Category Archives: Personal Reflections
This time last year, I was about 40 pounds heavier than I am now. I didn’t really think about the weight gain much at the time, I just bought larger clothes and went on with my life. I had been really stressed out, my life had been falling apart, and it just didn’t matter. Then, last August, I went to a friend’s wedding in New Jersey. We were within a stone’s throw of New York City and I’d never been so we went up a day early so we could spend some time in the city.
I learned that NYC is a glorious place. I loved the 12 hours I spent there seeing the sights and eating the pizza. Oh man, the pizza. We did the whole Empire State experience and went to Grand Central Station and saw the Chrysler building (one of my favorites) and had lunch at a cafe table in Bryant Park. But when I got home and looked at the pictures, I couldn’t really believe what I was seeing. I didn’t feel beautiful or even attractive. I was kind of appalled and decided then and there it was time to get up off my butt and do something, anything.
So I started reading blogs. Lots of blogs. Fitness blogs were my new crack. I bought a bicycle, which I am still afraid of falling off of, and nearly died the first time I had to come up the hill by my house. I started couch to 5k, which was really hard and I STILL haven’t mastered the art of running. (I was a pack a day smoker for 10 years, my lungs still don’t like me much.) I got shin splints, I pulled things, I hurt myself a lot. I made “friends” with Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper.
But most of all, I lived and died by the numbers; calories in, calories out, measurements, weight. I bought a heart rate monitor to better understand how my workouts were going. I was living on very little more than 1200 calories a day, I knew I couldn’t do any less, and it was working for me. I was regularly losing a pound or so a week. I really believed that Kate Moss was right, that nothing tasted as good as thin felt. I was working damn hard, and I was seeing results.
The problem was, I was obsessed with my scale. I had a goal people, and I was going to reach it come hell or high water. No matter what it took, I was going to be what I thought of as the perfect weight. And then, out of nowhere one day, I hit it. I saw that number I had been looking for on the scale and I rejoiced. I bought new, thin clothes. I had done what I set out to do, but was my life really any better for it? Was I happier now that I had reached my ideal?
The answer kind of shocked me, although really it shouldn’t have. I didn’t. Yes, I felt stronger and healthier now, but not because of some number. I realized this very recently, this week in fact. You see, even though I hit that number, when I started eating what would be a normal amount of food for a person who doesn’t sleep all day, I started gaining it back. In fact, I gained about five pounds of it back. But you know what, I don’t really mind.
What I’ve realized is that what I thought of as my “ideal weight” isn’t necessarily my “happy weight”. I realized that I like food, in all it’s forms, and that one donut isn’t going to kill me. Numbers are still important to me, I still basically keep track of what I’m eating on any given day, but if I go over by a few, it doesn’t matter that much. All my “thin clothes” still fit, even with my 5 extra pounds. I still feel like I look great, and I still feel strong.
What I learned from this was the things I knew intellectually really were true. I don’t need six pack abs to be happy. I don’t need to be a size zero or a size two. Hell, I don’t even need to be a single digit size. What I need is to love myself more. To allow myself to make mistakes. I’m not perfect, and I never claimed to be, but I no longer feel the need to hold myself to a standard that’s unattainable. Yeah, I have lumps and bumps. I have cellulite. Some days I feel creaky and old and crotchety. (Okay, if you know me, you know I feel crotchety most days.)
I don’t even manage to work out everyday anymore, but that’s okay too. I may have dropped several dress sizes (or the entire weight of my dog) but the most important thing I dropped is my self loathing. And I may have gained a few pounds, but I also gained perspective. Thanks to the journey I brought myself on, I learned to love my body, cellulite and all. And that feeling is way better than feeling thin.
Every day I wake up and want to cry. I’ve slowly come to the realization that Washington is not the place for me. Going on vacation last week just made that point even sharper in my mind. I was so happy on vacation, even when (mentally) arguing with Figment’s brother for being overly rushy all the time. (The hilarious part is, he is the pokiest member of the family!) Even the annoying things weren’t particularly annoying to me.
DC is nothing like the courteous deep south in which I grew up. There, people hold doors for you and say please and thank you. If you run into someone, or accidentally cut them off on the sidewalk, you say excuse me. Here, not so much. I can’t remember the last time someone held the door for me when I was coming out right behind them or said thank you when I did so for them. I can’t remember the last time someone said excuse me when they ran into me or stepped on me or whacked me with their bag while on the train.
Yesterday, a woman at work went out of her way to bitch at me. Why? Well first off, I’m going to get ulcers by the time I’m 40 because I’m so mean. What!? I keep myself to myself at work, and I hardly ever talk to anyone because I have things to do instead of wandering around bothering people all day. Oh, well that’s what she meant. I don’t talk to anyone. I got a lot of “life’s too short” and several other variations on that theme. It’s like those people on the street that tell you to smile. You don’t know me and you don’t know what’s going on in my life or what I may be going through so you don’t have the right to comment on my actions. I ignored it because I still have 55 days left here and I don’t want them to be any worse than they already are, but I just couldn’t get over the nerve of her!
I feel like this is my life every day here. I can’t get over the stereotypical “Yankee” attitude of people in this city. I love this place for all it offers, the opportunities to try new things and the museums and the multitude of food varieties, but I just can’t go on living here forever. It’s slowly killing my soul and I don’t necessarily like the person I have become in order to shield myself from this nonsense. I’m trying really hard to just keep remembering my time here is almost over, but it’s only getting harder to wake up in the morning and get to work.
- First and foremost, we’re gaining a buttload of family. Here, it’s just the two of us and we spend all our time/money/vacation days going back and forth from here to MO. And let me tell you, 18 hours in the car with your husband, two cats, and one crazy dog is no spring picnic. I’m tired of wandering around the world and never getting any actual time off to relax.
- This leads us to #2, vacations. Since we won’t be spending all our time/money/vacation days on shuttling ourselves and our animals back and forth for family holidays, I may actually get a vacation some time soon. For most people, this isn’t a problem, but for me it’s getting ridiculous. I’m so burned out on life, that I really could use one. I mean, I’m going on my first vacation in 20 years this week, to Disney World with the entire family. We’re all staying in one room. I love them (and Disney!) but I could really use a week in Vegas by the pool with a cool drink and a good book.
- Which, really, I may find the pull of vacationing slacking off here in the near future. The pace of life in MO is so much more relaxed and friendly that it’s definitely a less stressful environment. My problem is going to be in relaxing myself enough to understand that no one in the entire world is in a hurry to get anywhere. That’s going to take a hell of a lot of work.
- No more public transit! I know I cited this as something we’re giving up, but if you’ve ever ridden on DCs WMATA metro system, you know it’s not really giving something up. The freely available parking in middle America is extremely attractive to someone like me who giving up control of what time she’s going to get somewhere. I feel like public transit here always makes me late, and I won’t really miss that aspect of it.
- Along with the family comes free babysitting. We don’t have any babies yet, but we’re not getting any younger either. In DC, child care costs are astronomical. Were to have a kid in daycare here, I would be spending over half my monthly paycheck just on childcare costs. Not to mention all the other things kids need. In MO? Child care costs are way down AND we have a Grandma and Grandpa practically begging us to let them babysit the spawn we don’t yet have.
- Child care costs aren’t the only thing that’s smaller in MO. The general cost of living is way down from here as well. Here, you can purchase a (small) one bedroom condo for $300,000. Hell, just our rent costs are over half my paycheck a month. In MO, these prices would practically get you a McMansion. Hey, jobs may pay you less there than they do here but in the grand scheme of things a smaller percentage of your paycheck is getting eaten by those costs.
- Small town living appeals to me. I like the idea that everyone knows everyone else, they’re all polite and wave as you pass and people say thank you and please and hold the door for others. It’s one of the things I miss most about southern living. The quality of life is different, maybe not better, but definitely different.
There are some things that we’re gaining that I’d rather not. Unfortunately, it’s a package deal with no substitutions.
- Wildlife in your house. When I lived in Texas, I spent a lot of time checking my entire house (including tub/toilet/sink/shoes) for bugs and other creepy crawlies. Now, if you know me you know I’m not particularly outdoorsy. I’m not a fan of bugs or sweat or things that go bump in the night. I’m not looking forward to finding evil spiders in the tub or scorpions in the sink. Here’s hoping that the house stays pest free.
- Tornadoes. Nothing in this entire world scares me as much as the threat of tornadoes. Yes, the ancient farm house has a basement which I suppose could double as a tornado shelter. I wouldn’t know, I’ve never seen one except on TV. All I know is that I could be asleep one minute and in the next field over the next. Uncool.
- Last but not least, ice storms and flooding. Thankfully (unlike Figment’s parents) the place we’ll be staying is on a bit of a hill so flooding is less likely. Ice storms don’t care how big the hill is there, and this part of MO is known for them. Our place doesn’t have a fireplace, although our neighbors (brother and sister-in-law) have one and so do Figment’s parents. But I drive a Honda Civic. I don’t think that sucker’s gonna make it up and down the hills in a freak freeze. Like I said, its definitely going to be an adventure.
The more I think about moving, the more I find things that make me say “CRAP, they don’t have that in MO!” Really, they’re mostly trivial, but they’re definitely things I’m going to have to get used to.
- My very first “CRAP” moment was when I thought about my hair stylist. I know, it’s a first world problem, but my hair isn’t exactly straight forward. If you know me at all, you know my hair is a riot of corkscrews and wiggly bits. Finding someone who won’t butcher it or cut it so that I have to wear it straight wasn’t easy. Case in point, my current stylist who has given me the best cuts of my life, I found her last August. Randomly. On Yelp. So far I haven’t had any luck finding curly stylists on Yelp in MO.
- You can get anything delivered in the DC metro area. Even from places that don’t actually deliver. For a small fee, a delivery person will go and pick up your order from your restaurant of choice and deliver it to you. There is no such thing as delivery in rural MO. (Unless we’re talking UPS/FEDEX/USPS/etc.) There’s no, “oh, I would love a pizza, we should order.” Nope. Domino’s isn’t coming to our house.
- This leads us to delicious restaurants. Right across the highway from us (almost within walking distance if it weren’t for that damned hill) is what I like to call the United Nations of Dinner. It’s a full street of basically nothing but restaurants. Chinese, Italian, Thai, Mexican. You want it, they’ve probably got it there. If not, the grocery store is at the end of the street. I’m sure cheap Mexican food is abundant in MO, because cheap Mexican is everywhere. And the Chinese food is pretty good there too. But my Thai restaurant with the delicious Nua Siam that I haven’t found anywhere else? Nope. (This same statement goes for all things purchasable at Dunkin Donuts, seeing as there aren’t any in MO.)
- Yes, more food related things. Grocery stores. Here, they deliver (see number 2), even though I’ve never ordered from the grocery for delivery. Also, if I really want a banana at 3 AM, my grocery store is open and really close. Grocery stores in MO? Not so much. And if I wanted that banana, even if I could find an open grocery (well, I suppose Wal-Mart has bananas….), it’s a half an hour from where we’ll be living. There is a wee store right up the road (an improvement over my last country home), but it’s kind of lacking as well as closed at 3 AM. There are no fun cheese sections in these stores, and even worse, no Trader Joe’s. Thankfully, some enterprising individual has set up shop selling TJ’s goods on Amazon.
- Shopping. We all like it. I don’t find it too big a deal to be losing so many different stores as I do most of my shopping online. (I have a feeling I’ll be even more thankful for Amazon prime come August.) Unfortunately, some of the stores I really <3 are nowhere to be found. First off, the Gap. How can a mall not have a Gap!? Thank heavens for free shipping on orders of $50 or more. Also, the Apple Store. Now, I don’t generally buy my stuff at the Apple store, so that’s not the problem. The problem is, my laptop is persnickety. It’s old. I’ve spilled stuff in it. (Yeah, I know, I’m a klutz.) It needs babying. Where the hell are all the genius bars!?
- This one’s a little weird. Here in DC, we have all varieties of cultures which makes the city that much more interesting. In the part of MO I’m going to? Let’s be honest, it’s pretty white. So I’m fully expecting to end up in the middle of that book “Stuff White People Like”.
- Sunday softball. I’m sure there are adult co-ed leagues in MO, but OUR league won’t be there. See, this league is pretty damn special. It’s like a small town, everybody knows everyone else and they all hang out before and after games talking and enjoying the company with some adult libations. The kids all run around and play and regardless of who they belong to, they’re being watched. I don’t think I’m going to find that dynamic anywhere else in the world. Who else would come up with our silly ass rules like a hit over the right field fence is a double and if you touch home plate you’re out?
- My friends. I love these people. Coming here for college was the best thing I think I’ve ever done. I have met the greatest people, and had a blast. Brunches, random outings, silly tourist things. We’ve done them all. Most of all I’m going to miss my seriously diverse group of woman-friends with whom I can share anything and everything. These ladies better freaking visit or I’ll be sorely put out.
- Availability of everything. At any time, I can hop on a bus or a train and go off to a free museum for entertainment. I can walk down the block to find something else if I’m bored with that. Pretty much the only time I need to drive is to go to the store. MO is a lot like Texas. Everything is really far away, but at least there’s always parking.
- And last, but not least, my house. I love our little (town)house. It’s what’s allowed us a lot of the other things. It’s close to everything but still enough in the ‘burbs that walking your dog doesn’t leave you afraid you’re going to be taken out by a crazy driver. Our backyard, even though it’s shared, is a place where you let your dog out to play with the neighbor’s dogs. Our neighborhood is a great place filled with great people. Every morning I wake up and think about how our time is limited here, and I try to savor each day we have left.
So we’re moving. In August. We figured this out two weeks ago, I know it’s sudden but we’re just crazy like that. My crazy husband (Figment), my crazy dog, my two crazy cats and myself will be heading out in the middle of August for the great unknown. Well, it’s not completely unknown. I’ve been there before, and Figment grew up there, but I’ve never lived there. And I can’t say I’ve never moved across country to a place I knew no one with little to no job prospects before either. I did that when I moved to DC 5 years ago and it worked out fine. It just feels a lot harder this time, I’ve put down roots. I wasn’t expecting to leave any time soon, there’s still so much to do. But, it feels right.
I hate my job, it’s slowly killing my soul and I don’t know how much longer I can manage to sit behind this desk doing basically nothing all day. Yes, the money is good and it leaves me ample time to pursue other interests, but it’s so boring and my co-workers/boss are so ridiculous that it’s driving me crazy. I don’t want to deal with a dead-end job that’s intellectually boring and accomplishes nothing for the rest of my life. I want to do something that has a tangible end result, and I think I’ve found it, but it’s going to be one hell of a ride.
Figment hates his job too. He’s been there for ten years, and he loved his job when he started but they’ve slowly been taking away all the parts that he really loves in order to give him responsibility for things he hates. He’s been ready to move back for a while (his family is still there), but didn’t want to just up and leave with no prospects on the other end. I think maybe he’s a little bit more cautious than I am. But I came home one evening after what ended up being a particularly bad work week for both of us and set out the plan.
Here it goes. My degree is all well and good here in DC, land of lawyers, lobbyists, and Congress, but it won’t do me any good in BFE Missouri, land of medical centers. I’ve always enjoyed science, but have never wanted to be a doctor (too much school) or a nurse (too much coddling). I’m crap at calculus, and I don’t want to write things for a living (although writing for fun is totally cool) so engineering and lawyering are out. So, I got admitted to a bachelors program at Missouri State University which will help me get my prerequisites that I need for the ultimate goal: physician’s assistant school. This also takes care of the niggling little problem of health insurance. Sure, medical insurance through schools isn’t the best and it isn’t the cheapest, but it’s so much better than no insurance at all.
Housing is also taken care of. Figment’s parents own a seriously ancient farm house in the middle of nowhere. As a temporary place to live, it’s fine. It’s free and I already know how to get there from most places. There’s a really great porch on the front and it’s got a nice back yard. It’s air conditioned and did I mention free? The problem is, it’s tiny, ancient, and crap. The internet and cable availability? Satellite, for both. We may live there for a while, but I have made it abundantly clear to Figment that I will not live in a place where my monthly internet cap is less than a gig. I must, and will, have broadband internet. This is non-negotiable. Especially if you want me to live out in the middle of nowhere. A girl needs entertainment and cows just aren’t gonna cut it.
So we’ve got housing and insurance. We have savings and figment is nothing if not highly marketable. So employment should take care of itself soon after we get there. The challenge is going to be giving up the things I’m used to having here in the city. But that’s another post.