Sunday, January 17, 2016

Movin' On Up

Hello Readers!

First of all, have I told you how much I love you for being readers of this blog? I know you have a lot of choices of when it comes to the crazy dribble you read on the internet, and I appreciate you coming to me for that sweet, sweet crazy dribble.

However, I am no longer blogging...from this address! If you want to read every painfully awkward experience or thought that I should be too mature to have, please come visit the *new and improved* (but still eternally awkward) Deliberations of a Domestic Diva at:

deliberationsofadomesticdivablog.wordpress.com

Thanks for your support and stay weird, my friends!

Abbey

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Don't Call It A Comeback

Are you there, Internet? It's me, Abbey. You know, the stressed-out mom slash late-blooming college student who decided to write a blog to chronicle her life adventures alongside the stress that comes with finally deciding to get her act together and earn her degree?

Yes, that's me. Nice to see you again.

I know what you're thinking: It's been almost exactly a year since my last attempt at writing an entry to this silly little project of mine, why should you bother reading what is sure to be a half-assed attempt at explaining my long absence? But please give me a chance, because I swear that I have an excuse for my lack of internet presence! A great one, in fact!

I'll begin with the obvious update: School. I graduated (Yes! Finally! Woo!!!!!!) last December, summa cum laude with an impressive collection of recommendation letters from professors that I admired (idolized might be the better word), promising job perspectives and the possibility of grad school looming on the horizon. At this point, I would love to say that I dove into my new post-grad life headfirst with motivation and zest that I spent years investing in school, but obviously if that were true, I would have written this blog months ago. I didn't throw myself into the new chapter of my life because I didn't have motivation. Or zest. Or any other encouraging adjectives whatsoever.

What I did do was go through something rather big, so say the least. I don't really know how describe what I went through. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was a mental breakdown exactly, but something like a mental breakdown's sloppy first cousin. I suddenly felt lost, purposeless. I had worked so long and so hard trying to achieve such a specific goal that once I achieved it, I had no idea what to do with myself. Well-meaning people told me things like "Relax!", "Enjoy yourself!", and "Take your time trying to figure out what you want to do!". After awhile, all I wanted to do was grab them by their well-meaning shoulders and shake them as hard as I could while screaming "I don't want to do any of that! Don't you know me at all?!"in their faces. It wasn't pretty and frankly did nothing for my already-lacking people skills. Amongst other things, I began avoiding these well-meaning people.

Practically everyone suggested that I write something; a blog, a book, something to remind myself why I went back to school in the first place and what it was that I was trying to achieve. It was somewhere around this point, I discovered something interesting: I couldn't. It wasn't that I didn't want to, but that I genuinely physically couldn't write. I would sit down at the computer and my fingers would turn to lead. Do you remember that scene from "Home Alone" when Kevin McAllister is so terrified of the furnace in the basement that every time he looks at it he pictures a glowing, evil monster? Well, that was suddenly how I felt about my computer. I couldn't bring myself to even look at it, much less attempt to string together a few measly sentences. Forget writing a blog, I couldn't even write a grocery list without breaking into a cold sweat.

I'd like to say that that was as bad as it got, but it wasn't. My inability to write, focus, or make any of the big life decisions looming before me began to feel like too much to handle. I found myself questioning everything, from simple things like what to blog about or what to feed my kids for lunch to bigger things like whether or not I had chosen any of the right paths in my life, career, marriage, life, you name it. I had never felt lower, never doubted myself and any of my abilities less. I felt adrift in a big scary world, lost in a sea of people who all seemed to know exactly what they were doing with their lives while I was unable to make even the most basic of decisions. I felt useless and unvalidated, and I hated it. I was constantly looking for ways to validate myself.

So for awhile, I tried validating myself in all the wrong ways, in all the wrong places. My addiction to Twitter reached an all-time high. When I lost a follower or posted something that went days without a reaction, I felt that this only proved how truly useless I was (I will get into this much more later, but for now just let me say that if you are feeling even slightly down on yourself, my only advice would be to avoid social media at all costs. It doesn't help. It makes you feel better initially but then much, much worse. Trust me on this one). Unsurprisingly, none of my ill-concieved means of validating myself ever worked. I only felt myself sinking lower and lower, any tiny grain of confidence I had ever had slowly continued to slip away.

Famous artist Pablo Picasso had what was referred to as a blue period in which all of his works were muted, monochromatic, somber and all-around blah (or at least as blah as someone who produced incredible works of art could manage to be). For a lack of a better term, the last six months of my life have been my blue period, the bluest I have yet to experience in my life, even worse than both of my bouts of postpartum depression (and I didn't think that anything could be worse than that). For awhile, it felt like my self-imposed blue period would never end.

The good news? I'm coming out of my blue period, slowly but surely. I'm writing again (obviously) and making a conscious effort not to be so hard on what I write, which is sometimes much easier said than done. I bit the bullet and made some career decisions and am now proudly holding not one, but two great jobs where I actually get to put my hard-earned degree to work; I am the Social Media Manager (ironic, I know) for an incredible nonprofit adult literacy program called Reading Works and am an online tutor for kids all around the world in every subject from middle school essay writing to college calculus, and everything in between.

There are definitely things that are helping to pull me out of my funk. First and foremost, my incredibly understanding husband who frankly should have left a Josh-shaped hole in the wall and gone running and screaming in the other direction years ago, but thankfully decided not to go that route. He is constantly telling me that I'm a great mom and the smartest, most talented person he knows and he's so convincing that I'm almost starting to believe him.

I also got on board with two things that I should have done a long time ago, but for vain, stupid reasons avoided like there was no tomorrow: Counseling and anti-depressants. This is something that I plan on getting into much, much more later but for now I will just say that I fully understand how stigma keeps people from getting the help that they often desperately need and how truly silly that stigma really is. We live in a world that is (hopefully) getting more accepting of different people and different situations every day, so why not this? But I digress. If I get started on the topic now, I won't have something to come back and write about, and I don't want to leave the internet at large hanging for another year. So you're welcome for that.

See? I told you that I had a good excuse for leaving my blog to collect cyber dust! But I'm back now and finally ready to add more color to my blue period.

Who's with me?

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Tooth Fairy: A Cautionary Tale

When your kid loses his or her first tooth, it's one of those magical/horrifying moments in your parental life (magical in the sense that your baby is growing up, and horrifying for essentially the same reason). For Layla, the loss of her first tooth coincided neatly with a Tinkerbell fascination, so by the time the last root on that tiny little pearl of a tooth finally gave, she was well-informed of all things Tooth Fairy and was awaiting the arrival of a magical winged friend with the same level of sweaty, giddy anticipation that I usually reserve for awards shows hosted by Tina Fey. In other words, to say she was excited would be a massive understatement.

Wanting to make the most of this milestone moment, we really did up the whole tooth fairy charade. Not only did Layla get $10 for her first tooth (an absolutely ridiculous amount I know, despite all of the cost of living/tooth fairy inflation pseudo-rationalizations that I tried to make for myself at the time), she also got a small, gift-wrapped present, and a personalized note from the Tooth Fairy herself (that was typed because Layla is smart enough to recognize our handwriting) praising her for taking good care of her teeth and for being an all-around amazing kid. The whole thing was topped off with a generous sprinkling of glitter on her bedside table, to prove that not only had the the tooth fairy graced Layla with her presence, but that she was every bit as sparkly and wonderful as Disney movies and a child's overactive imagination (mine) had led her to believe.

And then, because life is great at throwing curve balls when you never see it coming, Layla proceeded to lose nine teeth. In six months. Suddenly I realized that I needed to rethink my math (no more inflation excuses) and to rethink this whole Tooth Fairy operation. And fast.

Now before you think that I'm just some cantankerous jerk who hates using the power of creativity and imagination (and presents) to make their child deliriously happy, hear me out:

I'll begin with some basic math: The average six to seven-year old has about twenty teeth. Twenty teeth times ten dollars a tooth comes out to $200. It's not that I'm cheap or anything, but at that rate, the Tooth Fairy was bound to end bankrupt and living under a bridge, hooked on Pixie Dust (pun intended and relished). Why this math didn't occur to me when I was deciding that it was a good idea to shell out ten bucks for her first tooth, I will never know. By by the time I figured it out, I consoled my inner-Scrooge McDuck by assuring myself that I had some time before the next tooth fell out to back-pedal a bit on the whole Tooth Fairy deal, giving us room to subtly scale back on the grandness of the whole thing.But of course, this didn't end up working out the way that I had planned (see above, re: massive number of teeth lost in record time). In fact, I scaled back so fast that I actually completely forgot to put anything out one night around tooth #7, sending Josh in to Layla's room at 6 AM under the guise of delivering an early good morning kiss as I tossed a few dollars on her night stand, praying she wouldn't notice (she didn't).

In fact, I slowly began to realize that Layla wasn't noticing any of the scaling back that we were doing. She was happily collecting her dollars, more concerned about the Build-A-Bear she was saving up for than the telltale, glitter-filled signs of the Tooth Fairy. Best of all, when all was said and done, the part she liked best was the sound and feeling of pulling her own teeth out (shudder). She said nothing about presents, or lack thereof.

Honestly, sometimes I don't think we give kids enough credit. Deep down, kids are wonderfully simple creatures who are happy with next to nothing (which is why every kid since the dawn of time has always had more fun with the boxes that their Christmas presents came than the actual presents). But because we want our kids to have a great life and also need interesting things to post on Facebook (I'm convinced that Pinterest exists precisely for these reasons), we can get to a point where we feel the need to constantly to overdue every little thing (I know I can). But there's a thin line (a very, very thin line) between making a fun, creative gesture that your kid will have fond memories of forever and setting your kids on the path to spoiled douche-baggery because they have no concept of managing their expectations.

Okay, it's entirely possible that I am thinking way too much into this way too soon. You should make a production out of everything if it's what you really want to do, but we should remember that kids don't necessarily require extravagance to be happy.

If all else fails, just give 'em an empty box if you don't believe me. You will rock their world.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mindy Kaling Is My New-Found Hero

I’ve barely slept all week and it’s all Mindy Kaling’s fault.

Okay, technically, I probably had something to do with my lack of sleep. I have a fully-functioning brain that controls my fully-functioning hands that could have simply reached for the remote and turned the TV off, but my my hands didn’t want to listen to my brain, especially not at 4 AM when my brain was screaming that I needed to go to sleep immediately because I had work to do, and papers to write, and finals to prepare for. But my hands and eyes refused to be torn away from my newest obsession: The Mindy Project.

Confession: I’ve been avoiding this show. After a two season, multi-day gorge fest, it’s almost hard to remember why, but once upon a time, a million people I knew insisted that I had to start watching The Mindy Project because I would absolutely love it.

Which is exactly why I had been avoiding it.

This might make no sense, but hear me out: Last summer, everyone I knew told me to watch HBO’s Girls because for whatever reason, it struck them as the kind of thing that I would love. The only problem is that I absolutely hated it. Upon confessing that I couldn’t watch more than 15 minutes of the show, I was subject to cries of disbelief and insistence that I give it another try. People were constantly trying to explain characters and plot lines to me and defending their favorite episodes until eventually, I had no choice but to lie and say it was great just so everyone would leave me alone.

It was exhausting.

And because I had loved Kaling on The Office and respected her as a writer, I couldn’t bring myself to watch her show, lest I be disappointed and have to endure the Girls fiasco all over again.

But I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

The show is brilliant. It’s well-written and hilarious and everything I have been missing on TV since 30 Rock wrapped it’s final episode. The show centers around Kaling’s character Mindy Lahiri, a smart, successful private practice OB/GYN with a laughably disastrous personal life and a slew of co-workers who seem to be set on making her life harder rather than easier.

The best part of the show is that it’s refreshingly honest. Lahiri is an honest representation of an intelligent woman who is set in her ways and can be difficult and maybe a little immature, but in the best of ways, who just wants to have it all. Who can’t relate to that?

So while I may not recommend watching every episode of both seasons (that have been made so far) of the show in one sitting, I would definitely recommend watching them at a more normal, non-obsessive pace. You won’t be disappointed.

And if you are, don’t worry. Just tell me that you feel the same way about Mindy as I feel about Girls, and we’ll never speak of it again.

Deal?

Monday, March 31, 2014

A Lesson In How To Be Fearless

If I had to pick my worst quality, it would be that I am too much of a worrier and not enough of a warrior.

Worriers, as their name implies, are the finicky-type who lie in bed at night twiddling their thumbs over things they have no control over, and are often too paralyzed in their worry to take action. Worriers are the worst-case-scenario-going, Tums-popping nervous people who are often prone to pessimism in most grave situations. We are the exact opposite of warriors who, unsurprisingly, are the action-takers of the world, the fighters, the ones who have formulated an upbeat and optimistic plan of action before the worriers can even begin to comprehend the situation. As someone who's favorite catch-phrase is "Be careful!", I am a classic worrier. No matter how many times I remind myself that worrying is fruitless or how long it takes me to work up the courage to force myself into action, I always have been (and probably also will be) a worrier. But fortunately, this isn't a story about a worrier. This is a story about a warrior.

The warrior is Heather Von St. James, who at only thirty-six years old, was diagnosed with Pleural Mesothelioma , a cancer typically caused by frequent exposure to asbestos. The scary thing about Pleural Mesothelioma is that the disease can lay dormant for as many as ten years, with no symptoms or side effects of any kind, until you basically wake up one day with cancer. Heather, whose father was a construction worker, was exposed to asbestos because she loved to wear her dad's coat that he wore at his construction sites around the house when he was home (like most little girls would). This frequent exposure to asbestos, was enough to infect her with Mesothelioma, though she had no knowledge of the disease whatsoever until her diagnosis. And by the time she was diagnosed, Heather was told that she had only fifteen months left to live. 

This in itself would have been a life-changing diagnosis for anyone, but it was made all the more painful by the fact that Heather had given birth to her daughter Lily only three months before the diagnosis. Essentially, Heather had been given both a daughter and a death sentence within the span of only a few months.

Can you even begin to wrap your head around that? 

Because honestly, I can't imagine what must have gone through Heather's head. The thing no one tells you about having kids is that it changes the way that your mind works, usually without you even noticing. Suddenly, you can't imagine what your life would be like if you lost your child, and it's equally terrifying to wonder what would happen if they lost you. The thought of your child having to grow up without their mother would be enough for anyone, warrior or not, to fall spectacularly to pieces.

But instead of falling apart, Heather began treatment. On February 2, 2006 she had her infected lung removed, a day her sister, in an effort to add humor to an otherwise dim situation, dubbed "Lung Leavin' Day". In fact, humor and positivity became the dominant forces in Heather's life, despite her grim diagnosis. While fear is human, Heather didn't allow herself to drown in self-pity or worry. It wouldn't have been good for her daughter, her husband, or herself to fall apart. Heather had a choice to let the disease and the worry that came with it dominate her life or not. She chose not.

Fueled by her positive outlook, Heather continued to fight. She had her surgery and passed her fifteen month deadline. And then lived for another year, and another, and another. Today Heather is an advocate for Asbestos Awareness and Pleural Mesothelioma and is living a happy, cancer-free life with her husband Cameron and Lily, who is now eight. In honor of the surgery that ultimately saved her life, Heather created Lung Leavin' Day, a website that coincides with the anniversary of her surgery, in which visitors can write their fears on virtual plates and smash them into a fire (Heather and her husband Cameron do this every year, but with real fire and real plates). I love this because even with all of her positivity, Heather is saying that it is still okay to have fears. Fear is normal, but smashing that fear and seeing the good in every day is the thing that can truly heal you.

Heather is a testament to the power of positivity.The hardest thing in the world is holding it together when the world around you feels like it's spiraling out of control, and to see the positive in scary situations. Fear can make worriers out of warriors and worriers crumble with self-doubt. But if you don't let it control you, fear can also make you a fighter. I would call Heather fearless, not because there is an absence of fear in her life, but because she doesn't let fear control her life. Through positivity and awareness, Heather turns fear into the fuel for her fire.

Talk about a warrior.

If you would like to learn more about Heather or smash a few plates (which I highly recommend), please check out her blog.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

#YoureARichGirl

During a recent bout of (highly annoying) insomnia, I was channel surfing in the wee hours of the morning and I found it. A TV show so pointless and terrible that it can only be called #TheWorstShowOnTV.

That is, when you aren’t calling it by its actual name, the equally obnoxiously hashtagged #RichKidsOfBeverlyHills. #RCOBH (as the kids call it when it's trending on the Twitter) is the story of privileged, beautiful, spoiled people who tire of spending Daddy’s money and put their trust funds towards building hospitals in third world countries, building homes for the homeless and reading to the blind.

Ha. I wish. I would actually watch that show.

In actuality, the show is based on rich kids (insofar as you can call someone in their mid-20s a 'kid') with piles of Daddy's money, but these rich kids aren't do-gooders so much as spoiled brats who do little more with their lives than blow $10,000 on purses that they lose count of. The show centers around Dorothy and Morgan, both daughters of billionaires and self-proclaimed BFFS, a lofty claim for two people who seem to spend more time tweeting in each others company than actually talking. Frankly, it was a horrifying look at what I sincerely hope is not an accurate representation of the human race, and after the hour I spent watching it, I felt that if I couldn't sleep, the least I could do was warn world of its existence so that my loss of IQ points wouldn't be in vain.

Or at the very least, completely rip it apart. So here goes.

As I mentioned, the story is centered around two spoiled piles of crazy, Morgan and Dorothy. Dorothy is a twenty-five year old "adult" who’s official occupation is “Being Funemployed and Fabuluxe” (It's okay, I have no idea what that means either) and who says super rational things like “You can’t put a price tag on a good night out” while casually paying her $40,000 bar tabs with one of her six her limitless credit card. Generous? Maybe. Completely out of touch with any kind of reality? Absolutely.  Worse, Dorothy has no discernible talents, education, goals, or really any sense of reality whatsoever. In fact, Dorothy’s only aspiration in life is her oh-so-specific and practical goal of becoming “The next Asian sensation”.

#NeverGiveUpOnYourDreams, Dorothy.

Her counterpart and aforementioned BFF is Morgan, also twenty-five and also the daughter of a billionaire. Morgan has a worm-faced real estate mogul boyfriend with zero personality and an obsession with asking everyone if she’s looking “thinner in the face” each and every time she sees them (Why? Your guess is as good as mine). Morgan writes (for lack of a better word) a blog called “Boobs and Loubs” which for obvious reasons, I had to look at the second I learned of its existence. While part of me felt I should give Morgan credit for at least doing something else with her life (unlike Dorothy) once I actually saw the blog, I just couldn't muster up any respect. Because, unsurprisingly, Morgan's blog is basically a selfie photo gallery sprinkled with the occasional 100 word blog about how hungover she is (or how no one has told her she looks thinner in the face today). Riveting stuff, really. Morgan's biggest disillusion is that she should write a book because she’s “funny”, but really the only thing funny about Morgan is the fact that she can talk about how funny she is with a perfectly straight face.

Truthfully, there are no words for how utterly pointless and vile this show is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not above terrible, guilty-pleasure TV (Once I start watching Honey Boo Boo I, shamefully, can't stop) but this show is really hitting rock bottom, entertainment wise. The #RKOBH, with its incessant hashtags (which aren’t just limited to the title, but to each “section” of the show as well), selfies, loud, screechy fights about nothing, and just all around pointlessness, is terrible TV overkill. I mean, #overkill.

Bottom line: I know most reality television is scripted to some extent, but I hope, for the sake of humanity, that these real rich kids are, at the very least, exaggerated versions of themselves and only half as vapid as they appear to be. Truly, every single person on this show is the exact opposite of what I want my kids to turn out to be. And I guess that if I had to put a "value" on the show (ugh) it would be that it's a shining example of how not to raise kids, how money and entitlement make you a horrible, self-involved person. So horrible in fact that it almost makes me wonder if the the whole show is secretly some kind of experiment where terrible people are put on the same desert island and left to duke it out, Hunger Games style.

Ooooh. If only…

Don't believe that these people are nothing but unnecessary drama? Then watch this. And if you can figure out what the hell is going on, please tell me. After about thirty seconds of this nonsense, all I hear is white noise.
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