Friday, August 24, 2012

Aaaaaaaaaaaand the Power of the Internet Suddenly Astonishes Me (Or, WE ARE FINALLY MOVING!)

So, two weeks ago I was having one of my worst days to date and, after three people asked me that dreaded "So when are you actually moving?" question within a few hours of one another, I felt like just running away and hiding from the world.  So I took to my blog and just let it all out in one big "I give up, everyone stop asking me questions about this, please" post. 
And then I sat at my desk at work crying silently and thinking that I was totally going to do something like this when someone else asked me about it:

But then something completely unexpected and amazing happened
A friend I made from the pregnancy message boards I joined back in January 2009 sent me a message that changed everything.  She and her partner had purchased a vacation house in a town called Marysville, WA this year, and she offered to let us use the house for an insanely reasonable amount of rent while we continued our search for gainful employment!! 
For those of you not obsessively studying Washington's map like I have been, the marker is where Marysville is.

So far our main stumbling blocks in making the move was the fact that 1- We were still putting California addresses on our resumes and apparently Washingtonians hate Californians, and 2 - No one was going to rent to us when we didn't have jobs. 

So for this friend of mine - who I have yet to meet in real life! - to make this insanely generous offer this to us knowing all of this information already... it just made everything fall into place.  It took the pressure off of us to find housing immediately and gives us a few months to get our job situation in order before we have to find a permanent place to live. (And also made me basically eat my words in that day's blog, since it was the fact that I *did* tell everyone online how frustrated I was and how hopeless I was feeling that prompted her and her partner to make this offer to us!)  And I'd be lying if I said I didn't immediately start happy-sobbing the moment I read her message and had to run outside so I didn't freak out my co-workers. This woman and her partner are seriously changing our lives for the better SO MUCH and I don't think I'll ever be able to thank them enough! 

Adding the Washington address to our resumes has already helped Andrew get three job interviews up there (one of which is actually in Marysville) in one week and he should be hearing back on them any day now.  Plus he has a supervisor who loves him from his current store about to transfer to that same Marysville Costco so she can help put in a good word for him once he's up there.  :) 

So, here is the Actual Plan:  
Our moving Upack-pod-thingy gets delivered on Sept. 10th, we spend 2-3 days packing it up, and then we GO!  We're not terribly sure yet if we are driving both cars up there or if we're only taking one and then having Sadie and I fly up after a few days spent back at my parents' house, but we should be figuring that out in the next few days.  

The Upack thing got reserved yesterday.  My tw0-week-notice was just handed in at work this morning.  


Monday, August 13, 2012

Bobbing in the Waves

Yesterday my little family went to the beach together for the first time in months.  In trying to escape the high temperatures we drove to a beach south of us a bit and Andrew and I were able to take turns bobbing around in the water while the other watched the kidlet.  

wave gif Pictures, Images and Photos

While I was bobbing around, I started to remember a game I used to play with my friends when I was a kid: Over or Under.  It was a simple concept: before a wave reached us we all had to shout "Over" or "Under."  And then we had to follow whichever way through the wave that we had called out - diving under it or bobbing over it - or risk being penalized by a seaweed necklace.  Unless, of course, you were smacked in the face by a wave and came up with a red enough face that your friends felt the water had punished you enough and took pity on you...

Of course, me being eternally lost in thought about our moving issues, I started thinking about how life is a lot like that game.  Most of the time you can predict which way through a wave of change is best and you can go that direction feeling sure of yourself and your choices.  But sometimes you make the wrong prediction - like thinking that you think getting a job out of state is going to be fairly easy when it's not- and when you're trying to  bob your way over a wave it suddenly comes crashing down on you.  And you know that the instant you come out of the waves your friends will call you out on your inability to bob over the wave and throw some seaweed around your shoulders as a symbol of your failure to predict the future.  

Thankfully my friends these days are adults.  Adults who may see us sputtering for breaths between waves and might even take pity on us and say, "Dude, do you want to go boogie board instead?" as they hand us a board. 

The point to this random ramble is this:  I'm trying to remember that no matter how bad we have been at planning for our future after reacting to this wave of change, we will eventually come out on the other side of the wave.  And as of a few hours after I posted my last blog post, an amazing person has showed up next to us with a boogie board. 
(Yes, this is cryptic on purpose.  No, I won't explain further until we have a concrete plan...)  

But the important thing is:  We have hope again! 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Oh Goody, Square One Again.

Sometimes life is damned disappointing.  
No, I didn't get the job.

And you know what makes it worse?  Realizing that telling everyone about what was going on in your life was a dumb, dumb idea. 
Because now everyone knows your personal dramas and asks you about them regularly. 

Social media is such a double-edged sword like that.  

When all this drama with our housing situation started I thought it was prudent to tell my friends and family "Hey, we might not be here for much longer, keep us in your thoughts/prayers/meditations because we really need to move ASAP."

But now it feels like I've been publishing our failures for the world to see.  And I'm honestly kicking myself for it.

In some part of my mind I figured Well, the fastest way to tell everyone stuff you want them to know is probably just to post about it on Facebook.  Or them blog about it and post THAT on Facebook.  But then you get people who don't see your posts that often - they may see that you said you were moving at the end of July and then when you see them in August and you are sitting in the same damned spot you were unhappy to be in back in June and they always ask something that feels like nails on your internal chalk board:

"Have you heard back about that job yet?"  or  "So when are you guys actually moving?"  

Beating head against the wall
  And I realize that everyone asking these questions means well and is genuinely curious about what is happening with our move, but when you are returning them the same answers you did two months ago - two months ago when you were convinced that a Costco job transfer to another state would be an easy thing to get done - it's just.... depressing.

The whole situation is beyond frustrating and I feel like I'm sinking into a giant pit of despair.  Not because I didn't get one job, mind you, but because neither Andrew or I can get any traction on what to DO now.  If we move out of state without either of us being employed we will 1- Probably have a hard time finding someone willing to rent to us, and 2- Potentially be setting ourselves up for complete financial devastation.  As miserable as I am, I would feel even worse if we moved up there without jobs and didn't account for the fact that the economy sucks right now and we might totally screw ourselves over if we do make that move.

Plus Fall semester starts for me on the 22nd and that makes me panic even more because the number of classes I'm registered for could vary between 1-3 depending on what my job situation is like in the next month.   So there's that awesome added stress.

So in regards to keeping everyone updated any time Andrew or I get an interview:  I give up.  
I can't expect people to want to actually want to follow a play-by-play of my whining about the same problem over and over again.  And I know now that I need to play my cards closer to my chest with this because there's nothing like trying to explain to everyone that you failed to make you feel the sting of your ineptitude even more.     

You'll hear once we have an official move date and a job lined up.  Until then, just please keep sending good thoughts/prayers/vibes our way when you remember to.  Because we need them more than ever. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012


So I made it to my interview.  I flew to Seattle the day after my daughter's 3rd birthday and spent entirely too much money on the journey .  I bought a nice jacket for it, I took friends' up on offers to help drive me places and stay with them, and I got a hotel room that I stayed in for all of 5 hours so that I didn't have to wake up any of my friends to take me to the airport at 5am.  
I got to the library a full 4 hours early so I could look around and get my bearings.  Which only really took about 45 minutes before I started feeling like people might grow suspicious of the chick who was carrying a suitcase around and just staring at the stacks and floor maps, so I used their wifi to re-watch Doctor Who until it was interview time.  

I was taken up to do the Excel portion of the test by a gentleman who gave me a list of about 18 tasks to complete on a pre-made Excel sheet.  I had 30 minutes to complete the tasks and he told me he would knock on the door 5 minutes before my time was up just so I could be sure to pay attention to the time. 

So the first 11 tasks go by easily despite the fact that the mouse they gave me had a button that kept sticking (and I STUPIDLY did not ask them for a different one... or use the built-in one that was on the laptop I was using because THAT would be too obvious a solution), and then I got to step 12.  And I could not remember how to write a formula that linked the values on one sheet to a cell on another sheet.  I remembered how to hyperlink them, which I did, but I didn't feel like that was the same as writing a "formula," which is what the step specifically instructed and I spent a while clicking through the relatively-new-to-me 2011 Excel interface trying to see if I could figure it out. 

Then the interviewer knocked my 5-minute-warning on the door, and this is about what happened to me:

This happened to me during my GREs too.
I am not someone who does well on tests. 
Unless they're essays on a topic I know about.
Which this was not.
 I just could not focus on completing the last few tasks on the sheet because I was convinced I had messed up  the prior step.  And when I finally talked my brain into just letting it go and moving on, suddenly the test was over and I had to go interview with two people while the words "DID NOT FINISH!" flashed in front of my eyes like a talisman of doom. 

Luckily I have an awesome friend who posted the Karate Kid "You're the Best" theme song on my Facebook page earlier that day, so I took a few deep breaths, focused on hearing that song instead of looking at the sign scrolling through my head: 

I bet the Karate Kid didn't have one of these on the insides of his eyelids...

I am pretty sure the actual interview went well - I made a point to state that I had panicked on the Excel test and I knew if I'd ever used the newer interface for the function I got stuck on I wouldn't have had the problems I did, but I'm not sure if it helped or not.  The female interviewer seemed to like me, but the male interviewer, who was the one who administered the Excel test, seemed less enthusiastic and made a comment about how he needed someone with the "right skills to help [him] out"... so who knows.  I'm up against 7 other people (out of 60 that applied) and they knew that I flew up there just for the interview so I'm hoping that they'll see my potential and enthusiasm and not just the fact that I didn't finish my test.

And I'd be lying if I said that the first thing I did once I got out of that building wasn't  crying.  Or that I didn't go seek out a bar right after that to go get a shot of tequilla to help shake off the feeling of being a total failure.

It's been a long, emotionally-charged week for me.

But even if I don't get the job, the trip was not a total loss.  I fell in love with Seattle - it's like San Francisco with a lot fewer hipsters!  And I got to have a great night out with two of my best friends that I hadn't seen in forever.  (And I'm secretly hoping that they eventually fall in love and have like 6 babies together because that would be the greatest thing ever.)

I should find out by August 8th or so whether or not I get the job.  So we'll probably stagnate here in Santa Barbara a little longer than planned so that we can find out before we move. 

Now I just have to breathe and try not to drive myself crazy thinking about it.  

PS:  I know, I know.  A song at the end of the blog?  Makes zero sense.  But it doesn't make sense anywhere else in here either.  So shush.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

FINALLY something sprouts!

I finally heard back today, and I have an interview in Seattle's main library on the 24th of this month.

Mix all of these actions together and you get a rough mental image of what I looked like when I got the email.

So get ready, Seattle Public Library.  I've got everything riding on this interview and job and, not to toot my own horn too much, but I kind of rock at interviews.  Plus I'm flying up there just to get this job - THAT is dedication. You'd be crazy NOT to hire me.


PS:  Yes, I discovered the reactiongif subreddit a few months ago.  SUE ME.

PSS: Unless you're Charles Carreon.  Because really, you kind of have had your share of ludicrous lawsuits for the year already.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Out of the Soil of my Mental Breakdown

Last weekend it finally happened: I had a mental breakdown from the stress of our living situation.  

The kiddo and I both got an upper respiratory infection on Friday and after trying to spend two days holed up in my bedroom with the world's crankiest almost-three-year-old I just finally lost it.  I spent at least 2 hours a day crying in the bathroom while so I wouldn't freak the kiddo out.  (Luckily she didn't seem to mind watching a lot of movies in my bed... she just wouldn't nap or eat or stop jumping on my head when I asked her to.)  Since we were sick that limited the places we could potentially have gone to escape the house and I basically just steeped in the misery of feeling like an interloper in my own home for a few hours too long and couldn't see my way out of the misery.  It's insanely hard to keep thinking to yourself, "God, it's just so disrespectful and rude that she won't stop smoking when she knows we're sick!  But is it also disrespectful and rude of me to begrudge her for it so much when this is her house and she is being more than generous in letting us stay here still?  Probably.  But it's my CHILD that I'm worried about... shouldn't she care too?" and not really have any resolution to that thought cycle.

I don't know what broke inside of me exactly there that I couldn't pull it together, but when I finally saw Andrew after he got off work on Sunday I told him that I felt like I had no control over our lives anymore and that I was just insanely miserable staying here and was considering trying to move into my parents' house for a while.  Sure, they might want to teach Sadie songs about Jesus and guilt trip me for not giving her a spiritual education, but I don't think that's too bad.  (We are all more comfortable with the "devil" we know, right?)  Plus at least my child's health wouldn't be permanently scarred by them.  Which is a HUGE bonus.  Anyway, he finally got the point that I wasn't just trying to complain about his mom's smoking - I was trying to talk to him about what else we could do since he's been applying for transfer positions for over a month and hasn't even had a call-back for an interview.  I even applied for a position in the Seattle Public Library for a full-time job that I feel I'm more than qualified for, even though I had hoped to not work for the next 3 semesters so that I could just finish my degree and get into a career position... but my desire to be out of the house vastly outweighs my desire to finish my degree by next year, so if I'm lucky enough to get an interview I fully intend to knock their socks off.

So, the actual update here is this: we are moving on to Seattle by the end of July.  We both found in our job hunts that the Seattle area have many, many more job opportunities than Oregon does, so our chances are infinitely better there.  (And I'm selfishly giddy here since I have several good friends and some family up there.)  Andrew has some paid time off saved up at his work so we're both going to keep hunting until that time and if we don't have anything by then we're just going to move anyway.  Andrew may end up coming back down here after his paid time off runs out and living here a bit more just so we can be sure to have insurance and an income, but that's going to be a last resort because I'm pretty sure Sadie would be beyond upset to have to live without Daddy with us for very long.  We figure that the Costco stores will have no choice but to take him seriously if he shows up in person regularly to ask about jobs, though, so at this point it's all or nothing.

We can do this.
We can do this.
WE can do this.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Well, it finally happened:  I had to unpack some stuff to use in my kitchen last night.

We are officially moving backwards.  
Still no word on jobs.  Andrew isn't doing anything to continue checking with the stores he has applied for and whenever I ask him about it he gets tense and stops talking to me.  I realize that I'm nagging him, but his procrastination on this whole thing (like not asking for letters of recommendations from his bosses until the week he wanted to actually apply for things) is driving me freaking BONKERS.  I don't know how to get him motivated again - at the start of the job hunt he was really proactive and calling stores and telling me every day about some manager he talked to... and now it's all stopped.  I'm not sure if he's getting discouraged or apathetic... might be both.  We really need to support each other right now, but it's getting more and more difficult to communicate with him as my frustration levels increase and his "stop talking when you're upset" response takes over. 

At this point I'm just trying not to panic about all the little things. 
Like: I took school off for the Summer, but I can't take the Fall semester off.  If we end up moving past the beginning of August I could be in big trouble school-wise. I can't even start applying for positions anywhere up North because I don't have my degree finished enough to find an actual librarian job, and if I got another stop-gap job it wouldn't earn us enough income to make a move worthwhile (especially if Andrew got an offer in another city shortly after that). 
If we are still here next month, I need to figure out what to do for the kiddo's 3rd birthday party.
How long will we have to wait before we finally give in and move somewhere locally?  And if we do that, how will we find a lease that isn't so long we might end up penalized if we finally get a chance to move? 

Mentally I've had to go from "GO GO GO!" mode to "OK, now sit here and wait" mode.  And without schoolwork to distract me all I've got to do is sit around an try my best not to think about it all.  

Thank you for listening, Universe.  Let me know if I need to save a basket of kittens or a marshland somewhere to make the karma even out. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Yesterday, while rocking out to some Jamie Lidell at work, I had a song-based epiphany.

(Click to join me, won't you?  Or just skip the insight stuff and go straight to the bottom where I tell you what's up with our move.)

Now we know where we're going
And who we are
Doesn't seem to get us
Too far
'Cause everything else is still a mystery
And that mystery is
I just want to live.
Life may sometimes be sad,
But it's always beautiful.

In my life I've found ways to be comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity, for I know that life is short and uncertain and sometimes you have to let things go in order to have a happy existence.  You never truly KNOW what will happen to you on any given day, month, or year - all we know is that the here and now is in our grasp.  And even if that here and now includes your boyfriend's mother living with you and smoking in her room, you just have to make the freaking best of it and try not to let the uncertainty of  "When the heck are we going to get word on a successful job transfer and get the funk out of here?" overtake your brain.

The Pacific Northwest is the mustache here.
I am clearly the monkey.

[Edit: This revelation *may* have happened with a little help from my new friend, Xanax.  But hey, it's better than spewing out all the stressful crap that runs around my head for 95% of my day, right?  After 4 days of sleeplessness and extreme stress-eating I finally realized that my new friend was probably a good idea.]
So Andrew and I are working on a list of things we want to do in Santa Barbara while we are still here.  And I'm taking the kiddo to the zoo, the beach, or one of our million cool parks in the area pretty much daily.  Partially because we want to soak it all up while we can, and partially just because I don't like keeping the kiddo inside when it's being actively smoked in.  (And it varies from day to day how big an issue this is - some days she keeps it outside all day, some days it's inside all day.) 

So, to answer the questions that everyone is asking me daily:

No, no word on when we will actually move yet.  Andrew still hasn't heard back from several of the job sites he asked to transfer to - two told him they were trying to find a spot for him but haven't said anything for sure yet. 

He has applied all over both Oregon and Washington states (near the bigger cities) so we aren't even trying to find a place to live until we know where we'll be ending up. 

Yes, we will have a goodbye BBQ for friends and family, both here and down at my parents' house for my So-Cal peeps.  And that will happen when we have a move date, which we do not.  But, in the meantime, we love to see our friends while we're still here so we are happy to do playdates and hangouts!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Aaaand now we wait.

The stuff is mostly packed (and threatening to take over our living room.) 
The moving sale is over with. 

The housemate is gone (Although he left me 6 ear-wax-covered q-tips on the floor of his bathroom to remember him by.  He's a thoughtful guy like that.)
The child has been promised a dog once we move.
The jobs have been applied for BOTH in the PORTLAND area and SEATTLE!  (Gotta git wherever the gittin' is good, after all.  I would actually be overjoyed to be in Seattle since I have several friends and family members up there, including one of my two BFF who is in the Coast Guard and is stationed up there...)  
My work has been given notice that I will be giving notice in the very near future.
Andrew's mom is moving in tomorrow.

And I... I am sitting here, trying to stay positive.  We CAN survive a few weeks with his mom in the house.  We CAN find a way to move up North quickly.  Andrew WILL get a call back for one of the jobs today.  

I must try to embrace the chaos right now. 

Shiva is dancing.  

And hopefully if I hang my Ganesha mask on the wall all of these obstacles will get the heck out of our way so life can finally just happen. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Chaaaanges - Turn and Face the Strange

I'm sure that you've probably figured out by the title of this blog that I'm going to have some David Bowie for you to listen to while you read.

Well, if you figured that out, you're wrong.


Life can be unpredictable sometimes.

The chorus in this Incubus song is my motto right now. 

Whatever tomorrow brings I'll be there
With open arms and open eyes, yeah.

OK, let me explain for those of you who aren't my Facebook friend or don't read everything I post: We are moving. To Portland.  Hopefully by the start of June.
Backing up for some history on this: Andrew's Grandmother, Lillian, passed away this April. She was a wonderful, kind woman and it was so sad to have her finally slip away.  When she died, she owned three properties: one in Goleta, one in Santa Barbara, and one in Chadron, Nebraska. Since April 2009, Andrew's mother had been living with her and taking care of her in the Goleta house and we were living in the Santa Barbara house with our kiddo - we knew the house we were in would go back to Andrew's mother eventually and that when it did we would move out of town (since the rent here is so astronomically high when you're not getting a family discount.) Well, Lillian willed the Santa Barbara house to Andrew's mother, the Goleta house to Andrew's uncle, and the Chadron house to Andrew. 

I know what you're thinking: why aren't we moving to the house that Andrew owns now?  1- It's in Nebraska. #2 - It's in NEBRASKA. #3- It's currently being rented anyway, so it's now a source of income too. Plus, it's in NEBRASKA.
(No offense, Nebraska people. I grew up in the hills and I need trees and mountains and stuff to climb on, though. Not cornfields and tornadoes.)

So, at first we were told that Andrew's mother wanted to move back into this house "within the next year. We then discussed getting out of Santa Barbara by September, which seemed like as good a time as any. Then, a few weeks later, we find out from Andrew's mother that she and her brother have been arguing a lot about the things he expected her to do in the house that he owned but she was still living in and she told us that she wanted to move out of there as soon as possible so that she could stop having him being her landlord (and thus, stop fighting with him). After Lillian's memorial (where the tension about the moving issue was very apparent) that timeline then turned into "I need to move in there by June 1st."

Definitely a, "Ummmmm, are you serious?" moment in my life.

We have long-since decided to move to the Pacific Northwest before the kiddo reached Kindergarten - the school systems (and libraries) in California are regularly raped and plundered by our inept governing bodies and we wanted to move to a place where education is actually made a priority instead of just seen as an& emergency piggy-bank for lawmakers who can't get their sh*t together.  Since I can take Summer off of my grad program fairly easily and Andrew can (hopefully) transfer jobs to another Costco warehouse, the timing of it all isn't really that bad... except that we're going to have to take out a loan to get the move financed. And we don't know when Andrew will actually get a job so we may have to share a house with his mother for a few weeks before we can move with the knowledge that he'll have work when we get there.  This would be uncomfortable for us anyway, but his mother also smokes. A lot. Indoors.  Which is really a dealbreaker when it comes to our child.

I will say, though, even though the timeline on all of this is freaking me out, if it weren't for Andrew's mother and her house, we wouldn't have been able to live in this beautiful paradise for all this time. She was incredibly generous in offering up her house when she found out we were pregnant so that we could stay in town and have a decent amount of space to raise the kidlet it. Even though we had a lot of cleaning and fixing up of the place to do when we first moved in, we have loved living here in Santa Barbara and getting to raise our child here for a while too.  I will miss this place intensely, but I'm trying to focus on the positive and remember no matter how flustered and stressed out I get during this move, I need to keep my attitude of gratitude going and remember that it's just a transition and we will be in a great place once we move, too. Internships in children's librarianship are 200% easier to find up in Portland, which means my resume can finally start heading in the same direction as my degree.

Plus we can finally get a dog.  And I've had puppy-lust for years now, so that is a big one for me.

Now someone please get me that robot suit I asked for a few months ago so I can start lifting all this crap, will ya?

Newest Accomplishment: TP Ninja

Potty training a toddler to go in public places has given me a new set of ninja skills: I can make a paper toilet seat cover in like 20 seconds.  Which is FAST, I'd like to add.  In case you haven't ever had the fury of a toddler's bladder upon you at a freaking carnival to test out exactly how fast it normally takes.  And you parked 6 blocks away.  And stupidly left your child in their underwear and didn't pack a diaper.

I am a TP ninja.  Just FYI.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Kingdom for a Mech Suit (or, the Saga of Abby's Gardening)

Recently a particularly windy night reminded me through the screeching and scratching of bushes on my windows of exactly how little yard work I've done since my injury.
Theme music:  Autolux's "Robots in the Garden"

When we first moved into this house - which Andrew's mother was nice enough to let us rent while we stayed in Santa Barbara raising Sadie - the yard was full of possibilities.  Sure, it was big and full of plants, but I was excited about the idea of making the yard into a place I enjoyed.  Andrew's mom warned me that even when she had her family of 4 living here and they all worked on it every week it still never was quite "tamed," but in my mind the fantasy of Abby, Gardener Extraordinaire was standing behind his mom while she said this, shaking her head and smirking.  "Oh Abby, you know you can do this.  Don't listen to her."  HA!  

When I was 8 months pregnant with Sadie I ripped up almost all of our front yard, pulling out weeds and leveling out the gopher holes so that we could plant grass there.  (I saw "almost all" because when Andrew came home and found me working on it he got mad at me for doing so much work while pregnant and made me go inside while he finished it up.)  We planted grass, watered it twice a day, and right before we went to the hospital to evict her there was a decent layer of baby grass starting.  I was so excited.  Then we ended up in the hospital for a full week trying to get her out of me - 41 hours of labor and a c-section somehow made me forget about my poor baby grass.  When we finally came home, it was little more than a brownish layer of stubble on the ground, and in the sleep-deprived haze of having a newborn I found that I didn't give a crap anymore.  

The next Spring I had finally gotten some sleep and began my quest to tame the yard again - I weeded the flower boxes and planted new stuff, and we had all our local friends over for a "Gardening Party" where we basically bribed everyone with pizza and beer to help us weed and chop and churn and plant.  (I made the fatal mistake of feeding everyone only 2 hours into the project, though, which I should have realized would make it all grind to a halt...)  We managed to get a small veggie garden box planted and half of our yard was actually looking pretty decent after that.  I even managed to maintain it decently that summer, too.  

Then my arm rebelled.
I injured my neck in late April 2010 - a few weeks after the planting all happened - and I now know that my arm's rebellion 4 months later was probably the result of the overcompensation I did with the arm muscles in trying to keep strain away from the bulging discs.  After over a year of mis-diagnosis and bad treatment prescriptions, my stupid right arm is still grumpy and my yard looks like crap.  

Last week I saw an orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed my arm with two things: chronic elbow tendinitis and ulnar neuritis.   Which rings true for me in a way that previous diagnoses that assume my bulging discs are to blame have not.  But the doctor emphasized to me very strongly that rest was the only way to treat the neuritis (which is the reason my hand goes numb and I can't grip things very well anymore) and that I need to bring the amount of elbow-bending I do to an absolute minimum if I want it to recover without surgery.  He also told me that because my tendinitis has continued for so long that my body has probably stopped trying to heal the tears in the tendon and that he has only one more type of injections he can try on it before he decides surgery is necessary if it's ever going to recover.  

sad face Pictures, Images and Photos
My reaction to this news looked something like this

So now, here I am: staring at a yard full of weeds and overgrown plants, with a boyfriend whose solution to it all is to "just salt the earth" (and I really, really wish I was kidding about that statement), and zero money to hire someone to come help tame it.

♫♪I've got first-world problems...♪♫

The very windy day I posted on Facebook about how the wind was reminding me how little yard work I'd done, and I had two long-time friends post replies that basically suggested that if I wanted to fix the problem I could.  Which, yes, is true: if I really wanted to prune back that bush, I could do it.  I wouldn't be able to type or open jars for probably two days afterward, but I could do it.  I did my best to not reply to them in the knee-jerk pouty way that I wanted to, because I realize that most of the world doesn't understand what it's like to not be able to use your dominant hand.  They don't know how hard it is to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand or to use scissors with it or to try and carry your toddler around with one arm.  And I have to try and remember that they don't understand because what my instinct is is to scream, "STOP JUDGING ME, I KNOW MY YARD LOOKS LIKE SHIT AND MY HOUSE HASN'T BEEN SCRUBBED PROPERLY!" at them.  I have a serious lack of elbow-grease going on here.  And I have to work on allowing myself to be ok with this and realize that my true friends won't judge me for the fact that I have an overgrown yard and hard-water build-up in my bathtub.  (I'll admit, I've never been a particularly clean person, but becoming a mother has made me want to be one.  There are days when I genuinely wantt o scrub the crap out of my bathtub and realize that I really can't.)

 Unless someone wants to buy me one of those awesome mech suits that Sigourney Weaver wore while battling Aliens...  

In which case I will be more than happy to come do yard work for you.  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Zombie Training - Part I

So I'm running again.
Cue theme music:

For the first time in what I figured out was almost 5 years.  I seriously cannot believe how long ago that was.  When I was in college I would ride my bike to the nearby beach, run for a while, then ride back home all before I went to my morning classes.

Not for all of college, mind you, just my single times.  For whatever reason having a boyfriend makes me insanely lazy.  But still, I ran for a good amount of time in 2005-2007 until I got into a bike accident and messed up my knee (which then required surgery after 6 months of unsuccessful physical therapy).  There have been several false starts to this "get back into running" shtick, but now after over a month of actually going at least 3 times a week I can officially say I'm doing it.  

After being as out-of-shape as I have been with the whole neck/arm injury thing I was shocked to find that it was not as difficult as I thought it would be to get some distance going - I had started the Couch-to-5k program using a widget on my phone, but I found quickly that it was holding me back and I did much longer distances if I wasn't constantly waiting for the time to change so I could do the walking interval or something like that.  It's like when I get injections or needle-stabbed for any reason - I HATE when people count it down.  Knowing that there's a timer going on something makes the anticipation a million times harder for me and I get mentally a lot more wound-up if I know it's coming.  So I opted to quit that program and just go to the beach and run at my own pace for as long as I could stand and gave myself permission to walk when I needed to.  (I also have given myself permission on a few occasions to wipe my snotty nose on my shirt while I run.  As long as my toddler doesn't see and no one else witnesses it I would rather have a snotty shirt than a sniffly nose while I run.  I know, I know: gross.)

Once I changed my mentality about how I was going to start running again, and got into the routine of just going to the beach straight after work for a run I surprised myself by running a mile without stopping almost a week later.  Now I'm up to about 2.5 miles without stopping (at around a 12-minute mile which is scoff-worthy if you run marathons, but if you're a chubby post-injury-post-baby woman who hasn't run in 5 years it's fucking AWESOME.)

The issue now is that my feet keep falling asleep when I hit the 1.75 mile mark.  And I have no clue why.
I know what you're going to say and let me tell you now, my shoes are not too tight. I've run barefoot and had the same issue.

I read on a forum somewhere that tightening of my "piriformis" muscles in my butt might be to blame.  If this is the cause, apparently the next step for me is to get a deep-tissue massage of my butt.

*cue awkward, frightened look on my face*

I tend to think about things related to zombie survival when I'm running in order to keep me motivated.  I'm absolutely determined to do this Run For Your Lives 5k in October - swarms of "zombies" chase you through an obstacle course, creating what is definitely the best zombie-apocalypse training possibility I will ever get.  But the question in my mind is, in an end-of-the-world scenario where I'm being chased by zombies, will I need to be fast, or go the distance?  I tend to think that speed is important to have in short-bursts, but if I'm outrunning the zombies I might need to be able to maintain a decent speed for quite a while.  And, given my location, I'll need to be able to do it with hills involved too.

Hell, given my life situation, I'm going to need to be able to run quickly up a hill while carrying a 30-something-pound child.  But I can't let myself think that far ahead because my stupid arm is still having tendonitis/bursitis issues and gets easily aggravated.  And thinking about what I can't do yet is not the mentality I need right now - I need to set myself easy, do-able goals every month so that I can think about the bigger picture later on.

So this month the goal is to run 5k at at least 5 m.p.h. without stopping.  And to figure out how to do that without my feet falling asleep.  And you know, if that means paying someone to dig their fingers into my butt-muscles, so be it.  I will conquer this issue.  I will not let the lazy, grumpiness in my body win.  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Year the World Ends

So, this is the year the world ends, right?  Here is some appropriate tuneage for your reading accompaniment.

I envision my Christmas this year to look something like this:  

The view from my window will probably look like this, too:

While you may scoff at the idea of zombies overrunning the world this December, let's just assume for a minute that I am right and you are wrong.  What IF the zombies do rise?  What if we all get malware installed on our smartphones somehow and it electrocutes us in such a specific way that our brainwaves are suddenly controlled by evil overlords and we become little more than zombies?  Or what if a virus from computers learns how to jump to human hosts?  Or what if an actual virus learned how to travel through phone and electricity wires and infected the world with a deadly contagion? 

Hey, it could happen.  In my mind any of those scenarios are highly improbably, but not impossible.  I figure if the TV show Bones can make a computer virus that can be uploaded when a supercomputer scans a set of bones, nothing is too impossible for the average media-steeped brain these days.  (And yes, I have been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately.)

So, assuming that I am right and the zombies do rise somehow, I really need to prepare and so do you.  Because what if I am right?!?  

I started running 4 times a week again, all on the beach so that my knees don't hate me.  This is the start of my plan, for as Zombieland pointed out, the number one thing you can do to get ready for the zombies is to do cardio.  A friend gave me a tip about this awesome mid-foot stride technique that has really sped me up, too.  Score! 

Then there is the obvious stockpiling that needs to happen. Dried goods and water will have to be gathered come November, which means I will have to skip buying gifts for all my friends and family.  (The kidlet will get a machete, though.  Don't worry, she'll be 3 by then.) This also means stockpiling seeds and actually learning how to garden a huge crop of food in a small space... come to think of it, I may need a horse or a cow for some manure at some point.  So add that to the list.

The gun training... eh, I'm still on the fence about this one.  I don't like guns in general, but if a hoarde was running at me I'd probably wish like hell that I had one.   After all my Walking Dead viewing I'm thinking a crossbow is more my style, though.  It's re-loadable, after all, and I don't want to be totally reliant on disposable ammo.  

I think the whole family will be due for some martial arts training for sure and hopefully we can all learn how to use a sword pretty well in those classes since the only other option is whaling on some watermelons in the backyard to train.
The thing I am looking forward to least is the zombie fortification process, since Andrew is not terribly handy, nor am I. Basic stuff like nailing 2x4s across the windows should be easy enough, but how do you explain to a contractor that you want your skylight cemented over  and a 15-foot-high wall with no doors erected around your back yard without sounding like a loon? 

Now, I know you're probably thinking to yourself, "Wow, Abby really has put a lot of thought into this.  Why would you waste all year trying to prepare for something that probably won't happen?"  The answer is simple: everyone chooses what they believe in life.  Whether a person believes in zombies or Jesus (who, you could argue, was the most famous zombie of all time) or spacemen or even just in themselves, everyone chooses different things to believe in and that choice is precisely what makes us human.  We get to choose from billions of options in order to make our lives the lives we want to live.  So while I may find meaning or significance in the upcoming zombie apocalypse, others may find it in their quest to outlaw abortion or promote gay marriage or even in throwing paint on people wearing fur.  And the people I get along with best in the world are the ones who understand one important fact:
Just because we do not believe the same things, that does not give us justification to treat one another poorly.  We are all human.  We all have feelings.  And no one likes to be attacked for their beliefs.

It is my goal in life to be a kind, loving person who enriches the life of those around me whether it be through a causal encounter at the grocery store or an in-depth conversation about the afterlife.  I stumble, like everyone does, and sometimes let my temper get the better of me.  But I always try to remember my ultimate goal and know that the only time I know I am able to fulfill this goal is right here, right now. And when I remember this, I also remember to act kindly toward the people I disagree with because their perception of reality is allowed to be different than mine.  In the end, none of us truly knows what will happen to the world, after all.

Which is probably good, since it's clearly going to be full of a lot of screaming and zombie flesh-shredding noises.