on being new this year

Last year, around this time, was not an exciting time. It was not very hopeful. It was not very happy. I was very sad, and tired, and frustrated, and overwhelmed and also full of mourning.

Last year, in January, being nine months pregnant (really ten, but who's counting) and having a husband you would rather have in the hospital than out, and not knowing how much longer he's going to be around, and how much this is going to cost, and how are you going to parent one child, let alone two, especially by yourself, does not lend a good outlook on the rest of the year. The Hoosband was in the hospital initially until January 4th. That night and the following two days at home were terrifying--when something goes wrong in the hospital, people who take care of other people professionally are around. At home there is me. And my daughter. And my mom, who is a nurse as well, but without the aid of anything life-saving around her.

Would I wake up with my husband dead next to me? What does a stroke really look like? What does it look like when someone has blood clots in their heart? What if he dies in front of Birdy? These were my thoughts constantly while he was home. I never thought that he would get better.

Then I went to work on Sunday. Then I got a call from him, sounding terrified, because he couldn't feel his feet. Or most of his legs. Then I ran home (one of the benefits of working and living on a college campus mean you really can RUN home), and nearly lost it while we were getting his stuff together, which made him freak out a little, and he asked me to stop. Then I did. I did the full face-wipe and willed myself to stop crying. I pulled it together, and to this day I have no idea how I did that. My mom and I got him out of our apartment, down the 12 concrete steps, and into our car. And I drove him to the hospital.

Then he had two spinal surgeries in a week.

Then he didn't come home for over a month and half.

And he couldn't walk.

Also, they discovered he had cancer, but that was the least of our concerns. I don't think many people have that experience with cancer.

But the best part, the single best part of last year was when I had my son. My baby. I love him so, so, so much. It's so scary loving someone so much; having Birdy was terrifying like that too. And the Hoosband got to meet him, in his magic chair-transforming hospital bed, with all of us in our hospital gowns and blankets, in the L&D room. It was one of those "is this MY life?" moments.

When you are saying your marriage vows, when you are 21 and have led a comfortable life with parents who love each other, things like the "worse" part and the "sickness" part are very distant probably-not-going-to-happen-to-me things. But sometimes they do happen, and most of the time they happen hand in hand. And very, very, very infrequently they happen alongside the "better" things, and the "health" things, and that's when it get really strange and hard and confusing.

But we got through it. I got through it. And I wouldn't have done it as well if it weren't for our parents, and the incredible people in our lives.

Last year was a year of things happening to me and my family, some very serious things, and some things that were easier to just have happen than to do anything about.

But this year is different. There were a lot of struggles last year, but there were so, so, so many blessings. This year, this is the year of amazing things.

The first thing I did was get a hair cut on December 31st. I haven't done that since June of 2013. Yep. Moving on.

Then I bought some lipstick. Red lipstick. Well, a "lip crayon," really, which does sound more approachable than lipstick.

Then I signed up for a lecture at my local REI on walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. It doesn't matter that I won't be going for years. I'm doing it anyway.

Then I joined Weight Watchers (again), but also added the meetings. I went to my first one today. I can't stop smiling about it, though I weighed in at 243 pounds (real talk), which is the heaviest I have ever been. But I don't care. My goal weight is 80 pounds from here, but I don't care. If I lose nothing at all, it doesn't really matter, since I'm me whatever I look like. I'm me. I'm me!

And I kind of like me, and I'm working to like me more every day.

Guys, I'm excited. I'm looking forward and not behind or at my feet, and I'm not afraid (maybe a little apprehensive, but not afraid) of the future.


monday, monday

It is fall here.

This means it's still sunny, and that it will only get to 75 degrees instead of 80. Also, there may be fog in the morning, but it will be gone in like, 20 minutes. So don't get used to it.

Birdy is in school, and she's in first grade. This year's teacher is much more teacher-y than last year. Last year's teacher seems to perhaps have forgotten why she wanted to go into teaching and is hanging on until she can retire. This gives her about 15 more years molding young minds.

Robin was in daycare, and now he's not. Something about pneumonia twice in three months really seems to answer the "should I go back to work?" questions fairly quickly.

The Hoosband is still at work.

I am having a Diet Coke for lunch.

This is our exciting life.


likes and maybes

I have lived in California for long enough now that I can find things I like about this place. It took nearly four years, but I got there.

I have always loved (even when I hated just about everything else here) late afternoon. The setting sun gives everything a golden quality and tone. Colors are brighter, the sky is bluer, and it seems like the best of California is crammed into the two hours before sunset. As we also live in the shadow of some rather large hills, the sky stays light long after the sun has retreated down the rambling tree-covered slopes on it's way to the ocean. When that happens, trees and buildings seem to be lit from within; the reflection of the sky throwing luminous, pearl-like light down to the earth, creating not-shadows--those slightly darker smudges you see only at dawn and dusk.

And also, like Christine says, parts of 280 (I have not lived here long enough to call the major highways and freeways THE 280, or THE 101, like they are the only roads of importance anywhere in this world) are beautiful in the spring.

The little cave that leads to the river flowing into the ocean on Seabright Beach is beautiful, even if some of that beauty is due to the proliferation of seaweed growing on the old (really old, thank goodness) sewer lines from Santa Cruz that lead to the ocean.

I like the coolness of the morning here, since it seems like the air is fresher at the beginning of the day. With so many people living here, the air at the end of the day and into the night seems tired from brushing over so many things while the sun is up.

I like Bill's Cafe. No, I love Bill's Cafe. And Ike's.

I like that Birdy's clothes are able to be worn all year long. No cold weather clothes needed here, saving us some dough.

I like seeing the hills on either side of the valley and knowing the ocean is just over there. Living here made me realize that for me, hills and mountains are home more than just about anything else. Except maybe farmland.

I like that the trees have green leaves for eight months out of the year.

I like that we have farmer's markets all year round, and that you can buy cheese, meat, and fish there as well.

Leading up to our move to California, I was worried. About our marriage, or the distance from friends and family. This was a new place, and unlike everywhere else I had lived. I had these ideas of "blooming where I'm planted," since we had no idea where we were going to live leading up to the job offer that came quite a long time after the interviews were over. And while I tried to talk myself into enjoying where we lived, I failed at it pretty miserably.

Spectacularly, really.

Several times a day I thought to myself, "if I just got in the car and drove, I'd be home in 13 hours." Home had regressed to where my parents lived, not where we had lived in Pullman or where we were living now. I was miserable, and took it out on The Hoosband. My worries about the health of our marriage were proving to be valid. I hated living here, away from everyone and knowing nobody but Ben, a friend and co-worker from our last jobs at RSU. But thank God for Ben--having him here gave us something to do on the weekends and someone to talk to.

I didn't anticipate that moving from a rural town to the Bay Area would be very much like moving to a different country. People were so different here, and there were stores and restaurants and freeways and it was so overwhelming on so many levels. Every time I left the house, I would see no one I knew or recognized. It was never quiet; people were everywhere. The women dressed differently here, and I didn't fit in with both my clothes and the way I looked. We didn't know anyone with kids Birdy's age, or with kids at all, really.

When I did find someone to be a friend, I had so much need in me I believe I overwhelmed her. I knew I was doing it, but I couldn't stop. I needed someone to talk to that would answer back in complete sentences (thanks for being a baby, Birdy), who I could talk about my feelings without making them feel responsible for them (the Hoosband), and who also had a small child and didn't have time to shower every day either.

It has taken nearly four years, but I have a few friends here and a I have a job that at times may be annoying, it at least makes me annoyed at things I can walk away from at the end of the day. I still don't love it here, but I tolerate it, which is saying something considering where I started. I'm thankful also that I was miserable when Birdy was so young, since now she'd definitely notice, and as a parent you are supposed to a leader to your young children and not lean on them.

Wherever we go next, whenever we get there, I'm hoping that I'll have a better attitude and be more prepared with my emotional health. Maybe next time, I'll be ready for the change--really ready. And maybe I'll be less like a standoffish Seattleite and stop looking at people like they have three heads when they start to talk to me at the grocery store. And maybe I'll seek out a community instead of waiting for one to come to me. And maybe we'll move back to Washington, where people are normal and it rains all the time and Birdy can ride a bus to school. And maybe I'll make some good friends, but live close to the ones I already have.



beer and tulips and beer

I may have some news.

I may be going on a trip. In October. To foreign countries. On another continent. In October.

I will not be accepting this will happen until I am walking down the jet way into an airplane destined for Amsterdam with my knapsack on my back (valdereeee, valderah, etc.).

For now, with work squared away (they are being very kind an allowing me to be gone for nearly a month in a job that is only 10 months of the year), childcare taken care of (best sister-in-law ever!), Hoosband supportive, and a knapsack given to me for my birthday last year, this is still only a possibility for me.

Allow me to explain.

My father works in the glass finishing and manufacturing industry. Cosmopolitan, I know, and it's a testament to my parents that I grew up so modest and nonchalant about such things. Every two years, a large conference is held in Dusseldorf, Germany for all the exciting, globe-trotting glass finishing and manufacturing professionals out there. I was especially aware of this from a young age, since it meant my dad missed every other birthday of mine growing up because he was being an exciting glass finishing professional, while I got to stay at home with my roommates (mother and brother, respectively) and celebrate most birthdays without him. I was a little pissed. Most of the time.

When I got older, my dad said I could come with if I wanted (perhaps to get me to stop complaining about my missed birthdays, since I could hardly complain when abroad). I did want to, but for reasons I don't understand I went on about school, and swimming, and then there was college, and then I had a job, and THEN I was actually going to go and then I got pregnant. That was my first conscious though as I looked at the positive pregnancy test: No Germany. I was angry for about the first 9 months of my pregnancy about that.

So, fast forward three years and my mom finally decides "maybe I want to go to Germany." She said it with about that much enthusiasm, too. She's not one for long distance travel, which boggles the mind since pretty much all I want to do at any given time is travel long distance. So, with my mom on board on the condition that I go so she has someone to do things with during the conference and the knowledge that I had over a year to save up, I thought I was all squared away to go.

And then life, like it always seems to do, got in the way. And I couldn't make the trip. Again.

But now, with all sorts of improbable things happening, it seems like I may be able to go.

However, it's not going to real for me until I am walking into the plane, finding my seat, and sitting down. Flying up to drop Birdy off near Portland? Nope. Taking the train to Seattle? Nope. Packing everything away in aforementioned knapsack? Nope. I'm pretty sure that when I do sit down and buckle my seat belt, that I'm going to start crying out of disbelief and gratitude toward everyone in my life.

My desire to travel is nearly corporeal; I catch glimpses of  it out of the corners of my eye, seeing it near my luggage or travel books. I feel it's presence when I drive past the airport, and can nearly taste it's tang if I see a friend's photos from abroad or walk by a gate and see passengers boarding flights destined for London, or Amsterdam, or Barcelona.  I want to go so badly I'm afraid of it. I don't think I can stand mourning (really, mourning) the loss of the trip again so everything in my mind is provisional. Months ago, I had given up on the trip and out of self-preservation got into armchair traveling. I decided I would read books and watch movies and see the world that way, instead of being able to physically visit. It worked for Anne, it would work for me.

I was getting pretty good at it too, until my mom wanted to talk about Europe again this summer and my wanderlust came back so quickly it was like getting the breath knocked out of me. But I could not allow myself to think about it as real, even we sat down and talked (with both of them wearing matching bright pink reading glasses and identical expressions on their faces, which was hilarious) about airfare, and hotels, and places we each would like to see.


I'm going on a theoretical trip halfway across the world to drink beer, see some flowers, visit some museums, and most importantly breathe air in a place I've never been before.


feeling good inside and stuff like that

Please watch, because it's too funny. And Murray's back! And the guys interview kids! And sing a song! Interviews start around 5:10.


this beer's for you, ben

Benjamin Franklin once said that "beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." This is also coming from the man who would walk around naked to "air bathe" and also sent a key attached to kite to learn something about lightening. Further, Wikipedia tells me that Mr. Franklin was the sixth president of Pennsylvania (I learned to spell that when I was seven--proof the Pennsylvania school system works). While I love beer very much, and kites and nudity have their place, I would say that day care is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

I love Birdy. I do. But do you know what else I love? Uninterrupted time to do whatever I want or need. Oh, the bathroom needs to be cleaned? Reorganize a book shelf? Go to the Y and work out? Catch up on all the True Blood episodes I missed over the summer? Have those Morningstar Farms fake corndogs and share them with nobody? Why yes, please, I'd like to do any of the above on either Monday, Wednesday, or Friday.


I've forgotten what its like to live with no one else (mostly because I've always lived with someone else). I feel like I have so much time on my hands. The closest thing I can think of that is similar was when Birdy was taking two naps a day. I felt like there was time for everything, all day every day.

Also, and I say this with love in my heart, but Birdy is driving me nuts. I also drive her nuts.  I don't have to constantly be answering "Why?" questions, I don't have to find a way to not play with Barbies or My Little Pony, there is no one asking to watch Blue's Clues or Wonder Pets. My house is silent. If there is noise, I make it. If the television is on, it's something I want to watch. And I have to share my vegetarian corn dogs with no one. Unless I want to (and I don't. Ever.). For Birdy, there are small humans to play with, play-doh to roll, books to read, a playground to explore, and hermit crabs to stare at for seconds at a time. We both win.

So thank you God and Jesus, for day care and for the people who work there. Thank you for my job and the Hoosband's job who make this possible. And thank you for Birdy, and her brain that will be filled with fun things three days a week from 8-5.

And thank you for my quiet house.

And those corn dogs. Mostly the corn dogs.


december, you sly dog

In case you are wondering? It's January.

Of 2012. What kind of a number is that? It's like 4 a.m., the made up time that doesn't really exist. It also seems like such a big number, and makes me realize I'm turning 29 for the first time this October.

Five years ago, I had been married for nearly a year and a half and was in grad school. Also, getting progressively chubbier (still not really fat at that time).

Ten years ago, I was a high school senior getting ready for a civics competition and thinking I was fat (I wasn't).

Fifteen years ago, I was in seventh grade. It was predictably horrible, and I thought I was fat.

Where did that time go, and most importantly, what happened to time since the middle of November? Did Thanksgiving actually happen, or are my memories just me in a Peanuts special? I remember popcorn and jellybeans, but I'm sure turkey was in there somewhere.

I remember when we were living with my grandparents and I was 10 and the week between Christmas and New Year's was the longest week of my life to date. It took forever for something exciting to come, and New Year's wasn't even all that exciting for a 10 year-old. My brother and I did what we could to kill each other to help pass the time, but our plans were foiled every time by our mother and grandmother.

I'll take time off of blaming my mother for everything that happened to me then and blame her for poofing December away from me. What did you do to December, mom? WHAT DID YOU DO?

But really, it seems like time has flown by so quickly and I can't figure out where it went. We had a great Christmas, and a great Advent season as well. Having a child around who actually understands what is going to happen on December 25th puts joyful anticipation on whole new level. It's been one of the best seasons of Advent I've had, and I didn't even go to church at all.

I know, I know. I need to work on that.

There are many exciting things that are happening this year, and I hope that time doesn't go by so quickly I can't remember them or that I can't remember my mom stealing the time from me (I haven't forgotten your hoo-doo and the taking of this past December yet Beth). This year I want to try to live more intentionally and to focus more on what is happening right now. I miss so much by going through the days in a tired, hazy blur. 2012 will hopefully be full of good memories fueled by bracing cups of coffee that I'll be able to reminisce about far into 2013.

And my mom is a lovely women who isn't a time thief, in case she's reading this.


wish i had a river

I want to preface this with saying that this post, like any other on here, isn't a ploy for sympathy or anything like that; it's just what I'm feeling right now as I sit down to write. I can be more candid here than in person because I can't see your face or hear your reaction. I try to be real here, because the impersonality of this blog is cathartic. So. Onward.
Christmas for the Hoosband is exciting, and it's the same with Birdy. They are both so excited to get the tree up and listen to music and read Christmas-y stories. Hoosband gets such a feeling of satisfaction choosing the perfect gift for each person. Birdy yells "Santa! SANTA!" when she sees anything in red and white that may or may not have a beard.

I am not that excited.

Christmas makes me sad. It has for a while.

I don't know why.

If I think about the Christmas story, it makes me heartsick. Joseph, taking Mary on a journey so late in her pregnancy. Mary, scared that the baby will come too soon or too far away from a safe resting place. The sorrow and dismay they must have felt when there was no room for them anywhere but for a small cave that housed animals. Joseph, who must have been terrified (even if he had to marry the girl he was betrothed to when it was found out she was in the family way from God himself--and who wouldn't believe THAT story?) when Mary started to go into labor in earnest next to a bored looking goat. Or Mary, who was 14 or so and was having her first baby away from everything familiar except for her new husband (and that donkey they borrowed to go to Bethlehem in the first place, but who can count a donkey as a sincere friend?).

It's just sad.

When I think of Christmas, I have a feeling of longing so acute it brings tears to my eyes many times, yet I can't tell you what I'm longing for. Family? Maybe, but I feel it even when we are spending Christmas with our parents in Washington. I just know it makes my throat ache and my eyes water. I'm a grinch sometimes because I have to be--I don't want to feel like this all the time--not because I want to dampen the spirits of others. I look forward to the time after the gifts, when we're spending time together Birdy is in her cute dress.

I just don't know what I'm sad about. I don't know why I don't get excited for Christmas morning, or giving people gifts, or singing songs. I just wish it was over.

Which is also sad.


stupid brain

Today, my brain tryed to kill me, but its kung fu was no match for my karate. And my Aleve. And my bed, and napping. But it really did try to come out of my head, in the form of a migraine.

Listen brain, I get it. I don't use you the way I used to, what with not reading the newspaper and reading escapism books instead of scholarly journals full of peer-reviewed articles coupled with my chronic dependence on calculators. I get it. I'm a total dummy now, and you find it insulting.

But, let's face it, it doesn't give you the right to incapacitate me for the ENTIRE DAY. Luckily, the Hoosband was able to take the day off and watch Birdy, and I was able to make a date with my bed for the ENITRE DAY. I had the most cracked out dreams for the first five hours of intermittent dozing, and all had to do with how I couldn't call in to the sick line and say I couldn't come in. Some times, I couldn't find my phone. Others, I would dial the number, but be unable to talk. Or, I couldn't remember the phone number. So when I really did come out of my semi-coma, it was nearly one in the afternoon and I couldn't figure out if I DID call in or not.

I didn't.

So then I did.

And then I checked in on Birdy and Hoosband, and then realized that the migraine wasn't gone and high-tailed it back to the bed.

And that was my day. And now, all I want is ice cream, and I can't ask the Hoosband to go and get it because he's already been so nice all day.



you too much tv

photo from http://www.dealerrefresh.com/

Birdy has taken to running around the house yelling "karate-YAH!" while air kicking.

I have no idea where she gets this.

I don't think I would do karate, and I'm reluctant to enroll her in classes where she could, in theory, learn to beat me up for putting her in time-out. It seems...worrying. Because, despite what Miyagi says, fighting is not fighting. No same same.

Plus, with her being taller than a lot of other kids her age, I don't need to give her any unfair advantages in toy, art supply, or lunch money disputes.

Perhaps, if things keep going this way, I'll have to turn into a single parent and move to China. Or send him to his auntie and uncle in Bel Air.