Sunday, July 31, 2016

15 Things No One Told Me About Pregnancy

Things that no one told me about pregnancy:

1.      The headaches.

Oh, the headaches. Especially during those first few weeks, my hormones must have been having a riot because I had headaches that left me in bed for an entire day.  My doctor recommended taking Tylenol and drinking water. Tylenol doesn’t do much. It really has only been useful to me if I have a fever.

2.      Taking prenatals can make you want to vomit.
     
      Pro tip: take them at night right before you go to bed. I have no idea why this works (and I’m sure there’s some science behind it), but it does.

3.   Food cravings are not just for sitcoms.

There were days where I felt like I couldn’t eat anything and there were others that I told my husband I would cut him if he walked through that door and didn’t have French fries in his hands.

4.      That heartburn is Satan’s way of saying hello in the middle of the night.

      I never knew what heartburn was until I was 8 months pregnant and decided to eat empanadas for dinner on New Year’s Eve.  I sent the Mister out for Tums in the middle of the night and he came back with Pepto-Bismol claiming that the guy at the gas station said “they were pretty much the same thing”. I wailed that he didn’t care about me or the baby as I threw him back out into the night to get the job done right.

5.      Water is also your doctor’s cure for everything. 

      You have to drink a lot of water for the obvious reasons, but with your doctor...
                                                              -Spotting? Water
                                                              -Headaches? Water
                                                              -Bleeding out of your eyeballs?  Have you tried drinking more water?

6.      After you drink all of this water, you can’t hold it for very long.

I had to rearrange my hours at work for an earlier shift in order to avoid traffic.  If I wound up in the car during rush hour, I would have to scope out places to stop halfway home. One gas station in particular knew to just hand me the bathroom key if I rolled in.

I learned that peeing yourself is totally a thing that happens. I was only weeks away from giving birth, standing next to the toilet and getting ready to roll my leggings down when I unexpectedly sneezed. It was just as bad as you can imagine.  When I pressed my doctor for suggestions on what to do, his reply was, “Try to use the bathroom more often, but don’t stop drinking water”. Thanks Doc.

7.      Doctors are reluctant to attribute any issues to your pregnancy.

You could be having any number of symptoms and they like to give very “safe” answers. I felt like I wanted to make a cross stitch for my OB’s office “Pregnancy: it could be from that, but maybe not”.
 
Only it would have a nice frame
8.      Kicks from the baby aren’t always cute.

Babies in breech (or kneeling breech like mine was), kick you directly in the cervix and it is the WORST

9.      Your boobs will grow.

But, you should hold off on ordering nursing bras until AFTER the baby is born because, and you might not want to hear this, but they are only to grow some more.

10.   Braxton Hicks are super strange feeling. 

Your tummy gets tight and hard.  Sometimes it’s enough to make you take a sharp breath in if you weren’t expecting it.

11.  There are some days where your baby doesn’t move AT ALL.

You will tell yourself that this is normal and everything’s fine, but you will also be secretly freaking out and researching home doppler kits until you feel another kick.

12.   If you have an extra nipple, pregnancy can “wake it up”.

I have a third nipple, it suddenly became more noticeable and defined, but it never produced milk.

13.   People will comment on your body and suddenly try to touch you.

Don’t worry; once you have the baby no one is interested in you anymore. Then you are fighting them away from your kid, which is a whole other thing.

14.   I would begin worrying about my baby from the moment I received a positive test.

And that I would continue to worry in some way or another until the day I drop dead.

15.   It is possible to fall in love with someone you have never seen or spoken to.

Maybe some part of me knew about this, but I didn’t really understand it until it happened to me.

#pregnancy #headaches # water #doctors #cravings #heartburn
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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My love of pantyhose (and how I afford it)

Some people hate pantyhose, I am not among them. I wear pantyhose often and for a few reasons:

1.       I don’t like the way my shoes feel on my feet without some kind of barrier.

2.       My legs can be dry and no one will see.

3.       If I am a day past when I should have shaved, it isn’t noticeable.

4.       My skin tone can best described as “paper white”, so it can give a little boost.

5.       Control top.

6.       I just feel better with them on.

Here are some things that I don’t like about pantyhose:

1.       You can’t walk around the house with no shoes/slippers/socks on while they are on.

2.       They can be ruined before you have even gotten them fully up your leg.

3.       Pantyhose snags on nails, jewelry, furniture, etc.

4.       Washing them for reuse (if they make it that far) requires care.

5.       They are pretty freakin’ expensive for something you might only get to wear once.

Drugstore pantyhose can run you from about $6 and up, while a visit to the department store can range from $20-$60! I have done everything to take care of the pairs that I have. I won’t wear jewelry (including my engagement ring) in order minimize snagging, I file my nails, I wash them by hand (if they survive the day), and I take them off as soon as I get home so that I’m not tempted to walk around with them on. Even with all of these precautions, you can get a pair just over your knee and... 
*RIIIIIIIP!!!* 

$6 down the drain and you didn’t even make it out of the house.

I’m going to share with you a discovery that I made (and, no, this is not an affiliate link and I am not getting paid to write this) at the Dollar Tree. I had made my way over the local dollar store on the hunt for more coloring books for the MiniMe and found myself wandering the aisles.  At some point, I stopped and found this:

Magic!
That’s right, pantyhose….for a dollar. I figured it couldn’t hurt to give a shot and if I was disappointed, hey, it only cost a buck, so what? Little did I know what I had found, because they are AMAZING! I wore the first pair and took my usual precautions with no issue. Then, I found myself wearing them for the second and then the third time. That’s when my laziness kicked in and I just threw them into a lingerie bag with the rest of my laundry. They completely survived the trip!  Eventually, I lost count of how many times I had worn them. I went back to the store and picked up three more pairs to put into rotation just to make sure I didn’t have some kind of anomaly on my hands. But, much to my delight, the next few pairs held up as well, only one fell victim to my toddler and her grabby hands.

My next step is to order a case from here and have it delivered to my local store (free shipping that way!). Once I get those babies home, I’ll probably roll around on the bed with them reveling in my newfound freedom from overpriced flimsy pantyhose.

#pantyhose #dollarstore #lifehacks #thirfty #lazy
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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Paging Dr. Pepper, Dr. Pepper…

Gather round, while I tell you the tale of a time when the Mister and I were on a double date. (That was something that actually happened pre-baby). The subject of a mutual friend came up and I told the only truly funny joke of my entire life.

Our friend started off with, “Did you hear? Mike’s having a baby.”

“Yeah, that’s so crazy. I never thought it would happen.” The Mister replied.

“He didn’t think he could have kids” said our friend with a very serious tone in his voice.

Now this was news to me, suddenly this was a story about a miracle baby and I needed details.

"Really? Why is that?"

“Oh well, the doctor said that since he drinks so much Mountain Dew, his sperm count would be low and he wouldn’t be able to”.

The Mister and I stare at him for a moment, trying to figure out if he was serious or not (after a few beats of silence we realized that he was).

So I asked, “What doctor told him that? …Dr. Pepper?”
I imagine it went exactly like this.

I have never and nor will I ever again laugh that hard again at one of my own jokes.  I couldn’t have come up with the setup for that punchline on purpose even if I had tried.  On the ride home, the Mister and I would make eye contact and spontaneously laugh about how stupidly perfect it was.

Looking back on it, I can’t help but wonder what the actual conversation was with his doctor because I can’t believe that a medical professional would say, “Well, you drink this one particular brand of soda, so I guess babies just aren’t in your future...it's science”.  It must have been phrased as a warning to try to get him to drink less soda, more of a “If you don’t cut down, there could be issues later on down the road” kind of thing. Yet, Mike heard, “You don’t need condoms anymore because you do the Dew”.

If I lived in a world where a doctor would actually throw that kind of prognosis out there, I would hope that it would at least deserve a google search or something when you get home. I also wonder what his girlfriend said about the whole thing? Did she also live a world without Dr. Google to crosscheck things?  Does she take her boyfriend’s word as gospel?  Or did she really want a baby and was like, “Yeah, sure, okay…now take your pants off”.

I'm going to go with that last one.



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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Positively Positive (and Battleshots)

2013 was the year of ultimate big-kid birthday parties for the Mister and I. His involved going to Wrestlemania and feeling the heat come off the stage as the bells of the Undertaker announced his entrance. Mine was a group trip to that fine New Jersey institution, Medieval Times. Normally, I would drink large overpriced drinks in souvenir glasses or tankards, but this time the alcohol just wasn’t sitting right.  We ate, we cheered our knight, I even caught a flower….mine may have been the oldest birthday in the building. Overall, it was a fairly standard trip.

Once we got the few children that were with our group to their respective homes, everyone came back our apartment to continue the party.  It was here that our entire friendgroup was introduced the horrible, horrible game called Battleshots.  The game goes exactly how it sounds:

  • There are two empty pizza boxes with game boards drawn on them.
  • Use sharpie on the lower lid of each box to create a grid that looks like this:

The Grid
  • Then create identical boards for the top part of the lid, you can either use sharpie again or you can print the grid on regular printer paper (8.5x11) and tape it up.
    • The upside to printing the grid is that you can track the spaces you’ve already selected directly on the board and for each game you play you can just tape a fresh piece of paper up there. 
    • If you go the sharpie route you’ll have to track your moves on a separate piece of paper.  
      • Unless you have a photographic memory or something, in which case you can just forget I even tried to help.
  • You then set up your shots, from what I could tell my friends went with 3 “ships”. 
    • One was made of two shot glasses, another was made of three, and the third “ship” was four shot glasses in a row.

It turned into a two person per side game because everyone wanted to play and it helped distribute the shots so that no one person would get alcohol poisoning or some other equally un-fun party foul. My husband got swept up into this game with his cousin, winning round after round against other teams. To be honest, I’m not sure if I would call it “winning” because after playing for so long you wind up ridiculously drunk.

My friends kept handing me beers, but every time I took a sip I did not feel well and I would wind up putting them down. I felt kind of uncomfortable and bloated and thought that maybe I was getting my period.  I even sat down for Battleshots, but as I smelled the alcohol I felt sick and started rubbing my stomach.  John’s cousin looked up from his pizza box and said, “Why the hell are you rubbing your stomach like that?”. My landlord, who was also at the party (fyi, he’s awesome) and was standing nearby in the kitchen, chimes in with, “You aren’t pregnant, are you?”. Cousin replies, “You better fucking not have kids before us!” (He and his wife had been married for over 5 years at that point and REALLY wanted kids). I found myself saying, “What? Psshhh! No! Nooooo”. While in my head I thought, “When was my last period? When was I supposed to get this one?”.  I was pretty sure there was no way and continued on with my evening until the partygoers all headed home.

We had only one friend crashing on our couch and began the process of getting ready for bed.  As I sat waiting for the Mister to come back in our room, I realized he had been gone for a while and decided to go investigate. For context, the Mister is very tall man and we had a relatively small bathroom.  There he is, sitting on the toilet with his forehead on the sink counter completely passed out.  I resisted the urge to take a photo and instead very carefully shook him awake and guided him back into our bedroom.  I started to settle in to sleep; still thinking of what my landlord had asked me earlier, “You aren’t pregnant, are you?”, when the Mister shot straight up and turned to look at me.  My heart started racing, so sure he was about to throw up all over the bed. Instead, he maintained this HARD eye contact with me and proceeded to slide sloooowly off the bed, ass-first onto the floor. Once he hit the ground, he crumpled over like a broken marionette and did not move.  I tried to hoist him up, but he was complete dead weight.  I woke up our friend in the living room and the two of us got him back into bed, only to have him pop up and run BACK into the bathroom. So, the friend and I, once again, coax him back into bed where he stayed until late in the morning.

I woke up a bit before everyone else and found myself thinking about that question again, “You aren’t pregnant, are you?”.  I remembered that I had an old test hanging out in the bathroom drawer, when I took it out, I could see it was expired.  I thought to myself, “Eh, whatever. I’m not pregnant, so I’ll just take this test, it will be negative, and I’ll move on with my day”.  So, I pee on the stick and before it had even fully saturated the testing area…BAM! Two pink lines immediately appear.  I didn’t even have to wait 2 minutes for it to register. I felt my eyes go wide and my first thought was, “This test is broken because it’s expired, I better get another one to be 100% sure”.  I snuck out of the house to go to the drugstore, which wasn’t too hard considering how hungover the Mister and his friend were.  I bought another test that was actually a two-pack and brought them home.  Two more tests later, they’re all positive, and I am definitely 100% pregnant.

I sat on this information, patiently waiting for the friend to go the eff home, but he just didn’t seem to be moving.  Finally, he got in the shower and I cornered my husband in the doorway of our bedroom.

     “I’m pregnant”.

      He looked at me bleary-eyed, and shook his head, “What?”.

     “I’m pregnant!” I said through my teeth, hoping our friend didn't hear.

     “Whaaaat are youuuuu talking about?” was the reply I received.

Finally, I hold up all 3 positive tests with both hands and shove them in his face, “Look! Looooook what we have done!”. He sobered up immediately, grabbing my hands to look at the tests. He pulled me into his arms and said, “This is a good thing.” Then, he pushes me out to arm’s length to look at my face and said, “This is a good thing?”.  Then, pulled me back to him and said, “This is good thing”.  At that moment, I exploded into tears because it was all so overwhelming, it was a good thing, but we didn’t plan for this right now and WHEN did this happen?

Unfortunately, this very same day we had to go to a christening for a family member while we sat on this knowledge, not saying a word to anyone, while the Mister was still feeling the aftereffects of Battleshots. Since christenings are kind of baby-centric events, we got a lot of the “When are you going to have kids?” questions. It was kind of weird to think, “Now, right now.” all while giving our usual answers about waiting for the right time.

When we returned home, the Mister’s head must have finally cleared because he announced, “I know when it happened….the wine festival”.

Dun, DUN, DUUUUUUN!!!

At that moment it all came flooding back to me. He was absolutely right; it was the only time it could have happened. I had always envisioned us waiting a few years and then “trying for a baby”, which in my mind involved a lot of sex (probably why the idea appealed to me), and maybe the Mister anxiously waiting and holding my hand while the test turned positive. But, we don’t live in a Lifetime movie special, things don’t really happen that way. Well, maybe for some people they do. For others, you go to a wine festival and come back parents.

Sometimes, you have to let go of your idea of how things should be and enjoy them just the way they are.

#Birthdays #Wrestlemania #MedievalTimes #EPT #Pregnancy #Ooopsababy

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Trampons

Trampons. That was what one of my female acquaintances called “Super-Plus” tampons on Facebook.  She was clearly very pleased with herself, but phrased it as a question: “Does it make me a bad person when I see super-plus tampons, I immediately think “trampons”? TeeHee!”  In reply, a bunch of her male friends laughed about all those loose women who just can’t seem to plug up their cavernous vaginas during that time of the month. I guess they should have thought twice before slutting it up, now they are forever doomed to use super-plus tampons…it’s the price you pay!

For "those" women in your life!
I think what caught my attention was that it was another woman feeding this idea to the world that the only ones who need that kind of tampon are clearly sleeping around. Never mind that some women have endometriosis or fibroids or PCOS or have had a baby or has something happening that might affect their flow. I have a uterine abnormality; given the option, I fervently WISH that I didn’t need them. I hate buying them at the store, I hate keeping them in my bathroom, and there is nothing about them that I like.

Good for her if she’s never needed anything above “Regular” in the tampon department; but does that mean that she’s had less sex or sexual partners than me? No.  I’m sure there are women who have had TONS of sex who don’t need to go beyond “Light Days”. Plus, I would never judge women who are having lots and lots of sex; if it’s what they want to do and they are taking care of themselves in the process…I don’t care! You do you and do it in whatever ways works. If you need a super-plus tampon paired with an overnight pad…I don’t care! That is your business. (Unless we are having mutual bitch-fest about how awful our periods are. In which case, I feel you ‘boo. Periods are the worst and we don’t deserve this abuse).

Really, I get it; it’s a clever play on words. It’s a joke, but it’s a joke at the expense of other women who probably, if given the choice, don’t want to have to use them. I also recognize that this isn’t a horrible offense in the way other jokes can be, but still something about it rubs me the wrong way. I think it might be because this came from another woman more so than the joke itself. I'm not raging mad, just kind of disappointed.

Ladies, we need to be good to one another.  It can be easy to fall into that trap of dragging others down to be funny or to be accepted. Even when it feels great to be one of the guys, try to represent women by not tearing each other down with a thousand little cuts and jabs. We live so much of our lives shrugging off these tiny hits against us not only by strangers, but also by people we know. Each statement or judgement alone might not look like much, but the cumulative effect of this is real. If we aren’t fair to women as women, no one else is going to do it…it starts with us.

Be good to each other as much as you can. Unless someone is being a total jerk, you know when to make exceptions.

#periods #tampons #trampons #judgement

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What's a vacation?

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (back when I took vacations)


An artist friend of mine had me over one day and we were sitting in his studio talking. He asked what I had been up to.

"I'm just working so much, I need a vacation."

"...what's a vacation?"

A little thrown off by the question, I replied, "It's when you get some time to do whatever you want. You go where you want. Sleep when you want. Vacations are when you don't answer to anyone but yourself."
He looked at me confused, ”...but I do that every day."

Well, shit. He had me there. Every day of his life was pretty much my definition of a vacation. He did what he wanted, when he wanted, and no one could tell him what to do. This isn't about "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" because that is such utter bullshit. Even my friend (who from my perspective is apparently on an endless vacation) works and he works hard every day because he feels compelled to do it; if he didn't, he probably wouldn't.

Let's be completely real here, I don't feel compelled to do a whole lot. I used to, there was a time when I felt like I was interested in EVERYTHING at once. My schedule was jammed with crap I wanted to do. Looking back, l definitely got sick a lot more often because I just wasn't resting enough. I had the energy, the drive, and so many things were calling to me. Who had time for rest and sleep?

These days, I feel obligated to do things. I feel obligated to get up and go on with my day for a long list of reasons: I have bills, we bought a house, we are a two-income family, I would be a really shitty stay at home mom, my student loans are scary, if I don't do certain things the house falls apart, I am keeping a tiny human alive, I am trying to be a good example for my daughter. The list could go on and on. Overall, I'm glad I'm not the type of person to just roll over and not deal with my responsibilities, but that sense of doing things because I want to...I have no idea where that went.

I took time off recently since I had accumulated a few vacation days. I was ready for my "staycation" and I had all of these ideas of things I was going to do. A whole WEEK of nothing but things I was interested in!

Ultimately, there were only 3 things I accomplished on that list:
  1. Watch Maury (because I fucking love Maury, but I don't DVR it because it's just better in the daytime).
  2. Have lunch with a friend whom I had not seen in a few months.
  3. Go to an artist's open house (it just so happened to be scheduled during the week I took off).
Otherwise, none of the other stuff I had planned for 5 glorious days had come to fruition. Why is that? Because even when I'm home alone, not working, my time is still not my time. For example, I REALLY wanted to work on my damn photo album because I'm already 2 years behind on that shit; but since we were having a BBQ on the Saturday after my final vacation day, there was an expectation that I would clean the house...not a big deal, but also not my top choice activity (especially during this whole week of ME time). Then it turned into me doing the shopping and picking out party supplies and getting stuff for the kids to do at the party, etc. Did I mention it was my own birthday party? The birthday party that the Mister swore I wouldn't have to do anything for other than show up. Remind me never to have one of those again.

After a week of doing a bunch of crap I didn't want to do, I had to run around hosting an all-day-into-the-night party. Come Sunday I was dead and wondering where my vacation went.

As a mom and a wife, will I ever get my own time? Time where you do things you are compelled to do, not obligated to do? Is that a thing that happens?

We're planning our first family vacation and I'm having the horrible realization that it's not actually going to be a vacation. I won't get to do what I want when I want, I definitely won't sleep when I want, and I'll have to answer to the Mister and our child (more so the child; toddlers are unreasonable and demanding little people). I guess what we're going on is actually a "trip" and not a "vacation". Which as far as I can tell, a trip is the same thing we do every weekend only stretched out over the course of 8 days, and in a completely different location. 

Granted, I feel very fortunate that we are able to plan this trip (yes, let's just call it what it is). Even if it does involve sticking a 2 1/2 year old on a plane, it's going to be a great experience for us as a family. The fact that it is not a vacation and that I don't know if I can ever take a vacation again, is making me want to become an artist. It seems like those guys have got it right.

#vacation #family #trip #artists #responsibilities  
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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Pregnancy, Personal Space, and an (Unfortunate) Kiss

I want to preface this by saying that my mother in-law and father in-law are goodhearted people, they also have a “don’t give a f*ck” attitude that causes situations like the one I will lay out for you today.

My In-Laws weren't terribly interested in giving me advice until I got pregnant. Suddenly, they were fonts of wisdom and all about being in my business. They flooded the Mister and I with equal amounts of both unwanted advice and terrifying stories: "I stopped giving my sons formula at 3 months because it was too expensive and they're fiiiiiine". Or when told that the hospital checks the carseat before discharging the baby, "I remember bringing our oldest home from the hospital in my lap and he's fiiiiiiiine". (Mind you, I'm the same age as their oldest, carseats existed and people like them are probably the reason hospitals check now). There is a whole larger discussion to be had about how the Mister and I are aiming a bit higher than “fine” with our child, but not today.

Anyway, this sudden interest also included invading my personal space, which mainly involved talking to and kissing my belly even before I had a bump. No matter how many times we told them not to do it, my MIL would swoop in like a ninja when I least expected it.

PSA: Please ASK a pregnant woman if she wants to be touched! Just because she creating another person, it does not make her public property for you to handle or even comment on.  Keep your hands and thoughts to yourself.


Seriously. Just, no. Don't do it.

Come wintertime, I had a good sized baby bump and maternity coat to cover it. (It went just below my hips; I liked to keep my butt warm since I was living in leggings at that point). We were leaving the In-Laws house and I was already zipped up, smugly thinking I had FINALLY found a way to defend myself. Much to my horror, she starts pawing at the bottom of my jacket and attempts to yank it up. When that doesn't work, she bends over and tries to kiss BELOW the coat, completely misses the bump and plants one right on the front of my crotch. I'm frozen going, "YOURMOTHERJUSTKISSEDMYVAGINA YOURMOTHERJUSTKISSEDMYVAGINA" over and over. My husband says, "What the fuck Ma?!" She just shrugs, says she doesn't care and walks away, zero fucks given.

I was in stunned silence the whole ride home and finally told the Mister that he had to deal with it. He negotiated with her that she just blow kisses from that point forward, otherwise I refused to see them. At no point, did she express any remorse or give a hint that she had done anything weird or awkward.  Like I said, zero fucks given.

Tl;dr my MIL tried to kiss my baby bump and instead planted one on my vag.


#personal #space #inlaws #awkward #no #maternity #clothes 
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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Art of Invisibilty

There are a lot of ways that you can feel invisible. I’ve felt invisible when trying to speak up in a room full of men, who did not seem to notice when I opened my mouth, but easily could hear one another. I’ve felt invisible when my depression reared its ugly head and, even when I tried to express what was happening out loud, no one seemed to acknowledge it; either because they were going through their own things or were too put off by an open declaration of not feeling okay. Now that I am in my 30’s, I am experiencing invisibility in a way that I have not felt since before I was 12 and an adult man commented on my “development” for the very first time. (Although, this new level of not being seen is a bit of a relief, I have spent more of my life being noticed in unwelcome ways than not.) Right now, I am thinking about that false sense of being invisible. The one we have when we’re out in public, whether it’s in crowds or sitting in our cars.

Maybe it’s a northeast thing, but it seems like everyone mutually puts their blinders up. “If I don’t see you, then you don’t see me” kind of thing. You could walk past hundreds of people and not make eye contact with anyone. Unless you run into someone with a petition or who is trying to sell you something, those people make it their business to put their face in yours to get your attention (as jarring as that may be). Barring those individuals who are out in public with an agenda, you can walk around largely unnoticed, not being seen and not seeing.

Image via Pixabay
We put our headphones in and our hoodies up, all to avoid interacting with potential strangers who break the rules and attempt to engage with us. I can still recall the day I was walking quickly through Penn Station, mentally already on the subway platform, when I felt a punch on my arm.  It completely pulled my attention into the room I was standing in, only to realize it was an old high school friend giving me a friendly tap as he hurried toward his own train home. The interaction left me stunned that I just didn’t see him and he was right in front of me. I was so absorbed in my daily ritual of weaving in and out of faceless commuters and tourists, that if he hadn’t got my attention I never would have realized he was even here.

I’m not sure why I do it, it could be defense against crowds or a dislike of interacting with strangers because it always feels like they want something from me. I can say for certain that it isn’t like this everywhere.  I have lived outside of the country in a (very small) place where people passing you on the street would look you in the eye, nod their head, and say “good morning/afternoon/evening” and ask how you are doing…even if they have never seen you before and may never see you again. To not reply would be considered incredibly rude. These brief exchanges would pepper every excursion I had outside of my apartment and it honestly took some getting used to. Even worse, they honk to say hello.  Complete strangers would honk their horns as they passed by and wave out of their car windows.  The Jersey in me would be like, “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? I WASN’T GOING TO CROSS! I’M NOT AN IDIOT!”. Until a local explained to me that honking is not generally aggressive in that way. I had a lot to learn about being seen…by everyone…all the time.

When I returned to the U.S., I had to adjust all over again.  I was accidentally smiling at strangers on the street and probably freaking them the hell out. I would look over at other people in their cars to see what they were up to. Spoiler: lots of coffee drinking and nose picking. (Yes, contrary to popular belief, other people CAN still see you inside of your car).  I once saw someone shaving their head and I still have a lot of unanswered questions about their life choices.  Now that I had returned home, I was having trouble going back inside of my northeastern commuter cocoon.

Things leveled out to a sort of balance between the two mindsets, I feel much more aware of both sides now; the desire to be seen versus the desire to be invisible. A few months after my return, I encountered something new: watching one person pretend another is invisible, when the other is clearly acknowledging them. The Mister and I were in the beginning stages of our courtship (aka dating) and were riding on a very crowded train.  We wound up in a two-seater that was facing another two seater with a woman across from me.  My husband is a very tall man and roughly 80% leg, so I assumed no one would attempt to take the empty seat.  I was wrong.

So very wrong.
As the man slid into the seat with his bag in his hand, the Mister goes, “Wait. What? What is happening? Oh God, no.” and yet, the man proceeded to get into a position that I can only describe as “man-scissoring” and then refused to make eye contact with either of us.  I, of course, laugh hysterically and take a photo (for posterity’s sake) because I am a very supportive girlfriend; but the man never looked up or even acknowledged that anything funny/odd/weird was happening. The man had blinders that were so strong, so industrial-strength, that he actually possessed the ability to pretend that neither of us were there. It was greatest display of acting like you’re alone in public I had ever seen. He actually willed us both in non-existence. A few stops later, we were able to untangle ourselves and get to different seats.


#invisibility #NJTransit #awkward #humor #feelings

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

What’s the Strangest Thing Anyone Has Ever Left on Your Porch?

This story goes back to when I still lived at home with my parents.  My Uncle bought a house in the same town as us and he had become a bit of local legend with my friends who hung out at the same bar as him. They had all adopted him as their own Uncle because he is pretty much the coolest mad-scientist bachelor you will ever meet.  He works as a chemist, but also runs his own eBay store to generate the income necessary to support all of his hobbies. Here is a list of my favorites:

  • Koi Pond
    • He had kaiju monster-sized fish in his pond that resulted in frequent battles with local raccoons .
  • Gemology 
    • Yes, with certification and shipments of pretty stones arriving at his doorstep.
    • He once ordered gems from Pakistan that came in a metal box wrapped in twine and burlap, with his address scrawled in serial-killer handwriting directly on the fabric.  How it didn’t get flagged as a potential explosive by the USPS, I will never know.  
  • Panning for Gold
    • He would have actual dirt shipped to his house from other parts of the country and pan for gold in his backyard, this both confused and fascinated his neighbor who thought he was finding nuggets in the NJ dirt. 
    • I have no idea what he does with the dirt when he’s done.
  • Hunting
    • We once ate quail that was approximately 80% metal because he used the wrong ammo. I don’t know how the birds didn’t just explode.
  • Amateur Waterway Restoration
    • His local pond had experienced a devastating incident that killed most of the aquatic wildlife.  He started researching what plants and animals could rebuild the ecosystem. Turns out, you can just have these things delivered to your door, no questions asked.
      • Side note: I’m pretty sure this is illegal, so don’t do it and don’t ask me for my Uncle’s name, I ain’t no snitch.
    • If you find an unusual species of catfish in some random rinky-dink pond in NJ, you know why. He even kept one in his fish tank until it got HUGE before he released it
  • Impulse Buys Late at Night

It’s that last bullet point that takes me to our story. My Uncle picked up this weird habit of ordering random shit off of home shopping channels and late-night infomercials. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say he was probably stressed and couldn’t sleep. I swear sometimes he'd forget what he ordered until it showed up at his front door. One time he ordered this large, heavy, silver sword. Like a Conan the Barbarian broadsword, only it had snakes on the hilt. It was covered in fake jewels and paint that gave it this South Asian vibe. I’m not really clear on what the initial vision was for the sword: Starting a collection? Living room d├ęcor? Home defense?  He was never able to give a good explanation as to why this thing caught his eye.

This sword is exactly 1,000 x's better looking than the sword my Uncle bought.
Image via Pixabay     
Here’s a little backstory on me: Ever since I was little I loved swords, fencing, and the Princess Bride. This led to me picking up actual foil and epee fencing as a teen/young adult. This pastime did not lead to adventures and hijinks with a giant and a Spaniard, but it was something fun to do. I had been fencing for a few years by the time this regrettable purchase arrived in the mail. I imagine my Uncle's thought process went like this: "What am I going to do with this? I can't return it...I know! My niece fences, that involves swords, and this is a sword. Brilliant!”. So, he drives by, leaves it on the front steps, rings the doorbell, and runs away. Just leaves this awful, heavy sword in front of the house and flees like it was a bag of flaming dog poop.

My father was the one to discover it leaning against the house and automatically assumed it was something of mine and brought it inside.  After some investigating, my mother eventually unveiled who the culprit was.  My Uncle said it was a “gift” and so, they brought the quasi-weapon into my bedroom because, apparently, my parents either don't ask a lot of questions or trusted me implicitly as a teen. The sword eventually became a talking point for visitors; it wasn't really balanced at all and had an awkward shape, so it couldn't even be good for theatrical use and it was too heavy/ugly to hang on the wall. So, I propped it up in a corner and there it sat for years, only occasionally being picked up to be dusted off or handled by a curious friend.

One day, it fell over onto the carpeted floor and one of the snakes snapped off. The inside of the hilt looked like it was full of tiny air pockets, there were little bubbles scattered throughout the metal, so I guess it was pretty low quality (shocking, I know). There was no clear way to repair it and, honestly, I didn’t really want it in my room anymore. So, I tasked my father with disposing of it properly because I am pretty sure you don’t just stick broken swords in the trash bin. The guys at the recycling center in town had a FIELD DAY when it was dropped off, I’m fairly certain they battled each other with it and one of them may have kept it. I guess, one man’s unwanted late-night purchase, is another man’s treasure.

#koi #gemology #paydirt #gold #impulse #buys #swords  #home #shopping
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