A Peek Into Parenting?

Do you ever think about what kind of parent you will be? Would you be the spoiler, the punisher, the rule-enforcer, or the go-ask-your-father/mother type? Reynold has been home for about a month now, and with that has come this out of body experience of witnessing my (puppy) parenting skills develop.  “Jesus, I sound JUST like my father” is a common thought, and a scary one. If you ask anyone in my family, they’ll quickly tell you that I’m the crazy one; speaking up and correcting any nonsense that is presented to me in any moment, regardless of who you are.

My father was always more strict than my mother, and was the parent you feared if you knew you were up to no good. Don’t get it twisted though! Because mom would surprise you with some rage – if you pushed her too far – that would send you into an instant frenzy as you hustled to get out of dodge. When it comes to Reynold’s training and development, I’m the parent that’s constantly in his ass; making sure he isn’t eating some random rock, chewing on things that aren’t his toys or bones, trying to potty inside, and worrying about things that probably won’t happen. S is the parent who is more relaxed, and zen in all things puppy. “He’s a puppy! He’s fine” is what he tells me when I’m worrying about something as random as Reynold licking the floor, or vanishing behind the couch. “We have to stay on him so he learns… he can’t sleep with us until he’s been sleeping in the crate throughout the entirety of the night with NO accidents, for two months… DON’T FEED HIM TOO MUCH, YOU’LL MAKE HIM FAT!”

All in all we’ve been having a great time raising our first fur child together. Our parenting styles are very balanced, and in the end, we both spoil the crap out of him. I just ordered his Halloween costume… a handmade Yoda-ears hat from Etsy. Another thing I’ve started doing is making him homemade treats; eventually Reynold will be a paleo/low-carb pup, like his daddies. Yes, we’re THOSE dog parents. It’s been a fun preview into what I hope will be a similar experience when we have human children – minus the fact that human children can talk back, and I don’t do well with that, LOL. It’s only been a month, and I already feel like our lil pup is growing up way too fast. Slow down, mister! Your daddies love you.

A Glimpse of Growth

Confidence reborn is a curious thing. Like pine covered in fresh snow, only a flash of my true self is visible when I turn on the bathroom light.  It’s 5:23 AM, and the fluorescent honesty is ruthless as I notice changes in the mirror. The hard work I’ve put into my body is finally starting to show. A smile.  I’ve never really enjoyed looking at myself, underwear only, in the mirror.  Is it true what the magazines say? Those who take care of themselves – mentally and physically – are more successful? At the moment, I’m having a difficult time not believing the notion.

My reflection is more than a health and fitness journey. My freshly buzzed head represents the acceptance I’ve embraced in regards to aging and my traveling hairline. My Beyoncé-blonde fade is gone, but I’m at ease; witnessing firsthand that I can rock a bald head, and harboring an image of Stanley Tucci in my thoughts. My posture is strong and upright, and shows the heights I’ve reached from my days of financial struggle – fighting to pay tuition and to obtain my degree – to present day, where I’m making leaps at a job I enjoy, and sense the opportunity to continue growing professionally.

My confidence reborn is a sure and curious thing, and where it’ll lead me is a fact unknown. I welcome its intended path, however, because life will happen despite any plans I have mapped out. Discovered and learned is the status of the energy that lives within the walls of me. Rather than be nervous and worrisome about whatever annoyance is present in the moment, I let go, do my best, and flourish when the time is right. Is this growing up? Have I entered true grown-up status? I leave you with a quote from HBO’s Sex and the City – one of my all-time-favorite shows:

“The universe may not always play fair, but at least it’s got a hell of a sense of humor.” – Candace Bushnell, Sex and the City

Hibernation

During the winter months, much like bears of the North, S and I tend to hibernate. Whether knowingly, or unknowingly, most couples tend to practice some form of hibernation when summer is farther away than we’d like to admit (because, screw Jack Frost).  Some fall completely off everyone’s radar, and others go from one-hundred to a solid twenty-five on the social scale. Yesterday, S and I left the comfort of our condo, and had lunch with two friends – former roommates from the Indiana U dorm days. The weather was surprisingly warm and welcoming for a February day in Indianapolis, and we had a great time catching up and laughing at their one-and-a-half-year-old.  A habitual and frequent goal of ours is to do nothing more than stay home and relax as soon as we leave work on Fridays. Usually we’ve planned too much or we’re visiting family, so taking full advantage of not having any commitments in our queue, and keeping hard earned coins in our pockets – and not on the countertops of downtown Indianapolis bars – is pretty great.  When I think about it, our hibernation period is probably due to preparation for the summer.  Summer is when we stay pretty social; having people over, and going to our favorite spots around town.  Being completely real, it seems as though our motivation levels match the season. Winter is dark, cold, and lazy… So thankfully, we both have the option of working out at our workplaces.

The Wedding

“All I know is, when I get married, I will be in a Chanel suit…” is what I would say amongst friends when we would fantasize about weddings of our respective futures.  I never knew if I wanted a big ceremony, a small event, or to run away and elope, but what I did want was that top-of-the-roller-coaster-before-the-big-drop feeling. That feeling was boldly present on May 16th, 2014, the day of our wedding.

Being married to a CPA has its perks, and the ability to budget money well was a big one. We didn’t believe in placing ourselves in debt for a wedding, or placing unnecessary stress on our families. Why follow the “go big or go home” theory for a single (wedding) day if it would only invite stress into the marriage the day after the honeymoon? The important thing was joining our lives; to officially become one. A larger scaled celebration of our relationship could wait, so for now, we were happy with our decision to marry in a courthouse, with a few of our closest local friends as witnesses.

The mild, warning rain that threatened the day was welcomed as we made the drive from Indianapolis to Champaign, Illinois. “Rain on a wedding day means renewal… this is good” was my thought as I gazed out the window. The excitement in the car grew with every mile we placed behind us as we continued our approach to Champaign and the courthouse. When we arrived, we met the last member of our wedding party at The Courier Café; a delicious little breakfast spot popular among the students of the University of Illinois.

After brunch we made our way to the courthouse. I’ve never been a nervous person but the nerves began to make their presence know the closer we got to the main doors. “Omg you guys my knife! I can’t take it inside!” G digs a small grave for her pocket knife under a tree just outside the courthouse doors. Our wedding party was the perfect mix of individuals. I’d met G working at Goodwill back in Bloomington. E was one of my best friends, of ten years, and had the daunting task of picking up our rings and delivering them to us the DAY before the wedding. SB and SC were also two amazing friends I’d had the pleasure of knowing for ten years – SB was a student in Champaign, and SC volunteered his photography services for the big day.

There we were, in the courtroom, the judge’s warm voice instructing us on what was about to happen. Enter the nerves. G was crying, E looked longingly into both our eyes – of all the people with us that day, she knew me the best – and all the others were beautiful. I never knew what my wedding day would be like, but in this moment I was beyond happy that these were the people I got to share this day with.  What happened next was a blur. I remember saying my vows and then repeating them – stealing S’s turn because apparently I was nervous – shaking with each word I shared. Then it was done. We were married.

The night that followed was priceless. Everything was so simple and so easy. M made us the cleanest most delicious, layered, red velvet, gluten-free wedding cake. SO good. The girls and I powdered our noses before heading to our hotel, where the pre-gaming for a night at the bars would take place.  There’s so much pressure put on the process of a wedding. Was everyone as lucky as S and I? We were never stressed in any moment, the night was flawless, and we had a great time with people we loved.

Returning home the next day to a bouquet of white roses was the absolute icing on the cake. I don’t know if my friends know this about me, but white flowers are my weakness. There’s something about them that make me melt and dance inside; like a ballerina riding a fiery avalanche.  Only this group of people – my beloved, and highly valued musketeers of Bloomington’s past and present – would know how to make S and I’s day effortlessly perfect. We thank them for helping us skyrocket into this new chapter of our life.

Whine & Cheese

Why must romance plateau after moving in with one another? “We hang out all the time” was his counter after I hinted at wanting a date-night in the near future. Lying in bed, and keeping my voice at a neutral tone, my twisted face is hidden in the darkness as I process his response to my inquisition. I’m a self-proclaimed cheeseball, so the slightest touch of romance shared between the two of us completely satisfies me for a long while. Do I keep asking for a date? Do I wait around and sulk? Should I take the initiative, plan a romantic day, and lead by example? I guess I could, instead of waiting around like some pissed off Disney princess. Restaurants and creative, thoughtful nights on the town are more than appreciated, but there’s nothing wrong with a simple walk in the park on a beautiful day, or a day of exploration together in the city. Maybe he just doesn’t get it… a classic case of the romantic and the non-romantic.

Tick. Tock. I Love You.

Three years ago, this evening, our relationship presented itself as something new.  It was New Years Eve in my cozy, cheer-filled apartment. I had one of my best friends in town – visiting from Los Angeles – amazing roommates, a great chunk of friends I had made working at the Goodwill Store, and him. I was so happy S had come down from Indy to celebrate the holiday with us. At the time, we’d only officially been boyfriends for a little over two months, and were an hour apart during the work week.  About thirty minutes or so before midnight, we found ourselves alone in my bedroom. “…I’m scared” I express as I look past him nervously and prop myself up on my elbow.  Lying next to me, he puts one hand behind his head, and the other around my arm.  “Why?”  He looks worried as he presents the single-worded question.  I shift. “I think I love you.” The second it took him to respond felt like agonizingly long minutes passing on a clock. “I love you too” he grins looking directly into my eyes.

When is the right time to say “I love you” to a person of interest? Our exchange that night was not planned, and I honestly had not thought about the subject at all.  We were still a very new couple, but there was something in the air that evening that made me want to share my feelings with him.  Society programs young adults in so many ways when it comes to saying “I love you.” We absorb the lessons we learn – or think we’re learning – from relationships we’ve witnessed in the past, and think we have to apply them to our own relationships.  Whether it’s too soon or long overdue to share those guarded words are up to the individual that possess the feelings.  When I think back on that night, I recognize that the timing was right.  Our relationship didn’t feel like work – I say that a lot, but it’s true – I was always excited to see him, always wondering how his day went, counting down the days until we were together again… the love was building before I even thought about saying it.

CHI to IND Interlude

Brutally crisp air smacks me in the face as I get out of the car at Union Station in downtown Chicago. The weekend was fast and filled to the brim with family, fun, and sadly, a funeral for my great grandmother. My mom had flown in from Alaska – my home state – and to be quite honest with you, I probably would not have made the three hour bus ride up to Chicago from Indianapolis if she had not been there.  I always miss my Alaska family terribly. I’m never home sick, but I have days where I miss the hell out of my brother, sister, mom, and even my stubborn ass father from time to time. As I hug mom and my favorite aunt goodbye in front of the quiet bus station, I feel a mix of emotions. I’m sad because I’m not sure when I will see the both of them again. I’m happy that I had the chance, and time, to get to see my Chicago relatives; beyond elated to be there with them during this tough time. I smile as I reflect on the amazing time I had with family I’d just met, and those of whom I hadn’t seen for at least ten years. Watching my Alaska family drive down the hollow Chicago street, I finish my emotional equation and become warm with the thought of returning to my husband. When I’m down – and feeling like some sad, soulful Adele song – he’s usually the burst of light I need on my dark, rainy days. He’s the answer to most of my emo-life equations, and I needed hug; anything to prolong the feeling of my mom and aunt’s arms around me before today was gone. Pocketing my glasses, I replace them with my prescription Ray Ban shades… a single tear making contact with the inside of the dark lens just as my bus to Indianapolis arrived.

Casualties

Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve is one of my favorite songs. “’Cause it’s a bitter sweet symphony this life” is the lyrical line that draws me in every time I hear the song. Back in 1999, the sixth grade or so, I had no clue that line was a lesson I would come to process as a continuing life lesson.  I had no idea then that on my twenty-fourth birthday I would get the lyrics tattooed on my left forearm under a trumpet – my musical weapon and tool – or that I would have to apply this lesson to people I considered quality friends.

Something happens when you enter a serious relationship, particularly with friends within your circle. There’s the process of getting friends warmed up to the new boyfriend – or girlfriend – the amount of time passing in which people in your life realize this new person is going to stick around, and the overall blending of two lives into one.  Most are happy for their friends when love is found, but there are also darker, more sinister feelings felt by some. If you’re lucky you will never encounter this problem, and I use the word “lucky” because the death of a friendship is sad and unfortunate.

If someone isn’t genuinely happy for you and your relationship, there is no reason why that poisonous energy should stick around. People that are jealous and unhappy within their relationship do not have the right to take out their internal struggle on those that have supported them through the ups and downs of their turbulent relationship. S and I are only twenty-eight years old, and have only had to lose one friend over similar nonsense.  Despite the individual’s lies and blatant cries for attention, we and most of our mutual friends – once shared with the ex-friend – remain close and stronger than ever.

I mention our ages because we are only at the rear end of our twenties, and a lot of bullshit goes down with friendships during that time. When you’re younger, the number of friends you have is the most important thing in the world, and as you mature you realize it’s not about the quantity of friends, but the handful of quality friends that strengthen your foundation.   Do people actually mature over time? Or is it similar to when people tell you that all the drama ends after high school… I just do my best to keep the good ones around.