Monday, March 19, 2018

Why I'm the Reason Doctors Can't Say "One Hundred Percent Sure"

Five years ago today, I had an endometrial surgery, after which I was told I would not likely be able to conceive a baby on my own (yes, I know no one can conceive a baby alone - that isn't what I meant). I had the surgery thinking that I had a cyst on my ovaries, which is actually a pretty simple procedure. But mid-surgery, my mom was notified that I actually had a large amount of endometriosis that needed removed. Also, what they believed from my ultrasound to be a cyst on my ovary, was actually a leftover part of what would have developed into my male reproductive organs, had I been a boy, and it was wrapped fully around my fallopian tube.

WHAT??! Yes, I am dead serious, and here's a science lesson: When a fetus is still developing, they have what is necessary to be either male or female, depending on the surge of testosterone that either does (makes baby a boy) or does not (makes baby a girl) enter the system sometime late in the first trimester. Prior to that, basically the fetus has all that's needed to be either male or female, and once the testosterone makes that decision for the fetus, the cells become either male or female, and the baby's sex is determined.

Aaaaand here I was, 29 years old, undergoing surgery to remove what actually ended up being cells that would have formed part of my penis, had my body flooded with testosterone while I was still an embryo. Instead, my body was not flooded with testosterone, so I became a girl...and then my body held on to some of the boy parts, and in turn, was essentially making me sterile.

Yea, I know. WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Anyway, so they were somehow able to remove all this gross crap and in turn salvage my fallopian tube, because science is amazing. However at this point I was told I would likely need the intervention of science and technology, should I happen to change my NEVER, NO WAY, NOT ME stance on becoming a mother. And because I didn't want to be a mother, I was mostly okay with that. I had a bit of trouble accepting that the decision was now being made for me by my put-together-wrong body, instead of made by me mentally, but in the end I was glad it was me and not a woman who was desperate to bear children. Better me than someone else, ended up pacifying me, and I moved on with a few short chats with my therapist.

I then spent the next five years convinced that - as I was told by my doctors - I wasn't going to be able to get pregnant. I was relatively routine with my birth control, but not as careful as a single woman should be. The more time that passed that I didn't have a pregnancy scare, the more solidified I becae in the fact that it wasn't going to happen - after all, if I could get pregnant, certainly at some point of forgetting my pill for days at a time, I would get pregnant. And I never, ever did. So the not being able to have a baby thing, just firmed up in my mind as I moved through my single adulthood.

Which of course I now understand is not super responsible.

Anyway, so with that bit of back story, let's fast forward to September, 2017, shall we?

My BFF Kattie was getting married, and my other BFF Rachel and I were both in the wedding. Since we knew we would have lots of bridesmaid duties to attend to throughout the day, and since I was as single as ever at this point, we decided I should take Rachel's brother in law as my date, so that her husband had company to hang out with at the wedding. It was basically a brilliant plan devised by Rachel and I, adhered to by Josh and his brother Matt, because they tend to just go with the flow of what's asked of them.

Matt was the best wedding date ever.


Because as I type this - six months after the wedding - I am five-and-some-change months pregnant with our baby boy.

Now may be a good time to include the fact that Matt, too, was told by qualified medical personnel that he would not be able to conceive children. And in case you were thinking that we decided to try to have a baby anyway, let me just stop you right there. There was no efforts made, no plan in place, no hopes, no discussions, not even any fleeting thought. There were, however, several consecutive days and nights of two consensual single adults enjoying each other's company.

And at least one of them developing quite a crush on the other one of them (fortunately this crush has both been mutual and continued to develop over the last five months).

As time went on and we continued hanging out more, I was finding myself sick at all hours of the day. Really sick. Puke sick. Miserable. But for me, this is also a quite normal side effect of stress, and working at the building I was working at, was causing some stress. I thought literally nothing of this constant nausea. It mimicked a similar episode from a couple of years prior, where I was eventually regurgitating everything I ingested; at that time I had spent a lot of time and a lot of money for a diagnosis of "carries stress in the tummy, try to chill out." I had no intention of repeating the same expensive routine I had already, and wrote my symptoms off as stress.

So did my mom, for the record.

Every day, she was sending me Yoga apps and calming articles, reminding me to shut off my phone at night and to get more sleep.

Anyway, so Matt and I continued to hang out, I continued to throw up constantly, and I continued to think it was really weird. I failed to take into account other symptoms, like the fact that I was gaining weight even though I wasn't holding any food down, or the fact that I was exhausted. I didn't notice the increased chin acne or the fact that my boobs were bigger, nor did it ever cross my mind that I had not had a period in several months. Literally you guys, I am not exaggerating even remotely - my body was physically screaming that I was pregnant, and I was as oblivious as any human could ever be.

Finally, on Christmas morning, I sent a Snap to Rachel letting her know I was on my way to her house after Christmas breakfast. I was annoyed because I had just thrown up my breakfast. I had scheduled a doctor's appointment for like, March 12th and was frustrated about waiting such a long time when I was literally barfing non stop. She snapped back that maaaaaybe just to be safe, I should pick up a pregnancy test.

"To rule it out," we said.

I texted Matt and let him know I was taking one, and we literally both thought nothing of it. I was 1,000% certain the result would be negative, and that I was wasting six dollars on a two pack of Clear Blue tests on Christmas morning...where surely the cashier had judged the fuck out of me.

I get to Rachel's, and no one is home - Matt had tagged along with Josh to pick up Rachel's mom and brother for Christmas dinner. Rachel is in the kitchen, so I run up to the upstairs bathroom to pee on the waste-of-money stick. I go to set it down on the counter - because you know, they take two minutes to process or whatever - and the damn thing is already blue.

Not a little bit blue you guys. SOLID. FUCKING. BLUE.

Like, holy shit you are reeeeeeally pregnant, blue.
No Doubt About it Blue, as I will now refer to the shade of that solid bold blue line.

And all I can do in this moment is yell down the stairs for Rachel, while still having the wits about me to wash my hands. As she comes up the stairs, she's sighing and telling me that it hasn't been two minutes, and what do I possibly need from her. I hand her the stick (because apparently if it's a pregnancy test, no one cares that it's still your pee) and we have a shared heart attack before she gets the words out that we're both thinking: well, you are pregnant as fuck!

And that I was!

And that I am!

I called the doctor immediately on the 26th, and scheduled an ultrasound for as soon as humanly possible - which for them was January 3rd. Matt and I waited the eight day eternity for the appointment, where an ultrasound tech confirmed that I was, in fact, 16 weeks pregnant. The ultrasound image was not that of a kidney bean like most first ultrasounds, but rather of a human body, waving at us on the screen. He seemed to be saying, "it's about time, you morons," but in a cute baby way. We left the doctor, got back to my apartment, and shared the news to Facebook (news we had already divulged to parents and immediate family members): miracle baby on the way - don't listen to doctors who tell you that you cannot make a baby.

Because as it turns out, you maybe can.

Just don't think about it, ponder it, wonder about it, be curious over it. Don't worry or stress about it. Accept it as not happening, ever. Move past it and then don't be careful with your birth control, because why would you be? It's not like you can get pregnant. Oh and also choose a partner who can't get you pregnant; don't waste time with some Fertile Mertile.

Fully embrace that getting pregnant is impossible. Apparently that is the secret.

And of course, it makes total sense that I am having a boy...since my story started with my fallopian tube being essentially crushed and almost destroyed by my own leftover embryonic boy parts!

Monday, December 18, 2017

My Cousin, My Friend, My Soulmate

Sometimes I think the zodiac is a completely made up hoax, with no evidence that it is even remotely true.

And then I remember that my cousin Karen and I were born on the same day, six years apart, and I am reminded that in fact, the zodiac is real. Because despite being born in different times and different places, being raised by very different people, and having very different life experiences, Karen and I are literally the exact same soul in two different bodies.

Post Two of Fifty: Who are you closest to in your family?

I went back and forth with this one for quite some time, because I am very close to most of my Stacey family. I would say Stacey is my best friend, and that Blake is my number one kid. I do believe my nephew Archer is my spirit animal, and I have a close relationship with all 13 of my cousins. My cousin's son Grant is my mini-me, I believe my cousin DeLaina will be the one we all grow old with because she's the caretaker, and my aunt Michelle is the one I like to text with when I'm curled up at the beach house.

That said, the question isn't who is my favorite, or who do I like best, nor is it who I spend the most quality time with. The question is, who am I closest to.

And I have to answer that one undoubtedly, my cousin Karen. Because Karen is my soulmate.

Karen and I are exactly the same.

The Leo woman in each of us is strong.
We handle love, heartache, disappointment, pride, and hurt the same.
We care passionately about the same things, and we're sensitive about the same things.
We are both unabashedly snarky and sarcastic, and neither of us is ever prepared for that to get us into trouble (even though it always does).
We have the same drive and determination, and the same self doubts and frustrations.
We both feel at home at the beach more than anywhere else, and we each keep a care bear with us to keep us happy all the time.

We also have the same toothy grin and the same Whitmore dark circles under our eyes.
We have the same narrow upper lip when we smile, and the same forehead and nose.
We have the same wild and unruly curly hair.
We make the same cheese face in every selfie.
We both have a favorite nephew who we love fiercely, more than anything.
We both love hard, we both hurt hard, and we both feel every emotion very loudly.

We're the same.
She is me, six years in the future.
I am her, six years later.

I was born on Karen's 6th birthday, in August of 1983. Whenever it's our birthday, she tells me that 34 years ago, she knew I was hers. "I felt like you were mine." She says it every year. And every year it makes my heart happy.

Karen is always the person I go to first, whether it be to laugh, cry, gush over a new boy, talk shit about other people, gossip, brag, or seek comfort. Whether she was living in Portland like me, freezing her face off living too far away in Minnesota, or now living in my paradise, Bend, she is - and always has been - a phone call away.

In fact, we call each other from the grocery store all the time, because that's the only time she can escape her children yelling for her attention just because she is on the phone, or her youngest chasing her through the kitchen with the "fuck it" button (which, while her husband finds appalling, she and I think is hilarious - yet another thing we have in common). She goes to Fred Meyer and wanders aimlessly up and down the aisles while we catch up, and then a week later I keep her on the phone in the parking lot at the gym while I wander around Target gushing to her about a boy.

Karen is always the first to tell me she's proud of me or happy for me, just like she's always the first one to empathize when I'm hurting. She's my soulmate, she feels my feelings with me. I always cry when she cries, and I get mad on her behalf - especially when I don't think she is mad enough. She always pushes and encourages me, gives me advice, and then doesn't judge me when I turn around and do the opposite.

I tell her she's too old when she wants to go to bed at 10:00 after we watch a scary movie, and she tells me I'm too young when I want to spend $30 on a mimosa breakfast we have to wait in line for while standing outside in the snow. But we both wholeheartedly agree on smoothies for breakfast sitting on the roof, and a weed-induced nap on the porch in a sunbeam. We also both agree with the scary movies and mimosa breakfasts, despite the lines and early bedtimes.

Because we're the same.

In the past couple years, there has definitely been a shift in Karen seeing me as her baby cousin, and I now get the street cred for being an adult she can discuss all adult topics with. My favorite is when she calls and vents about something for an hour and then as we're hanging up says, "oh and how are you?? Your life matters too!"

Because she's snarky.
Because we're the same.

I am close to all of my Stacey family. Karen is just about the only Whitmore I have (also, that's because we're the same...I'm pretty much the only Whitmore she has too). But she's the only one I need. She understands my feelings about our family better than anyone; she knows how much I love my grandma, and how long it took me to accept things as they are. She lets me vent, listens to me get mad and sad and raging mad and devastated - and then she tells me it'll be okay. Not because she doesn't want to listen, but because shes been there and because she knows me best. And she's always right - it always is okay. Because just like her grandma and grandpa loved her no matter what, my grandma loves me no matter what.

Because in spite of (and often because of) our sarcasm, our boldness, our chaos, our energy that other people don't understand, Karen and I are still incredibly lovable people. Just ask my mom; she loves us both.

When asked who in my family I am closest to, not much thought was required. I have a huge family, full of fun, loud, crazy, opinionated people who I love dearly. Full of cousins I call my best friends. Full of aunts who take care of me and uncle who pick on me. Full of toddlers I love to spoil rotten and laugh with. My family is amazing. And in the midst of all the amazing, I am lucky enough to have a twin, in all senses of the word.

She's my cousin.
My friend.
My confidant.
My soulmate.

And I bet you all a thousand dollars she started crying in paragraph two of this post. #twinning

A New Challenge for a New Year

I did not exactly succeed at the November blog challenge with Mary, but I also did not exactly fail. I did write. I wrote like 50% of the days I was supposed to. And I learned from my sorta success slash sorta failure, a few lessons for my next writing challenge.

I learned that I do enjoy writing in line with a blog challenge.
I learned that I like writing more, knowing that Mary is also writing and going to post something really funny.
I learned that I do not have time to write every single day.
I learned that I don't always feel like writing.
I learned that on the weekends, I'd rather cuddle than write a blog post.

With that, I have found a new writing challenge to take on: 50 Questions to Ask a Girl if You Really Want to Know Her.

50 Questions, 50 topics.
This time, 50 day deadline to answer all 50. Because I know I don't like to write on the weekends and because I know I have days where I give no fucks, I'm setting my goal to answer these 50 questions over the next 100 days. That's much more manageable and realistic.

So, moving right along.

Day One: When you were younger, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

When I was really little, like five-year-old little, I thought I could be Clyde Drexler. I mean, sure, I was a tiny little white girl...what could possibly stop me from being a six-plus foot tall black man?? Dream big, as they say.

I wanted to be Clyde Drexler after meeting him at school. My kindergarden class won a reading contest that the Blazers were involved in, and because we won, he came to school. This was my first dose of stardom and part of me remembers it being a huge deal.

Get it, huge, because he is huge?

Anyway, my first moment of hero worship, and at five, that clearly became a dream to BE him.

After my mom shot me down on that dream, I decided I wanted to be an elementary school librarian. Why? Because I love books, especially children's books.

Looking back now, my overall disdain for small children was probably a hindrance here, but what did I know about all that way back then? Now, I cannot fathom the thought of being a teacher - my cousin is a teacher, and just standing next to her makes me tired. What a thankless and underpaid profession, where you are way too responsible for the well-being of a new generation of humans.

Too. Much. Pressure.

And so, like everyone else in property management, I got into property management on accident.

And the joke is on me, because it is literally the equivalent of being responsible for small children.
Except the children are adults.
Who instead of refusing to eat their lunch, are refusing to pay their rent.
And instead of being thankless and underpaid...oh wait, no, that's the same.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Only 39 Days Until Christmas. But Who's Counting?

I would say I am literally failing at this blog challenge, except that I am still on track to have covered all 30 topics in 30 days - I just technically am also covering multiple topics each day...because there have definitely been some days this month where I just do not have time to sit down and write a post.

And also a day or two where I was totally uninspired and had nothing of relevance to say.

Mostly it has been the latter.

Day 14: One thing you're excited for
Day 15: Your family
Day 16: Something you're nervous about

The past few years, I have lacked in holiday excitement. Just not feeling it. Things with my family were not great and therefore a lot of my beloved traditions were changing - or not happening in any capacity. I was learning how to live alone and navigate budgeting myself to live and eat while paying $1100 a month in Portland area rents, so the added holiday expenses were stressful, and I just struggled to get into the holiday mindset.

This year I have made a true conscious effort to find that excitement I have been missing. It started with a shopping trip to Home Goods with my best friend, in which I was forced to purchase Christmas cat hand towels.

It's the little things sometimes.

I am looking forward to both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. One could say I was almost even excited about it.

My (Stacey) Family Thanksgiving is early in the day next Thursday, and I am certainly excited for that; we only have that every other year, and I miss it every "off" year. It's such chaos - loud, a million people, tons of kids running around, loud crazy Bingo games with terrible prizes. It's a few hours where my whole family is together, laughing and enjoying each other's company. I love it, it's my favorite holiday tradition.

I am also spending Thanksgiving afternoon/evening with my best friend and her family, which I love and have done for a few years now - long enough that I am actually assigned to the food list this year. With it this year comes a new level of excitement, and also some nerves. It's not at Rachel's house, where it always is, but instead at her in-law's house - for some reason, this is making me a little nervous. I like familiarity in my life; I like to know where I am and where I'm going. I'm also just a little nervous about the recent changes in my dynamic in this family, and how that will play out over the course of a holiday.

But I am embracing it. All of it, in fact.

Nervous doesn't mean bad; I have definitely learned this lesson recently - nervous is not a bad thing. Nerves simply mean I'm feeling my genuine feelings. Nervous because I'm happy, nervous because things are different, nervous because I'm nervous.

I'm also actually, for the first time in several years, feeling a bit excited about Christmas. I have even started my Christmas shopping - the last few years I've been all Amazon-at-the-last-possible-second. I helped my mom get out all of her Santa collection last week, and she gave me a tote full of them - and I have every intention of actually getting a baby tree and decorating my apartment.


I know. Seriously though.

I don't know yet what this Christmas will look like for me or how exactly it'll play out. I do know that Stacey Christmas is the Sunday before, and it's one of my favorite days even when I'm not in the Christmas mood. I know that I will see my grandma at some point during the day, whether that be at church or at my aunt's house, or even both - who really knows. I know I'll eat bacon and eggs for breakfast at my mom and dad's, and then we'll do Santa presents. I don't know what else I'll do, but I'm feeling good about it either way.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Dancing Through the Morning

Day 12: Your morning routine
Day 13: Put your music player on shuffle and write the first three songs that play

I turn my music on in the morning as soon as I finish hitting snooze four times and drag my ass out of bed. I set the phone on the bathroom counter, select shuffle - or sometimes a specific album if I happen to know what I'm in the mood for at the ass crack of dawn, which I generally do not, and let it play as I wipe sleep from my eyes and start my day. 

It should be noted that I spend more time in the morning trying to convince myself I can go one more day without washing my hair, than I do doing the rest of my "routine" combined.

I hate to wash my hair.

No, I don't hate to wash it. I hate all of the steps that follow the washing. If I wash my hair in the morning, it requires that I get up a full 45 minutes earlier than if I don't - because then I have to drown myself in detangler, comb through a million knots, decide if I want to go curly or straight, select appropriate product based on that decision, use said product, and then blow dry and/or flat iron. It's a lot of work! 

And I'd just as soon just have dirty hair and do nothing but spray some dry shampoo.

I like routine, and I don't like to stray too far from it. It's always when I start dating someone or stay at other people's houses that I realize how much I dislike straying from routine. My morning routine is definitely one of those routines I don't like to stray far from. I do my morning in a specific order:

* Feed the cat before she chews a hole in my phone charger and electrocutes herself and burns down my apartment. Juno lets me know I need to get up and feed her by chewing on the phone or laptop charger. She's insane.
* Open the blinds
* Remember how badly I have to pee
* Pee
* Brush my chompers. I cannot stand the taste of dirty teeth or morning breath. Also I think people who brush their teeth in the shower are likely serial killers.
* Shower. I also shower in a certain order - wash my face first, then shave and wash myself...and if I absolutely cannot convince myself my week-old unwashed hair is clean, I was and condition my hair first.
* Get out of the shower, get dry and use all those girly products like deodorant and perfume and coconut oil, plus all the face stuff that keeps my skin baby soft.
* Sit on the bedroom floor in my towel and do my makeup. And yes, I also do my makeup in a specific order. IAMSOWEIRD.
* Do my hair. Either by way of all of those insane and time consuming clean-hair steps, or by spritzing dry shampoo and running a flat iron through the ends (usually the latter).
* Get dressed (more commonly known as standing in my underwear debating between leggings & boots or slacks & flats).
* Try to coax Juno out from under the bed, where she hides whenever she sees me getting ready - she either hates my obsessive routine, or she thinks I'm going to make her get a job and go to work. Talk to her in baby cat talk, give up on getting her out from under the bed, spend 10 minutes searching for my keys, forget my lunch in the fridge, and head to work.

I continue to listen to music all day at work, and when I put my phone on shuffle to write this post, these are the first three songs that played. 

1. Bulletproof Weeks - Matt Nathanson
I have so much Matt Nathanson on my iPhone that it is only logical the first song would be one of his. Every. Single. Time. I am, after all, a Matt Nathanson groupie.

2. All My Life - KC and JoJo
This makes sense. I like to kick it old school. 

3. Hallelujah - Pentatonix
This makes sense too. I love this song - no matter who sings it, I love (and have on my phone) practically every version ever played. And my phone must know I am working on locating my holiday spirit. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

I Like My Potatoes in Vodka Form

I find that I do much better at blogging if I write first thing in the morning, and I totally fail on the weekends. I now owe my blog partner, Mary, Day 9, Day 10, and Day 11.


I'm going to attempt to combine these three topics into one post, and hope that it doesn't end up a a jumbled hot mess:

Day 9: A family member you dislike
Day 10: Something you miss
Day 11: Your feelings on ageism

Ready, we go. 

Until recently, I was taking my grandma to church two Sundays a month. I would pick her up in Vancouver, and we'd take 45 minutes to drive south on 205, to St. Johns in Milwaukie, where she has always gone to Sunday mass. We would spend the 30 minutes before mass started at the front door, greeting all of her friends, and then we'd sit in the same pew each week. After church, we would either have donuts and coffee with her friends, or we'd stop by to visit my parents, and then I would take her back home. 

While I do not miss getting up early on Sunday mornings to go to church, I do miss spending those hours with my grandma twice a month. I loved the car rides back and forth from Vancouver to Milwaukie because I could always get her to talk about my grandpa - where and how they met, how she always got out of bed to make him dinner when he worked late, the way their 9 kids drove him crazy and she let him hide outside from them to have a cigarette. She was most alert on our way into Milwaukie - she would comment on my driving, or the landscape, always pointing out how many cars were on the road and how many more houses there were these days.

As I write this, I realize I am speaking in past tense, and the logical reader would have to assume that I quit taking my grandma to church because she passed away. But that isn't the case. Instead, after an argument with my aunt (her daughter), my aunt told me I was no longer allowed to come to the house to pick up my grandma. I was also told that my grandma has never loved me, and that pretending to care about me was exhausting her.

Uh huh. That happened. 

I think the entire situation is heartbreaking and sad, but the saddest part may just be the way that these people are holding my grandma hostage, not allowing certain people to visit her, feeding her elderly mind full of horse shit about why we aren't around. My grandma is 89 - her memory and alertness is slipping, and sometimes she doesn't know who we are. But I would hope that in this vulnerable, almost child-like state, that the family - even though we hate each other - would be able to put everything aside to care for her and put her first. 

But apparently we cannot do that. 

My grandma is an elderly woman who can no longer make decisions for herself, and can no longer make her own choice to get in the car and drive somewhere. And sadly, the people in charge of getting her places, providing her a safe place to live, are three people who hate me and won't allow me anywhere near her. I think that's a sad and disturbing abuse of power, quite frankly. And so yesterday, I took a little bit of that power back. We were all at a funeral, and my grandma was seated at a table with my aunts. They got up to get her a plate of food for lunch, and I seized my moment - mind you, I've gone from seeing my grandma every other Sunday, to having not seen her in six months. I all but leaped from my own seat at a table across the room to sit down in the chair next to her while she was momentarily unsupervised (the previous hour, she'd been flanked on either side by one of these bitches, like she needed a body guard from her own family. I sat down and then so did my mom and dad, and we sat with her for the rest of the afternoon, eating lunch, laughing and talking. No one else approached the table even once. I made my power move, because despite the vile garbage they will sling in an email, these women are actually chicken shit bitches when faced with potential confrontation. They won't dare come near me, even to join their own mother for lunch.

I let go of wanting a relationship with any of these people a long time ago, but I will admit that they got to me when they cut off my tie to my grandma. I love my grandma; I remember countless things about being in her house as a kid, playing with my cousins while she pumped us full of ice cream. I have memories of her clothes, her Christmas aprons (which she gave me recently and I have hanging on a hook in my own kitchen, by the way - a clear sign she doesn't love me), her baking dishes. She used to babysit me every Wednesday evening, and she made potatoes a different way every week (I hate potatoes), and she would say, oh just try them, maybe you'll like them this way. I also remember calling her a few years back to tell her a joke that I finally found a way I did like potatoes - in vodka. I miss getting to see her and hang out with her, enjoying her on holidays, spending three hours with her on Sundays. 

And I very much dislike the three women in my family who have taken that away from me. For their own selfish and disgusting reasons, they are holding me from my own grandma in what are likely her final years of life. I dislike them for the things they have said about me, about my mom, for the things they believe in their own minds to be true. I dislike that they will read this post because they stalk me on the internet, and that they will probably twist it in a way that makes me the bad guy - though after you tell your niece her grandma doesn't love her, I don't think you get to come back from that. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

My Tattoo Means I Like Tattoos

Day Eight: What tattoos do you have, and do they have meaning?

I am definitely not one to think that all tattoos must have significant meaning - I mean, I think it's totally fine if the meaning behind a piece of work on your body is, I was kinda bored and this was really pretty. I love tattoos. I really love beautiful, well-done tattoos. And yes, I love the ones that are meaningful - I just don't think it's a requirement.

I have a lot of ink in my skin, so I suppose this blog post may get a little lengthy...I suppose I shall start from the ground up.

1. On the inside of my left ankle, I have a Juno Cat tattoo. This one, of course, has meaning. Everyone in my life knows how important Juno is, and the fact that I believe with my whole heart that my Grandma Stacey sent her to me to rescue me from my horrible relationship - yes I know that sounds insane, and yes, I do actually believe it. Ironically, although it is one of my smallest tattoos that only took 45 minutes to get, it's by far my favorite. Travis (my amazing tattoo artist) did such a great job capturing her round belly and extra long whiskers - somehow even though it's basically just an outline, it looks just like her.

2. On my right calf, I have a rose and sparrow - this is the first tattoo Travis did for me, and is a cover up of a terribly done crescent moon and shooting star. The terribly done tattoo did have meaning - I got it when a friend died - but I think the fact that it was so hideous, makes covering it up forgivable. Plus, it's still there. Something pretty just happens to be on top of it now.

3. On my right hip, I have the words carpe diem in bold, black, not-great-looking script. I got it in New York City, while on vacation with Jenny in 2008. It's not a good tattoo. In fact it's a pretty bad tattoo. But it definitely reminds me of a really fun trip I took to the east coast with my best friend. The most vivid memory of getting the tattoo itself was that Jenny snapped a photo and the artist literally yelled at her (not a great sign). It's not one I can cover up since it's big ugly black lettering, but it has a good story behind it.

4. On my left side, lower back, is my very first tattoo - a small little Tinkerbell that a friend sketched for me and I had branded to my body in 2001 when I turned 18. It is also very poorly done, and is in the cover up process.

5. On my left side, right under my armpit on my ribs, I have two honey bees and their hive. The bees are singing and happily playing music, and this is my most meaningful tattoo for sure. I got it when my grandparents died. I picked honey bees because one of my most favorite memories from being a kid, is climbing the honey tree in their front yard. Travis made them musical bees because my family has a very musical background, and my mom always talks about how their was constant music in their home. And the hive is there to show how they were always there with us, with their "hive." I'd like to add to this one eventually and have it cover my full left side.

6. On my right wrist, I have my Zodiac sign, just small and simple outline. This one is meaningful in that I am a Leo - and I pretty much operate in line with that sign.

7. On my right forearm, I have a hot air balloon, which I got when I finally felt like I was free of a bunch of shit going on in my life. I also got the word free on my left forearm on the same day. I'll likely add to the balloon on my right arm at some point and finish my forearm - who knows?

8. My left arm started with the word free, as mentioned, and is now a full sleeve. I told Travis I was ready for a sleeve, and that I wanted it to be feminine - that was the only insight I gave him, and I let him run with it. That's what I love about Travis, is that he loves to take the creative freedom, so when I say something like, I want a sleeve that's pretty and feminine, he just works my arm into art. I love the finished product, and we worked on it for over a year, with I believe six total sessions when all was said and done. It's a queen bee, with two bluebirds, some gorgeous bright flowers and a tree, and a honey comb tucked behind it all.

9. After a lot of thought (and some convincing from Travis), I have finally started my back and am two sessions in to probably another 18 months of work. He's doing a full back piece - a peacock and some roses - from my neck to my ass. I love it so far. The peacock outline is done, but not the roses yet, and I got about five hours of color completed this spring before a wedding I was in. I am so excited to keep going on this one!

Not all tattoos have meaning. Not even all of my tattoos have meaning. But I think all tattoos are gorgeous - and I think that is meaning enough.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Just Delete Your Facebook Immediately

Day Seven: Five Problems with Social Media

1. It is a time suck.
Social media can take up a lot of our time. Consider the last time you were at home alone, bored, no plans and nothing going on, and instead of scrolling through hours and hours and hours of Facebook news feed, you picked up a book or the newspaper.

I'll wait.

It never happens!

Social media is designed to suck us in. You can literally scroll down on Facebook and Instagram, and also Twitter, for eternity. Like, there is no end. Keep scrolling and scrolling, you will never get to the bottom of the page. And they do that on purpose to keep you trapped! I mean literally, you can spend an entire day online and get to the end of the day, wondering how you just spent the day.

Time. Suck.

2. It is an attention whore.
My mom always says she hates when we are on our phones when we're over for dinner. And 9 times out of 10, we aren't talking to anyone or do anything.

We're just scrolling forever and ever into oblivion.

Social media take a lot of time and attention away from our face to face interactions. When we're together, we still have our noses buried in our phones. We go out to eat with our friends and we're too busy taking #foodporn photos to have an uninterrupted conversation. I feel like something could be said about isolation and "selfies," if I wanted to put a lot of extra thought into it.

3. It puts unnecessary pressure on your relationships.
I read a meme recently that said the biggest sign of a healthy relationship is no mention of it on Facebook. And I believe that may be very close to true.

Should you share photos of you and your partner doing something fun or on some adventure, or snuggled up in front of the TV on a Sunday night? Sure. There is a huge difference between hiding your relationship, versus oversharing every detail to the point where I feel like I am the third party in your relationship. Don't hide. Just don't disclose everything.

I don't need to know when you're in a fight, or when you've made up. It's weird. And I think it probably makes things worse in the long run.

Now don't get me wrong. I actually am a sentimental dork, and I like to see a friend's Facebook status change from Single, to In a Relationship. And from In a Relationship to Engaged. And then from Engaged to Married. And I like to see their last name's change - even though I think that changing your last name is a super archaic and weird thing to do. BUT, I do hate to see someone change their relationship status back and forth between Single and In a Relationship, and there is no worse status than It's Complicated.

Get out of here with all that drama! Why are you telling the world that you are having relationship problems?!!

Also please stop with the overemotional sad quotes that you literally never post except for the times when you are in a fight with your partner. Gross. You need to stop that right now.

4. It spreads a lot of wildly untrue information.
I mean, chances are if you are reading this blog post, you don't actually get your news from Twitter or Facebook - because I like to believe I am friends with people who are more intelligent than that. And I haaaaaate to use really ANY word used by our piece of shit garbage hep president, but there is soooo much fake news on the internet!! Like, just because it was a meme, does not mean it's real!

Please, please I beg of you, people. Read REAL news. Locate a legit news source. Support the media, especially locally.

Just remember that Fox News is the Twitter of the media, and don't believe anything you read.

5. It portrays people through unrealistic filters.
I dare you to try and locate the most recent photo you have taken of yourself, in which you have not applied one single filter. No funny faces or bunny ears from Snap Chat, no make-you-tanner-than-you-really-are filter from Instagram. Just a regular photo of yourself. That you both took and then posted on social media.

I bet you have a hard time finding one. Because we now filter our whole life before we post it.

It's funny...writing this post makes me sort of want to log in and delete my Facebook account immediately.

I mean, I won't. I can't. I'm clearly as addicted as everyone else, and am guilty of setting aside the new book I am desperate to read (Trevor Noah's "Born a Crime") to scroll through nonsense for eternity instead...which is ridiculous, since I have been DYING to read his book!

Un-gluing yourself from social media is challenging, for sure. But the days that I make a strong commitment to not log in, are really always great days! It seems like a ridiculous thing to have to do, but one of my resolutions for 2018 (because yes, I do think about those for a long time in advance, and yes I do make them every year) will be to select a social media free day every week. One day a week, no social media. How pathetic that I think it'll be hard and will seriously take an effort!

And now, off I go to link this blog to my social media accounts to make sure people read it...


Monday, November 6, 2017

Yes, I am Still Scared of Monkeys

Day Five and Day Six
What am I afraid of, and What do I need to surrender to the universe? 

First, I feel like these two can combine into one post, which works out well since I failed to post a day five post yesterday.

Turns out I spent the entire day on the couch, snuggling, napping, and watching about ten straight hours of Weeds, which is precisely what I needed. There was no room for complete sentences, let alone a written blog.

I have written about fears before - my fears of silly things, and my fears of real things. The thing about things that scare us, though, are that they do change. So I don't feel like I am necessarily repeating myself in speaking to fears.

One. I am afraid of outhouses. That will never change.

Also. I am afraid of spiders, and mosquito eaters, and stink bugs. And also monkeys.

And because I am a Leo, I am afraid of loving someone more than they love me. It's not my fault, the zodiac is to blame for this one. See? It's a meme and everything!

Fears like this one are irrational, and I think they do generally fade with time. I only recognize it as a present fear when something is new and in that undefined, unsure stage. I don't tend to carry this fear over into a relationship - or at least I don't notice that I do. Once things work themselves out beyond that initial new, just started dating thing, this is a fear that certainly subsides. But before I know where I stand, it's definitely something I notice.

I think that this goes hand in hand with what I need to just surrender to the universe because being fearful of the way people think and/or feel about you, usually just ends up causing problems. I've been mindful and aware of this fear, and in recent experience have also been up front about it - I'm afraid to love harder than you. Part of facing a fear is to acknowledge it - even if vocalizing it to someone can be a challenge.

The way people feel about each other, however, is not something to be forced. I've only recently learned that the best way to know if something will work out with someone - whether or not they really care about you, how they feel, how ready they are for you - is to just spend time with them. Take the pressure of dating out of the equation, stop reading into bull shit, go with the flow, and just see what happens. I tried this recently, and what I learned was, this guy was simply not ready to date. He was flaky, and he never called when he said he was going to, and then would call days later wanting to take me to dinner like, right then.

No thanks, I'm not into that.

Fast forward to a time where someone shows a genuine interest in spending time with me - tells me good morning every day, cooks me dinner, puts away my dishes while I'm at work - and suddenly that worry is not quite as present. I don't find myself anxious about whether someone is going to call me or if I'm bugging this person by sending a meme that I think is funny. I don't find myself worried about who likes who more, or who cares more, or who is more invested - because I quite simply feel like I do matter.

I am likely always going to be a girl who feels anxious and a little scared when something is new - new makes me nervous (and that spans all realms of life, by the way, not just romance). But I am also learning to be someone who can let go of the insane pressure that the world puts on two people in a new relationship - give that to the universe and just enjoy seeing where things go.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Exhale the Bad Shit, Let it Go, and Other Cliche Phrases

Day Four: What do I need to let go of?

Probably a lot of things.

Definitely some things.

For sure some things I am not going to write about.

The number one topic that comes to mind is that I need to let go of the shitty people in my family. They are shitty. They are not going to get better. They do, however, continue to get worse. And sometimes I really have a hard time with that. Other times, I am reminded that other people in my family are great, and that it's fine. But I have already written that "my family sucks" blog - multiple times, in fact (they really, really do), so I have been racking my brain for a new topic.

And then I get a message from a friend this morning and it hits me.
She works for the company I used to work for. Let's just call them Big G, shall we? I'd hate to get anybody's panties twisted when they read this.
Anyway, so she was terminated today.
For no reason.
After many, many years of exceptional service.

Is this ringing a bell for anyone because it happened to me 3 months ago??

Ironically, said friend works for *gasp* the SAME regional manager I worked for!

Here's the thing. I let go of the fact that I was fired by my snake-ass twat of a regional right away, because a much better, much more beneficial, much more respectable position was offered to me within 5 days. I am not upset that I was fired. I am upset that I learned the hard way that if someone hates you enough, they really will use anything possible to get rid of you, buuuuut in the end, I came out ahead.

However, what I have not let go of yet, is this overwhelming sympathy for the people I know who still work for this company, and who work for this company in Portland, specifically. A company where when you reach out to your director or to HR for help dealing with your supervisor being a total and complete bitch, you are then basically raked over the coals. And where they will also go right to your supervisor and TELL HER WHAT YOU SAID! A company where you don't matter. Where your opinion doesn't matter. Where your human decency, morals, and overall convictions do you more harm than good. Big G is a company that probably at some point did some good. But they are also a company that has turned some of the best career role models I've had, into shady, dishonest ass holes, with whom I would no longer ever share kind words.

I was fired less than a month after I called my regional's supervisor, begging for advice on how to deal with her. Begging for help on how to communicate with her more effectively. I was fired less than two weeks after having a meeting with my regional and her supervisor (because confidentiality means nothing), in which I was honest about what I needed to feel more support. I was fired while my career mentor (who yes I do now see as completely shady as fuck) was conveniently on vacation and unable to look me in the face after approving to let this happen. And more importantly, I was fired less than ten days after I spent a day job shadowing another regional based on a conversation in which my next promotion was discussed.

How interesting.

Someone who works in the corporate office for Big G said something that really stuck with me, when I was talking to her about what actually happened (because of course, my shady-ass twat of a regional did nothing but talk shit about how horrible I was). She said, "If I was an on site manager right now, and you got fired for 'not living Big G's values,' I would be terrified every day of losing my job - because you of all people, are the one showing up every day and investing in the values. You're a favorite and everyone knows it. If I were on her team as a manager, I'd be watching her every move."


I know I was a "favorite." I know that companies play favorites, and I know I was in that position. I was speaking at training classes, leading meetings, job shadowing, training, mentoring, hosting videos, joining committees. Big G was rolling out their new "values" platform, and I was not only dedicated to it, but I was dedicated to everyone else dedicating themselves to it.

But my regional was a cunt, and we hated each other. And I spoke up about it.
And she makes more money than me, and her position is more important, so I got fired.

Which is, again, fine by me.


I have not let go of this "mama bear" feeling of just wanting to scream GET THE FUCK OUT OF THERE NOW to everyone in the Portland market. I want to find jobs for all of them (and I have found jobs for several of them). I need to let go of that and simply be an advocate for my new company. The people who still work for Big G know it's bad - they bitch about it all the time, for one. And for two, there has been regional manager mass exodus, and that shit does not go down for no reason. The truth is, I can't continue to stress about my friends who still work for the company. It's their choice to stay where they are for now, and they'll eventually realize how bad things have gotten and move on. It's hard to be in a position now where I can see all of the bad, and where I can see how unhappy my friends are at work. I have an amazing regional now - I work somewhere very challenging, and where a lot of people are really not pleasant, and yet he has my back 110% every single time. My director of operations calls or emails me weekly to make sure I am still doing well and having a good time, reminding me how fortunate she feels to have gotten me on her team.

I need to let go of a need to protect my old coworkers from the shit show they're in. I can't change it for them. All I can do is offer an ear when they're bitching, and offer the job positions list when they're ready to exhale the Big G bull shit.

Values the Big G Portland office claims to live by: Integrity. Respect. Professionalism. Accountability. Service. Teamwork.

Values the Big G Portland office does not live up to by any stretch: Integrity. Respect. Professionalism. Accountability. Service. Teamwork.

I've let go of all aspects of being terminated. I'm happy where I'm at, and sometimes forced change ends up being the best thing for you. I ended up with an additional $10,000 a year to start, a better apartment, better work/life balance, better regional support, and just seriously a better existence.

And it's probably about time I let go of feeling bad for the people still working there.
Because let's be honest, if they're good at their jobs, they'll probably get fired soon anyway!