is home, Aunt Sue’s Chocolate Cake is almost gone, and the temp outside is finally above 30 so I need to go for a run. Happy Monday everyone. Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget…

Learning as We Go

Last year I got married. When I moved back from Germany the big question was what I would do. I wanted to go back to school, and I didn’t. I knew it would be an adjustment to go back in my thirties, but also knew that unless I did, many doors would remain closed to me.

So I enrolled, as most of you know. The first semester was comedic and exciting. Great professors with great quirks. It had challenging moments, but for the most part was a breeze. I nannied for a family with a newborn and though the newborn was fussy it was an easy way to spend my time and LOW stress. THEN Christmas came. I need to say that we stayed here for Thanksgiving and Christmas due to the extensive use of our vacation time for our honeymoon. Lady A invited me to come to the wholesale show in Atlanta with her and I was so excited to escape for a few days, but a blizzard came and she literally got the last plane out of town. I should have known then the Spring would be a long, cold one.

I took 5 classes this semester. I have no idea why. No idea. The mom of the baby I was nannying for made the decision to stay home. I was scrambling for a job in February. I found a job nannying for two boys… in Arlington. So I drive to Charlestown for school, Sommerville to pick up A from pre-school, Waltham to pick up E from homeschool co-op, back to Arlington to their house and then to Brighton to go home. Shoot me. I feel like I should drive a mini-van. I don’t want one. But I feel like I should. Did I mention that my car has some sort of nominal issue about every 6 weeks? The total amount of that work exceeds the amount we agreed to buy the car for (currently still paying for it) and the check engine light came on again today… A great feeling when you are carting kids all over the green earth. Somewhere in there the lady that I worked for last year that I am pretty sure thought she was paying me too much for nothing, called me and begged me to take her kids on Wednesday. I agreed, I only had the boys two days a week. Until their other caregiver quit, then I had them three days a week. That’s right. 15 hours of school. 2 hours of driving. And 20+ hours of work a week. I had over-committed. I was maxed. I stopped exercising and sleeping. Our house lived in cycles of chaos between school holidays or blizzards. And the winter just ended this week. Not. Even. Kidding.

I basically melted down about three weeks ago and explained to Justin that I had the capacity to study, sleep and work, that was it. He stepped up in a real way, and we made it. I managed all As and one A-. I am still negotiating on that A-. The class that I deserved it in I didn’t get it in and the class that I did not deserve it in, I got it in. Figures.

In the midst of this I was told that the big girl school I applied for could not really look at my application until I took STEM, Cal and Trig. Um. OK. They also conspicuously encouraged me to beef up on my science classes. Um. WHY??????? So I am. Then my English professor recommended me for a program at Vassar. In June I am moving there for 5 weeks. Yep. In the dorm. With a roomie. Like when I was 18. Then I am coming back and cramming that STEM class into the 6 weeks before school starts so that I can take Cal in the fall. I know. I know. I NEVER LEARN.

Can I tell you some of the amazing things that happened. We found some of the friends of our life in Lady A and Architect A. Our dear and old friends kept in touch with us and loved us well. My dad came for his first slumber party and it was drama free while he was here. I completed my first semester back at school with all As. The extra work brought extra money, which we were able to use for the various things that arose. For the most part there was enough, and that was a HUGE gift. I was accepted to an ENDOWED program at VASSAR! I had an incredible trip to New York over spring break. I found a friend and mentor and ally in the wife of one of J’s co-workers who went to the big girl school I applied to. She has become one of my absolute favorite humans of all time. She has a daughter named Magnolia. I find this magical. We have seen what we are made of, and feel encouraged. I had an incredible math professor who is willing to teach me STEM in 6 weeks at the end of this summer, you guys have NO idea how huge that is. I realized how DESPERATELY I need to work on my perspective and attitude, it is the most significant thing steering how fantastic or difficult our life is. I consider one monumental step when I realized that this semester had not been hard, hard was my time in Berlin, this was challenging, something difficult and intense but not emotionally threatening.

So this is what we ARE learning. That I am a door slammer. That Justin does well with detailed instructions. That I continue to be bad at saying no. That we are not making rational decisions about the car, time to do something extreme. That I need to leave for some place warm at some point in the Winter/Spring or I am attacked by seasonal depression. That we really do need to be up at 5:45 and asleep by 11 for our lives to work. That we absolutely love being together no matter what we are doing. That family is incredibly supportive, even when they are in the midst of some of the greatest battles of their lives. That part makes me cry. That we are going to be an Aunt and an Uncle and that is such a precious honor. That marriage takes work, and different kind of work than we thought. That large public schools are cheaper, but more frustrating. That buying text books is the black hole of money. That we want to start our own business. That we love to wander. Anywhere. Anytime. We are wanderers. That I am even more of an introvert and perfectionist than we ever really thought. Who knew people people could be so wildly introverted. That I love my professors whether I love their classes or not. That for the most part I really love class. That Justin is very ambitious and a sponge like learner.

We are learning as we go. We are trying. We are doing our best to love each other well, and be ourselves. I am learning to be supportive and kind. Justin is learning to help me draw healthy life boundaries. We both know nothing about long-term money and need help to figure out how to not just live to meet our budget and basically save. That we like the underdog (our car.) We are learning that we need dear friends (so thankful to have a small circle of dear friends here), that we have a much smaller capacity than we realized. We love to have people here and we love to entertain, together. We love and miss our families more than they could ever know. We are learning. I am learning. We are in process. We know less at the one year mark than we did the day we got married. I am still learning how to learn, and I need a lot of help there also.

There is no point where we arrive. As I am learning from AM, the most important thing we can do is call a spade a spade, look it directly in the face and then have the best and most honest attitude that you can. I am learning from her to give yourself a minute, or an hour or a day and then chin up and move on. We are never trapped, there is always a place where we can improve our attitude or our circumstance and we are victims of nothing. I know these things, but I am learning to live them. As I go. In process. Hoping that I learned a lot from the last few months. Here are some future goals:

October 2, Marathon.
August, Launch some small portion of the business.
Attempt a debt free life other than school loans.
POSITIVE POSITIVE POSITIVE perspective and attitude.
Quiet and Still time every morning to read, meditate and get our focus right.
Exercise before we start our day.
6 week break bad habits/focus on health from July 18-September 13th. thinking about going raw.
DE-CLUTTER!!! Minimize, minimize, minimize. Beginning with a garage sale in two weeks.
Make a rational decision about cars in our house, we need one, but maybe not two.
Make the best use of our CSA and meat share.
Attend church regularly.

I’ll keep you posted. This is quite a journey that we are on. Goals are crucial and attitude is everything. I realize that as this semester progressed it was easier to focus on the difficult than the good.

So now you are up to date. And we are moving forward from here. Looking forward to the best that is yet to come. And experiencing the great benefit from all the big life lessons that I learned during the challenge that was this Spring semester!

Finals Week & A Newly Discovered Love of Math

I spent the morning studying and trying to catch up on administrative details that would not wait for finals to be over. I have twenty minutes before I need to leave to pick the boys up and I am trying to scarf down some potatoes and shift my mind to the next five hours of needing to entertain children. I spend a good portion of my life doing this. In terms of ratios this is what my day looks like:

25% sleep – on a good night
21% school, literally, like at school
21% children
12% preparing food for myself or little mouths
8% driving

That’s right, that leaves 3 waking hours (or 12% of my day) left to study or do something else, like say shower, exercise, reply to email, check messages etc. Needless to say these things don’t happen often. Generally sleeping and eating are the first things sacrificed as the others are less negotiable. Though on days like today I want to give up. I am still really tired from yesterdays final, and it’s rainy and cold. And I think I could sleep for a year and still be tired at this point. This is what every finals week I have ever lived through felt like. Why?

I got a 91 on my Algebra final. If you remember I got a 94 on last semester’s final, so this was a digression, but I consider this work much more difficult, so I am fine with the grade and I keep a high A in the class so I am fine with it. Also, as I started studying for marketing and management this morning I realized I like math better than any other subject. I know. I know. You think someone stole my computer and is typing this for me. Nope. It’s me. This is what is great about math. It’s a sure thing. Nothing in life is a sure thing, but Math is. Seriously. you know it or you don’t. There’s no cramming, there is no studying, you do the work, you get it and then you build on it. You don’t forget it, once you learn it, you learn it and you can do all sorts of things with it. I cannot say the same thing about the communication process. Or the product life cycle. I have studied this crap multiple times this semester and though I clearly remember it (encode, transmit, receive, decode, filter, feedback) (introduction, growth, maturity, decline) it is not the same. There are so many variables. I have a teacher that says he knows that his students understand the information but for some reason it’s not translating on his tests and he seems to be a real depressor on his student’s GPAs. Ummm. Maybe change your test. There is no such variable in math. Problem, show work, correct or incorrect (well, in my current class if the professor doesn’t like ANY part of your process he’ll take points off. Jerk.) What you see is what you get, steady eddy, a sure thing. It’s official. I love Math. I need a bumper sticker. I think it would be good for Arkansas for my car to have both and Arkansas license and an I love Math bumper sticker, perhaps the visitors bureau would pay me for it.

I also want to say that I am married to the most incredible man in the world. I have thought so many times this week that I could not and would not do this without him. He keeps me going, he holds me up, he endures my stress, he feeds me and hugs me and sends me on my way. He makes me smile and laugh at myself and he has been keeping our house clean for the last two weeks. Such a gem. It makes me cry. Honestly.

I may be a shell of the woman that I was when this semester started… I am in desperate need of a healthy diet, some consistent exercise, alone time, and time for reflection and meditation… Also, some sun. But I am still better, stronger, braver, more sure. All of this because of the incredible support of my husband and family, the providential goodness bestowed on my life and a lot of redbull and 5 hour energy.

Schedule Shame

Thanks for all the love on my AM post. It’s funny, I go on and on about her all the time, perhaps the post was more spectacular due to the current circumstances surrounding our lives, it didn’t feel that spectacular to me. It was factual. That really is who she is, it’s not flashy. It’s just her. However, I appreciate all your love and encouragement.

So, I have a new topic. I am currently supposed to be working on homework, but I try to blog on Mondays. It’s the only day that I have time. Not that I really have time today, but I am going to do it anyway.

I was thinking on Friday about what a bad friend I have become. I used to be a good friend. I was great at cards, mix CDs, books with sweet notes in the front, encouragement, and surprises. I was brushing my teeth and thinking about how one of my best friends from high school had a birthday Thursday, I had a little treat for her and a card and it was going to go unwritten and un-mailed just like Liz’s socks, my sister-in-laws treats that I made for them at Christmas, a birthday card that IS already written to my grandmother-in-law, pictures from my wedding for my mom, a photo album for my mother-in-law, CoCo’s Christmas present is sitting on the couch, she lives a mile away and countless thank you notes that have still not been written. I haven’t seen most of my friends that live in this town, returned sincere and beautiful emails and phone calls from dear cousins and friends of our family checking in on me about something very specific. My father is coming to town this week and I am not sure when, nor am I sure where he is staying or what he is doing. I spend a lot of time snapping at J instead of communicating with him, and all I want to do is sleep. I am so, so tired.

Depression you ask? Nope. Life. School. Work. Laundry.

Here’s what last week looked like.

Monday
6:00 am Out the door for a run
8:30-1 AK, she’s 2 so we got donuts and we also ran some errands. I am almost sure that she enjoyed the donuts more than the errands.
1:30 rush around calling old schools to try to finalize transcripts to be sent to schools I am applying to, this has been a three month nightmare, which came to a raging tear-filled frenzy of groveling and begging on this day. Only to be told, “Oh my gosh, we’re so sorry. This was totally a computer glitch, we’ll release these transcripts right away.” HEART ATTACK.
3:00 Drs Appt
4:00 Home to start working on studying for Marketing quiz, rough draft due for English, and start flash cards for Management mid-term
7 J home, cook dinner
8:30 Finish paper/Work on Vassar summer program application
11 Bed

Tuesday
6:00 run
7:15 leave for class
8-1:15 Class
1:30 Pick up the boys
1:30-5:30 but normally 6 or later Two little boys full of energy and their friends
7 We had something this night last week but I can’t remember what, I just remember going straight from work to do it.

Wednesday
7 Late morning run
AM’s birthday – wrote blog, arranged a couple of birthday surprises.
Studied for Management mid-term and finished up second draft of English paper
Spent some time with Amy and Ellery, a rare and luxurious occasion. I also spent a lot of time on the phone with SDSU and MCC regarding the aforementioned transcript situation.
12 School to get in my hour of lab work for German and Math, also to meet with a professor regarding the summer program I am applying for at Vassar which requires, you got it, transcripts.
3 Pick third family’s kids up from school. Worked until 8.
8 Home to study for test and print paper

Thursday
6 Up early not to run as planned, but to study
8 -1:15 Class
1:30-6:30 Boys
7 J provided dinner
8 Study for German test and work on Math homework
11:30 Bed

Friday
6 Up to study
7 Leave early for pre-class review
8-2:30 Class
1:30 Pick up boys – That’s right I miss an hour and 15 minutes of class every week so that I can work, which is why my math homework is so tedious and important
1:30-6 Boys
We went to Brunello’s on Friday night and had dinner. We were too tired to cook and had a lot to talk about, as we don’t get much talking done during the week.

Saturday
Slept in until 7, ran errands, got groceries, did some shopping.
Family birthday party in Holden, late afternoon
8-2 am Back in Cambridge, babysat for the baby I worked with last semester
3 am – Bed

Sunday
8:30 Up and At em, baked Frittata and made some Ranch Water (recipe to follow in next post)
10 Brunch with Amy and Ashley, trying to remember to make time for friends
Drove to Sommerville to get gas for 20 cents cheeper, went to Trader Joe’s for some groceries, couldn’t get what we needed, ran to Formaggio bought some fantastic cheeses
4 skipped church for the umpteenth time
5 Pulled some meat out of the freezer to try to prepare food for the coming week so that we aren’t stressed about eating each night and so that J has lunches to pack and take.
6 cooked dinner
7 dinner and caught up on The Office & Parks and Rec
9 Clean up and crawl in bed

It’s Monday and now I am starting over. And I am already behind. This morning I wanted to get my German and Algebra homework done. I also need to finish the final draft of a paper, I have an appointment at 4, Haley’s in town for dinner, so tonight is not an option. I haven’t been running yet, because I have been trying to take care of some emails about pretty important stuff, pay some bills, and catch up on my administrative life. None of this will include mailing those things I mentioned at first… So again, more behind than I want to be and German and Math will get pushed aside, as will running and showering.

All I know to say is that it produces shame in me. I always said that small groups were the life of a church, alas, I cannot manage to get to one because of my schedule. I don’t want to go to church because I don’t want to defend my last blog post or explain where I’ve been for the last few months. I want to call my friends but feel overwhelmed with how much and how little I have to say. It seems to create this cycle of shame that even though I am giving everything I am doing, everything I have, none of it is quite enough, and still the time I do have I am not spending in the best way. I am not quite sure how to get out of it. I want to celebrate my friends birthdays, their marriages and new children, I want to be a friend to them during difficult times, I want to catch up and hear how they are. I want to see CoCo, DTB and my cousin who live less than two miles away. It’s simply not going to happen. The things I listed above are more than I can handle, and I am holding on my the skin of my teeth to manage those. Much less the unexpected, like needing to pick up dry cleaning, go to the bank or grab something we forgot from the store.

So please be patient with me. The friend I was is no longer the friend that I can be, I am not sure if I will ever be that girl again. What you are getting is the best that I’ve got, and if it’s not enough, believe me, I understand, I underwhelm myself. But I beg, please be patient with me, I am trying to be patient with myself, and it’s much more difficult than I imagined.

Sugar Cookies, Rotten Trees and Cellulite

I read a friends blog today and it was so serious I had to
stop reading. IT’S FRIDAY! Come on friends. Lighten up, laugh a
little, introspective self-aware evaluation is only fun for a
maximum of three posts, and really, even then it’s so people can
read it and think to themselves, “Man, at least I am not as
depressed as that poor sack.” Anyway, all that to say, this blog is
for the sake of laughter. First, I am reading a book called
“Mennonite in a Little Black Dress.” It’s so funny. I laugh out
loud a lot. So much so that I take to read while the baby that I
nanny for is sleeping, only I can’t read it because I laugh to
loud. Second. Snow is coming. I am currently walking around the
house with my pet space heater. The only pet Boo will let me have.
Third. My car has
been making this squeaky squeely sound like waka waka weeeeek a
waka. Boo says it’s the fan belt. I say it’s annoying. I’ve already
taken it in once. Today, which I set aside to work on applications,
I am going to take it back. Punk ass fan belt. Stop whining about
the cold, that’s my job. I also need to take my tree down. I am
pretty sure it’s close to rotting. I keep thinking, “Out of sight,
out of mind.” You are probably asking, “If you don’t take it down,
how can it be out of sight?” Ummm, hello. Pretending it’s not there
is practically the same. Fourth. Today as I was eating left over
Taco Salad (I know those who know and love me – GASP) I was
thinking about my life long hatred for Tacos. And to this day I
will not eat tacos in a hard taco shell. There is no reason and I
hate them. There is a reason. Learned Food Aversion. I am always a
little hesitant to post about my family on here, because I usually
hear about it later, but I feel like this one is safe. My mother
cooked 7 meals. I have always claimed this. She also cooked them on
the same night of the week most of the time. I am not sure that
this was intentional, but my mom has a learned aversion to manual
labor so cooking was included. As I have learned with my personal
aversions, structure can help. So as I was trying to recall my
mother’s 7 meals this is what I came up with: salmon croquettes
pork chops (shake and bake) fajitas tacos chicken (shake and bake)
occassionally enchiladas but these were my dad’s recipe so she had
an aversion I do not remember ever eating vegetables For snacks she
loved to eat the following: Pork rinds fillet o fish and the
crispies from Long John Silver (And you guys wonder why mustard
chicken and scallops were so offensive to me when I moved in with
AM&UK) You are probably saying to yourself, ummmm Steph,
that’s only 5 meals. Yeah. I was puzzled as well. But guess what? I
realized that the other two days were left overs. Fajita left overs
on Monday (fajitas were sunday’s meal) and we would use the cut up
veggies/cheese/etc for the leftovers and then the tacos. But to
make sure that I didn’t get sick of tacos… She would mix it up
and make cornbread casserole with the leftover taco meat. If you
cannot understand why I don’t love tacos now then you are a sick
and heartless mench. Even as we prepared the tacos on Wednesday
night my skin felt balmy and I had deep and irrational fears that I
was becoming my mother. However thus far I have not started
drinking Pepsi in the morning, watching Nascar or playing duck hunt
with blinds drawn through the day. So, I am thinking, thus far I am
safe. However. After eating two repeat taco meals, I think that we
are done with tacos for a while. I need another 15 year break. I
also remembered another antidote from my life recently. I don’t
know if I’ve mentioned enough how, ahem, bigger I used to be. I am
not just talking big boned, I am talking bigger. Like Star Jones,
Rosie, Big Bertha kind of big. Anyway, I was still pretty. What? I
was. I was the only over 200 pounder I knew with a fantastic
hourglass figure. An unnamed Aunt once told me that I was pretty
enough to be a plus size model. I think this is actually at least
three rungs below being told you could be a part time model.
I digress. So
I was so pretty that there were four types of men found me
irresistible; Truck Drivers Anybody not born in the United States
or Canada Members of AARP and black men who liked to use the pick
up line, which unfortunately for them did not translate… “Say
baby you know I like thick women.” to which I would respond,
“Calling a girl fat is probably not a very good way to get a date.”
Truck drivers would often give me a little extra toot toot on the
highway, like I was going to MacGyver it and quick like write a
sign, “Meet me at exit 352, my cell number is 555.5555.” Dumb
asses. But the worst was the UPS guy. My friend Laura claimed for
years that the UPS guy had it bad for me and reminded me that he
was in fact, a truck driver. I poopooed her. I did not think he
qualified. Well three years in, he came in my office, asked me to
sign for a package and then offered, “you could add your number if
you want to.” Ummmm excuse me? “You deliver packages for three
years, I don’t know your name and you wear all brown, I think I’ll
keep my number thanks.” The worst was the time that Jasper died, my
beloved, albeit slightly retarded, anorexic lab. I was pretty
bummed. He died prematurely and unnecessarily (I’ll save the Jasper
stories for another time) and I was down. Finally, on about the
fourth day post-loss the aforementioned UPS guy comes in, asks for
just a straight signature and then says, comically, “What’s wrong,
you’ve been walking around like your dog died.” to which I replied,
“He did.” I am pretty sure that’s when UPS dude knew, I wasn’t
going to “let brown do it.” OK. I am going to eat some sugar cookie
dough. I am too lazy to roll the cookies out and actually make
them, so I think a ball of dough will do. I hope that Lance
Armstrong doesn’t have sugar cookie dough entered in MyPlate, if
it’s not listed and I don’t know how many calories it is I like to
pretend like the calories don’t count. Perhaps that’s the cause of
my cellulite collection, or maybe I am just a cellulite hoarder and
refuse to get rid of mine, as I am emotionally attached to all the
hot guys it used to bring me.

Images of Christmas and Blizzards and other Stuff


Finding this to be more and more true every single minute that I live.

Stole this from Brooke’s blog, which I love and am always inspired by

The neighborhood the morning of the Blizzard – it stormed through 3pm that day. Geez. Enough with the snow.

I went on a run Christmas day. The thing behind me is a Buffalo farm by AL&UM’s house. It was such a breathtakingly beautiful scene.

The view from my kitchen window. If Boo read my blog he would wonder what in the world I was doing in this spot, it’s at the sink, where he does dishes and where I leave my dishes for him to do… or where I take pictures from.

Perfect?

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.
~Leonard Cohen

Saw this quote in an interview that Elizabeth Edwards did. Man is that woman a power house. I just love direct people and she was nothing if not totally straight forward, and yet she was incredibly gracious. This is something I am really looking at this Advent. I want to be myself, straight forward, direct, speaking my mind, without being harsh, cynical or critical. Elizabeth Edwards did this so beautifully and I was really moved.

I was also talking to my friends Sarah and Lori today about providential Grace and how if you’re going to swallow a spoonful of it one place you really need to swallow it all places. Like when things don’t go how you hope they will. Boo and I have all this stuff hanging out in our future that we are thinking about and trying to sort through and plan for, but I also planned to have a job November and December… That was a really effective plan… See what I mean? The truth is that CoCo broke her foot and I have been totally free to help her get to work and school, I could go meet Lori’s baby today, and I can take “grown-up” A for she and her husband tomorrow so that they can get little baby of joy home and settled. I have been able to put time into my honors app for school and some other apps I’ve been working on that require copious amounts of time. The very thing that led to weeks of stress and tears has, as my husband promised, worked out better than I thought. Even if it still holds bits of stress and pain, I can see how these two months without having to work have been really advantageous. My grades can also attest to this.

I’ve been trying to think of what to write on my honors program app where it asks why I want to be a part. It seems like writing, because I go to CC and it would look really good when I transfered if i had this on the app… and also, how hard could it be? It doesn’t seem quite right does it? 300 words of why I want to do it. I am trying to figure out the way Elizabeth Edwards would say, I am dreaming and hoping for a real challenge.

I didn’t do my long run today. I postponed it to Wednesday because I was not feeling well. I wanted to go meet the new baby and because it was freezing and windy. Freezing is bearable, but freezing and windy for an hour and 50 minutes I am going to need some time to adjust to both at one time.

I have two finals this week. In two of my classes last week my professors announced with little to no fanfare that the class I was sitting in would either be the last or next to last class that I had to attend. Ummm? Really? Three weeks early? BHCC gets out on the 24th. (Apparently New England Community Colleges are run by the GRINCH) Needless to say I did not complain, but many of my fellow students, apparently not versed in the old “Never look a gift horse in the mouth” saying began asking a bunch of questions that made me want to launch injury causing objects at their heads:
“Will we still need to go to lab each week and when will you collect our lab forms?”
“What will you do? Could we just come to class anyway?”
“What a rip off, I paid for the whole semester.”
Yep. Those are direct quotes. Some updates on my classes:
Composition – Loud Talking Ron dropped the class. Troll gave me three extra hugs the day that I brought cookies. I think she may or may not be pregnant. Joseph and I talk often about it, but we never really come to resolution. Prof Cambridge is really having a time of it. She used the phrase “a smart cookie would” a lot in an attempt to motivate people who I am pretty sure think she is talking about Snackwell’s when she says that.
Business – It turns out that ol Professor North Shore is my advisor. He’s pretty funny and he continues to use the words “idear” and “wicked” on a regular basis. He’s writing my honors recommendation and another recommendation and he referred to me as “Jennifer” at least ten times in class last week. Wow. The girl that sits next to me said that we should bring flasks next week and take shots every time, I told her I had a class after and she said that maybe it wouldn’t be such a good idea because we would defs be drunk.
Math – This is the one. I went to class and he was all – last class. Final next Friday. Uh? Huh? My last online quiz isn’t due until Dec 22nd… Nutritionist Mom next to me was PISSED. Let me tell you, she probably told me that it didn’t make any sense about 100 times and then asked how she was supposed to do on the final if the quizzes and HW weren’t even due until TWO WEEKS LATER. I didn’t know how to explain to her that if they were open on BlackBoard then she was free to do them even now, before the final.
German – There is a decreasing population in my German class and I am beginning to wonder if BHCC will carry German 2. I am thinking not. Particularly because I am one of two people in the entire class that was up to date on both my homework and tests. AND TESTS??? How can you not be up to date on your tests? I don’t know. However the crazy Russian in the class is only getting crazier. this week he asked if he could have one on one tutoring with the teacher because he didn’t want to be held back by the rest of the classes weaknesses, he wanted to be able to focus on his own. The professor told him that tutoring was available at the language lab, he responded, “And these iz sue-pose-ed to be the same as good as eef you are geeving me the tudoring? I do not theenk so.” I almost fell out of my chair.

So there you go. Life at the community college.

As for us. We are enjoying the Christmas Tree. We have a crazy busy week this week with school, work and Christmas events. We are hoping to juggle it all and maintain our chore schedule but I am not sure that either of us are feeling overly confident. We are also really working to keep our hearts and focus on the Advent season. The reason this is such a special time of year and they joy of our first Christmas, but I think we are so busy we keep forgetting it’s Christmas. AM asked us this weekend what we wanted for Christmas and we realized we hadn’t even thought about it… Which reminds me. I need to go so my assigned research and get back to my math review.

Peace out everyone…

Heather Armstrong/Liz Lambert, It Gets EVEN Better and Breast Cancer

Kendall Gayle is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world. Her blog is my second favorite blog of all time (dooce.com wins #1) You can find a link to Kendall’s blog here. I need to warn you that reading it today, the two year anniversary of when she lost her mom, might make you cry. Normally her blogs make you laugh, but this, this loss has been her most difficult journey. One can understand why. Once Kendall featured me on her “People I Love” section. Today as I think and pray for her in this terrible loss of her mom, I remember that love never dies. People die, but love doesn’t and that’s the hard part. When from the beginning of your life you have been fashioned to love someone and then they are gone, then it’s kind of like having unrequited love, which we all know is the very worst kind. This week, reminded of Kendall’s mom Sweet, my cousin Missy who is fighting stage 3 breast cancer and my dear friend Maggie’s mom, SherBear who was just diagnosed with breast cancer, I feel sad that we haven’t solved the problem of this killer. But I know that love is sometimes painful, and that sometimes love isn’t enough to heal pain, but today I send love to my dear friends and pray for strength, comfort, hope and good girlfriends to take them out for drinks.

Heather Armstrong (Click Here) and Liz Lambert (Click Here) are my current heroes. I follow them on Twitter and promote them relentlessly, Heather aka Dooce for more obvious reasons, 1)She’s funny 2)She’s honest 3)She is in the stage of life all of my friends are in 4)She swears in her blogs, which I respect 5)She’s really pretty and makes me laugh out loud. But do not underestimate the power of Liz Lambert . She’s dating Amy Cook, and they both exude the kind of cool born of “I don’t give a *&#% what you think” security. Liz was an attorney in New York (of course I think she’s cool) but she left and bought a flea bag motel called The Hotel San Jose which through hard work, grit and allowing prostitutes and pimps to maintain residence and pay rent she turned into the hip place where JF organized a 25th birthday party (just 8 short years ago) and we gawked at Bob Schneider who was patronizing the bar… It quickly became THE place in Austin. She promoted all sorts of incredible live music and realized that the area needed some life so she opened this little place that we all know, love and have pictures at. Where do you go from pioneering revitalization of the SoCo region of Austin? Oh… How about Marfa? Boutique trailers and UFO spotting? Perfect. It’s like Texas’ little form of Sedona. Well it wasn’t enough. There was an old B&B on Academy back in SoCo. She bought it and turned it into a RocknRoll hotel, no really, unbelievable Rock n Roll posters in every room. This video was filmed there, oh… And this picture was taken there

This one too:

So was this one…

(incredible photography by normally exclusively Rock n Roll photographer MCM)
Needless to say, Hotel St. Cecilia played a significant roll in a big day in my life… But I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s breathtaking, you’ve never had this kind of service, or quality. Ever. And I’ve stayed some nice places. It just gets better, recently Liz opened up a hotel in San Antonio that’s getting rave reviews. Basically, I am looking for the perfect letter pressed stationary to send LL a handwritten letter begging her to let me work for her for free for my back to school internship – surely she’d want a 33.5 year old who is starting all over mid-prime? I mean, if I were her, I wouldn’t look past “free.” We’ll see. Maybe I’ll drop the letter off at Bunkhouse when I’m home next week, considering the fact that she ignores my Tweets (it’s not like I tried to her to tell Patty Griffin hi when she, LL and AC were in Paris last week, but I should have) I am keeping my expectations low.

HOWEVER – I did write HA an email this morning and ask her to write a letter for my It Gets Better series. This is what I realize, LGBT are on to something. Life is hard, making it is hard, we all need people who have done it to tell us how and that we can make it. Joel Burns is a freaking hero, but I consider these two women pretty incredible as well. They are ballsy, successful, creative and HAPPY. Both are in committed relationships, somehow balancing success and private life, and both continue to invest in the community and raise awareness on a broad level. We would be fools to not beg them to share their wisdom with us. So I did. I don’t have a lot of hope that Dooce will write a letter to her younger self or that either one of them will take me as an unpaid intern, but they should. I think we’d all learn a lot in the process.

That being said, one thing that I have learned in life that I want to pass on. ASK. If you see someone successful that you admire (male or female – I just happen to love these two ladies style and panache) gather your guts and think of a couple quick and concise questions that you can ask them about the things that you admire. We are here to learn. In my opinion all of us should have leveled relationships – people who mentor, peers and people that we are investing in. I have some great mentors, some incredible peers and currently I am mentoring Troll through daily hugs, the Gucci girls through Blog mockery and the little girl I nanny by playing her really good music that she otherwise would not know about. I mean how else would a 4 month old hear about Patty G and Lucius? Some MOPS group? Unlikely. She’ll thank me later when she’s cooler than all of her friends.

In other news, I ran 11 miles the other day. I started at the park and then I ran to the salt and pepper bridge, I listened to Bill Simmons 2nd to last podcast which was something with “Cousin Sal” it was an hour of picking the lines in NFL – shoot me. I thought it couldn’t get any worse until I turned around and ran 5.5 miles into the wind the entire way home. I did listen to two 30 for 30 podcasts, which were more helpful, except that I wanted to die and have literally been STARVING for the last two days. Seriously. Don’t get near me I may eat you.

That’s todays update. No recipes. If you’re hungry you can check out Liz’s brother’s restaurant Lamberts Apparently, much like myself, being awesome is in the Lambert family.

Laptop Rebellion, Restoring Sanity and Thoughts on My Younger Self

For some reason my laptop has stopped charging, occasionally. And by occasionally I mean, like every 2 or 20 minutes it just stops charging and gives me the “warning” screen that I have .064 seconds until end times shutdown. Geez. I don’t know how to tell the laptop this, but if he dies we’re not going to be buying any new laptops, so he’s going to need to go ahead and hold on, because, well, it’s the only option.

Ummm, did anyone see this? WordPress is rejecting posting it, but you can follow the link. It’s John Stewart at his best. You can skip the first few minutes of niceties. The rest is an intelligent response to the horror that has become the current political environment. Watch and be comforted.

Have I mentioned how cold I am? It’s currently 36 but feels like 29 – I am pretty sure it’s 19 in my house where for some reason my husband refuses to turn on the heat NO MATTER HOW COLD I AM OR HOW FROZEN MY FEET ARE. I am sitting under a wool blanket frozen. The weather is promising 47 degrees today, I think I’ll wait until we peak there to run.

So JL’s mom Cindy sent this in response to Penny’s letter:
Penny, I’m close to sixty also. How beautifully you articulated those truths. It’s so strange to have never had a conversation with any one older or younger about what life looks like at this stage. Thanks Stephanie for challenging us to think about it, even to write it down. I plan to write more. Penny said it well to enjoy Jesus and let Him enjoy you as you would one of your children. I heard Graham Cooke say our mistakes are like a child trying to walk and falling. The Lord picks us up and kisses our tummy and sets us back to try again. I agonized over trying to get it “right” with marriage & child-rearing. The Twelve Steps have helped with some perspective on turning my life over to God one day at a time. Offer your life to Him in the morning for His service and then thank Him at night for all of those blessings. Life is made up of moments. Mary did the better thing by sitting at Jesus’ feet. You’ll have to fight for it. The world has totally different values.
Jesus talks a lot about the poor. I wish I would have spent more time up until this point serving.
Blessings and love to the thirty year olds and sixty year olds and those in between.

Now, I know these letters have a very Jesus theme. But I want to encourage you that I think spirituality is a really important part of peace. Whether it’s taking time to get quite and reflect, journal and be still. Reading Gandhi or Mother Teresa, or pursuing the presence of God. It’s important for the deeper parts of us to come in contact with reality, life away from little worries and burdens and the peace that passes understanding. I look forward to letters from more women with wisdom on life, from all different perspectives and directions.

As for me. I was thinking about what advice I would offer. Obviously, none on marriage. Since here, 5 short months in I feel like we know less than we’ve ever known about love and are just learning what thinking past this moment into “lifetime.” I still contend that marriage counseling should talk less about the inevitable “sex and finance” conflict and more about the CONSTANT “driving and little shit” conflict. However if I could go back and tell my mid-twenties self anything (we all know there is no point, you can’t tell someone in their mid-twenties anything) these are some of the things I would say

1 – Worry less about your weight and more about your health. Get healthy and stay healthy. This is the easiest time in your life to get on it, it’s not that easy later.
2 – Life really is your oyster, travel, play, work at a cafe in Italy. There won’t be time or luxury to do it later. And in this day and age, it won’t affect the kind of job you get later. Promise.
3 – Don’t minimize your need for something to believe in and something to fight for. My faith is not a crutch, my faith is a part of me, and the decisions I have made to work internationally have been partially as an outpouring of my faith and partially because I needed to do it for me. To remind myself that life was bigger than my overdrawn bank account, and latest failed crush.
4 – Stop worrying about who and if you’re going to get married, and working so hard to make it happen. When you find yourself dressed in white, you’ll know, it was Goodness that led you there, not games, worrying, over-analyzing and drama. Sit tight and enjoy life, it’ll be gone before you know it.
5 – A long time ago while running in Central Park I asked my most trusted mentor, AM some questions that I had spent a long time thinking about: The first was, Is this where she thought her life would be at 50? She VERY honestly said that her husband and her BELOVED (emphasis added by author) CC were fantastic, but truthfully, she looked up and 30 years had passed, and at that point, had just kind of happened (I don’t find this to be totally accurate, but I understand what she meant.) She encouraged me to not let life happen to me, but to make decisions and take action. She reminded me that you can’t make a decision, just make a decision and if it’s not the right one, make another one.
She also told me that the healthiest relationships are ones that have an outward focus. They didn’t get me until I was 16, but they had only been married 5 years at that point. However, she realized even then that if you live a life totally focused on you – it implodes, and a relationship cannot bear the weight of so much self-focus. I am almost 100% sure that she’s right.
It’s some of the best advice I ever got. So two things you can take from that – Be brave enough to ask your heroes questions, they know things. Also, listen to them. They know things.
6 – My last piece of advice is similar – It always gets better, and it can also get worse. Be thankful and hopeful. Like AM says, “People love to be around a positive person.” And hear me, she is no BS optimist. She is real, sincere and funny, but she is always on the sunny side of the street and it’s because she has the wherewithal to cross over to it. We should do the same.

Now to watch the temperature so I can fit this run in at the high temp of the day. Maybe I’ll have a little piece of half-birthday cake while I wait. THANKS LADY A!!!!!

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