Reflections on 2013

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What I learned in 2013:

Bad things happen. To everyone. But happiness is a choice, so stop complaining like you’re special and start focusing on the positive.

Home is more than a location. You might think it’s important to live somewhere “cool,” but at the end of the day all that will matter are the good moments you spent with good people. And that can happen anywhere.

Stop expecting your life to turn out how you pictured it at age 18, and you might actually figure out what you need to be happy. FYI – you didn’t know shit at age 18.

Don’t worry about what other people think. I’m 29, officially old enough to choose my career, pick out the clothes I want to wear, and have an educated opinion on world issues. If anyone disagrees with those decisions, I’m old enough to not change a damn thing.

You need to spend more time outside. Because it’s beautiful. Because you will never regret an afternoon spent hiking in the woods, but you might regret spending an afternoon watching reality shows.

You were a big year, 2013. You made me struggle, cry, and question every life choice I’ve made. Thanks for the bad times, because they made me stronger. And thanks for the good times, because they made me want more.

Here’s to an even better 2014. Thanks to everyone for reading xoxo

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Our pre-marriage counseling missed a few things

Conversation from last night:

Me: I recorded, “Home Alone.” Don’t you love that movie?
Chase: ehhhh, it’s okay.
Long pause.
Me: Sometimes I feel like I don’t know you at all.

Taking into consideration that Chase also hates Winnie the Pooh (!), I’m pretty sure this is grounds for divorce. We’ll file it under “irreconcilable movie preferences.”

This is why people have children

Since moving back to this small town I have joined a women’s club in an effort to “engage with the community.” But really, I only joined in hopes that I would meet someone my age who didn’t have children, which I accomplished at the first meeting. Since then, I have come to believe that these clubs exist just so women can stand in a room and one-up each other with who has the busiest schedule. First, the career women will lament their deadlines or clients in a slow build of one-upsmanship that builds as each working woman comes in late, demanding a glass of wine in rising levels of exasperation.

Children, of course, outweigh any job, and mothers are in a different bracket all together. Those with children in school are slightly lower on the totem poll, since hey, they have days free, right? However, your rank will go up if your kids are old enough to be enrolled in 20 different activities per week, but are still too young to drive. Kids under 6 months of age are a trump card. The mere reference of a 6-week baby is enough to evoke gasps and sympathetic faces from everyone within earshot. Game over.

There is of course a purpose to all this, beyond the general feelings of superiority that must be felt by those that are “doing more” to hold their schedules together. Our club purportedly benefits the community with our good works, which means that at some point, someone actually has to do work. Your ranking in this pecking order is what will establish the level of participation you will be required to put in. Which is why I and the only other childless member found ourselves wrapping a large pile of Christmas gifts for needy children by ourselves yesterday afternoon. It is also why I found myself halfway through a bottle of wine before 5 PM. Of course, the moment we began finishing up the other club members finally showed up with excuses ranging from pushy clients, to a son’s basketball practice to a crying baby.

If I end up pregnant in the next year, it won’t be due to a pull towards motherhood. It’s because I need an excuse to get out of this shit in the future.

The Eye of the Tiger

I’m not even gonna try to hide the fact that I’m a Katy Perry fan.  That being said, I never thought her music would move me to tears. I mean, her songs are great when you’re driving around town and the sun is out and you just want to sing along to something, but they aren’t what I would call, “deep.” Until I saw this:

Ms. Perry, I don’t care what you’ve done in the past, or what you ever do in the future. You’ll forever have a soft spot in my heart for making this video possible.

I Am Not Hibernating

Conversation at home this morning:

Me: This shirt has gotten really tight.

Chase: You’re probably putting on some hibernation weight.

Me: It’s too early in the morning to be mean.

Chase: No really, we all put on some extra weight to get through the winter.

Me: Ummm…I think that you’re referring to bears.

Chase: Well, we’re not that far from bears.

Me: Actually, I think people are pretty fucking far from bears.

Chase: I’m like a bear.

Me: Oh really? Explain to me what you have in common with a bear.

Chase: We both have hairy chests.

Me: …I can’t tell if just won or lost this argument.

Hoe Cakes with Black Eyed Pea Salsa

Remodeling a house can sometimes feel like Christmas. You pick out that special gift you want, let’s say it’s a flooring tile, and mark your calendar for the day that it’s going to be installed. The days drag by slowly as you imagine a shiny new bathroom, and the dirty old broken tile will finally be forgotten as you gaze at the new. And then suddenly – the big day is here! You wake up giddy with excitement knowing that TODAY IS THE DAY that your new floor will be installed!

Unfortunately, some of these days do not go exactly as planned, like yesterday, when halfway through an installation I checked on the progress only to realize that they were installing the wrong damn flooring. I then had to sheepishly tell the workers that, “ummm, excuse me, but it seems as though you’re installing something ugly and could you please take it up and come back another day with the flooring I actually wanted? Please and thank you.” And then I realized that Christmas had not come early for me, and I have house guests coming this week that are going to have to use a bathroom with exposed broken tile, and then I wondered exactly how inappropriate it would be to have a vodka tonic at 11am.

But instead, I’m turned to the next most comforting thing besides vodka: pancakes. Well, a version of them. Hoe cakes are a simple Southern classic, where essentially you take your favorite cornbread batter and instead of baking it in skillet, you fry it up like a pancake. And let’s be clear – this is Southern style cornbread, not that weird sugary stuff the Northerners eat. To top it off I loved this black eyed pea salsa – it’s fresh, light and adds a bit of crunch to the soft hoe cakes.

Look, the lesson here is when life doesn’t go your way, don’t turn to vodka. Turn to pancakes. They don’t have rehab for pancakes. Fact.

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The Married Girl’s Dating Scene

I have not been in the dating pool since I was a teenager, when pairing off was more like a gravitational pull then the strategic chess match that my single friends describe. However, I have been reintroduced to it while trying to make friends in a small town. Until now, I have never considered friendships to be a scarce commodity. I had more social obligations than I could keep up with, and constant guilt from neglecting those second-tier friends that asked for my time. I’m not saying that I was super popular or anything, it’s just that when you’re in college and/or living in a huge city, it’s almost impossible not to meet people that you instantly connect to and consider part of your clan. So really, who cared if I went to a party and made a bad impression and some bitch didn’t like me? I’d meet someone cooler and more fun the next week anyway.

Small towns are not this way. When we moved here, my list of qualities for potential friends included: young (under 35), cool, childless, liberal leanings preferred, great sense of humor, being gay is a bonus. 10 months in, and I’ve pretty much abandoned everything on this list. The childless thing was the first quality to go,  since apparently the only reason people below the age of 50 move here is to raise children. Now, my list of qualities has expanded to: must be young (under 45), have a sense of humor (or at least won’t get offended at my jokes), must not be a homophobic redneck and/or a member of the Tea Party.  In Hendersonville, these qualifications narrow the field down to approximately 10 people.

So on those few occasions when I actually come in contact with someone I would consider as a potential friend, I feel the nervous butterflies that most people probably feel on a first date, especially after those first pangs of desperation have begun to set into their soul. I mean, there are only a few people left to meet in this town, so DON’T BLOW IT. There is a careful selection of what to wear (I want to look cute, but not like I’m trying too hard), what to serve, how far should I go with my jokes, etc. It’s nerve-wracking. And then, after our date or get-together or whatever, I can’t help but go over everything in my head that I said and wish I could take back.

All I want is for it to be like the old days: you go to someone’s house, have a few drinks, make inappropriate jokes and form lasting bonds with the people who laugh. And then you live happily ever after, until next week’s party…

Before You Know It

I’ve spent a lot of my weekends this summer working at weddings, which although they might be fun, are rarely moving or emotional events when you don’t actually know anyone there. However, there was one moment that did touch me, and I’m thinking about it a lot today. The beautiful bride and groom had said their vows, had their first kiss and began to make their way down the aisle. Family members rushed up to give them hugs and kisses, when the groom’s grandmother, who’s husband had passed away, grabbed her grandson and told him quite plainly,

“Take good care of her, because before you know it, it will all be over.”

Maybe it’s because I just lost my mother, who’s presence I had always assumed would be infinite in my life. Maybe it was the full weight of hearing those words from someone that had already lost their life partner. But either way, I can’t help but feel a little choked up remembering those words. This life is so fleeting, and before we know it, the time will come when we have to say good-bye.

It is our third wedding anniversary today. Our ninth anniversary as a couple. It seems like we have only just begun our time together, and yet I can feel each moment slipping by faster than the last. In the minutiae of daily life that so often consists of taking out the trash, balancing the budget, washing dishes and arguing over who should fold the laundry, it is easy to forget how truly magical all of these moments are. But I’m going to continue to try a little harder for each day that comes and it still isn’t over just yet.

I couldn’t be more surprised

I thought I wouldn’t be ready for fall this year. Our first winter back on the East coast dragged on into May, obliterating any enjoyable spring days. Summer never really showed up and sent in it’s place an endless stream of rainy days that rarely broke 80 degrees. In the absence of a hot, steamy summer I initially wasn’t looking forward to cool weather returning once again.

So it couldn’t have come as a bigger surprise when after the first few crisp days arrived, I not only felt the need to throw on a jacket but an uplift in my spirits as well. Instead of going into fall kicking and screaming I’m embracing it with open arms. I order pumpkin spice lattes anytime I’m near Starbucks, I packed up my tank tops and swapped them out for chunky sweaters, and I’m blending just about everything in my refrigerator into soups. Continue Reading →

A Little Touch of Blue

Okay, I realize this isn’t the most impressive bathroom you’ve ever seen, but can we all take a moment to remember what it used to look like?

Yes, that is definitely all my crap just spread out everywhere. I would love to tell you that this photo was taken the day we moved in and it didn’t look that way for long, but I think we would all know I’m lying.

A month ago I showed you how Henry’s friends came over for a visit, and ended up ripping out the carpet in our bathroom. You know, like any normal houseguest. With that quick change our bathroom was transformed into this:

As far as free upgrades go, this was better than I could have hoped.

A couple of weeks ago, I was overcome with the urge to, “Paint Something!” and since it’s relatively small, Chase and I opted for the bathroom. We figured a few minor changes and day of work would be all we would need do a little updating. After peeling off the last of the wallpaper that I had been hacking away at for weeks, we taped off the walls and began layering on the bright blue color that somehow we both agreed on. (Benjamin Moore: Pool Party) Continue Reading →