Monday Musings: First World Problems Edition

I’m feeling annoyed today, and because it is Monday that is increasing it ten-fold.  Therefore, I must vent:

Complaint #1:  Bank of America Sucks Donkey Balls
I have done my banking there since 1996, and have pretty much hated them since the inception of our relationship for one reason or another, though I’m not sure there is a banking establishment out there that I would truly love.  It just kind of is what it is, and I stay because it is a pain to move everything.  HOWEVER, I recently received a random envelope in the mail from them saying “Hey, here’s a new debit card because your info was potentially compromised.  Totally our bad, sorry about that.”  And there were three main things that really irked me about the situation:  1)  WTF?  Potentially compromised?  The nonchalance of the letter was irritating.  2)  The card had a new number (obvs) but I had my old one memorized — which proved very convenient when making online purchases at new retailers — no need to dig through my wallet!  and 3)  Do you know how many things I have automatically debit out of my account?  About a million — netflix, the gym, student loan payments…yada, yada, yada…you get it.  But let’s just say in the last 3 weeks I have gotten a lot of “Something is wrong with your credit card” emails and phone calls (including a “Collections” call from 24 Hour Fitness complete with a rude ass girl on the other line demanding payment) and I would really like to just punch Bank of America in the stomach each time I have to deal with it.  

Complaint # 2:  Yahoo! You Are Dead to Me
So about a week ago I tried to sign into my Yahoo! account and got an irritating error message.  I sent the appropriate complaint and received a canned response of “We’re working on it!”  And then I waited.  And sent another complaint.  And got another canned response. And waited.  And got an email with a ticket #.  And waited.  I don’t know what the hell they are working on but after more than a week I still can not check my mother-loving email.  And for someone who checks their email probably 30 times a day this is…oh, how do you say…UNFUCKINGACCEPTABLE!  Everything comes to that email address.  EVERYTHING.  Obviously I am going to have to move on to another address (especially after googling this problem and reading about people who have been dealing with it for over a year…um, no) but again, now I have to figure out by trial and error exactly what I need to update.  Also, it means until Yahoo! fixes the problem everything stored in that account (aka future travel itineraries, groupons, contacts, etc) are gone.  GONE.  Ugh, the thought of it all kind of makes me ill.  I think Yahoo! and Bank of America may be in cahoots.

Complaint #3:  I miss the skin on my hands and knees
So Garrett and I joined a CrossFit Gym about a month ago (the nasty call from the 24 Hour Fitness Rep ended up being the perfect time to cancel our old gym membership…HA! Take that, bitchy chick.) and really I have loved every minute since, you know aside from the blisters on my hands and the rug burn (Yes, I injured myself doing modified push ups.  Awesome).  The first month you spend 3 days per week learning technique and most of the lifts and then do an abbreviated workout.  Abbreviated.  Yet I have pretty much been sore everyday since we joined.  So last Friday we finished our course and now I guess we get to join the rest of the folks and do the real workouts, and honestly I feel a little freaked out about it.  Sometimes I find the warm ups a challenge (embarrassing as that is to admit) so the thought of an entire 40-60 minute workout is freaking me out a bit.  I just went online and looked at our WOD for tonight and HOLY SHIT.  Now I have 10 hours to try and figure out how the hell one modifies a handstand push up.  OHMYGOD.

I think I will leave it at my top 3 complaints because, really, that is probably enough.  I don’t want to get on a roll or I will never shut up and I don’t need to start this day with a downward spiral in attitude.  

What’s bugging you this Monday?  You know you want to vent.

Book Review: Orange is the New Black

orange_new_black

Holy hell, Piper Kerman’s new book Orange is the New Black kind of ruined me. 

Does this happen to you?  You pick up a book and it is just so delicious you can hardly put it down, but then you have to because you don’t want to finish it too fast!  And then when you finally finish it you are not ready to let the characters go — you want to know what has happened to them, what they are doing, what the next phase of their life is?  And all of a sudden you’ve got nothing — no book to read, no story to be wrapped up in.  It is over, but you are not ready to move on, so of course no other book on the shelf looks enticing enough to take your mind off things.

Just ruined, you know?

I feel like I should divulge that I am a total memoir junkie, just so you know where I’m coming from, but part of the allure of memoirs is that they are true stories (or so we hope) through which we can filter our own experiences.  So not only am I getting a good story but usually that story illuminates something about myself that I hadn’t previously noticed or thought about.  This one hooked me immediately.  If you haven’t heard about it already, here is a quick plot synopsis (Thank you Amazon!):

Just graduated from Smith College, Piper Kerman made the mistake of getting involved with the wrong woman and agreeing to deliver a large cash payment for an international drug ring. Years later, the consequences catch up with her in the form of an indictment on conspiracy drug-smuggling and money-laundering charges. Kerman pleads guilty and is sentenced to 15 months in a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. Entering prison in 2004—more than 10 years after her crime—Kerman finds herself submerged in the unique and sometimes overwhelming culture of prison, where kindness can come in the form of sharing toiletries, and an insult in the cafeteria can lead to an enduring enmity. Kerman quickly learns the rules—asking about the length of one’s prison stay is expected, but never ask about the crime that led to it—and carves a niche for herself even as she witnesses the way the prison system fails those who are condemned to it, many of them nonviolent drug offenders. An absorbing, meditative look at life behind bars.

What was so immediately compelling about this book was the way the author explains the headspace of her early twenties and the thoughts leading up to her criminal action.  That longing for adventure and this directionless feeling felt so familiar to me that I was sure the only thing responsible for our different experiences was an option in a Choose Your Own Adventure novel.  She chose a path that would land her in a federal prison, and the events leading up to that year of her serving time are like a soap opera storyline that I am so happy to have avoided, but it felt like something that could have happened to me.

Once in prison her tales of life and female bonding were sometimes frustrating and at other times poignant, and the on-going sidebar surrounding famous Martha Stewart trial and subsequent imprisonment added an interesting complexity that I never would have even thought about had I not read this book.  Kerman really portrays the powerlessness of imprisonment and although I knew they were criminals (though mostly for petty drug offenses) I found myself rooting for inmates, taking sides, and looking at my own life and its freedoms through a completely different lens.  Sure in some ways this was a glorified tale of white upper middle class triumph, and what is interesting about that?  But it was also a surprising look into the incredible, nurturing subculture of women who do not have the luxury of maturing in regular society, but who grow up behind bars.  And tragically, so many women do.

Besides being an interesting story in itself, Kerman is a natural storyteller and her writing draws you in.  Each chapter represents not only a progression of time in her sentence, but a lesson learned on the inside.  I found myself reading a page here and there whenever I could, and when I finally got to the end I felt robbed to no longer be surrounded by such an eclectic community of women but also relieved that Kerman was allowed her freedom again.  I actually missed the characters immediately though and tried to google all the information I could the second I closed the spine.

Orange is the New Black was an entertaining and easy read, but below the surface of those anecdotes were so many raised questions about whether or not many of the people incarcerated today really ever have the opportunity to become functioning members of our society.  Prison forces you to live in a way that would not work in the real world, yet the transition to freedom is not something that seems to be handled in an informative way.  I felt immediately grateful for the small ways that I have been showed the ropes of my own life.  The community of people who have informed my decisions happened to have been on the right side of the law.  And this is only due to luck, and not everyone is so lucky.  It was worth pausing and having a little moment of gratitude when I was done.  This was a page turning and eye opening read, and my only complaint is that I wish it had been just a little bit longer — I just wasn’t ready for it to end.

Happy, Indeed

I am 32 today which — I don’t know — just seems so novel.  So adult, really.  I feel like I’m pulling the wool over someone’s eyes a bit. 

In my mind there are parts of me that still feel like I’m about 21 and still wide eyed and trying to figure life out.  But then again every once in a while that little old lady inside of me comes out a bit too.  In fact tonight we are celebrating my birthday dinner at our favorite sushi place because I have a Groupon.  Holla!  Yep, I’m excited that not only do I get to have my favorite sushi, but with a coupon.  Ok, that little old lady probably comes out more than I would like to admit these days.

The other night I realized that when I met Garrett I was 25 and he was 22!  “We were just babies!” I told him, “You were barely legal!”  But it feels nice to have found someone to grow up a bit with.  I love that our relationship still has the newness and excitement that it did when we first met, but we also have 7 years of history together.  We have figured a lot of life out just the two of us, and that feels increditbly comforting. 

I recently rescued some old family home movies from my mom’s garage and transferred them from 8mm to DVD.  I had to wait 3 weeks to find out what was on them and if I’m being honest I was excited about them, but mostly I was anxious.  For one, it would be the first time I had seen any video of my dad since he passed away 12 years ago and I was a little apprehensive to experience something so emotional (and believe me it was incredibly heart-wrenching just to hear his voice again.)  But my other anxiety had more to do with seeing myself at around age 12 because ohmygod, AWKWARD!  Bad clothing!  Terrible hair!  Immature behavior! OH MY!  Why didn’t anyone tell me?  (Oh wait, they probably did.)  There really should not be any visual evidence left of anyone’s adolescent years, am I right?  

Anyway, so the other night I put in one of the DVDs for Garrett and together we had a good laugh.  With that 7 years behind us, he has not only gotten to know me well, but has become very well acquainted with all the members of my family so I think he was especially excited to see all of their awkward moments as well.  The 90s were such a goldmine of bad fashion decisions, I cringe, but it was hysterical to enjoy all of us at our silliest.  Well at least until I realized that we were watching video from 20 years ago and — OMG, WHERE DID THE TIME GO WHEN DID I GET SO OLD? 

One of the many home videos on the DVD from my dad’s 37th birthday.  His arrival home from work and subsequently getting the dogs all riled up and excited as he was wont to do.  My mom narrating as she filmed about all the fun things in store for the evening.  There was vido of him admiring the banner that I had painstaikingly illustrated in Print Shop and printed on our black and white dot matrix printer.  It was just a real slice of Americana, and it was so odd to think that this was our lives then.  Even weirder to think about was that on that day my dad was turning 37 — only 5 years older than I am now.  I can remember it so vividly, standing excitedly in my denim cutoffs and my Stanford sweatshirt — at the time I was sure that was where I was going to college (BAHAHAHAHA!).  

Then came the rest of the family, and of course all of it was on film, my grandparents showing up, my aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Everyone spending the evening clinking glasses in celebration.  My dad was just so damn happy to be celebrating with his family, eating cake, cracking jokes, opening presents — and just being his normal happy go-lucky self around his peeps.  It was wonderful to see and remember.  Knowing the backstory, he had a lot of stuff going on in his life right then, but you never would have known it because on that night he was just so present and enjoying the moment of celebrating with the people he loved the most. 

That touched me for a million reasons that I won’t even get into, but the most powerful takeaway for me was that he was turning 37 that year — and sadly only 5 short years later he would be gone.  You just never know how long you have or how many of these precious and fleeting moments you will get to enjoy, you know?  And no matter what is going on, I want to enjoy those moments just like he did.  Today, even though I am a year older and it’s fun to whine about all of that, I am also trying to remind myself all day how lucky I am just to be here.  How lucky I am to have adorable coworkers make a big deal this morning, to have my family send cute text messages all day, to get emails from friends, cards in my mailbox, to have tweets and Facebook messages find their way to me, and to be having dinner with my favorite guy (WITH MY DAMN COUPON!).  This is a splendid life that I get to live and I don’t want to take a minute of it for granted. 

I want 32 to be a year of being present and grateful.  

 

September: Revisited

September was a very good month, which might seem odd since I hardly uttered a peep around these parts, but I think that is part of it. I did not pressured myself to do a single thing: not blogging, cooking, scheming, nor achieving. Absolutely no pressure. And it was kind of liberating. It’s definitely a new attitude for me, but it is a good one, that will probably stick around. If you can believe it, I actually made To-Do lists throughout the month, and then mostly crumpled them and put them in the trash, opting to read a book or have a nice conversation instead. If this sounds super lazy to you, I totally get it. It sounds a little lazy to me, but it was part of my September Goals, and I ran with it. It wasn’t all Couch Potato-ing though, promise.


Here’s what I was up to:


Healthy Living

*For starters, I have lost 25 lbs since August! And there is no one more amazed at this than me. I am mostly amazed because – well, it just hasn’t been a struggle and I don’t know about you but I associate weight loss with struggle, deprivation, and general irritation. I feel so damn happy to have discovered a way of eating that works for me, that my body is responding super positively, and that I am feeling the best I have felt in years.

*I have also been getting a ton more sleep – so maybe there has been a little bit of Couch Potato-ing. But I think that has probably helped with the whole “the best I have felt in years” feeling. I am really listening to my body instead of just pushing through and I think that it is important. When my Naturopath recommended getting 8-10 hours of sleep per night I pretty much laughed in his face. But I have tried to make rest a priority, and what do you know I have found 8-9 hours of sleep per weeknight and sometimes 10+ on the weekends. It won’t be like this forever — I have no intention of sleeping my life a way, but it feels good to listen to my body, so for now, sleep is good!


Why My Neighbors Hate Me

*Mostly because we have been the cause of jackhammering and other sundry construction hullabaloo between the hours of 7-8am lately. We are doing a major overhaul on our front and backyard and there has been some serious dust and noise. I always feel bad when it is noisy, but when I weigh it against the eyesore of a yard that my neighbors have had to look at for the last 3 years I think that it will be worth it for in the end. I’ve taken some before pics and and a few during a bit of construction so when the whole thing is done I will show you a whopper of a Before and After.  I am sooooo ready for a new yard. 


Snuggle-Fest 2010 in Full Effect

*Well, my cousin Kelly had her baby – an adorable little girl with miniature munchable cheeks! That’s my mom holding her in the third picture and you can bet after one session of snuggling she was like “HOLLY, CAN YOU HAVE A BABY NOW?”  “OK, WHAT ABOUT NOW?”  “NOW?”

*Excuse the iPhone photos, but really, grabbing my camera is the last thing I am thinking about when hanging out with this precious one.  My thoughts generally vascillate between OMG so cute and OMG am I going to break her?  Understandably, I leave the camera in my purse. 

 
And that’s the scoop.


In sum, life is good my friends.

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