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!

"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. 

Again.

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.

Here's a peak:


Copyright Staci Morrison, 2014

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.

Right?

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 misĂ©rables 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?

Yes. ALL OF THE ABOVE.

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 resolution...now 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 race...to 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. 







Monday, December 2, 2013

Word to the Wise

There it is.




Consoled once again by (word) porn. This is the encapsulation of the seemingly alien life of balance these newlyweds are trying to eke out.

Perhaps the meritocratic, idealized work-life balance in my mind is the stuff of dreams. That whole, non-earthly bit. Ah well, thanks dramatic, word bot tumblr, for giving it to me straight.


Learn new words, feel better, get wiser. It's the Staci Morrison way.




Wednesday, November 20, 2013

This Girl is On Fired

I've tried to write this post for a week. Creeping up on week two, actually.

It's cause I just got fired. And I'm not sure what to say about that. Especially on the wide world of the Internets.

Except, it was my first time getting fired. And, it feels just as bad as everyone says.


Okay, so I can't help but talk about it. Just a little bit. It's a big deal! And with this new lack of income, I can't afford to divulge in private counseling or anything. A bloggin' we will go.

Plus it fits into this quirky, nonlinear lifestyle we've got goin' on here.

The strangest part about this unfortunate event is that, after receiving the announcement of my unceremonious termination (and once the shock subsided), I felt like I was being cut from the strings of some hitherto invisible marionette.

Freedom!

Except, now I sit like a heap of tangled limps. How...what...um, where is next? 

Yes, I am comparing work life to the Matrix. Sure, it makes sense. 
Honestly, I don't know what's next. 

This would be a great time to travel. In fact, if it weren't for the husband, I would likely still be in Madrid, evading this country's workaholic culture and blithely skipping about the Schengen Area on cĂ©ntimos a day.
For example, petting this street cat in Canarias was free. 

Hey America! Be happy I didn't pull a Tina Turner. That was about to make my list of achievements until Alex started whispering sweet 'Merican-tinged nothings into both ears. God bless America, God bless my pure American, union-loving, Midwestern-blooded husband.

Now, give me a job before I change my mind.

Or, maybe...

Don't. 

It's only been about a week and a half but it's rather nice to not be treading water. To simply float through the day. And reflect. And catch up on sleep. And visit old bookshops.

'Tis the season to brush up on my Hebrew. Or dust off the old typewriter and bang out a great American novel.

Hell, I could even play housewife for a bit.


The nine to five life is a ball of stress. We all know that. It's unfortunate. It's required. And I am sure I will get back into it soon enough.

But until then...I welcome my free pass into indefinite staycation.

Honestly, the job and move out to this Silicon Valley wasn't the most favored of our "fly by the seat of our pants" decisions.

It's a high-priced, traffic-packed, strip-malled land of bad drivers. Even the most optimistic type of us occasionally tire of spinning it all into life-affirming storyline.


Let's make that next life step with a good dose of self-awareness, shall we?



To help me along...has anyone reading this being fired? Any motivating words of wisdom? I know there are at least a handful of lessons I can take from this. Tell me yours. I don't want to miss even one tidbit of learning.

Also, do you want to practice Hebrew over a cup of coffee? Turns out I have a lot of time to fill lately.



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Starbucks Coffee and the Tragedy of Adulthood

Let's take a moment to acknowledge a curmudgeonly resurrection of unconventionalness.

I wish I still working at Starbucks. 

Granted, it was a job I held only to earn enough caffeine and cash to make it to the next step in life. But, here I am in the next step and it's not all it's cracked up to be.

Take me back to those underpaid hourly wages!

Give me back the smell of Arabica beans in my hair!

Return to me the desire to eat a day-old pumpkin loaf because it's free and I'm broke!

Instead, I spend $27 on two cups of joe like the middle class sap I've become.


Ye olde cranky nostalgia started yesterday, with an innocuous mid-day Starbucks run with the boy. The Starbucks baristas welcomed us with their reliable enthusiasm, bouncing around the counters and purring the virtues of eggnog.

When I casually added a pound of Thanksgiving Blend coffee to my order, the cashier barista literally squealed in delight.



That squeal awakened something dormant within me. Something dusty and mournful.

Remember when the hardest part of my workday was trying to sell a couple pounds of coffee?

Even if I was really terrible at convincing people to spend $15 on beautiful packaging (which I actually wasn't), all I had to do to recover relevance was churn out a line of perfect Peppermint Mochas with a coffee-stained smile.

It was a simpler time.

Also, I worked with great people.

Simple times. Great people. Coffee. 

Actually, my memories of baristahood may actually be Folgers commercials from the 90s...


...yes, that's pretty much how it looks in my head.


Regardless, there is something valuable in the life of a straightforward service job. Expectation is clear, routine is a given, collaboration is essential.

And the best part? Camaraderie is built-in. When you gotta work eight hours in a droll costume of perpetually spilled milk, superficiality is a rare bird. Or maybe I got stuck with an especially great bunch of coffee monkeys. (That's likely it.)

Whatever the case, the drive back to my office was one of pumpkin-scented wistfulness. Why can't we work at the simpler, Starbucks jobs in life and still be adults with satisfying lives and income sufficient to pay all the adult-sized bills?

Oh, right, because we are living the dream. The well-educated, well-traveled American dream of cubicle corporate life.  

(Also, there is a strong economic argument in here for leadership grooming, but that's beside my rant point.)

We must always be moving "onward and upward," as the lowercased executive likes to say. And ironically, while working at Starbucks, I felt static. Somehow, I needed to fulfill a bigger cause.

Alas, working as a barista and alongside another part time job, attending full-time graduate school classes, volunteering, getting good grades...this is a romantic past life because that stage of existence is over.

It was a means to something better. Something more rich and sustainable. 

But for now, all I have that fits that description is the sales pitch on the side of this pound of Starbucks coffee.

Well played, Siren, well played.

You mock me.