Adjusting to My New (work) Life

My life is completely different than it was a month and a half ago. I’ve been meaning to write about it more, but due to over-scheduling myself and not exactly knowing how to put my thoughts into words, it hasn’t happened.

I frequently get asked “how’s the new job?”. The short answer, the answer I’m most likely to give, and an honest answer, is that it’s great. I am planning events for a nonprofit organization in whose mission I believe deeply. I am doing exactly what I dreamed about when I decided to study hospitality management. I get along with my coworkers and am loving my new schedule. It’s great.

The problem is that change, even positive change, is difficult. I am very hard on myself when I mess up and messing up, to some extent, is inevitable. Most days, I’m faced with a situation reminiscent of Cady’s in Mean Girls when she’s chastised for using green pen and asking for the bathroom pass. I’m still figuring out where I fit in.

I am working out how to give my 100% at work without giving 100% of myself to work. I am struggling as much as ever with time-management and self-care. I have the new problems of budgeting and spending to worry about. You could argue that I’m incapable of just being happy. I am working on that, amongst other things.

Now that I have time to myself, I’m constantly thinking about long-term goals and dreams. It stresses me out because I really don’t know what I want. In so many ways, I’m way behind where I thought I’d be at age 31. Yet, I’m happier than I could have ever imagined. I’ve been thinking a lot about not just what I want, but why. I realize that I’ve been searching for the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything” when I should have been searching for the question.

It’s dinner time so those questions will have to wait for another day.

2 Year Anniversary & New Job

Tuesday was my 2-year wedding anniversary. This was the first year that things went from changing to changed. My new name isn’t new anymore. We’re not newlyweds. We’re just married. Happily married. Yet, if this were a movie it would have faded to black a year or two ago. The sequel might have started nine months later, but we’re not sticking to that script*. So now what?

After 7 years with the same company, I am switching jobs. This was my first job after graduating college and now I’m taking a big step in a different direction. It has been strange to have to consider someone else when making such a huge decision about my life and my future. I am naturally spontaneous and independent. He thinks things through all the way. I make decisions impulsively and emotionally. He considers all the facts. Intricately. Completely. Relentlessly. Learning to embrace our differences is what makes our marriage work. I am much more secure in my decision to switch jobs knowing that I have his support. It’s like having a fact-checker for my decisions.

That being said, I am freaking out. I feel like I’m going through a breakup with my job. Like any other breakup, I have the next better thing lined up already, but I still have a lot of feelings. It’s scary and uncomfortable, yet I’m excited and happy. I know I’m making the right decision, but I’m constantly questioning myself. I’m sure that, like looking back on an old relationship, hindsight will provide clarity. I will always be grateful for the things I learned and the people I met, but I know it’s time. Unlike a breakup, I am lucky enough to have someone by my side to support me through the good and the bad of this major transition. I am so grateful for him, even if the idea of having to involve him in my decision-making makes me squirm.


*People often want to hear more about the fact that we don’t want to have kids. I hope to write a future post about it, but thus far I can’t think of anything else to say on the topic.

2 Years Without Dad

This post is not at all funny. I’m sorry. I’ll be happy again tomorrow.

If this is your first time to my blog you should probably read any other post. 

My dad died 2 years ago today. I think about him every day, but today is one of my 3 “dad days”: November 10th, his birthday, April 20th, the day of his funeral, and today, his Deathiversary.  On his birthday I prefer to live like dad. It’s a day to eat junk food, skip the gym, play Pinball, dye my hair pink, and generally do whatever the heck I want*. It’s a day of celebration. His funeral was a celebration of life that conjures up hilarious memories of partying dad-style. Today just sucks.

2 years is a weird amount of time. So much has happened. So many memories that don’t include him. My sister just had a baby who will never meet the grandpa who would have loved him so much. I live in a new house that he would have loved so much that we’d probably never be able to get him to leave. Sometimes I can vividly imagine the fights my husband and I might have had about dad overstaying his welcome. I got married. I turned 30.

It’s even crazier to think of the span of 2 years prior to dad’s death. I’ll let the timeline speak for itself:

  • Night of Fantasy Football Draft 2013 (August?) My uncle calls to say that dad is in the hospital with pneumonia. I go to visit the next day and find out he has a tumor.
  • 10/8/13 Write in my journal about dad shaving his head. At this point they’ve determined that the tumor is inoperable, but he could recover with chemo and radiation. He does not want to do it, but we all convince him. I can’t help wondering if he knew something we didn’t or if he had already given up at this point.
  • 12/21/13 Wedding proposal! Finally!
  • 2/3/14 I write in my journal that dad is cancer free & life is perfect.
  • Dad spends his time traveling and staying where the weather is warm.
  • 7/22/14 Major fire leaves our house unlivable. Luckily everyone is ok. Major wrench thrown in the backyard wedding plan.
  • 7/26/14 Find out dad’s cancer is back.
  • 7/27/14 Engagement Party. Just what I wanted to do that day; party.
  • August 2014 – We’re told house renovations will take 3-4 months. We move into trailer on our property, expecting to be out before winter. 3 months turns into a year and 3 months. Meanwhile…
  • Dad undergoes chemo and radiation, but the cancer is ultimately determined to be terminal.
  • Beginning of February 2015 – Doctors clear dad to fly up north. He is in surprisingly good health and is expected to fly up for the month of February and then go back to Florida.
  • 2/19/15 I write in my journal that dad fell and had to go to the hospital. While there, they discover blood clots in his lungs. They tell him that he can’t fly until they clear up, which will be at least a couple weeks.
  • 2/27/15 Dad died. That week is a complete whirlwind. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, he went from not flying for a few weeks to hospice. It was horrible and I somehow can’t remember it and can’t forget it at the same time.
  • 4/20/15 Dad’s funeral.
  • August 2015 Bachelorette party, 29th birthday. I compartmentalize so at this point I switched into full-on wedding mode.
  • 9/19/15 Wedding day. Our wedding was the funnest wedding ever. This blog is supposed to be about wife-ing so I imagine I’ll tell you much more about it later. We found ways to honor dad, such as hiring an African hand drummer to play the bongos during cocktail hour, but ultimately the day wasn’t about him.

When I think about planning a wedding while dealing with the death of my father, it seems like someone else’s life. I feel like a Hot Mess Express most of the time, but I honestly don’t think I’ve given myself enough credit for just surviving. I feel like I lost a piece of myself a long time ago. He wasn’t just gone 2 years ago. We watched him deteriorate and little bits of me went with him. It has taken this long to start to rediscover and rebuild those pieces. I am a work in progress in so many ways and that’s okay.

 


*If you’re married, maybe don’t dye your hair pink without telling your husband first. This could, however, make for a funny story about your first fight as a married couple. You know, in theory.

 

I am a Deadbeat Husband

I am not good at a lot of things. When I’m feeling especially self-pitying I’ll tell you that I’m not good at anything. Even on days when I wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy I know that I am bad at most things. This isn’t a post about why you should feel sorry for me. You shouldn’t. My life is basic, but fantastic. I am head over heels in love with my husband, dog, friends, family, gym, and house. I have a job that pays the bills and never gets boring. I have the best in-laws in the world. I’m about to be an aunt! I am obviously doing something right because I’m surrounded by awesomeness. You might even look at me and think, “she’s so lucky; she’s a star”, but I cry cry cry in my lonely heart… oh no, wait. Sorry, I just get uncomfortable when I start to say good things about myself.

I could go on a tangent here about how women are conditioned against saying positive things about ourselves, but that would be irrelevant because I’m actually not good at things. I compensate with a level of healthy delusion, fake-it-til-you-make-it-ness, ability to laugh at myself, and selective memory that always puts me on top.

This blog originated because I was bad at being a wife. I still am. I’m actually a pretty stereotypical husband. Except the part about being the breadwinner. You know, the one part about being a stereotypical husband that a woman should strive for. I leave early and come home late, leaving him responsible for the dog. Fights go on for days without me knowing they’re happening and once I do I don’t know what I did. My Sundays revolve around football. I rarely cook or clean unless I’m specifically asked to do so. I am a deadbeat husband! He does all the useful husband things like being a handy man and remembering to pay rent. I still do plenty of annoying wife things like taking forever to get ready and not realizing that my check engine light has been on for I literally have no idea how long.

I joke about it, but I have never liked feeling like a bad wife. I tackled cooking because it seemed like a quick and easy fix. I could put myself through a cooking boot camp, fall in love with it, discover my true calling, and become a 1950’s housewife who can cook like Julia Child while also maintaining a full time job, a blog, and the body I had on our wedding day. Viola! I can’t imagine why that didn’t work.

Hindsight is 20/20. This time around I’m not creating a project, but going on a journey. And not the “Don’t Stop Believing” kind. I fucking hate Journey. Sorry, side tracked. I will write about the things I’m bad at, hopefully discover and develop things I’m good at, and be honest about all the Wife Fumbles along the way.

In the interest of not getting sued, I feel I should mention the following:

  • “Wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy” Ke$ha, Tik Tok.
  • “She’s so lucky. She’s a star, but she cry cry cries in her broken heart” Britney Spears, Lucky

This Sucks More Than I Expected It To

So far Project WifeChef has done little to help my ability or desire to cook. This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten super excited and motivated about a new project only to give up a few months later. It is, however, the first time I’ve been held so publicly accountable. In the era of sharing only the best parts of our lives in 140 characters or less, it’s extremely humbling to admit that this has been hard and I kind of suck at it. I could give you a list of reasons why I relapsed again, but isn’t that always the case? I don’t stop going to the gym because I want to get fat; it just sucks to work super hard at something without seeing results. My I Give Up moment happened a few weeks ago.

My husband was sick, but not the kind of sick where you lose your appetite and eat soup. So annoying. After working a long day, I called him to find out what he wanted me to make him. Anything. Anything. A-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. I would rather he ask me to make him something out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In a moment of uncharacteristic restraint, I realized that if I were sick I’d expect him to take care of me so I had to do the same. I told him I’d figure it out and hung up the phone. My mind went blank. Everything on my Pinterest board would take too long or had too many ingredients. The idea of food shopping without a plan was overwhelming. How was it possible that I’d been working so hard on this project and I didn’t have a single recipe in my back pocket? I hadn’t made any progress at all. I felt like such a failure. I sat in my car in the supermarket parking lot and sobbed.

Hindsight is 20/20. I was obviously not thinking rationally and should have just picked up a pizza. I did not. I cooked something (I don’t even remember what) and took out my frustration on my sick husband. Real nice.

The whole point of this blog is to make myself better so I can be a better wife. I think I set myself up for failure. I thought that once I started cooking I’d love it and want to do it all the time. That’s just not the case. I’m not quitting, but I am reevaluating why I’m doing this, what I’m hoping to get out of it, and how I’m going to go about it.

I was trying to change too much too fast. I really like ordering take out and going out to eat. Sometimes it’s because I’m being lazy, but more often it’s because I love it. Mmmm… gyros, cheesesteaks, pizza, BBQ; I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! I need to account for long days at work, eating out, and the fact that sometimes it’s easier and less stressful for everyone if my husband cooks. Once a week sounds manageable on all accounts and is my new goal.

I still haven’t solved the problem of what I’m going to cook. This has been the worst part for me all along. I still don’t have a good answer. I’ve learned how important it is to use what I already have in the fridge, but this meltdown happened because my fridge was empty. I need to find a couple signature dishes that I can buy the ingredients for and cook in a reasonable amount of time without having a meltdown. I’ll let you know what I decide to start with.

 

 

Putting my New “Skills” to the Test

We hosted a Holiday Housewarming Party a few weeks ago. I wanted to write about it sooner, but Christmas snuck up on me this year and then Santa brought me a puzzle and an adult coloring book so I’ve been very busy. (Side note: Can we come up with a better name than “adult coloring book”? It sounds like I’m coloring dirty things and I blush every time I say it. I could write a whole post on this fad and maybe I will. Comment if you have strong feelings to contribute.)

If you know me, you know that I love Christmas. I’ve probably quoted Elf at you or spontaneously busted into “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” complete with jazz hands in your presence. Christmas + my new-found desire to cook + friends wanting to see our house (there is a long backstory here involving fire, family, bad contractors, and a trailer, but that’s a tale for another day) = HOLIDAY HOUSEWARMING PARTY!

This is probably a good time to mention that I’m a horrible hostess. You might call it FOMO or trying to enjoy the moment, but as soon as guests start arriving I get so caught up in socializing that I completely forget about any cooking I was doing. Want me to put something in the oven once guests have arrived? Consider it burned! Most of the menu items listed below (and certainly all of those that actually required cooking) would not have been edible without the help of my husband and best friend.

The menu:

  • Crudité with homemade ranch
  • Cheese & fruit platter
  • Caprese bites
  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Pigs in a blanket
  • Wings (with ranch… oh my goodness, so much ranch. More about that later)

Dessert:

  • Decorate your own cookies
  • Chocolate chip cookies

Plus, my wonderful and heart-attack inducing friends brought:

  • Venison kielbasa
  • Venison taco dip
  • Sangria

And there were lots of other drinks:

Alcohol

  • Prosecco – if you know me, this almost goes without saying
  • Rum – we’d had this particular handle in our possession for years and were happy to finally be rid of it
  • Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union IPL. Such a solid brand and worth trying if you haven’t already. I especially like their Smoke & Dagger, a black lager with just the right amount of smokiness.
  • A bunch of miscellaneous beers and bottles of wine that we found in the back of our fridge.

Non-alcohol (a.k.a. stuff to put alcohol in if you’re not driving)

  • Orange mango juice. I bought this to go with Prosecco, but my friends are booze bags so they requested vodka. I’m mostly kidding. Oh and I’m the booze bag who happened to have raspberry or plain vodka on-hand so I guess that explains why we’re friends.
  • Egg nog
  • Coconut milk nog – my husband made fun of me for buying this, but it was a hit!
  • Polar flavored seltzer – I am completely addicted to this stuff. It’s pretty much the only reason I stay hydrated between coffee time and wine time. Though, I desperately want their summer flavors back.

I know you’re just dying to read all about each menu item, but I think I need to break this post up. I know our internet attention span is short and as I’ve already said, I have some very important coloring to attend to.

 

Friendsgiving!

This year, I attended my First [hopefully] Annual Friendsgiving Potluck! We sat around a makeshift long table in their small living room and had an outstanding family-style meal. It felt a little like camp, but without the burden of responsibility and with alcohol. WIN. There was also a sense of accomplishment because I had contributed something. I didn’t go my usual route (a bottle of Prosecco and Big Y frosted sugar cookies); I chose to make something from scratch.

A co-worker gave my husband a bag of cranberries and a couple of butternut squash. I happily volunteered to make cranberry sauce and squash. (Side note: Squash is the plural of squash. Squashes is a verb. Glad I know that now. Thanks, Google!)

Here is the recipe I wish I’d used for the cranberry sauce. It has comprehensible pictures and suggestions for alterations. Instead, I read a bunch of recipes that mostly had the same ingredients, but in varying amounts and with extremely mixed reviews. Never deciding on a specific recipe, I bought an orange and figured I’d wing it. Shockingly, this tactic worked. I ended up using about 2/3 cups fresh squeezed OJ, 1/3 cup water, a little orange zest, 1 cup sugar, a little cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. As it cooked, I was really scared that the cinnamon was going to be overpowering because it was so aromatic, but that was not the case. I wish I could remember/had paid attention to how much I added. It wasn’t a lot, probably about 1/4 teaspoon. Next time, I’d try using 1/2 cup OJ and 1/2 cup water and possibly using a little less sugar. That being said, I thought it was terrific and I went back for seconds.

I peeled and chopped the squash. I planned on cooking it, but kept getting distracted by getting ready for the party. My husband stepped in when it became clear that I was going to burn something. The squash was delicious. I don’t even know for sure what he put in it, but I believe it was just some salt, black pepper, butter, and maple sugar all mashed up.

A huge shout out to my friend for creating and orchestrating the perfect menu. We had everything you need for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Everyone contributed and it all tasted so good. I might have eaten more than actual Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for and great friends and great food are at the top of that list. I hope I am lucky enough to have many more Friendsgiving dinners in my future.