July 31, 2017

the little monday that could

Justin and I had to make an emergency trip to Weston today because Justin thought he had dry socket.

We found out that he does not, in fact, have dry socket, and that his mouth is actually healing about as well as expected. He has a couple of bone spurs in his mouth that the nurse said should fall out on their own, or the doctor will remove them once we come in for his next surgery to get the remaining teeth they weren't able to extract the first go-round.

Then they dropped a bomb on us.

For Justin's next surgery, they want to do ambulatory instead of IV Sedation... which means a trip to the actual doctor for a full physical exam prior to getting the rest of his teeth pulled. (And also means Justin might walk away a pretty scar from a breathing tube, or so said the nurse.) We'll know more in a couple of weeks once the authorizations have either been approved or denied. Then it's either follow The New Plan or fall back on The Old Plan.

We drove home in a torrential downpour behind a semi with an oversized load that I was too sheepish to pass. My jaw hurts from grinding my teeth through Stevens Point construction. My shoulders feel like they have taken up permanent residence up by my ears. It feels like every time we go to the dentist, I have to practice self care to make the anxiety beast go away for a while. Last time, I went for a walk in the park. Today, I went to the grocery store.

I found solace in clear blue skies with fluffy white clouds.

I found joy in the soft pink and yellowed peachy tones of the flowers by the produce section.

I found energy in a pile of avocados. (And the 2/$3 was too good to pass up.)

I found happiness (literally) in the Nutella display.

The lesson I've learned today is that we will get through this. We'll deal with everything as it comes, and when all else fails, I'll just take an hour and go spend some time by myself to regroup and think of what to do next.

July 30, 2017

definitely trying to make lemonade out of sour lemons

good things:
  • the sun on the side of the garage every morning
  • c o f f e e
  • taking pictures as a method of self care
  • working with my favs tonight
  • (even tho all night was a SHITSHOW)
  • coming home to justin & the kitties
  • tomorrow is a new day

July 29, 2017

check plus

I put a little pink on the ends of my hair and it turned out a little more red but I'm still rolling with it. 

I sat on front stoop and drank my coffee this morning. Appreciated the light and said good morning to my neighbors and strangers walking by. 

I've been stuck in my head the last few days. Processing how many things can change in a year. How GOOD change really is. 

I'm playing with paper. Last night I ordered photos before I went to bed.  It feels good to be inspired to make stuff again. 

It's National Lipstick Day so I did my makeup and took selfies to commemorate the occasion. (And a little throwback to last year.)

Peace and love, Saturday. 

July 28, 2017

do one thing each day that scares you.

Justin and I were watching Naruto last night and I got inspired by one of Shikamaru's wartime pep talks. I tweeted out, "Write the pep talk that you need to hear." And then proceeded to get engrossed in battle scenes and flashbacks and the ever-present conflict of peace vs. suffering, light vs. dark. 

I woke up this morning in a mood. I was excited to get out of bed right away and drink coffee, but when I actually got up and started thinking about my day, the anxiety beast ensnared my heart. I wrote in my journal. I took my usual morning walk around the yard. I called Justin's dentist about possible dry socket. I went to the grocery store and my heart pounded as I needed to tell the clerk that I needed to put stuff back because I didn't have enough money on me. 

I did things that scare me today and I haven't even gone to work yet. That has to count for something. 

I'm learning that these small moments of courage really add up. 

One step at a time, looking fear in the eyes is getting less scary. One step at a time, telling it to back the hell off is getting less scary. One step at a time, my willpower to say "yes" to the fun stuff is growing stronger again. 

Do one thing that scares you today. 

And then go buy ice cream for a reward! ;)

July 27, 2017

good morning indeed

Thursday. My day off. I slept in this morning, made fresh coffee, and smiled when I walked outside to see the sunlight making shadows on the side of the garage. I sat in the grass by the hydrangeas in the side yard, sipping my coffee and taking pictures of the sunlight through the trees above me. I wandered into the front yard and saw the sun dappling shadows on the house. Magic. 

I got a phone call "just to say hi" from my best friend shortly after I came inside from my morning stroll around the yard. We ended up being on the phone for over two hours. I love it when that happens: short, just checking in calls turn into long catch up conversations like you don't live two and a half hours away from each other and haven't lived in the same town for the last four years. Connections like that you never let go of. I'm so grateful to have invested in the relationships with the people I had growing up. No one knows me better than my high school best friends, and there's no way I'd trade that for anything.

July 23, 2017

a little retail therapy never hurt anyone

Today started off on the wrong foot. I woke up missing my dad with a heavy heart. It caught me off guard and Justin and I had an argument before I had my coffee this morning. I was sad and in a funk and decided to keep compassion at the forefront of my mind today. Then I checked the mail and my Oui Fresh shirt came in yesterday! I did my makeup and took selfies for 20 minutes to celebrate and now I feel like I'm emotionally prepared for work tonight. Funk gone. It really is the little things that bring true joy. 

July 22, 2017

day 100

Today is day 100 of my 365 project. I have taken a picture every single day for the last 100 days. On the heels of a bunch of the artists I follow on Instagram completing The 100 Day Project by Elle Luna, if I was only doing 100 days instead of a year, I would be done. There's something special about being disciplined enough to do something for 100 consecutive days. 

I spent this morning outside reading on the deck. Coffee in hand, listening to Elise's podcast about completing the 100 Day Project. It left me feeling inspired to keep going with my 365. I want to bottle this feeling and store it up for later but I can't. All I can do is keep making stuff. Making breeds making. Ideas only breed more ideas. The only way to really stay inspired is to keep rolling with your ideas while you have them. 

100 days down. 265 more to go. 

July 21, 2017

why do you write?

I write because I have trouble communicating my feelings out loud.

I am an only child. Growing up, I always only had one best friend at a time and a few closer friends that I always managed to keep at arms length. Close enough to know what's going on in my life and make me feel like I have a sense of community around me, but far enough away that they never know what's really going on in my head. 

When I was twelve, my friend Shannon bought me a blue journal with a puppy on the front. I named the journal Jordan, after Jordan Catalano from My So-Called Life, and wrote down my days and my feelings to the tune of "Dear Jordan," every night before bed. Tucked in safe under my covers, with a stash of brightly colored gel pens always within arms reach, I freed the depression monster that was weighing heavily on my heart. I learned how to release my feelings through metaphors and similes, writing flowy words to capture the struggle going on within my mind. 

I write to say the big, scary things out loud. 

I went to writing camp the summer that I was seventeen. For two solid weeks, we wrote for six hours every day. In the halls of Lake Forest College, I learned what it means to be disciplined. My first celebratory reading piece needed to be performed with an accompanying male voice to convey what was going on in my head while I was writing. My voice vs. my abuser's, really a metaphor for all of my anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms that were screaming at me at the tops of their lungs. From that piece, I learned the importance of collaboration. I learned the importance of turning to a friend and saying, "Hey, will you help me with this?"

My second celebratory reading piece confirmed everything I had been working toward for the last seven months prior. For the first time, I said out loud, "I am a survivor of sexual abuse." I did not die. I did not get booed off the podium. I did not get called a liar or a slut like I had feared I might. Instead, I was met with warmth. Hugs from people that two weeks earlier were nothing but complete strangers to me. My group leader came up to me after and said, "Anna, you are one of the bravest people I know. That took courage. That took guts. Well done."

Writing things down makes them real. In all of the hard situations in my life, I have turned to writing for comfort, to ground myself when everything else is spun up in the tornado that took Dorothy away from Kansas and into the Wonderful Land of Oz. Battling the warzone of PTSD, I picked up a three-subject purple notebook from Walmart and wrote down my story start to finish. From the night of September 3, 2006 through the last days of my junior year of high school. I carted the notebook everywhere with me. Every class, every workshop, every shift at Adrian's, every play practice... every spare moment I got, I put my head down to write. I was inspired in the very best way because I was simply telling my version of what happened. I had no idea that purple notebook would inspire me to share my story later on in a very real way.

Two years later, I found myself pacing back and forth in my high school guidance counselor's office just like I did when I was fifteen and waiting to report the whole damn thing. I had an idea. A presentation of sorts. I wanted to make a speech. I wanted to tell my story. After a meeting with the principal, I was granted the opportunity to give a speech to a group of girls that were involved in the same ~traumatic experience coping group~ that I was in my junior year of high school. Writing those things down helped me to maybe help someone else going through something similar to what I experienced. That courage is why I continue to write.

I write to show my loved ones how much I care about them.

In high school, my best friend and I had a red notebook that we would pass in between us at sleepovers. It traveled from my purse to hers in one swift exchange, a silent promise that no one but us was to read what was written within those pages. They were our unsent letters. The pages of that notebook were well loved. Folded and bent from being transferred so many times. Tear stained from our precious teenaged heartbreak. We were trying to release our pain before it could eat us alive. It brought us closer than we ever could have imagined.

Justin and I have quite the history of writing love letters to each other. Not by snail mail per se, but my old email address has every single message Justin ever sent to me. There were times when we lived in our old apartment when I would wake up in the morning to a love letter bomb all over the previously blank walls. We used to write each other love letters in an actual notebook off and on, until we got mad at each other and the notebook got destroyed. Love letters to Justin have always helped to tether me back to shore when I am drifting. They remind me of how strong our love for one another is, and how much we can endure if only we remember that we need to stick together.

Ultimately, I think I write because the fear of forgetting is greater than the compulsion to do nothing.

July 20, 2017

currently, july edition

journaling at the kitchen table every morning while I wait for my coffee to brew

snapchatting my morning coffee pour and my stroll through the backyard

dancing to either pop punk or bubblegum pop music all day every day

writing about why I write (essay coming soonish!)

immersing myself in the words of inspiring ladies like 
hannah & sarah beth

shopping for protein shakes and ibuprofen for poor Justin

getting used to the change in his voice and the way he talks without teeth

feeling very "blah" and melancholy all day

watching a marathon of all of Justin's fav TV Shows: Kind of the Hill, Deadliest Catch, Life Below Zero, The Simpsons, South Park, Cops, and American Dad

impulse buying a cute new dress to make up for feeling blah & the (mostly) bad TV

admiring the dwindling garden section at shopko while it's still around 

stopping at McD's for a mcdouble & a 'free with any purchase' caramel frappe 

keeping my one little word, care, at the forefront right now

reminding myself daily to celebrate the little victories, and that the darkness won't last forever 

July 14, 2017

i would like to think timmy the tooth would be proud

(Because I'm PROUD AS HELL of Justin for having the courage to finally get his teeth pulled!)

Today was surgery day. The big red circle on the calendar that has been looming over our heads since the end of May is finally over and done with... almost. Our original goal for today was to extract every tooth in Justin's mouth, and we're only about 80% there. He has 7 teeth left and SO MUCH GAUZE in his mouth. 


I want to remember... 

...getting up early this morning (I only snoozed my alarm twice!). 

...showering to wake myself up before I made myself an entire pot of coffee to combat my already shot to hell nerves.

...journaling at the kitchen table while drinking my first cup of coffee. 

...accidentally waking Justin up by making cigarettes for our mini road trip, and him grumbling something about me waking him up in half an hour. 

...putting the wrong address in my GPS and we ended up at the hospital instead of the oral surgery clinic so we ended up being a few minutes late. 

...smiling awkwardly at the hygienist when they called Justin back and he was in the bathroom. 

...telling him, "Squeeze my hand as hard as it hurts" before they put his IV in (A line from one of my fav TV shows, My So-Called Life). 

...kissing him before I had to go sit in the waiting room and thinking, "Wow, that was the last time I'm going to kiss him with those teeth." 

...sitting in the waiting room for approximately 5 minutes before venturing out to my car for my thermos of coffee and an Instagram picture to take. 

...matching my thermos+sweater combo to the field of flowers behind the surgeon's office. 

...restlessly switching between checking Facebook & Instagram, updating snapchat, and trying to read my current book

...smiling as soon as I saw Justin awake but groggy in the recovery room. 

...nodding and shaking my head in place of actual words because I was overwhelmed with information as they went over the after care procedures with me. 

...driving home in silence because I was too anxious and, as previously mentioned, Justin's mouth is too full of gauze to talk right now. 

...texting Justin's family updates during the longest 10 minute wait at Walgreens for Justin's pain meds and antibiotics. 

...Justin writing on post-its stolen from the dentist's office and sticking them all over me and the cats as a way to communicate. 

...running to Kmart for a new pillow, new blanket, and ice packs galore. 

...Justin laying down with the Mew cat and her sort of taking it because I think she knows something is wrong with him. 

...running to Dollar General two separate times in half an hour, once for a water bottle and twice for a new box fan. 

...coming home for a Cops marathon and taking care of my baby. 

July 12, 2017

hometown glory

What is home to you?

Home is always embodied in golden hour sunlight. The magic kind of light that makes summer days seem even longer and winter days seem even warmer. It's in the backdrop to all my adolescent memories. Long shadows cast across the blacktop basketball courts at my elementary school, playing a game of kickball with my friends. Bike rides with my cousins through Shiloh Hills, racing the setting sun to be home before the streetlights came on. Running around on the boat launch with my camera, either back and forth to my tripod or making my friends and clients balance precariously on pretty blue canoes.

Home smells like my mom cooking my grandma and my great-gram's recipes, offering comfort after a long day and a couple hours driving. The last time I went home, I was greeted with the smell of my grandma's homemade chicken noodle soup, a glass of my momma's favorite wine, and the promise of good conversation. It smells like my dad: soap, cigarette smoke, and his patented garage smell. Smelling it now, even in my memory, still feels like a hug from him. It smells like Shea Butter and vanilla, the smell of my best friend's bedroom in high school where it was always a quick "Got everything? Okay let's go!" before we were off on our next adventure.

Home looks like picture windows and grandma's recliner in the best spot for being nosy about the neighborhood. Even though she is no longer with us, I can still see her sitting in the window with a smile on her face every time I walk up the driveway. It looks like an embarrassing litany of school pictures lined up in my dad's toolbox that sat in his garage. Seventeen years later, and I can still see the grimace in my second grade school picture staring back at me in my head.

Home is where unconditional love flows like water, because only the people you consider your family are willing to forgive you for your brokenness.

Home is Adrian's, my first job and the ultimate sweet tooth craving. Home is Echo Park having picnics with juice boxes and sandwiches wrapped in tin foil, watching the sun go down over Echo Lake with my best friend. Home is The Haylofter's and all the summers I spent all my money buying Mountain Dew from the gas station across the street during breaks from running lines and writing on the walls with lipstick. Home is having my first kiss at the movie theater in eighth grade. Home is driving on the backroads with my best friends, singing along to songs we will forever know the words to at the top of our lungs.

Right now, my hometown is under a state of emergency due to the White and Fox Rivers flooding from heavy rain and thunderstorms. Every post I have seen on Facebook today has been of the flood damage to my family and friends houses, properties, work places, and the small little town we all call home.

I am heartbroken for Burlington and the community I still feel such a strong connection to. This is the second tragedy to my small town in less than three months. Over Memorial Day weekend, two students from my high school and a recent graduate were killed in a tragic car accident. The people of Burlington came together to support those families in their time of need. The entire community grieved together for the lives of three young men lost way too soon. I have no doubt the same compassion and support for those who have been victimized by the flooding will come through once it finally. stops. raining. 

I'm praying tonight.

God, please allow this disaster to make my hometown come together as a community once again. Allow the compassion and joy to show up in this pocket of darkness. Allow the helpers to stay safe as they rescue those in need of assistance and evacuation. Allow the grace to shine through the rain clouds. May the sun come out soon. Amen. 

July 07, 2017

friday, friday, gotta get down on friday

two cups of coffee. journaling at the kitchen table. listening to the '70s music I grew up on. morning walks around the yard. maxi dresses. doing my makeup. I'm learning that crises in identity often result in a lot more selfies. trying to be soft and get to know this new version of myself better. praying for a good night at work. peace. 

July 06, 2017

good things

THE SUN. seriously, LOOK AT THE SUNSET TONIGHT. CRAZY. I also posted a couple videos of the crazy heat lightning that came along with this gorgeous sunset in my snap story. I love the sky. 

journaling. I sat down at the kitchen table this morning and wrote in my 25 book while I drank my coffee. I might make it a habit. I didn't feel an anxious pull at my heart all morning like I normally do. 

breathing exercises. every day before I go to work, I sit in my car for two minutes. eyes closed. deep breath in. deep breath out. concentrate on your breath. feel your heartbeat slow. feel the breeze tickle your bangs on your forehead. hear the traffic buzzing by around you. just sit and be for a moment of peace before 7.5 hours of stress. 

we survived Car Show Weekend Day 1. 2 more days to go. 

July 05, 2017

i think i'm having an existential crisis

What has been on my mind lately? Everyone wants to know. Facebook. Twitter. I am even unable to compose anything beyond a string of emojis for my Instagram captions lately. I've been neglecting you too, Blogland, and the fog in my brain is starting to make itself more and more apparent. I keep wondering when it's going to click in my head that I need to write like I need to breathe. I need to write for the catharsis it brings. I need to write to make room in my head. I need to write everything down so that I do not forget, and I have not been writing. I have been working. And scrolling. And reading. And watching stuff on Netflix. And playing with the cats. I have been doing everything but writing.

Today I finished reading Devotion: A Memoir by Dani Shapiro. Her story hit sort of close to home for me. The chapter in her book when she learned how to put on her father's tefillin left me in tears. Took me back to me and Justin, cleaning clothes out of my dad's closets in his empty apartment. At one point, I was just standing there, smelling everything, trying to remember his scent. Clean laundry, the stuff hanging in his closets and tucked away in drawers smelled like soap. The same generic soap he used when he lived in Zion after the divorce was still tucked in laundry hamper, anxiously awaiting his return.

Two baskets of dirty laundry overflowed alongside the bed. Weeks worth of work jeans with dirty knees, oil stained t-shirts and the occasional Dad Flannel. All of it had that same soap smell with a garage smell tang. The smell of gasoline and motor oil will always remind me of my father. I grabbed a highlighter yellow Miller High Life t-shirt out of the bottom of one of baskets and threw it in my duffel bag, promising myself I would never forget what he smelled like.

I'm realizing that it's okay to be sad once in a while. It's okay to miss your dad. It's okay to have those days when you just need to curl up in one of his sweatshirts and cry with the sleeves wrapped around you as a surrogate hug that isn't even a fraction of being close to the real thing. I've never felt a loss this huge in my life before. Everyone else we either knew it was coming  so I had time to prepare myself for it, or I was too young and immature to really see and understand the gravity of how much it sucks to lose someone.

For comfort, I have been trying to immerse myself in the lives of other people with the feeble hope that being able to live in 10 second snippets of their lives will somehow compensate for the giant gaping hole that my dad left behind in mine. I watch something on Netflix to stop the compulsive scrolling, but then I just feel even more alone and isolated because Justin and I have vastly different taste in TV shows. Then I can't focus on TV anymore so I pick up a book, and while I'm reading I feel calm and content as can be. I'm focused on something. I'm engaged with whatever story is being told between those pages. But as soon as the last page turns, I'm restless again and unable to focus on another book.

The restlessness is what gets me. It's when the anxiety creeps in at 7:30 on a Wednesday night and says, "When is the last time you hung out with your friends?" Realize how much I miss being in high school, when all of my friends were 10 minutes away and always down to hang out. The fear of rejection didn't sting as hard at seventeen. I feel so disconnected from everyone, and I can't tell if I've done it to myself, or if time has just created a distance between me and my friends that just feels too overwhelming to bridge right now.

I'm waiting, stuck in a perpetual period of limbo that I can't wait to be out of. Justin and I have big plans for our future, but we're stuck at the starting line until those teeth come out of his mouth. I know it's only nine more days, but it feels like an eternity because of all the baby steps we have to take. Teeth out, new jobs, get our finances in check, get married, move out of our in-law's house. Each box is penciled in, waiting to be checked off. The restlessness is clouding my mind, making each day seem impossibly longer than the next.

I'm sick of taking every day as it comes, one day at a time, counting down to one thing or another. I want a sign that it'll all be over soon, that all of this evening sadness and depression naps will be worth it. I need to see the light at the end of the tunnel because I'm having trouble believing that it's still there, shining brightly and waiting to welcome us to the other side.

July 04, 2017

it's the 4th of course.

I honestly don't remember the last time I got to watch fireworks on July 4th... Between Adrian's and Hardee's, I've always been working. I hope everyone had a good long weekend!