Approaching Last Day: My 30th Birthday …and 5th Blogiversary

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I’m pretty sure no one has used a Logan’s Run reference on their 30th birthday in the last 20 years, but it is truly one of my favorite movies. In fact, I made Jake watch it early on in our relationship, in exchange for Blazing Saddles, one of his favorites.

Jake: “Why is everyone in this movie naked?”
Me: “What? They’re not naked. They’re wearing drapery.”
Jake: “It’s see-through.”
Me: “It’s not… ooooh. How did I never notice that?”
Jake: “How many times did you say you’ve seen this movie?”

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Regardless of the fact that this is apparently just cleverly disguised porn… or not so cleverly, as it may be, for the last 10 years, I’ve planned my 30th birthday around a Logan’s Run theme. I was gonna buy brightly colored age-coordinated gauze, glue plastic jewels to hair ties, make a geodesic dome shaped cake, and hold a viewing of the movie, while my friends watched in confusion. Then reality hit.

I live in Cherokee, 45 minutes from all of my friends in Shetland.

I got married this year and have spent enough money on parties.

My new husband isn’t above “accidentally” walking into a crowded room wearing nothing but drapery.

I even had to nix the lantern release from Tangled, after Gail the Wet Blanket informed me that it was “illegal.”

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Alas, my Logan’s Run theme has turned into a t-shirt I ordered from Redbubble and an evening viewing with Jake, as I’ve compromised with a more “normal” celebration and relocated my birthday gathering to a downtown food truck site, in the hopes that people will you know… come.

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As I hear it, such is the way of growing older. Reality sets in and all those outlandish dreams you once had fall away… except in my apparent fairyland, where that’s been proven to be complete and utter hokum. That’s right, y’all. I turn 30 today, September 9th 2017, and I have accomplished very nearly everything I had hoped to accomplish… as I’ve detailed in my blog for exactly five years to the day, including annual birthday/blogiversary posts.

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giphy4It’s a big milestone, y’all and this is exactly how I dance.

Surprisingly enough, I never actually sat down and created an official list of things I hoped to accomplish by 30. I think I’ve just always known that if I wrote a goal down and never achieved it, regardless of why, I’d feel like a failure… even though, as I’ve chronicled in my beloved blog, my goals have changed in the last five years. I’ve changed… and that’s okay. I proudly consider myself a very self aware person and now that I’m here, I think it’s for the best that I didn’t make any grand declarations of what I’d achieve by the end of my twenties. That doesn’t mean I’m not really proud of some things, though. Such as…

I lost the weight. I went from “somewhere around 270,” too ashamed and miserable to know an exact number, to “somewhere around 160”, as someone who can hike up a mountain, bike 10 miles, and never receives a raised brow from her doctor.

I’m confident. I learned to apply makeup, fix my hair, and comfortably wear cute clothes, which are blessedly far more affordable than when I was morbidly obese. I owned my quirky hobbies, and fandoms, and even my general social awkardness. Even if I still occasionally miss the mark, I learned how to more accurately gauge when to tease friends and when to be kind and supportive.

I finished school. I went straight through, graduating high school in 2006, my bachelor’s in 2010, and my masters in 2013.

I got my finances under control. I paid off some debt and improved my credit score. I consolidated my student loans and entered an income-based repayment program. I enrolled in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and am eligible on 2024.

I’m a full time teen librarian. At times, I thought it would never happen, as I worked two jobs for two and half years after receiving my MLIS. Even after I got full time, I thought the ship had sailed on working with teens, but through a crazy course of events, I’m working as a teen librarian in a suburban library, while still earning the pay and benefits of a big city system.

I fell in love and got married. I unashamedly admit that being married by 30 was pivotal to my overall happiness. Bt 27 or so, I didn’t want to come home to an empty apartment and Netflix any longer. I wanted a loving husband and a family.

When I started this blog, on my 25th birthday, I probably would’ve listed owning a home and children as goals for my 30th and now, five years later, I realize that it’s all come in God’s perfect timing. Jake and I weren’t ready for each other until exactly the day we met. We weren’t ready for marriage until the day we exchanged our vows. We won’t be ready for a house until next fall, when we’ve saved the money. We’ll benefit greatly from two years alone together, learning to communicate and not strangle each other, when I passive aggressively hide the clothes he throws on the floor, before we start talking about kids. 

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People keep asking me how I’m coping with turning 30 and my response is… coping? Why would I be coping? I live in a fucking fantasy world, where life only gets better as time passes. Despite the combined efforts of the entire South, I’ve spread out the good things in life and have yet to experience the best days of my career and buying my first home and having babies and watching my children grow and settling into a comfortable and steady marriage with the love of my life. In all honesty, if I did have Logan 5’s opportunity to seek renewal on Carousel tonight, I’d only go if I could be me all over again… because I have a shit ton of good coming my way, including a lot of brightly colored cookie cake.

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Reigning in My Crazy

If you haven’t been following me since I was a graduate student, you might not be familiar with the fact that I can be a little high strung. Okay, so maybe that was also apparent when I started dating Jake… and then when I started sleeping with Jake… or when I got my new job… or when I realized how much I hate my new job. Know what? Not that big of a mystery. As much as I’d love to be able to, I simply cannot describe myself as a laid back person.

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I want to, at least occasionally, be the girl who’s up for anything, who just goes with the flow when plans change… and I have been at times. I was that girl when I talked Gail into getting tattoos on a whim. I was that girl when Gail called in the middle of the night to tell me Terry was stuck in a ditch two hours away and I went along for the ride, entertaining her by reading aloud from satirical reviews of Fifty Shades of Grey. I was that girl on all those impromptu nights out with Catherine. I was even that girl when Jake wanted to go on a weekend ski trip in February, with little notice and having never skied. Lately, though… lately I just haven’t been able to muster up the gumption to be that girl, at all.

You see, I wouldn’t say that 2016 has been bad. It’s just been in a constant state of change. When I was 21 years old, I moved for the 10th time in two years. Every time someone knocked on the door, my heart leapt out of my chest, because I was certain my ex-husband had gotten us evicted again. After I left, things settled down a bit, but life wasn’t exactly what I’d call “steady” as I worked two jobs and attended graduate school. When I graduated, I was promoted to half time librarian and my pay at the library nearly doubled, but I was still dependent on my substitute teaching check. The harrowing world of dating wasn’t exactly a balm to my nerves, but I was no longer a student, so it was still an improvement. Then, I met Jake and was promoted to full time Supervisory Librarian. Finally, I would have the chance to settle in and get comfortable… except that’s not what’s happened at all.

Jake is wonderful and everything I’ve ever wanted, but his work schedule and the distance have been an endless battle. I thought his quitting the oil field might free up some time, but until he gets a job in the city, he spends his weekdays in another state working on the Granger Ranch. As for me, $50,000 a year in one of the cheapest states in the country sure has been nice, especially with all that health insurance, but… I hate being a manager. Here I am, almost one year from the announcement that I’d been promoted and everything was falling into place and I’m back to my “please let me get the job” prayer mantra.

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Life certainly isn’t as stressful as the days of packing up all of my belongings in four hours, before the landlord calls the police. It’s not even as stressful as working two jobs and relying on the Almighty for health insurance. A surprise middle management position, major relationship milestones, months of illness, a year and a half of schedule conflicts with the love of my life, Jake’s unemployment, and now both of us applying for new jobs, however, does not a laid back Belle make… and I’ve gotta admit, my crazy’s becoming harder and harder to hide.

A few weeks ago, I lay on Jake’s bed, distraught:

Me: “Everything’s in flux and it has been for so long. I just feel like there are no constants anymore.”
Jake: “I’m a constant.”

The only reason he gets away with putting his foot in his mouth so often, is because when he does say the right thing, he nails it.

The next weekend, Jake walked through the door as I announced:

Me: “I’m getting an elective C-section.”
Jake: “Please stop reading those articles.”

After a weekend of arguing about C-sections versus natural birth, I ended up in tears and Jake finally asked the obvious question.

Jake: “Why are you so upset about something that’s not even happening for at least two years?!?”
Me: “Because you told me just last week that you’re absolutely opposed to elective C-sections and I agreed with you. Then Catherine and Laura both told me that natural childbirth will rip you in half and to definitely get a C-section. You have such a big personality and you’re so opinionated that I figured if I started arguing about it now, I’d have a better chance of winning!”

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Jake: “Okay, I promise you that when the time comes, I will consider all of the options, if you’ll promise me that you’ll stop reading those articles.”

He also has the patience of a saint.

My irrational fear of eventual childbirth all started when my (former) OBGYN brushed off my birth control side effect concerns, despite my months of pain. Fortunately, though, I had better luck with my new chiropractor… after my hip popped out of place the morning of Jake’s birthday… because I bent over to pick up a pair of shorts.

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One of the things no one ever really talks about, when they’re busy glorifying living alone, is how much it sucks to be hurt or sick and not even have the luxury of company. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something about being alone that amplifies any and all ailments… though apparently not nearly as much as finding out that I didn’t get that job I wanted.

I admit, the day I found out that I didn’t get the Cherokee job, I hit a breaking point and had something of a meltdown. While Jake is great at being supportive in person, he’s simply at a loss when his verbal skills are the only arrows in his quiver. Through a haze of pain, I babbled incoherently into the phone about hating my life, which I’ll admit was needless melodrama, but days earlier my hipbone was tucked behind my tailbone while I grimaced through a fishing trip. I’ve been under a lot of stress y’all.

Here I am, though, with an empty uterus and realigned spine, declaring that I will take the rest of 2016 in stride!

I will stop working myself up over Future Belle’s problems!

I will do my best to accept that the ever changing landscape that is my life these days, will ultimately lead to something good!

I will stop taking advantage of the fact that Jake is experienced in the management of high strung, over-achieving women!

I will reign in my crazy and I will force myself to enjoy my favorite time of year, because I will be that girl who goes with the flow!

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THE GREATEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE HAS OCCURRED!

It’s true. I have peaked. This news shall not be surpassed by my wedding day, the births of my children, or the announcement that Hollywood has remade Titanic and Rose chooses Cal over Jack…*

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*probably not true

…  because this week, I finally got the call. I HAVE BEEN PROMOTED TO FULL TIME SUPERVISORY LIBRARIAN! 

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When I was 21 years old, a year and half out from graduating with my bachelor’s in family and consumer science education (home-ec), I announced to the world that I wasn’t going to teach. I was going to immediately enter the graduate program to receive my master’s degree in library and information studies. The general consensus was a resounding scoff.

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“A librarian? Do they even have librarians anymore? Isn’t that mostly a dying field?” – everyone ever

Before I met Jake, every date I ever had was with a man who either openly mocked my profession or downplayed it as a secretarial hobby job. After I finished my master’s degree, the exact same people who rant about entitled millennials expecting to start at the top, berated me for working only half time after spending so many years in school. As much as I love my daddy lunches, I began to dread the moment he’d ask if I had heard about any more job openings. Four months into my relationship with Jake, I hesitantly asked him…

Me: “Does it bother you that I’m only half time?”
Jake: “What? No. Not at all. If that’s all you were doing and you couldn’t pay your bills, I wouldn’t be here, but you work.”

Work I did. Some weeks, I worked 65 hours only to go home and do 20 cumulative hours of graduate school work. In the beginning, I was substitute teaching and working at the community center for minimum wage. Those 65 hours wouldn’t even pay my bills. Later, I saw a wage increase when I got my first library job, working circulation, but even that was only  $11.50 an hour. Finally, after graduation, I was promoted to half time librarian, where I am today. I was overjoyed that I could finally afford my bills without financial aid assistance, but only just. Between substitute teaching and working as a very well-paid (hourly) librarian, I was still only pulling in $30,000 a year, with no benefits save for the year and a half I qualified for my dad’s health insurance. I had to pay student loan debt and buy a new car, after discovering that that wasn’t condensation leaking from the engine. All the while, I hoped and prayed for my health, because even a single hospital stay could financially ruin me.

Over the last 10 years, my entire adult life, the closest I have ever come to a sense of financial security were the months I subbed every day I could, averaging out to that 65 hours per week. Not only was I too exhausted to enjoy it, but it still didn’t mean anything, because I had to save that money to get me through the summers without substitute teaching. Sure, I could’ve gotten another job, but not one that paid me any more and allowed me my nights and weekends at the library. If I worked full time, I wouldn’t be able to take off for interviews, if and when I got them. I couldn’t work a weekday that a coworker was out, go to staff development or state conference, or do any of the things that would make me a competitive candidate for a full time librarian position. Substitute teaching may have only averaged $10 per hour, but it allowed me to work the hours I chose. So, I worked every day I was able, lamenting any time off I took because there weren’t open sub jobs or school was closed for snow or a power outage. I looked forward to the days I only worked one job or the other, because I might have as many as ten waking hours free.

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Just five weeks ago, I was devastated to learn that I’d been passed up for a position, after an interview I felt went really well. I cried inconsolably into frozen pizza and even refused to answer the phone, when Jake called me. For two days, I could barely speak a sentence without bursting into tears. I had to, of course, because I worked both jobs to afford the aforementioned frozen pizza. I was exhausted and considering looking for office jobs or teaching positions just to have benefits and a comfortable wage. I convinced myself to wait it out, though. My system recently announced several internal openings. If I couldn’t get one of those, fine, my career with the system was over. I wasn’t being dramatic, either. If I was qualified, experienced, and interested, but still couldn’t wow anyone in regards to an internal postion, for which I had little competition, there wasn’t a lot of hope for any forward momentum.

I got the email three weeks ago, that I would sit down at my library for a short interview. After only two days of preparation, the meeting on which my career was riding took all of ten minutes. For a moment, I genuinely started to hyperventilate, which is not considered a desirable leadership trait. Ultimately, I thought it went alright, but how much can you really tell from ten minutes?

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This time, I told no one about the interview, in part because every one of my coworkers knew I’d go for the job and it took place at my own library. If I didn’t get it, they would all know, eventually, that I’d been turned down. I hoped I’d hear back before the holiday, so I could enjoy my Thanksgiving (or skip it and eat pie in tears), but had no such luck. For nearly two weeks, I literally waited by the phone. I vacillated between two extremes: either my career was over or just beginning. I went into deep bouts of depression and got very little sleep, all in silence, because I couldn’t bear to break the news to my family and friends that I’d failed. Then, on Monday, I couldn’t find a sub job. I knew I’d hear back that day and quite literally stared at my phone all morning. I tried to do things that would distract me like starting a Harry Potter marathon. During The Sorcerer’s Stone, I received the e-mail that a different position I’d applied for would no longer be filled. I was still looking at the phone, because if HR was sending e-mails, then I’d be getting something soon. The screen lit up…

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… and my adult life started. I finally feel like a grownup. I start my new supervisory librarian position the first week in January. I get excellent retirement benefits and health care. The wait is over. I did the college thing. I worked my way up. I have financial security. Come Christmas break, I’ll no longer substitute teach. I can buy Christmas presents and get my car repaired and start paying off some of my debt. I can get new glasses and see a dentist. I can move and finally get a cat! I can afford to turn on the heat!!!!!!

I’m not only going to be okay, I am going to be wonderful, doing the job I love, the job I’ve dreamed of for years and taking care of myself. It all worked out and it was worth every second of struggle. Five years ago, I was a broke, terrified, 23-year-old graduate student, just days from filing for divorce. Today, almost all of my dreams have come true.

 

Blogiversary Number Three!

The trouble with my blogiversary is that it’s actually on my birthday…

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… not that my dad remembers when that is. After I sent the “what’s up?” text, I checked my voicemail to receive his happy birthday wishes.

The man is a parody of himself.

Anyhoo, the blogiversary post is always a tough one to fit in, because I love birthdays. I birthday myself to death. Saturday, I got together with Gaily, Catherine, and Laura. We stuffed ourselves with cookie cake, pizza, and liquor and talked about boys. I told them all about how I drove to Wellston after work on Thursday to see Jake, who made me the boyest and sweetest dinner ever: pork chops and canned peas and corn on paper plates that got soggy before I was finished eating. It was wonderful and he obviously missed me as much as I missed him, so I stayed the night and drove home at 6:00 the next morning.

Monday, Gaily and I drove 40 miles for donuts that aren’t as epic as everyone claims and I illegally downloaded Trainwreck for us to watch while crafting. Last night, Niki brought sushi over and we gorged on leftover cookie cake and caught up on each other’s lives. Tonight, on my actual birthday, I get dinner with my favorite lady in the whole world: my Gramma. Later, I’ll see my work friends at a grown-up arcade. Tomorrow, my guy comes to town for two days to see me and meet Gaily and Terry and then my dad and Lena.

So, if this week is any reflection on how 28 will go, I feel like I’ve come a long way. I started this blog on my 25th birthday, a grad student carefully navigating the dating world, while still coping with a young and tragic divorce. While I’m hoping I’ll get a full time position at the library soon, I’m pretty darned content with my life right now. I have wonderful friends and family, a career I love, and a blog I’ve maintained for three years to the day. I’m excited to see my future entries. It’s not the life I planned at 18. It’s better.

What Deal Breakers Do I Possess?: Reasons Not to Date Me

10912929_10204491640828512_775329358_nI totally forgot to cut my employee ID badge out of this photo the first time.

One of my Super Librarian duties is to create displays. Naturally, as 2015 takes root, I’ve put up a resolutions display. In doing so, I found the above title and I was just too curious to let it go. While the title is intentionally scandalous, a good deal of the advice within is pretty sound. Directed toward older single women, in the 35-dead bracket, the author’s perspective is pretty damned defeatist. I mean, for realz yo, were I single at 34 and reading this, I’d take up cutting again. Basically, the author is telling women to get off their high horses and acknowledge that the men they’re dating are human, while there are still men to date. It’s advice from a woman 15 years older, who wishes she’d known this stuff 15 years ago. Fascinating point of view. So, thinking back over my dating history, I tried to decide if there were any good men, who I may have passed up prematurely.

Geologist. This was perhaps the meanest post I’ve written about a man, chiefly because I admitted that the guy looked just like Gollum. It wasn’t just that he was unattractive, though. I mostly didn’t feel like I could relate to him on a personal level, at all. If I’d been less judgmental, could something have formed? Would it have been fair to continue seeing him, regardless of my lack of interest after three dates? I really don’t know.

Engineer No. 94. This guy was nerdy, not particularly attractive, loved anime and I was totally cool with that. We had a great conversation and I really put myself out there, by making it crystal clear that I wanted to see him again, but didn’t hear from him all weekend. In the online dating world, that really felt like the brush off to me. Just a text telling me he had a good time would’ve kept me from feeling rejected and I definitely would’ve been more encouraging when he mentioned meeting me again, rather than doing a fade away. Should I have addressed the issue instead? Was there possibly an explanation that he didn’t offer for some reason? I don’t know, but if I had it to do again, I probably would’ve gone on date number two.

That’s pretty much my list beyond Soldier, who was my first date after my divorce and helped me to realize that I was so not ready to date. In hindsight, I’m really not plagued by what might have been with anyone else I’ve met. There was always a clear deal breaker that I still find relevant, more often than not being that he was an asshole. I am a good practicing Catholic girl, though and very much believe that God brought this book into my life at this time, for a reason. I’m also pretty damned sure that that reason is Electrical Engineer. I’ve vaguely hinted that I’ve kinda, sorta, maybe got something going with a new guy and while I’m sure I’ll share the details at some point, that’s a different blog post. This one is about keeping a healthy, non judgy perspective while I get to know him.

I’ve already realized, in the past year or so, that I need to give guys more of a chance. So, as I’ve gotten to know Electrical Engineer, I’ve reminded myself to look beyond stupid little things that I might’ve dwelled on in the past. After reading this book, however, I realized something: I’m not the only one looking past inconsequential issues in an effort to get to know someone. That’s gotten me thinking. What, exactly, is Electrical Engineer looking past? What will he (or anyone else I get serious with) have to deal with in a relationship with me? What deal breakers might bring to the table? Well, in the interest of self-awareness, here’s what I’ve got.

I’m 27 and have been divorced for four years.
I don’t intend to share this on a date, but zetus lapetus I have soooooo many psychological issues in regards to this.

I say the wrong thing… all the fucking time.
“Ugh. This pie is terrible… I mean, unless you made it, in which case, it’s just not my thing, cuz… I don’t like lime?”

Also, Gaily informs me that “shankraped” isn’t an appropriate word to use in an Olive Garden.

I’m loud and opinionated.
It’s not that I don’t respect your opinion. You’re just going to need a strong personality and voice for it to be heard… especially at family events with all of my aunts.

“It’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size 2.”
By American standards, I’m not fat, but I could stand to lose 20 pounds. There are certainly fitter women on the dating sites. 

I suck my thumb.
Not only is this super weird, but it’s also rooted in a history of abuse, which I’m sure seems less than stable.

I have mommy issues.
See above. Also, see the scars on my leg from all that cutting in high school. The plan is to hide these things until someone loves me and then he’s trapped.

I’m a know-it-all.
I base my thoughts and opinions on facts, but it can be exhausting to hear them on every single subject ever.

I’m more educated than most people.
This isn’t bragging. I have actually met men who clearly have issues with my education level.

I have a master’s degree and all the loans that go with it, but only work half time.
Between substitute teaching and my position as a librarian, I work my butt off to pay my own bills, but it’s an awful lot of school not to be full time. It’s unlikely a man will know right off how competitive my field is and that I’m moving along quite nicely. Regardless, I’ll never make the kind of money people often associate with a graduate degree.

I handle negative emotions poorly.
Seriously, there are some jokes normal people just don’t make. See above cutting joke.

I’m a terrible driver.
No, really. I will kill us all.

I’m nerdy and love nerdy things.
I have to remind myself that my Harry Potter/Superman obsession is to some, what another’s anime obsession is to me. If you’re not into those things at all, they can seem too nerdy, even juvenile. “Zetus lapetus” doesn’t help my case.

I own a lot of pink.
Me: “Can you hand me my wallet?”
Gail: “The pink thing?”
Me: “Well, that doesn’t really narrow down the contents of my purse, but sure.” 

While my favorite color doesn’t feature prominently in my decor or wardrobe, it does in my accessories. A man who’s interested in dating an educated woman could easily find this childish or annoying.

I’m extremely sexually insecure and inexperienced.
I’m like the least experienced non-virgin ever and I’m really not comfortable with that fact.

I won’t shut up.
I love to talk and, sometimes, have to make a conscious effort to listen, because I know that what I’m saying is interesting.

I’m too analytical.
Watching a movie or show with me is exhausting. I will point out historical inaccuracies and comment on how much everyone in In Time did not look 25. Not even close.

I don’t read bestsellers.
I’m a librarian. Pretty much everyone assumes this means I’ve read Gone Girl and The Kite Runner. I have not. I will not. I read articles and memoirs if I want heavy reading material. If it’s fiction, it’s going to end happily ever after with great sex. A man intrigued by my job title might be disappointed by my interest in highlander porn. 

I’m a perfectionist.
I will unravel the entire damned hat because I missed one loop. Crochet is another interest to jot down on the nerdy list. Also, who wants to take a quick trip to the mall 20 miles away and return this shirt, because one of the buttons is a little loose? Anyone?

I can be neurotic about weird things.
There is a place for the red plates. My media is organized by format and then alphabetically.

When I break, I break.
I can maintain emotional control better than most people. I really can. I can be mistakenly called “laid back.” However, when I reach my threshold, I am a complete drama queen. There are tears and wailed hyperbole. At the end of a really rough day, I require at least 30 minutes of silence and dark.

I’m redundant.
I repeat the same stories and jokes over and over again, because I forget who I’ve told.

I interrupt people.
Again, loud and opinionated from a family of same. We all talk over each other and no one thinks anything of it, but I have to put in genuine effort not to do this with everyone else and I often fail. I just get really excited about the subject. 

I listen to terrible music.
“Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes…”
I sing it… poorly… and I blare it.

I watch terrible movies.
The Worst Witch. YouTube it. The entire movie is available and I can sing along. 

I have money issues.
I hoard food, just in case. I will drive to four different grocery stores just to save a few dollars. I’ll want for something for months, before talking myself into buying it, even though I’ve had the money all along. I sleep with my wallet within reach, because I had the worst marriage ever. 

… and I’m sure there are many more. I think making this list has been really helpful. It’s certainly going to help me overlook minor issues I might have with men, because really, if they can give me a chance, I can give them one.

Staring Down the Barrel of 30… at 27?

Me: “He’s 29 years old, lives with his mother, and plays video games all day. He is staring down the barrel of 30 and has nothing to show for it.”
Gail: “Wooooow. That is a really unhealthy way to think about your 30’s.”

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My 27th birthday is just a couple of weeks away. I’m big on birthdays. Every year, I exhaust Gail with birthday hoopla and insistence that we celebrate not just mine, but also hers a few weeks later. Not only is it a holiday that’s all yours, it’s also a time for reflection. Reflection is sort of like a self-imposed grading system and there’s nothing I like more than grades, y’all.

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So birthdays, for me, are a time to judge my accomplishments thus far and set new goals for the next year. Most people have a list of things to accomplish by 30. have a list of things to accomplish by 27 and a half. For now, however, I think I’m just going to start with the things that I should probably stop doing before everyone in town releases their fire lit lantern into the sky on the eve of my 30th birthday.

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Gaily, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that, in addition to bridal and baby showers, coordination of the Synchronized 30th Birthday Disney Lantern Release, also falls to you.

… using the phrase “superraped” to describe a dangerous situation. i.e. “I am so going to get superraped.”

… ironically answering the phone with “Whaddup gangsta?”

… using Xenon’s “zetus lapetus” as a swear word.

… excitedly exclaiming “Oh em jingles!”

… typing out “bee tea double ewe” in text messages.

… watching (and reciting) Hocus Pocus more than 20 times per year.

… arguing with people about Titanic.

… marathoning CW teen dramas and declaring myself a team member. C’mon, Elena. TEAM DAMON!

… engaging people in the Superman vs. Batman debate, only to angrily shout that Superman wins “… BECAUSE HE’S SUPERMAN!”

… deciding a man is just not right for me, because he clearly hasn’t researched the above Superman vs. Batman topic enough for an educated discussion.
* I’m sorry, but he used the phrase “brain beats brawn.” Duuuuuude. No. Superman absorbed all of the knowledge of Krypton, a far more advanced civilization, which included Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Jor El programmed it into his ship, so he knew those things by age three. I don’t care which private school Bruce Wayne went to, he’s not beating that.

… calling everyone dude for emphasis. i.e. “Duuuuuude. No.”

… referring to sketchy scenes as “a wee bit rapey.”

… blurting “That’s what she said!” to the wrong audience. “No, Gramma. It’s a joke. You see, you don’t mean it sexually, but it can be taken that way… never mind.”

… shouting “Emotions belong with the last fucking Horcrux!” when things get dramatic.

… reading fiction that almost exclusively costs 99 cents on Amazon, because it’s about an alien race that saved the people of earth for the low, low cost of our ladies.

… only getting 2 hours of sleep, because I’m almost done yarn bombing the living room, while whispering “… just one more episode.”

… hoarding original packaging and warranty information for everything. Was I really planning to return the kitchen knives I got for Christmas three years ago?

… going to the grocery store just for the free samples and leaving with a bag of cheese cubes and dried okra.

… driving 20 miles to the mall to get assorted bags of candy.

… somehow offending people in sex shops.

… addressing problems with the phrase “I tried to make it better. That wasn’t working, so I figured I might as well make it worse.”

… picking fights with Jane about Disney.

… provoking strangers in sports bars, when they cheer for free throws and field goals, by drunkenly ranting about the Trophy Generation.

… using the phrases “sucks balls” and “go suck a bag of dicks.”

… trying to talk unwitting people into watching Human Centipede, by insisting it’s “a tale of surgical exploration and sensual teamwork.”

That, folks, is how I am going to become one classy lady… in three years.

Blogiversary!

So, today is not just my 26th birthday. It is also my blog’s first birthday. That’s right. One year ago, the night I turned 25, I wrote my first blog post since my Myspace years. The goal was to find something to occupy my time once I finished graduate school, but also to work toward the long-term, vague goal of maybe, possibly, becoming a writer one day. Oddly, I only really read fiction and only really write non-fiction; so I had a David Sedaris/Jenny Lawson style in mind. Over the past year, I’ve changed my blog title numerous times. There was The Babbling Bibliophile, but I was one of an apparent 80. In December, I moved to wordpress and became Atypical Aryan Librarian. Though I was referring to myself as a white chick of German origins, this name had some pretty negative connotations to it. It was eventually clear that the really cool assonance and rhyme didn’t quite combat the implied racism, particularly since Gail was no longer my only follower, as she was September through early December. Blogger sucks, by the way.

kkk
No, no! You misunderstand! Wait!

For awhile, I was Atypical Southern Librarian, which totally ruined the rhyme scheme and was quite the mouthful, but I had to choose something besides Librarian of the Lynch Mob. I briefly wished I had the self-control or any desire to be a vegetarian, just because it would also rhyme, but that’s not even atypical of librarians. It’s an exceptionally liberal profession and vegetarians and vegans are quite common. Finally, I became Belle of the Library and even bought the domain name, developed a theme, and applied pseudonyms to every single blog entry I had written. That was a pain in the ass, by the way.

I realized that my blog wasn’t just a place to to receive feedback or “Big Girl Grades” as Gail calls it, but a space to stress and vent sarcastically and receive support and laughs. I wrote about my heartbreak after failing my graduate portfolio, my bad dates, the stress of finishing my degree, the continual recovery from my divorce, and my struggle with whopping mommy issues. I ranted about that funny sexist ad, quoted a hundred conversations with Gail, and shared my exhalation over passing my portfolio, graduating, and getting a Librarian position. It’s been a terrific year for me and for my blog. I’ve developed a unique writing style and received validation that I am, indeed, fucking hilarious as I get to discuss whatever the hell I want. In the last month, I was even Freshly Pressed and developed a goal I thought was out of reach. It didn’t matter, though, because I love goals. I wanted to get 500 followers by my birthday.

500 Followers

… and I did… just hours ago. So, in the next year, my personal goals are to get a full time Librarian position, actually have a healthy romantic relationship, and get Freshly Pressed again, ultimately increasing my readership by 1,000. I know, I know. It seems out of reach. I’m sure, however, that if I just keep trying, I will eventually date someone who is not a bag of dicks.

… and oh yeah. Remember that series I was writing? The final installment of The Week of 1004 Dates has not been forgotten. I will be posting it next.

“I just have to powder my nose… again.”

I fancy myself a fairly responsible person. I don’t spend money that I don’t have. I don’t drink too much. I’m paying back my student loans. I finished graduate school with a 3.67 GPA… and was disappointed. The dog is still alive… because he won’t shut the fuck up when I turn the faucet on and he doesn’t have water. The last time Gaily and I did something phenomenally stupid with a motor vehicle, we were like 18… wait… 23. Anyway… the bills get paid and my socks usually match if they’re visible. That’s pretty good for most adults, let alone a member of my stereotypically over-coddled Peter Pan Syndromed Millenial generation tearfully clutching their participation trophies while crying about their inability to find a job with that Art History degree. I’m not doing too shabby… with one exception:

cannot be trusted with my own health and medications.

When I was 14, I had just convinced my mother to take me to the dermatologist to have the fifth mole removed from my face. The process started, because my mother caught me drawing black dots on actresses faces to see if they were still beautiful and trying to remove moles with Biore pore strips. I was devastated when neither turned out as I’d hoped and begged to have mine removed. Finally, my face was mole free… mostly. A small freckle-like mole remained at the very corner of my mouth, making it constantly appear as though I had food there. So, rather than schedule another doctor’s appointment and go through all that trouble again… I iced the mole up and removed it myself with some nail clippers. I was an occasional cutter at the time. What was a little more pain? Fortunately, my hands-off mom believed me when I said the sore was a fever blister… though I’ve never had a fever blister in my life. Whatev. I was mole free. It wasn’t the last time I used that tactic either.

You’d think that would be the height of my stupidity, but at 18, I was just soooo sick of having been numbed with 250 daily milligrams of anti-depressants for five years that, one day, I just decided to… stop taking them.


Yeah… um… don’t do that.

About a year and a half ago, I was just getting off the crazy diet kick that enabled me to lose 70 pounds in about nine months. I was known to (frequently) declare the following:

“I will meet this month’s weight loss goal if it means I have to cut off a fucking foot!”

 saw foot
It saves 200 Weight Watcher’s points!

Despite my occasional spells of unconsciousness brought on by excessive workouts, I don’t really count those nine months as an example of my irresponsibility with my own health. My BMI used to be 42. Most charts don’t even go that high. They stop at like 40 and then there are just pictures of various large zoo animals like elephants and whales. I needed to do something drastic and what I chose was extensive workouts coupled with 1200 calorie per day limitations. Some doctors would call it extreme… but some wouldn’t. Staying at my old weight would have done far more damage than the measures I took to lose it. However, last spring, I decided that with all that weight lost, I would take up running. I’ve compared myself to Tinkerbell more than once, in that I have the ability to feel only one extreme emotion at a time. I am either paranoid and research-driven beyond reason…

choosing shampoo
“I don’t know which one to pick! What the hell does ‘Sheer Twilight’ even smell like?!?! Why can’t they just say fucking lavender! Help me, Gail!!!!”

… or I’m the most impulsive person alive.

women at sonic
 “Oh em gee! I have an idea! Let’s get tattoos!”

Yeah… we both have tattoos now. Funnily enough, I also bought the exact same shampoo I always buy.

So… when I decided to take up running, instead of my uber-rational self taking over with hours of research, it was my impulsive self that just turned the treadmill onto high. That. Doesn’t. Work. Apparently there’s some kind of technique to running that doesn’t royally fuck up one’s back. There are books on it. It’s a far more research-worthy topic than shampoo. After a few weeks of immobilizing pain, I saw a doctor… and his recommended physical therapist… and took some Lortab that did nothing for me. The night of The Hunger Games midnight release, the guys planned to get to the theater at 9:00. The movie wouldn’t be over until about 2:30 in the morning. I had no faith that I could remain seated in one position for that period of time. I called the doctor in tears, because the Lortab wasn’t working and he prescribed me something else. To this day, I cannot remember what that something else was, so I’m just gonna go with…

magic potion
…the blood of a centaur.

At this point, I was so sleep-deprived and in such physical pain that I was beginning to understand why people would choose euthanasia. I’m not exaggerating this time. I was legitimately thinking that, if I had to live with that kind of pain for the rest of my life, I would kill myself. It was that bad. Soooo, just to get through the movie and finally ease the pain, I decided that on top of the blood of a centaur, I’d go ahead and take those Lortab that weren’t working anyway. Just for good measure, I’d throw in a few more drops of centaur blood, as well. Naturally, by the time the movie started I was Across the Universe high.

across the universe

I still had a prominent limp, I just didn’t care. I could not sit up straight. I spent the entire movie laying on Chad’s shoulder. Fortunately, Gail and I had bought tickets to see the movie again a few days later, because I had not absorbed one single moment of Katniss’s great adventure. When the movie ended, I must say, I was feeling pretty nauseous.

lots of pills
Pictured: not a balanced meal.

Ward had driven Chad and I, since Jay and Chad’s little sisters had come along and Ward was excited about his new car. We were just driving into Shetland when I demanded:

Me: “Ward, pull over.”
Ward: “Seriously?”
Me: “No, I’m kididng. Yes, seriously!

That’s right. No amount of urgency voids sarcasm. Then I vomited in the parking lot of The Dollar Tree.

As the back pain persisted, I tried a number of remedies, one being a type of Icy Hot cream on my back. So, there I was, drying my hair naked while the Icy Hot dried. Not wanting the smell to seep into my clothes, I decided to help it along and aimed the blow dryer in that direction.

screaming at blow dryer

In my defense, when I read the directions after I lit my back on fire, they only said not to use a heating pad with the cream. No one mentioned a blow dryer. I should sue.

In time, the back pain did subside. Every now and then, I get twinges, but I’m doing alright, with the help of a chiropractor. In February, though, I tracked in snow bringing the dog inside after his walk. I didn’t realize it and on my way out, I slipped. In an attempt to avoid hitting my head on the stair, I jerked it forward… screwing up my neck. I think my problem is with delayed gratification. This is ironic, considering I spent seven years in college to be a Librarian. The only thing I can figure, is that I am a pussy. I can’t handle pain… that isn’t self-inflicted? Anyway, when I wrenched my neck and was reminded of the night my back hurt so much that I couldn’t make dinner and just sat on the couch hungry and crying, I decided to just nip this neck pain in the butt and immediately made an appointment with a doctor and one with a chiropractor. The doctor was strictly for the pain meds… which I promptly doubled… and woke up 16 hours later.

Fortunately, I don’t take medication very often. I sometimes take a prenatal vitamin and an iron supplement, the latter of which I was unaware of a certain side effect until my general practitioner pointed it out. She did this after I took a handful of laxatives when I had company coming.

powdering my nose
No, no. You make yourself at home. I just have to powder my nose… again.”

I’m a Librarian, B^+<#@$!!!

Four years ago, I had just found out that I was pregnant and that my ex-husband was lying about having a job… again. I was morbidly obese, starting my senior year of college, about to do my student teaching, and paying the bills through… well, prayer. I was petrified.

Today…

I am a fucking Librarian!!!!!!!

Suck my dick statistics, because I left the bastard and…

I. Did. It.

I followed through on all of my dreams and got that Bachelor’s degree and then that Master’s degree and now the job! My divorce didn’t lower my station in life. It opened up a universe of possibilities and opportunity.

  • Women who divorced between 2010 and 2011 were more likely to receive public assistance than men who divorced during this time, with rates being 23% and 15%, respectively.
  • Of women who divorced between 2010 and 2011, 27% reported a household income of less than $25,000.
  • Children of divorced parents are twice as likely to drop out of high school and less likely to attend college.
  • While men are financially better off than women after a divorce, they are more likely to suffer more emotionally.

I’m sorry. What was that? I can’t hear you over the sound of my I’m a Librarian, BITCHES!!! dance coupled with my ROAR OF AWESOME!!!!

A little bit o’ this…

… and a little bit o’…

.. and some nce, nce, nce.
Finally, some…

Yeah. They don’t let me dance at stuff.

Today, I talked the ear off the lady at the gym who asked why Librarians need a Master’s degree. Yesterday, I bought myself these… because I am just that cool.

dewey mugradical militant librarian

Sometimes, divorce is not a failure. It is the righting of a path. I wasn’t meant to be the miserable wife of a sociopath. I was meant to be right here.

Gail: “The divorce was not the mistake. The marriage was the mistake. The divorce was just what was required to correct that mistake.”

I’m not advising you to leave your husband because he won’t try that new thing in bed or he won’t put his fucking shoes away. If there’s something to salvage, fight for it. If you’re fantasizing about a life where he dies, through no fault of your own, because you’ll finally be free… if the marriage is truly awful and he or she is a truly poisonous person… there is a better life out there. No matter how scary it feels to go in search of it, it is so very worth it.

“It’s a hard thing to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.” – John Steinbeck

Yeah. I looked that up.
http://divorce.lovetoknow.com/Divorce_Statistics

Real-Life Photoshop: How Cosmetic Surgery Resonates 10 Years Later

As a kid, I had small moles on my face. By the time I reached middle school, they were prominent and I hated them. I once took Biore pore strips and placed them strategically, only to cry my eyes out when they didn’t remove moles. I took pictures of pretty actresses and drew brown dots on their faces to see if they were still pretty and showed them to my mother. When she wasn’t hitting me, the woman was terrified of being anything other than my best friend, so she caved and throughout seventh and eighth grade, I had five moles removed from my face, in a series of outpatient procedures. I was too young to make this sort of decision, but I don’t regret it.

A half-naked 14-year-old who had never even been kissed, I was mortified by the instructions “bend over like you’re diving” as Polaroids were taken in the plastic surgeon’s office. I asked when I’d get the pictures back and teared up when I learned they’d be kept on file for insurance purposes. In short, I was waaaay too young to be getting a breast reduction.

child surgery

Despite this, my mother was a nurse and used her pull to find someone who would agree to do the surgery. The doctor tried to talk my mother into waiting a few years, or at least until I’d lost a little weight, but I insisted and she agreed. The insurance claim was sent after my fifteenth birthday, in September. By December, I was excited for my first ever surgery, which just happened to be both cosmetic and elective.

I had claimed shoulder pain and the insurance company decided they’d save money in the long-run to just nip (pun only realized during proofreading) this problem in the butt. I did not have shoulder pain. I was humiliated by breasts that nearly sagged to my belly button and was forcing them into a size DDD bra that did not even fit. Those monsters don’t come cute. I’ve never regretted the decision. I have scars and can’t feel the underside of my breasts, causing sores from broken underwires to go unnoticed until looking in the mirror… and I still don’t regret it.

In fact, these procedures changed my whole outlook on plastic surgery. Previously having been one of the many individuals who consider plastic surgery to always be fake and self-indulgent (at age 11?), I soon realized that it’s just about the person undergoing the changes in themselves, and no one else. It’s hard to say someone should be happy with who they are when you were purchasing granny bras at age eleven while tearfully declaring you “look like a chocolate chip cooke!” I had parents who were too busy screaming at each other to make sure I bathed properly or washed my clothes regularly; forget about dressing cute, listening to the right music, or you know being nice to people. Fitting in wasn’t really my thing and the self-consciousness that came with facial moles and Big Mama breasts did not help.

granny bra
For realz. Change into that in the locker room before sixth grade gym.

 All that having been said, my mom made a bad decision on both counts. Ell oh ellsies. My mom made a lot of bad decisions…

  • the time she offered to buy us beer at 15
  • letting me and other people’s children jump off the roof onto the trampoline at age 12
  • kicking me in the stomach when I didn’t clean the litterbox
  • using the knowledge that I was a cutter as leverage to threaten me with therapy when I argued with her
  • giving me the “just be home before I go to work in the morning” curfew at sevenfuckingteen 

memory lane

Today, I’m a relatively confident adult. I’m fairly comfortable with who I am and how I look. I’d like to be about fifteen pounds lighter, but I’d rather have hips and red gummy worms than no hips and no red gummy worms, so… meh. Whatev. I am of perfectly sound mind to make the decision that I’d like to have the mole on my back removed, because I’m generally kidding when I tell Gail I’m going to do so with a cheese grater… or a blowtorch like that scene from Sons of Anarchy. I’m also twenty-five. I cannot fathom letting a child choose elective surgery. Regardless of the fact that the insurance company considered the above procedures to be necessary, I wasn’t afraid of cancer, nor did I actually have any shoulder pain. My issues were all psychological. Rather than destroying my view of therapy for the rest of my life by threatening me with it to get her way, my mother should’ve acknowledged the whopping self-esteem issues I had and arranged for me to speak with someone every couple of weeks, while putting me in social groups that were relatively free of teasing and judgement, like a church youth group. If, by age 16, building my confidence still did not fix my issues with the moles on my face, fine. She could schedule a consult with a dermatologist. If, by age 18, building my confidence did not fix my issues with the nipples at my bellybutton, she could schedule one with a plastic surgeon. Waiting three years seemed like an eternity at 15… which is why my mother should’ve helped me to see the big picture and made certain I could handle the decision I was making. Honestly, that time wouldn’t have changed my mind on either issue, especially the breast reduction (a pound and a half was removed from each), but it would’ve lessened the chances that I’d regret choices I made in utero.

baby-in-utero
“Hey, you up there! This nose seems a bit squished. Schedule a rhinoplasty.”

 This problem, however, is not limited to youth. The “mommy makeover” has taken even the middle-class by storm. One plastic surgeon reports that mothers are his largest customer base. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS), 36% of the 9.9 million surgical and minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures performed in 2006 were on patients between the ages of 30 and 39; 29% of them were aged 20 to 29.*

I’m not knocking a tummy tuck if you just can’t fix it with diet and exercise. I will criticize the people who couple it with liposuction, without first losing the weight and keeping if off, though. What is the point of taking on thousands of dollars worth of surgical bills if you’ve no guarantee of an ability to maintain the results? I never wash my car. Like ever. So, despite the faded doors and banged up front bumper from my recent fender bender, I’m not paying to have it painted. I may as well light that money on fire, because I’m not going to suddenly start washing my car. Getting liposuction and a tummy tuck and then getting fat again is the same.

If you’ve done the sit-ups and counted the calories, joined that Zumba class, and bought the push-up bra, though, I get it. I do. That doesn’t even apply to just the mommy makeover customers, but also the women who hate that bump in their nose, or the skin hanging from their chin, or those paper-thin lips. I understand how they feel. Trust me. I’ve had breasts that swing.

However… ten years later, I’m acknowledging that I may not have been in the best psychological place when I made the decision to surgically alter my appearance foreverPerhaps, rather than flocking to have ourselves physically Photoshopped, we should spend some time trying to come to terms with who we are and consider that our issues may be psychological. Maybe it’s not so much the wrinkles in your forehead that make you uncomfortable, but rather aging itself. Maybe that loose skin at your stomach isn’t the problem, but instead it’s just that your marriage is lacking some romance and you don’t feel attractive. Maybe you’re just insecure and your nose makes you look unique and distinctive and changing that will just make you look bland.

jennifer gray

The constant photo altering and image filters we see on Facebook aren’t helping this body dysmorphia trend, either. Grown women are enhancing their own clavicles, presenting a slimmer vision to the world, only to be disappointed when they don’t see that in the mirror, even if the real thing is perfectly healthy. I fear for the generation of kids who grow up with “corrected” photos hanging on the wall. The real world will never be as colorful or as unblemished as that photo shoot and they will never actually look like that. If it’s fucking with the heads of adults who are doing it themselves, they… are… screwed. 

Also… maybe I’m completely fucking wrong. Maybe the sagging skin at your forehead is far more severe than you should be seeing at 35. Maybe your husband calls you sexy every day, but you just can’t find business suits that look right. Maybe you more resemble Tucan Sam than Jennifer Grey. I certainly know that I don’t miss the feeling of the underside of my breasts sweating on my stomach. I greatly prefer that barely noticeable scar on my face to the Austin-Powers-worthy mole. Isn’t it worth some introspection, though? Because if I’m right, those problems aren’t going away with a little visit to the doctor. I didn’t suddenly become the awesome and fucking hilarious gal I am today after the stitches were pulled, when I was fifteen. That took years of personal growth. If there are deeper issues that aren’t being addressed in addition to/instead of cosmetic surgery, you’re still going to be having trouble facing your own mortality and changing body. Your marriage will still be suffering. You’ll still be insecure and uncomfortable with the idiosyncrasies that make you who you are. Because, regardless of how content that makes you, that last bit is fact. We are exactly who we were in the womb. We, as a society, should take more pride in that and give serious consideration to its alteration. We should stop this constant catering to insecurity and discrimination with invasive procedures, “repairing” the slightest blemish. We should start practicing what we preach when we tell our little girls that they are beautiful just as they are

colin-firth-bridget-jones-diary

… and if, after trying to come to terms with our individuality, we still hate that fat around our midriff that just won’t fucking DIE, then thank goodness for modern psychology and modern medicine.

Sources

http://www.webmd.com/beauty/treatments/mommy-makeover-a-plastic-surgery-trend