Tuesday, August 22, 2017

This is 40: Part I

My 40th birthday is approaching at a rapid rate, and while I’m pretty excited for what the next decade has in store, I’ve also been taking stock. Like, hey Beck, are you better off now than you were 10 years ago and what have you learned? What are you still learning? What are you sort of thinking about learning but don’t want to devote your time to yet? What do you not care to ever learn? And believe it or not, these are helpful categories by which to live your life. I mean, don’t start categorizing your life this way if you’re nailing it. You do you. But for me, I work well with lists. And repetition. And at least thinking about self-improvement, which is step one. Oh, and spoiler alert: I’m terrible at taking my own really helpful advice, like, 75-80% of the time. So do with that what you will.

Basically, if I look back over the last ten, five, or two years of my life and I’m more or less making the same mistakes without any tangible improvements anywhere, um, wtf. What’s the point? I’m not saying change your personality every few years – that would make you a psychopath or a politician. Neither are things you should life-goal. But if everyone else is always the problem or you’re 15 pounds heavier than you’d like and it’s been a decade? Either change it or embrace it, but for the love of God, please stop talking about it. Which is what I tell myself every single day. And then I eat cake to silence that know-it-all voice inside of me and she is happy and full and lulls off into a deep, dark sleep.

Sorry, I’m back.

Anyway, since I’m trying to get and keep my compass straight, one of the ways in which I’m choosing to do this is by sharing, which holds me accountable and gives you something to read and judge and feel superior to! But since you’ve all volunteered to be here, you guys are the best captive audience. You chose this! You signed up for this! (hears Road Runner sound as readers run far, far away from the blog as they yell “just tell me about your underpants! You’re not Oprah!”)

Well, that was nice while it lasted. Hi mom and dad! Thanks for continuing to read.

So today I’m looking back at question one: are you better off now than you were 10 years ago and what have you learned?

Well, let’s assess: Ten years ago I was picking up the pieces of a seriously failed relationship with a seriously wrong guy who I was seriously in love with for reasons I struggle to remember now, which is good and bad. I was pretty sure I’d never have kids and wasn’t really keen on the idea overall – why on earth would I want to commit my life to diaper duty and raising little humans when I was living paycheck-to-paycheck in a rundown one bedroom apartment in New Jersey with my cat? To be fair, I’m pretty sure the little humans didn’t want me as their mom then, anyway, as “hot mess” does not a good mom make.

But the end of that relationship was a turning point for me. One that would either define me or not: it was my choice. It was messy and humiliating and raw and haunting. And, if I’m being honest, it took me longer than I’d like to admit to really, truly get past it. But holy crap, even I got tired of hearing myself be sad after a while, though my friends and family were too kind to say that first. And I decided that I needed to do something tangible, I needed to set a goal and stick with it, and I needed it to work. God, did I need it to work.

Meanwhile, during this time, I was in the first year of a job that I desperately wanted as my career, yet struggled to find my footing with for a while before getting it right. However, the silver lining is that this job was filled with really incredible people who have stayed friends long after leaving those four walls. Not the least of whom was CB. And since I had a lot more free time on my hands all of a sudden and a lot of demons to chase me all over Hudson County, I decided to take up running with him and some others who took to the Hoboken sidewalks each day at noon to run and talk and get some fresh air (I made up the “and talk” part because CB did not enjoy the “and talk” part most days. He’d prefer I’d “and not talk,” but he had the added luxury of being way faster than me, so he would literally just run away.)

Sadly, one of the best post-running pictures of me.
Um, and when I say that I “took up running,” I mean that the first few months I ran it was hard to tell because I looked more like a sweaty, doughy, pale girl who was speed-walking wrong. Thankfully, my coworkers were too nice and encouraging to admit that I really should just stop and go have a doughnut. Instead, we struck up conversations and friendships and, before I knew it, I was running! I mean, I was still sweaty and doughy and pale, but I wasn’t speed-walking wrong anymore! And I was starting to feel better.

Sure, there were still days there where I’d run so fast and hard and alone, even while surrounded by friends, because life isn’t a movie and emotions aren’t black and white. But the alone days receded into the background over time and a handful of friends and coworkers signed up for 10ks, half marathons, and full marathons almost solely because, I think, they felt bad for me. And my “leadership skills” (which my daughter’s cartoon has taught me is a nicer word than “bossy”) were persuasive as hell.

Before I knew it, I’d finished my first marathon. And it was just shy of two years after what I thought was the end of life as I knew it. And, in all honesty, it was. THANK GOODNESS. And like that, my story was changing. Goal set; goal reached. Hmmmm……

What did I learn? I learned that heartbreak is real and you can’t fake your way through it. I learned that friendship is real, and you need to lean when you need to lean. I learned that my family is strong, supportive, and fiercely protective and they listened to me cry and make mixed tapes through my feelings for a way long time. I learned the bumper-sticker truism that you can’t control what happens to you, but you sure as hell can control how you respond to it. I learned that some people lie. I learned to believe people when they show you who they, good and bad. I learned that crying isn’t the worst thing and laughter doesn’t go away. I learned that the depths of some people and their willingness to help will humble you, and you won't know how to ever say thank you, and they're fine with that. I learned that everything is temporary. I learned that cats are great company. I learned that hard work does pay off. I learned how to live alone. I learned how to be scared and do it anyway. I learned that there’s always a next chapter. I learned to find my voice and how bad it feels when you don’t use it. I learned how to run! And I learned when to stay.

And you know what else I learned? That I’m terrible at dating. Like, really bad. Like, when friends are feeling down they ask me to re-tell stories they’ve heard 50 times about various dates I’ve been on over the last 10 years. Like, there’s a reason I stayed home with my cat and watched all five seasons of Gilmore Girls on Friday nights, you guys. Like, I’m epically bad at it.

Oh! Which taught me the very important lesson that I still exercise routinely: PLEASE look at who you’re texting before you hit send. Please. I’m begging you.

But that’s a story for next time…..

Happy Tuesday! 

Monday, August 14, 2017

When CB Met Becky: The Anniversary Edition

The other day I was talking to some co-workers about a time, years ago, when CB and I were just friends and one of them said “I just love the love story of the two of you.” And I laughed, because hearing your relationship described as a love story sounds odd unless you’re, like, a Disney character. Or Harry and Sally. But this week marks our three year wedding anniversary, and as I look back over these last three years, I can’t help but see the eight that came before it, bringing us to this place in time, looking at our two daughters giggling in hysterics on our bed over nothing in particular except how fun it is to be little.

And what I see over these last eleven years is a man I met at the tender age of 28, who shook my hand and welcomed me to the very first day of work at my new job. We sat next to each other and shared a cubicle wall, and what CB didn’t realize was that the simple act of being nearby meant that I’d talk to him about everything, endlessly, for the next several years (or the rest of his life…). He didn’t have to do too much responding, just the occasional nod/interjection to let me know that he was still awake/sitting there. And that suited us both just fine, as it turned out. But over the course of the first year of working together, I chipped away at his determination to keep his personal life and professional life separate and private. He shared with me, once, that he didn’t like making a big deal out of his birthday, and certainly not at work. And so of course I figured out when his birthday was and made sure to put balloons on his chair, complete with a card and a cupcake so that he felt celebrated and important. It was clear to me early on that he didn’t really know what was good for him and just needed his world expanded a bit – in the form of balloons and sugar, mostly.

Then, about a year and a half into working together, a relationship I’d been in for years ended painfully. I wasn’t keen to talk about it much, which made CB the perfect person to tell. So on a Monday morning in September, I walked over to his desk and whispered – a first for our relationship – and filled him in that it was over. As I started to walk away, he stood up and said: “C’mon, let’s go to that milkshake place I told you about. I know you can drink a milkshake at 9am, that’s right up your alley.” And so we went. And it never came up again, unless I wanted it to. He never asked me for any of the sordid details – the only person in my life able to make that claim -  though over the years I provided them here and there. Which was one of the first signs to me that this guy was different. And trustworthy. And seriously knew how to make me feel better in times of need!

So it should go without saying that we were soon more than just co-workers and running buddies, we were friends. He mistakenly introduced me to a large portion of his family/friend circle on his 30th birthday at happy hour one night, and as he says, “that was the beginning of the end.” While everyone else assumed we were into each other, we were very clear that we were not. However, true to form, they ignored us both and insisted we should just give up the charade and fall in love already. Which we promptly did about five years later, thankyouverymuch.

And when we did, there was no turning back. This thing that wasn’t a thing, then became a thing, now sees us as parents to a 2-year-old and a 7-month-old. It’s seen us spend the last three years excitedly awaiting our first daughter. And getting hit with the shock of new parenthood and total exhaustion. Figuring out how to fight and forgive, and learning that one of us needs to be well-slept at all times for the two of us to balance life without a knife-fight. It has seen us excitedly awaiting our second daughter, while figuring out how on earth we’re going to have two babies with two different sets of needs. It’s seen us having zero idea what two kids under two was going to feel like, but mainly just relishing in the fact that all four of us get out the door each day with our clothes right-side out most of the time.

It’s seen us poorly navigating the Hong Kong airport, giving life to the now commonly-used phrase “We would for sure be the first couple kicked off of the Amazing Race.” It’s seen us forgetting to say hi to each other and then remembering how important that is each day. It’s seen us sleeping on the floor of the living room together as each of our girls enjoyed their own room during sleep-training.  It’s seen us doing the Parent Zombie Shuffle through our mornings, packing diaper bags and refilling diaper bins and cleaning up literal spilled milk and sticky, syrup-y tables. It’s seen us laughing through almost every experience we’ve had, and crying when it was needed. It’s seen for-real fear in our eyes during pregnancy and childbirth, and for-real relief at their end. It’s seen us collapsing onto the couch at 7:30 each night after we’ve put both kids to bed, the house quiet, and our will to cook anything other than a salad at an all-time low. It sees us talking about an episode of “El Chapo” that one of us couldn’t get through because it’s an hour of reading television and that totally defeats the purpose, you guys. But since it’s such a good show, I depend on CB to stay up until 8:30pm and read it all so he can fill me in on what happened after El Chapo crossed over the border to El Salvador because it was just about to get crazy! It sees us realizing that I’m “The Throw Up Parent” because the other parent in the equation starts to dramatically gag and potentially vomit when he sees, hears, or smells it. It sees us still laughing at his cheesy puns and my ridiculous sports observations and knowing each other’s “look” for everything from “I know, right? This person is ridiculous,” to “I know, right? I can tell you definitely want to scratch my head while we watch ‘Flipping Out’ right now, so let’s do this!”

And it sees us having no idea what we were in for when we said our vows and laughing that we ever thought we had a clue. Because while sleeping on the floor of your living room and cleaning up vomit does not make for great wedding vows, as it turns out, it does make for a pretty great life. And our vows still hold true…except for the one where he promised never to leave his dishes next to or in the sink when the dishwasher was empty. But overall, they’re still going strong!

Happy Anniversary Week, CB...it’s totally a thing! 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Things I Shouldn't Have to Say Out Loud

Things that I’ve done in the last month:

  • Asked what year it was as I was filling out a check. TO BE FAIR, I wrote “2017,” so I’m still with the times. But as I wrote it I was like “it definitely isn’t 2017. Crap, is it 2016 or 2018? Oh no, I don’t know what year it is and I’ve either gained or lost time!” So then I double-checked real quick with CB and he was like “how about you get some sleep and I’ll finish doing whatever it is that you’re doing.” 

  • Poured my coffee into a baby bottle. Which is sort of genius because, convenience. We have more bottles than we do regular cups, I’m pretty sure. But also, I then almost fed it to our baby, which hasn’t been discussed explicitly on BabyCenter or anything, but I’m guessing it’s frowned upon since she just started being able to gum her applesauce. 

  • Had an entire conversation about me wetting the bed, even though I didn’t wet the bed, but my husband figured it could be a possibility and so we had the conversation much later than we should’ve. Like, CB thought maybe I’d wet the bed, made the bed anyway, and so when I pulled the covers back to go to bed later that night there was still a big wet spot. 

Me: “Ugh, I totally forgot that I spilled Fiona’s bottle here this morning and now it’s still wet!”
CB: “Oooh, is that what that was?”
Me: “Wait, you made the bed knowing that it was wet?”
CB: “Yeah, I thought it would dry. And I didn’t know what it was.”
Me: “What did you think, that I wet the bed or something?”
CB: “I mean, I wasn’t sure….”
Me, laughing: “We have so many problems! First, you thought it was entirely possible that I wet the bed. Which I should be offended by, but, fair enough point. But second, the fact that you thought that maybe this was pee and then just made the bed anyway disturbs me.”
CB, laughing: “I thought it would dry!”
Me: “I never want to sleep in pee-dried sheets!”

And then we started laughing too hard to talk.

So, you know, if you haven’t done any of these things in the last month…you’re winning. Happy Monday! 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

I'm Slowly Dying/Losing My Senses

The other day I got copied on an email from a co-worker who was emailing our building admin to tell her that there was a “very strong smell of gas.” Apparently, everyone around me was getting the “very strong smell of gas” as well. And this turned out to be for good reason, as the building admin replied that they were using some sort of torch and laying tar on the roof and so that’s why everyone was smelling it.

So I emailed a co-worker/friend and said “bad sign that I didn’t notice?” and he wrote back “a bit.” But then I couldn’t tell if he was kidding because, no joke, I didn’t smell a thing. So I was like “no, seriously….are you still smelling it? Like, it’s currently happening as we type this?” And he confirmed that he was not joking, it currently smelled, and wtf is wrong with me?

Which then led to a rabbit-hole Google search that lasted nearly 30 minutes to figure out what I was dying from, other than gas-related brain death.

And we laugh, but this is concerning. Not because I’m dying of something and my lack of smell is the first sign. I mean, that might be it, but that doesn’t concern me. What does concern me is that I can literally be oblivious to the “strong smell of gas” that all other human beings around me are experiencing, yet I literally have to leave my desk with someone is eating loudly in my vicinity.

Other things I haven’t noticed in real life:

A giant crane that was outside of my work building for two years, that I walked underneath every single day, and didn’t notice until a co-worker casually mentioned it and I said the words “what crane?” and meant them.

A giant driving range along the side of a road I would run by on a weekly basis without noticing it until CB casually mentioned it one day and I said the words “what driving range?” and meant them.

A sliding glass door that my face met at full speed when I was in high school, so violently that my friends then put a giant, taped X on the glass so I wouldn’t do it again. Because that was a likely outcome. And I was not drinking.

A regular bedroom door that my face met at full speed when I was at a New Year’s Eve party a few years ago . Thankfully, only one very nice friend witnessed it as I tried to casually walk away as if it hadn’t happened. I was drinking.

Yet, if someone is eating a banana nearby, or using the wrong version of “there/their/they’re” in an email, or clicking their pen during a meeting, IT’S ALL I CAN HEAR/SEE. Which says something about me, though it’s unclear what that something is. Mainly, it tells me that my children should depend on their father for the big picture stuff but come to me if they want to know the best way to multi-task what you’re doing while counting the amount of times someone slurps their soup during lunch. Which is a skill, if you’re me, because otherwise you’d be unemployable because all you can do is focus on the fact that they’re the worst.

Happy Thursday!