wHat Th3 h311?

You could say I sometimes go on the warpath, especially when it comes to things regarding the English language. And while I consider my own personal stance on grammar to be somewhere between prescriptive and descriptive, I am going to err on the side of legalism here. To support my most recent prescriptive grammarian crusade, see the above photo. Now I ask you, fellow speakers, readers, and writers: What the hell is that?

I’ve Facebooked and Twittered it, but that just wasn’t quite enough for me, so here I am.

(And in case you just said to yourself “She Twitters?”: Um. Yeah, about that. I have spent the past 2-3 years avoiding Twitter. The only time I got on it was to check Trent Reznor’s feed and see if anything new and exciting was happening. But alas, he and I both became stay-at-home moms (sorry, Trent). For my freelancing gig with a certain media company based in Georgia, I was asked to open a page and figured that I always said the only way I’d do it is if someone paid me for it. So there you have it. I sell out to The Man and like it.)

Anyway, here’s what I have to say about this:

Youth of the world, when you tYp3 L1K3 th1s YOu l00k lik3 uH C0m91ete 1Di0T. And sound like one, too – that is, if I can get past all the qwerty-speak to actually deduce some sort of basic meaning from this Klingon-esque code you’re typing (“nuqjatlh? jIyajbe’!!”)

Now, don’t be bitter. Don’t get mad. Own the fact that some of you have been raised in the tradition (in whatever applicable fashion – may be more or less, but rest assured that you have had at least some exposure) of the proper, correct, written and spoken English language, but have chosen instead to adopt the lingo of the gum-chewing, Axe-body-spray-wearing masses. I mean, come on. It’s ENGLISH! This is not Swahili. This is basic, easy, remedial-level stuff. I mean, we all learned this in the lowest levels of grade school (along with cursive, which I hear is going the way of the Zack Morris Diving Brick Phone?) And what happens? You hit 13, get a dose of hormones and a few too many episodes of “Secret Life of a the American Teenager” (God help us all), and suddenly BAM! – you’re turning in term papers in text speak. And let’s not even approach the virginity implications of “Secret Life.” That, my dears, is a vent for another day, when I have teenage daughters and sons who are shackled to the kitchen table for fear that they may do something truly stupid, like losing their v-card to some guy at band camp. BAND CAMP. Really?!

The only good thing that came of this insidious discovery on the internets, friends, is that I finally felt compelled to look up some Klingon phrases. Even though I really have never liked the Star Trek movies. And certainly not that Klingon has anything to do with whatever tH15 is. Bah. Hmph. Meh.

But no need to worry, right? I can trust the American education system to properly dispell this frightening movement towards the progressive stupidification of the children in its charge? Right?

peDoghQo’. Klingon conjugations – huzzah!

The dreaded measurements

Yesterday was Russ’s 9-month Well Baby checkup, and it was time for the dreaded measurements. Screwy as it seems, I have apparently found a way to repurpose the anxiety once reserved for stepping on the scale (which I’ve finally let go of, for the most part), and have now funneled it into a complete dread of having Russ’s length measurements taken. I am obsessive about making sure his foot and head notches are meticulously accurate, because GOD FORBID he measure longer than he really is (which, if ya ask me, is still too long).

What is this about, you might wonder? It’s just going back to my amazement at how quickly my little guy is growing up – he is shooting up out of his little baby socks like a freakin’ beanstalk. What IS that? I know, I know – I should’ve been prepared for this, expecting this, since I myself am not exactly a short gal and I’m married to a giant. I get that, friends. But why can’t Russ just be tiny forever? WHY? Don’t answer that.

So what’s the damage? Well, none – Russ is freakishly healthy. Seriously, I’m so blessed. If we lived in NYC or LA, I’d pimp this kid out to Gerber and other baby companies (don’t judge me!!), because he’s the picture of health. But his measurements were, as usual, too long for me. He is about 30.75 inches (I round down to 30.5…the doc rounds up to 31…what? It makes sense to me!!) at 9 months, 1 week. Now, here’s the conversation – which seemed logical to only me, I am sure – that followed up with Dr. S:

Me: “So, is he going to be 4 feet tall before he’s 2?!”
Dr. S: “No, I don’t really think so. He’s going to be taller than most other kids his age, and it’ll probably always be that way.”
Me: “Well…is he going to be taller than me when he’s 10?”
Dr. S: “No, probably not. But he might be pretty close. And he’ll probably pass you by the time he’s in middle school, maybe before.”
Me: “Ohh…”
Dr. S: “It’s okay. He’ll still let you cuddle him when he’s 7 ft. tall.”
Me: “WHEN WILL THAT HAPPEN?!”
Dr. S: “I’m kidding.”

I never said I was a naturally calm, logical person.

Not that it matters much, but just for comparison, Russ is 20 pounds on the dot at 9 months, 1 week, putting him the 50th percentile for his age. He’s always hovered in the 85th-100th percentile for length, but has never exceeded the 55th for weight. For the time being, it looks like our little, lean stringbean is doing just fine.

More on "An open love letter to food."

I’m really flattered and pleased with the responses I’ve had thus far to “An open love letter to food,” and I just want to thank everyone for reading it with such an open and accepting mind. I know some people knew pretty much everything there about my journey with food, but I think it was probably all news to some of the people who perhaps didn’t know me as well or for as long. So again, thanks.

These past three or so years have been full of so much personal growth when it comes to how I view myself, and while I know our view on ourselves isn’t the end-all-be-all of our existence, it has definitely been transformative for me to get to this place.

I know there are risks to being so blunt about my own past with eating disorders. There is certainly no shortage of people in this world who – be it subconsciously or intentionally – never fail to kick you when you’re down. Those people will continue to try kicking you, even when you’re right back on your feet and taller than them. And that’s okay, because I feel like I’m in a good place regardless. I guess I just would caution anyone who isn’t used to dealing with someone who has “a past” (an expression which I’ve always found to be really stupid – i.e. who the heck doesn’t have a past?) to really think about how you choose your words.

I’m not saying “walk on eggshells,” because that’s really a waste of life and time. But try not to keep that person in the box of whatever demon they struggled with in the past. You know? It’s like…check the passive-aggression at the door (or am I being passive aggressive by saying that? Oooh…chicken and egg scenarios are my favorite!). Anyhow, that’s the only negative issue I can see with this. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, when it comes to my personal issues (with food), I am over them – so everyone else should get that way, too.

This year has really been just a fabulous time for me and my tiny “one butt” kitchen. I have dreams of a larger, perfectly laid out, well equipped kitchen in my future. We’ve got this floorplan picked of a house we’d like to build, and even if everything else in it is super, super plain, the kitchen will be THE BOMB. It’s got this huge island that I want to put a butcher block countertop on – an island that is so big that it simultaneously says “Come, sit down, have a glass of wine, but stay the heck out of my way!” It manages to be welcoming, while also buffering the crowd away from my work space. Basically, it is the same set-up you see on TV cooking shows: You watch, you drink your margarita, and I work back here. Kthx! 😀 Don’t say I’m bossy…

I’m really into fresh herbs right now, so I’m keeping a small herb garden on the back deck. My rosemary is rocking and rolling, but my basil is looking a little sad. Not sure what that’s about, because it was the opposite last year, and I’ve been so good about watering those silly things. I guess I shouldn’t be too shocked…my basil plants may be suffering PTSD from the pillaging they get each time we have lasagna or pizza – I’m kind of known for putting so much chopped fresh basil on top of mine that it looks like I dumped a bag of salad on my plate. You could say that I, um, like basil…just a little.

I’ve got some stuff in the fridge waiting to be used this week, but I hate planning terribly far ahead for meals. But I can tell you that in the next 24 hours, there will be some sort of chicken dish – it’s a toss-up between pan-seared with a little white wine and butter sauce over linguine, or baked with a creamy sauce and some brown rice. I’m BIG on sauces lately. That’s one reason why we’re going to invest in some new stainless cookware possibly this Christmas – the little browned bits in the bottom of the pan make the most incredible flavor base for sauces, and you get the most browning from a plain stainless pan (seems that way to me, anyway). Also, I’m really just trying to get away from all the nonstick, coated stuff. Back to the basics, I guess.

The other thing I’ll definitely be making by about Tuesday or Wednesday is another cheesecake. This one is going to be done with fresh lime zest, reduced fat cream cheese, and I’m thinking I might cut the sour cream in half and sub some mascarpone cheese for the other part. It could be a disaster…but it could also be insanely yummy! I think that’s the funnest thing about what I’m doing in the kitchen – I am not Giada or Rachael or Paula, people. I do mess up from time to time, and when I do, we just sit there and chuckle as we eat.

“Wow.”
“Hehe…”
“This is terrible.”
“Haha…yeah, it is.”

If you can’t have fun with it, what’s the point?

An open love letter to Food.

Food, you’ve changed. You’re not who I thought you were. And neither am I. I’ve been wanting to tell you all of this for awhile, but I’ve just been so busy enjoying you and this place in life that I never got around to it. But now I’m ready to say everything I need to say.

When I was a little girl, you were just something that showed up on the table – and I never examined or questioned your purpose or existence. You were white bread, Duke’s mayonnaise, bologna, and iceberg lettuce – my favorite sandwich in preschool. You were the Little Debbie Star Crunch cake my mom handed me in between hours in the kiddie pool at Myrtle Waves – a caloric, sugary decadence that I never stopped to ponder because getting back to that one, red, rubbery slide was the only thing on my mind. That, and the epic wedgie that a too-large one-piece swimsuit can produce. You and I were friendly, but I was still so young. I was far too innocent to realize that you and I would have a very tortured and tenuous relationship, so very soon in the future.

When I was 10, someone called me fat for the very first time, and I blamed you. It wasn’t my fault, and it most definitely wasn’t the fault of simple changing pre-teen hormones that commonly put a little pudge on young girls and even some boys. It was all because of you. I decided maybe all the women’s magazines (which I poured over any time I visited my older sister) had to be right. I’d just have to stop enjoying you quite so much, and then things would be fine. Well, that and buy one of those oh-so-fabulous AAA-cup cream-puff bras at Walmart. Because while my hips might’ve been right on track (according to the “All About Growing Up” pamphlet mom gave me), the “Northern Territories” were still severely underdeveloped.

When I was 15, I went into the bathroom after a meal. I had big ideas. There was an easy solution to the problem that was still nagging me (not the bra size…though that hadn’t changed much). So there I sat, bent over the toilet, index finger shoved as far down my throat as I could get it. But nothing happened. I got so angry, I switched to the “longer” middle finger. Nothing. I was livid – this was supposed to work! Back to the drawing board, I guess…wondered for another few years if there was some trick to bulimia, some slight of the hand or proper form thing that I just wasn’t getting. Was never sure.

When I was 17, after 8 years or more of feeling like a complete mutant heifer (and actually being called that once, if I remember correctly…definitely one of my finer moments), I changed schools. A lot of things led up to it, but I suppose the social discomfort that colored so many boxes of my life was always stemming in some part from my relationship with you. It was still your fault. I was still blaming anything else. So away I ran, all the while pledging that “by this time next year, I will be thin and blonde!” I started working out. I went to parties. I even drank…a little. I got good grades. I started dating an athlete. I started running, kind of by accident. I found that I was good at it – that it made me feel powerful in a way I’d never experienced before. It also made my pants loose. And people noticed. And slowly, I wanted to spend less and less time with you.

It was really not that drastic at first. You remember, don’t you? I made simple, intelligent choices – fruit instead of french fries, water instead of soda. It didn’t take anything too complex to change my entire appearance – just the simple act of thinking about what I ate and getting off my butt and outside for a little while. When my parents moved me into college in Charleston, I continued running and eating like fairly normal human being – but I was already almost 30 pounds lighter than I’d been at that same time the previous year. And suddenly, guys paid attention to me. It was so surreal. Who was this girl – this runner, this girl with blonde highlights and thin thighs? I decided I liked seeing her in the mirror, and that the only way to keep her around for the long-term was to continue to push you away. Further and further away.

I wish I hadn’t.

As college progressed, my weight fluctuated, and my knee-jerk reaction was always to descend a few more rungs down the ladder into disordered eating. It was the natural progression of a lifelong propensity to go overboard. Overboard is what I do. Or at least, it was in that case. So I cut you out, food. First I cut out sugar – everything must be artificially sweetened. Then I cut out butter – it’s not good for you. Then I cut out all normal ice cream and bought only fat free or sugar free. Then I nixed cereal and rice because they have carbs and carbs are bad. Right? RIGHT?

And here’s the confusing thing – everybody has an opinion about nutrition, but the vast majority of people don’t know what they’re talking about. Oh, and here’s the irony – I thought that I wasn’t one of those people. Isn’t that a hoot? Total knee-slapper. But yeah, when everyone has a differing and forceful opinion, full of self-importance and/or self-assurance, it makes it really difficult not to try to make everybody happy. And somehow – because I hadn’t already forced myself into a corner when it came to failing the expectations of everybody around me AND myself (the worst critic I’d ever known) – it seemed really, really important that I do it exactly. right. to. the. t.

Whatever. When I met my husband, I was doing another carb-cutting diet and enjoying (as sick as it is) another 2-3 year span of having no periods because my body was so underfed. This is not to say that I was super skinny, because I was at a perfectly healthy weight most of the time. But my body needed you, food – it needed you, and I didn’t want to give you any level of perceived “control,” even if that just meant eating something with 20 grams of carbohydrate in it. My poor husband-to-be really did the best he could, but within months of our marriage, he realized that he had a huge project on his hands.

And let’s talk about the fact that until his most recent birthday (the fifth one that I’d been around to celebrate), on which I baked him a fabulous citrus-spice cheesecake, I never once made him a birthday cake. Never. Once. It makes me so sad that I was so selfish that I wouldn’t do that for him.

(In 2009 and 2010, his birthday cake was purchased. I ate cake those years, very happily, but was still a little afraid to try and bake my own. Still not sure why. Fear of failure, perhaps?)

After years of having no period, I began to really wonder if children were in the cards. Doctors blamed my condition on any number of things, but let’s just say I was never honest about my habits. Because I knew it was really my fault. I knew, deep down, that there were women out there who truly had reproductive problems, women who changed the things they could to help the process along, but who weren’t responsible for their problems. I was responsible. I was responsible when I pulled my tired body out of bed at 4 am to go for 8- and 10-mile runs in the dark in a city I’d never lived in before. I was responsible when I cut my calorie intake to somewhere between 800 and 1100 calories a day in the name of staving off the weight gain that seemed to happen no matter what I did (since my body was in starvation mode and literally stored every calorie I took in). I couldn’t put up the dominoes fast enough before they’d start falling again. I was falling apart. And I was responsible.

I remember feeling so hideous and blaming you, Food. But I finally started blaming myself, too. Then I blamed my family, or Jonathan, or “that skinny b**ch who clearly has an eating disorder.” You know the one! “Ms. I’ll-Have-a-Salad-and-an-Alli-Diet-Pill, thanks?” Yep, her.  Because, heh…pot, meet kettle. How disgusting is that? Who was I kidding?

Jonathan finally sat me down and conducted the one-person intervention that I think saved our marriage and my sanity. I was never sick enough to die – I was just sick enough, though, that I could’ve gone on for the rest of my life in a cycle of binging, then restricting my calories. I was sick enough that I would’ve been emotionally tortured by all of my iniquities and ugliness for the rest of my life, and I most certainly would’ve given any future daughter of mine a pretty serious complex about it, too. Granted, I would have NEVER said anything directly to her about her looks, weight, etc. God, I would’ve NEVER done that. But I was such a hypocrite that the whole time, I never realized that what you do matters just as much, if not more, than what you say or don’t say. I didn’t get that then.

Over a year or so, I stopped counting calories. I didn’t look at my scale, much less step on it. I didn’t work out all that much. It was difficult mentally, but I made myself eat any item I wanted. I still didn’t go overboard with you. I didn’t inhale my plate. I learned to slow down and just be a normal person. I learned that my dad was right all along about moderation. I was finally getting it. And amazingly enough…I stayed the same weight and size, maybe even a little smaller. I really found some peace. But I still kept you at arm’s length.

And then I got pregnant, and suddenly…oh my God, food, you were my best friend! I loved you! You’d never been any more delicious and complex and satisfying than when I was pregnant. It was as if I’d been asleep for years. I just didn’t understand the fresh, exciting, zingy, lip-smacking quality of a garden fresh, sea-salted tomato slice. I had forgotten how amazing a really good piece of milk chocolate could be. I sat on the end of my parents’ dock, in a maternity swimsuit, with a wide-brim hat and a huge belly, enjoying a cheeseburger and it DIDN’T FREAKING MATTER!! Do you understand how huge that was for me, food?! I didn’t care! Oh, my GOD, I cannot explain how freeing that was. I really can’t. I mean, apologies for the all caps, but GOOD GRIEF…it was a long time coming.

And then the baby came, and so did the food deliveries from women at church. Amazing, fabulous, strong, hilarious, intelligent women who could cook like nobody’s business. Women like Tina, who brought this amazing roast and these beautiful little potatoes and the most fabulous, creamy, fresh-cut corn. I was barely two weeks into nursing, and as much as I thought I loved food while I was pregnant, nursing was a whole new level of food adoration, food appreciation. Women like Allison, a girl my own age with a rocking personality and the most wonderful manner about her with children and babies, who brought us the most awesome, cheesy, Mexican tortilla casserole. We got so much great, hearty, delicious food, and it hit me like a lightning bolt: I wanted to cook. I was ready to cook. I was ready to cook whatever the hell it was that I wanted, that was fresh and cheap and locally grown and just sounded good to me or my husband or kids. There were no longer any limits there, just a world of possibilities.

Food, I love that you’re so available. I am so blessed to live in a country that has no shortage of food, yet I feel cursed sometimes that I have to live in and must raise children in a country that seems to favor the “starving Nazi concentration camp victim” aesthetic. Will that change? I hope so. I hope all those poor starving model-actresses get a taste of you that changes them. I hope people like Anna Wintour have a life-changingly good slice of pizza one day (One with loads of basil and capers and perfectly melted mozzarella cheese, maybe a grate or two of parm-reggiano? Or the kind with artichoke hearts and italian sausage and green olives? I can’t decide, either!) and say “Good Lord, what are we doing?! FEED THE MODELS!” I pray to the God of all that is tasty and delicious that a gaggle of body-obsessed people end up trapped inside a cupcake cafe and live to tell the story of how they were changed by the experience. Let them escape unscathed, three pounds heavier, and better for it, because I am not excited about having to undo this world in the eyes of my kid(s).

But at our house, there will be fresh apple crumble in the fridge. There will be meaty stew with cheese tortellini and fresh vegetables that I bought from Fisher’s Orchard in Greer. There will be crusty rosemary ciabatta, but you know I sure as heck ain’t baking it from scratch (well, er…maybe, one day in the future when I bring that absolutely gorgeous KitchenAid stand mixer home). There will be a cake plate, always occupied – with apricot-almond breakfast bread or little lemon cupcake miniatures with the piped icing from the ziploc bag with the edge snipped off. There will be a pot of fresh coffee. There will be birthday cake. There will always be birthday cake – every birthday my husband celebrates, for the rest of his life/my life (whoever kicks the bucket first). Because he is a good man who deserves to have the passage of his years celebrated, and he saved me from myself and from every negative person who ever told me I wasn’t good enough or wasn’t pretty enough, and most definitely every person who said I wasn’t skinny enough. He deserves cake, not because of some skewed food-merit emotional connection, but because it’s a special thing that I can give him that just says “Hey, I think you’re amazing and sexy and wonderful and you rock. Oh, and I love you. Cake!” That connection is so clear to me, as silly as it might sound.

My kids will not grow up on Mountain Dew and Pop Tarts, because that’s just not who I am. But they’ll have those things at points, I’m sure. But I don’t do a lot of pre-packaged stuff these days because, frankly, I’m enjoying cooking way too much. Some where, some smart alec is saying “Hmph, well let me know how that goes after you have more children,” but I won’t be paying those people much attention. I didn’t give up my beloved running (now tapered back to a more human 2-3 miles, several times a week) when I had my child, and I won’t give up cooking just because like gets a little crazier.

I’d much rather my kids learn to look at food the same way we look at songs or sights or smells that remind us of times in our lives. I want them to have that sensory connection, because it means something. I can’t taste caramel cake without lamenting how it will never be as good as my grandmother’s (she’s been dead for 22 years, so let’s say I haven’t had a good caramel cake in a loooong time – that’s next on the “to bake” list, by the way). I want my kids to have that – I want them to order a chicken piccata at a restaurant and think Oh, but this just doesn’t have any LOVE in it like mom’s does. I want those little girls and little boys to understand the value of fresh cut herbs from a pot on the back deck, the power of a fat pat of butter, browned perfectly and mixed in with the mashed potatoes (real potatoes). I want them to be in the kitchen as soon as they’re old enough to communicate, helping me measure and mix the cheesecake batter or the enchilada filling or whatever applies. I want them to get it, but not the way it took me so long to get it.

So, that’s what I needed to tell you, food. That I’m sorry I blamed you so long for the issues I needed to deal with, and that I am enjoying our new, exciting, blossoming relationship so much more than I could ever write here. But I will give you a home to enjoy, food. I know my little one-butt kitchen is a tight squeeze and can limit the leaps and bounds by which our adventures together can grow, but there is a larger kitchen and bigger plans on the horizon for us, dear friend! There are souffles and flaky pie crusts and creme brulee in our future, you just wait – and we’ll share each new adventure with the amazing family and friends that I’m so blessed to be able to cook for. And to be able to eat with.

And maybe one day, we’ll try to match ol’ Mary Belle’s caramel cake. I think she’ll send a little magic dust our way in the form of some brown sugar. Some flour and butter. A little love sprinkled in for extra measure.

Home

I HATE to post a video AND a lyrics sheet (no really…I hate to do it), especially given that I think it is beyond well established at this point that I am a Nine Inch Nails “fangirl” (hate that term, too). But I sort of have to for this post to even begin to make sense (which it will, just barely). Also, either I’m just inept or the video posting capabilities on Blogger are off-the-charts on the suck-o-meter. Apologies all around.

So, the theme of this post is “home” because the idea of where home is has been in a state of constant evolution for the past couple of years – for me, at least. And because, well, June 12th seems as good a day as any to go yapping about it! So, here goes.

Two years ago today, my husband and I were at a fabulous concert in Charlotte, watching Nine Inch Nails at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Yes, it was super hot outside, AND we got rained on, thundered on, risked getting struck by lightning – yet we were just pleased as punch to be there. We were even more thrilled with our spots – right in front of Trent Reznor, basically half a body back from the rail. It was amazing. Robin Finck waved at me (or was it that guy behind me…whatever, who cares). It was awesome. And they opened the show with a song that I really think said it all for where I was at that point in my life.

By that time, Jonathan and I had been married for just over three years. I was basically just over eight months through the recovery process from what can only be described as an eating disorder and/or a really serious issue with body image and controlling every bit of minutae of such a stupid and irrelevant part of my life. At the same time, I’d finally reached a point where I no longer thought of my own hometown as “home.” Suddenly, things were falling into place. Greenville was my home. Jonathan was my home. I was at home in my own skin, for the first time in maybe 20 years (because – yes, it’s true – I was far too aware of myself when I should’ve still been a carefree little girl). As I watched the concert begin with Robin Finck’s piercing note on the guitar, ringing out across a field of thousands of sweaty people (and probably a few drunk ones, I’d imagine), I felt a really corny, embarrassing sense of peace.

It was just nice to be at home again.

It was something that I hadn’t really felt since June 12th of 2006, when I spent my very last night under the roof of 140 Windmeadows Dr. in my hometown. The very last time that I was living in my parents’ house. On the morning of the 13th, Jonathan and I closed up the big metal door on the back of a U-Haul for the last time and headed off for Greenville. We had a one bedroom apartment full of dreams and financed furniture waiting for us! I remember my dad saying that I needed to listen to that country song about “You’re gonna miss this,” where the girl is constantly getting past herself in her propensity to plan and over-plan for the future.

I really can’t explain why I was so afraid of never being able to move “home” to Conway. I spent basically my entire life, up until I got married and moved away, whining about how bad that place sucks. And for me, it did – I’m not making a broad statement on the place as a whole, but for me, it was pretty miserable. I guess I was really afraid of being removed from the family that I’ve always been around. I was afraid I’d miss out on things. I was afraid of having to step back and actually build a life for myself with the man I’d chosen (and happily so) and risk something – not the least of which was to risk not having control over every little thing. It was really stupid, believe me…I get that. I can’t explain why something that couples do every single day – moving to a different town – was such a big fuzzy freakin’ deal for me. But thankfully I got past it and grew to love the Upstate so much that I really can’t imagine ever wanting to move back to my hometown.

Whatever the case, I am so happy that I find myself today, a little wiser, boatloads happier, a mother, a better wife. Maybe that’s what “home” is all about. My home is wherever my husband and son are, wherever I can find a little peace, wherever there’s a place to run and a place to cook. It feels good to be here.

A eulogy, an anniversary, and a vent session.

So, a few things:

1) This morning, my beloved childhood dog Rose passed away peacefully. Rose was one of those animals with the most soulful, heart-wrenching brown puppy dog eyes you have ever seen. She came into our home as a rambunctious puppy when I was in eighth grade, some 13 years ago. In the time between then and now, she has seen so many incredible days in my life and the lives of those I love the most – and also some of the toughest days. I remember scratching her head as I hopped into my date’s truck to go off to the senior prom, and I just as clearly recall her snuggling up next to me as I cried myself to sleep over that same guy just a year or so later. She had a real heart, this dog. I remember being absolutely broken when someone at church told me that it’s not true that “all dogs go to Heaven.” To be honest, I think that person can bite me, but that’s just me. It really doesn’t matter, cause Rose was just an angel – who hopped around and later hobbled a bit slowly through family gatherings, engagements, wedding days, baby showers, new babies, Christmas eve and Christmas morning, and countless runs alongside me. There’s something quietly sweet about the fact that she was sitting in the kitchen and wagging her tail the day I started high school, and was still sitting there, wagging her tail, the day I walked in with my newborn baby for our first visit after Russ was born. She was my little “Black Angus Cow” and I will miss her so much. But, as the cliche-but-comforting saying goes, I really am glad that she’s not suffering any more. She’d been getting pretty old, and at her whopping 120-pound weight (she was a black lab), her joints were just about to give out. She stopped eating last week, and then started getting sick a lot yesterday. My parents made the tough decision to have her put down this morning, but I think they both took comfort in knowing that she lived a very full life, and that they did right by her. She is now buried between two Catawba trees, overlooking Potato Creek and all that made her happiest in her sweet, but far too short dog life. Rest in peace, sweet animal.

2) So, it was actually five years ago today that I sat, painting my toenails (with Rose right beside me, of course) and watching “Forrest Gump” (for the 1,218th time, at least) in the hours leading up to my wedding. It’s almost impossible to believe that five full years have passed since then. We’ve lived in Greenville for five years, we’ve been sharing a bathroom for five years, we’ve bought a house, a dog, endured a pregnancy, had a baby, and I can honestly say that these days, there are literally NO secrets between us. But I feel like Jonathan has always been a part of my life, in a way. He’s my best friend and my confidante in so many things in life. He’s also the absolute best father I could have ever dreamed up for my kiddo, so that’s just a huge bonus.

Oh, and he has a cute butt. Moving on…

3) And this is completely unrelated to the previous two (which were, it turns out, also not all that related).

http://www.usmagazine.com/momsbabies/news/wow-marion-cotillard-super-slim-2-weeks-after-giving-birth-201136

Does anyone see that? That picture in that link there of that bone-thin woman who apparently just gave birth to a HUMAN BEING two weeks ago? Does everyone see that?

Okay, folks, that is NOT normal. I mean, I try to cut everyone some slack in the body department because God knows, we need a little slack in this ridiculous culture we live in. Nobody is quite “right” these days – if you’re a size 0, you’re too thin; if you’re a size 16, you’re too fat; if you’re a size 4, you’re “curvy” (seriously…in what alternate universe is a size 4 CURVY? People are HIGH, I swear…); if you’re a size 8 (like me), you’re “thick” (again…WTF). Maybe if we all find out how to turn invisible, we’ll be JUST RIGHT. Nobody is whatever everyone wants them to be, so believe me when I say, I really, really, really do try to cut everyone a break on the whole body obsession thing. I do.

But this is not normal. NOT normal. And not just the body size – though that is insanely tiny to have just birthed a fully gestated human baby – but also because the outfit is pretty hideous in itself and may actually hide a multitude of “flaws” (or rather, “normalcies,” which we all know are actually considered “flaws” nowadays). It’s the whole thing. The fact that she’s apparently shooting an ad campaign, two weeks after having a baby. The fact that she’s teetering on what I initially thought were chopsticks attached to bedroom slippers, but are actually just crazily high heels. It’s the fact that she could and probably should be resting, wearing shoes intended for human use, maybe trying to find her rhythm with nursing (because it may be “natural,” but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally, folks), or maybe just taking a friggin’ nap. Because naps, after you have a baby, come at a premium.

And I get that maybe she just doesn’t want to do any of those things. But maybe she should. And maybe she should have a hamburger. I’m sorry, and I know that sounds ragingly jealous and judgmental, but I promise that is not the place where that is coming from.

I just get so aggravated when I see this “So-and-so dropped all their baby weight in 10 days!” or “Celeb mom drops 55 pounds in 3 weeks by breastfeeding and drinking nothing but Kabbalah water!” IT IS INSANE, people. Why do we, as a society, feel the need to put this kind of pressure on new moms?

I just think it friggin’ sucks. And that is all.

Now, off to enjoy the remainder of my anniversary night with my husband and the sleeping baby in the middle of the bed between us. Oh, how glamorous a life it is! And I love it.