Turn Your Frown Upside Down

I’ve been in a pretty significant funk for the last few weeks, like many of us have. I don’t see coming out of it anytime soon. And I don’t frankly care about being called over-sensitive or a whiny Millennial or whatever kinds of insults people think are warranted these days, because my opinion of those lobbing them is below most pond scum.

But for my own sanity, I have to find silver linings, and I need to lift my spirits. I have to remember how much there is to be grateful for today, the day of one of two baby showers being planned for our little one, who is in his seventh month of gestation. Very soon, Brandon and I will be a family with a baby, and he will turn our lives upside down.

I can’t wait to take him to the zoo and watch him grow, read books with him and teach him how to talk. I look forward to his hugs and cuddles, and to taking him on trips with us so he, too, can become a citizen of the world. I look forward to watching him love all over our animals, and learn to ride a bike.

I’m hoping that by doing our small part to bring a beautiful, considerate, race and diversity-conscious little boy into the world, we will be giving something back and not just taking away from the planet. We are so lucky to have that opportunity.

Today, I am thankful for my growing business, and the supportive people I work with, who are as happy as I am that I’m expanding my family. I’m thankful for my clients and the ease of this transition into self-employment – because even though there’s been a lot of effort, I can’t complain about where things stand.

I am thankful for a family who loves and understands me, supports me, and holds the same core values I do. I am thankful for a husband who is the kindest man I know.

I am thankful for a world that is full of hope, and different kinds of people. I am thankful for whiny Millennials who won’t let a wrinkle in time permanently crease the future. I am thankful to be part of a moment in history in which my actions will truly be for the good of others, I can put my money where my mouth is, and schoolchildren will one day read about right and wrong – and I will be able to say I have no regrets.

I am thankful for my pets, who are blissfully ignorant of anything other than our love, and the occasional fallen piece of turkey.

Today, I am thankful for life. And tomorrow, I’ll try to be thankful for the future.

Love Trumps Hate

Since the election, in between bouts of interminable sadness, I have:

  • Called my senators to oppose the appointment of Steve Bannon
  • Emailed my electors about their upcoming vote
  • Called Rep John Lewis to thank him for his service
  • Gone to my first neighborhood meeting
  • Worn a safety pin
  • Voted in favor of keeping the ACA via Paul Ryan’s phone poll (despite the long pre-recorded diatribe he made me sit through before getting to it)
  • Put out a “Love Trumps Hate” yard sign
  • Donated to Planned Parenthood (in the name of a Trump supporter – thanks, Kevin)
  • Made mashed potatoes for a local teacher appreciation lunch
  • Bought lunch boxes for a couple of kids from an impoverished family

I am taking this opportunity of immense grief to be motivated to action.

I’m not giving up, and neither should you.

To the people in my hometown who voted for Trump

Hey.

It’s been a while since I spoke with you. It’s intentional.

I lived among you in a small Georgia town during a highly charged time in my life, my teenage years. During my time with all of you, I felt marginalized, pushed to the fringes, and completely unheard. I was told regularly that I was going to hell, my beliefs in tolerance and acceptance of others were naive and unholy, that had I dated a black man I would be socially rejected, and that all the things I’d been raised to hold dear were patently unsupported.

I have never felt more alone than I did among all of you.

I have had so much anger and resentment over 2016’s election. I can’t fathom how anyone with a heart or a head could have voted for a monster. But I forget that 14 years erases many memories. I forget I’ve been living among my people since I ran away from all of you.

I realize in this moment, though, that in the same way I felt so ostracized and erased by you, you’ve felt the same way for years about the city folk I find my home with. Your way of life has not only been threatened, it’s been all but erased for years, and you are desperate.

I believe many of you were racist, xenophobic, and homophobic when I lived with you. I also believe, and hope, that most of you have evolved in the past two decades. I have watched many of you fork away into lives of your own outside of our country town, choosing to expose yourself to a point of view other than your own. I have also watched your town begrudgingly welcome “some gays” who renovated plantation homes near the church – and then, much to your shock, join your Baptist church. (“They’re actually very nice; we were concerned they were heathens but they’re actually normal people.”)

I have seen the race gap closing by micro-inches at a time, as your Millennials marry each other and give birth to some of the most beautiful, race-ambiguous children you’ve ever seen. I can see the stigmas falling away, albeit 30 years behind the rest of the world.

I am furious at you. But I don’t believe most of you voted Trump out of hate.

We elitist liberals, particularly those of us who have the inherent benefit of being straight and white, have the privilege to denounce you and scream, “How can you care about your taxes when my rights, and the rights of my neighbors, are at stake?”

I forget quickly that if I’d asked, your response might have been, “How can you care about your neighbors’ rights when my family can’t eat?”

I get it. I get it. You needed a system shake-up and you voted for the man who promised it. Your jobs are disappearing and your town is dying. The Town Square is a shell of its former self and the church is rapidly losing members. Half the county is on welfare and you struggle between needing to enroll yourself and chastising those who milk the system, because you’re proud of how hard you work to support your family, even when tough times make your paycheck meager. Washington hasn’t given a shit about you for years, and even though I believe he tried his damndest to pass legislation to help you and was often stopped by dissenters from the opposite party, Obama has indeed largely failed on his promise of change for you.

Your desperation urged you to miss the hint that Trump (and I say this with no quiver in my voice) will fail you, spectactularly. He has only ever demonstrated one consistent value in his life: pure and total self-interest. I suspect you see this, too. But you also knew for sure (and I’m apt to agree) the alternative would fail you as well. At least this guy screamed, “Fuck the system.”

Here’s where I can’t go: I can’t accept that we’ve landed here. I don’t actually believe that in this long ideology war between you and me since I lived with you, that I lost and you “finally won.” I don’t think it’s about winning and losing right now. It’s about fixing this terrible mistake.

Let’s all agree on a few things, if we can.

  • The system has failed you, and we failed to notice.
  • The person coming into power will not save you and now has no incentive to care.
  • This awful moment has presented us an opportunity to change the system for the better. Because for all the awfulness that came out this week, we liberals now have an incentive to listen to you – and we wouldn’t have otherwise.

 

But I need you to understand the side that is so passionately protesting right now as well. For our fault in ignoring you, you have also adamantly chosen to insulate yourselves from our side. Let’s be clear: this is not an issue of sour grapes, it’s actually an issue of the same Christian values you yourselves promote. Tolerance and love of others, inclusiveness and making people feel safe, finding the common humanity in others. And on Tuesday, everyone who wasn’t a straight white man felt as marginalized as you have for years… and even worse, they lost all sense of personal safety. WWJD?

We have to fix this for them, too. The easy road is to live inside of a bubble and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. But this road will end. You have the choice now to embrace another path, and to get outside of your comfort zone to recognize the hate wrought upon this world because the same system-shaker you supported is also tacitly encouraging a civil war. You must do the hard thing, the uncomfortable thing, and open your minds and hearts to your fellow man. Wear your safety pin knowing you voted with your heart but need to change your mind. Our country depends on you right now, because without your support, in four years, we will oust this president and return to status quo. Without mutually working on empathy, we will continue to fight each other.

I am angry with you. Against all the values I was raised with, I dance on the precipice of hate. But I am trying to understand your fucking side, because I know there is one. I just need to hear that you’re going to work with me to fix this disaster we’re in, so some of this anger can dissipate and you won’t feel pushed back to the fringes the next time around. So that as we ride this roller coaster of horror for the next four years, we agree that we’re all going to fix it and truly not let love trump hate… on either side.

I’m Sorry, Baby. There Is No Hope.

I wanted to write a post I could share with our growing baby Cameron one day; a message of hope and unity that reassures him not to worry. I wanted to tell him people are inherently good, and that the sun will rise again, and there is still worth in being a person who cares about people, a person who defends good.

But I’m not sure I believe those things today.

Today, it’s the End of Days. This is a travesty this country hasn’t seen in more than a hundred years. This is the precipice of civil war. This is the brink of worldwide disaster. This is evil incarnate.

I also wish I could say I believe anything I’m saying is hyperbole, or an overreaction. That it’s a response to the immediate aftermath of half of our country electing the least-qualified, most despicable human being we’ve ever encountered in American politics. I wish I could say it was fueled only by the anger that everyone who wasn’t a white man was told on Tuesday that they don’t matter.

But it’s not. It’s all of those things, but it’s not just those things. This is a tragedy. This is the end of our world as we know it.

Cameron may spend his life dodging the reality of life in this country, and he may not spend large chunks of it in this country at all. He may very well grow up in poverty. At a minimum, he will grow up in a world in which he is reminded that his rights matter more than his neighbor’s. But to be perfectly honest, that is now the least of my concerns.

I can’t speak the man’s name who will be leading this country. It’s still too painful to know in my heart that this world is not only full of hate, but that in the perhaps even more important war between stupid and smart, we lost. In the battle between good and evil, evil reigns.

This person who will be leading our country has built a fortune on the backs of those who voted him into office. He has exploited them, used them, and wrung them out like tissues for his own personal economic gain (and often, even more ironically, his disastrous financial failures). He rose to power by living in an age that values rhetoric, celebrity and swagger over truth. He feasted gleefully on the disenfranchised anti-intellectuals.

What’s worse, his cold open was to the most deplorable fringes of society, leveraging lunatics to project his messages more publicly. Yesterday, those nonhumans were justified in feeling superior to all the groups they hate so much.

Half of the country–the uneducated white half, driven by men–have also voted to surround this elect with a group of politicians who will push legislation to his desk, legislation he and his VP will endorse, that takes social progress back ten decades. The checks and balances Bush removed from the Executive Branch will be exploited to the fullest potential, just as this elect’s taxes were exploited within an inch of their life to cost this country payment on a billion dollars of income he had graciously been forgiven by debtors. This unchecked power will lead decisions around economic policies, foreign relations, human rights, and war.

I look at men differently today. There is a fear now, a fear that I could be sexually assaulted with no recourse, a fear that I won’t be able to obtain birth control, a fear that very soon, a decision about whether or not to move forward with a pregnancy, no matter how early on–a choice I made six months ago–will no longer be an option because men decided it wasn’t my place. That if something awful happened to Cameron tomorrow, I would have to potentially carry him to term and deliver a stillborn baby, or a baby that wouldn’t live more than a few hours, or die myself, because white men in Michigan decided it was their right to make that call.

Today, I have an anger and a hatred for men like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I feel so fortunate to be married to a kind man who supports reality, who supports minorities and the underprivileged, and supports women. Because if I wasn’t, I would be painting all men with the same broad brush. It’s already hard not to do that.

The social unrest this whole disaster has created is terrible. It’s a justified horror. But that’s only the beginning of what’s to come.

The economy already began its implosion on the eve of this news. The world is not on our side, and may never be again. Our enemies are licking their chops and congratulating our new elect. Those who voted Red this year are cheering now, but will be losing whatever jobs they have in the months to come. They will lose their homes and see their taxes increased dramatically as Wall Street pilfers their pockets. Big businesses will pay minimal to no taxes and cripple the system. The world will react to our plummeting dollar by reminding us that we reap what we sow.

The pathetic individuals who felt unheard last week celebrate today, but they are blind to the horrors that will hit them the hardest. And they will find that in the aftermath, the half that could even possibly help them will tell them to go fuck themselves.

I have always considered myself a tolerant and nonjudgmental person. Yesterday, I was reminded that I can only extend that love to those without intended malice in their hearts.

Today, there is no God.

No God of mine planned this.

There will be no forgiveness from me on; there will be no unity and peace and love for the other side. I will bind together with all the people who were wronged this week, the people who are smart enough to have seen this train coming long before it hit us (but never in a million years expected it would), and we will save ourselves. We will cry, we will lick our wounds, and we will have no sympathy for the pain the other side will endure at their own hands. Because we will be too busy getting our own asses out of this fire. And the thing we have going for us is that our collective IQ is above 80, so at least we have a shot.

I won’t say all the things I predict, because they are all dire and I’m feeling a little superstitious. I have yet to see much out there that predicts otherwise at this point. There is a real possibility that one of these days, the sun will not rise again. We have seen this history before, but never on an eve of the world balancing on such a precipice already. We are economically unsound worldwide. Our environment is crumbling around us. Today, we are all filled with rage. At this point in history, many countries have weapons that could wipe out the whole planet in moments.

So today, I can’t tell Cameron it will all be okay.

Today, I am apologizing to him that I’m bringing him into such a disgusting world.

Today, I regret creating him, not because I don’t love him – but because I do.

A Woman’s Worth

This year, a couple major life changes have happened: I started my own business and I got pregnant.

The welcoming of a child into our family is becoming more and more real. I can feel his kicks, his happy reactions, and I cry when I see the sweet ultrasounds or hear his heartbeats. I love seeing him thrash his tiny fists and get bigger each time we see the doctor. Our family is going to be so full with love, and even the animals are showing how attached they are to him already (Alice protects me even more now; MonkeyBaby keeps my tummy warm).

But there is another side to me, an important side that I refuse to diminish. A side I am extremely, fundamentally proud of and want to scream about from the rooftops. It’s the side that is thriving in spite of the physical and mental challenges my body is going through, and a side I desperately want to talk about more.

I am the president of my own company. I have become and independent contractor and been FT gainfully employed for the past 3 of 4 months – and am scheduled to in fact add clients to that roster, without losing the first, over the upcoming two months (one of which is PT permanent, from home, and at my full hourly rate). I am already looking toward expansion, and at minimum, an offsite personal workspace. I’ve navigated accountants and contracts and business licenses and pitches and invoicing. I have my own LLC, operating as an S-Corp, and I actually know what that means. I’m making more money than I ever have, and by a pretty large margin.

There is a terror inside of me that gainful employment won’t always come at the rate it is now. I expect a softer summer. There is a seasonality and a market trend to my industry, and I’m smart enough to know the pitfalls of being independent. Taxes are a sword in the heart. Figuring out healthcare isn’t easy, and I’ve now added the monthly cost of business insurance.

But the conversations I have about these things are few and far between. The fears and the proud moments and the strides in an unfathomably short period of time are falling by the wayside as every conversation turns to the responsibility I will add to my life in four months. My friends wonder why I’m not spending hours on Pinterest, browsing through costumes I’ll eventually dress the baby in for Halloween. It’s because I’m trying to welcome everything in its time. And right now, I’m excited about the incredible achievements I’ve made in my career… there’s still time to be similarly excited about this baby.

I love this baby, and I’m thrilled to be a mom. I’m terrified of what that will come with as well. I’m afraid of the expense, afraid of the sleeplessness, afraid of the selflessness. But I’m trying to do the thing I’ve never been good at and slow down to smell the roses around me. However long this lasts, my career is as good as it’s ever been right now. It may not be forever – and it may not be a choice forever. But it’s good right now, I’m busier than I ever have been with work, and I want to tell the world.

I love talking about the baby – all the weird things pregnancy brings, musing about the kind of person he’ll be, thinking about how we’ll spend holidays together as a family at home, melding traditions together. But I’m more than a vessel for a child, and in four months, I will be more than a mother. I will be a woman. A flawed, scared, sometimes selfish woman who’s balancing a shit-ton of stuff.

I will never be that mom who lives exclusively for her child. I want to raise him to be happy, thriving, independent, and self-sufficient. I want him to know that women are more than aides to men. I will never question my choice to continue working, as that’s a part of me I don’t want to lose. Trust me – I will never look down on a mom who chooses to make her whole life about raising a family, as that’s as noble a task as I can imagine and one of the most selfless choices a person can make. It’s just simply not mine.

I hope that after a couple years, I can start to once again have the conversations about the well-roundedness of life and how our child is now an important part of it (but not all of it). Because I’m fucking proud of myself right now, and I think that’s worth something. I just wish it was worth something to everyone else.

I Am A Privileged White Girl

I am a privileged white girl.

I have lived my life in only partial recognition of the special treatment I get for the color of my skin, often unaware of the inherent leg up it’s given me in life.

I have, arguably, a white name. Certainly a white last name. It’s the name on my resume. My pale white skin is my profile picture on social media and the first thing a cop sees driving my Prius around. It’s the picture on my AirBnB and the face I bring to job interviews. It’s the face I brought to classrooms and cheer tryouts and theater auditions. It’s the face of unearned privilege.

I didn’t ask for privilege. Much like exceptionally beautiful people don’t ask for special treatment or comped drinks; much like little people don’t ask to be stared at when they walk down the street because they look different.

You don’t notice when you’re given something others aren’t because that’s how you’ve always lived your life. But I am thankful for the curtain that’s been pulled back through social media that has allowed me a better glimpse into why my whiteness is a crutch and an inherent benefit. Because although I have actively tried my whole life not to treat anyone differently on the basis of their appearance, it’s hard to notice when that’s happening to me. I can’t control for the racism, intentional or subconscious, of other people.

My friends get pulled over for driving while black. This isn’t an exaggeration; every black person I know has been pulled over for essentially no reason at least once. Brandon and I never have. In fact, we’ve sped right past cops, with no retribution. We’ve never had our cars or bodies searched, or a gun pulled on us by an officer.

I’ve never been in a room in which someone said, “Let’s not hire this person because they are black, or an immigrant, or Indian.” Racism isn’t bold and blatant in most cases. It’s not a proclamation made to a room of people, an announcement of a phobic stereotype lurking in the backs of people’s minds. It’s probably not even something people realize they’re doing.

But there is no doubt in my mind that my resume name, social profiles, and my white face, have risen closer to the top of a candidate pile over someone who looks different than me. Much like I am positive I’ve been passed up for job opportunities because I was a woman, been paid half of what my male counterpart was making, and been rejected for a job opportunity because I’m pregnant (actually, those last two aren’t assumptions, they’re facts).

I cannot believe this is the world we live in. But what angers me more than my incredulousness that racism is still an issue is the way we respond to it nationally. There are many supportive white people behind Black Lives Matter, but there are also many who don’t understand what all the fuss is about. This was illustrated when an athlete made a peaceful protest at a game to basically say he can’t support a country that kills people who look like him and doesn’t prosecute. Colin Kaepernick didn’t make a violent protest or start some sort of mutiny. He simply, silently, said he was sick of the race issue in this country being ignored. And yet hundreds of thousands of white people took to social media to complain about his lack of patriotism and tell  him it wasn’t his place to protest. Um… if a cop shot your son in the back for no reason and the government did nothing about it, wouldn’t you lose a little patriotism, too? Patriotism doesn’t mean being proud of your country unconditionally. It means being proud because you’re in a country that warrants your pride.

It is simply sick that the United States allows laws to be passed, albeit thinly veiled, that discriminate against black people, especially those with lower incomes, being able to vote, move to districts with better education systems, have better access to jobs and healthy food, and raise their children safely. Many black families thrive in spite of the limitations and challenges placed on them, but it’s not without fighting a system designed to hold them back. Are we fucking serious, here?

I say all this as a privileged white girl who was once mugged at gunpoint by a black man. I know the support and environment I had growing up were different from his; I know his life clearly couldn’t have been easy; I know this troubled person wasn’t representative of everyone who shares his skin color.

I say all this as a privileged white girl who grew up in a town known for self-segregation, a town in which someone at my private school once sincerely asked me, “Why did you leave the public school? Too many black folks?” (Hence the start of my homeschooling and urgent exodus to college.)

I say this as a privileged white girl who recently had a tough conversation with her husband about whether to move to a better school district, and neither of us could stomach living in a homogenized neighborhood, being part of a “white flight” epidemic that is so profoundly unjustified and disgusting that we can’t imagine being lumped in with it.

I say this as a privileged white girl who, first and foremost, recognizes her inherent privilege and encourages others to do so. It’s only when you start to realize the daily shackles that are placed on those without your advantages that you realize where all the anger is coming from. And it’s only when you accept that you are given more than others that you can actively start to fight for them to receive the same as you.

 

P.S. I feel it important to note that I once said the words “all lives matter” publicly, not as a racist reaction to “black lives matter,” but as a pacifist. These killings of unarmed black men at the time had led to the shooting of several police officers, and it hurt my heart to see the completely justified anger of one group turn violent against another. I feared we were facing a civil war. I don’t agree with violent retaliation. I’m a flower-in-the-gun kind of girl. And I truly do believe that all lives matter. However, the reason we say that black lives matter isn’t to place one group of people on a pedestal over another. It’s because there’s already an inherent assumption in society that white lives matter, and if you can’t see that, you’ve got to merely open your eyes. We need to stress right now that just as we all know white lives matter… so do everyone else’s.

The Countdown Begins

We’re about 8 months away from D-Day (turning 30) and life is changing dramatically. I won’t have done everything on my bucket list, but I will have done most, and then some. Plus, much to my surprise, I’ll be a mom before May. I mean, unless this kid wants to camp out for an extra 3 months.

Going freelance has been an incredible experience. It was absolutely terrifying and not always gratifying – particularly as I found out about our impending child mere days before my first day as a self-employed person. However, it really sometimes does feel like everything works out as it should. That first month of self-employment was an exhausting time of sickness for me, so although I was frustrated about not being as productive as I wanted, I couldn’t have asked for better timing. Beginning my first FT contract gig has been a great lesson in how this whole thing should work (and it’s been wonderful!), and also forced Brandon and me to budget more than we ever have before just to ensure we are good to go in cashflow times both positive and negative. We even met with a financial consultant who was ultimately very encouraging, although his suggestion that we aim to retire at 67 with $14M seemed like a bit of a stretch. Come on. If you have $10M at age 60, you’re not working that next 7 years. (And in all seriousness, like we’ll ever have that kind of money?!)

So where do we leave this crazy list of mine? Let’s take a quick look – as it’s unlikely to change before my birthday.

 

30. Climb a mountain.

29. Run a 10k.

28. Nail a handstand in yoga.

27. Get spiritual.

 

EDUCATION

26. Learn a language.

25. Master a skill.

24. Read some books that actually mean something.

23. Develop some knowledge about cars.

 

TRAVEL

22. Visit Thailand.

21. Take a trip with my Dad.

20. See a Wonder of the World.

19. Take a cross-country road trip with Brandon.

 

 

LIFE CHANGES

18. Volunteer regularly somewhere for at least 6 months.

17. Turn off the T.V. for a week.

16. Finish my book.

 

MONEY MATTERS

15. Invest in 5 diversified stocks.

14. Build retirement fund.

I mean, it’s no $14M, but we’ve been saving.

13. Own a second home.

 

EVOLVE MY RELATIONSHIPS

12. Get closer with my sister.

11. Go on a walk at least once a week with Brandon.

10. Try something more sexually adventurous than usual.

9. Be a good in-law.

8. Send a real letter to a friend every month for a year.

 

TEST MY LIMITS

7. Zip line.

6. Participate in a big cultural event like a music festival or Oktoberfest.

5. Swim with a shark. Or at least sting rays.

4. Learn to surf. Or at least try.

3. Be personally responsible for winning a big piece of business.

2. Perform in a play or musical.

 

 

PERSONAL SATISFACTION

1. Learn to be happy just as I am.

I’m actually closer to this one than I’ve ever been before. Go figure.

Weird Things About Pregnancy

A few thoughts on growing a human, coming from someone new to the experience.

  • Don’t call me Preggo, Preggers, or any similar derivative. It makes me feel like a jar of marinara at best and a water balloon at worst. I am still Alexis, and yeah, there’s now also a baby up in here.
  • You know that constipated feeling you get sometimes? Imagine that, but in front. It feels like I’m carrying a small lead ball around.
  • Everyone has an opinion about what I eat. Bug off!
  • Exercise is suddenly more interesting. In a matter of days one week, I lost 5 minutes on my 5k time. And I felt like I was going to keel over.
  • I miss wine. 😦
  • All the animals love me. Not sure if they sense something I don’t, or they just like my new body pillow.

Babyond Thunderdome

Ain’t no hiding it anymore: I’m knocked up. 15 weeks, to be specific.

I’m nothing if not honest, so I’ll have to admit that the timing came as a bit of a surprise to both of us, but we’re very happy and looking forward to cuddling our little boy in February.

 

I have all of these hopes for our son, and all of these fears.

I hope he’s healthy.

I hope he’s kind.

I hope he loves animals the way we do.

I hope he inherits Brandon’s calmness but my drive.

I hope he’s not an asshole. I mean, I know we’ll be contributing to that end result, but man, the last thing I would want to bring in this world is another asshole white guy.

 

Right now, he’s the size of an orange. I think the fruit metaphors are a little tired, so instead, let’s go with a large fist. He’s got fur all over him, so I’ve told Alice he looks more related to her than me right now. She stared at me.

My next mission in life, I think, is accepting that my missions might take a little longer than usual as of now. I can’t do everything I want to do all the time, and that will certainly get even more complicated when we have this new little amazing life to take care of. But I really look forward to bringing him on these missions and watching him create goals of his own.

Man, how apropos that all the things I would do before 30 would culminate in a new little human born right before the big 3-0.

So I may not find spiritual enlightenment. I’m guaranteed not to see a Wonder of the World or participate in a big cultural event before 30. I probably won’t do a cross-country road trip (although we are going to Venice in November for a babymoon! P.S. How dumb is the word “babymoon”?).

There are other things on the list. I’m driving Brandon crazy: Re-do the baby’s bathroom. Get our finances in order. Re-tile the fireplace. Create built-in storage space in the office. Replace all the interior doors. Consider landscaping. Do the baby registry (um, done. Hi, I’m a planner. Thanks, Amazon). Get the nursery ready. Clean the living tar out of everything.  I literally have on the list, “Investigate crack in bedroom wall.” Brandon said that can be my task, but I should be prepared to devote at least 45 minutes to an hour nightly to staring at the crack.

I realize I sound like an insane person. It’s a wonder Brandon puts up with me. This has been our life for four years, but now it’s in hyperdrive because I feel obligated to make everything perfect for baby. In reality, baby will care not one iota if his door is wood or masonite. But I somehow was spoiled by this perfect persona I babysat for in college; the perfect little wealthy family with the perfect little nursery and the perfect, pristine house. I mean, none of them had five pets. But I figure what the heck.

Meanwhile, I’ve been freelancing full-time at a local agency with my old coworker, and I’m sharpening my media skills again. It’s been great, and very low-pressure – exactly what I was hoping for. I’m making it work, and this is a great proof of concept for future FT temp gigs. The situation, although unexpected in terms of timing, could all end up working nicely because it means I can work when I want and be home with baby when I want, sometimes even working from home. It’s a little stressful having so much unpredictability in my life, but I have a feeling the universe did it on purpose.

Here’s to finding the zen in this second trimester, for both my sake and Brandon’s. And here’s to the new little white boy soon entering the world… may he be as good and respectful to women as Brandon is, as embracing of other cultures as we both try to be, and as much a benefit to the world as a drain on it. This is what I wish for our son… and we can’t wait to meet him.

Drowning In My House

There are many things I love about our house. I love the neighborhood, which has grown into this beautiful gem in the four years we’ve lived here. It’s an easy walk to the library, Krog St Market, the Beltline – and we got it for a steal of a deal because when we moved in, it was pretty transitional.

Unfortunately, though, the “steal of a deal” also translated into “money pit” pretty quickly. Our inspection missed a lot of important, expensive repairs that needed to be made. And as we’ve dug under the hood over the years, it just feels like we are fixing a house of cards from the inside out.

We’ve replaced the roof ($10k). The HVAC ($6500). All the windows ($6500). The water main ($1800). And those were the easy things.

We’ve paved the formerly unusable driveway ($4k). We’ve reinforced the deck and are replacing rotted boards literally board by board. We hired a contractor to create a basement landing area that wasn’t a dirt floor ($10k), and they discovered plumbing and ceiling issues (of course).

Our kitchen looks nice on the outside but is literally falling apart bit by bit. Our guest bathroom floor is cracked because something’s going on in the basement. The beautiful tub in the master bath is too heavy for the floor it sits on and can’t be there long term. The shower floor cracked and the whole thing will need to be replaced in the next couple years. Our master closet literally fell apart one day.

Our electric has had to be fixed in the attic because the wiring was, apparently, a home job and a fire hazard, with wires sticking out among insulation (it’s fine now). The venting for the dryer didn’t work and could have started a fire. The fridge was cobbled together from the parts of other fridges. The fence at the end of our driveway was literally built with electrical wire, duct tape, and barbed wire. There’s exposed lead paint in two of the closets (Brandon finished one as cedar, so now we’re down to one).

These are most of the known issues. But we routinely get something checked only to discover there are so many more problems than we realized just beneath the surface. Between us and without help, we’ve tackled:

  • Painting the whole house
  • Finishing the cedar closet
  • Finishing the master closet
  • The driveway fence
  • Fixing two large holes in the floor from old HVAC materials
  • Electrical work throughout the house
  • Electrical work in the attic
  • Hanging lighting in the backyard
  • A full patio and fire pit in the backyard
  • Pebbles all through the backyard
  • Reinforcing the deck and replacing about 50% of the boards to date
  • Installing a new garbage disposal
  • Fixing a hole in the ceiling where Brandon came through one day (okay, that was his fault, and it was hilarious)

I love our house – it’s in a great location, the mortgage is dirt cheap, it’s open concept and a beautiful layout. It’s just the right size for us. But dammit, I am tired of the never-ending list of chores. And I know Brandon is.

We’re not ready to move. There’s so much growth we still have to see in this neighborhood. We got such a deal on the price, and we’ve invested so much time, energy, love, and MONEY in this damn thing. But our bodies are tired and so are our minds. It feels like we’re always standing on the edge of a cliff and waiting for an unexpected gust of wind to blow us over. So tell me, what do we do? How do we dig our way out of the money pit? We still have a kitchen and a bathroom to refinish, two more holes in the floor to fill, appliances to replace, an office seating area to refinish, and six doors to replace. And that’s assuming nothing else breaks.