I have a total new respect for my body.

Being pregnant, if I haven’t said so already 10,000,000 times, actually sucks. I am yet to find this whole “glowing” thing and “loving” being pregnant is like a unicorn… does it even exist? With this being said and all the crappy changes my body has gone through, I have a completely new respect for it.

Some will tout mind over matter, and they are sort of correct. The only way to get through pregnancy in a slightly sane manner is to set your mind to it and just keep swimming. However, your body does what is has to do regardless of what you think about it.

From crazy new acne breakouts to PSD (where your pelvis takes it upon itself to stretch open and in my case, hurt like a mother fucker), and from stretch marks to the worst bout of heartburn known to mankind, the body does what it has to do.

I bent down today to get a couple of cubes out of the freezer at work (after hobbling into the kitchen), I got my 5 cubes and tried to stand up. Holy Jesus, it was a workout. As a firefighter and a competitive lumberjack, this was especially disheartening. I couldn’t even get up from a crouching position without some serious effort. What the hell is wrong with me??

With this being said, it reminds me how awesome my body (former and current) really is. I could saw a log with ease, pull a 2 1/2 into a building, climb up a ladder, cut people out of cars, jump and skip and hop, dance… I could run up my stairs without having to stop and catch my breath after the third step… I could put my own shoes on for chissake! Now? I feel like a complete failure. I took all of those wonderful things (including the sheer fact I had energy-even just a bit of energy-to do them all) for granted. My body was awesome! Plus, looking at pictures where I thought I was fat (shout out to freshman year in college me), I looked damn good.

Now? I am cooking a human. A tiny little human is sucking the living life out of me and I love her with all my heart already. My body is sustaining another life besides my own. Sure, I have felt terrible that I can’t do much anymore, but with what my body is busy doing (seemingly whatever it feels like), I guess I shouldn’t complain. I know there are a ton of women who a. like being pregnant, b. are having an awesome pregnancy, and c. are completely different from me. However, there is no physical way I can get my lard-ass to the gym right now. I feel broken. But at 34 weeks (holy shit), I have been through a lot. I don’t have too much time left and even though I’ve absolutely hated my body throughout this process, I am pretty impressed by it. I am grateful that I can have a baby and that I’m not on bed rest, and that she is doing well so far. I have a lot of respect for myself and it even though it has taken me 34 weeks to realize it, I’m still pretty bad ass. This baby is going to be awesome, even though she will still own my body for another year-ish, we get to share it a little more fairly now. My former self was pretty cool, my current self (even with the excruciating daily pain) is pretty cool, and I can only hope that my respect for it will allow me to become stronger and healthy so that my future self is equally as cool as the last two stages.

To all the other expecting moms out there-you’re the shit. You were before, you are now, and you will be in the future. Don’t forget that.

Thankful for November

November is a great time to remind yourself what you are thankful for. I find myself sending up silent prayers of thanks daily for all that I have-which in my eyes is a lot. Even when I am cleaning the house, I find that I am thankful for simple things like “Man, I love the smell of that candle-I am thankful for that” to bigger things like “I am thankful that I even have a house to clean!” Lots of people go to Facebook to update their status with “Today I am thankful for…”. I honestly think this is a good little tradition for the month and I am thankful for the month of November-a time people can set aside to reflect on things that they are thankful for.

Today, I am thankful for my health. I am thankful that I have strong legs to carry me, healthy lungs to breath in good air, and working hands to do what I need them to do. I’ve always been the pinnacle of health growing up-something I had always been so proud of. As it turns out, I’m actually not invincible like I thought (see here). In fact, I’m totally imperfect. But it is fine because overall I am healthy and I am so very thankful for that.

What are you thankful for?

Tell Us How You Really Feel or Dear Judges Part II

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After re-reading my last post, I just decided it would be lovely to give final answers to all the strange, quirky, and occasional inappropriate questions I’ve been asked in the past. Here is a little Q&A for anyone who may be interested. Here are questions I’ve been asked and the answers I wish I could have given or would give now.

“If you could be any color what would it be and how would you describe it to a blind person?”

Original answer went something like this “I would be the color hot pink because I am very enthusiastic and ambitious. I would explain to a blind person that the color is very warm, bright, and fun”.

What I was actually thinking: “Has this person been blind their whole life? Have they seen color before? Because I remember hearing that people who become blind later in life can totally see color in their mind’s eye so if they have seen color, I really don’t think I need to explain that to them.”

OR “Black. Like my soul.”

“If you were given a million dollars right now and had 24 hours to spend it, what would you spend it on?”

Listen, $1,000,000 won’t buy shit nowadays. I’d invest in some money market accounts, buy a franchise, and make that money work for me. No, there is no way in hell I’d donate it all to “my favorite” charity. What good is money if it is gone rather than working for you? Later on down the road I’d totally donate to a 503(c) charity, you betcha!

“If you wrote your autobiography, what title would you give it?”

This Bitch is the Shit: Short stories on being Modest

“If you could be born again, would you prefer to be born as a man or a woman?”

A guy. I’ve had penis envy for years and would love to just be a dude for one day. I’d drink a ton of beer, get both arms tatted with some sick sleeves, shoot guns, parade around in my boxers with no shirt on, I’d smoke cigars, have giant bonfires, drive a rusted enormous truck, and grow the most amazing beard the world has ever seen-it would put ZZ Top to shame.

“If you could have lunch with any person living or dead, who would it be?”

My answer to this still remains the same: Freddie Mercury. He was the so completing interesting and I am in love with Queen, so it would be the most epic lunch ever.

“Do you have any regrets? If so what are they?”

Of course I do! Dan, Tim, Chris, Eric, Jonathan, Billy…

“If you were a fruit, what kind would you be?”

I would be a pineapple because they are my favorite. Simple as that. Not because they have any sort of health benefits or are unique or textured a certain way or grow a certain way. There is no insinuation here. I. Like. Pineapples.

On the same note:

“If you were a vegetable, what kind would you be?”

Veggies suck and are boring, so I wouldn’t be a vegetable.

“If you were to ever experience a disaster, what would it be and why?”

Well, we are all forced to hear about Kim and Kanye right now, so does that count? Also, I wouldn’t choose to experience a disaster. What kind of asinine question is this? If I had to choose something bad to happen, I would find myself a nice sturdy and 100% secure shelter and then choose a tornado, you idiot.

“If you were an ice cream cone, what flavor would you be?”

How is this at all revealing to someone’s inner self? Unless you get someone with a cutesy answer or someone willing to display their insanity “Something full of nuts because I’m a nut!” just doesn’t work for me. I suppose I would choose “Death by Chocolate” because that is the only thing that should happen to this question… it should die.

So there you have it. Clearly, some things are better left unsaid but it does feel a bit nicer letting your true feelings out.

SUCCESS!! or Dear Judges

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Back in my glory days of ductaping my boobs, gluing my bathing suit to my ass, and eating half bags of carrots when coming back from the bar rather than the tantalizing pizza being inhaled by my friends, I was asked a lot of weird questions. Pageantry will do that to you. The interview process was standard-basically 10 minutes or so of being grilled with any question the judges could muster up. Some were aimed to get to know you, some were aimed to see how creatively you could answer, and some were aimed to really throw you off. I’ve had a plethora of strange ones that included (and are certainly not limited to) “If you were to be a color, what would it be and how would you describe that to a blind person?” and “What would be on page 25 of your autobiography?” Pretty standard, actually. Other times you could get some questions with more substance. “What is the biggest challenge our youth face today?” or “Do you think that illegal immigrants should be allowed the same benefits as citizens?”

One question I got quite often was “How do you define success?”. Well, while I’ve always stood by the fact that success is different to each person. I was driving this past week contemplating life (I mean, what else do YOU do while driving??) and I was thinking “Aha! I’ve got it! Too bad I’m not competing anymore *nostalgic sigh*”.
To all of my past judges who have asked this: Here is my final answer.

Success is different to everyone. My success of being a professional may not match up to the woman down the street being able to walk again on her own after a motorcycle accident, or the kid who hasn’t been able to spell something correctly for weeks and finally gets that “A” on the spelling test. Success is a goal someone has for themselves and meeting or surpassing that goal. The meaning of success is to reach that overall goal. To me, my main goal in life is to be happy. I will always be successful if I am happy no matter my place in life. Right now I want to have a career and a solid marriage and a happy home. I have those things and I feel successful.

So, SUCCESS! I’ve got it 😉

2 Years Down of a Life Sentence

Dave and I celebrated our 2nd Anniversary this past month. The good news is we are both still alive and well, we haven’t killed each other yet, though not for lack of trying. Our relationship is as strong as ever and the mega-bumps and humps of the first couple years of marriage have smoothed down to something resembling cobblestone. We aren’t perfect-Well, I am, but I can’t say that collectively. People sometimes like to comment to us on our relationship. My favorite comments include “Dave! What a beautiful wife you have!” and “Wow, how did a guy like you get such a prize??” but we do get some comments laced with jealousy. At first, these used to bother me and cast even the slightest shadow of doubt into my mind, but now I have the confidence to smile and know just how solid we are together.

How do we do it?

We barely fight. That doesn’t mean we don’t fight, because we do. But in reality, we really respect each other and know in the back of our minds that we love the other person and they love us. Those things-those terrible terrible things-that the other person is so sensitive to (body image, self worth, intelligence, certain past mistakes), we don’t bring up in a fight. Those things that should never be said are never said and that makes a big difference. It shows that we respect each other even when the other person is being an ass. We also try to think of the other person. A lot of people fight because one person isn’t being considerate of the other. We generally try to think of the other person and how our actions could affect them. This doesn’t always happen on both sides of our relationship, but we try hard to and it works wonders. When we do end up in an argument, we try to use our words. I grew up with a household member who used his voice as a weapon-yelling an screaming. I vowed a long long time ago I wouldn’t yell and I certainly wouldn’t put up with it. We don’t yell but will try to talk it out, or at least give each other space. But really, we have a pretty mellow relationship and it is nice not to be fighting all the time.

We have fun. We are always picking on each other and teasing each other. We have really gotten to know each other and I always get a kick out of him when he reacts to my next move before it happens, just like when I cover my butt so he can’t smack it. I recently had him look at something during dinner one night. He looked at what I was explaining and then burst out laughing. I was confused until he told me that he instinctively covered his food so I wouldn’t steal whatever it was he was eating. That wasn’t my intention, but I guess he is onto me. He is onto my many tricks and that is what makes it fun. We are always playing little games on each other and trying to outsmart one another. We will tickle each other or poke or prod or annoy each other. Sometimes we will play and that is my favorite. When we just start doing silly things and go with it. One night we ended up making a game chucking dog toys at each other and pretending to be goalies… It was so random and unexpected, we had a blast.

We are thoughtful. I leave notes for him and he will sometimes leave me notes. He will get me a glass of water if he thinks I would like one and will go out in the morning and get coffee before I am even awake. I will bring home different food he likes as a treat and will make sure to bring an extra jacket for him when he says he doesn’t need one. When I travel for work, I will write a few notes and date them and hide them around the house, sometimes with a treat. I will email him or talk to him and let him know where I hid it. He likes to do things around the house and yard while I am gone (taking down trees, tiling the floors, leveling the backyard) and surprise me when I come home. This may read to you to be sickly sweet, but it isn’t in reality-just nice.

We worked hard. We still work hard. Being in a relationship is not easy… at all. There is always someone else to think of now, not just yourself. Your actions affect not only you but your partner or spouse. You can’t just go gallivanting around like you used to or eat all the leftovers or keep the toilet seat up (this isn’t a huge pet peeve but I did fall in and I was not impressed). It sounds restrictive but it isn’t and it isn’t hard to do. Dave has learned a lot about finances, keeping house, and not keeping everything inside (communication is key) and I have learned am learning to relax a little, that it is ok not to have complete control over everything, and that Dave’s cooking is pretty damn good. It isn’t a cake walk and hasn’t been but it has been so rewarding and wonderful.

So. To those who think we are just adorable together, *gag*, Thank You. To those who have told us all about the “honeymoon period” and to just wait until that ends… when is it supposed to end because we are pretty much as happy as pigs in shit and from our eyes, it can only get better from here.

Dave, I love you- and I thought I loved you then 😉

 

You’re Such a Girl!

It is no secret I like “masculine” and “manly” things. I drive a Harley. I am a firefighter. I compete in Lumberjack sports. I ride an ATV, own a gun, and was on the Archery team in college. I have a science degree. I do these things because they are fun and I enjoy them. I applaud other women who do the same. On that same note, if you’re a girl who is trying to impress guys by out-drinking them (they are likely to win every time-it is biology), watching sports you secretly hate (Oh yes, Tom Brady is sooo amazing at being a running back. or a quarterback. or a lineback. He is a back-something right??), or saying stuff like “I can drive a 4-wheeler right through the mud” (no, shit, if you went around a mud puddle, I would backhand you), PLEASE STOP. Seriously, why must we fawn over men like that just to get them to like us. If they don’t like you for you, fuck ’em (not literally, please) because sooner or later the truth is going to come out and really, who likes living a sham for THAT long?

Anyways, I do things and have interest in things that are typically male dominated. I always have. Why? Because I like them. I drive my motorcycle because there is nothing better than feeling the rumble of the motor and the freedom of the road and smelling all the different smells you’re denied driving a car. I am a firefighter because not only do I get to help people, I get to “play” with fire and bust shit up. Lumberjack sports = additional proof God loves us and wants us to be happy-it is just so freaking fun! ATV, guns, and bows and arrows? I like doing stuff outside and have a good eye. Lastly, my science degree? Instead of asking for the latest Tamagotchi, I wanted science kits. I mean-science is just absolutely fascinating. And you can blow shit up in the lab. That’s pretty cool too. I do have a lot of feminine interests (dressing up, diamonds, dance, flowers, art), but that doesn’t define me either.

However, nothing drives me more crazy than people either dismissing me or being amazed at the fact that I have a vagina. My husband is a firefighter as well and when we are out together and it comes up, people automatically start talking to him about being a firefighter and will even turn their backs to me. Oh, no, I don’t know what “knocking down the fire” means or what a Halligan is. My husband usually has to say “She is a firefighter too” and they turn and look at me and usually exclaim “wow!”. Men have even tried to help me down off the fire truck after relaying the hose on top. I am flattered but please, you know you wouldn’t help a lady into her desk chair in the office so stop playing those games. I’ve noticed the men that dismiss my being a firefighter most are men who are closer in age to me and newer at the firefighting scene… Sorry to make you feel inferior, bub, it isn’t my fault I’ve seen more fire than you.

Most recently, we met an acquaintance to drive up to bike week together and this guy didn’t know ahead of time I would be riding my own bike. He couldn’t stop talking about it. When we finally got there, he couldn’t stop talking about the fact that I not only had my own bike, but I could ride my own bike. Well, I would hope so seeing I drive it on public roads and that would just be a complete public hazard.

I think the saddest thing for me has been when I gave tours to a few different girl scout troops. I have given talks and tours to the girl scouts in my town for the last few years because they think it is a good thing for the girls to see a woman doing that type of profession, and I absolutely agree. The part that crushes me is when I ask how many girls would like to be a firefighter some day. I usually get crickets. My heart breaks every time. Why don’t they want to be a firefighter??

I’m not talking about gender roles and that girls should be playing with trucks and boys with barbies… I just want little girls to feel like they can do whatever they want. I don’t want anyone to feel like they aren’t allowed to do something because of the parts they were born with. I grew up with parents who supported me through every crazy dream and idea I have ever had and helped give me the confidence to do whatever I wanted to if I put my mind to it. I don’t care if you think it is good, bad, or ugly that I have an interest that strays from the typical. I am not trying to get attention for doing these things, I just do what I want and I don’t give a rich shit if you like it or not.

What I think I am getting at is that I just want to be treated like a normal human being. Not a guy, not as a girl, but as a person. I don’t want the fact that I could potentially save your ass or the fact that I can put a motorized two wheeled contraption in drive and make it go be any more or less awesome because I don’t have a penis. So please, when you hear about a girl being able to do things that aren’t “girly”, don’t make a fuss about it unless you would make a fuss about it if they were a boy (I’m talking about if they just went off a jump and did 6 backflips on their dirtbike, not just the fact they ride one). Most importantly, don’t assume anything just because the person is a female.

I just do what I want and I do what makes me happy. Leave me be.

 

I saw this posted on Facebook and it got me thinking. I need feminism so I can do what I want and not have to hear what you think about it just because I am a chick. A very interesting project, and I loved it.

Loving life,

-C

 

The Key To Happiness; Love, Nana

My Nana died two years ago Tuesday. It was kind of strange. I live in New England so we are used to the weather being erratic but the day before was beautiful and the day after was even more beautiful but on the anniversary of her death, it was misty, rainy, cold, and miserable. Exactly like the day she died.

I visited her and my grandfather at the cemetery before work, effectively balling my eyes out while my hair curled and frizzed out from under my scarf I had thrown over my head to protect it from the mist. I was alone, thankfully, except for the groundskeepers who were busy doing whatever it is that needed keeping. I must have looked like a loon, standing alone in the rain, crying, and talking to myself. I didn’t care, I was with my grandparents.

Throughout the day, I had spontaneous memories of my Nana. She was a very warm woman. She loved life, her family, God, and the Red Sox. She would watch every game they played on her TV, blasting the volume so that she could hear it. She was nearly deaf and always forgot that most everyone else wasn’t. I’m sure her neighbors knew the score of the game a block away. She loved Big Papi, or Ort-iz as she called him (iz as in is not eeez).

She loved to dance. She danced in the kitchen cooking dinner, she danced walking around her house. My sister and I used to dance all growing up and put on shows for her. She would then dance with us and sing us songs from when she was young.

She had the memory of an elephant. She remembered everything. She remembered people’s names, where they lived, who they were related to, what they said… Everything. She even could sing the song about the Atlantic Parachute Company, where she worked during WWII.She would tell me stories. Oh-the stories. She could sit for hours and tell me about the “Olden days”. Her friends, how her mother died, her family from Canada, how they were poor, how her father died, how she met my grandfather, how she worked in the parachute factory… How she had to walk to school in “snow up to he’ah, up hill, both ways”.

My Nana was one of the most loving people you could ever meet. One of my favorite values she had instilled in me was to open my home to everyone. “The more the merrier!” For family dinners and special holidays, we always had some sort of “misfit” join us-whether it was someone’s roommate or a friend, or a friend of a friend-I remember one Thanksgiving we even had her stockbroker’s son over for dinner because he didn’t have a place to go. Including whoever from wherever in our lives really just makes the memories that much better and life just that much sweeter.

My Nana basically raised my sister and I. Princess Number 1 and Princess Number 2 (I was Number 1 of course. I say it is because I was the favorite, but I guess it is just because I was older). However, when asked, she would never admit she had favorites. I said once, more recently, “Nana, am I your favorite?” and she said “No, I don’t have favorites. I just love you more.” SCORE!

Now, I’m sure everyone talks about their grandparents and how great they were. The images that initially pop into my head are little old people, senile with age, and unsteadily making their way around in walkers. Sorry, but it is what I think of. My Nana wasn’t like this. She was 89 when she died, living alone and taking care of herself. Her house was modern and clean and she always smelled nice. She died suddenly of an aneurism they just couldn’t fix. She wasn’t ready to go. She never really aged in her mind. Sure, she had an old body, but her mind was sharp and full of life. She was really only like 30 in her head.

My Nana was my best friend and taught me more than I could ever imagine. Together with my grandfather, I was taught was love is. My husband and I have a great relationship and knowing what I learned from them, we will last forever, too. My Grandpa sent her letters during the war, sometimes including poems. They had destroyed most of the letters written, but some of the poems still survived. My favorite poem “A Time for Love” is actually tattooed on my back. I picked a couple of my favorite lines and asked her to write them out for a project I had. She had beautiful handwriting. She obliged and copied the text. She died two weeks later.

So, I beg of you. I know you, the reader, never met her, I’m sure. But please, please, just love. Love everyone and everything and be happy. Do what makes you happy and do nice things for other people to make them happy. Dance and sing and laugh and enjoy your life. I feel like she has given me the key to happiness and I am forever grateful.