Not My Place

A conversation at work the other day took me back to my senior year of high school.

See, the guy that worked my job before me was a lazy piece of shit. He took the easiest way out in everything he did and, as such, all his work was complete crap. Trying to understand what the hell he did last year takes me twice as long as the actual work itself, and I am constantly telling my co-workers that I hate him, even though I have never met him.

One of the girls I work with always tells story about what this guy was like when he worked there. In addition to his crap work, he apparently played games on his computer at work all the time. I asked her if she ever told our boss about that, and she said she didn’t feel like it was “her place” to rat him out. FLASHBACK.

It was March 14, 2006, a Tuesday; the day my world shattered.

I was sitting in sixth period in the yearbook teacher’s room with two of my best friends (who also happened to be co-editors of the yearbook with me). We were reading through articles that had been submitted for the yearbook and going over our English homework. And on one of the desks, there sat a stack of poems written by my friend, Will (not his real name). Even as early as high school, Will had a knack for poetry, and especially senior year of high school, he was writing a lot.

I was finished with my homework, so I started sifting through his poems and I found one that caught my eye. It was about witnessing another person’s infidelity and it sounded eerily similar to stories I had heard about a party a few weeks earlier. I questioned him about it and I was right, it was about that party (not that he had attended, just that he knew people who had been there and witnessed what happened), but I was wrong about the subject of the poem. I had thought it was referencing a girl I knew, and it turned out to be about my boyfriend of four and a half years. Will didn’t tell me that upfront, but when I goaded him about it, he reluctantly said “you need to talk to your boyfriend.”

I drove home fighting back tears. My cousin was in the car with me and I didn’t want to explode on her. I was home for barely 15 minutes (I had to go back to school for track pictures), but it was enough time to tell my dad in a cracking voice that I was going to my boyfriend’s house after track practice. It was also enough time to remove the necklace that had ours names engraved on it, a Christmas present from a year earlier. Amidst all the chaos that was going on inside my head in that moment, I was rational enough to realize that I did not want to be wearing that necklace in this picture for all of eternity, a constant reminder of the relationship that had gone astray. Even before I had talked to him, I knew how it would end.

I went to his house after practice and there was so much tension between us that I could barely breathe. He had no idea that I knew, and honestly I had no idea if it was even true. But I was angry nonetheless and I wanted to do something about it.

I asked him if I could have a glass of water and I followed him to the kitchen to get it. Once he handed it to me, I threw it in his face. It was the most incredible feeling in the world. All I said was “did you think I wouldn’t find out?” and amidst his sputtering and surprise, those words were enough for him to know that I knew. And he was such a coward about it! He told me that he had been drunk and didn’t know what he was doing and just hoped it would all go away. And I knew then that he had never planned to tell me, never would have if I hadn’t found out on my own.

I was so furious that I packed up every gift I had ever given him, only to drop everything at his door as I walked out, realizing that I didn’t want any of those reminders hanging around. He followed me to my car, but mostly out of guilt. And because he probably felt like he should at least attempt to save our relationship. But he was so apathetic about it that I knew it would never be saved.

That’s not to say I didn’t try. I was so afraid of not being with him that I was still willing to take him back, even after he cheated. I had one condition: he had to stop drinking. I obviously couldn’t trust him when he drank and I wasn’t going to sit around and wait for him to cheat again. But he refused. He told me that I was “saying he couldn’t have fun anymore.” How had he been having fun with me for the previous four years?! It was a horrible thing for him to think, much less say, and it hit me in that moment how truly different we had become. And I left him then and there for good.

Over the next couple of days, I discovered that many of my friends had known about his cheating. In fact, the incident had happened nearly two weeks before I found out, which was enough time for half the school, including my closest friends, to know about it. But nobody told me. Because it “wasn’t their place.” And I hated them for that. I think I still hold some of them accountable for it. I remember driving straight to my best friend’s house after our breakup, only to find out that she was still at softball practice. When she called me back that night (after her mom undoubtedly told her how distressed I had looked), the first thing I said to her was, “did you know?” Because I didn’t even know who to trust anymore. To her benefit, she hadn’t known, and I do believe she would’ve told me if she did.

My friend Will got crap from a lot of people for being the one to spill the beans to me. People gossiped that he actually had a thing for me and wanted us to break up so he could worm his way in. Others couldn’t believe he had betrayed my boyfriend, even though Will and I were much closer friends than they had ever been.

I don’t understand how we came up with this idea of where loyalties should lie. Why are so many people complacent with sitting on the sidelines and watching the bomb explode? Do we want to avoid confrontation? Are we merely cowards? Do we prefer the safety of our own little bubbles, the only area that we really consider “our place”? It’s like we just want to sit there and watch it happen, without taking any part in it; without taking any responsibility. And more often than not, our loyalty goes to the party that was in the wrong, merely because we are too self-involved to follow the party in the right.

Shouldn’t “our place” be telling the truth, especially in situations where we love the person that needs to hear it? Shouldn’t our love for them be forefront to this imaginary idea that it isn’t “our place” to articulate others’ wrongdoings?

That’s something that I have never understood. Why did my co-worker feel more loyalty to this lazy guy that she hated than to her own company? Why did my friends feel more loyalty to this drunken cheater than to me? Why was Will the pariah for being loyal to ME, and the rest of them were in the right for being loyal to my boyfriend, when he had been in the wrong?

I think that we do ourselves and those we care about a disservice by thinking it’s not our place. If my coworker had spoken up, maybe she and I wouldn’t currently be in this wormhole of trying to decipher an idiot’s work. Maybe our company’s reputation wouldn’t have been hurt by our client’s realization that we had employed an idiot.

If my friends had spoken up, maybe I wouldn’t have almost lost my virginity to a boy who didn’t deserve it. Maybe I wouldn’t have had trouble eating for a week. Maybe I wouldn’t still hold all this bitterness in my heart toward him and toward them, as well. Maybe every little incident in my present-day life wouldn’t make me relive a past I would rather forget.

Maybe I wouldn’t have been broken for so long. I struggled with jealousy for too many years following this incident, and I had trouble trusting even the most faithful boyfriends, especially where alcohol was involved. I guess I just wish that more people would believe it was their place to do the right thing. This whole “not my place” business is a cop out at best, and a really shitty one at that.

Advertisements

The Funniest Paralegal

It’s weeks like this past week (and this upcoming week, and the 12 weeks following until April 15) that I regret being an accountant. Busy season is in full swing (as proven by my posting hiatus) and I find myself hating work.

These kind of days make me think of Mindy.

I love Mindy. That phrase is uttered in my household on a weekly basis. It’s such a frequent occurrence that my husband no longer has to follow it up with “who the hell is Mindy?”

See, I don’t have a single family member named Mindy. I also don’t have any friends (in real life) named Mindy. No, the Mindy I’m referring to is none other than Mindy Kaling, who is basically my Indian other half.

I first fell in love with Mindy Kaling when I read “Types of Women in Romantic Comedies Who Are Not Real.” Before that, I knew her as Kelly from the Office, but after reading some of her work, I fell in love with her as a writer. When her book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns),” came out, it was the first item on my Christmas list and I read it in less than three days.

In that book, Mindy talks about how grateful she was for going to Dartmouth, because if she had instead gone to NYU, right now she’d be “the funniest paralegal in a law firm in Boston.” And that’s all she would have been. Just some no-name paralegal in some no-name firm in Boston.

I understand that sentiment.

Accounting isn’t exactly an exciting job. As a beau of mine in college so tactfully put it, “nobody grows up wanting to be an accountant.” He was a pilot, and his arrogance proved that tenfold, but he was right nonetheless. No five-year old’s dream job is accountant. It’s just not.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to come to terms with the fact that all I am is an accountant. In fact, I think part of the reason I’m avoiding taking the CPA exam again is because, if I become a CPA, it will be like admitting that this is actually what I do for a living. I had dreams as a kid of being a famous actress, traveling the world, giving interviews, being held in esteem by all the people who matter. You know, regular kid-type dreams.

Overall, I like my life right now and I’m happy where I am. And I know if hadn’t gone into accounting, then my life would be drastically different, so in a sense I’m grateful for the decisions I’ve made. I just sometimes feel like I’ve taken the safest possible route on every step of my journey through life. I haven’t really taken any risks, and the few I have taken have been overtly calculated. I feel like Lily in the first season of “How I Met Your Mother.”

“I’ve made no mistakes! I’ve done all of this; my life, my relationship, my career, mistake-free.”

To quote Lily again: “there are certain things in life where you know it’s a mistake but you don’t really know it’s a mistake because the only way to really know it’s a mistake is to make the mistake and look back and say ‘yep, that was a mistake.’ So really, the bigger mistake would be to not make the mistake, because then you’d go your whole life not knowing if something is a mistake or not.”

I’m not saying I want to start making mistakes. I’m just saying maybe I’m due for some more risks.

What are you thoughts on mistake-free/risk-free lives? What are some mistakes you’ve made that you’re grateful for having made? What are the mistakes you’re not so grateful for? Do you have any good ideas of risks I should take in the impending future? All suggestions welcome…and encouraged. Seriously, give me something to work with here.

I don’t want to just be the funniest paralegal anymore.

Old Photos and New Memories

Today I was trying to move some music files from my husband’s computer to mine over our shared network. I’m not very technological, so I was having difficulties. And as he had to be at work at 3am this morning, he’s already in bed and couldn’t help me out. So I searched through pretty much all of his files trying to figure out where the music was, and I came upon his pictures.

Most of his picture albums have good descriptions, including the location and often the date. I’m in a lot of these albums, so I had fun browsing through them, reminiscing to myself about how thin we both were while we were dating and the fun times we’ve had on our various trips together.

After perusing through a good number of albums, I opened his Miscellaneous folder. And I saw a video of me. That I had completely forgotten we had taken (side note: this is not anything R-rated, I promise, so don’t get your hopes up).

Not very many people know this, but my husband and I talked about postponing our wedding approximately three months before it was planned to happen. We had been living apart for over a year and I had come down to visit him. We were apartment hunting for after the wedding, so I had taken the whole week off work to fly down South and hang out with my soon-to-be-husband. It was the longest amount of time we had spent together since he moved down here.

I will admit that he and I got engaged too quickly. We had barely been dating a year, which at that time made for the third longest relationship I’d had (that’s right, I had dated two other guys longer than I had dated my now fiance). But living apart made us hasty and while I’m glad that we did rush into things, it was still a bit scary at the time. I felt like we didn’t know each other that well, and after a few months of living apart, I was starting to forget what we liked about each other in the first place.

On the day before I headed back to the Midwest, I was exhausted. We had spent most of the week squabbling over nothing in particular and we were both kind of wore out from each other. We had become so used to living alone and only seeing each other once a month or so, and we didn’t really know how to be around each other 24/7 anymore. We were both worried that we were rushing into things and that we weren’t ready to get married.

And then for some reason, after the dust had cleared a little (although not completely), we decided to take a video on his phone of his apartment. It was the place where he had proposed to me and where he had spent his first year living in the South, and it had a special place in both our hearts. We joked that we could show it to our kids one day, an idea which, after just talking about potentially not getting married at all, made me almost burst into tears. I was the one on camera and I just put on a happy face, fighting back the water works, and I remember being so afraid that (a) we would never have kids to even see this video or (b) if our kids did see this video, they would be able to tell how upset I was.

I rewatched the video tonight and I am happy to say that I’m a good faker. Even though I knew what had been going on in my head during the filming, from a viewer’s perspective, I genuinely seemed happy. My then-fiance and I joked through the apartment tour and poked fun at each other and pointed out all the important spots and we seemed really in love. And it hit me that we really were in love there, even if in that actual moment we weren’t quite sure.

After that week, I never questioned again whether or not we should get married. And 15+ months into our marriage, I still have never questioned it, even during our first few months when I was unemployed and all we did was fight about money and home decor. I feel like nobody ever talks honestly about how difficult the first year of marriage is, so I’m here to tell you that it is HARD. On top of that, being engaged is also hard if you are actually rational enough to consider the enormity of your decision (and nobody ever told me how tough being engaged was, either). I personally believe that if your engagement is all hearts and rainbows, then you are not legitimately ready to get married. Although I’m also someone that doesn’t believe in soulmates or destiny or falling in love with someone the moment you see them. I’m far too rational for all those things and to me, agreeing to be someone’s partner in marriage is a choice that needs to be thought on long and hard.

Anyway, the point of this post and its title is this: it’s amazing how different the present appears when its viewed as the past. In other words, our perceptions about certain times in our lives change as we move past them. In the present, the filming of that video was filled with turmoil. But now that it’s in the past, I view it merely as a speed bump in the greater road that is our relationship. It’s things like this that give me hope that even the most daunting mountains in my life may be viewed in hindsight as merely molehills.

Resolutions

I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution; at least not one I can remember. But for some reason, this year I made three.

And I didn’t even consciously plan to. About four days ago, I just came up with a few things that I wanted to start being better about in 2014. Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out why this year was so different than every year before it.

I think it’s a combination of things. First, I had a rough year. I’ve never been great with this living-in-another-state deal, but this year it really hit me hard. It didn’t help that I made the mistake of not visiting my family for nearly five months, which led to a minor depression that thankfully was remedied by a spontaneous trip back to the Midwest a couple weeks before Thanksgiving.

Second, and most importantly, I think I’m at a point in my life where I know that I need to grow up and take better care of myself. Whenever I get sick, instead of taking medicine to get better, I just kind of wallow and stay sick far longer than I should. It was my turn to do the dishes a couple weeks ago and I wanted to get them done before my husband and I left to visit family for the holidays, yet the day before we left, I sat around watching TV and not packing. Thus, when we came back, I still had the dishes to do. And at this very moment, I have needed to do laundry for several weeks. I currently have no sports socks or jeans clean, and I only have a few pairs of underwear and one bra that are not dirty. Seriously, this is my life. I probably shouldn’t admit that to the entire internet, but it’s true. Thankfully, I’m not like this all the time (or else I would never accomplish anything). I just sometimes go through phases of not wanting to be a responsible adult.

In retrospect, all three of my resolutions have something to do with taking better care of myself:

(1) Write at least a page (in Microsoft Word, double-spaced) of my thoughts every day, whether it’s just a journal entry or a blog post. I love to write. It always calms me down when I’m stressed out. It betters my mind and my spirit. Yet I sit on blog posts for weeks or ignore my laptop for days because, for some reason, when I get in a funk, I avoid doing things that will get me out of it. Because I like wallowing. Because I’m basically still a child. Even though I’m almost 26 years old.

(2) Do my hip exercises every day and my lower back exercises at least three times a week. I have loose SI joints. This basically means that my hip joints are weak and move around on their own, causing acute lower back pain on a pretty regular basis. I’ve been dealing with this for over a year and I always just referred to it as my hips being out of place. I finally went and saw a physical therapist about three months ago and she explained that it was actually my SI joints, not my whole hip (if my hip was out of place, she informed me, I wouldn’t be able to walk), and she gave me exercises I could do to strengthen the joints. And they worked! Really well! And so I stopped doing them after a few weeks. Because I refuse to be an adult.

(3) Wear contacts to work at least twice a week. Busy season is coming up and last year, I wore my glasses nearly every day of busy season. I claimed it was because the extra hours caused eye strain and it was easier to deal with if I didn’t wear contacts, but really, it was because I’m lazy. Because if I wear contacts, I have to make sure my eyebrows are plucked, and put on makeup, and actually look at myself in the mirror and admit that my face is fatter than it used to be. But if I wear glasses, I can disregard all of that. It’s my way of hiding, both from others and myself. Every day that I wear contacts and actually put an effort into my looks, I feel better about myself. So I mostly wear my glasses to work. Because, again, I go out of my way to not feel good.

I’ve been this way on and off for most of my adult life. I’m a procrastinator by nature, and that carries over into every part of my life, meaning that if I don’t need to make myself feel better right away, I don’t. And I’ve apparently never really been bothered or worried about that until this year. So what’s different?

Ok blog world, I’m going to let you in on a secret that NO ONE ELSE EXCEPT MY HUSBAND KNOWS. Although, no one except my husband and a couple friends even know I have this blog, so I’m guessing this next secret will probably be kept quiet. Ok here goes: my husband and I are talking about starting a family. We haven’t told anyone yet because, given my family history, there’s a good chance that it could take me a while to get pregnant, and I didn’t want to tell people we were trying and then not get pregnant for two years. Also, I’m a carrier for a rare disease and we don’t know yet whether my husband is also a carrier. If he is a carrier, then we may have a child that needs a liver transplant…like my niece did…at seven months old. I don’t want to jinx anything by telling people about our potential pregnancy…although apparently I’m comfortable telling the entire blogosphere. But let’s be honest, no one reads this anyway, so I’m really not too concerned here.

Anyway, I think that talking about having a kid has made me realize that I sometimes don’t even take care of MYSELF and that something needs to change before I have to take care of someone else. And this was all subconsciously in my mind until I randomly made resolutions and then retrospectively figured out what my mind was preparing for.

So I am wondering about two things from all of you (or the three of you that sometimes peruse this blog):

First, do you make resolutions? If so, what do they usually involve, and why do you make them?

Second, to all the parents out there, did you ever (or do you still) feel like you are not enough of an adult to raise a child? I love children and I know I want them and in most aspects of my life, I’m incredibly responsible (I know this post may make you question that, but I promise, I mostly have things together here). Yet I still worry that I’m not going to be able to do it. I worry about postpartum depression and feeling overwhelmed with responsibility and just wallowing, like I do now.

Lastly, happy new year to everyone. I’m sorry for the serious tone this post has taken. My next post will hopefully be more lighthearted; I guess the new year just brings out this side of me.

Fat and Lazy

Today it took me more than five minutes to zip up one of my favorite dresses. And after all that, I ended up not even wearing it (another five minutes to UNZIP) because it was so tight that I was afraid I might pass out at work.

I wish I could say this is the first time that’s happened…

I’m not fat. I’m fatTER than I used to be (by almost 20 pounds actually), but I was so freakishly small for most of my life that these extra 20 pounds have really only pushed me into the “average” category. The problem is that I love food. The bigger problem is that my husband ALSO loves food. The biggest problem is that I work a sedentary job. And the elephant (no pun intended) in the room  is that I’m lazy.

Seriously, I am. Most things have come relatively easy to me. For the better part of my life, I didn’t have to try very hard to do things well, and consequently, I never learned how to try. The sad part is that it took 23 years and a mega exam to bring light to this matter. And that’s the story of how I failed my first and second attempts at the CPA exam.

I never learned how to study. I learned how to go to class, write down all the necessary information without retaining anything, type up my notes the night before the exam, memorize my notes, and pass the test with a reasonably high grade. This was my process for 18 years, kindergarten through grad school. When it came to studying for the CPA exam, I didn’t even know how to start. And so I never really did start. I half-heartedly attempted to study for two months, failed the first exam I took, and basically gave up. When it came time for the second attempt, I didn’t study at all. I spent the night before the exam watching a marathon of Joan of Arcadia and feeling sorry for myself. Surprisingly, that only resulted in a bigger fail than the first time…

This is the same story with me and exercise. I played soccer and ran track all through high school. In fact, I LOVED running. I hate saying that in the past tense, because there’s a part of me that will always be a runner and I do still enjoy it when I get around to it, but the truth of the matter is that it’s not nearly as enjoyable when you’re not good at it. I used to be good at running. My not-so-humble side would say that I was GREAT at running. My not-so-humble side would also take this opportunity to shamelessly gloat about the five school records I broke, including the 400 meter dash record which still stands today over seven years later.

This would a great moment for my humble side to talk, but sadly, my humble side barely exists. I was a youngest child; I like pointing out my accomplishments. Sue me.

Back to being lazy. I loved running in high school because I was great at it. I worked at it and definitely wasn’t what most people would consider lazy, but it still came easily to me. If I had been less athletic and hadn’t seen such quick results from my hard work, I’m certain I would have given it up. That’s exactly what I did with bowling, and tennis, and volleyball, and handwriting. That’s right, handwriting. If I work hard enough at it, I can have somewhat legible penmanship. But even when I put in the effort, it’s a mediocre result at best, so I don’t even bother trying.

Now that I don’t play sports or run year round, I’m embarrassingly out of shape. And any time I try to get BACK into shape, I measure myself against my past accomplishments and get fed up before I start seeing any kind of results. And so I just don’t exercise. And I sit at a computer all day. And I eat ALL my feelings, whether I’m sad, happy, or bored, I eat. The only time I don’t eat is when I’m incredibly upset and as those moments have been few and far between (and since I don’t feel like repeating any of them), more often than not, I eat.

The thing is, about half the time I look in the mirror, I like how I look (I consider half to be a pretty great percentage, considering the fact that I’m a woman and, by nature, pretty much always hate how I look. If I like what I see in the mirror half the time, I consider that a win). When I was younger, I always joked that I had a boy’s body. I was flat-chested and had zero curves. To top it off, I had a baby face (still sort of do to this day), so from far away and even from relatively close up, I looked like a ten year old boy. And I liked that, because that’s the reason I was a great runner. Boobs get in the way when you run, ask any busty girl. If I had been a C cup instead of an A, there’s no way I would’ve ran a quarter mile in under a minute. Three times…

I went on the pill my freshmen year of college and immediately developed hips and SOME boobs. Now, to a lot of people, I still probably looked like a boy. But to me, the little bit of extra curve that I acquired was very significant. And it made me feel sexy. After I graduated college and started my desk job, I gained even more curves, most of which I was not so excited about. With bigger boobs and larger hips also comes a gut, and it’s sadly the largest and most pronounced curve I currently have. And it’s also the reason I couldn’t zip up my dress this morning, although I like to think the boobs might have had a little bit to do with that (though I’m sure they didn’t).

I feel very bi-polar when it comes to my body. I always worry about how “fat” I’ve gotten, but it’s mostly about what OTHER people will think. Will people who knew me in high school see me and silently smile about the weight I’ve gained? All of my fears come from that measuring stick against what I USED to be, how I USED to look. I’m pretty sure most people who only know me as I currently am don’t think I’m fat.

So I think this is a good moment to OWN my fat and laziness. I’m a healthy weight. I work hard in many areas of my life. I have a marriage that I’m very happy with and a husband who, honestly, wishes I was a little fatter. I’m doing pretty good right now.

I encourage you to own yourself as well! And to forget about what the OTHERS will say. When it’s just me and my husband, I nearly always feel comfortable about my body. But the second I step outside the door, all that doubt and fear rises up in me. It’s a constant battle and I don’t see it going anywhere, but I’m trying.

So here’s me trying. And here’s to being happy with myself. Fat and lazy, and proud of it.

The Best (And Worst) of Christmas

I love Christmas. Not in the listening-to-Christmas-carols-constantly or decorating-every-inch-of-my-house-with-reindeer kind of way. In fact, my current Christmas decorations, besides the tree and its ornaments, consist solely of an owl with a scarf and a battery-operated Santa Claus with large glasses who dances to “Party Rock” (this was a gift from my father-in-law who, sadly and wonderfully, shares the same sense of humor as my husband).

Even though I love Christmas, this doesn’t exempt me from having strong opinions regarding the holiday. In fact, nothing exempts me from having strong opinions. I was a youngest child. I like hearing myself talk.

Thus, I have come up with the best and worst aspects of the Christmas holidays. Feel free to add or subtract from my list as you please. It is in no way an all-consuming list.  Actually, it’s not even a list; just a mishmash of rants and ramblings. Here goes.

The WORST of Christmas:

My optimistic side felt that it would be best to end the post on a positive note. That, or my cynical side just couldn’t wait any longer to come out. One of those two.

I hate radio stations that play only Christmas music for the entire month of December. Don’t get me wrong, I like the occasional Christmas song, especially while I’m decorating the tree or wrapping presents. And I’ll be honest, the Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers Christmas CD is easily my favorite album of all time. But seriously, there are only like seven GOOD Christmas songs out there beyond Denny (see what I did there?). The rest are mostly crap. Anyone who even remotely understands music would tell you that. I don’t want to have to change my radio presets just because what used to be a good station decided to play 24 hours of mediocre music for 31 days straight.

I also hate Black Friday. It’s ridiculous, chaotic, and downright dangerous. There is even a website solely devoted to counting the injuries/deaths that occur on this horror of a day. If that website (and this one) are believed to be accurate, then more people died during Black Friday this year than from the Boston Marathon bombing. Why does this not upset more people? Seriously.

Snow before Christmas. Now being from the Midwest, I actually quite enjoy snow. It looks pretty, I can ski down it or build a snowman with it, and I love waking up on Christmas day to a beautiful white blanket of the stuff. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like Christmas to me without snow. But snow before Christmas sucks, especially when people, like me, have to travel in the days preceding the holiday. Similar to Black Friday, it’s downright dangerous (although at least in this case, I’m risking my life to be see my family, not so I can get a great deal on a Nokia Lumia 1020). Weather gods: please hold off until I am safely home; after that, snow all you want.

The BEST of Christmas:

It should be no surprise that my favorite part of Christmas is seeing family. If you’ve spent any time on this blog, you know how important family is to me. The thing I’m most looking forward to this year is seeing my niece do anything. Literally, everything she does is beautiful and hilarious and perfect. I’m counting down the days until I see that wonderful face.

A close second to family is PRESENTS. I love the gift-giving part of Christmas. Not because I’m a fan of consumerism (I’m really not) or because I need more STUFF in my apartment. No, I love the entire process involved in exchanging gifts. I love scouring the internet to find that perfect ornament for my sister. I love walking around Kohl’s for an hour and a half trying to find that perfect holiday decoration for my mother-in-law. I love wrapping presents (HATE gift bags). I love OPENING presents. I love seeing the excitement in kid’s eyes as they unwrap that new doll they’ve been wanting for months. I love it all.

Lastly, I love the message of Christmas. Not the consumerist message that is subtly pushed to the forefront more and more each year (and not so subtly brought up in nearly every paragraph of this post). No, I love the idea of using Christmas to help people. The Muppet Christmas Carol is my all-time favorite Christmas movie. There, I said it. The story is such a great look into what Christmas is all about: putting others first. It’s about looking beyond your current situation and seeing what you can do to help someone else.

“With an open smile and with open doors, I will bid you welcome, what is mine is yours. With a glass raised to toast your health. And a promise to share the wealth. I will sail a friendly course. File a friendly chart. On a sea of love and a thankful heart.” – Thankful Heart, from The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Seriously, is that not an awesome song? This soundtrack may actually rival the aforementioned Denny favorite…

What are your thoughts about Christmas? What are you most (and least) looking forward to this holiday season?

Long Distance – Part 2

I feel like the last few years of my life have been lived long distance. I know I said that in Part 1, but I felt it needed repeating.

Back to where I left off.

In May of that year, my now husband (then boyfriend) graduated with his second bachelor’s degree and commissioned into the United State Air Force. At this point, we had been dating for nine months, and we had spent the majority of those nine months in each others company. We literally spent almost every day together. Him leaving was like quitting cold turkey. I went from seeing him every day to seeing him once every 4-6 weeks. Needless to say, it was a huge adjustment, and a very unenjoyable one.

In August, I graduated with my master’s and started working in the city about an hour from where I grew up. I was living closer to my parents than I had been in five years, and I saw them frequently. My sister and her husband had just bought a house five minutes from my parents, so I saw them frequently, as well. Over the next twelve months, I enjoyed more quality time with my family than I’d had in years. In fact, it was the most time I had spent with all of them since my freshmen year of high school, when my sister and I were still under the same roof as my parents. That November, my niece was born, and it was an enormouse blessing being so close to all the people I loved.

All the people I loved, minus one. My then boyfriend/fiance (now husband) and I spent a total of 16 months living in separate states, only seeing each other once a month. Our entire engagement was spent living apart. I came home to an empty apartment each day after work and felt so lonely. Granted, I had friends in the city, and I already mentioned family close by, but I missed him like crazy. It was incredibly hard to have a relationship under such unnatural circumstances. We would get one weekend a month together, usually less than 48 hours, to try to get in four weeks worth of coupledom (Yes, coupledom. I’m aware it’s not a word. But you understand what I mean by it, right? This is how words start). I always felt like our weekends together were completely unnatural, as though we were on hyper speed trying to accomplish as much as possible in less than two days. I know I already used “unnatural” earlier in this paragraph, but it bears repeating. Living long distance is unnatural.

Then we got married and I moved to the South to be with him. If I thought it was an adjustment switching TO long distance, then it was a gigantic, monstrous, larger than life adjustment switching FROM long distance. We had both become accustomed to living alone and living apart. It was like we had forgotten how to be in the same space. We eventually remembered, but it took some time.

So here I was, here I still am, finally in the same location as the love of my life. But I’m still living long distance from someone I love. In fact, I’m living long distance from many people I love. It’s different, but ultimately feels the same. When I go back to visit my family, I feel the hyper speed all over again. I feel like I have to get in every possible minute of quality time I can before I have to leave again. So much so that sometimes I don’t even tell my friends I’m going to be in town, because I don’t want to be distracted from my family. Which just creates more long distance with my friends. It’s a never-ending cycle. No matter where I am, I’m still living long distance. And it’s unnatural. At least it is to me.

I know that a lot of people live long distance. In fact, many military families like mine will experience extended periods of long distance. I may experience that myself someday soon. And I know that many people move to different states after they graduate and it’s great for diversification and expanding your horizons and blah blah blah. But I still think that everyone I love should forever live within my home state’s boundaries. And I feel like that’s a legitimate request that should be fulfilled.

No, I don’t, actually. I know why people move away and I know the good in it. I’m just exhausted with long distance. And the holidays simultaneously make it less and more difficult to deal with.

What experiences have you had with long distance? Do you, like me, find it unnatural? Or do you find it welcoming? I know that some forms of long distance have definitely been welcome for me, namely going “away” to college (I use quotations here because my idea of “away” was about two hours from where I grew up). So if you like long distance, I somewhat get where you’re coming from. Feel free to try to persuade me to your ways; I’m up for anything that makes it easier to deal with.