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Growing Pains

7 Mar

There are certain challenges that come when uprooting and settling into a new state and new life routines. These things easily slip your mind in the moments when you are excited to set out into the unknown and especially so when your major moves really only take place once every decade or so.

Lately it just feel like my relocation challenges are presenting themselves on a daily basis. It could be that I moved to a state whose culture differs so greatly from every other place I have known intimately. I think that’s the easy answer. It’s not South Dakota, it’s me.

There are trivial annoyances that add up to extreme amounts of frustration. For instance, finding a favorite hair salon, esthetician, grocery store, favorite weekend breakfast nook… These are all things that you take for granted when you’ve established roots. When you’ve got roots, it’s easy! I have amazing choices back in Minneapolis, but here we are limited by the small population.

There is also the issue of my expectations of service. I know, I’m back to customer service. But in all seriousness, having worked in the arena all of my adult life I have developed a certain attitude about it. That is, if I have to be nice to people all day long and adhere to the principles of customer service, I expect the same from the people who serve me.

I have traveled extensively in this country and I recognize that service is regional, much like a dialect. On the coasts and Great Lakes regions there is one standard and in certain areas of the South there is another. I get it and I generally embrace it. But South Dakota- and maybe it’s rural America more than anything else- there is some work to be done. I am not afraid of bringing up issues of customer service or speaking with the manager when something goes wrong (or right for that matter!). But I learned a lesson recently about small towns.

Everyone knows each other and people talk.

My poor experience at a local salon (I was ignored 20 minutes past my appointment time while the employees talked with their friends) and my subsequent complaint to the ownership was big news amongst some acquaintances. I didn’t even realize I had any acquaintances at this particular salon, but there it was, the topic of conversation at a brunch I happened to attend. And that was awkward.

And that is the perfect description of my life here in SD: Awkward.

Making new friends is awkward! That eyebrow wax turned out awkward! Politics here are awkward (and stupid)!

So what do I do? I hate having to hold back my opinion, but I don’t want to make enemies all over the Great Plains. I miss the anonymity of the big city. I’m a little bit home sick.

Priorities and Produce

4 Sep

As it turns out, moving from Minnesota to Oklahoma then back to Minnesota and finally to South Dakota is an all-consuming endeavor. Something was bound to fall by the wayside while I kept our lives in order so L could concentrate on training, and as it turns out, this blogging thing was pretty far down on my list of priorities.

We’re here now though, on the prairies of South Dakota and it feels great. Our new townhouse is pretty fantastic with a beautiful kitchen (photos to come, I am sure of it!) and plenty of space for three.

Did I say three?

No, I’m not pg– we just have a roommate for a month. He’s a coworker of L’s and a friend now too, and we’re putting him up while he finds a place to live so he can move his family westward, ho.

SoDak (or more specifically, Sioux Falls) is a pretty neato place to live and raise a fan-damily. The cost of living is reasonable and with no state income tax it’s a truly affordable place to set up camp. This week I have been out and about (make that: oot and aboot) and found two places to shop for food that are downright decent: Pomegranate Market  and HyVee. Pomegranate is exactly what you’d expect of a natural foods shop: great for picking up specialty items and organic produce that can’t be found in the bigger chain supermarkets but far too expensive for regular grocery trips. HyVee is new to me and is pretty much your run of the mill grocery store (think Safeway or a much cleaner, classier, friendlier Cub Foods) with a kick ass natural and organic food section. Their produce selection is very good which is a welcomed change for me after Oklahoma City where it is virtually impossible to obtain high quality fruits and veggies. (OKC, why is that???)

To celebrate that we have a true “home base” once again, L and I purchased an outdoor grill (our first!) and I’m crazy for it. Last week’s menu included

  • grilled chicken (veggie fed, organic, hormone freeeeeee & hopefully happy, marinated in olive oil + Penzeys BBQ seasoning) and lots of farmer’s market veggies (roasted red potatoes with onions and green peppers, sweet corn on the cob, and grilled zucchini)
  • grilled honey garlic porkchops (locally raised, fantastically delicious), mashed sweet potatoes, and steamed broccoli
  • egg bake with spinach, shallots, chicken-apple sausage & feta cheese.
I am so happy to have a home again, the opportunity to make healthy food, and quality cooking utensils of my very own to use. I’m also on the job hunt, looking for any job in either of the two hospitals that I can get. I have so many plans for how to spend the money I have yet to make.

Back Up On It

9 Aug

I totally fell off the face of the bloggidy earth, I did. I totally assumed I would have loads of free time up here in Minnesota to expand the bucket list and keep up the writing habit. Between a monumental move (my parents and ten tons of STUFF), car problems, and hanging with a toddler, life totally got in the way of my blogging plans.

Also, there has been this gigantic inconvenience and source of much anxiety and it is consuming me. Years ago I was diagnosed with costochondritis after an emergency call to my general practitioner, EKG and examination. I honestly thought I was having a heart attack. I experience occasional flare-ups and all of them cause me an almost insufferable amount of stress.

In a random act of stupidity, I lifted a box of books the other day that weighed about a hundred pounds.  Now I’m in the midst of a flare-up and my anxiety levels are high. I’ve never been one to complain much about my costochondritis or admit to the anxiety. Usually I feel only a dull ache and I can talk myself off the ledge before the panic gets out of hand. I’ve never had to take any serious pain killers. But this time is different. It’s a radiating pain in my chest and I’m having a really hard time keeping the anxiety in check. I almost ran to the emergency room in the midst of an attack this evening. It’s hard to sleep with the heavy chest and shallow breathing and I really feel like all the stress and transition in my life is making this worse.

Thank the gods for the internets, people. Other people go through this shit too and sometimes just knowing that much helps. I have an appointment with a doctor tomorrow to talk treatment and pain/anxiety management. Health insurance kicks ass.

The moral of this story? Take care when you’re boxing for you may injure your sternum. The end.

And because that first Tori link was so terrible, I will leave you with something much more fabulous.

26, 25 and 24 – Baby Rabies

11 Jul

I never dressed up as a bride, wanted to be a princess, or had many tea parties when I was a kid. My idols were She-Ra and Cleopatra and later in elementary school through today, Sarah Connor (no lie, that bitch has mad skills). I always figured I’d be a career woman, especially later in high school and into college. I studied Feminist Theory in college, wrote hundreds of pages on postmodern feminist theory and interned under the first black woman to ever serve in the Minnesota Legislature. I earned a degree in Women’s Studies from the University of Minnesota and eventually landed my dream job in the social services/nonprofit sector working with under-served urban adults and youth. Thanks to the likes of Planned Parenthood and a good dose of common sense, I was able to achieve these goals whilst maintaining relationships with a couple of suitors, including the lovely dude that became my husband. This was all a part of the plan. I am a woman driven by goals.

What was also a part of the plan from the very beginning was having babies. Almost all little girls go through the baby phase and I don’t know how much of that is driven by social influence, but at some point the urge is most definitely biological (my WoSt friends are kicking me for the essentialist statements). Throughout all my life stages and all the career steps, I wanted most to be a mother in the end. I always imagined that would happen by 30.

I’m not sad anymore about the challenge. I’m just growing tired of waiting. I’m thankful for my education, all the traveling I’ve done, the freedom L and I have had to change jobs on a whim, and the most recent ability to move out of state for this amazing opportunity. Always I have held onto the belief that everything happens for a reason, as naive as that sounds, and this move to SD has only strengthened that conviction.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the desire still lingers. I have developed a serious case of the baby rabies! My life experience would just not be complete if in the end it was only L and me and a pack of dogs, but no real family to carry on my values and family history. Both L and I are committed to adoption regardless of our ability to have a biological child. Foster parenting runs in my family and L and I know we could create a positive environment for kids in that program. We have spent hours having this conversation and are 100% on the same page.

We have gone back and forth about IF treatments, wondering how far we’re willing to go to have biological children when there are millions of great kids in need of loving families. And yet selfishly (and biologically?) I feel a real need to see what kind of offspring my husband and I could create from our genes. Because he is pretty rad and I want to experience pregnancy, to grow a human. Doesn’t everyone deserve their complete life experience? I think so. L thinks so. Recently we decided that when the time comes to start the process again, we will go all the way.

So there you have it- items five, six and seven on my bucket list:

To create our own little one.

To adopt a little one.

To foster little ones.

27 – Nova Scotia

9 Jul

Rats! I’ve already fallen behind. It’s just that… Well, I’ll pay you $10 if you can find us a place to live in Sioux Falls that accepts dog(s), has a dishwasher and washer and dryer in the unit, is clean and livable and is in our budget.

So yes, I’ve been consumed not only with the online apartment search, but also with our pool. You see, where we’re staying it is typically 100+ degrees Every. Single. Day. And it’s as humid as a country mile is long (you can bet I picked that one up down here). Which is to say, it’s downright miserable outside. But! My tan is amazing! And! I’ve been working out really hard so I don’t feel quite as awkward in a swimsuit. Also I will never see these people again, also who cares? On a hot Oklahoma day in the middle of Joo-lie after an exhausting sweaty workout, a lazy float in a pool is way more interesting than blogging about my bucket list on the Internet.

Mid-day at the Oasis, OKC

I’m a day behind. And yet, before I get into the list, it’s imperative that I also tell you about a disturbing development. My accent is back, ya’ll. From about ages 1 to 7 I lived in the South and Southwest and as the story goes, I moved out to California with quite a drawl. Every time I have visited a state south of the Mason Dixon I’ve had to be conscious of my accent, lest I be accused of mocking the locals. This extended stay has proven to be too much for my brain to handle. Y’ALL!

At least it’s not a Canadian accent, eh?

Speaking of Canada, fourth on my bucket list: Second Honeymoon to Nova Scotia

When L and I were planning our wedding back in 2007 and 2008, a honeymoon in Nova Scotia was our greatest desire (that, and a semi-casual backyard bbq, a blue wedding dress, and bunch of other things that were not meant to be). When the time came we were only able to afford a trip to the Canadian boarder along the Gunflint Trail in Minnesota.

Oh, Canada is o'er there.

I will never regret that honeymoon in the wilderness, but I’ve never gotten over Nova Scotia. One day I will visit you, Canada! And I will bring my husband and it will be brilliant. And we will cross our fingers that I will leave with only photographs for souvenirs and not a Canadian accent.

28 – Complete the Tattoo Project

7 Jul

It was the summer of 1999 and I was a new high school grad. I was the last of my bff trio to turn eighteen so on my birthday the three of us rode BART into Berkeley to get tattoos. We made appointments ahead of time at a shop on Telegraph with an artist we’d never met. I wanted a tribal turtle on my shoulder (why the turtle fixation, nobody knows), my bestie wanted a Pi stamp (the cutest math nerd you’ll ever know) and our third wanted a Celtic cross. We took turns in the chair, holding each other’s hands and acting tough. In the end I’m not sure any of us were satisfied with the tattoos we received. My simple small black tribal turtle morphed into something much more sizable and colorful because I was worried about looking cool and pleasing the artist.

The turtle and me on our wedding day

The turtle and me on our wedding day, 2008

As soon as the ink dried on this tattoo, in a random act of maturity, I decided I wasn’t allowed to get another tattoo until I was closer to 30. That was the magic number. I’d be a true adult. Then and only then could I be trusted to make good choices that reflect who I am, what I believe, and of course, good taste. (Although at 19 I pierced my nose, which lasted about a week. This is a story for another time.)

Turtle Tattoo and I lived together in harmony for a good ten years before I decided enough was enough and it was time to cover up this teenage mistake.

This brings me to number three on the bucket list: Complete a half-sleeve tattoo.

Maybe it’s odd to add that to my life’s To Do list, especially since I’m STILL not exactly sure about what I want. I need to have the cover-up that I started over a year ago completed so this is not happening any time soon.

I do love me some body art. This is fueled partly by my obsession with the show LA Ink (and now NY Ink… I love to hate Ami). Tattoos + reality tv drama. What’s not to like about those shows?

Whatever fills the space needs to coordinate with those art nouveau poppies, which are a tribute to my first home state of California. My ability to continue to add to this tattoo at will is perhaps one of the most advantageous effects of infertility. This is the bright side of not being pregnant (well that, and semi-regular hormones, not having to give birth, etc.).

I have an appointment with my fabulous tattoo artist later this month. My lovely husband’s birthday gift to me is contributing some funds toward the cover-up cause. I am hoping to talk with her about some of my ideas for the rest of the space.

If you’re reading- tell me about your tattoos! When did you get them and why? Do you regret it? Do you have plans for more?

30 ’til 30

5 Jul

Do You Have a Bucket List?

I don’t.

At least, not so far. And if life (so far) has taught me anything, it’s that you can’t really plan or control everything that happens- so you better have some options. In the 30 days leading up to my 30th birthday, my goal is to add an item to my Bucket List. One for each year I’ve been alive. Some goals are lofty, some are small, but all are important to me.

(I don’t think I can muster the ambition to rank these, so they will be in no particular order.)

One

Complete a 5K. And then a 10K.

Because I should be able to do that and I really want to.

One of the luxuries of being down here in OKC with my husband (besides the abundance of decent country stations on the radio that play the hits of the 90s… love love love it) has been having ample time to workout. And I have been hitting the gym like crazy because I have no excuse! I have written before about my love for Turbo Jam and Hip Hop Abs, and I have definitely been getting my groove on with those videos.  But one thing that has always been a challenge for me is running. I suck at running! It hurts my feet and shins and takes a lot of dedication. My dad was a marathon runner (before a neck injury benched him) so I feel like I should be good at it too.

I once took an intro to running class and had a hard time mainly because the pace of the group was so painfully slow- and believe me, my legs are so short I run and walk at a turtle’s pace. I could never find a decent stride and the shin splints were killing me no matter how much I stretched or strengthened or applied cold and hot compresses. I received tons of coaching on my technique and stride but still the splints became so painful it was hard to walk and so I quit running.

Over time I have started to avoid wearing shoes when working out because they make my feet cramp up. I figured it was because my feet are just really difficult to fit (they’re wide and flat and Flinstonian) and that my running days were over because of it. People (especially in the specialty shoe shops) are usually in dismay at this fact and tell me how hard all of this will be on my joints in the long run. But it’s my body and I feel that I get a lot more out of a workout when I am barefoot.

Now there is a mountain of research that says barefoot running is good for you. Maybe it isn’t, but it’s worth a shot! So I went out and bought a pair of barefoot running shoes (the Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove- no finger toes for me) and so far so good.

I’m not really sure how lofty a goal this will be, but I am hopefully on my way to the 5K. Wish me luck! Now if I could only find a good quality, affordable, extra supportive sports bra…