Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Goodbye 2020

Well this year has been a shitstorm, eh? We started off with a bang and we're going out with a whimper, what a brutal piece of shit this year turned out to be. And you know, I have not a single fuck left about hurting this piece of crap year's feelings, or trying not to jinx the rest of the year with bad vibes (yeah, I'm a little superstitious). But here's the thing, I got into writing this post, bitching for two paragraphs about how bad it is, and discovered something... on a personal level, we had more high points than low points, if you look at it from a certain perspective. So, I deleted all that shit and am trying something else.

This year has had a few good spots. We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in February, I took a very short but rewarding business trip in March, we went to GenCon Online in July, and we got new furniture in October. We had a roof over our heads, good food to eat, and neither of us have gotten COVID, even though Matt has to work outside the house in an environment where a lot of people have turned up COVID+. 

More than that, we've been able to afford to be vegan (that shit ain't cheap) and I've been blessed to be able to take up a new, fairly expensive hobby (diamond painting). We're both healthy and, stressed, but happy. Our political candidate won, thank the good lord, and we're personally ending the year no worse for the wear than when it began... mostly. 

This year did start with both of us being turned down for promotions at our respective work-places that we interviewed for in the same week. So, we're both doing the same damn jobs we were when this dumpster fire of a year started, but at least we still have jobs. We're making good money and can afford to meet our needs. We have insurance and a 401k, or two. We're sort of just stuck right now, but we're grateful to have jobs to be stuck in and complain about when so many others don't. After I wrote this, some things happened with my job that caused me to quit. So, we're not both employed anymore, but we are fortunate that Matt has a good job that supports our needs, even if it's a bit tighter than it was a week ago. More about this later, because the reason I quit that job is really long winded.

The only thing I can say about this shit year that has absolutely no silver lining for us on a personal level was that we lost our sweet baby, Chewbi, in August. The pain from losing him has been real and, 4 months later, I'm still trying to cope. That dog was seriously my soulmate (don't tell Matt). And, we're probably going to have to put Ani down in the coming year, so that fucking sucks.

Everything else has been okay for us. As the world goes to shit, we're doing alright. We're sympathetic and filled with anxiety about the state of the world, but we're surviving and even doing alright. But, looking back on my NYE post from last year, I didn't accomplish even a single one of my new years resolutions. So this year, I'm not going to set any resolutions...other than just to make it through another year without more failures than successes. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas

It's been a difficult year, but blessedly it's almost over. May this holiday season bring you peace at the end of a truly awful year. Peace, love, and light. Merry Christmas! ♥

Thursday, November 19, 2020

New Furniture!

We got our new furniture around the end of last month! I mentioned in a previous post we were getting a new sofa and chairs. Well, we also decided to splurge get a new bed. But man, what a fiasco getting new furniture and getting rid of the old furniture turned out to be. I'm not the most logistically minded person, so the anxiety of organizing all of that was real. But, thankfully, it's done and we're enjoying it, even if it was seriously work.

I ordered our new sofa on September 4th and it was delivered October 26th, about 7 weeks wait. But, it's custom and so beautifully built that I was more than willing to wait. I'm not patient, I've never been good at waiting for what I want, so this is a feat for me. It turns out I'm okay waiting for those things worth waiting for. This sofa has been on my radar for 10 years, I've always wanted it but never been able to bring myself to pay so much for a sofa, especially with dogs. Now that it's here, I could not be happier.

I ordered new recliners from Ashley around about the same time. When I ordered, they told me the wait was about 6 weeks. Okay, our new couch wasn't coming right away, so there was wiggle room. But, I needed them within that window because I needed to get all of this stuff hauled away at the same time. The day my chairs were set to be delivered, they left me a very rude message about delays. When I reached out to them, they told me the wait was another month at least and they couldn't guarantee when I would actually get the chairs. Okay, no. This was not going to work for me, I told them that, and they told me to deal with it. I cancelled that order.

After that, I ordered from another company and had a similar experience. In the end, I got so fed up, I ordered Ashley Brand chairs from Big Lots. They were here within two days. This was a good thing and a bad thing. They're nice chairs, very comfy and they look great, but they're not exactly what I had planned to order. They also cost me about half what the other chairs had been going to cost, which is actually a good thing. We've never been that easy on furniture, so the likelihood that these chairs will start to look awful in the next five or so years is high. We only paid $500 for both chairs. That makes them very affordably replaceable.

While we waited for all of that living room furniture, Matt decided he also wanted to get a new bed. But this time he wanted to get a really good bed. We bought Purple Harmony pillows a few months ago and we absolutely love them, so when we were trying to choose a bed we decided on the Queen size Purple Hybrid Premier with 4" gel grid. This bed was pricy, we got the Purple bed foundation, and they gave us free sheets.

We got Queen, rather than King, because all our bedding is Queen and because we don't feel like we need that much space. We're comfortable in a Queen. Let me tell you, this bed is absolutely amazing. When we first got it, I wasn't completely sure because it's much more springy than our previous bed had been. It's also a little softer. But, this bed is heavenly. We're both getting better nights sleep and let me just say, the stretch sheets they make for that bed are so soft and perfect. We're very pleased with this thing. 

But, it comes rolled up in a log and that bed is crazy heavy. It took both of us to lift it into the house and even then we only barely got it done. It was 200+ lbs of dead weight. When it came, I was working, but Matt was so excided that he moved the old bed into the garage by himself, put the new bed frame together, and with my help we got the new mattress out of the packaging and on to the frame... barely. It is one seriously heavy bed

When all the new furniture was set to be delivered, we took all the old furniture into the garage along with some other things we had around, like two broken oscillating fans, a set of plastic dog stairs Ani was always scared to use, stuff like that. Our plan had been to take it all to the curb for bulk pick up. But, just getting it into the garage was a fiasco. We actually had to take some of the legs off the old sofa to get it out of here. So, we ended up paying a local company to haul it all away. That guy was so nice and did such an amazing job getting all that stuff out of the garage within 30 minutes of giving me the quote. I was floored by how fast his crew worked and how polite he was.

Okay!! Let me show you our new sofa. The color is Key Largo Ruby, the style is mid-century modern. I got the "I love you/I Know" pillows from Amazon a couple of years ago when my in-laws were coming to visit. Don't mind the mess on the entertainment center, I had to move a book shelf out of the way so they could bring the sofa in, so all the stuff from that shelf is stacked up there. On the other side of the sofa is my diamond painting work station. 😊

At the end of the day, we have a house full of new furniture and we couldn't be happier about our decision to give our house a little makeover!

Sunday, November 8, 2020

46 & Madam Vice President

Thank fuck...😅

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Pumpkin Spice Vegan

Matt and I have been vegan for just about 10 months now!! How crazy is that? When I say it like that, it doesn't sound like much, but man it feels like I have learned so much about food and myself in that short 10 months, it's been wild. The most surprising part, I think, is how completely good we are being vegan. We generally don't miss the foods we gave up to go vegan and it's been kind of shocking to me that we actually feel that way. And Matt has absolutely been a rockstar this last 10 months, very unapologetic even though working in a cheese processing plant means he's entrenched by the enemy... *eh hem* I mean, um, even though he's surrounded by temptation.

I won't lie, though, and say there haven't been moments I've been less enthusiastic. They're so rare, but I would be a liar if I said I wasn't super salty about not being able to be basic this year and have my Pumpkin Spice Latte like everyone else. Even more so since Starbucks has introduced a dairy-free pumpkin spice syrup in Europe, so they can have their vegan PSLs and I can't. Boo-fucking-whoo!! I told Matt I was breaking out the full Victorian widow's weeds, complete with lace veil and gloves, to mourn the loss of my pumpkins spice lattes days. He wasn't really amused. 

So, instead of breaking out the black garb, I've found a way to make up for the fact that most pumpkin spice products aren't vegan by finding some that are and kinda sorta buying all of them. I'm a little obsessed with fall, which has only gotten worse since we've moved somewhere with all the lovely seasons. Fall in Northern Utah is a sight to behold, for sure. Sooooo, I'm in the mood for pumpkin food! And, that rhymes. Great... yeah, I've found myself some vegan pumpkin spice goodness and so far I haven't been disappointed.

And, since winter is coming soon, we also found vegan nogs. Seems a little early for that, but we're getting a head start by trying all of those, too. I wonder if they make a vegan pumpkin spice nog?! That would be amazing!! Um, what was I saying... Oh yeah, we bought three different ones: Silk Nog, Almond Breeze Nog, and So Delicious Coconut Nog. We're having a nog-off and, despite Matt's rooting for the Coconut Nog, the Almond Nog is the clear standout. It's leagues ahead of it's competitors. It's smooth and thick, and tastes exactly like egg nog.

I suppose the moral of this particular story is that we can still eat anything damn thing we want!! The few moments I spent feeling deprived when I couldn't have my PSL have now been filled up by so much good vegan food that it completely passed without much more thought. I got silk pumpkin spice creamer and pumpkin spice ground coffee and made my own pumpkin spice goodness. It's just so amazing to me how easy it is to choose an alternative to the standard American diet these days. You want something that's not vegan? Find it somewhere or make it vegan, easy as that. Want pumpkin spice foods, go get some!! Want egg nog, there're three vegan varieties and those are just the ones we were able to find at Smiths (Kroger) one Saturday afternoon in October. 

Most of all, we're so proud of the choice we've made for ourselves. Matt's health has dramatically improved and I would imagine mine has too, because I feel better, but I haven't gone to the doctor in like 7 years so I have no proof. Best of all, nothing is truly off limits, you just have to figure out how to make it happen which, it turns out, is easier than it sounds. ♥

Thursday, October 1, 2020

GenCon 2020... Online!

This year, amid the chaos, Matt and I celebrated our 20th anniversary. I guess, technically, we celebrated it in February with a nice daytrip to Salt Lake before all hell broke loose. But, it had been our plan to take an actual anniversary trip to Indianapolis at the end of July/beginning of August for GenCon. While this isn't exactly the usual anniversary trip destination, it would have been perfect for us. Clearly, though, that didn't happen. Much to our disappointment, so many things went wrong. 

First, due to the coronavirus, the in-person convention was cancelled. Despite our disappointment, we were actually completely fine with this. Putting 70,000 people in the same place at the same time, amid a pandemic, would have just been irresponsible. Instead, they decided to do the convention virtually. Which, let me say right now, was still so much fun! 

But, even if it hadn't been cancelled, we wouldn't have been able to go to Indy. Two and a half weeks before we would have left for this trip, Chewbi got extremely sick. No way, no matter how much money we would have been out, would we have even for one second considered leaving him at that point. The hotel we were going to book would have been about $5,000 for 4 nights and completely non-refundable, so I was glad I'd not ended up booking it before learning the convention was getting a whole change of venue.

Matt and I both still took the week of the convention off work so we could attend all the virtual sessions. Chewbi was stable and improving at this point, so while we were worried about him we still tried to settle in in to enjoy the convention. But, instead of being in a packed convention center, we got to enjoy it from the comfort of our living room. We got to order overpriced Doordash and eat our own vegan junk food, rather than paying for overpriced food trucks. I know we would have had a hell of a lot of fun if we went in-person (and still might if we go another year), but it's really no overstatement to say we had a great time at home. We're both pretty introverted, so that's valuable to us.

We both packed our schedules with a ton of seminars, I joined the discord server so I could see announcements and mingle with other virtual convention-goers. I actually didn't mingle, I just sort of watched them mingle, but that was fine too. The seminar sessions were held on Twitch, through Zoom, and occasionally on YouTube or Facebook live.

My schedule was packed for the full four days, but  would occasionally change here and there as I'd try a different session than originally planned. I learned about Game Mastering from a guy who has been doing so for almost 40 years and about worldbuilding from a Brigadier General--which is not only useful for gamers, but also as a writer. I went to two sessions about the history of TSR, the company that started Dungeons & Dragons, and how they wound up being owned by Wizards of the Coast. Both super interesting. I took a session about dice statistic that was so far over my head, I really had no idea what they were talking about. I won a beta invite to a fantastic world building platform and had so much fun!

Sometimes Matt and I would attend the same session, sometimes we wouldn't, but overall we both really enjoyed our week. We came away from the event with more knowledge, a whole host of new ideas, and some great swag... just like we would have if we'd gone in person! 

My favorite souvenir has to be the plushie. Genevieve is GenCon's dragon mascot and she is adorable!! Her wings are even wired so they're shapeable and she has the two d20s on the side to represent GenCon 2020. 

Of course, of all the great things you can do at GenCon, the one I was most looking forward to had to be shopping for dice. I'm a huge dice collector, running somewhere around 500 sets, so finding something to add to my collection was a big priority for me. When the in-person convention was cancelled, this was the thing I was most disappointed about. Not being about to have the experience of shopping the exhibitor's hall. Turns out, they had that covered, too. I got my dice! 

After the convention was over, we talked about hoping they do a sort of hybrid convention going forward. Maybe they'll do the in person convention, but have a virtual element for the seminars. That would be amazing. So many people were able to attend this year that cannot otherwise afford a trip to Indy. Something that would have cost us $6,000-$7,000, cost us only what we paid for our own snacks and swag. I think we may have come out around a few hundred dollars. And, best of all, we enjoyed ourselves sharing in our mutual hobby in a way that was meaningful. Even though we didn't make it to Indy, Happy 20th Anniversary to us! ♥

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

We're Getting New Furniture!

After 10 years of web-stalking, the Joybird Hughes Sofa is about to be mine. When we moved to Utah, we bought new living room furniture from Ashley; A red sofa and two grey recliners. Our living room has a bit of a Star Wars theme, so the pieces were perfect, and I absolutely loved the red sofa. But over the last 5 years, that furniture has been wrecked. All pieces are a faux leather material that has just pealed away, leaving the furniture uncomfortable and looking awful.

With everything going on right now, we decided it was a good time to replace the pieces with new furniture. I knew immediately that now was the time to get that Hughes Sofa, but the chairs from Joybird are too expensive and Matt wanted an comfy recliner. So, we're replacing the recliners with new, upholstered recliners from Ashley. We're hoping the chairs will hold up better if they're not faux leather. They won't really match the mid-century modern sofa, but that's okay. 

Trying to figure out what to do with the old furniture, though, has been kind of a pain in the ass. We can take it to the curb and have the city haul it away, but it's expensive and has to be scheduled during certain times of the year. We can hire someone to come take it away, but that's also expensive and I'm uncomfortable with strangers being in my house more than is necessary. I have an anxiety thing about people coming into my house, even people I know, so it's been a challenge trying to decide what to do. I think I'm going to suck it up and hire some guys to come take it away. 

The contractor I got the quote from wanted to come and take it away this week. I had to tell him we still need this mess to sit on until our new furniture arrives somewhere between the second week and end of October. The ship date for our new sofa keeps changing, moving up and then back. It's made custom in a color called "Key Largo Ruby," so fluctuations are not unexpected. The chairs are coming from Ashley around the beginning of October. I simply cannot wait for it all to get here, especially since I've been wanting that sofa for so many years. Come to mama, Hughes Sofa! 

Saturday, September 12, 2020


I learned pretty early on that my father deals with grief through sweat. He suffers a loss and rather than wallowing or folding in on himself, he gets busy doing whatever home/work projects needs doing. He goes into high gear hustling the pain away. I never understood this. When I suffer a loss, I tend to go the other way. I climb into my bed, pull the covers over my head, and cry the pain away. As an aside, this doesn't actually work, it just represents an inability to emotionally handle it. Being manic depressive affects the way I'm able to process emotional pain, I'm self-aware enough to know this. 

When I lost my pup one awful Friday in August, I did exactly that. I folded up and sobbed. For a long time, I just shut down and gave in to it. Then, I pulled myself up, picked up all his toys, labeled the box, and put them in the garage. I can clearly see this was denial. I couldn't look at them. I cleaned up all the messes he had made, because he was a messy little guy. Then I went back to being completely disabled by grief. 

The next day, Saturday, I considered staying in bed. Instead, I got up and did the only thing I could think to mitigate the gaping hole in my heart. I cleaned the bedroom and the kitchen, I cleaned out closets, did all the laundry, and gathered up all the trash from every waste basket. I de-cluttered and my house looked better than it had in a very long time. I took my dad's approach to dealing with the pain and worked it off. And, strangely, it helped a little bit. I still cried myself to sleep, but I felt like I had managed it in the healthiest way I knew how and that brought me a little bit of comfort. Every day went like this, cleaning, working, or both.

Yesterday was a month since we lost Chewbi. I spent the morning acknowledging our loss, our house has been so much emptier without him. If I had to say where I am now, I'd say I've come around to acceptance. I know our sweet boy isn't coming back. Still, I sort of sense his presence, in a way, and while I know that sounds crazy I don't mean in a ghost dog sort of supernatural way. I'm starting to bearably remember the happy times we had together, the sweet things he would do, and occasionally I'll think I hear him or feel his presence.

The truth is, I don't know how best to process grief or if there's even one healthy way. What I do know is that this time I worked pretty hard to try to do something other than just let it crush me and that has to be healthier than sinking into the depression and letting it swallow me. That's not to say there weren't moments the depression kept me in bed and others when I couldn't swallow the tears. But, I pushed back and I feel okay about that. ♥

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Diamond Painting

I made a joke at the beginning of the quarantine that I was feeling self-conscious because, unlike everyone else, I hadn't taken up a new hobby during the lock-down. A few of my friends took up, or went back to, painting. Others took up gardening. I didn't really have anything new, unless you count diamond painting, but that's not a real hobby... right? Um, I'm an idiot.

As it turns out, it is absolutely a real hobby and I am completely hooked! No exaggeration here. I have become a diamond painting junkie almost over night. I bought a few kits from Paint Gems and reluctantly sat down to see if I had the patience to lift and stick thousands of tiny square "drills" down onto the sticky canvas. I thought I would hate it--or lose patience--and put it away. Yeah, no. Not only did that not happen, I actually completed both kits I'd ordered from Paint Gems and ordered a few more from other sources. I may have gone a little crazy... 

Then I realized I didn't have anywhere to actually do the diamond painting. I don't have a kitchen table (or even anywhere to put one) and the desk in my office isn't really enough space for me to both work and do a hobby. Soooo... I bought myself a drafting-style desk, the kind that has the tilt top. But, then I also needed a chair. Since I wanted to be able to do this hobby in the same space where Matt is, I found a little corner of my living room to set it up. Matt helped me put the table together and I put the chair together.

As I got started, I discovered I needed/wanted some things: storage boxes for the drills (little diamonds), a roller, a straightener, baggies to store the left over drills, more diamond painting kits, a desk light, light pad, did I mention more diamond painting kits, drill pens for actually doing the diamond painting because the ones in the kits are crap, scented wax for my pens, little scissors (I had those), washi tape, labels, large binder clips, a place to store the finished paintings that might someday be framed, a cover minder or two and, of course, mooorrrreeee diiiiaammmoonnndd pppaaaiiiinntttinngg kiiittttss!!!!

I even got crafy and made myself cover-minders rather than buying them online. Cover minders hold the cover back so it doesn't flop back onto the canvas and some of them are a little pricy. So, I got a few little flowers and buttons, some magnets, and glue and made my own. 

Starting this new hobby, I learned that I have no restraint. I kind of knew it, but this has really proven to be eye opening. As it turns out, when I pick up a new hobby that I actually enjoy, I kind of go all out. Like, I jump in with both feet and go a little crazy. Or, maybe, a lot crazy. Right about now, I have like 20 un-started kits with like 5 or 6 more on the way or pre-ordered. I'm a diamond paintingaholic and I'm actually completely fine with it. I've even taken up watching diamond painting youtubers. As strange as it sounds, there's actually a lot to know about diamond painting!

This particular hobby may be painful on my bank account, but is excellent for my mental well-being. I've discovered that it soothes my anxiety and has helped as I work through my grief over losing Chewi. It's been a really constructive way to deal with all the shit this year has been heaping on us. So, I'm completely happy to deal with the little bit of a dent it's making in my wallet. It's a fair trade for even a little bit of the peace of mind it's bringing me. Restraint be damned! ♥ 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Brutal August...

Well, it's been a hell of a couple of weeks. August has turned out to be a level of awful that's surpassed this whole goddamn year of bad. Losing my pup, Chewbi, on August 14th was a level of pain I can't even describe. I miss him and every time I think I'm getting past it, I feel awful all over again. Do you think it's okay to say that I'm looking forward to the end of this burning dumpster-fire of a year?

We got Chewbi's ashes back yesterday and the vet also had paw prints made for us in plaster. It was such a lovely gesture, but seeing the little wooden urn really hit me. I knew he was gone, but taking him home that way was brutal. I have some more upbeat things to talk about soon, but I'm gonna have to put them off for a bit while I continue to try to recover. Maybe when September comes and I can put August behind me. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

RIP Chewbi

On Friday, August 14th at about 3:35pm, we lost our sweet Chewbi. He would have been 9 years old in November. The vet said that although his blood work for the Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia was worse, he believes our boy had a stroke. There was no struggle, he just laid down and closed his eyes. It happened so fast that we couldn't be with him.

He's gone over the rainbow bridge to be with Galileo and Chummer. We miss you, sweet boy. We love you. ♥

Monday, August 3, 2020

We're all still here...

Good god, the last two months have been kind of awful. Summer is downright nightmare-inducing at my job, so I barely made it through June with my wits about me. July has been a little tiny bit better at work, but has been gross on a personal level. August just got here, so nothing to say about that yet except that I hope it's better than July was. 

On July 12th we noticed Chewbi had been acting a little bit strangely. He didn't seem interested in eating or chasing his toys (which he usually loves), he was extremely lethargic, his gums and tongue were almost white, and his urine was highlighter yellow. But, it was a Sunday. When he wasn't any better on Monday, I took him to the vet for a drop-off visit. They aren't allowing people into the vet's offices here. I couldn't wait for him because my boss was on vacation that week, so I had my entire team to oversee and it wasn't a situation where I could just leave. 

Middle of the afternoon our vet called and told me that Chewbacca has Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia and that without extremely high doses of steroids and another med to suppress his immune system, he would die. Even with these meds, there was a good chance he wouldn't make it. This dog is only 8 1/2 years old. He said by the end of that week, we would have a good idea if he would make it and even then he wouldn't be out of the woods. This is the thing that, several years ago, killed my sister's 5 year old dog within 24 hours of showing symptoms.

To say that we broke down would be an understatement. Our older dog isn't well, we'd been talking just the week before this about potentially putting him down, so to see them both declining was just too much. Ani is 15, though, and you sort of prepare yourself for the day you have to say goodbye the best you can. Chewbi is still pretty young, so we were completely taken off guard by this. I would like to put in that we decided now isn't the right time to say goodbye to Ani, but that's a topic for another time. 

We talked to the vet twice a day every day until Thursday morning when he said Chewbi could come home. He still wasn't thriving, but he wasn't declining any longer, either. They weren't doing anything at the vet we couldn't do at home. So, we paid them a small fortune for his 3 1/2 day hospitalization and brought him home. He looked so sad, but better than he had on Monday when I took him over there. 

They gave us his meds and instructions about how to administer them, including instructions that one of the meds is a sort of low-dose chemo tablet and that we should wear gloves when handling it. To say we were freaked out would be an understatement, but we were also so grateful that our little guy seemed to be fighting and was able to come home. But, this also means we also had a sick dog at home that needed to be watched pretty closely. The likelihood that he would crash and could pass away was still extremely high. And, our vet doesn't do after hour emergency appointments anymore so if he did crash over the weekend we would have had to drive an hour to a vet hospital. We crossed our fingers that he would be okay. 

Our weekend we filled with anxiety and puppy snuggles. I watched him like a hawk, gave him his meds religiously on a to the minute schedule, and prayed he would be okay. There were a few worrisome moments, but for the most part he seemed like he was stable except for one tiny little 15 second long seizure that the doc said wasn't medically significant, had never happened before and (thank fuck) has never happened since. On Saturday morning I got him prescription wet dog food because he wouldn't eat his regular prescription dry food and I was concerned he wouldn't have enough strength to fight if he wasn't eating. 

Not only did he make it through the weekend, but as the week dawned we began to see signs that he was actually improving. His urine was the normal color again, his gums and tongue were pink, the big old bruise on his chest where they took his blood was actually healing up, and his side was less distended where his spleen is. We took him back for a one week check up on July 23rd, my birthday, and the vet was so pleased by his improvement. It was absolutely the best birthday gift I could have gotten. His blood work was looking so much better and I began to breathe a little easier. 

Our little guy is still getting meds twice a day, eating two cans of dog food and a cup of the dry a day, but he's doing great. He's needier than he ever was before, he wants cuddles and begs to be picked up constantly. We're not taking that for granted because he may look better, but he's still sick. He'll be on the steroids for several months and on the low-dose chemo probably until end of year. There's still a risk that when we withdraw the meds, he'll crash. And, even if that doesn't happen, the chance that it will reoccur is pretty significant. The vet tells me that when it reoccurs, the mortality rate is quite high because it's harder to fight the second time. 

There's still danger, but we love him and will do whatever we can to see that his life is as long as it can be. He has another appointment August 13th and we're hoping for more good news. He still seems to be doing just fine so I'm hopeful that he'll beat this ugly thing into remission. There's no cure and they don't know what causes it, but it can go into remission so that's what we're hoping for right now. Fingers and paws crossed.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

I Miss You, Texas!

According to Facebook memories, today is the 5th anniversary of our Texas exodus. They rarely share anything that really makes me feel anything, or maybe I just don't look at them enough. Today, though, I happened to see it and, well... I'm pretty bummed. Matt and I were just talking last night about how much we miss Texas. For me, this is an every day event. I want to go back, but we haven't really got any reason to do so. We have to be where work is, but I've made sure he understands that when we retire, we're going home to Texas.

In the last five years, since we left there, all our Texas friends have moved on or left this earth. Matt's family is there, but most of our friends no longer are. It's a little bit sad, actually. But for me, going back to Texas isn't about our friends. It's about Texas. I'd love to go back to Waco, but I enjoyed living in Stepheville, too. Honestly, it wouldn't matter as long as we were in Texas. 

Still, the amount of change for the people in our lives in the last five years, it's pretty amazing. 
  • A couple we were friends with divorced and one of them, Amanda, moved to Pennsylvania.
  • One of my girlfriends, Melanie, moved to Arkansas for her husband's job.
  • One of my grad school friends moved to New York.
  • A very close friend and amazing human, Tommy, had a major stroke and passed away at 38 years old.
  • Matt's childhood friend, Terry, moved to Florida.
No one is left there except one half of the divorced couple, another woman I know but haven't seen in almost 20 years, and my in-laws.

The fact is, our lives have had some major changes since moving away from Texas. We're better off financially. We have a mortgage, rather than rent, and two fairly new cars paid off. Overall, our life is good and we've grown since leaving. That changes nothing for me. If Matt came home tonight and told me to put the house on the market, we were moving back to Texas, I'd do it without question. 

So many of our life milestones happened in Texas...
  • We got married
  • Earned 5 degrees between us
  • Matt started a job that became his career
  • We moved together 4 times in the 16 years we spent together in Texas
  • We got Chummer, Galileo, Anakin, and Chewbacca while living in Texas.
  • We lost Chummer when he was only 6 years old. 
Most of all, I grew into an adult there. We truly grew up since moving in together when I was just 20. We learned to appreciate one another and share in so many hobbies. We had uncountable hours of laughter and good times there. It's where we truly belong.

I miss you, Texas!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Almost Trade-In

In a fit of practicality, I thought this last week about trading my sporty hatchback for a small SUV. I went so far as to look for one that would be the right fit, check the trade value on my car, and talk with Matt about what he thought. For the record, he thought it was an awful idea and he talked me out of it. Thank fuck he knows me well enough to know when I'm being insane and call me out on it... nicely. I just wanted him to play devil's advocate. I already knew all the reasons I shouldn't trade my car, I just needed someone willing to let me bounce all the reasons it might be a good idea and then tell me why not. He's amazing at this, by the way. 

The thing is, I love my car and he knows itBeing a Veloster owner is almost a part of my identity and has been since Matt bought me my first Veloster on 4th of July weekend, 2014. The car suits me perfectly, but isn't the easiest car to drive all the time. It's not suited to handle winter without prep work (winter tires) and since it sits only 5" off the ground it's not that easy to get it in and out of some parking lots without scraping the underside. It's not a lazy driver, if that makes sense. With a 6 speed manual transmission, it's not driven passively. But, I still love it.

The reasons I was considering trading it are complicated. The car isn't practical under any circumstances. It's a toy, something fun and sporty, but not really what you would expect an almost 42 year old woman to be driving. And, I'm not driving it that much. In a year, I've only put 2,300 miles on it, which is almost nothing. It's so low that our dealer has refused to change the oil twice because I don't have enough mileage. One of the guys in our dealer's service department made a snide remark about how I don't drive it enough to enjoy it.

But, I've dropped into a sort of depressed funk lately that's making me doubt whether I deserve fun and sporty. Which, makes no sense, and I know that. But, I still feel it. So, I looked for a car I could almost straight trade for, a high end 2018 Kona with a lot of the features my car doesn't have, like an automatic transmission, heated seats, and a moon roof. Consolation prize features to make me feel better about trading a car I love for something less. But, I couldn't bring myself to go much further than window shopping because even in a brain fog, I can still see enough to know I would regret it.

So instead, I took the Veloster out of the garage yesterday and showed it some TLC. Do you know that when I was a kid, washing my parents car was my favorite "chore." We always had such a good time playing in the soap and water. Turns out as an adult, hand-washing your car is actually work! It's the first time I've hand-washed it since buying it at the end of March 2019. I also scheduled an appointment for my windows to be tinted and am looking at a set of wheels to replace my stock wheels. I absolutely do deserve this car which, by the way, is actually paid off in full. If I'm going to drive a toy, I'm going to play a little bit of dress up along the way.

Soapy - 5/8/2020
PS. I am 100% aware that this post is full of crazy. Welcome to the inside of my head. :\

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Wearing a Mask

I decided that even though most people in Cache Valley, and in Utah in general, aren't really taking this whole pandemic thing seriously, I'm still going to try to do so. The grim facts are that as of today, 28,000 American's have died from this thing; more than any other country in the world. We're in a bad place, but I'm trying to do my part for the health of my community. So, I ordered a cloth mask online (actually, I ordered three, but two haven't come yet). The CDC recommends wearing them, so I'm going to wear one. I know it's not going to keep me from getting it, but if everyone would wear a mask, the spread would slow. I'll wear a mask for you, you do the same for me, and together we protect one another. That sounds like a great plan... if only people would actually do it.

A couple of people around town have started wearing them now, but they still get seriously strange looks. In the midst of a deadly pandemic, people are still judging others for covering their damn faces. I tend to be sensitive to those sorts of things, in general. Anxiety keeps me from wanting to be seen or do anything to draw attention to myself. But these aren't normal times and I've decided that however self-conscious I feel about it, I'm wearing the mask. 

Of course, that will only be when I go out and I can't remember the last time I actually left the house. We went out to get grocery pick up a few times in the last month, but I haven't gone in anywhere in a long time. Pretty sure I haven't gone anywhere at all since around the 5th or 6th of this month, and I have no plans to do so anytime soon. But, as I've said before, Matt does. He went to Wal-Mart for meds yesterday, and I'm terrified that he brought it home with him. The same way I feel when he comes in from work. But, I know I'm not going anywhere if I can help it. I'm sheltering for as long as I feel threatened, which may be for a very long time if the news is to be believed. 

This thing is kind of turning into a pandemic/quarantine diary lately, so I'm going to stop here. I'm trying really hard to write about the day-to-day of this thing that's having such a major impact on my life, all our lives, without it devolving into a narrative about fear. Easier said than done when this thing has me so afraid.

Mermaid mask from @Mertailor on Instagram

Monday, April 6, 2020

Unwilling, Not Unable

I don't know how this post is going to turn out. I feel like I want to write about the pandemic, but I'm so crippled with anxiety about the whole thing, it's hard to get the words out in an organized way without devolving into negativity and near-hysterics. I tend to catastrophize when things are good. When things are bad, and in this case they are very bad, that tendency to catastropize becomes uncontrollable. I don't know how to handle my fear about this without immediately going straight to the most awful possible outcome. 

As of today, Utah is one of only 9 states still not issuing shelter-in-place orders. I have no idea what our idiotic governor is thinking, but his complete and total willingness to disregard the health of Utah's citizens is appalling. It's not only irresponsible, it's disgusting how little regard our state government has for our public health. But, it's not just our governor who isn't taking the public welfare seriously. There are still Utahn's saying it's a hoax, it's just a flu, it will pass, they're still going out and living their lives. They're talking about their civil rights and how the state government doesn't have the right to take away their liberties. I'm baffled and terrified. 

Without shelter-in-place orders, people won't stay at home. Hell, even in some places with shelter-in-place orders, people aren't staying home. When we went out to get our grocery pick-up, there were just as many people out and about as ever; maybe more. Our little town's residents aren't bothering to stay at home and our mayor won't take action to force it. Matt had to go into Wal-Mart for his prescriptions and there were tons of people inside, walking right up to/by others without another though, standing in groups chatting. A few folks were wearing masks, but mostly just families out shopping like there's not a goddamn global pandemic.

This is the thing I'm struggling with the most: The community's unwillingness to care about itself. It's not an inability, it's an unwillingness, which is a matter of choice. It is absolutely and completely inexcusable to me that the people here pretend to care about one another and to be part of a religion that pretends to care about the community, while completely disregarding public health warnings. This, beyond all the other issues the pandemic has brought, is horrifying and disgusting. I despise pretense. If you don't give a flying fuck about others, don't pretend to, it's easier to swallow.

It doesn't help that it seems like there's no real way, even if you do stay home, to completely avoid it. It stays on surfaces for extended periods of time, so if you get grocery pick-up (we do!) or deliveries, you've run the risk of carrying it inside your house. As part of the supply chain, Matt's an essential worker, so he's coming into contact with hundreds of people a day. He's potentially bringing it inside the house every single time he comes home from work. He's worried, but he can't do anything about having to go to work.

I've been trying to do my part to minimize our risk by staying the fuck at home. Thank goodness I have the luxury to do that, with a job that allows me to work at home for the last two and a half years. I bought myself a cloth mask online, which I'll start to wear when I go out, and maybe even sometimes when I'm home so that I can break the habit of touching my face and hair. I'm considering sleeping in the guest room, too, because I'm afraid Matt's crawling with this stuff after being out in society all day. So far, he's objected to that idea, so I haven't had the heart to sleep alone in there. I might have to bargain by telling him it's that or he has to shower at night before getting into bed. He's incredibly difficult to bargain with, so we'll see.

This thing feels like it's never going to be over, and maybe it won't. It could be my inability to see past catastrophe to a light at the end of the tunnel, but this feels like it's world changing. I know I'm not the only one who feels that way, but I feel kind of alone right now. I feel simultaneously like I'm over-reacting and under-reacting. I think I would feel better if we actually lived in a state that cared about the public welfare, in a place where people were less concerned about their individual selves than they were about their neighbors. Maybe tomorrow will be the day our pathetic governor will grow a pair and start to give a fuck, but I doubt it. Maybe tomorrow will be the day that our neighbors realize this is serious and stay home, but again, I doubt it. At least I know that I'm not one of the assholes, that I'm doing my part to protect them, even if they won't do the same.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

It Was Just a Little Earthquake!

We had an earthquake around 7:15 a.m. last Wednesday morning. It's been so long since I was in a substantial earthquake, it took me a minute to figure out what was happening. My desk is a little wobbly, because it's cheap, and I had just spun to the side in my chair. It took me a bit to figure out that it wasn't me who was moving anymore, it was the earth. And this earthquake went on for what felt like forever. It shook for a long time.

It was only a 5.7 quake, but naturally, everyone was freaking out. Rumors started flying that we might be about to have a 9 point earthquake in the hours following, businesses were evacuating and sending their employees home from work. It was kind of chaos. Part of Salt Lake City lost power, Utah's COVID-19 hotline went down, an angel on the SLC Temple lost it's trumpet, and people were shouting from the rooftops that the world was ending. Apparently an angel on a church breaking is a bad omen? 

But, for fuck fucking sake, people... Utah has earthquakes all the time. They're not usually quite that big, but they happen. It's a lot like California in that way, earthquakes happen, they're a fact of life. This COVID-19 pandemic (rightly) has everyone in such a mess. Add an earthquake to it and everyone loses what's left of their minds. But no one was hurt, there was no 9 point earthquake, and while some people were displaced, overall it was a relatively minor incident. 

I honestly don't think we can take anymore disasters right now. No more bad needs to happen just now, we've had our fill for a while. 2020 is seriously messing with us. It did make Wednesday interesting, though. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

This is Bullshit...

I am salty, y'all. I ventured outside my bubble on Saturday to get groceries. I got up and went out at 6:30am, just a half an hour after Smith's opened, hoping I would find the supplies I needed. Nope. Total waste of an early morning. No toilet paper, hand sanitizer, Lysol, hand soap, rice, beans, or pasta to be found anywhere. I could have slept in. I was on a 2pm-10pm work shift last week, so a few more hours of sleep would not have been unwelcome.

I went to Walmart and Natural Grocer, too. So many things out of stock, though I did manage to find Kleenex at Walmart, so that was something. I know everyone's worried about being locked down and running out of supplies, but this is long-past ridiculous; even more so because we live in Utah. Most people here are LDS and those folks already stash a ton of supplies. So, I had a glimmer of a hope that due to their prepping, they would have what they need for this disaster and not run out and buy up all the shit on all the store shelves. I mean, isn't this sort of thing the very reason they do that? Yeah, I looked into it, it is.

The thing is, I have no issue with prepping for bad situations. I have no problem with stockpiling a moderate amount of basic supplies for hard times. We have about a month worth of food hanging around in our cabinets. Buy yourself a few extra supplies, that's fine, but why the actual fuck are you waiting until the emergency is here to do that? Shouldn't you be doing that all along. Of course, we all should. This is a problem for me because right now, so many people who have so many months of supplies already stockpiled, are still going out and buying everything.

I have a problem with the way people forget about others in times of crisis. This isn't the first time I've see something like this happen. In January 2011, when we lived in Stephenville, there was a deep freeze and our pipes froze. We went to Walmart to get water and there wasn't any, not even one bottle. It was awful, because right then, it was the one thing we needed more than anything. People, many of whom had running water in their houses, had bought up all the damn bottled water. That was bad, this is so much worse. That hard freeze only lasted one week. This thing is going to go on for weeks, maybe even months.

When you rush out and buy up all of the supplies on the shelves, you prepare you own family for a hard time, but you leave others without. Your kids will have macaroni and cheese every day for the next 7 years, but someone else's kids will have to go without. You'll have more food and toilet paper, and Lysol, than you can possibly use in a year, while others will have to figure out how they're going to scratch together a meal for their kids in the same situation. And worst of all, it creates an even deeper panic that causes others to have to do the same thing, to buy up all the supplies they can find, because the tide is rising and they're afraid they won't be able to get anything if they don't.

These situations are generally temporary. Buying enough supplies for a month or two is fine. Buying every single thing the store has when you already have 6 months worth of food stockpiled in your basement, that's not okay. Panicking is not okay. Forgetting that you are a part of a community, that's also not okay. It's pretty pitiful, in times where everyone is struggling to get basic supplies, people don't care enough about one another to take stock of what they have before they buy everything in the whole goddamn store. It's okay to prep, it's not okay to sacrifice your neighbors in the process to add to your already abundant stockpiles.

I went to Walmart again this afternoon, because as much as I wanted to stay home and hide from COVID-19, I had to get meds for Matt. I didn't want to, but I sucked it up, and there were a ton of people in there. Many of them were just standing around, chatting with people they knew, like it was any other day and we weren't having a pandemic. Hasn't anyone told these people to stay the hell at home? I managed to get one 12 roll pack of toilet paper, one 12 oz. bottle of hand sanitizer, and two small packs of linguine because it was the only pasta they had left. It was pushed all the way to the very back of a bottom shelf.

I feel fortunate to have gotten a few supplies, what I feel shitty about is that Walmart has to restrict how many of these things can be purchased because people can't have an ounce of common decency. There were actually managers walking around Walmart trying to make sure no one purchased too many of these in-demand items. That's bullshit, it's crap they should have to do that. We could all be doing better.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Love is Blind

I've been watching Love is Blind on Netflix. I actually binged the whole thing last week and then this morning watched the reunion show. Have you seen this? It's a social experiment where they try to determine if love is actually blind by a sort of blind speed dating where the contestants walk away engaged, take a short vacation, move in together, and then potentially get married... all within a month.

Generally, I'm sort of lukewarm about dating shows. I watched the first season of Married at First Sight, but none of the other seasons. I've seen a few seasons of the Bachelor and Bachelorette, and one season of Bachelor in Paradise. But, in general, I feel like dating shows are unrealistic. They're filled with overly beautiful people trying to get their 15 minutes of fame, not find love. So, I rolled my eyes pretty hard at Love is Blind when I started watching it. That show, though--oh wait, spoilers--let's just say it's off to a stronger start than the Bachelor. 

The most interesting thing to me, though, was the premise of Love is Blind. They're trying to find out if two people can fall in love without ever seeing one another and then if that love can turn into something real and lasting. That's literally me and Matt. That's how we began, so I feel pretty sure that the premise of the show is not only realistic, but completely possible. Matt and I began to fall in love over the internet, without ever seeing one another, and without even hearing one another's voice. 

I say "began" because we didn't actually fall completely in love until we started to get to know one another in person. But, the same thing is pretty true of the show's contestants and they had the advantage of hearing one another's voice. When Matt and I were falling for one another over the internet, we had to trust that the other was what they said they were. He had the believe that I was a 19 year old woman and I had to believe he wasn't a total creep. We choose to take that leap of faith and believe in one another. 

On the show, they go on a short vacation together to see if their connection will become something more and then if it is, they move in together. For us, it wasn't a vacation to a tropical destination, but I did go to Texas for a few weeks to meet him and see if what we had going on between us was something real and when we realized that it was, I moved to Texas to be with him within a few weeks. 

We obviously didn't get married the same month. There were some situations that would have made that impossible and, honestly, we were both pretty adamant when we got together that marriage wasn't going to be a thing. I told Matt I wasn't getting married again and he said he didn't really believe in marriage, so it was settled. Ha... yeah. We got married 8 months after we moved in together and haven't ever looked back. We've been married 20 years.

I hope the couples that did get married on Love is Blind stay together and have an amazing 20 years (and more) of happy marriage. I feel like I can safely say, not from watching the show but from my own experiences, it is completely possible for love to be blind. Netflix didn't need to do an "experiment," I completely could have told them it was! ♥

December 2001, Married almost two years

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

About Feeling Nothing

Have you ever seen someone from your past, years later, and felt absolutely nothing? Let me back up, this requires a little bit of explanation to make sense.

Many years ago, before I met my husband, there was a man in my life I thought I might be in love with. I've written about this guy before and I could honestly write so much more. He was older and he was married, but at the time I was just naive enough to believe I might actually be in love with him. So much so that, at the time, I told the only person in my life who knew about my relationship with him and she laughed. She knew it was ridiculous, but she also knew me well enough to know that I was completely serious. 

Let me say right now, this is good old fashioned stupid. Like, what's worst than stupid? This was plain foolish. Is there something worse than foolish... because that's what this was. Idiotic, it was idiotic.

But, I still felt certain then that if he had left his wife and wanted me to be with him, I would have. That, of course, didn't happen. Thank fuck. Honestly, considering the circumstances of our relationship, that would have been a world of awful. So instead, we had a full on "thing" for more than a year, but that's all it was. He eventually moved away because his wife's job moved them and I was so distracted by my "real life" at the time that I let it pass without much more than a few moments of regret. That alone should have been enough to tell me I wasn't in love with him. 

After that my life went to straight to shit, then got better when I met a man I actually did fall in love with. And this is going to be harsh, but there was some other stuff in there that doesn't so much matter to this story. Life went on, I got married again, and I almost completely forgot about the older guy, except for a fleeting thought here and there. He was a thing that had happened. Something I've never regretted, because the experience had made me grow in ways I would have trouble putting into words. I shared experiences with him that were completely indescribable, but that affected me deeply.

Then, a couple of months ago, this older guy and I started following one another on social media. He's still married to the same woman and living again in the city where we met. It looks like he has a couple more kids now. I kind of expected that seeing him, especially given that I thought I was in love with him, would make me feel... something. Nope.

Well wait, okay, maybe not "nope." Just not what I thought I might feel. Mostly, I'm just feel glad to see him doing well. That's all, general good wishes. I have a sense that we used to have a physical relationship and that I once thought I had feelings for him, but it feels so distant now. Like he's a guy I knew in another life. He doesn't even look so much the same anymore, which stands to reason because he's now in his mid-50s, but still good looking.

Maybe it's having found and spent the last 21 years with a man I truly do love that's caused this lack of reaction, or maybe it's that I've grown up. Either way, it's interesting to see him and, if nothing else, has given me a moment's pause and something to over-analyze.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Negative Headspace

I woke up this morning feeling energized. This is either really good or really bad, depending on how you look at it, because it might mean I'm entering manic territory. Over the past few weeks, depression and anxiety have completely taken over. Everything has been hard and too many changes all at one time have made me unable to cope with them. I'm lucky I have the will to climb out of my bed, stuff something in my mouth here and there, and work (because I have no other choice). I'm in a bad place and almost everything in my life has suffered. 

But, staring at the ceiling above the bed, I realized I've been avoiding blogging. It wasn't just that I didn't have the will or the energy to do it, it was more than that. I was actively avoiding it. I mean, can something that's kind of subconscious still be active? Whatever. Either way, I didn't want to bring things down with my negative headspace. Ha.

As I lay there trying to figure out if the energy I feel today is a bad thing, I realized something. The very reason I was avoiding this blog, well, that's what this blog is for, at least a little bit. It's a place for me to write about myself, where I am, and how I'm feeling. I cannot overemphasize how useful it is for me to be able to write here and then go back, through time, and see how and where I was. We all know that memory is notoriously inaccurate, but writing about life events helps. So, right now, I'm going to go ahead and write about how miserable I've been. 

I think the amount of things going on this last few weeks has me all messed up. I hadn't ridden the Peloton in two weeks, until today. I was eating awfully. We went to Salt Lake City for our anniversary, which was so fun. When I went back to work I had a (kind of) surprise interview for a promotion that I didn't get, even though I'm imminently qualified. They said my interview was good, but they're not ready to hire a supervisor who works at home when they have qualified candidates who work in office. Matt had an interview for a promotion the same day. We're still waiting to hear about that one, which is causing me a ton of anxiety.

Then, I had to go to Lindon (about two hours south of Logan) for a work event, which means I had to come face-to-face with people who haven't really seen me in person and, thanks to a seriously negative self-image, that caused me sooooooo much anxiety. And, I had to fight rush hour traffic both ways. They got me a hotel room and a rental car, which made it much easier, but the amount of traffic was so insane. Considering I'm struggling to even leave my house alone lately, going all the way to Lindon alone was a huge struggle. I've also never stayed in a hotel room alone, so that was strangely nerve wracking. By the time I got home from this short trip, I was wrecked

And, while I was there, they asked me to work 2pm-10pm for a couple of weeks, which is screwing with my schedule so hard. I can't cook dinner, because I'm working, so we're still eating like shit. I find when I eat too much crap, I feel like crap. All of this taken together has meant the past two weeks have been kind of brutal and they're taking a strong toll on my mental state. It's been a little bit awful. So awful, in fact, that for the first time in years I've considered talking to a doctor about putting me on something to help mitigate the struggle. I hate to take meds, they make me feel horrible, so that's where I'm at right now. 

Today, though, I'm working on using the energy I have right now to try to get myself back on track. I went out alone this morning to do errands without too much trouble. A little bit of self-talk and I was able to convince myself to go into Wal-Mart alone. Sometimes, it's a matter of talking myself into each step of the process. Like... okay, Kristyn, just go get in the car. Now pull out of the garage and get going. Okay, you're here, now go inside (this is the longest part of the process, sometimes it takes me a half an hour or more to talk myself into going inside). You get the picture. Today, I didn't struggle with this as much. 

I rode the Peloton after doing my errands. Then I took on some chores around the house. My kitchen is a disaster and I need to do laundry, so I'm working on that. I got some boxes and boxed up some clothes that I don't wear and put them in the garage. I'm blogging. I plan to actually cook dinner for the first time in weeks and I'm going to try to do some meal prepping either tonight or tomorrow, so we don't eat so badly during the coming week. I feel like getting my routine back, at least a little bit, will help me overcome this funk. Wish me luck, I need it. 

Sitting in the car in Lindon like a weirdo, trying to talk myself into going inside.

Friday, February 14, 2020

♥ ♥ ♥ 20 Years ♥ ♥ ♥

It's our 20th Anniversary! That seems like a crazy long time. I was only 21 when we got married, so one more year and I'll be married as long as I wasn't. It feels like a huge accomplishment. In a world where a heck of a lot of marriages end in divorce (including my first one), staying together through thick and thin, for 20 years, is amazing. I'm proud of us.

For our anniversary this year, we went to Salt Lake City. It's local to us, but we're home bodies and don't really have the time to travel right now. So no fancy trips to Turks and Caicos, or wherever. But, we had a really good, low-key anniversary. More on that another day.

Today, I thought it would be fun to share 20 things about us on our 20th year. I did this once before, I think for our 14th anniversary. So here goes...

  1. We were only together 8 months when we got married. We had know one another about a year and a half, but we had only been a couple for 8 months.
  2. We met online, through ICQ random chat, back before there were internet dating sites.
  3. We got married at the courthouse in Waco, TX. There aren't any pictures, we just dressed up, got married, and went out to dinner. Then, life resumed as normal. It was perfect. 
  4. In the last 20 years we've lived in three different cities (Waco, Stephenville, & Logan) in two states (Texas & Utah).
  5. Between us, we've earned five degrees -- We both hold master's degrees.
  6. Matt has a job in his degree field (management and leadership), I don't. 
  7. We are blessedly childfree and you would not believe the crazy looks we get when we tell people it's just been us for the last 20 years.
  8. We've always been able to have long, in-depth conversations about everything from the actual to the philosophical. That hasn't changed one bit. Matt is a pretty deep thinker, he loves meaningful conversation but is absolute garbage at small talk. 
  9. Our #1 shared hobby is gaming. We play role playing games (ie. Dungeons & Dragons)
  10. Our #1 shared collectible is dice. We're sitting somewhere around 400 sets each
  11. We're vegan! In December 2019 we went Vegan, almost two months now and going strong!!
  12. We're both introverts and home-bodies. 
  13. We bought our first house in 2015. Before that, we had always rented. 
  14. We've had four pets: Chummer (1999-2005), Galileo (2004-2019), Anakin (2005-) and Chewbacca (2011-)
  15. We're huge Star Wars fans. So much so that our house is decorated in a Star Wars theme, which is subtle and not as tacky as it sounds. 
  16. Fun fact: When we got together, I hadn't really seen Star Wars. My ex loved it, so I rejected it to spite him. When Matt convinced me to watch it, I was hooked. 
  17. We've had six cars in the last 20 years: Ford Taurus (Matt's car when we got together), a fully loaded Crown Victoria (Matt's granddads car), Pontiac Sunfire (we bought this car outright with the insurance money from totaling the Crown Vic), 2014 Hyundai Veloster, 2016 Jeep Renegade, and 2019 Hyundai Veloster N.
  18. We have totally incompatible ideas about aging--Matt is in total denial about how old he is, while I'm completely comfortable with getting older. 
  19. We both write, but don't share what we've written.
  20. I would be completely and totally lost without him and he feels the same way about me. 
There are a lot more things I could put here, but I just thought I'd share the first 20 things that came to mind. It's been a remarkable 20 years, we've accomplished so much, and still love one another as much a we did in the beginning. Not a lot of couples can say so much. I cannot wait to see what the next 20 years holds. Happy Anniversary, gorgeous! ♥

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Self Care

I had an epiphany a thoughtful realization a little bit ago. I gathered up the will to ride the Peloton after I had a pretty rough day at work today. I wanted to sit on my ass and watch rom-coms, but instead did some dishes and jumped on the bike. After a 15 minute class, during which I listened to a tiny little woman tell me how easy it was while I huffed and struggled, I settled in to do a "Zen in 10" meditation. 

The meditation is a Peloton program. I've taken to doing them after my rides, as a sort of way to center and bring myself back down. I was doing this meditation when I had the realization. You always hear people talking about "self care" and doing something for yourself, taking time to yourself. While I thought I knew what that meant, I literally had no idea. No idea. Zero clue.

I've always had this idea that self care meant lounging in a bubble bath with a pint of ice cream, a cup of tea, and reading a romance novel. Or, that it meant scarfing down a box of cupcakes while drinking a bottle of wine and binging on Netflix. But, I never was able to connect with these modes of self-care, even though I tried. Don't get me wrong, I love a good romance novel, but those things never felt like self care to me. Or, not self-improving self care, anyway.

Then, while trying to enjoy my meditation with my dog barking (not a euphemism) and my legs burning, I realized that despite my earlier assumptions, self care did not mean easy. It didn't mean making no effort. Sometimes, self care is painful and difficult. Sometimes it's pushing just a little bit beyond your limits or trying just a little bit harder. It means doing something that's good for you, even if you're tired, unmotivated, or unfocused. It means riding the Peloton and putting in the best effort even when you don't want to. It means trying to focus on the meditation even when you mind keeps wandering. It means ignoring the craving for Krispy Kreme not because of calories, but instead because they're not vegan and you're doing your damn best.

Today was my first day of conscious self care. I finally understand what it means. And you know what, I'm on my fifth straight week riding the Peloton and my second full month as a vegan, and I'm doing my damn best.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Judgy Vegans

It turns out being vegan is a whole new world of judgy. I mean, it has it's obvious benefits. I've lost 13 lbs in less than a month (part exercise, but mostly just what I'm eating), I feel better emotionally, my skin looks better. I could probably go on, but you get the point. It's also not as hard as I thought it would be, even though it involves a lot more cooking than I was previously doing. Both good things.

But, like, the judgmental things you hear from people when you tell them you're vegan are kind of ridiculous. The people you think will support you, don't, which has been the hardest part for me. Like, this is a good choice I'm making for my health, you don't so much have to understand it. But, really, even strangers and acquaintances give you the side eye.

I think what I've found most surprising and upsetting, though, is the judgy vegan social media crowd. These are the people you expect to support you because they're in the same boat. The ones who you think you should be able to cheer for you, even if they don't know you. It has turned out to be a bit more judgmental than I expected. A mixed bag of cheerful new vegans, helpful veteran vegans, and the curmudgeonly vegans who feel like too many people are encroaching on their lifestyle. 

I'm not talking about  most vegan bloggers, without whom I would not have been able to do this. I love them. No, I'm talking about those people who crop up with "don't eat that, it's processed!" every single time anyone admits to eating anything but plants that grew in the dirt from their own back yards. I joined a vegan Facebook page (thanks, Jodi!) and most of those folks are awesome. I've gotten some great meal ideas from that group. But, there always seems to be the one or two judgy people who wants to tell you what you're eating isn't vegan enough by telling you that the food is processed. I mean... shut the fuck up. 

Isn't it good enough that people are trying to do better, not eat cute little animals, and improve their health? Not everyone has hours to make elaborate, complicated meals 3x per day. Some of us rely on processed foods sometimes, much of which is actually pretty healthy. The frozen meat alternatives, like chick'n tenders, also taste great... well, okay, not the "smart dog" vegan hot dogs, they can go back to whatever hell they crawled out of and stay there!!! But most of the other vegan processed meat alternatives I've tried taste really good.

It's only been one month, and maybe I'm sensitive about it because I also joined the Peloton group on Facebook and some of those people can be downright mean. I think it's something to get used to, for sure. For now, I'm plodding right along making all sorts of delicious foods I don't think I would have even considered eating before. I'm feeling better and sleeping better, despite the judgment and feeling good about the supportive folks who are here for one another. 

Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Thursday, January 16, 2020

One Month Peloversary

Today is my our one month Peloversary! Is that a thing? We've had our Peloton bike for one month today and so far it's been... surprising. I started to say great, but that's not quite right. Surprising is much more accurate. I thought, in light of that, that I'd share a bit about my experience so far. If you have one of these things or have questions about the bike, please let me know.

First ride: This was brutal. To say I didn't make it far would be an understatement. I seriously underestimated how difficult this thing would actually be. Cycling/spinning is much, much harder than it looks. All those people who make it look easy are probably in good shape and regularly work out. If you are not in good shape and don't regularly work out, this thing will crush you. It will crush your body and your will.

I got off the bike after that ride wondering what the hell I had done. I wanted to get a damn treadmill, not a Peloton bike. Matt talked me into it and when I argued about the cost, said he would ride too (liar!), so we got this thing and here I was wondering if I would ever ride it again after that. At that moment, I thought I might have just paid a fortune for the worlds biggest paperweight. 

I went back: After I got over the emotional struggle of failing so spectacularly at my first ride, I pulled up my big girl panties and went back to the bike. The first few weeks were sporadic, with me not being able to develop any sort of schedule. I couldn't seem to be motivated to ride with regularity, but I think the most important thing to say here would be that I did keep going back, even if not terribly consistently. I missed one whole week, but went right back and did three days in a row. The next week, I rode one day, but I keep going back and I'm working on forming a routine. This week, I've done another three days in a row. Right now, I'm feeling like that routine might be riding during weekdays and taking the weekends off, but I don't know quite yet. I'm still working it out. 

I actually want to ride: This was the strangest part for me. I realized today, quite suddenly, that I actually wanted to get on the bike. I wanted to get on the bike in the middle of the day, but I had to work. I had no trouble finding the motivation to go in there, strap on my cycling shoes, and clip in. And today, I did a longer ride than any I've done so far. To want to exercise, to crave it, that's a completely foreign feeling for me. I like how I feel afterward. I like how I feel the next day. I guess what I'm trying to say is... I like it. 

A pain in the ass: This is not figurative. When you start riding this thing your ass will hurt. Not a little bit, it will hurt a lot. I couldn't even sit on this seat for five straight minutes when I started. It was excruciating. I got a gel cover for the seat and it honestly didn't help all that much. It still hurt. My sits-bones just weren't able to withstand this thing. So, I did something I haven't really seen anyone else admit to. I sat on a pillow. There's a guest bed in the same room with my bike, so I got one of the pillows and used it to make riding the bike less painful. 

Then something strange happened. I dropped the pillow one day last week and rather than clipping out to get it, I just figured I'd give it a shot without it. And, you know, I was able to sit on the seat without suffering. It still hurt, but not so much that I couldn't just deal with it. I could sit for ten straight minutes (that's about my average ride right now, don't judge me) without pain. Today, I was able to sit on it for about 15 minutes without too much pain. 

The shoes & clipping in: Shockingly, the shoes fit perfectly. They take a little putting together, but they're pretty comfortable. My biggest objection to the shoes is that they cost $125 per pair. We bought two pairs, which makes these officially the most expensive shoes we've ever purchased. It's especially expensive when you take into account that you can't wear them anywhere but on the bike. 

The clipping thing proved to be a little challenging for me. I never have trouble clipping in, it's clipping out that's a challenge. It's not the easiest. Those pedals hold onto the shoes for dear life. You have to have a little bit of leg strength to clip out and I won't lie, the first time I rode I couldn't clip out on the right foot. I took the shoe off, got off the bike, and disconnected the shoe from the pedal (not easy!). I've gotten it down, but man!

Yoga, Strength, & Meditation: This is something I really like about the bike. There are programs that aren't bike programs. You can do yoga, meditation, and strength training. So far, I've done yoga and meditation, in addition to cycling, of course. I still prefer to do yoga through other programs, but this is a nice feature. 

Classes & Scenic Rides: So far, my preference is scenic rides, by far. It allows me to ride somewhere I'll probably never go without leaving my house. It's lovely and allows me to ride at my own pace. But, there are also both live and recorded classes, and a feature that just allows you to ride without anyone directing you or any sort of scenery. I've done three recorded classes, but no live classes because I'm not that brave quite yet. 

The cost: This was the biggest hang up for me. This thing is very expensive. After the accessories (shoes, heart rate monitor, water bottles all x2, and the mat for under the bike) it cost us about $2,850. It's an investment, for sure. On top of that, we pay $41 per month for the subscription. This is not a cheap piece of equipment, but I think it's completely worth it. 

Let me tell you, that is not easy for me to admit. I fought against getting this thing for a long time because I thought it was just an exercise bike. I thought it was just like every other exercise bike on the market with a fancy screen. I was wrong. It's more than that. The whole package is worth every single penny. The motivation to actually exercise for the first time in my life, it's worth it. 

Overall impression: I love it and am looking forward to many more rides. My goal is to get in better shape, better conditioning, and I think this bike can do that. It already is. In just one month of fairly inconsistent rides, I'm already improving. I can do more than I could when I got the bike one month ago and that alone makes it worth it. I'm getting better and stronger, and when I work out I feel better emotionally which is a huge deal for me. I just feel better overall. If you're considering buying one of these things... do it!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Going Vegan

We're not getting any younger, ya know? We're in our early 40s and we're looking back on our unhealthy adult years thinking we could have taken better care of ourselves. We're overweight, neither of us sleep very well, and we're not all that active. Okay, I'm not. The hubs works a job where he's on his feet a lot, like 15,000+ steps a night 3-4 days a week. We could have been doing better for ourselves all these years but we've always had a convenience foods lifestyle.

We've always eaten more than our share of fast foods, eaten in restaurants a lot, and when I cook it's generally been a sort of southern, soaked in oil, meat-forward type of diet. We've lived to eat and what we've been eating has tasted good (really, really good), but hasn't been good for us (really, really not good).

So, it would be impossible to overstate my complete and utter shock when my meat eating, cheese loving, dairyaholic husband decided he wanted to be a vegan. He did some research, watched some documentaries (The Game Changers & Forks over Knives), and made a thoughtful, conscious choice to do this thing. One of the many impressive things about him is that when puts his mind to anything, he usually succeeds. He's got great willpower, with some notable exceptions (smoking, boo).

I never thought I'd see the day, honestly. We've been together for 20 years and in that time I've never seen him consider anything even remotely similar to this. It's pretty remarkable how the people you spend every day with can change and grow, right under your nose, without you noticing. In fact, he's usually been completely derisive about vegetarian and veganism.

Since he's made this decision, I'm trying to change my eating habits, too. We're doing this together, but I have to say, so far he's succeeding much more than I am. It turns out I'm struggling to give up "normal foods," like chicken nuggets and mac & cheese. Something many people don't know about me, I was a vegetarian for a while as a teen. I could not stomach the idea of eating meat, most specifically red meat, so I cut it out of my diet. I still ate animal byproducts, like eggs and cheese, but not animals.

You would think, then, that I'd be doing better about this. If we were working toward being vegetarians, I would be crushing this. But, despite what any food documentaries or vegan food blog says, it is not as easy as it sounds to cut all animal byproducts out of your diet. There are things lurking in your food that you may not even know are animal byproducts!

So far, I've made some pretty tasty vegan recipes and, though he's not always been a vegetable fan, the hubs has enjoyed them. I haven't made anything he's turned his nose up at, so that's a good start. Granted, the foods I've been making are pretty basic--black bean enchiladas, veggie stir fry with rice noodles, that sort of thing. It's pretty hard to find some vegan foods around here, so that's not really helping. You would think in a community where everyone is sort of health conscious we could find more vegan foods, but you would be wrong.

Dispute the early struggles, which I am happy to say I have completely overcome now, we're doing okay at this. I've focused my energy on learning, which is really important because I do all the grocery shopping and cooking. If he's going to eat something, I've generally made it. So, it's fallen to me to tell him if he's eating something that might not be vegan and that's been a little bit challenging. Overall, we're doing better than I would have expected and are excited about how this will change our health!

Green Minestrone (Pintrest recipe) -- It was delicious!!