Saturday, March 11, 2017

Scent of a woman

I have really been struggling with buying tampons recently.

I have been buying tampons for almost twenty years now, so you would think this wouldn't really be an issue. And I'm a pretty brand loyal girl. The Tampex with the flushable applicators has been my go-to since I was old enough to need a go-to.

Recently though, they either got rid of the ones with the flushable applicators, or they hid them or something because I walk into Walgreens and I am flummoxed. I find myself standing there, looking for these boxes that I've been self-consciously carrying to the checkout line for over half my life. And they aren't there. The ones I want, my tampons, aren't there. Sometimes they have a store brand version that is almost what I want, but like I said, I am a snob when it comes to tampons (#firstworldperks).

So I stand there and I come to the conclusion that the ones I want aren't there. Then, for some reason, picking the runner up to settle for is impossible. They're aggressively adorably packaged or they're too complicated, or they seem irrationally expensive. All the options blur together and then I realize that it has been five minutes. At this point, two or three women may have come by, picked up their box and left. While I have never seen a side-eye, I have felt them walking away thinking, "Seriously? Are you new?" And after all that I finally get to a point in the mindlessly staring at boxes and just pick one up and pay for it.

Which is how I have ended up with scented tampons twice in the past six months.

The fact that scented tampons even exist is proof positive that the tampon companies are run by men. At a time when you are already feeling bloated and hungry and generally gross, to also feel like you smell so bad, that you have to deodorize the stopper you shove inside yourself. We all know that tampons are full of terrible chemicals that are slowly leeching into our organs like so many power plants into drinking water, but to add additional chemicals all in the name of keeping the people around you from being inconvenienced by the smell of so much uterine lining? It was clearly only men around the table at that strategy meeting.

So now, I'm stuck with these tampons that smell like mall kiosk body spray, that indicate I smell unacceptable, and that remind me I can't manage to pick tampons like a grown-up.

The real problem with tampons recently is that they are a sign of failure. After what seems like a hundred years, but is really only just over one year, of trying to get pregnant, every single tampon has reminded me that I am currently unable to perform my most basic biological function. Every time I buy a box (scented or no), I let myself have this brief glimmer of hope that maybe this will be the last box for a while. But for the past thirteen months of boxes, I have used the last one and then brought home another box, like a failed math test for your parents to sign.

Compounding the annoyance and tedium of a period with a sense of sometimes just, bone crushing sadness about failing again and again at something that everyone around you seems to only ever get right. And to add being bad at buying tampons to the equation really seems to bring the hammer down on my soul.

...anyway. I'm bad at buying tampons right now.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

On Shoulds and Truths.

"You should write more."

I should.

I should write about my job and how it is time to put on my big girl pants and fix the problems I can, and accept the ones I can't.

I should write about how marriage is different than I expected, but probably better than I anticipated.

I should write about the existential despair that makes it so hard to get out of bed some mornings and the cure, which might be found in not checking twitter before the sun comes up.

I should write about how time works when you find out that you're trying to read a broken clock.

The problem with writing on the internet is... it is awfully public. When you're spending most of your time processing, everything comes out like a Joyce-ian paragraph without even a single comma and it can be hard to come up with simple sentences that are easily digestible by people who might happen upon them.

So here are some things that are absolute in their truth and meaningless:

The first season of Downton Abbey feels like a warm blanket on my soul.

Making a pot of coffee is beyond my capabilities most mornings. If I can't have a cup made for me, by man or machine, I'll just go without.

Every time a teacher tells me "its easier when you smile" in a yoga class, I want to punch her (or him) directly in jaw.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

2016 in Books

My #hottake on 2016 - I probably wouldn't have gotten married this year if I had known it would open the seventh circle of hell. Holy smokes this year was terrible. BUT! I made it past the goal of 52 books. 56 books in 52 weeks! It was nice to escape the dumpster fire for a little while in some good (and not-as-good) reads. The bolded ones are my top recommendations. Some random thoughts below.

Thirteen Reasons Why
The Martian
The Invention of Wings
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Jane and the Waterloo Map
Selfish, Shallow and Self Absorbed
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P
Death of Cancer
Orphan Train
Life After Life 
The Clasp
A God in Ruins 
Emma: a Modern Retelling 
The Language of Flowers 
The Prince of Nantucket 
Men Explain Things to Me
The Crown
A Study in Charlotte 
Everything Everything
All the Single Ladies
If I was Your Girl
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
The Thing About Jellyfish
Rosemary The Hidden Kennedy Daughter
Asking for It
Breath Becomes Air

Why Not Me?
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit 
Being Mortal
* A Short History of Nearly Everything
Morning Star
Let's Pretend this Never Happened
Boys in the Boat
Sharp Objects
Smarter Faster Better
Dark Places
The End of the Perfect 10
Dear Mr. You
Vassa in the Night
The Girls
Luckiest Girl Alive
The Hike

A Life in Men
In the Garden of Beasts
Ghostly Echoes
Love Warrior
In the Heart of the Sea

An Ember in the Ashes
November's Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913
Crazy Rich Asians
I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Crazy Rich Asians is a perfect beach read. Hag-Seed made me fall in love with words (again). The Hike and In the Heart of the Sea are the best "books for boys." Asking for It and Men Explain Things to Me will make you angry. Breath Becomes Air and Being Mortal will make you sad. Dear Mr. You will give you every emotion ever. If I had to pick a worst book, its probably The Prince of Nantucket. Triumphs in young adult literature include The Thing About Jellyfish and Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit. I'm Thinking of Ending Things was an appropriately titled book for last book of the year.

Happy reading in 2017!!

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Sweet Summer '16

In the past, I have made myself a glorious to-do list to stretch over Chicago's summer months. It is a constant reminder to make the most of every minute caked in sunshine.

This year,  I'm making my list at the end of the summer. Rather than using it to get excited, I'm going to use it as a reference - to warm me up over my months of hibernation.

This summer was all the things.

It was Saturday after Saturday of endless rounds of cocktails and laughter stretched across the patios of Chicago with my urban-family-who-is-family. One Saturday Boyfriend got so drunk he bought a cake that looked like a cheeseburger.

It was the fourth year running the Kuma's 5K with bonus hand-holding across the finish line with my sweet Panda who ran all the way from Hot-lanta. I couldn't have struggled through that nightmare hangover without her twice-as-long legs beside me.

I got to give my baby cousin the biggest hug just days before he proposed to his girlfriend. Five seconds ago he was a big-eared three year-old showing me how his computer game worked and now he's old.

A helicopter ride over a glowing downtown Chicago. Chicago is best seen from the water, but second best from the air.

There were bellies to rub,  new babies to kiss, and birthdays you can count on fingers to celebrate.

It. was. BALLOONS. 

A four day play-date with Baby Brother and Boyfriend complete with pokemon, legos, and skipping school to go to breakfast.

The bright-eyed beginning and the dancing-until-the-lights-come-up end of wedding planning.

Red rocks at the end of one plane ride. My favorite place at the end of the other.

Summer Olympics. Lake Michigan. Afternoons on the Porch. Our Batmanniversary.

Chicago Summer never does me wrong, and this one will keep me warm long into February.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Girls Weekend In Denver

So you want to go to Denver? Excellent Choice.

My two friends and I had been on the hunt for a girls weekend excursion and while we were craving a beach getaway, the threat of Zika had me gently nudging them to places to the el norte. When we discovered that you can take a yoga class at the hipster mecca of Red Rocks Amphitheater for the low price of $12, we knew we had found our destination.

It was endlessly delightful to respond to the standard query of "what brought you to Denver?" with, "oh we came for a yoga class." Like, one class. Flying half way across the country for one hour of exercise. But it was totally worth it. I frickin' love Denver. I can't wait to go back.

What we did:

Yoga at Red Rocks - they have eight classes a summer and there is a very, very real chance I'll go again because it was an out of (white girl) body experience. An awesome flow, perfect weather, incredible music, free granola bars. If Heaven has yoga classes, they're all at Red Rocks.

(more) Yoga in the Civic Center Conservancy - if I was going to haul my yoga mat on an airplane, I wanted to make it worth my while. So I scoped out free yoga classes. Most cities have them (this is now my second free-yoga-while-traveling class, and I'm making it a habit) and it is a fun way to do something that isn't eating, walking, or napping.

The Flatirons (1 and 2) - we wanted a hike that was only going to take a morning but not make us feel like we hadn't accomplished anything. Flatirons was perfect. We ended up with a 30 minute detour (the trail marking is not great) and still made it up to the end of the trail within a few hours. There was some rock scrambling and it required a little Beyonce motivation, but we did it and it was totally worth it for the views, the sense of accomplishment, and the cheeseburgers we got at the end.

The Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks - after the yoga class we were not feeling particularly go-getter-y. This trail was perfect for some instagramable rocks and a leisurely "let's talk about our feelings" pace.

The first .3 miles of the Dino Ridge Trail - I demanded this because I love me some dinos. We parked right at the end of the road and took the 10 minute walk up, learned things, had a moment of awe over these being Actual Dinosaur Foot Prints, and walked back down. Skipped the crowd and the tours.

Improv at Voodoo Comedy - Improv and Podcast Superstar Mel Evans has relocated to the Denver area (much to the devastation of Chicago) and we saw her crush it so hard in some improv musical comedy.

What we ate and drank:

Lunch at Mountain Sun - If you're going to climb a flat iron, you deserve a cheese burger slathered in blue cheese. These were perfect. With delicious beers to boot.

Dinner at Work and Class/Working Class/Work and Release - (we could not ever actually remember the name of this restaurant) was exactly what these snobby-ass Chicago foodies wanted. Good cocktails, killer small plates, and no wait for a table. Everything was delicious but the mac and cheese, corn, and house salad were particularly scrumptious.

Ice Cream at Sweet Action - TWICE. No regrets.

Potions at Shine Restaurant - on the recommendation of a colleague we had some post-hiking potions. Good for an introspective giggle (do you need a restarter or a firestarter?) bad for being not particularly delicious. Though I'm sure they were good for our souls in a tetanus shot kind of way. 

Brunch at Rioja - This was the best possible last meal of the trip, but it also could have been the last meal of my life and I would have been okay. We picked it because of my companion's aversion to eggs (making brunch a challenge) - almost everything on their menu did not require a pair of sunny-side-ups to complete it which was perfect. The service was kind of garbage but you can redeem all manner of sins with free goat cheese biscuits and honey butter.

Where we stayed:

An absurd little Airbnb that stank to high heaven of the whacky tabacky (Welcome to Denver, I suppose). It was perfectly located next to a Whole Foods that provided the many, many kombucha varieties we needed for four days.

How we got around:

Frontier got us there. If you're 5'2", can pack light, and always have your own snacks, Frontier is not as bad as everyone says and was $150 cheaper than even Southwest. A tiny little Chevy Spark rental got us around. It was like a Harry Potter car, it fit into every parallel parking space we found and used like 6 ounces of gas the whole trip.

Other shout outs:

Golden Farmer's Market (and Izzybelle Chocolate Sauce), Union Station's new make-over, and Dirt Coffee.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

In the Air.

I measured my years in traditions. Ones that have been actual, every year traditions, and the ones we have out grown, or moved away from. I cherish the ones that may have only lasted for three years (that's my lower limit, btw, if you can get to three years, it's the real deal) with as much fervor as the ones that I inherited.

I crave the stability of traditions, despite the fact that I am impatient for a life chock-full of adventures and new things every day. The Christmas Story, an Easter Pinata, Flower Mart, a week on Nantucket -- these are my touchstones through all of the chaos I gleefully swirl through.

My parents, and their parents, and back and back used to be responsible for this, but now I seek out opportunities to lay the foundation for new traditions. Drinking in downtown Frederick on Christmas night - Classy? No. A tradition? Absolutely. The Kuma's 5K. A New Year's Day Party (though we inherited/downright stole this one, I treasure it in a nook particularly close to my heart).

My new favorite? The Great Galena Balloon Race.

When I read about it in a Time Out article last summer, I had a vision for a perfect, colorful weekend. Luckily, I had a partner in crime who shared this vision. So we waited patiently, never doubting for a second that this was going to be all the things we wanted it to be.

And. It. Was.

There was a moment as we were driving in that I got the cold dread of "what if this was a mistake," but the moment we saw our first balloon cresting the hill, it granted every wish I had for the weekend.

Galena is far, but not-too-far, and they're pretty loosey-goosey on the "don't bring your own booze or food" rules, making it an economically sound weekend investment in joy and photography.

Deep below my ribs I feel like I want to do this every year. I want to pack up a car, and a cooler, and rent a condo, and spend all evening on the grassy lawn watching balloons float overhead. I want to stay up too late playing games, and then drag myself out of bed for the quiet delight of the sunrise race (and then go immediately back to bed). I want to be surrounded by friends, and kids, and wine juice boxes. I want a catalog of memories of this specific place over years and years.

My goal, by putting this out into the internet tubes, is that I'll hold myself to making it a real thing. Around April of next year (and every year after), I'll send out an email to my Urban Family and Work Boos and get a head count for the condo... and we'll arrange cars, and make pasta salads, and enjoy the most joyful start to summer.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Last year in books

My goal was to read 52 books in 2015. I only managed 48, but they were a solid 48. I blame throwing a wedding in the last few weeks of the year for missing those last 4. Here's what I read.  All the bolded ones are the ones you really should read too.
  1. Yes Please
  2. Riding Lessons
  3. My Sister's Grave
  4. The Secret Place
  5. The Magician King
  6. The Magician's Land
  7. The Queen of the Tearling
  8. The Wide Window
  9. Flash Boys
  10. Red Rising
  11. The Orphan Master's Son
  12. Spoiled
  13. Beyond Belief
  14. To Kill a Mockingbird (I was supposed to read this in high school but I never did. Shhhh)
  15. Bird Box
  16. Under the Banner of Heaven
  17. On Immunity
  18. Flora
  19. The Girl on the Train
  20. Longbourn
  21. Destiny of the Republic
  22. Golden Son
  23. The Invasion of the Tearling
  24. Go Set a Watchman
  25. In the Unlikely Event
  26. The Husband's Secret
  27. All the Light We Cannot See
  28. Wild
  29. Everything I Never Told You
  30. Failure is Not an Option
  31. The Royal We
  32. Americanah
  33. Dead Wake
  34. Thirty Million Words
  35. Astonish Me
  36. The Selection
  37. I Know Why the Caged Bird Signs
  38. Watergate: A Novel
  39. Challenger Deep
  40. Trickster's Queen
  41. Jackaby
  42. The Elite
  43. Ready Player One
  44. The One
  45. Arcadia
  46. Fates and Furies
  47. Beastly Bones: A Jackaby Novel
  48. The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories
This list could not have happened without the fist-full of jelly beans that is The Selection series. I cruised through the first four books with such agony over how they were the worst and yet I could-not-would-not stop. If you want to feel particularly bad about yourself as an unpublished author, I highly recommend them.

Also, I recognize that reporting out on this list is five months late. How did it get to be May so fast? Considering how I'm doing on other deliverables, half a year late is really not that bad.

She's pint-sized and amazing.