Naming Rights

One cool thing about having a kid is that you get naming rights.

One horrible thing about having a kid is that you get naming rights.

Back when Little Bean was just that – a tiny bean – it was easy to pretend there wasn’t a human in my womb and that I was sick and tired for other reasons. As my belly began protruding, and our one and only ultrasound approached, it became a fun game to argue over names. I was convinced we were having a boy, so we concentrated on boy names mostly. I was in love with the name Oren. Erik said it was awful and that everyone would call our kid “Orville Redenbacher.” I argued and told him that kids don’t even know who that is!

We came up with some good ones, though: Ernest Bertram, shortened to Ernie Bert; Stubert; a score of other horrible names we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies.

I began to realize how difficult choosing a name would be, since we couldn’t agree on anything in all seriousness. I accused him of liking “boring” names. He accused me of being stubborn. True on both accounts.

During the anatomy scan at 19 weeks, 5 days, we could no longer deny we were having a baby. There it was, up on the screen! Of course, the tiny flutters I felt in my lower abdomen also had something to do with the newfound conviction that something was indeed alive in there.

Soon after we found out our Little Bean was a girl (to my shocked delight), the Question began to recur:

“Do you have any names picked out?”

Oh God, we have to name a human?! Like, a name she has to have forever – or at least until she’s a legal adult?! *bleep* That’s hard. We can’t do this! We tabled the discussion.

Because I’m so impatient, it wasn’t tabled for long. We decided to make the choice last night. We both came armed with a list of our top ten. Actually, Erik forgot his at work but I whined and said, “You promised we would do this tonight! I’ve been thinking of this all day!” He “remembered” what was on his list – otherwise we would have driven to his work to pick it up.

So there we were, armed with our lists. I wrote them carefully in my pregnancy journal. Then we agreed to cross out any name we just couldn’t live with, choose any we thought would be OK for a middle name, and rank the ones we liked. Each of us ended up with two middle name choices, four first name choices (two of which were common to each other’s lists), and four crossed out. Fair and equal!

Next, my anal-retentive nature begged me to write each name on a post-it note so we could move them around on the wall.

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The name game

We made combination after combination, eliminating ones that didn’t work and starring ones that did. By 6pm (just one hour later – we’re efficient!), we had it narrowed down to two choices: Josephine Violet and Adalynn Grace.

“How are we supposed to choose?” I cried. “I really like Adalynn but I’m so afraid if we don’t go with Josephine, I’ll regret it forever.” I imagined calling my daughter Josie or JoJoVi and couldn’t get it out of my head.

I stared at the post-it notes harder. Adalynn was a great name, but something was wrong. As lovely as Adalynn Grace sounds, it didn’t feel right to me. If I was going to give up Josephine, I had to have Violet. All my friends know I’ve been stuck on that name for a few months now.

Finally I stood up and changed the post-it notes to read Adalynn Violet. “I’ll do Adalynn if I can have Violet,” I declared.

“OK, that’s good,” Erik replied.

“Really?” I made him sign a document in my pregnancy journal – this is what you do with your husband who changes his mind every five minutes – and it was decided: Adalynn Violet. I yelled the name in different threatening tones, just to test it out. I said it endearingly. I used Addy as a nickname. It seems like a good choice.

Erik said, “Did we have this much trouble choosing Lady’s name?”

“I thought we did this well! You know how much people fight over this stuff?” I answered. “Good work, team!”

At least now we know our future teammate’s name: Miss Adalynn Violet.

It Follows: A Review

Earlier this year, by hook or by crook (but most likely via Buzzfeed), I heard about It Follows and was immediately intrigued. The reviews I read said that it was a purely psychological movie, unlike so many of the horror movies nowadays that rely on gore-porn or jumps.

Psychological horror is my jam! What more do you need than for someone to plant a seed in your brain? If you have a wild and crazy imagination, it’s easy to let that seed grow all the way into a massive [creepy] tree.

Yesterday as we bumbled around Walmart, I remembered I should buy Straight Outta Compton (yes kids, it’s true: we do not have a Netflix account… we’re not “movie people”). As I locked eyes with the first side of a movie display, there it was: It Follows. For the low price of $9.96, I carried my treasure home and prepared to watch it.

“Can we watch this tonight?” I asked Erik. “I’d rather not sleep tonight than tomorrow when I have to work in the morning.”

Anyway… we watched the movie. About 30-40 minutes in, I declared that I already didn’t like it (by which I mean it was definitely scaring the shit out of me) and looked at the box to see how long my torture would last: a mere 100 minutes.

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Photo courtesy of denofgeek.com

The reviews I had previously read were pretty spot on. They said the entire movie had an ominous feel, and it did. The suspense continually mounted, only to have nothing scary happen… yet. The main characters never seemed happy, even before anything happened. And of course, it was set in Detroit. Need I say more about the atmosphere?

So basically, the movie is about a sexually-transmitted… umm… thing. Once you’ve received this thing, It follows you on foot wherever you go. You can buy time by driving away, but It will find you eventually. It looks different every time, but always like some creepy horrible person walking after you. The only way you can get rid of It is by infecting someone else and hoping that person doesn’t die; if the person you infected dies, It comes right back after you again.

Which is why, I suppose, you can’t just infect a hooker and have your problem solved. It appears that if you don’t know about It, you wouldn’t understand something was wrong with the “person” following you until it was too late and you were dead. The main character, Jay, even tries to get rid of the curse by having sex with some boaters, only to find It coming after her yet again. It seems your best chance for survival would be to infect someone you trust so that you can both watch your backs for the rest of your lives.

Of course, in true psychological horror style, there’s no telling what It is, either. The only person who can see It is the infected person (and the person infected before them), which leads to extreme paranoia. So no one else can see It, but It seems to be able to hurt other people regardless. It has a one-track mind and only wants the infected person, but if someone else gets in Its way, It has no trouble pushing them away or hurling something at them. Toward the end of the movie, someone throws a blanket over It: so apparently, It’s invisible but very much real. It can’t go through walls or doors but It can break windows and climb into your house and bang on your bedroom door until you unsuspectingly let It in. *shudder*

Overall, I really liked the movie. I liked it so much that I woke up at 1:19am and decided to sleep on the couch with the lights on, watching Friends. I’ll be watching it again at some point, just to find even more creepy nuances that escaped me the first time.

As I explain again and again to everyone who thinks I’m a freak for loving horror movies, some people get their thrills from amusement parks. I get mine from horror.

The Rusty Hobby

Sometimes, the guilt of neglecting to write keeps me from writing something new. Isn’t that ridiculous? It’s like, “Well, I haven’t written in this long… why start now?”

Then I remember that most people wouldn’t notice such a thing, and I have the courage to start again!

I’m not sure why I’ve fallen off the wagon so severely. I used to blame it on the zombie-exhaustion of the first trimester, but that’s behind me now and I’m still not writing. Work has been really busy and that certainly doesn’t help me to want to sit behind a computer in my spare time. And then of course there’s my paranoia that cut-out people are reading my blog – why? Because I sure as hell would do it to them!

Oh well. All of this is to say that I’d like to get back at it before I’m old and gray.

Look, I just did.

Thoughts from the First Tri

Trimester, that is. Today marks the official beginning of my second trimester, and I’ve noticed a marked improvement in many of my symptoms already – thank goodness! In honor of this momentous occasion (and because I made the choice to keep it mostly private for the first trimester but kept thinking about how much of this would make a good blog post), I thought I’d write about my experience thus far.

Warning: some of this is TMI.

  • How did you know you were pregnant? This is a question I’ve wanted the answer to since I got on birth control. Being a paranoid person, it never put my mind at ease that pregnancy symptoms are eerily close to PMS. I asked every woman I ever knew who got pregnant and the best answers were vague ones, such as: “I felt like I was coming down with something.” Not very helpful! I had two methods of being able to tell before I ever took a test:
    • I charted my basal body temperature. This is an extremely useful way of trying to conceive, and it’s also a hormone-free method of birth control. I knew that I might be pregnant because my temperature wasn’t falling when it normally did.
    • I’ve always been in touch with my body. When my “PMS” got worse and worse and I felt like I was going to get the world’s worst period (I even had a mega-cramp that woke me in the middle of the night), I knew something was up. For someone who hardly ever has severe or even mild PMS, something felt very off. And for someone who consistently spots before her period, the absence of any blood was peculiar.
  • Can I brag for a second? I ran my first half-marathon this fall – and I was pregnant! I hadn’t taken the test yet, but I knew. And Lord was I tired, and emotional, and felt like death at the end of it, but I did it. Here’s a photo of me crossing the finish line with my invisible passenger:
    Half Marathon 7
    Interesting side note: Runners get weirdly competitive about dumb things. See that Forrest Gump girl behind me in the yellow? At the beginning of the race I decided I didn’t like her for whatever reason and was determined to beat her. After the numerous walking – staggering – breaks I took, I was sure she beat me. Imagine my surprise when several weeks later I downloaded my race photos and saw that I STILL beat her! Pregnant lady 1, Forrest Gump lady 0.
  • It shouldn’t be called morning sickness. At least, not for me. I called it queasiness. It was real, and it was all day and all night. It was hard to find food that would be enjoyable, yet as soon as my stomach emptied, I’d feel miserably sick. All I wanted was junk food. Vegetables? Pfftt. Fruit? No way. Pizza rolls? Yeah! Pepperoni? Fo’ sho’! One of the hardest parts of the first trimester was adjusting my food schedule and intake. Normally I write my meals on a chalkboard and grocery shop each week accordingly. Well, that all went out the window with queasiness and food aversions. Slowly I’m getting back into it.
  • Speaking of going out the window… exercise? Yeah right. Try exercising when your body insists that you go to bed at 6:30pm. One of the ways I knew the first trimester was coming to an end was that I stopped waking up drunk-tired. I’ve even gone on some walks and “runs!” The fatigue was by far the most miserable symptom.
  • You count everything in days and weeks. Each week becomes a countdown to the next week. You are like a child proclaiming he is four-and-three-quarters-years-old. All you want is for each week to roll into the next one and get further into your pregnancy without complications.
  • Vivid dreams are real, and some are really terrible. I had a dream last night that I miscarried and birthed my deceased child into the toilet. I was terrified for the rest of the night and wouldn’t get up to pee in case it really happened.
  • Speaking of being terrified… peeing. Every time you pee, you obsessively check the paper (and your panties) for blood. I’m starting to relax a little on this, but only very little.
  • Lady Gaga should be off limits. Just kidding, Mother Monster! I used to tear up when I listened to Lady Gaga, simply because her music gives me all the feels. Now I sob, tears rolling down my cheeks, and can’t sing along because I’m crying. I just went to the Hallmark store to buy an anniversary card for my husband and nearly started crying in the store because the cards were JUST. SO. TOUCHING. I cried all through The Peanuts Movie when we went to see it. In fact, I started crying before the movie because a preview for The Good Dinosaur came on. Are you sensing a pattern? Me neither. There is no rhyme or reason, just many, many tears.
  • I want my bump! I still weigh in multiple times a week – don’t want to be surprised at the doctor’s office if they scold me for gaining too much weight. And I’m happy to report I’ve only gained between 3-4 pounds, and I’m still wearing my normal clothes (sometimes the fly is unbuttoned, but still wearing ‘em!). But I really want my baby bump. I can’t wait until it pops! I can’t wait to tell people to keep their hands off! I can’t wait to actually look pregnant and not just like I’ve had too many Hot Pockets.

I’m sure there’s more but… pregnancy brain. It’s a real thing. The best advice I’ve heard so far is, “Don’t make any major life decisions when you’re pregnant.” Being pregnant makes you don rose-colored glasses. It’s like drinking after a break-up. Actually, being pregnant is a lot like being miserably hungover. That’s how I’ve described it to several friends now.

Onto the second trimester! Bring on the bump, new energy and a 20-week anatomy scan (for lo, in my small and rural town, doctors prefer to do things the old-fashioned way unless there’s a problem… no 6-week confirmation ultrasounds for me)!

Ode to Muscle Memory

Oh muscle memory, how I love thee!

Before today, the last time I ran was November 7th. Yes, it was a long, guilty month of abstaining from exercise completely. No boot camp, no running, not even a measly walk or two (OK, I did walk once or twice, but it hardly counts).

I woke up this morning with newfound energy. I can do this! I thought, and bravely packed my indoor running gear for a lunchtime jaunt. When lunchtime came and I still wanted to do it, I knew it was time to grab the bull by the horns!

I drove up to the gymnasium, parked and went down the stairs – to find locked doors. I walked down the length of the gym – all locked.

I got in my car and drove back to my office. “Why is the gym locked?” I sweetly asked, phoning the Programs building.

“Huh. It shouldn’t be. I’ll send security over.”

Now you know how determined I was! I wasn’t going to roll over and accept a run-free lunchtime, not this time! I drove back to the gym and shed my boots for sneakers, pulled off my fleece and prepared. I had two rolls of Smarties with which to count my laps, my phone with my trusty running mix, and cleaning staff to cheer me on my way.

Let me preface this by telling you I’ve also had a bad case of [what I think is] metatarsalgia in my left foot. I was afraid running might make it worse but… you don’t know until you try, right?

OK, back to the run. Back in the days of my prime running condition (a term I use loosely), I ran my 400s in this very gym. I figured today’s run would be a variation of 400s: instead of sprinting for 400 meters, I’d just run/jog/whatever, taking a walking lap for recovery in between.

Ah, muscle memory! You did not let me down. I sometimes found myself running three laps instead of two. I felt like I had done this my whole life. Nothing hurt. Even my foot began to feel relatively better!

I made it to 24 Smarties (which is 3 miles) and decided I was done. And decided I could do it again.

Muscle memory, thank you for helping me realize it takes a lot more than a month and some change to keep someone down. Thank you for boosting my confidence. And finally, thank you for the plank, push-ups and glute bridge I was able to do before work this morning. Perhaps I’m back in the saddle!

143 Days

What have I learned in 143 days?

143 days ago, a relationship died. It had been dying for quite some time, but an abrupt death comes as a shock anyway. This relationship was so monumental to me that I have kept track of how long it’s been over by using an app on my phone (hence the exact count of 143 days). Why would I do such a thing? I want to be able to look back and see how much time has passed, how my life has gone on without this person in it.

It’s not easy. 143 days later, it still bothers me, and it bothers me often. I invested a lot into this relationship over the past handful of years. This person probably doesn’t know how much I agonized over our relationship, trying to make it something honest and meaningful. I wanted a relationship with this person so bad. My close friends and loved ones couldn’t understand the hurt I put myself through. It was clear to them that this was a one-sided relationship, but the Aries in me sees something it wants and just goes after it without stopping for breath.

So here I am, 143 days older.

My life is quieter without this person. This person accused me of being dramatic and toxic, but once they extricated themselves from my life, the drama was gone. Things have even seemed a little boring without them around. I should be thankful for that, but life without conflict is sort of dull.

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Photo from baileymartindale.com

All the advice tells you to “let go,” but they don’t mention how. “Just let go of the past.” “Move forward.” “Don’t get stuck ruminating on things you can’t change.” OK, sure, I get it. Logically, that is. But how? When your mind is on a hamster wheel and can’t get off, what do you do? When past slights are all you can focus on, what do you do to change? I’ve tried self-help books, articles, counseling, journaling, and even writing an epic short story. The only thing that has sort of come close is the downstream vs. upstream mode of thinking (Esther and Jerry Hicks discuss this in their book Ask and It Is Given), but even this is something I struggle with.

Standing up for your rights is paramount. No matter how afraid you are to confront someone, standing up for yourself when your boundaries have been violated is a must. I know someday (who knows, maybe 143 days from today) I will look back on this and feel proud that I demanded respect. And you know what else? You can confront someone who truly loves you without worrying they’ll leave. You’ll only lose the people who already had a problem with you but were too afraid to tell you.

A tiger doesn’t change its stripes. When you watch someone treat other people in their life poorly, it’s only a matter of time until their sights are set on you.

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This sums it up well!

Hurt people hurt people. People in a state of emotional distress often lash out at others, whether it’s overt or covert. It makes it much easier to forgive people when you know they’re reacting out of pain.

Your enemy becomes your biggest fan. This person never acknowledged my blog until our relationship was in its final fireworks display. Suddenly they had to read the things I wrote and wonder if it was about them. It’s too bad they couldn’t have shown more care while we were maintaining a relationship.

That’s about it. I’ll continue to make a conscious effort to let go, but these entries will crop up from time to time, and I’m OK with that. I’m all about being kind to myself, and sometimes that means wallowing for a bit.

Just Writing Something

It was a nice day for a lovely surprise!

I had just walked up to lunch with my colleagues and was settling into my seat, a plate of food in front of me, when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to find Erik standing there – of all people in the world, the last one I expected to see was my husband! He had come to my work to borrow a tool from our mechanic and when he stopped by my office, my coworker sent him up to lunch to find me. We made a space for him at our table and he joined us for lunch (pesto manicotti, chicken parmesan hoagies and tater tots, among other things).

There are a few things I really love about living up here, and there are a few things I don’t enjoy (I really miss suburbia every now and then – my rallying cry is, “If only we had a Walgreens!”). One of the best things about living in a small town is that it’s not unheard of to see your spouse in the middle of the day. Back in Massachusetts, Erik and I were separated by 54 miles during work hours. There was no possibility of having a quick, casual lunch together. And there was absolutely no way to carpool. Being separated by 6 miles is much nicer!

Anyway, it’s the little things in life. Tomorrow we get to go to the Snowball – a luxury I haven’t had since high school! It’s a dinner and dance (with a live band) put on by our chapel here at work, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m spending Saturday writing Christmas cards and going Christmas shopping with my friend Julie. And next weekend will be all about the cookie baking!

Eating, drinking and being merry are things I do year-round, but there’s nothing like the month of December to bring out my cheer. I feel like a big kid whenever this month rolls around. I count down the days until we get our tree. I relish every minute of it. I unpack my Christmas decorations with glee, forgetting just what I have until I see it again. And of course, I spend my time in thrift shops, scoring new-to-me decorative finds that other people have given away.

It doesn’t hurt to live in a town that looks like a snow globe, either.