2011, I’m sad to see you go (or, Epilogue part 2)

I found this meme in the winter of 2008 and have done the same meme ever since.  I usually don’t do these but it is my favorite because it’s not completely dumb.  I don’t have to list what’s in my pockets or what I had for supper last Sunday.  I will say that this is the first year that I honestly almost can’t remember anything before July.  It’s been that kind of year in which a select few events completely overshadowed the rest of the year. 

2011, For the Win!

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

I ran a 5 mile race in May.  And I use the term “run” very loosely, of course. 

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Did I make a resolution?  I don’t think I did.  And, if I did, it had something to do with #1.  Which I did.  Loosely.

3.  Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes.  My baby niece Jordyn Rose was born in February.  And then I got to spend 7 weeks with her while my sister finished the school year.  Oh my aching ovaries…

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No.  Thank God.  It’s been several years since I’ve had to dig up all the same old feelings regarding mortality and whatnot but I just have this feeling that my luck is about to run out in that department.

5.  What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

This is a tough one.  2011 was a year full of blessings.  I got just about everything I’ve ever wanted, all in one year.  And, having just moved for the 4th time in seven years, I know I don’t need another THING.  So let’s just say that I’d like to go on a real family vacation.  Colorado…Disney…Michigan U.P.  Somewhere.  Together.

6.  What countries did you visit?

Um, no.  None.

7.  What date in 2011 will remain etched in your memory and why?

July 23.  (See #8 for why)

8.  What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I returned two separate phone calls.  One of them was to a boy.  The other was to my current boss/CEO.  Both have turned into very successful relationships.  This is significant because I have some sort of phone phobia.  I don’t answer my phone unless I know who it is AND have something to say and I almost never return calls.  I know.  I’m working on it.

9.  What was your biggest failure?

Fat Camp.  Okay, it wasn’t a failure and I haven’t gained back a single ounce.  Well, I did but then I lost it again.  But I have moments of great stress that now make me want to find a treadmill and/or a set of free weights.  Not that I act on it.  But I know how it feels to sweat it out.

10.  Did you suffer illness or injury?

Not really.  I got pneumonia last winter/spring.  Twice.  But I’ve been mostly healthy and injury free.

11.  What was the best thing you bought?

I’ve got nothing for this one.  I haven’t really bought anything of importance this year.  A new wardrobe for work?  A sweet cut and color? 

12.  Whose behavior merited celebration?

Again, I’m going to go with the littles.  This fall and winter have brought so many changes to us all.  I’m working full-time.  I’m with a wonderful man who makes me laugh every day and who loves the girls like they were his own.  We moved.  The littles will start at a new school in three days.  And yet, they are still as flexible and understanding and curious as before.  Challenging, yes.  But in a great way.

13.  Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Hmmm…I can’t think of anyone. 

14.  Where did most of your money go?

First half of the year:  Fat Camp, et al.  Second half of the year:  Childcare 

15.  What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Adult conversation, daily.

16.  What song will remind you of 2011?

“Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts

17.  Compared to this time last year are you:

happier or sadder?  Much happier

fatter or thinner?  About the same.  Sadly.  And, oddly enough, happily.

richer or poorer?  Richer?  There’s more money coming in (got a job) but more money going out as well (gas, childcare, meals)

18.  What do you wish you’d done more of?

I wish we would have gone camping this fall when the weather was so great.

19.  What do you wish you’d done less of?

Waiting.

20.  How will you be spending Christmas?

In 2012?  I’m going to go with “snowed in”.  It appeals to my hermit nature.  Barring the storm of the decade, I really want to surprise the girls with a trip to Disney at Christmas.

21.  What would cheer you up today?

Pie. 

22.  Did you fall in love in 2011?

Yes.  Yes I did.  Madly and deeply.

23.  How many one night stands?

Zero.

24.  What was your favorite tv program?

“Castle” without a doubt.  Wouldn’t miss it for anything.  I also started watching “Weeds” and “Psych”.

25.  Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I’ve said this before but no.  I don’t feel that hating anyone is a good use of my emotional energy. 

26. What was the best book you read?

The “In Death” series by J. D. Robb.  Gets me every time.  I know it’s total fluff but I can’t help myself.

27.  What was your greatest musical discovery?

The live music scene in my very own town.  I also discovered that I was born with a great ear.

28.  What did you want and get?

I get to be the reason that somebody wants to come home every day.  It’s all I’ve ever wanted.  And I got it.

29.  What was your favorite film of this year?

“The Muppets”.  I know that was the last movie I saw so maybe that was my favorite?  I also had a moment going to see the last Harry Potter movie by myself.  It was a decade of committment that came to an end.

30.  What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

I turned 36.  I don’t think I did anything at all.  Did I?

31.  What one think would have made your year immeasurably more pleasurable?

This is a hard one because it really was the best year I’ve had in a long, long time.  So I’m going to go with “not a damn thing.”

32.  How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

The transition between track pants and corporate America.  It’s been a difficult transition to be sure.

33.  What kept you sane?

Daily conversation and affection from and with an adult.  It changed me forever.

34.  Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Fancy?  Again with the fancy.  Nathan Fillion, hands down. 

35.  What political issue stirred you the most?

The “Occupy” movement.

36.  Whom did you miss?

I still miss my Iowa friends.  They really are the family I chose.  And, even though I am head over heels, I still miss Stephen.  But it’s different now in a way I can’t explain because I haven’t figured it out fully yet.  I miss him but it’s not like it used to be.  I also miss my littles when I’m at work.  Some days.  Not all days but some days.

37.  Who was the best new person you met?

This guy:

38.  Tell us a valuable life lesson learned in 2011?

Be brave.  Return that phone call.  Just keep running and finish what you started. 

39.  Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

God blessed the broken road/That led me straight to you/But now I’m just rolling home into my lover’s arms/This much I know is true/That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

So there you go, 2011.  All things considered, it was a pretty good year.  You know, as years go.  I have high hopes for 2012 and I’m planning the start of all kinds of new things.  A new blog is in the works.  We are starting new things around our house.  I’m, learning to be a proper doggie mama again.  Maybe there will be a gym membership or…something else fun?  Who knows?  I certainly couldn’t predict a year ago the fun and craziness this year would bring. 

I am hopeful.  I guess that’s a good way to end this.

With hope.

Thank you one and all.

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Right person, right place, right time.

When you are a grownup, you work all day long and it mostly goes unnoticed.  Or, if you are in my house, it always goes unnoticed.  But that’s not what this is about.

We think that people are watching our every move.  That they can tell if our socks don’t match.  Or that we lack confidence.  I mean, I don’t know how many times I have sat in a waiting room and caught someone looking at me and I think that it must be because my children are misbehaving and I’m not doing anything to remedy the situation and I think “Lady, if you only knew my story…”  Turns out, she wasn’t looking at me.  She was watching the door for a friend.  And here I thought she was being all judgey.

I think it’s animal nature.  We all want to be noticed (unless you’re that bug that looks like a stick) and we want others to be impressed.  Like the tiny kitten who arches and hisses…the world is unimpressed.

People don’t give a shit about the day you’ve had or that you’ve worn that dress seven times since it’s been dry cleaned.  Nobody cares but you.  You think people are watching and they aren’t.  People are all wrapped up in their own heads and are not distinguishing you from a crowd.

Honestly, that’s where I like to be.

I said that on the first day of fat camp.  I was not the oldest, not the youngest.  Not the fattest nor least fit.  And I was the thinnest or most fit.  I blended in perfectly.  I didn’t say shit to anyone that first week.  I took my beatings.  I went home.  I came back for more.

But you spend x number of hours a day or a week or a month with the same set of people and you can’t help but do a little bit of watching and wondering and talking and commiserating.  Okay, lots of commiserating.

And in a situation like fat camp, we really are all in this together.  What I like about this particular class is that they don’t let just anyone in.  They would never allow someone who “Just has 5 pounds to lose before we go to Tahiti.”  Because that’s just like every other fitness class and club and gym out there.  That?  Right there?  Is why people like me are spooked out of making that first step. 

For me, the first step (the signing on the dotted line) wasn’t the hardest thing.  Not by a long shot.  I have a long history of starting things in earnest only to be abandoned weeks or months or years later when it got hard or not fulfilling or whatever. 

Here’s something about me that probably not very many people know:  before I met Stephen, I had been proposed to.  Twice.  Which ended up being deal breakers.  Not immediately.  But soon after.  In fact, the final deal was being broken just as Stephen and I started dating. 

I wanted to be married.  I wanted the home and the life and the family (but, oddly enough, I could have cared less about the actual wedding).  I wanted all that.  And when the former suitors stepped forward, I would accept.  And then take a moment to consider.  And then back out.  You know, before our parents could even be called or rings exchanged or anything. 

So when Stephen proposed and when I never once hesitated and when it was days and weeks and months into the engagement and I was still excited about the prospect of spending my life with him…I knew it was real. 

I was, finally, finishing what we had started together.

And we know how that ended.

Okay, maybe that’s a bad analogy.

I’ve been kicking this around all day because I got a note from Molly today. 

And I was beginning to feel like all the work and the sore legs and money and hours are going to waste.  That this, too, is going the way of (almost) everything else in my life.  Unfinished.

You see, I’ve been a little cranky because the scale hasn’t been moving.  I was doing so well there for a few weeks and now…nothing.  It’s been 2 weeks.  I had gained 4 in a matter of days (hours?) and now only 2 of them are gone.  Still 2 pounds ahead of where I was 2 weeks ago.  And we weigh in tomorrow and get measured.  It’s the mid-point of Fat Camp season 2.  I, of course, am fearing the worst.

In the grand scheme of things, it is decidedly NOT the worst.  But it sucks to do all this work only to have it be for not.

So I get this note in my email box, written right about the time I was sweating my ass off.  It is Tuesday and on Tuesdays I do strength training on my own.  It’s terribly therapeutic.  And I haven’t dropped a weight on my face yet so yea for me!    Molly gave me permission to paste it here.  These are her untouched words.  She said to excuse the spelling because she forgot to spellcheck but I think it’s fine.

And, Molly, if you are reading this…your words mean more to me today than any number on the scale ever has.  And if you’re not reading this…I’ll tell you someday.  You just don’t know…

Jen,
Hey girl, I was thinking about you today and decided to send you a little message with everything that I’ve been thinking about you:
First – GREAT job on your sprints.  You are inspiring to many people in the class.  I appreciate the way you push yourself in class and your ‘can do’ attitude.
I am proud of you for choosing a 5K and setting the date.  You seem to choose your goals and not let anything get your way of achieving them.  (The 5K, the capri pants you bought at the garage sale, the new shorts and tops that you ROCK at the gym)
You have an energy about you that you may not even realize.  You are a smart, beautiful, independent woman – a born leader.  I feel like you set the tone for the class.  Over the past weeks, I see you smiling more, joking, and engaging with people and I love it.  I know that you have been through very tough times, you’ve had to experience things that I hope I never have to, and I respect your perseverance.  And I know that the same perseverance that got you through what most people would call a “living hell” – will get you through your struggle with being overweight.  You will do it, and I think you know you will.  You are now a gym rat!
 
I also am thankful for you as a friend.  I have learned from you as much as you have learned from me.
 
Molly

Talk about the right person, the right place, the right time.

I have been blessed.

Girl pirate.

Yeah, so I don’t know if it’s all the supplements or the exercise or the distinct lack of Lexapro, but my daily irritation level has gone up.  Maybe I notice more.  Maybe I’m all hopped up on green tea and fish oil.  Who knows.

I got a letter in the mail today, addressed to Stephen.  It was a form letter for a class action lawsuit.  They had tracked him down to this particular address since it didn’t have a forward sticker on it.  I get a wee bit twitchy when I get mail for my deceased spouse.  It makes me want to call them but then I don’t want to explain myself for the eighty millionth time.  I know that they don’t know.  But isn’t there a national database of dead people or something?

Okay, that’s a little harsh.  See my irritation?

There’s a girl pirate at the gym.  You read that right…a pirate.  She’s tall.  She’s blonde.  She wears a solid black do-rag.  And…not much else.  She’s got a nice body.  I’d say that she has a 6 pack but it’s probably closer to an 8 pack because of her lack of boobs.  But she never wears a shirt.  Only a sports bra.  Not even one of those sports bra tank top things (do they have an actual name?) because that’s a garment that I not only endorse but actually hope to be wearing this time next year.  So, no shirt.  And she wears pants.  Running pants.  Which are practically painted on.  And sit so low that you can see her hip bones jutting out and, if you look close enough, you can probably tell when her last Brazilian was scheduled and if she needs to make a new appointment.

There is something about her…that I can’t stand.  It might be the stink eye that she gives Fat Camp on her way to the locker room at 6:20 every evening.  Or maybe it’s the leering looks she generates when she marches up the aisle.  It feels like she has a false confidence.  Or, maybe it’s real.  And I’ve been at fat camp so long that I don’t know what confidence looks like.

It’s the little things that bother me.  Things that are so inconsequential to the grand scheme of life that they don’t even deserve a second thought. 

And then there’s this:

I’m tucking Ella into bed tonight.  Hugs, kisses, prayers, I love yous.  I leave her room to do the same for her sister.  I come back a few minutes later to deposit her school clothes on the dresser and I hear,

“Mama…do you know the Macarena?”

WHAT?

I mean, of course I know the Macarena.  I lived and breathed the Macarena for the, what, 3 months that it was played every hour on the hour at the bar.  Not to mention radio play.  (We had actual radios back when I was in college.)  I hear the Macarena and I can vaguely taste Zima.  And Keystone Light.  And…mudslides.  I smell sweat and beer and boys and CK One. 

The real question is, of course, how does my baby know about the Macarena?

And I’m kind of irritated.

Something missing.

Silence.

The littles are in bed and curled around each other like kittens.  Maya, the goofy black lab, has a new home tonight.  (She can’t move with us.)  The diswasher, which signals that the kitchen is closed, has finished running.  Even the locusts and toads have gone to bed or have found another neighborhood to chirp.  I am cruising itunes again and trying to branch out from my Dave Matthews/Jack Johnson/Indigo Girls acoustic guitar-fest. 

There is nothing sexier than a man with an acoustic guitar.  Unless it’s a man playing the piano.  Of which Stephen did neither but that goes to show you the power of fantasy.  And the reality of what love really is.

I miss him.  I hate that it takes him being gone and me being so tired to move back home.  We had always talked about it…where he would work, where I would.  Which neighborhood we would live in, where we would go to church, restaurants to try, places to shop.  We talked about how his family would be closer and mine would be right there. 

I miss him.  I have baby fever in a bad way.  I would have talked him into yet another little by this point and our family would have been complete.  He would have loved this cool and quiet summer.  We have slept with the windows open more often than not. 

The higher dose of meds has been better for me.  It has evened me back out.  Again.  Part of me, and I think it’s a big part, is numb.  The part that is capable of an adrenaline rush is medicated into submission.  Ella rode her new big girl bike down to Robyn’s today.  And I don’t know how long it was before I discovered that she was gone.  And I didn’t even get excited.  I made a phone call and her boy brought her back up the hill.  I didn’t even break a sweat.   And then there was the time that Amelia fell down the stairs.  I don’t even know what went through my head but it’s wasn’t all crazy freaked out.  And maybe it should have been.

It’s the like the fight or flight reflex is gone.  And it feels weird.  I kind of miss it.

But I really like not feeling crushed.  I like that the littles don’t have to be yelled at over stupid stuff like spilling juice on the carpet (again). 

Maybe, once the move is over and we are all settled in, I can drop my dose just a little and see what happens. 

Because I right now I feel about as exciting as paint drying.

Rare.

We made it to UIHC and back again.  The girls both have perfect vision (as much as you can tell on a three year old, in Melia’s case) and have a clean bill of health.  So far, so good.

They were troopers too.  The appointment was for early afternoon and it lasted until 5.  So, for no naps and no snack we did well.  I got some questions answered.  I had to tell our story again to a room full of doctors.  I get the feeling that what happened to Stephen is really an anomaly.  I mean, the condition is fairly common, one of the more common genetic disorders.  But what happened with him really is rare.

Rare.  It’s rare that you know someone who has won the lottery or was on Wheel of Fortune.  But you don’t want to be the guy with the rare disease.  You don’t want to have your MRIs plastered all over the tumor convention (true story).  And you really don’t want pictures of your personal battle with hammer toe or psoriasis or face presentation birth to appear in a book somewhere.  I just don’t want to be rare.

Unless…maybe my girls can be the other end of the spectrum rare.  Yes, they are short.  Yes, they have huge heads.  Yes, they have the birthmarks.  But what if they are the rare case that never goes beyond that.  Dare I say it?  Dare I even think it?

Other things that are rare: clean counters, low calorie cheese bread, a cash surplus, two kids sleeping at once, a never married thirty something man who doesn’t live with his mother but who does shave and vacuum once in a while.  Vacuum tracks in the carpet are sexy.  As are tight forearms.  Like I said, rare.

Off topic, I have exactly a month until I pack a truck.  Yikes.  By the condition of this place, you’d think that we are settling in for another winter.

Only child for a night.

So, this is what it’s like to have only one kid.  A five year old, at that.

Nikki took Melia for the night.  Since I bagged out of going to my sister’s party, Amelia’s sleepover was canceled, much to the dismay of the little girls.  Not yet three and they are already attached to each other.  Or, they like to have an excuse to be naughty together.  Nikki offered to take her for the night.  I took that offer.  Wholeheartedly.

Ella and I ate supper.  With conversation.  We cleaned up and went to the store.  I had to get dog food and sunblock.  We ended up in the board game aisle.  Ella chose Connect Four.  How did she know that I love that game?  My brother and I used to play it on the floor of my grandma’s living room.  (Green shag carpet, vacuumed every day I’m sure)  Ella played with me for almost an hour.  By the end, she was actually using some strategy.  Very cool to see that happening.

We read books, had a snack and she went to bed.  She got herself up this morning, got a juice box and turned on Noggin.  If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: God bless Noggin. 

So, this is what life is like with one kid.  One kid who is good at taking care of her own entertainment.  It is much quieter.  No screeching.  No pee on the bathroom floor. No uncapped markers.  I kind of like it.

I kind of miss my little girl.  I miss the baby dolls everywhere.  Kind of.

It’s a weird feeling, only having one kid.  Kind of nice feeling.  And kind of “OMG, I left the baby at the store” feeling.

Hey lady, what’s with the Crocs and sweat pants?

God only gives you what you can handle.

Discuss.

Want to know my thoughts?  Horseshit. 

I am personally offended to think that there is someone out there who thinks for a second that I can handle this.  I mean, I am handling this…I do every day.  I have to or it won’t get done.  Like every effing thing else around here.  But just because I have the strength of character to handle “this” shouldn’t mean that I need to be tested by this or punished (?) because I can handle it. 

A different take on it (and it wasn’t my idea so I can’t take credit…I’m just reporting) is that if God gave us only what we could handle then why are there suicides?  Somebody, somewhere was given too much and couldn’t take it.  But she is Catholic and believes that suicide is a mortal sin.  Or her church does anyway so you’re screwed both ways.  You can’t hack it so you end it but then you’re in trouble with the big guy anyway.  Doesn’t make any sense.  Any of it.

Or…is this something that you say when there are no words?  When someone is going through something so troubling that you must, absolutely say something because to not say anything would make you feel unemphatic?  Just thinking out loud here.

We all have our issues.  I heard about a seemingly normal lady tonight who spent mother’s day getting her jewelry out of pawn because she has a gambling problem.  Several marriages are on the rocks.  Mamas with sick kids.  Babies born too early.  You never can tell by looking at someone.  Except that meth thing ’cause…yuck. 

I used to wonder (and now have come to realize that everyone is so wrapped up in their own shit that nobody ever gives a second glance to anyone else) if people could read my story from my face.  If they looked at me and wanted to know what my deal was.  What’s with the sweat pants and crocs, lady?  Do you ever clean your kid’s face?  Are you really going to eat that?  I think about that when the conditions are ripe for people watching.  Airports, waiting rooms, church, the bar after 11.  What’s her deal?  And why did her friends let her go out looking like that?  I wonder what kind of cancer that guy has.  Lady, your kids are brats but from the looks of things, you already know that. 

Again with the talking out loud.  I don’t really think that God has a whole lot to do with it.  I think we just handle it.  We have to.  The ones that get away…who don’t handle it at all…who fall off the grid and I mean really, really off…those are the ones that God takes care of.