Saturday, August 30, 2014

Grandpa's house...or peaceful oasis......

Jeff and I are in San Diego at Grandpa Vern's house. Jeff comes every 2-3 months to help out around the house, visit Grandpa, and soak up some San Diego sunshine (albeit often on the rooftop while sweeping away raccoon poop). Every once in a while, we find a screamin' deal on plane tickets and I join him.

I like Grandpa's house, for a variety of reasons:
1. It's REALLY clean and neat. Everything in its place.
2. It's like a museum - around every corner there is something interesting and/or antique to look at.
3. It's quiet. SO quiet. Ahhhhh........
4. "Our" bedroom is huge - as is the bathroom - and it's like staying in a hotel, even though the surroundings are more 1980's than The Ritz.
5. The routine - grandpa gets up early, has cereal, tea and toast, goes to read his paper or watch the news, sits outside to feed "Old Blue" and the other jays, watches TV, has lunch at noon, naps or reads or watches some more TV, has dinner at 5:30, watches some more TV, and goes to bed. It's calm and predictable and it's nice to jump off the crazy bandwagon once in a while and enjoy a quiet routine with simple pleasures (Sara Lee snack cakes, anyone?), even though I tend to rise later since I'm "on vacation" and grandpa questions me about it every time. Bless his heart.
6. The stories. Grandpa has a story every minute and his mind and memory for details is still pretty sharp. He's had some amazing experiences, as anyone who has enjoyed 93 years on this Earth is bound to have, and his stories never cease to amaze me.
7. The generation gap. He is roughly twice my age and the differences in generational beliefs are apparent. He has mentioned how our girls might become "legal secretaries" and how in order to get ahead in life, girls need to go to college, while boys have it easier and can just go to work. LOL, grandpa. You're funny!
8. The dedication of my husband. It never ceases to amaze me how dedicated Jeff is to helping his grandpa, how his strong emotional ties to this house and property motivate him because of the memories he holds dear, and how he spends hours in the hot sun laboring away (or swinging from tree branches, depending on the day) and never complains or gets tired. He loves being here, he loves his grandpa, and he loves working around a home that holds his fondest childhood memories.
9. Grandpa has WiFi now. Praise Jesus!
10. The surroundings. Mt. Helix is in the distance, the beach is not far away, the sun almost always shines, and even though the landscape is depressingly brown for my Washington heart, the casual comfort of California is enough to cheer anyone up. It's nice here.
11. Grandpa likes his sweets as much as I do, so there's never a lack of treats around here.

So, while I only get to experience it once in a while (it's been a year and a half since I last visited), I am appreciating the quiet, no-stress vacation. We've already done the major tourist attractions, so there's rarely a need to feel rushed or like we need to fit something in. We'll drive up to Oceanside to visit Jeff's grandma and aunt, make a trip to the beach so he can surf on his longboard he acquired on his last trip here, and just enjoy some long, lazy days. The perfect prescription for relaxation before we head back to start up a new school year with a new job (me), a house full of teenagers, and all the busy-ness and chaos our life brings. So, for now..........ahhhhhh!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to school..........

All the moms are, like "Yay! Back to school!" and I'm over here, like "NO! Summer is OVER!" because when the kids go back to school, so do I.

Working for the school district has it's perks. And they are called S-U-M-M-E-R. Because it's a lovely thing to be an adult and on a "school" schedule that allows you to enjoy a whole ten-ish weeks or so of....not working. I was going to say "freedom" but let's be serious - there's no freedom when you have kids at home. Oh, sure, mine are teenagers, but that just means the work is DIFFERENT - not harder, not easier - instead of hauling them to outdoor concerts where adults dressed like cowboys sing songs about brushing your teeth, I'm hauling them, two kayaks, a paddle board, a cooler full of food (teenagers), several large beach towels that require their own huge tote bag, a bag full of frisbees, trackball and footballs, and some large beach blankets to the beach or lake for an afternoon or evening of paddling and FUN! It's all about the FUN!

So, we've had a pretty amazing summer. We kicked it off with a wonderful trip to Montana, followed by a stop on the way home, in Coeur d' Alene to see family. We were home a few days and then we headed to Boise for some more family fun (and a chalk-art festival where our entry, if not spectacular, was the result of a lot of hard work in 100 degree weather!) I got offered my new job (at another elementary school - it's a dynamic business, people, they need warm bodies everywhere), met friends for coffee, enjoyed free Slurpee day, hit up several local parks and beaches, went to a festival, and got to cuddle a newborn baby. I went to a blogging convention with my daughter, which was a blast, enjoyed a relatively peaceful week when most of the kids worked at camp, saw Styx live in concert (33 years after I first saw them!), saw the Blue Angels perform, went to Madison Park for the first time and discovered it was a wonderland for hot, gay men, saw Us the Duo in concert at The Vera Project with my daughter, saw Book of Mormon at the Paramount, spent four lovely days in San Francisco with my husband, watched my son perform in an outdoor concert with his band, AND in the musical "Legally Blonde" which was amazing, enjoyed a nice visit with my parents, and just generally wrung the hell out of summer. Which was my goal. Mission accomplished. I also still have a trip to San Diego coming up in a couple days before I dive head-first into the new school year with a new job, new colleagues, new kids, new experiences.

Oh, and we also moved two more teenagers into our home. Friends we've known for ages who were homeless. We scrambled and in a weekend managed to pull together a bedroom with two beds for them, and somehow managed to cram all of their belongings into my tiny (former, sniff!) office. So, instead of three teens at home, we now have five. And a huge grocery bill!

And yet.......I'm kind of bummed I have to go back. There are still a lot of things on my summer "to-do" list I haven't done. I barely had any time to myself, almost no time to write, and not much peace and quiet. What I wouldn't give for some quiet days of just me, alone in the house, writing, dog at my feet, sipping hot tea from an ironic mug. Wait, that's retirement. Ok, back to reality - I'd still love to have some quiet time to write and explore my true passion. There's always something to do, someone who needs something, and urgency around every corner. I know one day (soon) the house will fall quiet as the kids go off to their own corners of the world to live their own lives. And I'll huddle up in a ball on the couch and cry and sip tea out of an ironic mug that I won't find funny.

For now, chaos reigns. As it has year after year in our jumbled household. I guess I wouldn't have it any other way. But going back to work just adds one really long chore to my day. I'm excited about my new position and hope it's fulfilling, but honestly? It's always just been a job to me. I work for money, to help us get by, to buy cereal and granola bars. My days will fill up so quickly, my quiet writing time will be almost non-existent. What I wouldn't give to stay home and make a living writing. But, alas, not yet.

So, it's back to schedules and chore lists and making the kids pack their own lunches, and taking their electronics away every night. They hate that, but it encourages sleep. And they have to catch the bus at 6:37 a.m. Which is horrendous. But we'll all adapt and get used to it. Things will fall into place. It will all be o.k.

I'll just keep telling myself that.............

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Swag, Speakers and Selfies......my BlogHer '14 recap!

So, I have returned from my very first BlogHer and my very first conference. Several months ago, my sweet, supportive spouse heard me waxing poetic about going to BlogHer - I've always wanted to go! - and began to ask me very detailed questions about it. I wondered about his sudden interest but was still quite surprised when he presented me with a full-conference pass, and an already-booked room at the Marriott for that far-away month of July. As an added bonus, he even bought my 18-year-old daughter a full-conference pass and sent her with me so I'd have company (and avoid the awkwardness that comes with meeting a few thousand new friends). Whatta guy!

All checked in and ready to conference! Apologies to Hannah who will hate me for posting this because she looked like a hobo. 

Now that I'm home, after this much-anticipated trip, I can say it was AMAZING. I loved it. Not every living, breathing minute of it, but overall I truly enjoyed my weekend and came home with some new perspective, twice as confused as when I left, and still feeling like I have no clue what "monetization" and "brands" have to do with my blog, and since when is "organic" such a catch word?

We arrived at the Marriott early, around 10 a.m., so we checked our bags into the valet service and wandered around a bit. I saw a post on the official Facebook page from Julie DeNeen to join her and some other bloggers at the pool at the Fairmont hotel. While this is normally outside my comfort zone, I convinced my daughter we should go and we headed over, swimsuits in hand. What we found was a wonderful group of women who were welcoming, informative, and funny! Heather PetriSamanthaJennyKatia, and Kim helped me navigate the upcoming conference while we, quite literally, dipped our toes in the water. We sipped frosty adult beverages poolside and dined on quesadillas and fries. Later, Elaine joined us and bought me a margarita. I was excited to meet Elaine, as our mutual friend, Amanda, had linked us up on Facebook before the conference. She turned out to be every bit as funny and warm as I imagined her to be and we hit it off, connecting several more times over the weekend to hang out and listen to keynote speakers. I left the pool party feeling inspired and ready to learn, and my daughter left with a nasty sunburn.

Ahhh! Fresh pedi, sippin' drinks poolside....this is the life! 

Yeeouch!

Me (r) and my new best friend, Elaine Ambrose, chugging some margaritas!

We returned to our hotel and our room was ready. We were tired and suffering from too much California sun so we were anxious to take a load off. What a surprise, then, when we opened our room. First, I noticed an object lying on the bed, but I wasn't alarmed because I heard there would be mystery swag gifts dropped off in our rooms so I assumed that's what it was. We strolled right into the darkened room and over to the bed to see what the amazing gift was and it appeared to be.........a wrinkled shirt? My eye immediately was drawn to a large, open suitcase in the corner. I swung around quickly to survey the room and saw a handsome set of golf clubs leaning in the corner. "Oh my God!" I shouted to my daughter, "We are in a MAN'S room!" I mean, I WAS pretty excited for my free gift, but I didn't expect it to be a MAN! Thanks, BlogHer! We skedaddled out of there, leaving behind the musky, after-shave scent, and back to the lobby where we explained the situation. The desk attendant asked if we would like a room on a higher floor. I replied that we would like a room with no man in it, please. We were assigned to another room, and I left uneasily, knowing that someone else's room key might actually open MY room. Also? The Marriott didn't seem to think it was a big deal that we had just invaded an innocent traveler's room while they were away.

We showered and got all gussied up for the Expo. I was pretty excited about this part because I AM A SWAG WHORE and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I eagerly visited each and every booth, scooping up free gifts and enjoying all the samples and treats. My daughter, more than once, admonished me for taking all the free samples: "Mom, we have to carry all of this back home, you know!" No matter, I went into it committed to checking my bag on the way back, fees be damned! There were free full-sized candles! Board games! Sunglasses! Stuffed animals! I left carrying a huge bag jammed with goodies, much to the chagrin of my teenager.

We are enough!

Omg! Free ice cream!

Even though I hate Greek yogurt, Yoplait wins for giving us gerbera daisies, my favorite flower!

Thanks for the free slushies Sonic!

Friday morning, we headed to the "Newbie Breakfast" for people like us who had never been to BlogHer. We were seated with veteran BlogHer attendees, and Rita Arens, from BlogHer, sat at our table. I used this as my first opportunity to network and whipped out my business cards that I'd had printed at Staples two days before the conference (because I'm THAT organized). The founders of BlogHer spoke, but I was mostly anxious to get to the keynote because Jenny Lawson was speaking! THE BLOGGESS! I have followed her for a few years now, and recently read her book, so I was pretty excited to see her live and in person. She turned out to be every bit as charming and fun as I'd hoped and I enjoyed the interview. She told a story about when she went to BlogHer and was fangirling over Heather Armstrong, carrying all of Heather's books in her arms, and she had an awkward interaction with her. She let the room in tears, but not before someone HISSED at her. What? I slunk down in my chair a bit, because I actually had Jenny's book in my bag at that very moment. Crap. My first conference faux pas. Later, though, I had the last laugh when I didn't have to stand in line to buy Jenny's book but instead was one of the first in line to have her sign MY book. I relayed my story and asked her to please not hiss at me. She graciously told me she couldn't hiss if she tried, and signed my book. We got pictures, too! Squeee!

It's us! And The Bloggess! OMG!

The first session we attended was "Publishing: Getting Your First (Great) Book Deal." I've been thinking about writing and perhaps self-publishing a book for a while now, so this was definitely something I wanted to learn more about. Here's what I got out of it: Find an agent. A standard novel is 80,000 words. People respect people who have been vetted. (I had to look that up - seriously, guys, I'm smart, but I wasn't TOTALLY sure what "vetted" meant!) Check out Seal Press and She Writes. Let at least twelve people read your pitch before you send it. I am still not totally sure what a pitch is or looks like. Ugh.

I was so happy it was lunchtime because my brain was full and I had a lot of questions floating around in there. Lunch was sandwiches, salads and fruit tarts and a healthy dose of Tig Notaro, a hilarious comedian who I will admit I had no idea about until the conference. My younger, cooler daughter recognized her from Conan O'Brien. She was hilarious and a crowd favorite. We even gave her a "forced standing ovation!" Check her out. Tig Notaro, folks. During these keynotes, the 10x10 speakers were sprinkled in. These were ten blogging gurus (I think?) who spoke on the future of blogging. Some were engaging. Some had me scrolling my Facebook feed. But - a highlight of lunch was that Carrie Rocha, the engaging (and very realistic) author of "Pocket Your Dollars" sat next to me! Fangirling again! Another author I've read and I got to talk to her. And take selfies with her! And she's just so darn nice.

Hi Carrie! Thanks for writing a book about budgeting and saving money that didn't make me cry!

The second workshop we attended was "Publishing: What a Freelance Writing Career Really Looks Like." This consisted mostly of a panel of freelance writers telling us about their jobs and experiences. Sounds about right, according to the title, but I was really hoping for something concrete to take away with me. Instead, my notes read like this: Pitch a finished piece. No response in 48 hrs, no go. Pitch relentlessly. Use contact page. Use Google. If anyone tweets you, contact them and ask if you can pitch them. Again, my brain was asking "What, exactly, does a pitch look like?" But alas, no answers. We didn't even stay for the question and answer time because the moderator, Jennifer Pozner, interjected saying she was going to "talk about myself" for a while because "I'm the moderator and I can." After she droned on, listing her accomplishments for several minutes, my daughter and I scooted out the back door. This session left me feeling flat.

Kicking ass and taking names........ahem, notes.........

The BEST part of the conference was the Voices of the Year. I found this to be the most inspiring part of the conference - listening to women read their winning entries for the VOTY contest. The blogs ranged from funny to heartwarming to thought-provoking. I submitted several of my blog posts for consideration in this contest but was not chosen. But the ones that were chosen? They were mostly fantastic. A few were not spectacular, but many were not only well-written but delivered with animated joy, sorrow or rage. I loved it!

Can we just admire this logo for a minute? 

Afterward, there was a reception which we decided to count as dinner with all the yummy finger foods, free champagne and more networking. Then came the Open House Suite Parties. This was a group of parties held in suites at the Hilton hotel. We chose to attend the GoldieBlox open house - if you're not familiar with GoldieBlox, they are basically pink Tinker Toys and they promote themselves by appealing to parents of young children who are embracing STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), a new learning concept that is gaining momentum in public schools. But honestly? They're nothing special, and the party was just ok. Next, we hit the Queerosphere party, because, why not? I'm not queer, and neither is my daughter, but her sister, my other daughter, is, so we figured we'd pay our respects to her tribe. We were greeted by Deb Rox, who was one of the (really good) speakers, who handed us drink tickets and warmly welcomed us. We wandered around, mostly impressed by the Jenga-like cheese tower, took in the view from the twenty-something-eth floor, and left after just a few minutes because we didn't really know what to do or who to talk to. We decided to check out the Flawed, But Authentic party, which turned out to be someone selling DoTerra essential oils. It smelled good and all, but eh. We got our free samples and went back to our hotel room to get some sleep.

But before we could sleep, we needed to eat. We were hungry and after debating for a while, we decided to splurge and order room service. We were told it would be 45 minutes so we settled in with our respective electronic devices and waited. An hour later, no food had arrived, so we called the front desk. We were told our server had "dropped" our tray during delivery and that they were making new food and putting a rush on it. When our food did finally arrive, it was nearly an hour and a half later, and it arrived on a rolling cart. How did the server "drop" our food if it was on a rolling cart? Hmmm. They did include a nice cheese tray and a plate of truffles as a consolation, and comped our food order. Which would have been fantastic if the food had arrived earlier but, as a result of eating a sandwich and chips and nearly 11 p.m., I spent most of the night with the world's worst heartburn and no sleep.

We so FANCY!

Also, just before I climbed into my fresh, white hotel bed, I noticed a spot of BLOOD on the comforter. I called the front desk who nonchalantly said they would send housekeeping up. The housekeeper was sufficiently horrified and quickly changed the bedding. At least someone else thought it was as gross and unacceptable as we did. But apparently the Marriott is not shocked by sending strangers into other guests' rooms or blood on the sheets. Ew.

Saturday dawned bright and (way too) early and we enjoyed a hearty breakfast. The keynote focused on the future of the social web, which sounded really interesting at first, but quickly turned into a room full of women looking at their phones.I tried to stick it out to see Arianna Huffington, but I just couldn't do it. I felt a bit guilty sneaking out early but my eyes were glazing over. Plus, I wanted to hit up the Expo for more free stuff! And I managed to sneak in a quick picture of Arianna inside the Expo. I didn't buy her book and to be honest, I don't know what it's about.

Also? I didn't know Huffington Post doesn't pay writers. WHAT? 

Sorry, not sorry. This session left a lot to be desired. 

For the first session of the day, my daughter and I decided to go separate ways - me to Mom Blogging: The Next Ten Years and her to Screenplay Writing. In retrospect, I wish I had joined her because she came out of her session inspired, fired-up, motivated and with a free book, while I left mine immediately after it ended, having waited a long time to be chosen for a question even though I was the first to raise my hand. I did learn some good tips on how to deal with critics (shut the laptop), to not do reviews for free, that bloggers are very powerful and can destroy a brand, and that the "mommy blogger" tag is limiting. Still, nothing huge, enlightening......no a-ha! moments for me in this one.

Lunch was a paltry salad and the leftover fruit from breakfast. The keynote was Kerry Washington, who was delightful, but who I also didn't know before the conference. I don't watch much TV, although when I Googled her I vaguely recalled hearing about her. I left just before she took her now-famous (in blogging circles) selfie. But - the best part of lunch - was that Deva Dalporto sat next to me! I'm a big fan of her blog "My Life Suckers" and recently she has gained notoriety for her humorous parody videos, notably, "I'm So Cranky" (to the tune of "I'm So Fancy" by Iggy Azalea). Fangirling again! What are the chances? She was so sweet and helpful and told me to email her anytime for ideas. So cool.

Kerry Washington doing the "quarter behind your ear" magic trick. Just kidding. 

Me and Deva Dalporto! Check out her parody videos here and here

The afternoon session was a series of "Mini-Cons." We wandered to the rooms, reading the descriptions and could not really find a "con" that was right for us. Boomer and Beyond? Not there yet. Craft? Eh, we're not that crafty. Healthy Living? Sounded ok, but seemed more geared toward food bloggers. Special Needs? Although I work with special needs kids, it's not a huge part of my life and I never blog about it, so that one didn't seem right either. Style? We were interested in this one and wandered into the room, only to realize it was filled with style bloggers. Maybe not. The Future of Personal Blogging? This one sounded good to me, but was packed full by the time we arrived and by then my daughter was losing interest and really just wanted a nap. We ducked into the Expo long enough to snap a picture of Khloe Kardashian, get another sample of Baskin and Robbins ice cream, and pick up a few more freebies. Then, we headed back to the hotel room after stopping at Starbucks to refuel after the measly lunch.

Khloe, your hair is FABULOUS! What do you use? 

My daughter was still slumbering peacefully when it was time for the closing keynote. I left her dreaming and attended alone. This time, I met up with my friend Elaine, and we listened to a panel of women discuss race and gender and how it applies to social media. It was interesting and I really enjoyed the 10x10 talks by Stacy Ferguson and Katherine Stone.

Finally it was PARTY TIME! The closing party was hosted by McDonald's (an odd choice) and the featured food was.......happy meals. Yes, you read that right. Happy Meals. Oh, and wine and beer, which we didn't partake in, but probably should have because a Happy Meal just doesn't satisfy like it used to. No matter, though, because the amazing Rev Run from Run DMC was the host of the party and he spun us back to the 80's. My daughter laughed at all the "middle-aged women dancing" and I tried to take sneaky pictures from the side of the stage when the Rev himself saw me and posed for my camera!

Yo, Rev!

Hannah, Elaine, and I at the closing party

Sadly, his set only lasted about an hour and he was being whisked away. The music fell silent and we wandered around wondering what to do for the next two hours. I suggested the jello-shot party being held at the Fairmont, but my 18-going-on-90 daughter suggested an early bedtime. I conceded but on our way home we spied the Bijou bakery and stepped in for some gelato.

Yummo!

The next morning we slept in a teensy bit later than normal (for the past couple of days), checked out of our hotel room and took a taxi to the airport. We left the Marriott in a taxi at 9:35 and were waiting at our gate at the airport at 9:58. That included the ride there, checking a bag, waiting in security and walking to our gate. Wow! We were exhausted, exhilarated, and elated that we'd just had an incredible weekend shoring up our mother/daughter bond and experiencing the greatness that is a convention full of bloggers, changing the world one word at a time.

Such a great weekend with my girl!

Yes, we can!

Happy blogger!

Thanks, BlogHer '14! We had a fantastic time! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BlogHer '14...........

Tomorrow I'm going to my first-ever conference, BlogHer '14 in San Jose, CA. My husband gave me this as a gift, and even included my 18-year-old daughter, in the mix so I wouldn't have to go it alone. I've always wanted to do something like this but I'm the queen of talking myself out of things, so I've never taken the leap. It was hard to make excuses when Jeff had already booked my room and purchased conference tickets, so here I go!

As the conference has drawn near, there have been so many Facebook posts about what to bring, what to wear, where to go. The whole thing sounds huge and confusing and hard to navigate. So, I'm doing what any sane person would do. I'm not making a plan. I'm just going into it with no expectations and letting things unfold. 

But........I am getting a pedicure before I go. For God's sake, no one needs to see my old pedi, grown out several millimeters and looking shabby. I have purchased several dresses because I just have a feeling everyone will be more dressed up than usual. And while I love those dresses right now, chances are, I will hate them the minute I put them on, so I'm also bringing my usual capris and tops and sandals just in case. I'm throwing in a swimsuit because even though everyone says there's no time for pool time, I'm planning to sit poolside at least once while I'm enjoying the California sun. 

Also? There's a lot of language I don't understand. Like, what is a change agent? How do you make a media kit? Why should I be "talking to brands?" I'm really confused, as I guess any newbie should be, and I just have this relatively tiny blog which is more for myself than anyone else, so I'm not sure that the business end of things is really for me. But who knows? I guess I'll be learning a lot. 

And I'll admit - I'm excited for the swag. Who knows what it will be but "expo" means bags 'o swag in my book and I'm already planning how to carry it all. I'm excited for the speakers - mostly Jenny Lawson and Arianna Huffington. I'm excited for the closing party featuring the Rev. Run from Run DMC and sponsored by McDonald's - although I can't really wrap my head around Happy Meals and sangria as a closing feast. Heck, I'm just excited to stay in a decent hotel. 

My ambitions are small but my enthusiasm is big! Except for the part about the 7:30 a.m. flight from Seattle tomorrow morning. That I'm not so excited about. But otherwise? Bring it, BlogHer '14! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Getting rid of your fat habits..........

Last night I spent a wonderful evening with a bunch of ladies, most of whom I'd never met, trying on and exchanging clothes. It was sort of a spontaneous get-together, formed on a Facebook page, and the best part was all the clothes were size 14 and up.

Some may think "plus-size" is a one-size-fits-all description - in a word, FAT. But some would be wrong.

What I saw was a group of beautiful, kind, loving and supportive ladies who enjoyed an evening of trying on clothes, giving honest opinions, taking the shirt of their back (literally) to hand it over to another who would "look better in it." Sure, we joked about the lady lumps we don't love as much as other parts of our bodies, but mostly we rejoiced in each other's unique assets. Even if many of us wore the same size, we found that the same top looked completely different on each of us. We all took home armfuls of new-to-us clothing in sizes 14-3X - and yes, most of us had something in nearly every size!

I arrived at the event wearing shorts and a tank top - seemingly a normal summer-y outfit. But for me, it was way outside my summer uniform of capris and a cute short-sleeved top. I rarely wear shorts OR tank tops and this was the first time I was meeting most of these women. First impressions are important, right? Not when it's hot out. Because I didn't care. I liked my outfit. And I felt comfortable.

Of course I have criticisms about my own body. Of course I'm always striving (with varying levels of success) to get more fit and healthy. And by that I mean - more fit and healthy. I did not say skinny. I am not skinny. I've never been skinny. I've not always been fat, either. But none of us (and I mean YOU) are ever going to fit perfectly into some media-driven ideal size or measurement. We all have lumps and bumps and skin that is not taught or perfectly smooth. And we all have reasons - having children, going through a divorce, taking medication, having a thyroid problem. But who cares?

No one - and I mean no one - should have to "explain" why they are a certain size. So, stop doing it. That is the first "fat habit" you should get rid of. Why is it anyone's business why you are the size you are? It's not. So, don't bother explaining. That would be akin to making someone explain why their hair is blue or they have a nose piercing, or why they have tattoos. Because they do. That's it.

Another "fat habit" I'd like to get rid of is thinking "I can't wear that." If you can put it on and breathe in it, you can wear it. I once saw a post online that said "How to get a bikini body. Buy a bikini. Put it on your body." Exactly! If you want to rock a bikini, go ahead! If you're not comfortable, for whatever reason, don't do it. Same goes for sleeveless shirts and dresses - they're just arms - everyone has them. Shorts and short skirts? You have legs. We all do. So maybe yours are a bit lumpy or, like I've been known to say about mine "tree trunk legs." It's hot. Wear shorts. If you don't want to, don't. Wear what makes you feel pretty and comfortable - there are cute clothes in all sizes out there so buy something that fits and wear it. Don't squeeze into a size large t-shirt if you are not a size large. Tags are just tags. Cut them out if they bother you. I remember reading an article once about a woman who lost a great deal of weight. She said she never used clothes as a reward because "I think women should buy clothes they love in EVERY size." Yes! Buy and wear what you love, regardless of whether or not you are happy with what the little tag inside says.

When you go out to eat, do you feel self-conscious about what you order in front of others? STOP IT! That is the third "fat habit" I'd like to see banished! For goodness sake, you are lucky enough to be eating out at a restaurant. Hopefully, you are with friends, someone you love, maybe a first date. You are there to EAT so stop ordering a house salad with dressing on the side when what you really want is a bacon cheeseburger. You don't eat out every day, so enjoy the opportunity to savor something you wouldn't normally make at home. If that's a salad chock-full of yummy goodness, then go for it! If it's a slice of cheesecake, have it. We all know how to eat healthy. We know we need fruits, veggies, grains, low-fat dairy.......so focus on eating those most of the time. And when you go out, enjoy your food. Two incidents stick in my mind regarding this "fat habit" - one, when I was in college and went out with my then-boyfriend (who later was my first husband). We went to Denny's in the wee hours of the morning, following a night out at the bars, and of course we were starving. I immediately requested an order of fries and only after they were delivered did I notice every single other girl in our group had ordered the side salad. Who the FUCK eats a side salad at two in the morning? I know those bitches wanted fries but were too concerned about how it would make them look. I felt self-conscious, but only because my boyfriend gave me a "look" (I divorced him many years later because he never let me eat french fries. Kidding! About the fries...). The other incident has happened twice - my husband, who isn't much of a bread fan, often orders his burger "low carb" (without the bun) and enjoys a Diet Coke now and then. I like my burgers with a bun, and I might be inclined from time to time to enjoy a Bailey's shake. When our orders have arrived, I am immediately given the low-carb/Diet Coke order and he is given the "loaded" order. BULLSHIT! Girls eat, too. I may have just enjoyed a smoothie with fresh fruit and kale that very morning, but when I'm at a restaurant, I want FOOOOOOODDDDDD! So, stop ordering what you think the universe is telling you to - because, guess what? No one cares. It's your stomach, your hunger, and your food. Eat it.

The next "fat habit" I would like to discuss is working out. Specifically, thinking you can't work out at a gym because you're "too fat." What the??? Anyone can work out at the gym. I know people who have actually lost weight BEFORE they join a gym so they will "fit in." Are you kidding me? Last time I checked, no gym discriminated based on size. The gym would love to have you working out right alongside the toned athlete next to you. The important thing is that you MOVE. Everyone needs exercise. So, go out and move. Who cares what you do? If you want to walk slowly on a treadmill, do it. If you want to take a water aerobics class, do it. If you sign up for a triathlon and you are the VERY LAST person to cross the finish line (guilty) so what? You did it! Anyone, any size, can and should exercise. Last year, at a local 5K race my husband participates in, the last person to cross the finish line was a very obese man. Most of the spectators were long gone by then, but the few that remained gave this man a fitting celebration. Why not? He did it! If all you do it ten minutes of light weights or break a sweat washing the car in the hot sun, GOOD FOR YOU! Just move. No matter what size you are. Never stop moving.

Finally, the last "fat habit" I would like to banish is thinking that you are fat. Who decided what is "fat" and what is "skinny" in the first place? Sure, we have BMI charts, but even those are flawed and don't take into account many factors that affect fitness. Why is one size admired over another? What IS fat? Ask a size 0 girl and she might say "size 6." A size 14 girl might answer with size 20. Is fat just "fatter than you?" Is skinny just "skinnier than you?" My children tell me, all the time, "Mom, you are NOT fat." I wear a size 2X. Is that fat? Is anything over sizes "small, medium, large" considered fat? Is fat relative to the relationship you have with the person who is judging you? We are not fat. We are not skinny. We are not the sizes on the tag in our shirts. What we ARE: people who are all different shapes and sizes. That's it. Nothing about that speaks to anything we are in our hearts and minds. Size does not equal intelligence or ability, or capacity to love and be loved.

Get rid of your fat habits. Once and for all.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I opened the tab..........

I opened my Blogger tab so I feel like I HAVE to write something here. As usual it's been way too long since I blogged. But I have a (sort of) good excuse!

We went on a vacation to Montana. The awesome thing about this trip was that it was pretty much a REAL vacation and it was a whole week long which is extremely rare for us as a family. Ok, so one day Jeff did his volunteer thing with the American Chemical Society at the University of Montana in Missoula. But even that day was fun because Arlie and Harrison hiked the "M" on the hill while Hannah and I watched from the safety and comfort of the minivan (and I might have taken an hour-long nap. Ahem. It's VACATION!).

But we also went to Glacier National Park and - oh wow. I cannot even come up with the words to describe this place. It is the very essence of natural beauty and everywhere you turn there is something amazing. We hiked up to Avalanche Lake. The sign said it was four miles round trip. The brochure said it was five miles. Whatever - it was freaking LONG and exhausting but totally worth the view at the top. Breathtaking. Literally. There was a moment when I seriously considered turning back - we had failed to bring food or water because our original plan was just to walk the short "Trail of the Cedars" but then we saw this sign and people telling us it was an incredible hike so.......we just went, completely forgetting the ten essential items every hiker should have. I'm not sure what all ten of them are, but I know food and water are numbers 1 and 2. Anyway, I started to feel a little hungry and every so often I have this weird low blood sugar thing where I get all shaky and sweaty and really, really hungry and I was afraid that would happen along the trail because it went on FOREVER. But I decided to push on and I'm so glad I did because, WOW! I did almost ask a complete stranger for an apple slice, but I restrained myself. The water was so cold it actually hurt to step in. But we stepped anyway. We drove for miles around the park and ended with magical sunset.

Then, we went to the National Bison Range which sounds kind of boring, but was totally NOT boring at ALL. For one thing, BISON! We saw several, although none up close (well, not REALLY close), but we also saw a mama bear and two cubs, several deer, antelope, a mama deer nursing her baby, a huge buck and two baby deer, and a lot of really pretty birds. Plus the drive was spectacular - you just wind up and up this mountain side filled with prairie grasses and views that stretch for miles.

Also, I FINALLY saw an elk in the wild! I had begun to think they didn't exist but I know they do now, because I saw one on the side of the road, up on a hill, just standing there. I was too surprised to even grab my camera (that, plus Jeff was driving almost 80, so...). Still, I SAW AN ELK!

Then, we spent a whole day in Helena being treated by one of Jeff's contractors from work who has become a friend to us. He lives in Helena and took us out on his boat for a tour of Gates of the Mountains on the Missouri River. Again, it was unbelievably beautiful. The weather was perfect and the boat was well-stocked with all manner of food and drink. We got sunburned, took a ton of pictures, and ended the day at a BBQ at Shane's house. There was even a little fireworks action involving coffee cans.

We almost went to the Lewis and Clark caverns but opted instead to just drive to Coeur d' Alene where the "baby" cousins were visiting. They're not babies anymore - almost 7, two almost 4 year olds and a 2 yr old, but they're still a popular attraction. We made it in time for dinner and a visit, then headed to Spokane to stay overnight with Jeff's parents. In the morning we took the Spokane cousins to breakfast and then made the long trek home.

It was a GREAT vacation. I took almost 400 pictures and countless memories. And while it's great to be home and sleeping in our own beds, I'm looking forward to the next road trip which starts in......a few more days!

Yay, vacation!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Applebee's - you suck.

Tonight I met a friend at Applebee's for happy hour. We sat down in the largely uncrowded bar and proceeded to look over the happy hour menu. Almost immediately our waiter came over and said "Hi." I noticed he was wearing a rather large button that said "Happy Father's Day" with a picture of an adorable little girl on it. Nice way to get some extra tips, I thought! I complimented him on the button and he asked us what we would like to drink.

He was heavy on the upsell, and while my dining companion, Jenny, held her ground, I was a sucker for the "top shelf" margarita so I agreed to the $8 concoction, but only after "John" waxed poetic about it for five minutes. I then asked him if he could also take our appetizer order and he said yes, so we ordered mozzarella sticks and chicken taco won-tons. John said "Instead of cole slaw would you like chopped lettuce and pico de gallo? That's how I like them! I call them John-tons instead of won-tons." Uh. No. Just the drinks, the food and some water, please.

After a while, John arrived and set a martini glass in front of me, sporting an olive on a toothpick. In his other hand he held a shaker and said "You are going to love this!" I noted that I had ordered a blended margarita and so how could it be blended in a shaker? Also, what's with the martini glass and the olive? John looked thoroughly confused and said he would "be right back."

A bit later, he arrived with a Long Island Iced Tea (Jenny's drink) and my margarita - this time properly blended and in a margarita glass with a salted rim, but still sporting that damn olive. What the HELL? Why would anyone want an olive in a margarita? I did note that he had added  (almost as an afterthought since it immediately slipped off the toothpick and sank in my drink) a tiny slice of lime. Also, no water. Except in my glass because that "top shelf" margarita tasted just like water. And not much else.

A few minutes later, a different server arrived with our food. She set it down and walked away so fast she must not have heard our "Can we please have some plates?" And napkins. We waited a while for someone to come by who could provide us with plates, but although four servers had a lively conversation a few feet away, and John talked to the couple at the table behind us, no one came. Finally I got John's attention, let him know we needed plates, napkins and the water we'd ordered and he said "No problem" and was gone again.

More time passed and another server arrived with plates. No John. No water. No napkins. John did finally bring both water and napkins, but not before a cheerful server arrived and tried to put two large Ceasar salads down in front of us. We told her she had the wrong table and she stood there and said "Really?" Well, yes, really. She delivered them to the table next to us and went on her way.

Not long after that, another server brought us two large glasses of beer - that we didn't order. We sent her packing to another table and then another server brought out two meals and began to ask us which one of us had ordered the steak. Guess what? It was neither of us!

In the meantime John came by and said "I have your ticket here, but, um, what did you order?" We asked him to check the ticket he wrote our order down on. He said "I know but I guess I wrote it all on the same one so I will have to go print yours out on the computer - hang on" and he was off. When he returned, he said "Oh yeah, I guess I put everyone's food on your order." EVERYONE'S food? I snuck a look at the ticket and there were at least ten items on it! He then said "If you just tell me what you ordered, then I can get your food going while we figure it out." We actually had to tell him that we already HAD ordered, and, in fact, eaten our food and were just waiting for our check. Which we would please take from the manager.

About this time Marisol entered the picture. Marisol the Manager. We explained the night's debaucle and Marisol said "You must think you're on Candid Camera!" Actually, that would have at least made it a little bit funny. But, no, the whole mess was simply the result of John just doing a really bad job. We tried to be nice - we joked and laughed at first, but when we saw John apologizing to the table behind us for the VERY same thing, it was hard to imagine exactly what was going on in his head. Way too many screw-ups in one night.

The manager comped us our appetizers and gave us $5 off coupons for our next visit (which said "Happy Father's Day" at the top, so we were probably going to get them anyway). I'm not sure there WILL be a next visit, at least not to the bar. Applebee's Happy Hour? Two thumbs down!


Friday, June 6, 2014

Messy week..........

It's been a rough couple of weeks for several reasons, but this past week was notorious for something that happened EVERY morning.

Monday, just as I was slinging my purse over my shoulder to leave for work, I heard a crash followed by the sound of water being poured out - and this went on for an alarmingly long time! As I rushed to see what happened, I found that Benjie, our special-needs cat, had (after a week of trying) figured out how to knock over a very heavy vase full of flowers - and about a gallon of water! The water spread in a large puddle across the floor and also poured through the crack in the "entry table" which is what we call the furniture near the door - except that it's really an antique sewing machine! Water poured through the machine as flowers scattered in wilted repose across the hardwoods and met their untimely demise in the trash as I scurried to clean up the mess. One huge beach towel later and a text to my daughter telling her to clean up "her" cat's mess, and I dashed out the door - late!

Tuesday, as I attempted to fill my water cup to take to work, I noticed the ice maker making a grinding sound - but no ice was coming out. I opened the freezer to investigate and a virtual iceberg crashed to the floor, scattering ice in all directions across the hardwood floor! Seems the mechanism was a little wonky and the ice had been storing up inside the (very small) receptacle. An iceberg formed and when I opened the freezer door, it created an instant global warming effect that necessitated another big clean up - only this time it was worse because I had to scoop up hundreds of ice cubes. I dashed out the door - late again!

Wednesday, I was heading downstairs to grab my purse and lunch to leave for work when I happened to turn my head and notice some dark spots on the carpet down the hallway. Upon further investigation, what I thought might have pet puddles turned out to be several large spots of dog diarrhea soaking into the carpet. I yelled to my son to come and help. Half a roll of paper towels, half a cannister of Lysol wipes and two very thorough passes of the carpet cleaner later we both headed out the door - late again. I didn't think the school would appreciate the note I wanted to write "Please excuse my son for being late - he was cleaning up shit" so I just signed a generic note my son penned on the way. I got to work - late.

Thursday, I woke early to the stench of dog crap. NOT AGAIN????? Mysteriously, I could spy no tell-tale stains save for one small spot in the dining room. The smell, however, permeated the house and made me gag. WHERE WAS IT? I finally found the offending pile of - you guessed it - more soft-serve dog crap, this time right outside the kids' bathroom door. I could NOT be late to work again, so my son and I worked frantically to clean it up. We used up the rest of the previous' day's paper towel roll, the rest of the Lysol wipes and I plugged the carpet cleaner in to do the final cleaning. I grabbed the hose, pressed hard to suck up the nauseating poo and suddenly noticed my hand was wet! The hose had broken WHILE I was using it, effectively leaving my hand soaking in freshly-washed dog shit. After steaming my hand with soap and a scalding flush of water, I found some duct tape and quickly "fixed" the hose. But not before texting my husband a picture of the hose, lying on the floor leaking crap, and secretly wishing bad things upon him for leaving early two days in a row and leaving me on doggy "doo"ty. I finally got the carpet marginally cleaned, scrubbed two layers of flesh off my hands under hot, running water, and left for work - late.

I realized at this point I was on a roll. Four out of four days running I'd had to clean up a mess. Surely Friday would be better?

Friday, I headed downstairs and fixed myself some toast and an instant breakfast drink. I prepared some packages for mailing, grabbed my lunch, my purse, the packages and my drink and headed for the door. The packages were unwieldy - a long, flat one, a shoe box and a much smaller box, and I was trying to re-adjust them in my arms so I could lock the door. As I did so, I inadvertently poured my breakfast drink all over the entry way floor! This time, however, I was not surprised. I knew something like this would happen, given the four previous days, so I simply wiped up the mess and carried on with my day. And I got to work - on time.

Life is messy. Clean it up.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Insane in the membrane..........

Apparently, it's mental health blogging day, since May is national Mental Health Month. This is a subject near and dear to my family since every single one of us has a mental illness. Which is such an ugly word. Do people say you have a "body illness" when you have cancer? Why can't we just call it what it is? We have depression and anxiety. And it has wreaked havoc with our lives for the past several years - a whirlwind of doctors, counselors, hospitalizations, medications. But we're in a relatively calm period (I say that with caution because after what we've been through I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop!). Things have been pretty good for several months now.

Each person, even with the same diagnosis, has different manifestations of their depression and anxiety. I have anxiety, but rarely have depression. I have days in a row where I'm definitely "off" and feeling depressed, but what plagues me day to day is my anxiety.

I know I was always an anxious kid - I would have a stomach ache every first day of school and I often worked myself up to the point of canceling plans under the heavy veil of "what ifs". I had a myriad of physical symptoms, too, very real and very bothersome. I thought for years I must be suffering from an unknown illness, and surely I would die soon. But the years went by and I didn't die. Still, I had no idea what anxiety was and, apparently, neither did my doctors.

I had several panic attacks in college, and after my kids were born, things just intensified. I felt very confident as a mom, but my physical symptoms continued to plague me, and I worried I had an undiagnosed illness that would leave my children motherless. By this time, I had researched more about anxiety and thought it might be at least contributing to my symptoms, but I was VERY resistant to taking medication.

My reasons for this were, ironically enough, fueled by my anxiety. You know those commercials where they talk about a fabulous new drug and then go through all the side effects that include things like "sudden death" and worse? I worried I'd experience every single bad symptom and then what good would it do? Not only would I have anxiety but I'd also have bleeding gums and vertigo? No thanks.

Finally, after missing a school event because I was "sick" only to have my mysterious illness disappear as soon as I was off the hook, I realized it was time to bite the bullet and give in to the pharmaceutical industry. I went on my first anti-anxiety drug and it was just as I expected. It was awful. I felt terrible, and so I stopped the medication and resigned myself to feeling anxious and sick forever.

But then I did more research and realized there were a myriad of drugs out there that might work. While the first medication, Zoloft, made me have awful tummy aches and didn't seem to make a difference (because I only took it a few days, and, unfortunately, anxiety drugs often take weeks to work), the second, Prozac (fluoexitine) worked like a charm. I was finally, finally free from feeling anxious all the time. In fact, I didn't even realize how awful I felt until one day, doing a perfectly boring and normal thing - driving my kids home from school - I suddenly felt a fog lift and I felt..........hopeful, I guess. Normal. Definitely not something I'd felt in a long, long time.

I was so happy to be free from anxiety that I barely noticed the weight gain - at first. But, suddenly, I was forty pounds heavier and a whole lot happier. Sounds crazy, but the trade-off seemed worth it. I decided I'd rather be "fat and happy" than skinny and anxious. So, I was. Until my weight kept ballooning and I decided I'd better make a change.

I tried Celexa for a few weeks because my insurance insisted I do so. I had to "try and fail" two different anxiety meds before they would approve Lexapro, which my doctor thought would work best for me. That's another caveat of having a mental illness. Insurance companies playing games with your well-being by creating these stupid rules about which drugs you can be covered for. Who's crazy now?

My anxiety often makes me feel isolated, but it's a vicious cycle. I bow out of social engagements because my head is swirling with "what ifs" or I don't feel secure with the situation. Things that sound like a good idea when I commit to them can often seem like the worst thing in the world when the actual day arrives. Sometimes, it's easier to just stay home in my safe house than venture out to experience social awkwardness, or the perception that everyone else is living a better life. So, I stay home and then I feel lonely and isolated. It's a bitch.

Lexapro, as it turns out, works like a charm. I only need a small dose and I feel normal - capable, calm, no more scary mood swings, no more brittle demeanor that would crumble in tears at the slightest slight. I feel confident, secure, assertive, and able to function normally for the first time in years. Relief!

Then, one day, I decided that it was a horrible fate to have to "take drugs to be happy." I decided I would try weaning off my medication now that I clearly had things under control. The first sign that this was a mistake was the unpredictable mood swings and the irritability. We're talking such a heightened sense of irritability that someone breathing too loud could set me off. I realized quickly that this was the "crazy" talking and I went back on my meds. Two more failed attempts at weaning off my Lexapro and I decided I would just accept that I needed this medication - like a diabetic needs insulin.

Recently, I started taking my meds less often. Every other day and now every third day. In another attempt to see if I can manage to lose weight a little easier once I'm OFF the meds, I've decided to try weaning again. And I've definitely noticed an uptick in my moodiness, my irritability, and my sadness. Nothing I can't handle but still disconcerting. So, maybe it will work and maybe it won't. I'm not opposed to staying on the meds forever. Even if it means I'm fat and happy. It's just worth so much more to me to be able to appreciate the simple joys in life, to feel secure and stable and to handle what life chucks at me instead of staying home, hiding behind my closed door and feeling lonely and alone.

Anxiety, for me, is about trade-offs. I know in my head and heart that this is a physical illness, the same as any other illness. I am not ashamed to take medication for it. I am not ashamed to talk about it. I know if more people did, we could remove the stigma of mental illness once and for all. I know more people than I realize are suffering from the same symptoms. We're all in this together. I know how scary it is to succumb to the hold mental illness can have on a person. I've watched people I love become suicidal, socially isolated and terrified to face the day even while being able to logically tell themselves "you're ok, you're ok, you're ok". Because no matter how much you talk to yourself and reassure yourself that you're not going crazy or about to die, your body controls you and you are powerless to stop it. And sometimes, you need a reset - in the form of medication, counseling, hospitalization. Whatever it takes. It's worth it.

So, while living with anxiety is a total bitch of a motherfucker (and I say that kindly) it can be done. Like anything that's worth it, it takes work and sometimes an admission of defeat or the balls to ask for help. But one thing it should never be is shameful. Anxiety is an illness. Cancer is an illness. Schizophrenia is an illness. Heart disease is an illness. People with anxiety need the same love and compassion as anyone else struggling with their health.

When my children were in the hospital, exactly two people brought meals to us. About five people reached out through a text or Facebook message. No one visited. Our family did not rally. There was no dinner sign-up sheet, no fundraisers, no one offering to help around the house. And I wonder - would that have been the same if my children had been injured in a car accident and hospitalized? Is a battered body more serious than a battered mind?

Compassion. That's all we need. Understanding. Education. For all you know, you have a family member, co-worker, friend, colleague who suffers from anxiety, depression or the myriad of other mental illnesses. You won't be able to "tell" because there won't be any outward scars (but some people with anxiety cut themselves), there will be no trailing IV pole (but some people carry meds to take at a moment's notice so they don't have a panic attack at a most inopportune time), there will likely never be a public display of manic behavior or oddness that you can pick out. People with anxiety and depression are masters at hiding it. Imagine having to hide your cancer because some people just don't get it.

Be kind. Someone is always fighting a battle, and that battle might be anxiety or depression. And if you, too, suffer, don't be afraid to open up and share. Sometimes, when your whole world is crashing down because of a chemical imbalance in your brain, just knowing you're not alone can be the one thing that keeps it all controlled. Listen. Learn. Be kind. You're ok. You're ok. You're ok.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I can't blog.........

I made myself a promise (and a pledge to NaBloPoMo) to blog every day in May, and guess what?

I can't blog.

I can't blog because I don't really have a working laptop.

I DO have a laptop, but it's not working. As in, my husband bought it off Craig's List (bless his heart) and it regularly disconnects itself from the internet and the keyboard is possessed. No, really. So, before I shoot it or throw it on the floor, we decided to just put it back on Craig's List and get rid of it.

So, that leaves my old laptop, which is obsolete now because of it's operating system, AND it just stopped working at all a few days ago. Like, five minutes before we were going to dump all the important stuff on an external hard drive, the computer just shut off and wouldn't do anything. Plus, it had to be plugged in all the time, so how is that a laptop? That's just a small desktop. Lame.

The good news is my neighbor was able to resurrect that old laptop long enough to retrieve the data and put it on the external hard drive.

The bad news is that while I was doing that, my asshole cats knocked the external hard drive off the table and now it won't work. Like, at all. And my only hope is finding a data recovery place that can possibly take the data off the broken external hard drive. But it's going to cost. A LOT. And every single picture I've ever taken is on that hard drive. All my memories.

So, now I have to use our old desktop computer that is slow and temperamental and most of the letters have worn off the keyboard. Plus, using the mouse is so weird since I'm used to a laptop. And, the computer is in the middle of the family room, and I don't concentrate well with a lot of noise, so I can't blog. I mean, I'm blogging now, but I can't meet my goal to blog every day. It's just not going to work.

And with $33 in the checking account to last us, oh, the next ten days, my chances of getting a new laptop, or fixing my external hard drive or buying groceries are slim to none.

I'm so tired of it all. Tired of things not working, and things breaking and being broke all the time. I'm ready to move to a dilapidated farm house in the central US somewhere where the cost of living is minimal and we're not constantly living paycheck to paycheck and if something breaks, we can fix it.

To add to the fun today, I began my morning getting an upper endoscopy then being drugged on anesthesia that left me unable to do anything but sleep for the next five hours. Actually it was the best sleep I've had in ages so I'm not really complaining about that one. But then, I got an email saying my submission to a blog contest was not chosen. And I was really bummed because I thought I had a chance. But then I started reading some of the winners, and honestly? They weren't all that great. Not all of them. But their blogs were flashier. And they had more readers. And I realize I'm just a small, small fish in a big, big sea.

I just want to blog. But it's hard.