And Then We Shall Make Our Awkward Escape

It's my six month "anniversary" at work today, so I am now eligible for sick days. Hooray for the common cold! Only six more months until I earn vacation days, which I think I'm going to use to go to Hawaii with Roommate. After six months, I'm still incredibly grateful for the paycheck, but am still pretty ambivalent about the job itself. Some days, I kind of hate it and want to run away. Some days, I love the work and can see a future here. Most days, I just show up, do my best, and pray that God directs my steps. 

The following is an IM exchange between me and one of my coworkers, right after we had a discussion about our boss occasionally sometimes being somewhat of a...damp...blanket about our fun, which she has very right to be. This conversation is one of the reasons I'm loving my job today, despite it easily being a day that I would want to run away from. Also, it's another piece of evidence in the long campaign to prove that I am not entirely normal. It's like I'm playing a game of Non Sequiturs, except I SWEAR all these things relate.

COWORKER: By the way, my new desk is facing directly towards the dumpster outside that says "Kill Joy" in graffiti. I'm not a fan of this.

ME: Ha!
Sucker of Joy

COWORKER: I have a sneaking suspicion of who may have painted the dumpster.

ME: Haaaaaaaa!

COWORKER: I want to run away Forest Gump style. Like just take off and see how far I can get. But I don't run very fast so probably not a good plan.

ME: I am also slow of foot


ME: We need a better plan
A getaway car
OR camel

COWORKER: I think camels are also slow.

ME: I don't know. The Middle East has done pretty well with them

COWORKER: I want a donkey.

ME: Plus, who's going to try to catch us when we're on a camel? They're going to give that thing a wide berth.
They spit, you know.
You can have a donkey. I think I'm sticking with a camel.
We'd make an interesting pair, fleeing into the night on our odd quadrupeds.

COWORKER: Tell A to have her husband come with two camels and a donkey. And two eligible bachelors.

ME: Done.
Where are we going to go?
Just pick a direction and gallop?
Or do we have a destination in mind?

COWORKER: Anywhere but the kill joy area.

ME: Tahiti?
Can donkeys swim?
Or do they get seasick? Because we COULD take a boat.

COWORKER: I don't know about donkeys, but I can't. I quit swim class when I was 6.

ME: Boat it is. And LOTS of life preservers
For you AND the donkey


ME: I am all about ass safety

COWORKER: Lol! Me, too. I protect mine at all costs.

ME: I always make sure mine is covered

COWORKER: Pretty much. I really do want to ride a donkey someday, though. And a side car. I've always wanted to ride in a side car.

ME: I just had an image of a donkey WITH a sidecar
And now I'm imagining a drunk donkey.

My brain is a scary place to be.


Everything's Coming Up Bagels

I have an apartment!

I think.

It's a whole long story and I was all set to blog about it, but when I told the ladies at Bible Study last night all the sordid details, I realized it is interesting to exactly no one, including me. It's a lot of "she said this, then I said this, then she PROMISED this, then I was disappointed" and not a lot of interesting. But the bottom line is: after thinking I was going to have to abandon this rental company and fight with them to get my money back, they managed to get me into the floor plan I wanted for the price I wanted in the gated protion of the complex like I wanted. Now, I haven't actually signed any documents, so this is really no more secure then the LAST TIME I thought I had an apartment and is actually LESS secure because they have proven themselves UNTRUSTWORTHY since that time, but I'm throwing caution to the wind and getting my hopes aaaaall up. I have no one to blame but myself if I'm disappointed. Well, and them. I will definitely blame THEM. And probably myself not at all.

After the awfulness that was Friday and the recovery period that was Saturday and Sunday, I was not really expecting this week to be spectacular. Then my boss called me in for an impromptu performance review. I say impromptu only because I did not know it was happening that day or that minute, but I DID know it was coming. It was supposed to be last week, but she had to cancel for one reason or another. Anyway, I only really had 15 minutes to fret about it before I sat down at the table and got to it, so that was actually nice. I am, after all, a champion fretter.

I had completed a self-evaluation a few weeks before and knew that she would be adding to it and critiquing it, but I really had no idea what to expect. I've never had a performance review. When I worked for either of the Wonder Twins, they just yelled or sent passive-aggressive emails every few days and it was just kind of understood how my performance was rating (poorly. ALWAYS poorly). Then I worked for my church for a while, and they were mostly just pleased that I showed up at all. I mean, I basically created that job and asked if they wouldn't mind paying me gas money to do it, prettyprettyplease, so it's not like they really had performance metrics built in.

So I go into our newly-tiny meeting room (we recently put up a wall down the center of our conference room to make more offices and now we have a sad folding table and these four giant Executive Conference Left-Over Power Chairs that barely fit in the room) and my boss is late and I'm just fretting away. She comes in, hands me a copy of my self-evaluation and a copy of her edits to the same document. And then she tells me I have one of the highest scores she's ever given a new employee.


No, this is the part where you air all the grievances you've been storing up for the last five months. All the things you SHOULD have talked to me about, but didn't have the guts or the interest, so you just let it fester. This is when you really get to pull that bait-and-switch maneuver my other bosses were so fond of. This is where you yell and I cry and you pat yourself on the back for being a excellent molder the young minds of the future of tomorrow.

Instead, you say that you LIKE me? That you're very glad you hired me? That you're impressed by my abilities and you value my constructive DISAGREEMENT because it makes you better at YOUR job?

This must be black magic.

Seriously, guys. I have no idea. I went in with dread in the pit of my stomach. I expected some dark secret festering rage to smack me in the face. I had NO REASON to expect this (in fact, when she had announced that reviews were coming, I did a nervous chuckle and not-actually-jokingly asked, "Do I have anything to worry about?" and her answer was "No." But that's part of the tradecraft). Everything has been going relatively swimmingly, so I shouldn't expect the worst. But expect it, I did. I guess some of the old wounds still haven't healed, although I think this meeting went a long way to helping them.

She showed me places where I can improve and they were all things I agreed with--even though I totally had to bite my tongue to keep from getting defensive about them because that's ALSO what I'm used to in meetings like this. She showed me places where she was more confident in my abilities than I had been on my review. The overall score she gave me was higher than the score I gave myself. This is partly due to it being on a scale of 0-4 and I didn't know we were ALLOWED to use FRACTIONS, but I still would have probably given myself the same score because SCREW FRACTIONS.

Also, if you gave yourself a 1 or a 4, you were supposed to provide documentation to support it and the only thing I gave myself a 4 on was a statement that said something to the effect of "Is nice to others" and I AM nice to others. Really REALLY nice (at least out loud) and I go out of my way to BE nice, but how exactly do you document that? Anyway, she only gave me a 3 on that because while I AM nice to others and probably even nicer than many on staff, all of the ways I am nice are basically expected of all staff members and a 4 is designated "EXCEEDS expectations" and since we're all Christians and are EXPECTED to be like JESUS, ain't none of us getting fours on that one. Apparently.

Anyway, this is all to say that yesterday was a good day for me. I got an apartment and not only did my boss NOT yell at me (the opposite being a pretty standard Monday in my experience), but she said some very NICE and CONSTRUCTIVE and UPLIFTING things to me. So Monday totally kicked Friday's butt. And by kicked its butt, I mean Monday made a shank out of all the happy things that happened that day and STABBED Friday in its black little heart until it DIED. Wow, that, uh, got a little dark. Sorry. In my defense, Friday was a really awful day.

So I am going to tempt the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing* and leave the title as it is, even though the last time I used that phrase, I had an interview get cancelled and when we finally rescheduled it, I was LATE to it and did not get the job and also other bad things happened. And even though leaving the title as is kind of giving me the heebie-jeebies (which I want noted for the record, which can be used as a mitigating factor in case of an appearance said wrath of the whatever).


Weigh In: Ten Percent and the SPIRAL OF DOOM

I went to my very last WeightWatchers meeting today. For a little while, at least. It's cheaper to do it online and I fume/cringe/gripe though my meetings (if I go at all), so it doesn't seem other the money right now. But I weighed myself on my new digital scale and it looked like I had lost enough weight to equal ten percent of my starting body weight. At WW meetings, you get a cool keychain in the shape of a 10 (that will hold other rewards, like the 25lb washer and the 16-week charm) and everyone claps for you and generally makes a big deal. So I decided I would go to ONE MORE meeting, get my keychain, and peace out. That's exactly what I did.

I wish I had never gotten out of bed this morning.

I REALLY wish I hadn't gone to that meeting.

The meeting was fine. Great, even. But this day, aside from (and directly after) the weigh in, was a complete disaster. I'm raw and teary and angry and embarrassed and eighteen other GIANT emotions. Here's a quick timeline of my day today:

7:30 am: Wake up and realize that my body will refuse to go back to sleep, despite my plans to sleep in today. Watch an episode of Flashpoint on Netflix in bed (this show is awesome and you should watch it and I love Canadians).

8:30 am: Get up, greet Bean and baby, convince myself to go to my meeting, leave for my meeting. I spend the drive working hard to stay under the speed limit, which is something I have been very good about since being pulled over on Saturday. I am reformed! REJOICE!

9:15 am: Stop at Starbucks to get a free latte courtesy of a screwed up beverage last month. Go to my meeting, weight in, get my keychain, be lauded, and smile graciously awkwardly. TODAY IS A GOOD DAY!

10:15 am: Leave my meeting, call my mom to tell her about my weigh in, giggle a lot. TODAY IS A GOOD D--wait, why are there flashing lights?

10:23 am: Get pulled over. Apparently, in my excitement about my weigh in, I lose track of my speed. I recognize this before I see the cop and am at the speed limit by the time I see his lights. This does not matter. As I pull to the curb, I catch my tire in a drainage slope and hit the curb HARD with my front passenger tire. Get ticketed for speeding and lacking proof of insurance (which is at home, on my dresser, exactly where one should keep such a document).

10:34 am: Pull away from the cop with ticket in hand. Get half a block away and realize there is something seriously wrong with the front passenger tire. Pull into parking lot. See flat tire. Call my mother and cry. Call Bean and cry some more. Bean sends her family to come rescue me.

12:15 pm: Pull out of the parking lot with a spare tire. Head to the shop where the tires are insured. Get a new tire, costing me only $23. Think maybe this won't be so bad. Realize that the ticket will likely be over $100. Cry again.

12:37 pm: Drive SO CAUTIOUSLY home, staying at the speed limit the whole time. Get passed by EVERYONE, some who do so in a disgruntled fashion. Do not see any cops. Get home and get a lovely hug from Bean. Try not to cry. Grab my proof of car insurance. Spend 20 minutes looking for my medical insurance card. Open two CDPs, because this day needs more than one (thanks, by the way, to Ginger for the make up and Miriel for the necklace! They brought joy to this awful day). Leave the house.

1:25 pm: Arrive at the courthouse to pay my fine and put this all behind me. Stand in line for 23 minutes to be told that the cop has not turned in his paperwork yet (he has 24 hours to do so), that my ticket is not in the system, and that I must return another day. Also I'm notified that the ticket will be $167 BEFORE administrative fees and credit card processing fees. Cry some more.

2:00 pm: Go to an auto shop to get my oil changed, which was on my list of errands before my day took a sharp nosedive. Present coupon for a $19.99 oil change, tire rotation (ridiculously unnecessary at this point), and break check. When my car is returned to me, I'm told about damage to the tire rod on the front passenger side that will cause major problems if not fixed in the next few weeks. But hey! It'll only cost $315. Also: I need new wipers, might need a new battery, and the oil pan is leaking. Forgo all options but the actual oil change (with other services described in the coupon), pay $25.72 for my oil change. Leave confused and weary.

3:15 pm: Return home believing that Crappy Day Presents must be mailed today (it's actually the 30th) and panic about wrapping paper and flat rate boxes. Find the actual ship date and relax. Talk to Bean, who reassures me that, although this day sucks, I do not suck as a human being.

3:37 pm: Leave for the grocery store for milk, a flu shot, and a DTaP. Sign up for shots at the pharmacy, go get milk while they're prepping. Buy the wrong milk (1% instead of skim), ice cream, and candy bars (in an effort to see how much of that 10% I can gain back in one night).

4:12 pm: Get flu shot, which my insurance covers at 100%. SCORE! Pharmacy nurse says good-bye. I ask for my DTaP (which I'd signed in for). She says it was not on her form and it will be several more minutes until she can get it ready. I stare forlornly at my ice cream. Pharmacy tech tells me my insurance will not cover DTaP and that'll be $60. I call my insurance company, whose obnoxious automated system tells me I'm covered for "Adult Immunizations: in network, out of network, in office, out of office; at 100% with no copay." Pharmacy tech shrugs and says her fax machine tells her different. Pay the $60, take another needle to the arm, go home with soggy ice cream.

The night did not get better from there. I won't go into more details, but it just sucked all around. For the only the second time since I moved to Texas, I uttered the phrase "I wanna go home." I don't really, but I DO want to run away from the mess that five minutes of excited distraction have cost me. I won't because I'm a grown-up, but it's really tempting. I decided against calling the apartment complex to check in on that mess of a situation (which I'm not sure I posted about, so you might be confused. Basically, it's a mess and I don't actually have an apartment YET, but they took some of my money and I'm not sure if they plan to make good on their promises), because I was done crying at this point and I thought I might yell really loudly if they told me what I expect they will tell me.

I ended the night in the kitchen with Bean with chocolate milk and prayer, because that's how we roll (okay, technically, I'm ending it blogging, but whatever). This is exactly what I needed at the end of this day--to remember I have a God who loves me, whether I break the law or do everything right. He will forgive and He will be with me and this day does not get to win. I'm not trying to get all philosophical--I don't have enough brain cells free at the moment to do that--I just know that this day is not some kind of cosmic mistake and it will not get in the way of the larger plan. And that it is perfectly okay to say "That day SUCKED."


Bad Decision Tuesday

The Dumbest Decisions I've Ever Made, A Bulleted List

  • Moving in with Liar. I still want my $900 back.
  • Reading the word "Szechuan" on a restaurant sign aloud as "Saskatchewan." In front of my junior high youth group and pastor. And then not reading their incredulous expressions before wondering aloud at the business viability of a restaurant devoted to such a specific Canadian cuisine.
  • Moving in with Crazy Boss Lady. I absolutely regret moving in with a psychopath.
  • Being a stupid over-achiever and electing to take high school chemistr. The reasons with decision was dumb is four-fold:
    • I had already fulfilled my science requirements 
    • the teacher turned out to be a demoralizing jerk and also kind of pervy
    • I could have been taking...art? I dunno. My school had very few electives, but anything would have been better than chemistry
    • it was the only B I ever got in high school and was the reason I did not get to be Valedictorian 
  • Eating all the leftovers in my fridge at the end of college. 
    • I regret the stomachache
    • I also regret that this was the moment I started gaining back the weight I had just lost
  • Not trying out for volleyball in sixth grade when no one knew what they were doing and I would have probably made the team and thus been more active and maybe would not have gotten so heavy during adolescence and would not have had all those wistful moments freshman year when I realized I WAS interested in volleyball and that all the girls already knew what they were doing and there was no chance of me making the team. 
  • Blogging about Big Jerk Boss Man from the office. I've recently reread that post and...despite being true, it was MEAN. I'm about 97% sure he read it and I wish I'd never written it, because I know it must have hurt him. I cannot apologize, because he's gone now.
  • Bangs.
  • Veering toward the ditch instead of the wide open street while playing Bicycle Cops and Robbers with my brother and a neighbor kid. The resulting broken fingers from my desperate attempt to use the handlebar brakes and my hyper-extended fingers ramming into Neighbor Kid's shoulder blade kind of put a damper on that summer. Brand new rock climbing wall at the summer camp facility? Noooooope. Not with a cast on your hand. Swimming in the lake instead? Nooooope. No with a cast on your hand. Changes in barometric pressure fourteen years later? Suuuuuure, if you like dull aches that no painkiller will touch.
  • Telling that girl in seventh grade my worst thoughts about myself and my fears about what other people think of me. It was seventh grade. We'd only been friends for a few weeks. How did I not see that coming?
  • Those six months I overused the word "spiffy" because I thought it made me seem quirky and interesting. 
  • Thinking I could write poetry.
  • Resting my head on Travis's shoulder and holding his hand during that play about Thomas Edison. I didn't even like him. I just thought that was what you were "supposed" to do. It wasn't really a big deal, but I still wish I hadn't been so...easily swayed by my peers..
  • Allowing my mouth to say stupid things, like the time I told Corey I wanted to sleep with him.
  • Putting so many of my worst decisions on this blog.


Grand Adventurous Schemes for Adventuring and Stuff

When Roommate and I were in college, we had these grand adventurous schemes. Well, really, Roommate had these grand adventurous schemes for adventuring and also going on adventures and I would stand next to her, nodding along while silently thanking sweet baby Jesus that we had neither the funding nor the time to accomplish any of them. Adventurer, I am not. This is why Roommate and I are so good for each other. She pushes me to be brave and I keep her from finagling her way onto the roof of the science building and possibly getting killed or worse, expelled.

I remember once idly commenting that the fountain in the middle of the quad would be really fun to play in, since its bowl was just a sunken portion of the quad with no barriers, and that maybe someday we would sneak out of the dorms late at night and run through it (because I was pretty sure there was a rule somewhere that you were not to play in the Fountain of the Holy Spirit or at least it was REALLY frowned upon by the priests who ran our school). Roommate's eyes lit with a fanatical gleam and I instantly cringed, because I knew one way or another, I was going to end up in that fountain. And sure enough, amid the stress and worry of studying for our last set of finals of our Freshman year, Roommate suggested the perfect way to blow off a little steam.

And oh. my. god. It was SO cold. I spent much of it worrying we were breaking eight million rules and possibly angering God Almighty and also there was a random creepy dude who was definitely not a student sitting in the shadows of the quad watching us, even though it was well after midnight and no members of the public should have been anywhere near that part of campus, GOOD JOB PUBLIC SAFETY. But it was, hands-down, my favorite memory from that year. In fact, the picture of Roommate and I dripping wet and shivering afterward with my patented Uncomfortably Close and Awkward hug remains one of my favorite pictures of us in existence.

It became a tradition--on the Monday of Finals Week (which never had a final and often had your last class of the quarter, even if you were scheduled to take the final for that class the next morning and there was no way you would be learning anything new that day because sometimes my school was ridiculous), when the clock neared midnight, we would drop our books and scamper to the quad and, with muffled shrieks of glee and oh-my-God-that's-freezing-why-do-we-even-do-this-to-our-selves, we would fling ourselves in and out of the fountain, trying hard not to impale our limbs on the abstract sheet metal flame-ish things that were meant to represent the fire of the Holy Spirit (OR SOMETHING I WAS NOT AN ART MAJOR) or stub our frozen toes on the strategically placed fake boulders that were supposed to represent man's Earthbound flesh (I'm completely making crap up don't trust a word I say). And also avoid the lurking creepers who kindly offer to take photos fro you so that you don't end up with what will later be dubbed the "selfie."

Sometimes, we took friends with us. Sometimes, we went just the two of us. We NEVER went in Fall Quarter when, much to Roommate's chagrin and my everlasting gratitude, the school shut down the fountain to avoid the FROZEN LAKE METAL SPIKE DEATH TRAP that would inevitably ensue in the Pacific Northwest in December. We took pictures in the fountain in our robes on graduation day. The night before we handed over the keys to our apartment and went our separate ways, we waded through, opting not for the rambunctious shenanigans of our "younger" days, but for a more sedate and placid good-bye (OKAY I HAD A TUMMYACHE because I moronically refused to "waste" the leftover food in our fridge and spent our last days EATING IT INSTEAD WHAT AM I NEW?).

Oh my God, Elise, that wasn't even the point of the post. The point of ALL that was to say that Roommate makes me brave. She is so very good for me. But when she gets that gleam in her eye, the introverted play-it-safe line-toer inside of me just quakes. Because I know it's going to be awesome, but it's going to push me out of my microscopic comfort zone. And most of the time, it's not even anything dangerous or illegal or even scary to anyone who is not a chicken (*cough*me*cough*).

And the whole point of THAT is just to intro my ACTUAL topic for this evening, OH MY GOD STOP TYPING. So. Roommate has schemes; she makes me brave; I spend a lot of time praying her schemes never come to fruition because I am a big fat fraidy cat. Twenty-eight words. 28. Seriously, me?

Anyway, during our junior year, when we were living with Liar in our Ghetto Palace, Roommate suggested we take a road trip. And I smiled encouragingly, thinking it would be like that time we drove from [Prominent Pacific Northwest City] to [Prominent Non-United States City] for a three day weekend, except without as much Vicodin and I would remember to wear pajamas. Oh God, I want to leave that sentence as it is and just let you guys wonder, but I am terrible and being mysterious and also I'm a truth-teller (it goes hand-in-hand with being a line-toer) so I will divert this post a SECOND TIME to tell you the really lame story of our trip to the Great North (which is NOT Far North, but IS Far North Adjacent). [If you'd rather live with the mystery and just get on with this post, meet me at the next paragraph.] We had planned it for months for the first long weekend of the term. My friends wanted to go drink somewhere it was legal to do so at age 19 (as if they didn't take the copious opportunities to drink illegally right where we were, but whatev) and I wanted to see some place new. But right before we went, my friend broke her hand playing rugby and had to have surgery. But since we were using her car to get us there and we'd already paid for the hotel, she came along hopped up on painkillers. Oh, and I forgot to pack pajamas. Nothing bad actually happened to my pajamas or myself without them (except I had to sleep in my jeans or nothing at all in a shared bed in a cheap motel). That's all. You would have been better off with the mystery, huh? Sucks for you that I have Chronic Honesty And Truth Telling Effusive Reaction (or as the professionals call it: C.H.A.T.T.E.R.).

And we're back. So I'm thinking, fun day-trip! Maybe a weekend in Eastern [Name of Pacifically Northwestern-most Pacific Northwest State]. At best, something out of state, maybe to her hometown a couple days' drive south. Nooooo. That will not DO for Roommate. No, she has GRAND adventurous schemes, remember? One day, she comes home with a map of the US and a box of stick pins (you know, the kind with the colored plastic ball at the end that you see in cop shows to mark the places in the crime scene photographs where they found evidence? Those ones). So we cleared a wall of the office (Ghetto Palace, remember? We totally had an office. Or a really tiny, oddly shaped third bedroom that no one wanted so Roommate and I ended up bunking together. Literally. With bunk beds. We were sooooo cool.), put up the map, and began marking the places we wanted to see. I got the red pins. She got the yellow ones. And blue were for... God, I can't remember. Towns with funny names? Yeah, I think that was it. Towns with ridiculous names that we wanted to visit sight unseen, just based on the name alone. Maine had some really spectacular ones, if I remember correctly.

And we began to plot our course. We were going to graduate college and immediately get our dream jobs. Mine would be on the East Coast, because that's where my industry was based and all the best graduate schools were there and of course I was going to have the time, money, and drive to work full-time AND go to school. Sure! Hers was in England. So we were going to drive across the country together with all of our stuff in the back of the car, making our way through sights and tourist traps and WORLD'S LARGEST WHATEVERTHINGAMABOB and crazily named towns. Eventually, we would end up in the [Insert Major Metropolitan City and Seat of Power on the East Coast], where my dream job would be waiting for me. Like, literally, they would have been waiting two months while I drove across the country at a leisurely pace, taking breaks for adventures wherever they found us, as Corporate America is more than happy to do for inexperienced new grads with no references and bad interviewing skills. From there, Roommate would board the next available flight across the Atlantic with only the possessions she could fit in a carry-on and take off for the British Isles, where HER dream job would be waiting, but not before she stayed in a few hostels and really roughed it for a few weeks, probably meeting a punk rocker who also played professional football (or as we stupid Americans call it, SOCCER) and falling madly in love.

It was, in short, pure fantasy. And it was SO fun to dream about these things, especially for me, since I put very little stock into our ability to accomplish any of it. I could dream and put pins in our wall with abandon, knowing they didn't constitute anything more than a flight of fancy. A few months later, we moved out of the Ghetto Palace (partly due to the financial tomfoolery of Liar and partly due to the encroachment of the ghetto into our palace and the gunfire that became a common feature of our evenings).

We carefully took the pins out of the map and unsuccessfully tried to refold the map into its original impossible 9"X4" rectangle (DAMN YOU RAND MCNALLY). We had grand plans of putting it up in the new place, but we never got around to it. As graduation loomed ever nearer, we realized there would be no "perfect jobs" and actually, thanks to the credit crisis and the economic downturn, there may be no jobs at all. We were both moving home to our respective hometowns to mooch off our parental units until we could scrape something together. The road trip had died.

The plans for the last hurrah shrank in some ways and expanded in others. Instead of several months, we chose a week. Instead of just the two of us, we included three of our close friends. Instead of across the country, we crossed part of an ocean, staying in Roommate's uncle's beach house on the North Shore of Oahu. And it was perfect. And as you might have guessed, I had to be talked into even THAT small of a plan (see also: CHICKEN). The five of us made a pact that no matter where we were in life, we would come back in five years. Next summer will be five years. I don't think many of us thought we would have spent the last five years the way each of us have, but for better or worse, at least four of us are going to make it back to that beach house next year. I don't care if I have to sell a kidney to make it happen. What? I've got two. I bet I'll barely miss the other one.

While I was in Far North, Roommate didn't really bring up the road trip. It's just too hard to even find time to fly to one another, let alone drive anywhere. But now that I live in Texas, Roommate has that gleam in her eye again. She has new grand adventurous schemes for NOLA and Nashville and Graceland and the Grand Canyon, using my place as a home base. And this time, I'm actually considering it. I don't have a map or pins yet, but I think I might be brave enough to buy some soon.


Something New (Two. Two Things New.)

Back at the end of September, I planned out NaBloPoMo on a calendar and scheduled Saturdays to be "new" things. Last week was a new habit (which I told you about and did not actually implement yet, sooooo...success?). This week was supposed to be a new place. I meant that in very broad terms, like "try a new restaurant" or "go to a museum" or something else that would force to to go explore Dallas more than I have in the last nine months. And while I DID accomplish some of that while my parents were here (we went to the zoo, the aquarium, the arboretum, two outlet malls, and a dozen new restaurants), I actually have a much more literal answer for this post.

I put a deposit on an apartment. New place, indeed! There's no reason my application should be denied, so it should be mine within the week. If all goes as planned, I move in January 1st. That's just in time for me to fly home to Far North at Christmas and pack all my belongings (yay, purple couch!) into a moving van headed for Texas. I'm really excited and also worried I've made a giant mistake. Which is how I feel about all decisions, large or small. Seriously, how important is which Chapstick brand I choose? Pivotal, apparently. 

Anyway. Except for three months during relocation in Far North, I've never lived alone. I've never set up an apartment for myself. This is exciting and thrilling and very adultish. Also, it feels a little crazy that I'm doing this in TEXAS. If you asked me a few years ago, I never would have said this is where I'd be. And I am so glad this is where I've ended up. No regrets. 

It also feels a little bit like moving away for a second time. In March, I got on a plane to move here. For all intents and purposes, I HAVE moved here. But getting an apartment (even more than getting a job) makes is really real. If that makes any sense, which it probably doesn't. Oh well. 

I had planned for next Saturday to be about a new experience. I'll admit right here that I was stretching a bit when I wrote that. I had no idea what that was going to look like. It just sounded good on my calendar. And since none of you were going to see it, it didn't matter if I didn't do it. 

Well, I have a new experience to report: I got pulled over by a cop last night. First time ever. Apparently, I had failed to use my turn signal. In a dedicated turn lane. It would have been illegal for me to do anything other than turn. And I used my signal to GET INTO the lane. But apparently, it turned itself off. Or I accidentally turned it off. Who knows? I did not end up with a ticket, probably partly due to the fact that I USED MY TURN SIGNAL to pull over for the cop. Because I'm a CHRONIC SIGNALER. Seriously, I signal EVERYWHERE. Into the driveway. In parking lots. EVERY. WHERE. I did not expect those words to come out go the cop's mouth (I had no idea what she was going to say, since I didn't think I was breaking any laws).

Now, I speed more often that I should (which is, ever. I should not speed ever. I know.). I sometimes don't come to a COMPLETE stop at four way stops when no one else is around or when I'm turning right on a red and the other lane is clear for miles. I break traffic laws from time to time and I shouldn't. And I have renewed conviction to fix these issues, thank you, Officer. But signaling HAS NEVER been a thing I break the law with. 

I really don't know where I think this indignation is taking me. I did not get a ticket. It was a less-than-five-minute interaction. The officer was very nice--she even wished me a good evening. Nothing bad happened. And yet, I am indignant. Fruitlessly and ridiculously indignant. And at least it's a new experience. I wonder what I'll write about next Saturday?


Weigh In: Weary and Discouraged

I gained again this week. It's only 0.4 pounds. Still. This is SO frustrating. I should admit right up front that I really didn't track this last week, so I have very little ground to stand on. But I did not over eat. I am sure of it. There are days I left points on the table at the end of the night and there are days I went over, but there's no way I used ALL my daily points AND my weekly points.

I weigh in at home before I go to my meeting, so that I don't get blindsided in front of strangers and end up crying like a baby. Usually, the home scale is ever so slightly lower than the WW scale-- at most 1 pound different. After the week of NO RULES I'd allowed myself to have, I was prepared for not great news when I stepped on the home scale. BUT! As it had all week (I occasionally weight myself before my shower in the morning), it showed me at about 278 or 279--it's an analog, so it's kind of hard to tell (probably the reason for the difference from the WW scale) . I was kind of surprised, but it reinforced my long-held nebulous wondering that I wasn't getting enough calories a week and maybe that's why I hadn't been losing. So I headed off to WW.

I did not change clothing. I did not eat or drink anything. I did not dive into a pool and show up soaking wet. I got in the car, drove two miles, walked into my meeting less than 30 minutes later, and weighed in at 282.2 lbs. That's a HUGE difference. And incredibly disheartening.

I did not stay for the meeting. Maybe I should have. I'm paying for it after all. And they say those who attend the meetings are something like three times more likely to lose weight (or lose three times more weight? I can't remember) that those who go it alone. So not staying for the meeting on a day I gained may have been a bad choice. It's that old adage--when you don't want to the most, that's when you need to. But I find that when I DO stay when I've gained, all I do is sit in the back and fume and try not to cry and silently nit-pick the leader's advice (which is not always sound or conforming to the program's statements). So, it seemed incredibly unproductive to stay. And I didn't want to, anyway.

I got myself a Starbucks on the way home as consolation and they got my order right this time, which is good since I was purchasing it with the coupons they sent me from the time they got it wrong. That cheered me up a little. And baby smiles when I got home helped a lot, too. Putting on my too large jeans did not hurt either. By the time I left to go look at the apartment (more on that another day), I was feeling mostly okay.

I'm just so...weary of this program and this process right now. I know that not doing anything is NOT an option--that's how I found 300 on my scale for the second time in my life. But this isn't really working for me, either. At $42.95 a month plus my $19 gym membership? It's just not feeling that worth it to me. I think I'm going to change plans to Online Only, which was working for me back in December in Far North. It's cheaper than what I'm doing now and I think it will be a lot less angst. My mom bought me a fancy new digital scale while she was here and I'll just weight myself at home every Friday instead of driving to the Disappointment Palace in the middle of my Friday morning to see a woman I have trouble respecting right now. Ugh, I just wish this were easier.

Anyone have any words of encouragement for me today? I'm kind of struggling.


You Are Ruining Moving Day For Us

I have been getting nothing done at work recently. I have two major projects that I'm working on and right now they are both in the hands of other people. My boss and the other person I work with the closest are both out this week, so I'm not getting anything new form that corner. I find little things to do (I swear I'm fixing the copier or the receptionists computer every two hours), but nothing keeps me all that busy and HEY BLOGS because it's November. I'm not feeling like a stellar employee right now and I don't really know what to do about it. My boss with be back on Monday, though, so things are sure to pick up then.

Well, okay then. I guess I DID have work to do, since I just stepped away from this for a good 45 minutes to finish up two different reports I forgot were due today. I AM stellar at my job. Geez. Luckily, I was reminded in time to finish them and do it well.

Anyway, none of that is what I actually wanted to tell you. What I WANTED to tell you is that I think I may have found an apartment! I'm trying not to get too excited right now, because I've only looked at it online and called to make an appointment to see it. There is so much that could go wrong or BE wrong about it that I don't want to get my hopes up too far. But it's a huge complex with several openings, so I don't think it's going to get snagged out from under me and I'll be left without options. Probably.

One of the sad parts of my apartment hunt is that I think I will not be able to afford to move into a two-bedroom right now. This place is cheaper than any I've found otherwise (and yet pretty nice and in a good neighborhood--almost sounds too good to be true) and has two bedroom apartments available in my original price range. But looking at my budget, I think I need to build in more wiggle-room than that price allows me. So. What that means in a practical sense is that fostering will not be possible right away. And I'm a little sad about that, but I know I need to be on really sound financial footing before I take on that kind of responsibility, so this is for the best.

The plan right now, especially if I get this apartment, is to live there for about six months or a year and spend like a granny on Social Security and War Bonds. Then, when the timing is right, I might be able to move into a two-bedroom in the same complex (I'm really putting the cart before the horse HERE. Who knows how this is really going to shake out?). In the midst of all this saving and scrimping, I'll still be pursuing relationships with other foster parents and looking at ways to get trained--my church has a foster/adoption ministry with groups and Bible studies geared for that specific interest, so I'll probably start there. Plus, I've heard that the training with the state can take between six months and a year, so I can be doing that while saving up, too.

So this is not a dead end. I'm not even slamming on the breaks. But I do need to slow down and pace myself a bit. I don't really like this. Being patient is not my strong suit. I'm totally happy dragging my heels when God tells me to do something, but I am terrible being patient when I want to do something and He's slowing me down. I am a joy, is what I'm saying. It's a wonder He puts up with me and I am so thankful that He does.

Tomorrow morning after WeightWatchers, I am headed to the apartment complex to meet with a very nice woman (if her phone voice is to be trusted) who will show me around and hopefully not dash all my dreams to bits by telling me the rent is actually quite a bit higher or that many people have died form living in the complex. I'll let you know how it goes.


Things That Make You Go "Ehhh?"

For...reasons...which are neither crucial to this post nor probably very interesting to you, I have a project that requires me to look through a lot of stock photography. Much of that stock photography involves children, babies, and families in holiday regalia. The vast majority of these photos bother me in some way. A few even make me physically uncomfortable. Not like, in an explicit or inappropriate way. Like in a "I folded a newborn baby in half, stuck him in an old wooden chest with his head hanging out the side and propped the lid in a precarious and ALARMING manner over his soft spot and then walked several feet away and busied both of my hands with an expensive piece of equipment" kind of way. Also, occasionally, in a "there is a GIANT flower strapped to this baby's head and we're all trying really hard to pretend it doesn't look like a sentient tumor" kind of way.

Sometimes, the babies are old enough to reach out and put things in their mouths and they are posed with a million tiny choking hazards on a blanket on a set and just...left there. Now, do I truly believe these babies are in any danger? Not really. Probably, the mom is hovering nervously right out of the shot and will leap to the baby's rescue the second the flash goes off. BUT! 

If I were, say, to put one of these images on my company's Christmas card, what kind of emotions will it evoke? Will people think, "Ooooh, sweet little Christmas baby!" or will they think "DEAR GOD! Who thought it was a good idea to wrap a string of Christmas lights around an eight-month-old's neck and allow her to chew on a glass ornament?!" 

Maybe I'm crazy, but I would fall firmly into the second camp. I know I would, because I am the one looking at these images and I am thinking these exact things. Which is probably obvious, but I feel like stating it anyway. My first response to some of these images is physical discomfort, worry, or stress. I don't think I have an anxiety problem (although this could be a sign of one, I suppose). I'm generally a pretty even keeled sort of person most days. And they ook me out.

Now, the entire point of stock images is for use in situations when you want to convey something--put a smiling child with perfectly straight, pearly white teeth on the banner of your pediatric dentist website and you have conveyed that people should bring their children to you so that they, too, can have perfectly straight, pearly white teeth. An image of someone with a solemn, pensive expression is meant to make us feel solemn and pensive. We all get this, right?  It's simple advertising. 

So when the props you use or the way you pose the person or even the angle of the shot DISTRACTS me from the message you're tying to convey, it's not a very good shot, right? I mean, I'm assuming you're not trying to make me anxious and squirmy and pleasegivemethatbabyrightnowyouirresponsiblecrazyperson. So why are you selling this photo to a stock photo place? And why are the stock photo places buying these shots? And DEAR GOD WHY are these stock photo places trying to sell them to me?

This also goes for the truly horrifying Photoshop fails. The baby floating randomly through an animated starlit sky. The clothing added or changed to suit the "purpose" of the shot. Oh, you need a screaming kid at Easter AND a screaming kid at Christmas? I'll use my super secret stealth skills to erase the bunny ears and add this too-large and oddly lit Santa hat on top of his blotchy red tear-stained face! What. I especially like what I'm calling the Conglomerate Shot: That rattle in her hand? NOT REALLY THERE. The bench she's sitting on? MADE OF IMAGINATION. That dog playing poker? BORROWED HIM FROM C. M. COOLIDGE. That park she's sitting in? WHAT ARE YOU, NEW? The baby's real though. 100% real. Weeeeeell, okay, like 95% real. Once I got rid of her blemishes. And added a sparkle to her eye. And skimmed off some of that "chub." At least 30% of that baby is the same as the baby who came to my studio.

OH! AND! The "selective colorization" technique? Just stop. A baby on a white blanket wearing only a white diaper and a Santa hat? Fine, cute, whatever. Selectively colorize only the Santa Hat? Great job! It now looks like the baby isn't breathing

Never. do. that. again.

And while I'm here in Random Rant Central, I would like to make the case that people's personal Christmas photos, INCLUDING THEIR LAST NAME AND THE YEAR, are maaaaayyyyybe not stock photo material. I mean, I cannot think of a situation where someone would buy that. "Look honey! They're the Michaelsons, too. You know how much the kids hate sitting for photos. And, while they look nothing like us and have three more kids than we do, I bet our relatives don't really look at these anyway. Let's just save some money this year and send this one out instead. I mean, the year's wrong, but if they don't notice we've suddenly become Chinese, I bet they won't see the 2012 there either." Huh, I guess I CAN. I just can't think of a situation where someone would buy that AND that would also be a REAL situation.  

Some of these pictures are just...crap. There's no better way to put it. The posed family photo where the oldest child is looking off to the left and no one else is in focus? Why purpose could that possibly serve in a publication or on a website or on a flyer. "Bruno's Cheapcheap Photography: at least I'me not as bad as the guy who took THIS." The shot where the baby's face is completely in shadow and nothing coordinates and I'm pretty sure I can see the photographer's right thumb in the lower left-hand corner? Probably not the one you send in for the real cash money, I'm thinking.

I've been needing to take breaks from this project all day, about five to ten minutes in, because my arm waving becomes detrimental to my blood pressure and my work space. It's making it very difficult to get anything done today. I find myself uttering, "What? Oh, okay, maybe. No, wait, what?" A lot. Like the four pregnant women hanging out in bras and booty shorts, showing off their naked bellies and wrapping each other in Christmas garland. Sure, that looks like a normal Tuesday afternoon to me! Or the same baby Photoshopped next to itself in a row of three, each with a Photoshopped pacifier in a different color and one with a Photoshopped Santa hat. Don't believe me? Here. Many of these would qualify for Awkward Family Photos. Except they're Awkward Family Photos You Can Pay To Use As Your Own Photos. Because America, that's why.


Bright Sides

Sometimes, my job drives me crazy. Sometimes, my coworkers and/or my boss drive me crazy. Sometimes, the mere act of getting out of bed to go to work drives me crazy. Today is not necessarily one of those times, but maybe if I make this list on a good day, I can use it for those other days when I can't see past my tiny, ineffectual, hamster-doing-a-t-rex-impression RAGEARMS.

(Some) Reasons Why I love My Job, In No Particular Order:

  1. My coworker EJ is the BEST. She mentors me, she speaks truth into me, she prays for me, and she makes me laugh and laugh and laugh. I love her very much and this job would not be the same without her.
  2. My coworker A is so gentle and sweet and kind and supportive. She helps me see the good in all the other people who make me crazy without making me feel guilty that they do indeed make me crazy. She and I are in this together and I appreciate that so much.
  3. I get to make a difference, if only in a very small way. This is not just punching a clock.This work is meaningful and I believe in it and I am honored to get to be a part of it.
  4. I have my own office and a lot of leeway to do what I want with it. I've never had this before and it's just plain wonderful. I bought a red clock and a desk lamp and a picture frame and rearranged all the furniture. Maybe I'll get a plant next.
  5. I have windows in my office. With daylight. This is better than I ever imagined.
  6. This job gives me a paycheck. I could say a million things about the size of the paycheck (or lack of size) or the benefits inherent in the paycheck (or lack of benefits), but it's an income. After going so long without one, I am incredibly grateful for this.
  7. I have flexible hours, meaning that I don't work most Fridays. And when my folks came to visit and I had no vacation accrued, I was allowed to accrue comp time before they came to pull off half-days while they were here.
  8. I get two weeks paid vacation at Christmas. In addition to the two weeks regular vacation I get per year. This is UNHEARD of. Combine that with my parents' air miles and I get to go home to Far North for Christmas for practically no cost.
  9. This job is challenging. I am using a skill set that I've never used in a professional setting before and it is stretching me. I don't always have the answer and that's new for me. And I kind of love it.
  10. I have health insurance. And the premium is entirely paid by my employer. Even if the coverage is crap (I think it's decent), this is excellent. I no longer fear that my appendix is going to rupture violently and I'll live the rest of my life in enormous medical debt. Now to go get my flu shot...
  11. We're donor-supported, which is usually a pain in the ass, but every once in a while, I get to see staggering examples of human generosity. That's pretty cool.
  12. I have the ability to work from home when I want/need. This is very helpful and totally saved my butt a few weeks ago when I was ill, but needed the hours. Yay, working in pajamas!
  13. I don't have to job hunt. Seriously, one of the best parts of HAVING a job is that I no longer have to LOOK for a job or INTERVIEW for a job. I think this may be my favorite part of having a job.
  14. It gives me a purpose for my days, an avenue for my talents, and a hope for my future. There's not much more I can ask for.

I could totally make a longer list of things I HATE about my job, but a) no one wants to read that and b) that's not really helpful to me in keeping this job or being happy about having it. And there are probably many more things I could add to this list (and I might, if I think of them), but this is what's in my head now. And seriously, you guys? EJ is about the wisest and funniest person I've ever met and she's working at this location today (she's usually across town). She makes me want to write list after list like this one.

Do you have an EJ in your life? Or a list of positives you need to focus on? Tell me in the comments and we'll all help each other look on the bright side today.



According to my handy-dandy self-imposed Calendar of Things About Which to Jabber, today I am supposed to tell you about my dream house. Past Me is very smart, because she knew that I would be deep into apartment hunting by this time and that what I would REALLY need to focus on are the things I want but cannot afford right now. Huh. Past Me is kind of a jerk. But, since neither Present Me nor More Recently Past Me has not come up with anything better for today's post, I'm diving right in.

So, starting with location: I think my dream house would be near water. The ocean scares me a little with it's occasional habit of hurricaning and tsunamiimg, so a small lake or a creek is probably best. This house would also probably be somewhere with visible mountains and lost of trees and wide-open space. This is sounding more and more like Far north, but I don't think it has to be.

Probably, the most important things are light, air, space, and gathering places. I'm thinking tons and tons of windows. Floor to ceiling windows, wrapping all around my house. Natural light everywhere! And tall ceilings, at least ten feet, but higher is better. At least one main gathering room (like the living room or family room or something) should have vaulted ceilings with windows all the way up, so that I can survey my kingdom the water and mountains and nature.

I want a giant kitchen that allows me to cook and bake and socialize with people while I do all those things (I have grand illusions that I'm not an introvert and will have amazingly giant, yet surprisingly intimate parties. Riiiight...). Ooooh, and a giant pantry! I love to stockpile dry goods--a product of growing up somewhere with a constant threat of blizzards stranding you for days. I want a semi-open floor plan so that you can move easily form room to room, but I won't feel like my dirty dishes are constantly on display. I don't care about a dining room (versus a kitchen table eating area), although I think it might be necessary if I'm having grand parties all the time, but I would like a little breakfast nook or something where I can sip coffee early in the morning and get some quiet time.

I'd like hardwood floors (or laminate, I'm not that fancy) with rugs every where. And  maybe some rooms with big stone tiles. I don't care about fireplaces here in Texas, but they're nice in cooler climates as long as they don't overpower the room with half a wall of brick or stone. I like dark wood on kitchen cabinets and light colored stone counters (probably the same for bathrooms, too). I love crown molding and even like the look of chair rails when they're done well (but no wood paneling as a wall covering. no. stoppit), but all the accent wood should be a glossy white--doors, door/window frames, baseboards, etc. Oh, and arches! I love the look of tall, arched, open doorways.

I want several bedrooms so that I can open my home to foster kids or exchange students or travelling friends and family without feeling cramped. In my bedroom, I'd like enough space for a sitting area, a walk-in closet (not too big, because I don't really have that many clothes, but more than just a hole in the wall with a sliding door in front of it), and a master bathroom with a soaker tub AND a separate shower.

I would love a cozy little office with lots of windows and bookshelves and a good desk chair where I can write in comfort, without distraction. And maybe a comfy sofa or chair for brainstorming when I need a change of pace. OH! And a library. A giant, Beauty-and-the-Beast style library with tons light and bookshelves and ladders to get to MORE bookshelves and maybe multiple stories of book space and little nooks with overstuffed chairs and hidey-holes for reading in secret. That sounds really extravagant and maybe a little selfish (once I read the books once or twice, they just sit there, not being read by anyone), but if I'm dreaming, I'm going to be honest. Maybe I'd encourage everyone I know to come check out books like a real library. Total honor system--just write down what you took and bring it back when you're done. That might alleviate some of my guilt.

Let's see, what else? I've always wanted an attic. Homes in Far North don't really have basements (unless you count the daylight basements, which we didn't) because of the permafrost and most are too modern to have attics. But I've always loved the idea of sneaking away into the quietness of the rafters to look through old photographs or read a book without interruption. And having an actual basement for a playroom / rec room/ TV area with a cushion pit sounds awesome. I'd love to have tons of space for kids--to be the house where my kids and their friends want to hang out because it's safe and loving and fun and welcoming.

I also dream of a big yard with a huge table and twinkly lights strung overhead (definitely not in Far North now) and maybe a grilling pit or something. There would be a big flat green lawn, but there'd also be a good amount of woods for the kids to play in. And a TREE HOUSE! I always wanted one and our trees were too wimpy to bear the weight safely. And a wrap-around porch! With rocking chairs! And a PORCH SWING! AND A HAMMOCK!

I just had to step away and calm down a bit. Sorry about the capslock and the exclamation points. Thisisn'trealthisisn'trealthisisn'treal.

Anyway, I guess if I could sum up (I do this a lot when I talk too much. As if adding more of the SAME words at the end of a lot of words will help people forget about ALL THE WORDS), I want a place where people can gather and that I can use generously to provide hospitality and help. I also want a place that has a lot of natural elements--light, air, water-- with lots of open space. And then I want to add on cozy little nooks where I can get my introvert on. That's my dream home. What's yours?


Doomed From The Start

When I was a really little kid, bangs were "in." In for little kids, I guess. I don't know. All I know is that Sister, who is nearly five years older than me had bangs and both my brothers had those bowl-ish cuts with sweepy bang-ish things and it was the eighties and A LOT of people had bangs. I don't know why I'm justifying this. You were all there. There were lots of bangs. 

Anyway, at the appropriate time, my mother decides I need bangs, too. Probably around age two or so, when I finally had enough hair that it was getting in my face and she was tired of trying to keep a barrette in it. I could ask her--she's in town right now--but it's really not important. Anyway, she takes the comb, runs it through my hair in the wrong direction so that I look like Cousin It, and whips out her scissors. And before she can make that fateful cut, my hair springs in eleventy billion directions and she realizes I have a giant cowlick on the front of my head that will make bangs more than unfortunate, it will make them nearly impossible. And my mother, being the wise and judicious woman that she is, promptly puts away her shears, uses her trusty comb to part my hair in the center of my scalp, and sends me off to terrorize my siblings. And there my hair stays for much of my childhood. 

Many years later, after a few ill-advisied but thankfully short-lived spiral perms and a life time of waffling between the chin-length blunt cut and the scraggly shoulder-blade-brushing snarl, I was ready to take my hair's destiny into my own hands. At the wise and experienced age of fourteen, I threw caution to the wind, along with the advice of my mother's hairdresser, and gave my cowlick the proverbial middle finger and forced her, with many assurances that I knew what I was doing, to cut me some bangs. 

Fourteen is not a kind age to most people, especially six-foot tall, chubby, awkward girls just starting a brand new high school. Why I thought I needed to make that transition worse by having the Terrifying Claw of Human Hair attached to my pimply forehead is beyond even the wisdom eleven years  distance has brought me. All I know is that I had far too much faith in hair products I had never successfully used up to that point. Spoiler alert: I did not master them until WELL after those bangs had rejoined the ranks of the regularly lengthed hair. Who am I kidding? I still haven't mastered them. 

I should mention that it was only THE CLAW on the days I made an effort. Since I was fourteen and getting up early has never been my strong suit, let's just say those days were rarer than they should have been. "Well, great!" you're thinking, "That means it wasn't always The Claw." And you would only be half right, my optimistic friend. No, on the days that I didn't make an effort, they alternated between frizzy and greasy, plastered to my forehead and hanging limply, pathetic and gross, but ALWAYS, always with a giant bald spot on the left side of my head where my cowlick, not able to send the short hairs high into the air in a cascading fountain of teenage angst, would split them like Moses at the Red Sea, if Moses was vindictive and my pimples were the Israelites. 

As you can imagine, freshman year of high school was not my favorite. But what your imagination is forgetting is that year was also the year of the INEXPLICABLE hair butterfly. You remember those, right? The hair clips that had metal butterflies covered in glitter and attached to springs so that they jiggled in "life-like flight" when you moved? Anyone? Bueller? Oh, they were the worst. And I thought they were BEATUTIFUL! I wore them more often than I care to admit. And just to give you a REALLY accurate mental picture, at this time I had yet to let go of the scrunchie as a valid ponytail holder. I preferred the homemade CROCHETED scrunchie, if I'm being completely honest here. 

This was a BANNER YEAR for me in the hair department, is what I'm saying. I was so sure that with the right combination of will and hairspray, I could tame the giant cowlick on my forehead. I was so incredibly mistaken. And EVERYONE knew it. Everyone told me I would regret it and I swore I would not and "I can just grow them out if they don't work." HUBRIS, thy name is Teenage Girl! There is no time span in the world longer than the time it takes to grow out really unfortunate bangs. I wish someone had told me that. Oh. Right...

I've blacked out how long exactly it took me to get rid of the bangs, but I know that there are far too many photographs in existence to let anyone forget about them for many years after they stopped being visible. I've thought about destroying them all, but I know I could never get to all the high school yearbooks from that year without seeing a lot of people I'd rather never see again or committing a lot of felonies I'd rather not commit. 

I bring all of this up, because I'm thinking of getting a haircut this week. What do you think I should get done? Obviously, I'm not to be trusted with a decision of this magnitude. 


New Habit

In an effort to be better at posting more often, I've made a calendar of things to post. And today, I'm supposed to post about a new habit I want to form. Which sounded really interesting when I wrote it a month ago. It's less so now when I have to write it and I have not really given much thought to WHICH new habit I want to form. Planning, I'm good at it. 

In light of my post earlier today (which we're all still pretending I posted yesterday, right? good), the new habit I would like to form is getting up in the morning to walk before work. I need to cancel my gym membership because a) money, b) it's cooler out, so I don't need to workout indoors anymore, c) money, d) I wasn't actually going anyway, and e) MONEY. But I still need to move more. 

Since I work ten-hour days, it's unlikely that I'm going to go after work when I'm tired and just want dinner. And I don't leave the office at lunch (my boss frowns on that), so it seems the only other time is BEFORE work. Which requires a few more new habits to make it feasible. So, new habits to form throughout the next month:

1. Go to bed at a reasonable hour, because it will make number two much easier. 
2. Get up with enough time to walk, shower, get ready, and be to work by 8:00 am. 
3. Actually, you know, GET UP and WALK. 

Since it's dark at that hour of morning these days, I'm going to take Bean's dog with me, both for safety and company. I think it will be good for him, too. He loves going for walks (if you even touch his harness or leash, he flips out) and I think it will help Bean during the day if he's a little more worn out. Not that he's a handful--he's the sweetest dog I've ever met--but he might be a little less desperate to go in and out of the house fifty million times a day if he gets a nice long walk in the morning. Who knows? I could be completely making this up. 

So. That's my new habit, with adjacent habits. Better sleep hours, more movement, and quality time with the puppy. We'll see if I actually make this happen. Pester me, will you? It makes it harder for me to slack if I know someone could ask at any moment. Anyone else working on something like this? Want to crowd-source some self-improvement motivation? Tell me your plans for new habits, and I'll try to remember to pester you, too. 

Weigh In: Week Who The Hell Knows Anymore?

Can we pretend that I posted this yesterday, so that I haven't ALREADY failed NaBloPoMo? Failing before you start is one of the saddest things I think you can do. So let's all have some selective amenisia and pretend that I am a responsible and non-forgetful blogger. Thanks, you guys are the best!

I haven't posted in a while about my weigh ins. Some of that is because I am incredibly forgetful, but mostly it's because I've been struggling and I haven't had a lot of good news to share. I'm still doing the program, but the program has stopped being as effective as it once was and I cannot figure out why. My leader is kind of...the worst. Okay, not really.  She's a very nice lady and the meetings are NOT mind-numbingly boring like they were in Far North. She's just got these weird hang-ups about certain points/calories not being as equal as others and I think it's ridiculous and CONTRARY to the program. I understand they're different from the stand-point of fullness and satisfaction, but in terms of weight gain, they should all be the same or the program DOESN'T WORK.

Anyway, I've been struggling with only losing teensy-tiny bits while trying really hard and then gaining for no discernible reason. I joined a gym. I WENT to the gym. I ate my extra weekly points. I DIDN'T eat my extra points. I ate my activity points. I DIDN'T eat my activity points. The same or similar, ad nauseum. Nothing seems to correlate. 

But now, I have finally reached 30lbs lost. I am way behind my self-imposed schedule and there is no way I'm catching up in time to be at my goal weight by September 2014, but I'm sticking with it because the alternative sucks more.  I was going to post each week's weigh in, all in a row, like I have been doing, but that seems like effort, so I'll just post the most recent one (I'm posting on my iPad, so the formatting will look nothing like the other posts. Which matters to exactly no one but whatever).

Original Weight: 312.0 lbs
This week's weight: 282.0 lbs
This weeks change: -1.4 lbs
Total loss: 30.0 lbs

My 10% goal is right around the corner (I was going to say probably next week, but with the way things have been going, it may be forever and a day before I see it and I'd rather not put the pressure on myself) at 31.2 lbs lost. Hopefully, that's sooner rather than later. 

For now, I'm trying to focus on the non-scale victories, especially sizing victories.  I'm still in that awful in-between stage in pants where my 22s are loose and not entirely flattering, but 20s are way too tight and uncomfortable. But I can get them zipped! So that's something. On top, I'm slimming out much faster, so many of the shirts I brought with me to Texas are too big now, but the rest are still too small.  That sucked for a while, until my mom came to town and MADE me go shopping and now I have all sorts of really fun tops that will hopefully only look better as I shrink (because that's a lot of money spent on them if they only last a few months). We tried to pick things that looked good now, but would look even better THEN. We'll see. 

While my parents have been here, we've been eating out for at least two meals a day, which is what you do in vacation, but man is it hard to make good choices. Apparently, that didn't matter much, though, since this is the most I've lost in weeks.  We've also been moving a whole lot more that I'm used to--we've done the aquarium (which I stupidly did in brand new heels, ouch!), the arboretum, the zoo, and tons of shopping. So I think that helped a ton. Maybe this week will help jump start whatever stalled out back in August. I'm skeptical, but I'm trying to remain hopeful. 

How are the rest of you doing? I know many of you doing WW have quit or taken a break, but I'd love to hear about your progress, not matter what program (or non-program) you're doing. 


It's October Again

There's this song that runs through my head around this time of year. I first heard it on One Tree Hill (shut up, it's good!) and I actually don't know who wrote it or anything. You can see it here (sorry about the extraneous episode pieces that you won't understand if you never watched the show), but it's just one stanza that runs through my head: "It's October again/the leaves are coming down/one more year's come and gone/and nothing's changed at all." 

And, geez, I feel all kinds of high-school-angsty just writing that out and linking to that show (but I love it anyway!), but that line has felt so true to me for years. No matter where I was or what I was doing, I always felt like nothing really ever changed. Sure, I left home and went to college and that was new! and fun! and exciting! and terrifying! and all the other things you feel moving away form home for the first time. But I never felt like my life really changed. And then I moved back home and got job after job, but it was all the same. I felt like I was on this path that was kind of set out for me from birth and I was just...me. The same old me with the same old hang-ups and the same old ideas and the same old life, not even heading in the direction I thought I would, but still in the same boring direction year after year.

Now, don't get me wrong, I was not unhappy with my life, per se. I was and am incredibly blessed and loved and there was nothing "wrong" with my life. I guess what I'm trying to say is that even at 25, I felt like I was still 15, waiting for my life to start. I was waiting for something extraordinary to happen, for there to be the epiphany or cataclysmic moment that I could point to when I'm old and say, "That's where everything changed. That's when my life really began. THAT'S when I became an adult." Which is, of course, ridiculous. Very few people have moments like that.

And I will admit, a lot of this feeling was wrapped up in my singleness. I felt (and still often do, despite my best efforts to trust my sovereign God) that my life wouldn't really begin until I met the person I would share my life with. I would never have said it in those terms because "I don't need a man to complete me/Jesus is all I need and the rest will come in the right time/some other odd mix of feminism and Christianity that basically says I am a whole person with a god-given purpose that does not REQUIRE and may not include a man or a family." But I still thought it (still think it) despite my best intentions.

So year after year would pass, and October would roll around again. And this song would float through my mind and I would very melodramatically, and yet completely honestly, nod my head and think, "Nothing ever changes." This was especially difficult when I left my job on October 3, 2011. I felt like I was running backwards, away from all of the things that I wanted for my life, straight toward the same-old-same that the song poked at. When October 3, 2012 rolled around and I was still unemployed, still single, still childless, still everything I did not want to be, I ran head-first into a wall. It's October again, and nothing's changed at all INDEED.

Now, before you click away or put on your pitying hats, I have a point. I think. October 2013 is almost over, but I was talking about this with Sister and it's time to share: for the first time in nearly ten years, the song doesn't apply. And it's not just that I live in Dallas now. Or that I have a job. Or that my job is in a vastly different field than I ever thought I'd pursue. Or even that I'm flinging myself into running headlong toward excited to start tentatively dipping a single toe into the process of becoming a foster parent. All those things are true and, at first, I thought they were the reason I finally feel so different. But they're not. Because in a lot of ways, nothing has changed at all. This should be no different than moving to college or moving home. Nothing's changed, except for ME.

For the first time, I am trusting God with every. single. step. I am reaching toward the unknown, not with fear of bad things or even expectation of grand things, but armed only with the knowledge that I serve a mighty, loving, incredible God and that my life is not my own. I don't mean to get preachy. I'm not saying any of this to convince you to "join God's team" or anything (although I would be lying if I did not say that I pray that for each of you--because the grace He has shown me is something I would love for you to experience, too). 

I'm saying this because this is HUGE for me. This is mind-blowing and freeing and LIFE-ALTERING. Which is the point. My life has been altered. Finally. Not by my circumstances, not by finding the love of my life (I have not), and not by my location, but by simply trusting that God is Who He says He is. And when your life is altered by something so good, you cannot help but share it with others. October is almost over. Another one is coming next year. It might not bring with it any of the things I think it will. It might. It doesn't matter, because it's not my story to write. It's just mine to live. And I can finally enjoy the sight of leaves falling down.


This Is Going to Sound Crazy...

Today, I'm going to share a secret. Well, it's not a really secrety secret, like I've spent time worrying that someone might find out. It's more like something that's been on my mind and in my heart for a long time and I haven't really known what to do about it, but now I'm ready to talk about it. So don't brace yourself for a big reveal or anything, just... Wow, I am intro-ing myself into oblivion. Let's start over, shall we?

If you've read my blog for any amount of time, you know all about my job and joblessness woes--more than you probably ever wanted to know. For the uninitiated: I left college, got a job with a crazy person, spent 6 months unemployed and zombie-like, took another job with a crazy person, spent 20 months unemployed, moved to Texas, got a job, and now here we are.

During the last few months of my last job and for the entirety of my second bout of unemployment, I prayed for a direction. Was I supposed to take another job in my industry or chart a new path? Where did God want me to work? Where would I do my best and make the world better and serve Him with my abilities? When no voice from heaven came and the doors kept closing on job opportunities, I got discouraged and cried out to God for any kind of relief. After a many months, God told me (not audibly--I'm not entirely crazy) to move here to Dallas. And many of you would see that as God answering my prayer for direction. It was an actual, geographic direction provided by God. Boom, prayer answered. And that's absolutely true.

Except. I never told you (and I only told a few people at the time) that I was getting an another answer from Him the whole time. Every time I prayed about my future, I got this simple and ridiculous answer:
"Be a foster mom."
It was whispered in my heart, it consumed my thoughts, it was in my face all the time. Every time I turned around, I was accidentally stumbling across adoption stories or foster care information or someone was telling me I needed to work with children or I was meeting people who had fostered. I had dreams of a four-year-old boy with dimples and adorably crazy hair, the same boy over and over again. It was WEIRD, is what I'm saying. I'm not one to see "signs" or patterns or put much stock in dreams, but I do believe in a God who is actively involved in our lives, with whom we can have a personal relationship. I had just never experienced it like this before--this overwhelming sensation of knowing what I should do.

And I knew it wasn't from me. I KNEW it, because every time I heard it, I would chuckle nervously and whisper, "You're kidding, right, Jesus?" It was as close as I was willing to get to consciously telling God, "No." I didn't want to be a foster mom, but I knew I NEEDED to be one. I wanted to get a job, get married, and have my own biological children and maybe someday WITH MY HUSBAND, adopt or foster. I wanted the perfect life, the American dream, the self-focused desire for my children to have my eyes and my husband's laugh. I was never opposed to adoption or fostering, it was just something I supported other people doing. I especially didn't want all of the fear of adoption--what if it doesn't go through? what if the birth mother wants them back? what if they're older and we never really bond? what if I'm not good at it because they're not "mine"?--and I didn't want all of the problems I'd heard about with fostering--what if they're troubled? what if I can't handle their issues? what do I do when I have to give them back? will I always hold a piece of my heart back because I know it's not permanent?--and yet there it remained, month after month, an ache deep in my heart for these parent-less children.

And the someone, not knowing about my internal struggle, brought up the Bible verse that says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" and taught me what the verse really means. It does not mean that God is a genie and gives you what you desire; it means he gives you the desires themselves. This was from Him and even though it was CRAZY, I could kind of see His point: I love children; I have always felt like I was created to be a mom; Even in unemployment, I was so blessed and more than many other people. So I eventually kind of accepted the premise and said, "Okay, God, FINE! I'll be a foster mom. Someday. But I have no income and I live in my sister's house. That's not really an option right now. So, thanks and all, but can I have a different answer? One that's more applicable to my immediate issues? Like a JOB?"

And then God laughed and laughed. I mean, ahem. He provided a way for me to move to Texas and start a new life here. But here's the thing: this thought? It hasn't gone away (I thought it might. I maybe even hoped it might. I thought maybe it was a phase or a far-in-the-future thing that God allowed me to get a glimpse of). It disappeared from constant view amid the moving to Texas stuff, but a few weeks into my new job here, there was a day that was like ADOPTIONPALOOZA in my life. Among other things that happened that day, I was researching something else entirely and came across a fostering site with pictures of kids waiting for homes (side note, I'm not sure how I feel about this, since it feels a little like a department store website where you can pick out the prettiest dress or something...), then a blogger I read announced they were adopting and talked about THE SAME struggles I'd had and how they worked through them, AND THEN the novel I was reading to took a radical and unforeseen turn that ended with the main character taking custody of several children. And the whispering began again, but slightly different this time:
"I gave you the job you asked for. I will soon provide a home. You're out of excuses; it's time to be a foster mom." 
And that's where I've been ever since. I'm nearly in tears as I write this, because I don't know what any of this means. I don't know how hard this is going to be, and I don't know how to accomplish any of it. I don't even know if I can afford a place with more than one bedroom, which would be required. I'm barely on my feet financially. I'm just starting to feel emotionally healthy after the angst of the last few years. And I have no idea how this will affect my future. Will I end up adopting, or will I just be a safe place for a child for a little while before they reunite with their family? Will I get married and have biological children, too, or is this a completely separate path? Is this actually some selfish way for me to be a mom without waiting through the hard stuff that singleness means? I don't have much of it figured out, but if God gave me this desire, He will provide a way to make it happen. And every morning, I wake up thinking about where I'm going to live and how I'm going to follow this leading, about who this kid is going to be. Because now? Now I don't just need to be a foster mom, I want it with all my heart.


Weigh In Week: Uh...August

This whole working every day thing is really kicking my butt. And I only actually work four out of the seven available days in a week (except for that 12 hour Saturday two weeks ago and that 4 hour Sunday last week...). So what I'm telling you is that I'm a wimp of the highest order. BUT! I really, really enjoy how the balance in my bank account is larger every time I look at it, so I guess I'll just keep doing what I'm doing.Well, and attempting to do MORE than what I've been doing. More sleeping. More reading books. (Those two may be mutually exclusive in my world...) More grocery shopping (I don't think I possess a single edible vegetable right now). More blogging.

As you might have noticed, though I hold absolutely no animosity (and probably a little bit of respect) if you didn't, I haven't been posting my weekly weigh in posts in any kind of...weekly fashion. It was becoming a bimonthly thing and then I just stopped. Thankfully, this is not because I fell off the WeightWatchers wagon; I just fell off the blogger wagon. So, here's a rundown of my August stats:

Week 14: 08/02/13
Original Weight: 312.0 lbs
Today's Weight: 291.2 lbs
Week's Change: -1.4 lbs
Total Loss: -20.8 lbs
 Week 15: 08/09/13

Original Weight: 312.0 lbs
Today's Weight: 288.4 lbs
Week's Change: -2.8 lbs
Total Loss: -23.6 lbs
Week 16: 08/16/13
Original Weight: 312.0 lbs
Today's Weight: 289.4 lbs
Week's Change: +1.0 lbs
Total Loss: -22.6 lbs
Week 17: 08/23/13

Original Weight: 312.0 lbs
Today's Weight: 287.6 lbs
Week's Change: -1.8 lbs
Total Loss: -24.4 lbs
I got the "16 Week Stay and Succeed" clapping hands charm for the 10% keyring I haven't earned yet (if you're unfamiliar with WW, they give out little charms for your keyring at large milestones, like 16 weeks, 25lbs, 50lbs, goal, lifetime, etc. and most people lose 10% of their starting weight BEFORE 16 weeks, but some of us have made math our enemy). I used to be able to give the spiel about why 16 weeks was so important (something about forming healthy habits and a statistic about people being more likely to succeed if they made it to the 16 week mark and yadayadayada), but I annexed that brain space for useless presidential trivia. But I'm sure it's very important and hey, everyone clapped for me and it felt good, especially since I was supposed to be at 25 pounds lost on that date and instead had gained a pound. Also, this gaining-for-no-discernible-reason BS is for the birds.

So I'm a few weeks behind on my made-up and slightly arbitrary date goals (I should be at 10%--or 31 pounds--lost this coming Friday and instead I'm not even to 25 yet) and that's frustrating. But the overall trend is still downward, so I keep reminding myself that it's working and the time is going to pass anyway, so I might as well use it to try to lose weight.

Also, people have all of a sudden started noticing. Three people in one week stopped to ask me if I had lost weight or, if they already knew I was doing WW, to say that they could see it working. That was incredibly encouraging. The next week, even *I* started seeing it in the mirror. It helps that I hacked off a ton of my hair right around that time and was loving that new look, so everything in the mirror looked pretty rosy for a while.

Some of my clothes are too large already, which is much earlier than this happened the last time I made my trek down from 300+ pounds. My natural waist is the first place I lose wight (my stomach is the very last place, which makes pants fantastically frustrating), so lots of my shirts are fitting differently. Sadly, this is relegating a lot of my shirts to the Stupid Shirt department (AKA, the far end of my closet where they will never be accidentally selected and then fussed over all day in a bothersome and stupid manner), so I'll need to find a thrift store soon. OR a cheap outlet. Pants remain obnoxious--I think I'm a 21 right now. My 22s fit really well the first few hours out of the drier, but are falling down by the end of the day. But my 20s are barely buttoning and, whooooboy, you do not want to see that mess right now. So that's helpful.

Other than that, I just keep trucking along. I'm trying hard to buy and eat different things each week, because I am very rut-prone. But I also know what I like and, when the schedule gets crunched, I gravitate toward what I know. I'm still paying for my gym membership and I have not gone since mid-July. It's only $19 per month, but I gave up weekly lattes to justify it and now I have no lattes AND I'm out $19 a month. So I either need to call and quit the gym or I need to get off my tuchas and go. We'll see if either of those things happen in reality. I served at church last Sunday as a stage manager and had to run up two flights of stairs multiple times, and my muscles burned by the end of the day. So I figure maybe I don't need to pay $19/month and instead should just find a friendly and cheap staircase.