Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Marriage Feels Like This

Found these random scribbles from a journal entry earlier this year. Rang so odd and true I had to share...Don't say I never taught you anything about life.

It says:
I'm watching Alex.
He sits on the couch opposite me
He watches
                a game on his phone.
I am cuddled under a blanket on the love seat,
Just watching him,
            watch his phone. 

It sounds creepy. 

It feels like marriage. 

Can anyone relate? Yeah, you probably can. Zombie, screen-centric weeknights are the entertainment du jour.

Unnerving catlike observing/journaling/blogging is another manifestation of that, for the more thinking-we're-clever, egoistic of us.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Learning to Leisure with Purpose

This morning, as I struggled to hold myself in the downward dog position, a strange thought fluttered through my mind. 

It was about 9:30 on a Friday morning. The Today Show was ambling through it's perky programing in the background and the blazing mid-morning sunshine was kept at bay with the tangled pine and twisty I-don't-know-the-name-of-it trees hanging over the back patio.

I thought, "remember when I used to be knee-deep in emails at this point in my day?"

Then, like a leaf on one of those unknown trees out the window, the memory fell out of my head and into oblivion. That lifestyle is as far from me as the days of five-to-six cups of joe by noon. Actually, those are the same days.

They live in a galaxy far, far away.

Maybe it's the yoga endorphins talking but I feel damn grateful to be able to bask in the late morningtimes now. Ah, to revel in the small ponderings of life outside the full-time workaday grind.

Sure, I'd much rather be in the "working like a dog" position, feeling productive rather than relaxed, but also flexing those financial confidence muscles like a good citizen and productive student debt-ridden statistic.

Eh, maybe our kid will just go to technical school. 

Meanwhile, making a baby with my body hardly fulfills my intellectual need for contributing to a greater cause. Sometimes I marvel at the capacity of women's bodies. Otherwise, I fluctuate between little stabs of guilt for adding to the overpopulation of an often floundering country and wonderings of if I'll ever have the energy to dive back into a demanding career post-baby.

All the conventional wisdom on the subject warns, matter-of-factly, that after birth of baby, there will be no energy, no individuality, no diving back into anything except a trance of sleepless, baby-beckoning psychosis.

Luckily, I've never been one for conventional wisdom, am I right? This isn't the blog of The Conventional Wisdom Newlywed! (Sidenote: how long can I still pretend I am newlywed? Forget childbirth, rebranding is going to be a pain.)

I swim in a sea of leisure time. I laugh in the face of full-time workers! (And secretly envy the lot of you and your thriving 401k's.)

America has a severe drought of leisure time. My flaunting of this freedom is tantamount to societal blasphemy. Each time I venture out of our apartment during business hours, I feel I should wear the visor of Vanessa Stiviano should anyone find out I splurge my 9-to-5 hours with small freelance work, bad attempts at yoga, and vegan cooking.

Power to the ladies who are ashamed to show their faces in public!

Show my face too frequently in the blinding sun of day and surely I become "one of those" who leeches off the system and doesn't know, equal pay or opportunity or something.

Of course, none of my imaginary judgers realize that my ever-loving husband works two jobs to make up for my flopping attempt to swing a career step upward whilst sporting a baby bump.

Maybe once Junior is born, he'll (yes, cause he is a boy) have better luck getting a job at an unregulated garment factory than I will have navigating this bloodsport of a new mom breaking back into the corporate workforce.

Of course I kid. Baby modeling is a far better paying gig for our sure-to-be handsome offspring.

In all reality and seriousness, this hiatus of full-time work is a rare and fleeting gift. I realize that.

When I get to stop writing an email and revel in the (very) odd sensation of baby kicking and swirling about in my gut, I can take a few minutes to reflect and connect with the alien child. Recalling the hustle and bustle of my last cubicle job, I doubt I'd have the space of mind left to think about non-tangibles such as unborn swimming babes.

Or, when I get to - yes, this is a luxury - vacuum the apartment daily and clean the kitchen regularly, I feel relieved. It's a dream to live in a perpetually clean and fresh-smelling apartment, can I get an amen?!

And to have a healthy dinner planned and prepared regularly? Bring it.

Like living abroad or getting a graduate degree, I see this pause in career-building as a unique opportunity for personal development. For a few years I was go! go! go! Checking items of my bucket list as quick as I could schedule them.

Freelancer and stay-at-home mom-in-training wasn't on the list but maybe it should have been. It's something most working women contemplate (no? I contemplated enough for both of us) Because, it's foreign and introspective. It's unbridled creativity. It's unglorified and out-of-the-box.

And it's proven to be good for the brain, and good for the soul.

We both know I'll be back for you, intellectually-fulfilling, satisfyingly demanding, corporate-style career. That is, after a nap and a bit more yoga.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Saved by the Husband-Starbucks Coalition

Yes this counts as a post.

...'cause this is all I can muster in this haze called "perpetual job hunting and interviewing while growing human life within my never not hungry belly."

THIS + the husband who brings it home with the bacon. Makes me human everyday.

And with that, here's a fun fact: not being a morning person and having to restrict one's caffeine intake is on par with asking a girl like me to suddenly stop being the raving monster I am (and have always been, deep inside, buried beneath several cups of coffee and low calorie energy beverages).

Have that second and third cup, for me, for the love of all that is good and tolerable in the world. 


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Moving, Losing Weight & Making Babies: How'd You Spend the Last 3 Months?

Spoiler alert headline aside, this hiatus from regular blogging is not without good reason. As is my unnecessary custom, I shall explain in list form:

REASON #1.   I New Year's Resolution-ed badly.

Instead of swearing off five pounds or committing to mornings at the gym, I - the pretentious writer wannabe I am - swore to write more this year. And you know what happened? I promptly went on a cleanse/gym-surge and lost five pounds.

Ya dumb girl, that doesn't look like writing to me.

Funny, the things I do to avoid chores. Self-imposed chores at that. But, darling e-readers, I have been writing, albeit in non-blogging ways!

written pages in a journal
"blah, blah, blah, writing is so hard"

And, to further justify the reason some of these paper-based murmurs haven't made it to the Internet, get a load of this gem I scribbled (very despondently, according to the sad, droopy letters) in my journal last time I obliged myself to write daily:

"I was heading to the corner Starbucks for a pick-me-up coffee to congratulate my efficiency, when a homeless man asked me for a tuna sandwich. I said I didn't have any money.  
Now I can't go to Starbucks."
Sometimes my daily character need not be recorded.

REASON #2.   Mum's the word: It's hard to blog while keeping secrets.

There was a bit of news that was purposefully kept social media-free until the past week. I felt like a child holding on to a very solemn secret who, for fear of spilling the beans, sewed her mouth shut for weeks.

The news is this, by the way:

This rhyme makes our relationship so linear and conventional!

Cat's out of the bag now! I am free to ramble without guilt, once again.

REASON #3.   Being newly pregnant, aside from sending me into a flurry of biologic anxiety (all was planned, discussed, etc...but to begin this strange sprouting process within my own gut is nonetheless an alien thing to behold) also made me wary that I'd inevitably become another mommy blogger

I'd be absolutely awful at it.

As it is, so far this new stage in life (in body, really) is not much new aside from all the world around me encouraging me to eat more. I'm all backwards! (And soon to grow in all directions, am I right?!)

However, if following a pound-by-pound story told with a rosy-cheeked maternal tone is your cup of tea, this woman is the most adorable.

REASON #4.   We recently moved. 


More like ugh-gain.

We are still strapped into apartment living, but this time we can pretend it's the country life we crave: next door graze at least a dozen horses. Yes, we are still in a city! But nearby a stable of some sort, with pretty, rather friendly animals.

This one's Ole Creepy Eye

They like long grass, sniffing my hair, and short walks along the fence line if I dangle a carrot in front of their noses. They say hi.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sharing is Caring Except When it's Your Home

On our drive back home from Livermore last night, Alex made this funny little reveal,

"When I was a kid and I walked past apartment complexes, I'd think to myself, [insert smug disdainful voice] 'my parents own their own house.'"

The irony of youth is terrific.

"Now, I am that union guy who works to get more rights for the common man."

We've come a long way, he means, him and his perceptions. Nearly backwards, some might say.

This taxicab confession is too much for me, because I am a judgmental know-it-all. My giggling response:

"When I was young I looked at houses in the suburbs and wondered why people needed so much space! If we all shared walls and lived in one building, it would be cheaper and we'd have neighbors and friends build in."

He smirked at me. Social idealist, this one

He continued, mulling the idea that conventional American thinking taught him that apartment living is for young families on the up-and-up. Entry-level living. 

He knows better now. Dating while I was in Spain, then taking on my graduate study debt coupled well with the economy to keep a house far out of his reach.

You're welcome, honey!

This was more a revelation of Alex's own disillusionment (I might be rubbing off on the poor fellow). Homeownership is a tenet of American living. Ingrained into our psyche because it means we don't have to share. 

A single-family home gets you a large chunk of space to do whatever you want: no shared walls, no shared mail boxes, no overhearing the neighbors having sex, neglecting babies, dealing drugs, or any of that substandard behavior that runs rampant in the apartment class.


It's so terribly American to want to own space. Not, Space, the final frontier - although that's true, too. Rather, the space we occupy. It doesn't count until you own it.

The newest tract housing down the street may as well be called 'Manifest Destiny.'

Manifest Destiny: Surround yourself with more of yourself!
This existential housing identity is a real problem. Our culture needs LOTS and LOTS of room to fit in all out individual buffer zones.

It's like Monopoly yet again - buy a house or be cursed to rent yourself to debt. So far we have mastered the knack for circling the board counting out the pennies we earned by passing Go! (okay, I exaggerate - it's more compelling this way).

It's enough to make us obsessed with getting our own space. Validate us, everyone! Don't we work as hard as you? We don't even want Park Place or Boardwalk. Give us that leftover brown property, Baltic Avenue? No one wants that, it's perfect for us.

Until we become rich enough to fulfill our patriotic duty of populating a home with our own single family, we can only ogle at our must-be millionaire neighbors and wonder, when is too old to begin nesting?

Ah well, we make do with our small scale rented life for now. It keeps us scrappy. It certainly has a way of teaching us to budget. And, perhaps most poetically, it keeps us in touch with our inner les misérables enough to keep us scraping away for something better.

That's a more interesting love story, anyway. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 Year in Review: Thank God it's Over

So, 2013 ended with a friendly kick in the shins.

I blame the calendar makers for insisting the overlap of Thanksgiving with Hanukkah, then the hiccup of days until Christmas and a mere sneeze of time into the next year.

Dizzy, dizzy coco pop.

That spinning of my head could also be due to Alex baking us into diabetic comas, from whence we awoke just this morning.

Remember these?

Now, I am compelled to shake the powdered sugar from my eyes and reflect on that cursed chore we called "2013." This new 2014 is bound to be far superior to it's odd-numbered antecedent for two reasons:
1) I finally get to use my  2014 Great Trains calendar
2) For dinner yesterday, I ate two helpings of homemade Hoppin' John

Suck it, 2013! 

And thus begins my farewell speech to the year. Good riddance you stinkin' thing:

Part I: Late twenties never felt so achey

Alex's job moved him to San Diego just as I completed my graduate program in Boston and was secretly hoping to settle in the East. But I, jobless, in frightful debt and rather lonely, instead agreed to move West and join him.

We drove West, young man. 

In hindsight, my favorite part was all of it (except trying White Castle, those sliders are pure disgusting).

Part II: Work and play

Alex continued to work like a cute little puppy dog until I found my own nine-to-five. In the meantime, we re-explored California by way of Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Artichokeland, and Garlicville.

Call us forty-niners! We were all optimism and sunshine in this ever-warm West.

Part III: All work and no play

Because it is required.

Scott Adams with the hard truth.

Part IV: My first trip to Yosemite (Tuolumne Meadows)!

Escaping to the mountains is the best medicine for any ailment or none at all. Proven fact.

Part V: Las Vegas blues

Alex, meet Las Vegas. Las Vegas, be nice to my husband.

Las Vegas does what it wants. 

We visited Sin City on a business trip (my work, Alex's play) which means it was just City with no Sin.

Husband spent more money on booze than gambling, which turned out to be our biggest jackpot of all.

Part VI: Getting Dumped: it's good for you!

Losing a job is much like getting dumped. Isn't it? Okay, I wouldn't know, I never got dumped. But fate and karma teamed up to teach me that lesson all the more effectively.

You know how they say Chicken Pox is unfortunate when children get it, but truly painful for adults? Getting job-dumped is the same. I couldn't evade the virus forever.

The immune system of my character thanks you, powers-that-be.

Part VII: Thanksgivukkahristmas Year's Eve

In sum: cookies.

And family. And much driving. Even more sleep. 'Twas seemingly endless relaxation with good company, homemade food and drink within reach at all times. A sweet, slightly intoxicating, dessert to the calendar year. 

With so much wine and time off work, this must be what Europeans feel like. That's it - for the new year, I resolve to become a European.

Oh wait, wait, I already tried that. Perhaps I should resolve to become a better American (whatever that means)?

Blah, blah, blah, that's not a real resolution.

How about...I resolve to write more of this daily mumbo jumbo life shit down. For reals, this time.

Like, in a journal?

Or, on the margins of my beloved New Yorker and NYT Magazine?

As haikus on the backs of receipts?

In letter form, to penpals of yore?

Or here, on the less glossy pages of the Interwebs?


There - my one resolution is now published. Official. On the records, in the cache. If I've got your mailing address, watch out!

I showed you my show me yours!

And that concludes our talk of 2013. On to the smarter, better, brighter, warmer, happier, less cross-country moving 2014. Happy new year, ya'll.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bake Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

He's good at baking. I'm good at eating. This is what they mean when they say, "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach."

Except I'm the man. 

Although we planned to bake mountains of cookies for our friends and family, I could die happily by eating them all by myself. Alas, giving away those baked goods is our theme this Christmas (yes, we're that couple). 

It's our way to avoid the materialistic mallrat return to a time when gifts were unique, sugary works of art, made by hand. 

And, not having a job right now reminds me that I'm an anti-consumerism Scrooge anyway.

Luckily, I married a man who can bake. It was Alex's idea to make cookies and it was my idea to nod emphatically in agreement.

Because baking is hard. 

As a general rule, I don't do it. There is chemistry in cooking. You must follow rules, not dance around the kitchen tossing things here and there, like it's your own private karaoke cooking show.

Which, coincidentally, is my favorite way to cook (and a great idea for a reality show). 

Thus, it should come as no surprise that last night - the ordained night of cookie baking marathon - was wholly a husbandly affair.

And this is how, in hindsight, I could tell for sure:
Alex: I think we should bake tonight. Then we can mail some gifts out tomorrow.
Me: Okay, good idea!
Alex: Want to pick a movie to watch meanwhile?
Me: Another good idea!
[Alex exits scene, enters kitchen. Staci transfixes herself onto the TV.]

Two hours later, the movie is rolling to an end, and he has created this:

Blossoms, Doodles, Douba-chocos.

Distracted by the electronic babysitter, I have done nothing. Naturally, I quickly create this: 

Because, as Shia LeBeouf says, sometimes copying other people work is it's own creation. 

Alex had singlehandedly baked 10 dozen cookies. 

My theory is that he was extra efficient because I wasn't fluttering around him shoving my camera into his personal space and spilling my cooking questions all over the counter. 

See? I helped.

When you miss the main show, you resort to photographing leftovers.

Usually, he swats me away like the nuisance I am. And by not distracting him last night, he made a record amount of treats in record time. 

We will never know for sure, but it probably looked something like this:
He makes things. I make sure the world knows how fascinating this is. 

Unlike last night, I usually watch him march through the steps of a simple (according to the baker-savant) recipe with shy amusement (and camera in hand). It's one of my favorite things to do together even though he does all the work. Marriage is like that. 

But when he's done, he encourages me to eat as many cookies as I want, as if he baked them all for me. 

It's a recipe for diabetes but I eat it up! 

Then, when we hand out these goodies in charming, homespun wrapping, I get to brag about how skilled my husband is, how he made each cookie with love; don't you feel special for getting three?! Damn right, you're feeling the holiday spirit.

It's truly a selfish way to go about gifting. It's very Christmassy. 

So...happy holiday, ya'll! If you want your own taste of these happy little cookies, do tell. I'd love the opportunity to harass Alex like a paparazzo over another few batches. And...I think he enjoys the actual baking as much as I enjoy documenting it.