Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chicken Soup

Bryan and I try REALLY hard not to buy meat that isn't organic/grass-fed.  But it happens every so often.  Earlier this week we bought a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken for dinner because we had almost no food in the house.  We picked at it for a few days and then it sat there for a couple days more.  And then, I made some delicious chicken soup.

To make this chicken soup, I put the entire chicken into the crock pot and cover the top of it with about 3 inches of water.  Then I cook it on high for 6 hours with some fresh herbs (I used rosemary, thyme and sage) as well as some salt and some garlic.  After 6 hours I strain the broth into one bowl and I cut the chicken off the bone, discarding the skin and bones.  I cut it/tear it into bite-sized pieces, then add the broth once more.  Then I take rotini (I like the tri-colored) and let it cook on high for another hour or so, until the noodles are cooked.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

This is definitely the epitome of comfort foods.  I also like to add carrots and other veggies, but like I said, we have very little food in the house, so it was pretty much just chicken noodle soup.  I loooove soup, and this just warms me up from head to toe.  It's also a great recipe that you don't really have to pay attention to; you pop it in the crock pot, walk away, come back, add a bit more, walk away, and you're done!  It's also a good way to stretch your dollars; a rotisserie chicken is usually about $5 and you can usually get at least 1 meal for 2 people, usually two meals, and you'll still have enough meat to make the soup.  And even if you don't, you can make broth from the bones.  It's an inexpensive meal, and you can definitely make it last for a couple of meals.

Last Day!!

Today is my last day at the float trip company!!  It feels like the last day of school, except that it means that summer is officially OVER.  I am waiting to hear back on a number of interviews, and I'm hoping to have the next month off of work so I can get ready for our next move (just across town).  I'm going to have a lot of free time to work on my Etsy site, which is awesome.  And as I'll be wearing a bathing suit in less than a month, I've decided that I need to get my ass in gear... which means it's time for Jillian.

I've had this exercise DVD for over a year now; I got it online for super cheap.  And apparently, if you do it every day, you really can lose a TON of weight because it makes you pass out and then kicks you when you're down.  Seriously.  It's hard core.

I've only done the Level 1 exercises and I never do them all that well.  You're supposed to weights, and we only have 8lb weights, and she uses 3-5lb weights, I think.  So I'll probably pick some of those up this week.

I'm hoping with all this free time that I'll be able to do the 30 day shred at least 5 times a week, and hopefully start walking/biking more places, and maybe go on some longer runs.  I'd really like to kick my butt into gear and my goal is to lose at least 5 pounds before we go to Myrtle.  If I could lose more, all the better.  This is a hard core workout, though, so we'll have to see how it goes.

I have another possible interview scheduled for tomorrow, working the desk at the hospital's urgent care.  We'lllll see.  I had an interview yesterday that went well, but there are certain things that make me hesitant about accepting the position if it is offered.  I'd really like to be a teller at the local bank; everyone there was super nice and it's got a good energy to it, and I think I'd fit in.  Time will tell...

So Bryan was going to train in Salt Lake in a couple of weeks, and I was going to go with him and it was going to be awesome.  But now they're saying that his Salt Lake training will come AFTER we get back from Myrtle.  Where will he be training BEFORE Myrtle??  Oh yeah.  That's right.  THE MIDDLE OF FREAKING MONTANA.  I told him I still want to go with him, but it's not a big town, so I'm not sure.  I was going to visit friends while we were in Salt Lake, I was going to go to IKEA and eat yummy food at the millions of restaurants they have.  They don't have that in this part of Montana.  We'll see.  I think I'll still go if his hotel has a fitness center, and I'll just bring lots of craft stuff and see how it goes.  Maybe hang out at Starbucks.  We'll have to see.  It's only 5 hours from Calgary, and I TOTALLY want to go to Calgary, but I want Bryan to go with me... which isn't possible.  So, who knows.  Once again, plans are up the air, like they always are with us.

For right now, I'm just excited that I'll be officially done with this job in 3 or 4 hours!!  I've really enjoyed working here, but the 60 hour weeks have drained me.  I'm going to go home and take a nap, I think.  And then wake up, and get my butt in gear for Myrtle.

Schoooooools out for the summer.....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Birthday Possiblilities

Bryan is so so cute.  Yesterday he said "it's almost your birthday, you know," to which I replied, "Wow, you're right, it's coming up pretty soon!"  "Yeah, in a week.  Haven't you been thinking about it?" he asked.  "No.  I guess I haven't really."

I'm not huge into birthdays.  I tried to make last year (my 25th) into a sort of bigger deal, and, without going into it, let's just say that it was NOT a great day.  I think I have a weirdness about my birthday (and Valentine's Day, and Christmas, to some extent) because I don't really like it when there's a lot of attention on me, or people wanting to know what I want.  I LOVE giving gifts, and I like receiving them too, but I don't like feeling like I HAVE to get a gift, or really think about what I want, or anything like that.  I know, that's confusing and weird.  I'm just strange.

Bryan told me he'd been looking into gifts for me; he's apparently willing to spend a lot more than we normally do (like, $30 tops) because we're getting bonuses next week and I've been working so much.  One of the things he mentioned was something I posted on my blog just a few days ago... a painting by Geoff Benzing.  Crazy, right??  He knows that I've loved Geoff's work for quite a while.  He also mentioned that eventually he'd like our home to be more "grown-up" and thinks that acquiring some art would be a great start.  He told me that I'd have to pick out what I want, if that IS what I want, since it's a bigger purchase.  And I have no idea what to pick, or if I should go another direction.  Like I said, I don't like being the center of attention when it comes to gifts, so I'm already sort of anxious about the whole thing.

Like I said, weird.

Here is Bryan's favorite:
It's called Mammoth Family #2 and it's priced at $200.  You have to understand, I'm such a bargainista that I SERIOUSLY have a hard time spending more than $25 on anything.  No joke.  Bryan really likes this one, and it's actually one that I posted earlier this week, so it's a possibility.

The other painting I really like is an acrylic.  It's very quirky and has a lot of color; Bryan said something along the lines of "that's going seriously artsy.  I like it." 
It's called "Elephant on a Hill" and it's one of his elephants with wheels paintings.  Like I said, very colorful and quirky.  It would definitely go with my new color scheme for the living room we're moving into - the color scheme?  COLOR.  I want a lot of color, lots of reds and blues and greens and some yellow.  And gray.  Not primary colors like a little kid's room, but rich hues.  Mr. Wheely Elephant would go well.  He's $100.

Another idea would be to go another way altogether.  We talked about giving me "IKEA money" to spend to redecorate our new apartment (we move in November 1st).  $100-$150 would go far at IKEA and would buy me a lot of frames, vases and maybe some light fixtures.  Here's sort of what I'm thinking:

all IKEA -
Now, I realize that I said "COLOR" and this is all greys and blacks and dark browns.  But I plan on painting one of our floor lamps red, and making some multicolored pillows.  Our couch is already multicolored - I haven't decided if I want to get a slipcover for it or not.  Our wall is going to be full of photographs and other art (mostly made by me, meaning... whatever I can make sure cheap that will look good).  So there will be a lot of color on the walls, and I'm even thinking of putting up curtains over the nasty looking blinds.  That's a lot of furniture for a good deal; I'm not entirely sure about the LAIVA bookcase, we'd have to see about that.  Another idea I have is buying a canvas drop cloth and painting/dying it either all 1 color and hanging it on a wall to brighten up the room, or to stencil it so it's a sort of mural.  I haven't decided.

What do you think??  The nearest IKEA is in Salt Lake, and I think Bryan wanted me to have something physically in my hands for my birthday, but that doesn't matter all that much to me.  I can't decide if I want to go with one statement painting or get some furniture.  I know IKEA isn't exactly the epitome of design, but it's a good price, and it's a great place to get simple things.  I could also go for the acrylic Geoff Benzing painting (Elephant on a Hill) and then just get the rug and coffee table.  We already have a couch, but eventually we'll probably get a loveseat; it doesn't have to be this one.  I like the gray fabric, though, and how it folds out into a simple bed.  It would be very useful if my nieces/nephews visit (not sure if it would really be comfortable for an adult).  Just not sure!!

Oh!  Did I tell you Bryan will probably be training for his job in Salt Lake??  If I don't get a job/start a job before he leaves, I'll go down with him and I'll have up to two weeks to bum around Salt Lake, visit friends, and shop.  And work on my Etsy stuff in the hotel.  I'm super excited.  I love Salt Lake, and it would be a LOT of fun!!

But seriously.  Comment and tell me what you think I should do.  I need help here.  Pretty please?  It's my birthday (next week).

Monday, September 27, 2010

Interviews, Interviews, Interviews

I'm supposed to have today off, but unfortunately have to cover for the other office worker in a couple of hours.  Thankfully it will only be a four hour shift, so it still sort of feels like a day off.  I dropped off a thank you note to the call who interviewed me at the bank on Friday, and I just scheduled an interview at a local urgent care on Wednesday.  The bank position is for a teller, and the urgent care position is for a medical receptionist.  I think I'd do well at either one, but I haven't heard much about the medical receptionist job as of yet.

I think the thing I've learned most about this process is that I'm not as great as I think I am.  Before now, I've never NOT been offered a job at the end of an interview, or very soon afterward.  I have to wait now, hoping they like me enough.  I'm sure part of it is the economy, but I think another big part of it is that there are so many well-educated people in their 20's and 30's here in Jackson.  I'm not at all special for having a degree.  In fact, almost everyone I work with at the float trip company has a college education; they just aren't using it.

I've really had to swallow my pride about this.  There's a part of me that wants to say "Hellllo, obviously I'm the right hire, I've always gotten hired right away!"  But there are a lot of other people out there who are just as qualified as me and have such as much experience.  I'm learning this slowly but surely.

As for right now, I still have 4 more days of work, and then I'll file for unemployment until I get a job.  That's not exactly the worst thing in the world that could happen.  We'll have to see how it goes; I'm hoping to be working in a week or two, and by November 1st at the latest.  One very nice thing from today:  when I dropped off the thank you note at the bank, the gal who interviewed me looked genuinely thankful and surprised that I would write a note.  That's a good sign, isn't it?

Isn't it?

Or am I not being humble again?  The stationery WAS really cute.

Just sayin'.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sleeping at Last, Stop Motion, Geoff Benzing

I've loved the band Sleeping at Last since I first saw them play at Heart & Soul Cafe in the northwest suburbs of Chicago at fourteen years old.  I thought their music was just magical, so ethereal and lovely.  And that wasn't even their good stuff!  I think they get better and better.  The lead singer, Ryan, has an enchanting high voice, similar in some respects to Radiohead's Thom Yorke.  They are just incredibly talented, and a lot of their music incorporates stringed instruments, which is just beautiful.  I saw them play with a string quartet once at House of Blues in Chicago and it seriously pulled at heartstrings.  They are just lovely.  I highly recommend them, especially their album "Keep No Score."  Delightful!

Here is an awesome stop-motion video they did with director/animator Javan Ivey.

They also work with watercolor artist Geoff Benzing, whose work is just AMAZING.  He does all the artwork on their albums, website, everything.  I totally want to buy one of his watercolors but I am unfortunately not fancy (rich) enough to do so at the moment.  Maybe when I get a real job??  Does that sort of thing actually happen?  Anyways.  So beautiful, so so beautiful.  His elephants-on-wheels work is some of my favorite.  His work is whimsical and beautiful and sometimes a little sad.  Just lovely.  Here's some of his work:
Just fantastic!  My favorite work of his has sadly been sold.  Most of his stuff is priced between $100 to $250, which I think is a great deal for beautiful, original artwork.

And here's a couple of my favorite songs by Sleeping At Last if you're interested in hearing more.  No more awesome stop-motion videos, though... bummer!!  :-)

Sleeping at Last - Needle and Thread

"We are made of love,
And all the beauty stemming from it.
We are made of love,
And every fracture caused by the lack of it.

'You were a million years of work,'
Said God and His angels, with needle and thread.
They kissed your head and said,
'You're a good kid, and you make us proud.
So just give your best and the rest will come,
And we'll see you soon.'"

Sleeping at Last - Unmade

"I believe that we've got it wrong, got it wrong.
We'll realize when it's said and done, said and done,
That in our words we've lost so much more
Than we've ever won.

The aftermath
Is cracked wood where fences stood
And the broken bones of our childhood.

In our trembling fear,
We put words inside God's mouth.
We cover our tracks
And get so proud of ourselves,
We get so proud of ourselves,
We get so proud of ourselves
When we get away."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Christian Music?

To be entirely honest, I find a lot of "Christian" music to be SUPER shmaltzy.  In fact, I couldn't listen to a station like K-Love without rolling my eyes for YEARS, and I still roll my eyes at a lot of stuff that's played on Christian radio.  There are a few songs that I do really like, and I thought I'd post some of the lyrics I really love, as well as a video.

Tenth Avenue North - By Your Side

"Why are you striving these days?  /  Why are you trying to earn grace?  / Why are you crying?  /  Let me lift up your face; just don't turn away.  /  Why are you looking for love?  /  Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough?  / To where will you go child, tell me where will you run?  /  To where will you run?  /  And I'll be by your side wherever you fall  /  in the dead of night, whenever you call.  /  And please don't fight these hands that are holding you  / my hands are holding you."

Matt Maher - Alive Again

The first time I heard this song, I thought "that's Augustine's Confessions!"  Matt Maher is Catholic, and I love that he uses words from a Catholic saint written centuries before.  And I have a soft spot for the Confessions; here is an excerpt from Augustine:

"Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new, late have I loved you.  And see, you were within, and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely things
which you made.  You were with me, and I was not with you.  The lovely things kept me far from you, though if they did not have their existence in you, they had no existence at all.  You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant,
and I drew my breath and now pant after you.  I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you.  You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours."

Matt Maher sings:
"You called and You shouted  /  Broke through my deafness  /  Now I'm breathing in and breathing out  /  I'm alive again.  /  You shattered my darkness  /  Washed away my blindness  /  Now I'm breathing in and breathing out  /  I'm alive again.  /  Late have I loved You  /  You waited for me, I searched for You  /  What took me so long?  /  I was looking outside  /  As if Love would ever want to hide  /  I'm finding I was wrong "

Derek Webb - What Matters More

This is NOT a song that is played on Christian radio, because Derek Webb is known for pushing a lot of buttons and he swears sometimes (which I'm totally fine with, it's used appropriately, not gratuitously).  His message isn't always an easy one to choke down for many people.  Stockholm Syndrome is a prime example of this: this song is about how Christians have a tendency to focus on homosexuality as a topic much more than they focus on genocide, starvation, humans rights, etc.  It's a focus on sexuality instead of SURVIVAL, which is sort of crazy... I think it's a powerful and necessary message:  What matters more to you??

"You say you always treat people like you like to be  /  I guess you love being hated for your sexuality.  /  You love when people put words in your mouth  /  'Bout what you believe, make you sound like a freak.  /  'Cause if you really believe what you say you believe  /  You wouldn't be so damn reckless with the words you speak  /  Wouldn't silently conceal when the liars speak  /  Denyin' all the dyin' of the remedy.  /  Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?  /  Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?  /  If I can tell what's in your heart by what comes out of your mouth  /  Then it sure looks to me like being straight is all it's about  /  It looks like being hated for all the wrong things  /  Like chasin' the wind while the pendulum swings  /  'Cause we can talk and debate until we're blue in the face  /  About the language and tradition that he's comin' to save  /  Meanwhile we sit just like we don't give a shit  /  About 50,000 people who are dying today.  /  Tell me, what matters more to you?"

(The way he shakes his head annoys me.)

If more bands came out with "Christian" music like this (although that's a weird title, how can a genre have a belief system? Strange), then I think that it will be moving out of shmaltzy and into something that's real and honest and genuine and challenging.

"Spiraling: My Battles with Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Phobias" - Part Three

Continued from Part One and Part Two...

I did end up getting counseling for my anxiety.  I saw a Marriage and Family Therapist once a week for a month and a half.  She was very nice, if entirely New-Agey and a bit too indulgent.  We had four really great sessions and two really awful, not at all helpful sessions, before she told me I was "good."  She tried EMDR therapy on me, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.  We'd discuss what I was anxious about, and she would have me give her a list of negative feelings or things associate with the situation.  Then she'd ask me what positive things I could think of that would change the situation.  She'd have me sit in the chair, relax, and go to a "happy place" where I felt calm and secure.  She had a tray of objects that were long and thin, and I would choose one (I almost always chose the feather).  She would arrange it so that we were sitting side by side but facing opposite directions.  Then, she'd hold up the feather and say something like "When you are anxious about health problems or a family member dying," which is another HUGE anxiety-ridden subject for me, "you mention the following feelings:  hurt, scared, out of control, helpless, sad, lonely.  I want you to think about two of those words."  I'd pick two of those words or feelings, and then she'd start. 

Then she'd take the feather and have me follow it with her eyes and she quickly moved it from side to side in front of my face.  Seriously.  That's it.  The idea is that Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) helps to reprocess thoughts that were stored incorrectly in the mind.  For instance, if someone went through a really traumatic thing that they can easily recall years later, and still feel the way they did then, that memory may not be processed correctly.  Because it's not processed correctly, the person can not respond to it in a calm, rational way; instead, they feel the fear/anger/helplessness they did when the thing actually happened.  By engaging both eyes in EMDR, you are using both sides of the brain (bilateral stimulation) and the idea is that the memory will start to be reprocessed, and that you will be able to use your rational mind to deal with the unconscious fear/sadness that you are experiencing.  This therapy is supposed to work with people with PTSD, and it worked with me (and I don't have PTSD).

The one time that this worked really well for me is when I remembered the first time in my life that I was really afraid. The memory involves my brother, David, who is just under 3 years younger than I am.  When David had just started crawling, he fell down a flight of wooden stairs into our basement.  I was down in the basement playing with my friend Timmy, and one of us must have forgotten to close the door.  By the time my mom flew down the stairs, she saw that I was standing over David and saying "please don't die David, please don't die."  Which is pretty intense for a 3 year old.

David was thankfully fine that time; not a scrape or a bruise on him, which is really just amazing.  When David was about 2 years old, and I was 5, he ran headlong into a coffee table and split his head open.  We were in Canada visiting friends.  There was a lot of blood, and Mom and Dad took David to the hospital, and I stayed home with our friends (who I still call Aunt and Uncle).  I don't remember a lot of it, but I remember being very, very scared and very upset that I couldn't be with my brother.  My aunt/uncle (can't remember which of them stayed with me) made me macaroni and cheese, and I remember feeling like if I could have gone with David to the hospital, I could have helped him.

David hurt himself many, many times when he was little.  He was always busting his head open, or almost drowning, or something like that.  My parents watched him, but he always found a way to get hurt.  I have quite a few memories of feeling helpless and scared for my little brother (who is not so little now, at 23.  Happy Birthday kiddo!  I'm sorry I still call you kiddo, but it's my way of saying I love you).  These are the memories that my therapist wanted to use for EMDR, specifically the feeling of helplessness, and wanting to help my brother.

My therapist took the feather and told me to think about how I felt when David got hurt, concentrating on two of those feelings (usually helplessness and fear).  Then she'd have me follow the feather with my eyes for about a minute and a half.  She'd ask something along the lines of, "Did any feelings, memories, or pictures come up?"  Often they did, as I was concentrating only on the subject.  I'd say something like, "I remember seeing David's head with a bloody towel wrapped around it, and I remember my parents telling me to stay with my aunt/uncle."  The therapist would say something like "Good.  I want you to concentrate on how staying with your aunt/uncle made you feel."  Then she'd flick the feather back and forth again for a minute and a half.  Then, "did any feelings or memories come up?" and I'd say something like "I wished I was bigger and could do something, it's not fair."  This would go on for a bit; usually there were 5 or 6 feather-y sessions, if I'm recalling correctly.  Slowly she would have me start thinking about positive things, saying something like "Think of how you felt about your brother.  Tell me a few feelings or thoughts you  have."  I'd say something like "I am protective of him.  He's so fearless I'm afraid he'll get hurt.  He's my only brother and I love him."

I did EMDR two or three times with her, I think.  The time it was about my brother getting hurt was extremely powerful.  I was crying without even realizing it.  At the end, she told me to keep my eyes closed and to try to imagine what I looked like as a little girl right around the age David hurt himself in Canada.  She asked me to imagine that that little girl was in the room with us, and she told me to talk to the little girl, and to comfort her.  It may sound sort of crazy but it really was one of the most powerful experiences in my life.  I told little-me, "It's not your fault that your brother got hurt.  Mom and Dad are with him and they're going to take care of him; that's what grownups do.  You can help out here, because I'm sure he's going to need to rest and comfort when he gets home.  Maybe you can make some brownies with Uncle Ray, and maybe you can let him cuddle with your teddy bear when he gets home."  I sort of gave myself permission to release that memory, even though I didn't realize how much it was weighing on me.

I was a bit embarrassed about how much I cried at that session; I really felt like the helpless little girl who was scared for her brother.  I left that session feeling so refreshed and light and clear.  It had amazed me how much of that memory I carried with me, even though it had been over 20 years earlier.  I started to realize that it was these sorts of memories (like I said, it happened more than once with David) that I'd been going back to every time a family member was hurt.  This was part of the reason that I was scared my parents wouldn't come back every time they went on vacation; I was afraid their plane would crash.  I'd make up scenarios as to who we'd live with, how I'd take care of David.  This is why I told my high school boyfriend I loved him before I got on a plane with my family for a vacation; what if I didn't come back?  It wasn't that someone in our family had died, it was that everyone was healthy and whole and I was terrified of that ever changing.  I wanted to be in control so I could keep everyone safe and near me.

Since the EMDR I've had a LOT better handle on my anxiety.  It's been over a year since I've had a panic attack, which is awesome.  I still get anxious, and sometimes I try to ignore it.  For example, I was having stomach pain last month and it got pretty nasty.  It went on for two weeks where I'd just feel miserable and I didn't want to eat anything because as soon as I ate or drank something, I would be in such pain that I wanted to cry.  I got nervous and WebMD'ed it (which is ALWAYS a bad idea) and of course, thought it could be pancreatitis, which shared a lot of the symptoms I was having.  I wanted to go to a doctor, but our health insurance doesn't cover doctor's appointments.  Bryan started quizzing me to see if it was really that bad, or if my anxiety was just playing me.  You see, when my anxiety is bad, I will want to go to the doctor just to hear that I'm physically healthy.  It's weird.  I get nervous going to the doctor but I love hearing that I'm okay.  I actually LIKE getting my women's annual because then I know that everything looks normal downstairs, and that my boobs apparently don't feel lumpy.  I ended up having a friend call her daughter, who is a Physician's Assistant, about my stomach.  Apparently it was GERD/heartburn/acid reflux, something like that, so I took Prilosec for 2 weeks and cut out soda and coffee and tomatoes and citrus foods, and I'm fine now.  Apparently most people that have pancreatitis are alcoholics, so I wasn't really at risk for that at all.  WebMD doesn't mention that.

I never said I was normal.  What's normal?

Anxiety is something I still deal with; my phobias about health and flying (yeah, don't like that at alllll) are still around, and sometimes, when my anxiety has been really acting up, I'll have a little panic attack.  My panic attacks are now very manageable, now that I know what's happening and I have my little trips to stop/ease them.  But my anxiety is a part of me, and I don't think it will ever truly go away completely.  When I feel like I'm weird or crazy for having this problem, I like to remind myself of something my therapist said:  the reason that I get scared of dying or of losing loved ones is that I love life SO MUCH that I want to just hold it tight and never let it go.  I do believe in an afterlife, but I'm enjoying this life so much that I want to live it as much as I can; same goes with my loved ones.  My mom reminds me that most people have SOME sort of weakness in their body: she has bad teeth, my dad's liver isn't the best (less meat, more veggies, Dad), Bryan's gums are crap (seriously), NONE of us have good eyesight (not even perfect David, booyah).  Now that I'm off that awful birth control, I no longer have problems with blood pressure (that was a really nasty side effect that just lasted a long time), and I only occasionally get migraines and headaches.  And I have anxiety.  It's not my biggest weakness, it's just one of the ones I will occasionally have to deal with, like allergies.  It could be worse.  Some people's anxiety makes it so they cannot leave their houses; others drive their friends and families away, lose their jobs, become someone different.  I've got it pretty good.

Anxiety/Panic Disorder is one of those things that's still sort of a taboo to talk about, I think.  When I was dealing with my first panic attacks, I thankfully had two men in our church who had really crippling anxiety, and they were really open about it, which was extremely helpful.  I think it's a very necessary thing to talk about, since it affects so many people, and those who deal with it need support.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 40 million American adults, or 18.1 percent (ages 18+), have an anxiety disorder, and nearly 3/4 of those with an anxiety disorder will have their first episode by age 21.5 years old.  The National Institute of Mental Health also states that approximately 6 million American adults (18+), or 2.7 percent, have panic disorder.  It typically develops in early adulthood and the median age of onset is 24. 1 in 3 people with panic disorder develops agoraphobia.

My first real episode was at 23, but now that I KNOW what a panic attack is, I now know that I've had two very small ones in the past.  The first was at an airport when I was a teenager, and the second was at the opening of a bix box store when I was 18.  I remember being scared and suddenly getting short of breath and crying, and walking very fast away from that place.  I wish I knew what was happening, because I may have been able to control it earlier.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I do have medication for my anxiety.  It's only to be taken when absolutely necessary, as it can be addictive.  It's called Lorazapem, which is generic for Ativan.  I only take it 2 or 3 times per year, usually when I'm flying somewhere (like I said, I HATE flying).  It calms me down and makes me feel like I've had 1-2 glasses of wine, which is nice.  I, thankfully, do not have to take a daily pill, but millions do.  It doesn't mean they're weak, they're just wired differently.  Anxiety/Panic Disorder can be genetic, and it appears that there is a genetic link in my case, as my aunt and grandmother have similar issues.
I hope you have a better concept of what anxiety is now.  It's something that can be controlled, and it doesn't have to affect the rest of your life.  If someone you know has it, they're not 'crazy' or even 'mentally ill.'  They just have a different weakness than you do.  Help them overcome it and learn to live with it.  Once it's been embraced as a part of you, it's much easier to live with, because you're not always afraid of it.  Talk about it. It's something so many people struggle with; if you struggle with it, you're not alone.  If you have questions for me, please feel free to ask.  You can ask publicly as a comment, or email me at jessicamaylords (at) gmail (dot) com.  You can also ask me on my Formspring.

Friday, September 24, 2010

One Kings Lane

Hey guys!  Sorry I gave you the wrong link last time, but FYI, One Kings Lane is having a bamboo kitchenware sale right now.  I just got this board for $7 shipped with the credit!


If you link from HERE we both get $15 credit, which also applies to shipping.  They have some stuff that would ship totally free right now, but it's moving SERIOUSLY fast.


"Spiraling: My Battles with Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Phobias" - Part Two

Continued from Part One...

I thought the magical beta blockers would make everything better.  They did make my blood pressure go down, but they also gave me this weird tight feeling in my chest that I didn't like.  Later that week, however, I had the same problems as I went to bed.  I couldn't calm down, couldn't sleep.  I stayed in the shower until the water got cold, because the shower seemed to help a bit.  I got online and started to research my symptoms, thinking that SOMETHING must be seriously wrong with me.  I found a website on anxiety and panic attacks, and I read through the symptoms.  I had experienced a majority of the symptoms.  Mayo lists these symptoms for panic attacks; I've highlighted the ones I've experienced:
  • A sense of impending doom or death
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hyperventilation
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Faintness
  • Tightness in your throat
  • Trouble swallowing
The more I read the more I realized that this was what I was experiencing.  I felt really relieved that it was just anxiety and panic attacks, and not a life-threatening disease.  Over the next month I continued to check my blood pressure; it did seem that when my blood pressure was elevated, I was more likely to get panic attacks, so I went on a low-sodium diet.  While the beta blockers certainly made my life more manageable, they didn't totally get rid of the anxiety, and my blood pressure was still on the high end.  I was told that my birth control could be causing the high blood pressure, which in turn could be worsening my anxiety. By this time a doctor has diagnosed that I had anxiety/panic attacks; apparently all the stress of graduating college, getting two jobs, getting married, quitting two jobs, moving to California and getting two MORE jobs was just a bit too much for me. I went off of hormonal birth control for three months, which was very anxiety-producing for a new wife who wasn't interested in getting pregnant for a few years.

When I first had panic attacks, they primarily came on at night after I'd been in bed for a few minutes, seemingly out of the blue.  I was having 1-2 a week most of the time, sometimes more.  I learned tricks to help me calm down; I did lunges/squats before bed to get rid of some of my energy, and I took a nice, long, relaxing hot shower right before bed.  This would often help, but if I laid in bed for more than a few minutes before falling asleep (I fall asleep very quickly), there was a very good chance I'd start to have a panic attack.  It didn't matter what I was thinking about, it would just start.  It was a very frustrating time.  When I got off the birth control I was on, the panic attacks came much less frequently.  I also started going to the gym 4-5 days a week, and that helped a lot too.

I was able to go off the beta blockers after taking them for 6 months.  My panic attacks happened less than once a month at that point, which was wonderful.  I was still experiencing quite a lot of anxiety, however.  I would find myself flushing randomly throughout the day, suddenly extremely warm.  I'd find something to worry about and I would obsess about it for hours.  Most of the things I'd obsess about were health-related, which is partially because I was working at a doctor's office, and I was often sick with some sort of cold.  I worried about blood clots from the new birth control I was on, I worried about my constant daily headaches (which turned out to be really intense allergies, NOT a brain tumor, duh), I worried about our future and our financial situation and anything I could worry about, basically.  I was a mess.

In the fall of 2009, I really started to deal with my anxiety on a regular basis.  If you're paying attention, that's 2 years since my first panic attack.  I was no longer dealing with panic attacks (I'd have maybe 1 every six months) but my anxiety over health issues was interfering with my life and my marriage.  I kept reading more and more things about Yaz, the birth control I was on.  I'd had friends who were on it and had blood clots in their legs; a friend of my aunt's was hospitalized for a week because of multiple pulmonary embolisms.  Bryan and I had talked about going off hormonal birth control and trying the Fertility Awareness Method, but I was afraid to do that, as well.  I'd been having leg pain and strange numb sensations for a couple of weeks, and I was SURE it was a blood clot in my leg.  It turns out it was actually sciatica, but I was SURE.  When you have anxiety, it becomes REALLY hard to be rational about certain things when your mind keeps going to really scary places.  It would seem totally normal to my anxiety-ridden mind to go from leg pain ---> blood cloth ---> death.  Seriously.  And when these thoughts would start to race, I'd be at risk for a panic attack.  Here's a chart that I found pretty spot-on:
It's definitely a cycle, at least for me.  Just thinking about something could cause me to start to spiral.  It's hard for friends and family to understand if they haven't experienced it themselves; my mom actually thought it was a spiritual problem at first.

The thing about my anxiety is that it didn't just show up, not really.  Once my parents and I really started to talk about this (because they were very worried about me, and being across the country didn't help), I started mentioning times as a child that I would be nervous.  I told them when I was little, from about 6-12 years old, if we were on a roadtrip and there was a snowstorm or a thunderstorm while we were driving, I would try to fall asleep in the car, so if we died I'd wake up in Heaven.

Seriously.  This is how I was thinking at 6 years old.

My parents didn't realize that; they didn't know how scared I was because I never told them.  I thought most people were as afraid of driving in these conditions as I was, and I thought that most of them probably wanted to fall asleep so they could wake up in heaven if they died too.  My mom was really sad when she found this out, 18 years after the fact.  If they had known that I was dealing with this (without really realizing it) as a kid, I may have been able to get counseling for it at a young age.

Part Three, the final piece, tomorrow....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Spiraling: My Battles with Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Phobias" - Part One

Kelly @ The Startup Wife has written two recent posts on her experience with panic attacks/anxiety.  I thought it was a really good thing to write about, because I think it's a hard thing to understand if you've never gone through a panic attack.  Kelly does a really good job writing about her experience, and I would definitely suggest reading those posts if you want to get more info on panic attacks.

I wanted to write about this topic in the past, and I have, a little.  I am very thankful that I do not have to deal with anxiety/panic as an everyday thing.  Most of the time I don't think about it for weeks, months, even.  But that doesn't mean that it's gone.

Another reason I wanted to write about my panic attacks is that a lot of people I know were surprised when they first found out that I have to deal with them.  My friend Molly actually told me she was so surprised because I seem so 'with it' and 'normal' and 'happy.'  Which I am.  Panic attacks just HAPPEN to some people; we're wired different, or things affected us differently as kids, or we don't deal with stress as well... there are so many things that can lead to having to do with this problem.  It doesn't happen to everyone, but I do think it can happen to anyone, given the right circumstances.

I'm going to use the words "panic attack" and "anxiety" sort of interchangeably, which is not at ALL diagnostically correct.  According to the Mayo Clinic, "a panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that develops for no apparent reason and that triggers severe physical reactions."  They classify anxiety as "a persistent problem that interferes with daily activities such as work, school or sleep."  So, panic attacks develop for no apparent reason and anxiety is more of a long-term thing.  Although I have been given several diagnoses, it's generally agreed upon by the medical professionals I've seen that I experience anxiety, panic attack, and phobia.

I sound so stable, don't I?  :-)

It was about 3 months into our marriage, at the age of 23, that I had my first panic attack.  It was October 2007, and we had just moved to Humboldt County, California, two months prior.  I had a hard time finding a job in Humboldt; the economy was bad even BEFORE the recession, and I had to put out about 25 resumes before I got a call back from anyone.  I had started a part-time job as a behavioral aide for a teenage boy with autism just the month before, and had just started working as a medical receptionist for a busy community health clinic.  I wasn't working that many hours, about 47 per week, but both jobs were fairly stressful.  I didn't have health insurance, and at one point I was late on my period and I FREAKED OUT, terrified that we were pregnant so early into our marriage (we weren't).  I didn't have any friends in California, and I missed my family and my home in Illinois terribly.  It was a very difficult period for me.

With all of this change, the one thing that I felt really secure in was my marriage to Bryan.  We were still adjusting to married life (who isn't?) but when I reminded myself of our love and commitment and how we helped one another through everything, I felt safe and secure.  While I may have felt this way about our marriage, it became pretty apparent that I didn't feel this way about life in general.

The first time I had a panic attack, I had just laid down to go to bed.  My thoughts were racing a bit, and I started to feel strange.  Suddenly my legs started to twitch without my control; it seemed very similar to a muscle spasm, but it was both of my legs.  The twitching moved higher in my body and I felt my thighs and butt start to clench and unclench.  Then it moved to my torso, and I was actually twitching so strongly that if I had been standing at the time, it would have looked like I was doubling over every few seconds.  It continued to spread until my whole body was shaking, clenching, unclenching, and shuddering.  By this time Bryan was half awake, enough to know that I was acting strangely.  He had to go to school and then to work the next day, and I didn't want to bother him, especially since he had to be up at 6am.  I tried to stop my body from doing whatever it was that it was doing.  My heart was racing, and I was having a difficult time breathing.  It felt like someone was sitting on my chest.  My throat started to feel weird, and my thoughts began to spin out of control.  I tried to talk to Bryan about what was happening, and he was a bit weirded out, to be honest.  I felt like I was having a heart attack and I couldn't shake the thought that I may die.  Bryan asked if I wanted to go to the Emergency Room but it was 2am and I didn't have health insurance and I knew we couldn't afford the bill.  I was scared and I was crying and I didn't understand what was happening. I told Bryan to go back to sleep, that I'd go take a shower and try to relax my body.  That helped a little bit.  All in all, my first panic attack lasted for FIVE HOURS.  I was able to relax my breathing a bit, and that helped my heart rate calm down, but my thoughts kept racing and I couldn't stop shaking.  I called into work that morning at 7am and asked to see one of the doctors in the office.  I had no idea what had just happened to me, so I told them my main symptom was "convulsions."

I went to the doctor and he took my blood pressure, and it was very high.  Normal is 120/80, hypertension is anything over that.  My blood pressure was around 160/95, which is dangerous.  The doctor didn't go into the reason that I had these weird problems the night before, he only prescribed me beta blockers  for my high blood pressure (similar to the ones my 50 year old dad was taking) and sent me on my way.

Part Two, tomorrow....

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Interviewing = Pain

I had another interview today.  I am not interested in that job, either.  It doesn't pay well.  It was awkward.  The woman's questions were about being late to work, reasons that are appropriate for not showing up to work, when I've just skipped work....  It was weird.  I felt like I kept saying things that were very Sunday School (isn't the answer always Jesus?!) but they were true!  No, I don't make it a habit to show up late to work; sometimes I'm a couple minutes late, yes, but this woman was talking like an HOUR late, which is ludicrous.  No, I don't just occasionally NOT show up for work.  What sorts of people has this gal had working for her in the past??

She asked almost NO questions about my past work experience in an office, although she did ask what I thought about gossip (harmful) and if I had a sense of humor (please, I'm har-lar-ious). Very strange.  I even brought her a copy of the reservation manual I made at my current job - nothing.  Didn't even glance at it.

So yeah.  Don't think I want that.

I went into work feeling sort of discouraged.  I feel like I have to prostitute myself in some ways to these people.  It's really hard when I show up to the above interview, which was a bit of a train wreck, and I'm informed that the starting wage is $4 less an hour than I make now, and that 30 people are being interviewed.


I know the economy is bad right now, but SERIOUSLY?  It's sad that I feel like I have make this woman like me, when she hasn't told me what kind of work it is, and when I know it pays a lot less than I'd like to make.  Yet I still feel the need to be perfect and to please her, because she has the job (job=power) and I need a job and there are dozens of people vying for the same position.  Difficult.  And the listing in the newspaper said "competitive pay."  Competitive with who?? McDonalds?

So yeah.  I was bummed when I got to work.  But I got happy again when I received a phone call from a local bank wanting to interview me.  They're a little more than a mile away from our apartment, and I'll be able to take the free town shuttle to work.  The trip will be about 7 minutes long.  Which is awesome, and I wouldn't have to warm up my car in the morning, and I'd save gas, and the environment would give me hugs and kisses.

Now I just have to get the job. 

The really positive thing about this situation is that I submitted my application on Monday morning, so it's only been two days and they want to interview.  I'm going to take that as a good sign.  The job is for a teller at this bank.  Bryan would be working at a competing bank, and I'm not sure if they'd care about that or not.  I love the idea of Bryan and I having the same hours, the same days off, the same sort of atmosphere.  I love working normal business hours.  I love a job with benefits.  What can I say, I'm boring.  I've been to so many interviews where I hear "this isn't a normal office job; people don't live 9-5 lives and neither do we."  They say it with such pride:  "We're different.  We're special."  And I keep thinking "But I LOVE 9-5 jobs... I love going home and having 7 hours before I have to go to bed.... I love having the weekend off.... and I love benefits.  Sorry."

So.  I have the interview on Friday, and my fingers are crossed.  I also applied to another bank just a half block down, so maybe between these two banks, I'll find a job.  Please?  PLEASE?  I'm ready to get off this prostitution train.   Please?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One Kings Lane

I read about One Kings Lane on my cousin Meghan's blog today.  It's a very cool luxury-at-a-good-deal site, sort of like the Gilt Group.  If you follow the One Kings Lane link, you'll get a $15 credit that's good for six months.  You can get 70% off luxury goods, but the sales only last for 72 hours.  Here are some things that are on sale now:

Vera Wang Lotus All-Purpose Bowl, $29
Archipelago Votives, Havana Tobacco scented, $19
Random House "Love" photography book, $18
Sales changed every 72 hours, so if you're interested in this site, be on the lookout!  Some of the things on the site are SUPER pricey, but for others, $15 goes a long way!  Later this week Sigg water bottles will be on sale, and I'm looking forward to checking out the deal they have on those!

Monday, September 20, 2010

First Cross-Stitch Project

Okay.  So it's not perfect.  I need to work on it.

But I made this fancy-pants lady bug.  I'm the queen of all that is cross-stitch.

Now if only I could convince my husband this isn't a lame, outdated hobby.  :-)  (and convince myself a bit, too?)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My fancy deal of the day

Anyone who reads this blog KNOWS that I love a good deal.  It's genetic.  My folks are amazing bargain shoppers and they have passed down the bargain gene to me.

So I mentioned winning $20 on My Coke Rewards the other day.  $20 gift card to Sears/Kmart, not bad!  I also wrote five reviews for things I've bought at Kmart, and had Bryan do the same, so we should each be getting $5 gift cards for that.  That's $30 bucks right there for doing verrrry little.

I was planning on getting a sofa slipcover or something... super exciting, I know.  Then I spoke with a woman yesterday who told me to take a look at LandsEnd, and mentioned that they are now a part of Sears/Kmart.  She said she got a good deal on a rain jacket from them recently, and that I should take a look at their selection.

I did.

And I found this:

Fancy!!!  $50 for a 650 fill down jacket!  And it's water resistant! With pit zips!!

I almost got this one:

This one looks similar to Patagonia's down sweaters, and the price is AMAZING.  However, the SnowRoller has a warmer rating, and supposedly should keep me warm in -30 to -5 degree temps, whereas the SnowPack is -10 to +15 degrees.  I like that the SnowPack is super lightweight, but I think I'll be able to wear the SnowRoller by itself as well as under my hardshell, which is awesome.  Both jackets pack into their own pockets, which is very nice. 

So I got a 650 fill down jacket for, essentially, $20 (I got free shipping too).  I haven't gotten my Kmart cards yet, but I wanted to make sure I got this deal, so I ordered it today in the blue you see above.  I almost went for gray... I sort of have an obsession with gray.  But my hardshell is gray, and blue will show up a bit more in the snow.  I also like the darker chevron in the front - it has a cool retro vibe.

So that is my fancy deal of the day.

Thoughts on Legacy, Grandmotherly Pursuits

I learned how to crochet sometime around 18 or 19 years old.  I can't remember if I was just finishing high school or if I was in college.  A friend of mine at Caribou Coffee, Avis, showed me how to do it.  I went to Michaels, bought a crochet needle and some yarn, and did my best.  I think I started doing it the way she showed me, but somewhere along the line I sort of messed up.  I started doing it my own way, which works really well for me, but it's not the "traditional" way to do it, at least here in the States.  Someone told me that the way I do it is similar to the European way?  I have no idea.

Throughout college I almost always carried a crochet needle and yarn.  I loved the repetition, the soothing feeling of the yarn slipping through my fingers.  I enjoyed crocheting while having tea with a friend, while watching television, even while listening to a lecture (although professors didn't like that very much).  I realized that crocheting didn't distract my attention, it made really concentrate on the moment.  It was extremely cathartic.

Once, after dating a certain boy for a bit, I pulled out my crochet project as we sat in the car on a long drive.  He told me that knitting and crocheting is a grandma thing to do, and I think he was actually embarrassed.  It was really strange, to tell the truth.  I could see where he was coming from; a lot of people are taught to crochet by their grandmas (just not me).  But is that a bad thing?

My Grandma Nelson, as we called her (her first name was Mayadelle and so that's how I think of her, because I love that name so much), was a wonderful quilter.  She made such lovely things.  She would make a quilt for every grandchild that got married; she had passed on by the time I got married, but I was given a quilt made by my great-great-grandmother Flynn.  That is a really fantastic story for another time, however.  The things I've learned about my great-great-grandmother recently are just beautiful.

Grandpa and Grandma Nelson (Bob and Mayadelle)
How amazing is that car of theirs?  And my grandma's gams??
Grandma Mayadelle also painted.  Her watercolor work was just lovely.  She started taking classes in her 70's, which I thought was such a great thing to do.  She made such nice things.  She was such a sharp dresser, too!  I inherited a really wonderful Oscar de la Renta blazer from her; as you can see, she was super tiny, so it doesn't exactly fit me the same way it fit her, I'm sure.  My grandpa would tell the story about the first time he took her to his church; she wore a red dress and a red hat, and turned a LOT of heads.  After service, my grandpa's brother came up to him and asked, "So, does she have a sister?"

Grandma and Grandpa and I believe the toddler is my aunt Linnea
Crocheting, knitting, quilting, and cross-stitch are all 'grandmotherly' pursuits, I suppose.  They've been practiced for generations, with precision and concentration.  Generations of women have created beautiful things with their own two hands.  That alone makes me want to practice these talents.

I recently signed up for a DMC cross-stitch 'mentor' kit and it came in the mail yesterday.  So last night I taught myself how to cross stitch.  I am in the middle of making a little ladybug as we speak.  My mother-in-law cross-stitches, and she has some really beautiful patterns that she's shown me.  I'm thinking I'll do some traditional cross-stitching, as well as some strange stuff you normally wouldn't see... like, maybe, dinosaurs?  It could be fun.

I'd like to learn how to can, as well.  My dad and my sister-in-law, Stacey, can can (I know I am SO FUNNY it's just ridiculous).  My grandma Mayadelle taught my dad, and I'd like him to teach me, sort of pass it down through the generations.  There's just something really beautiful and fulfilling participating in something that hasn't really changed all that much in hundreds of years.

Who WOULDN'T want to be like these two?
Anyone else a fan of these grandmotherly pursuits?  Any fellow crocheters/knitters out there?  Cross-stitchers?  Canners?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Project 365390840? NO.

So I've given up on my Project 365.  I just won't like it enough to keep doing it, so, there ya go.  Apparently I'm not good at committing to daily things like posting pictures, or washing dishes.  What can I say?  I shower every day, and I'm pretty sure that's something to be proud about.

I had the lovely pleasure of talking to Ms. Kati Standefer yesterday and Ms. Monica Prus (soon-to-be Ms. Sykora) today.  I miss my friends!  I'm really hoping I find good friends here in Jackson, and that I can have a community that I feel connected to in this town. 

Today there's a HUGE yard sale going down at Snow King.  I literally work less than a block away, but I'll be in the office all day.  I keep imagining the things they may have... I'm looking for a light fixture/chandelier.  I want to paint it black and put it in the kitchen in our soon-to-be new apartment.  We're planning on moving our black and white photo collage into the kitchen.  I wish I had a picture our what our wall looks like now, but I don't.  There's a good amount of black and white pictures.  I like it.

I'd like to replace the light fixture in the kitchen.  In fact, I'd like to replace the light fixture several places in the apartment.  It's a dark apartment to begin with; the walls are a medium cream when they should really be either a very light cream or white.  I'm thinking something like this for the kitchen:

Ikea Molnig Chandelier
or this:

Overstock's Metal Web Chandelier

Ikea has these very simple, sheer curtains for $5 a pair... I feel like I could do something cool with them.  Maybe a sort of canopy over our bed?  Some sort of draping around a sofa?  I'm not sure.

Ikea Lill curtains

I keep wanting to buy stuff for the new place, especially with these garage sales going on right now.  Realistically, we have no place to PUT the new things, so I'm (once again) getting ahead of myself. 

I can't wait for the day that we actually BUY a place so we can paint, wallpaper, do whatever we want.  That would be AWESOME.  As for right now, I'm considering buying a HUGE canvas drop cloth and either 1. painting it a solid color and hanging it on the wall or 2. painting aspen trees on it and having it as sort of a mural.  

Does anyone have any cool design ideas for making a smaller, dark apartment seem bigger and cute?

Friday, September 17, 2010

You sure do put the "FUN" in Fundamentalist!

I'm feeling a bit frustrated right now.  Perhaps frustrated is not the word.  Discouraged?  Yeah, I think that's it.

Bryan and I love Jackson, but the more and more we look at churches the more discouraged I become.  Right now there is ONE church I would feel comfortable going to, and I'm not sure how much I would love that church, either.  I know several women who go to the church, and it makes me question if I want to attend.  Not that every person who goes to a church is an accurate representation of the church, but still.  I was told the following from them today.

"Well you know, socialized medicine will mean that people will be dying while waiting in lines."
I replied, "But don't you think that health care is a human right, and not a privilege?"
"Well, I think that if we have socialized health care people will be dying while waiting in lines."
"Well, people are dying right now because they don't have insurance and cannot afford to go to the doctors for preventable diseases."  Silence.

"Jessica, I think the reason you didn't get that job is because of affirmative action.  They probably thought you were the best for the position but that had to hire a minority." 
"No, I'm sure they just hired someone with more experience who they thought would be better for the job."
"I bet they hired a minority."
"Technically, as a woman, I'm considered a minority.  I'm sure they hired the best person for the job." 
"Well, I'm not so sure."

AHHH!!  It's frustrating, to say the least.  I miss Catalyst.  I miss going to a church and feeling supported by a group of believers who didn't consider me a heretic because I believe in evolution (yes, I believe that God creates using science, which was sort of his idea in the first place... not that I think creationism vs evolutions should even be a big deal at all!!  It isn't!!!!) or because I think women have the right to be heard in church (HECK YES I DO!!).  It's just wearing me out.  I'm seriously considering putting an ad out in the Jackson Hole Radio's classified section:  "ANYONE WANT TO TALK ABOUT JESUS/GOD AND DOES NOT WATCH FOX NEWS?"  or perhaps "If you think Rob Bell is the AntiChrist, you can ignore this.  If you think he's sort of interesting, well, then, cool.  How do you feel about C.S. Lewis?  Do you like dialogue and discussing things like civil rights, healthcare, the concept of "jubilee" and God's love?  Do you think Isaiah 1:17 is ignored in too many churches? Maybe you should come to my house for a cup of tea and some ice cream and we'll talk about stuff." 

I'm just discouraged.  I'm worried about winter, and about finding friends.  I don't necessarily need a church, but I would love to be a part of a community of people that love God and want to talk about it.

I guess I sort of want a different KIND of tea party.  One where there's actually tea.


I didn't get the social work job.

I'm a sad panda.

I'm trying to look on the bright side of things.  If I got this job, there's a good chance that we'd wait until next winter to try to have kids, minimum.  At the moment we're considering next summer as a good idea... so yay for maybe having a family sooner?  I guess?

The job would have paid SUPER well and had great benefits, but it would have definitely been hard.  Bryan said maybe I'll get a winter job that's pretty cushy and low-stress, which is pretty awesome, it's true.  I can work at the float trip company again next year (in fact, I asked the owner today "so, what's the chance of me working here again next summer?" and he said "137%"), which is a good, easy job that pays well. 

I applied for two jobs at the hospital today, and I have very applicable experience from my time at the doctor's office.  I do enjoy the medical field, so maybe that will be a good fit.  I'm going to keep looking around.  Bryan thinks I should apply at Pearl Street Bagels, but I have a feeling that has more to do with him loving bagels than it does him thinking that's a good idea.

I, too, love me some bagels.  Bagels.  And I don't say them the way Britta does on "Community"

So yes.  Trying to stay positive.  This is the first job I've interviewed for and haven't been offered.  I guess humility had to be learned some time or other.  I'm thinking of calling to ask why they didn't pick me, but I'm pretty sure they wanted someone with more experience.  Maybe they thought I was too young?  Not quite sure.

But I do know that I'll find SOMETHING, and that it will work out just fine.  Just wish I could find something that paid as much as the social work job... because that pretty much blew my mind.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Real People Clothes

So.  Bryan and I are going on an impromptu shopping trip tonight.  Because Jackson is a small town, and a resort town at that, there are no malls.  There's no Target, no Gap (there was one for like two years and it shut down), no Ross/TJMaxx/Marshalls, none of that.  There's a Kmart.  And a lot of thrift stores.  And I've pretty much exhausted all of those.

I'm totally fine not living around these sort of stores... although I do miss Target a LOT.  I know it makes me anti-Jackson or whatever, but I'd LOVE a Target.  I'll even trade you a Kmart.

Bryan and I are on a mission tonight to buy "Real People Clothes" which pretty much means anything that's not jeans, t-shirts, or hoodies.  For the last three years, Real People Clothes haven't been necessary.  I currently own three pairs of heels, and I've pretty much only worn them to interviews.  I'm a flats kind of girl.  And a jeans kind of girl.  I'm hopeless for hoodies, fond of fleeces, and keen on cardigans.  I like to think I dress nicely, if casually.  I'm often seen with a long necklace to make an outfit feel a little bit more special or fun, and I almost always match.  I'm just not a dress pants and blouse sort of girl.


If I get this Social Worker job (OH PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!!) I will need Real People Clothes.  I'm still against heels though; I feel like I'll fall and break my neck. I currently own one really nice pair of dress slacks.  They're sort of a medium-to-dark brown, but much more of a grey brown than a warm brown.  I got them at a clothing swap.  I also own a pair of more casual navy blue slacks.  These were given to me by my mom, since they shrunk and were too short on her.  Yeah.  Haven't actually bought myself slacks in at least 5 years.

As for blouses.... well... yeah.  Don't really have a lot of those.  I had some cute ones when I was thinner, but gaining 15 pounds and not working at a job that has a real dress code means that those were given away at a clothing swap at some time or another.  I had a cute silk purple blouse, but I ruined it this spring by accidentally washing it with a chapstick.  It's ridiculous how often that happens with us.  We check every pocket every time, but inevitably, a chapstick sneaks it way in a fold of fabric, or a sock, or something weird like that, and destroys at least PART of a load of laundry.  LAME-O.

So.  Tonight, we shop.  Bryan and I get off work at about 3 and we'll head over Teton Pass towards Idaho Falls.  It's a two hour drive.  To shop.  But we NEED appropriate clothes.

Bryan looks HOT in Gap khakis.  I don't know why they look so good on him, but they totally do.  They have an awesome range of sizes (especially online) and the legs aren't baggy, they're nice and straight-leg.  Bryan is a fairly solid guy; he's by no means heavy, but Lords boys are sort of built without a waist or butt.  They're just sort of SOLID.  Like a brick.  Except for their legs... at least Bryan's legs, can't really speak for the other men.  Bryan has nice lean runner's legs, and Gap khakis fit him perfectly.  They're not too baggy, they're not too tight, they just look nice.

So I'm hoping to pick up some of these:

Gap Men's Tailored Khakis, Straight Fit

Gap Men's Original Khaki
At Wells, Bryan needs to wear slacks, a button-up and a tie.  He was told to keep a suit jacket at the office in case he has to go to a meeting or something of the sort.  I think these would work with more relaxed suit coat/blazer, like this one:

Banana Republic Tailored Cotton Two-Button Blazer
I prefer a more casual, tailored suit on men than the regular suit jacket and pants combo.  I think this Banana Republic blazer is very nice looking, but doesn't feel stuffy.  I'm not sure if Bryan would agree or not.

I'm looking for some nice blouses for work.  I'm thinking something along these lines:

Gap Ruffled Eyelet Top

Merona Women's Alex top, Target

Silk-trimmed Cardigan, Gap
I have a nice black cardigan, and I think if I got one in a grey (although I already own like 4 grey sweaters, at least) that I'll be able to wear it with many blouses.  I could use a pair of black slacks, and maybe a pair of dark grey slacks.  And I definitely need a pair of black flats.

By the way, I LOVE Gap.  I love how simple everything is, and how you can dress it up with accessories.  I love the all-American look.  It's so clean and classic.  I would definitely add a funky necklace or a scarf or something, but it's just lovely the way it is.  It isn't trying too hard, and I like that.

As much as I have these sartorial plans, there's a good chance we'll end up getting Bryan three pairs of slacks on sale, and I'll find nothing.  That tends to happen with us.  He looks awesome in something that's totally inexpensive, and I sort of go "ehh I don't know if I really liked anything I tried on..." and end up getting a pair of underwear.


Hopefully between Gap and Ross we'll find a few things that will be appropriate for the workplace.  And hopefully, I find a workplace where I can wear my make-believe outfits.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jobs, Wishes, Wants.

My dad told me that my blog has been boring as of late.

Which it totally has.

In fact, I wrote a really interesting (in my opinion) post a few days ago... but not for my blog.  It's a guest post for Geek in Heels for when she goes into labor.  Yep.  Too lazy to write on my own, what can I say?

But here is a piece of good news:  Bryan is now a Personal Banker at Wells-Fargo, and I'm super excited for him.  Some of our co-workers were all "uhhh corporate America, blah blah blahhity blah..." but WHATEVER it's a good job and it's not like these rich hippies are going to just hand him money.  Amiright?

The job is a half mile away from the apartment we'll be moving into in November, which is rad.  He's going to walk to work since it'll be faster than shoveling off the car and warming it up and THEN driving it.

I applied for (2) jobs this week.

One I really don't want.  They don't pay much at all.  Sounds super duper stressful and busy.  No health care.

The other one I'm about ready to PEE MYSELF I want it so bad.  So, so, so bad.  And it's an actual Social Work job... ahhhhh.  It just looks incredibly fabulous and the people seem really nice and real and the caseload is only like 10-15 families which is not bad at ALL. 

I want this job SO BAD.  Like... I'm about ready to buy them baked goods.  AND the state of Wyoming knows how pricey it is to live in Teton County, so they have a housing stipend that would cover our rent (!!!!!!!)

Sooooooooooooooo baaaaaaaadddddddddd.

If we get it, we'd set aside my paychecks and pay off our loan (we may be able to pay them all off in the next two years if I got this job) and we'd live off of Bryan's.  And if we had that kind of money Bryan says I can buy a bread maker/machine/thing!!  Okay, even if I don't get this job I'll probably get one, but I could get a NICER one if I get this job.  Fresh, delicious bread.  It sounds heavenly, and a lot easier than kneading the dough.

I have sensitive fingers, what can I say?

We'd also get... wait for it... wait for it...

A sofa cover!!

I know.  We live crazy, dangerous lives.