Going Home Again

This past week I spent 8 whole days in Atlanta. Since I’m not working full time, I found a cheap set of midweek flights on either end of Memorial Day. When you have the money you don’t have the time and when you have the time you don’t have the money, so I just said screw it.

I came home feeling like I needed a vacation from my vacation (LOL!) but it was more than worth it. I got to see Maya and Sunny in the same place for the first time since my wedding. Capping off the reunion was Sunny’s high school BFF who didn’t got to GT, but tagged along on many of our college adventures. It. was. AWESOME! I didn’t realize how much I’d missed having my squad, however small. Since G and I are moving to a house in a couple months, we’ll finally have room to host some get togethers and the girls can come through.

I got some quality time with my family as well. I got to help my sister and brother in law with house hunting, play referee between my dad and brother (more on that in another post), have a mother/daughter movie date and see my grandparents. That last was the only dark spot; grandma & grandpa are 84 and 89 and their age is starting to manifest health issues. Grandma was diagnosed with dementia last year and I can tell it’s progressed even since I saw them in December. Grandpa’s mind is sound, but he’s using a walker and recently fell on the way to the mailbox. Not to be morbid, but realistically, I’m not sure how much time they have left so they are my first priority every time I go home. I’m notorious for not taking pictures but I did get one while I was there.

Overall, though, this visit refreshed my spirit. It was nice to escape the grind of part time work, side hustles, and job applications and have some fun. It also made me realize that it’s friends and family that make a place feel like home, and Houston will never be that unless I get proactive about making my own friends here. I’m a homebody by nature and usually content to stay in what I call “the love bubble”. But I’m going to make an effort to curb my introvert ways and do something social at least once a month. At the end of last year I finally made my own friend, Diana. We get along great but nothing is worse than a clingy friend with no life so I need to branch out. I’m reaching out to get active with a Zeta grad chapter again in the fall and actually make an effort this time. I’m pretty awesome and I need to share it with the world!

The Parent(hood) Trap

Two months ago, I turned 29. I feel pretty good about it. I never subscribed to the notion that your life ends when you’re 30, or you’re a failure if you haven’t accomplished every single life goal you have by that age. Unfortunately, I’m starting to notice that the sand in my biological clock is running out. I’m not in a rush to have a baby right now, or even next year. But I am aware that my uterus doesn’t give a damn about my professional or financial goals. If I am going to have the two kids I’d like (and not directly back to back) I’ve really only got two more years before I need to get a move on.

Which kinda sucks. I love being married, and kids are so much work. I like that my weekends aren’t packed with Little League games and dance recitals. If I want a night out with my husband, I don’t have to get a babysitter. If I come home from work and don’t feel like cooking, we can order takeout from anywhere. When I get up in the morning I don’t have to wake, dress, wash, and feed another human being. I just have to take a minute to mourn the unfairness of the fact that despite all the help moms may get from active fathers, the fact is that they can’t share the huge burden of actually making the baby. You might be able to go back to work in six weeks, and you may be able to have (s)e.x again in three months, but it really takes a year before your body and mind get back to normal (well, as normal as they can be when you’re sleep deprived and raising an infant). I look at my adorable goddaughter and can’t help but think about how drastically her parents’ lives have changed. Better I’m sure, but still COMPLETELY different than before.

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Unfortunately, biology just doesn’t seem to have caught up with society. Your body is more or less ready to have kids as soon as you finish puberty. I’ll say that was around 15 or so for me, because that’s when I hit my adult height. I didn’t finish law school until I was 25, and got married that same year. So when, exactly, was I supposed to have a kid? Some studies say I should have one now, because if I wait any longer I’ll destroy my earning potential. But you can’t make a living wage without at least a college degree anymore, and tuition costs are sky high. So being a student and a parent is nearly impossible–you’re losing time to study and money for tuition at the same damn time. I have so much respect for the people that do it though. Then when you’re finally financially and mentally ready to have a kid, your body is on the decline and you’ve got to take time away from work that will potentially haunt the rest of your career.

going to bed

Honestly? I wish I could back in time and shake some sense into Gloria Steinem and all those second wave feminists. I think they went a little too hard in the paint on all that working outside the home stuff. Now you gotta work AND be a mom and feel like you’re failing at both. And what do men have to do? Learn how to wash some dishes and do the laundry? Sheeeeiiiit. Doesn’t seem like a fair trade off to me. Lord. Somebody convince me that parenthood is worth it before I go and get my tubes tied. Just kidding…kinda sorta…

 

 

Who Lied To You?

“Who lied to you?” It’s just such a versatile question. Usually it comes out when I hear people’s ridiculous expectations for adulthood. I have low expectations from life. Some would call me cynical but I prefer the term pragmatic.

 

To clarify, I don’t mean that I’ve resigned myself to being unhappy. Far from it. My parents made sure I had a healthy self-esteem, and they’re very encouraging of me pursuing my career goals. They were also supportive of my decision to get married at a young age. But they never let me operate under the illusion that things would just be handed to me, that the world is naturally fair and just, or that I would never experience disappointment.

Some people think you should raise your kids without fear of limits, and I agree with that up to a point. There’s no need to tell 5 year old Johnny, who wants to be a movie star, that the odds of him just being able to make a living off  chewing gum commercials and bit parts like  “Guy at Bar #2” are slim to none. But 13 year old Johnny who just joined the drama club, got a part in the school play and announced he wants to go to Juilliard needs a reality check. Don’t crush his dreams, but he needs to be looking at community theater and acting lessons and open casting calls like yesterday. And if he’s not willing to give up quality time with his Xbox to work towards his dream, then maybe he’s just interested in acting as a hobby and should consider other career options.

So yeah, adulthood is expensive as f*ck. And stressful at times. But am I surprised that workplace politics are often reminiscent of grade school? Or that nobody congratulates you for cooking at home and paying your bills on time? Or that as a woman, sometimes people are more concerned about my marital/motherhood status than my job goals? No, no, and no. Shoot, sometimes when things go left I honestly wish I had an excuse to be mad. But (un)fortunately, nobody lied to me!

A lot of my peers also seem to be really invested in becoming known. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with it, but I’ve never really wanted to be famous. Sure it would be cool, but (possibly to my detriment in this branding focused world) I’m more of a get sh*t done and let the chips fall where they may kind of girl. The only validation I’m seeking is my own contentment because the approval of others is a fickle beast. I don’t have time for it.

 

Can’t Shop, Won’t Shop

superstore

For the past few years, the media has been chronicling the fall of the in-store shopping experience. It never really resonated with me. Aside from everyday needs like groceries and toilet paper, I do a lot of shopping online, usually because what I need either can’t be found in the store, or are significantly more expensive there. Things like textbooks for school and electronics are much more affordable online. For instance, none of the stores near me had an HP laptop with the storage and processor speed I needed for under $600. I found exactly what I wanted on Amazon for about $400. A two day wait was more than worth it to save that much money!

I also shop online out of necessity. First of all, I have big feet. I can buy sneakers in store, because I have no shame in shopping the men’s section (there’s almost always a confused looking dude who checks to make sure he didn’t accidentally wander into the wrong section, LOL!). But there’s not a single shoe store within 30 miles of where I live has a decent selection of size 11 or 11W women’s dress shoes EXCEPT for Payless, whose shoes may as well be made out of cardboard*. I’m also plus size (on the smaller side of plus, admittedly, but just big enough that I can’t just walk into any store and find something that fits).  Most brands have an abysmal in-store plus size selection, so if I don’t want to wear

a) suits made entirely of stretch fabric;

b) dresses that make me look like a church deaconess;

c) Mom jeans with an elastic waistband; or

d) oversized floral polyester blouses that shouldn’t be exposed to open flame

then I have no choice but to shop online. Walmart can get you through in a pinch, but no white collar worker who can afford to buy better would choose to craft their professional wardrobe out of Faded Glory and House of Dereon separates. On the other end of the scale, Macy’s overcharges for plus clothes that look like they belong in Walmart. Nordstrom and Dillards are expensive, and sell more dresses and cocktail outfits than everyday basics.

Anyway, I finally had occasion to shop in store. I got a Visa gift card for Christmas, and I hate using those online because if you find something that’s more than the card value, you can’t split payments. I was looking for two things: an alarm clock with FM radio and an aux cord for my iPod, and one of those handheld massagers**. Both of these items were at Bed, Bath and Beyond. However, I wasn’t prepared to spend $50 on a clock, and the only massager available was a $250 chair cushion. The clock was $20 cheaper on Amazon, as well as a host of affordable massagers, but I felt like both of these items were too mundane to justify waiting on shipping. Surely I could find a good deal at a different store! So off I went.

Target was a bust on the clock- there was only one clock that met my specifications, and it was a super fancy $80 model. I couldn’t even find the clocks at Walmart (they weren’t in electronics or home office) and I was so annoyed by that point that I didn’t bother to ask an associate. F*ck it, I’ll buy a clock online. I suppose it’s something of an anachronism by now. The irritating part was that both of their websites claimed to have several massagers available in store. I even had the option to order online and pick up in store the same day. But THE WEBSITE WOULD NOT TELL ME WHICH AISLE THE PRODUCT WAS ON. The all caps were necessary because it was stupid. What is the point of going to the store to buy something if you can’t look at it and see if you even want it first? If I was willing to buy something sight unseen, I’d just have gone to Amazon.

At any rate, all of this integration of e-commerce and physical stores means nothing if you can’t find the product. Sure, I could have hunted down a sales associate*** to ask for help, but if I can see the inventory levels online there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to find out which section a product is in as well. Whatever. Guess I’ll just buy it on Amazon.

UPDATE: After blogging this, I  went to CVS to buy shampoo. Before leaving the house I checked the website and saw there were massagers at my local store. They were easy to locate,  and the model I bought was listed for the same price as it was on Amazon. Plus, I had a $2 off coupon and $5 ExtraBucks rewards  from the loyalty program. CVS is out here winning!

*Not gonna lie, those cheap a** shoes got me through childhood, college and law school. But the first thing I did when I started working full time was buy a $100 pair of name brand shoes. Once you’ve had arch support, there’s no going back.

**Not for the bedroom, y’all. For my neck and shoulder.

***LOLOLOL as if one would even be available? Or even have the answer? I’ve worked retail, I know what it it is.

New-ish

It’s that time of year again for resolutions. There’s plenty on the internet about how we need S.M.A.R.T. goals instead of resolutions, because without a plan of action good intentions easily fall by the wayside. I already started working on my main goal. Apparently carbs are the devil as far as my metabolism is concerned because I ate pancakes, biscuits, and cookies (albeit in moderate portions and spread throughout the week) and didn’t gain one single solitary pound. Here’s to vegetables, dammit.

Aside from that, I don’t have the bandwidth for too much else this year besides finishing my tax certificate and finding a new job. I’ve been planning and hustling and grinding and worrying and I’m tired! *cue Fabo* “I’m tahd o’ strugg-a-lin!” So my other goal this year is to let go and let God. I didn’t get this far on my own anyway, and obsessively plotting every single step I take is useless and exhausting. I’m gonna put caution on a long leash and wade in the baby pool of recklessness. I mean, let’s not get crazy, right? Bottom line, I’m doing my part. I got the degrees, I’m getting the certification, I’m applying to the jobs and hitting the networking circuit. Not much more to do at this point than let things happen. I’m blessed with a hard working husband and the fact that I had the presence of mind to keep our monthly expenses down to what could be supported on one income instead of two. I’m winning. I just need to remember it. The plan is to get back to journaling, and start a twice weekly yoga/meditation practice to keep me balanced.

In other news, I went home to ATL for a whole week and had no parental drama for once in my life. I saw almost all of my cousins, the core GT crew, and got a ton of sibling quality time. Definitely one of the best holidays I’ve had since before my parents divorced. The world might be going crazy but there are still good things. I needed to remember that.

 

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Adventures in Dieting

A few months back I wrote about becoming more comfortable with my body and getting into fitness. And I’m proud to say that there have been only a few weeks this year where I haven’t worked out at all. But I haven’t met my weight loss goal. I’ve been losing and gaining the same few pounds all year. A lot of that was due to my eating habits, but stress and lack of sleep didn’t help either. The latter two are anathema to any kind of lifestyle change–you simply don’t have the willpower or energy to do better. Even after quitting my job, I didn’t get it together the way I told myself I would. My workouts got more frequent, and I ate a few more meals at home, but I didn’t make any drastic changes to my eating habits.

one-more-cookie

Well, I promised myself that if I didn’t do it on my own I’d have to get a personal trainer or something. I really thought exercise would be the hard part for me, but now I realize why it wasn’t. Exercising means that you only have to make the right choice once a day, at most. Provided you’re doing at least moderate intensity workouts for the recommended number of hours a week, you can get results exercising 4 days a week or all 7. But you have to eat, multiple times a day. And you’re supposed to eat meals and snacks from multiple food groups. So that means your burden to get it right, and opportunity to get it wrong, multiply exponentially!

Long story short, I signed up with a virtual nutrition coach a couple weeks ago. I get personalized meal plans via Dropbox, twice weekly meetings over the phone or via Skype, and workout suggestions as well. Since I know exactly how many servings of each food group I need each day, it makes meal planning much easier. I no longer have to agonize over whether I’m supposed to have something or not. And the plan is structured in such a way that I don’t have to count calories.

Just by comparing what I normally eat to the sample menu, I saw that I was eating way too many starches, somewhat overdoing the fruits, and not eating enough protein or veggies. They put me on a 3 day cleanse (which was actually really reasonable and involved all solid foods). But the one stickler was no starches! I could add one serving of a healthy starch for each hour of exercise. Y’all, I didn’t think I was going to make it. Bread is E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Bread is bae. Bread is life (ask Jesus!). I mean, “give us this day, our daily bread” comes BEFORE “forgive us our trespasses” in the Lord’s prayer.

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And truthfully, on the first day I was hurt. Looking yearningly at the husband’s breakfast bagels in the pantry. Nibbling sadly on (literal!) nuts and berries, thinking:

got-carbs

And of course there was no sugar either. I was limited to 3 fruits (and not the candy tasting ones like pineapples and mangoes) and 3 TEASPOONS of honey per day. Y’all. That is ONE cup of green tea. I started to have an orange midafternoon and then told myself, “Better save that for dessert.” DESSERT, Y’ALL! On the second day, I went searching through Pinterest to see how I could make grapefruit more appetizing. I cheated (slightly) because sniffing a bag of dried semi-sweet coconut turned into eating one glorious, 1/2-inch piece of sugary goodness. But I got myself together and had an oven broiled grapefruit topped with cinnamon and a precious 1.5 teaspoons of honey (I just sucked it up and had some dry ass green tea). It wasn’t cake or cookies or anything like it. But I gutted that thang! The third and final day was much better, and I realized that my sweets craving is much more emotional than anything else. I don’t need it, and surprisingly, the fruit satisfied me enough that I didn’t go looking for more sweets. I got tired of tea and wanted some coffee, but that usually involves significant amounts of cream and sugar. So I went to Starbucks and got a skinny french vanilla latte instead (it’s made with skim milk and sugar free syrup). The last time I had one, I was disgusted. This time though? It. was. hitting! And for under 150 calories too.

This is what my life has come to. *weeps silently, yearning for a biscuit*