On Taking a Knee

Originally written November 27, 2011.


I don’t know where to start, really. If I start at the beginning, I start with everything we tried for, were turned down for and were unwilling to take.

D might say the beginning was deciding to go to law school instead of pursuing something else. I might say the beginning was taking a job that, I realized too late, wasn’t a great fit for me.

However, it is D who has shouldered the most disappointment in the last year. To his credit, he has taken every one of these instances with dignity.

In between the disappointments, there has been hoping, wishing and a boat load of expectations. There has been new experiences, floating apart and coming together.

Most significantly, there has been a retooling of attitudes and recalibrating of personal and family goals. For me, there has been learning to say yes instead of no, and acknowledging the things that are good not just for the present us, but the us we want to be.

So, yeah. I initially shut the door — slammed it shut, really — on the idea of this move. The first conversation lasted a couple of minutes. I got that choked up, elephant-standing-on-chest feeling that I always do when it comes to something big.

But I slept on it. Did some research. Realized how much we’d get to see our families (and that I was excited about that) and what it could mean to become a part of a small yet innovative community.

And, as it turned out, D seemed genuinely interested in the job — which at this point in our professional lives, is really tantamount to none.

As the interview process began, I found myself getting excited about the possibilities — we both did. I had to continually put my hopes in check and I was so superstitious that I didn’t tell anyone.

In the interim, we discussed what would happen if the job didn’t pan out. I rewrote my resume and hired someone to redesign my portfolio. We’d stay in DC until something better came up. We’d get a dog because we have f’ing wanted one forever. We’d consider moving to a bigger space possibly outside the city so that we were settled by the time we wanted to start a family.

The suburban scenario didn’t fit our picture of ideal, but frankly, it felt like it was time to work with whatever we had to construct the happiest, most fulfilling lives we could.

While we were on vacation, D got his offer. He had beat out four other candidates and the runner up was “devastated” not to land the position. It was his 32nd birthday and were on a rooftop in Barcelona saying, “Holy shit. We’re moving to Omaha.

You might not have expected that reaction after all the hoping. And we were born and raised in the Midwest, afterall. And we can tell by the reactions of east coasters that moving back to the Midwest does not appear sexy or risky — it appears like we are taking a knee.

But DC is home for us. It’s where we’ve had successful careers and built great friendships. As our friend Tim said the other night, “I totally get it. Between Colorado and DC, you’ve had the opportunities and advantages of a bigger city and living in a small Midwestern city isn’t familiar anymore.”

So in the moments of sheer oh-shit-I-quit-my-job-and-we’re-leaving panic, that is what I think most about. How life would be if we stayed. And how fun it will be to do something new with D. You don’t have to be married to him to know he’s a great partner.

(Un)Realisim

Originally written October 21, 2011.


I have lived most of my life on a theory I like to call “Planning for the Unknowable.”

Planning for the Unknowable means that I exert an embarrassing amount of energy exploring scenarios for any significant event or life change so that when the moment is upon me, I will be equipped to handle it.

I would say that Planning for the Unknowable has about a 50 percent success rate, which means it’s worth putting myself through. (D would place the success rate at about 10 percent).

This is due in large part to me stressing about something for three days and then hitting him like a battering ram with anxiety.

This morning it occurred to me that I have actually failed to employ Planning for the Unknowable to the thing I’ve spent the most time thinking about: How to do it all.

What falls under that bucket you ask? Allow me to identify them:

  • Being successful at a job that doesn’t make me crazy
  • Finding a house that is move-in ready (by my standards) in a neighborhood we love
  • Getting pregnant whenever I feel like it
  • Not getting stretch marks
  • Crossfitting through pregnancy and right away after (You know, because my body will look just like it does now, later)
  • A marriage that effortlessly improves with kids an time instead of gets harder
  • Parents that figure out how to get together to see us when we come home

This morning I also accepted that, in reality, like, none of these things will happen — at least not concurrently. OK, fine. But what’s my best shot at it? I wondered.


Editor’s Note: I’ve seen a therapist since this writing. The shit works. Highly recommend!

Stuff I Missed about the U.S. While I Was in Europe

I’m publishing some old draft posts. Because why not? Originally written October 3, 2011.


I’m guilty of making Europe out to be way cooler than the U.S. On Sunday, I was eager to get home and jotted down a couple things that I’d been missing about the States.

  • Toilet seat covers. Actually, I missed toilet seats, too.
  • Meals centered around something other than bread. How much can a person eat in a day?
  • Roads without speed bumps and traffic circles. I’m pretty sure the road to hell is paved with those.
  • Showers with a full glass door. The partial door business is incredibly inefficient and regardless of how I position the shower head, water ends up all over the floor.
  • Swimsuits.┬áCall me an uncool American, but I don’t need to see that much of a lady, and I never need to see a man’s fruit basket.
There’s two sides to every coin, though. When I got to work this morning and scrolled through Twitter, I saw this and immediately wanted to go back to Spain where lunch lasts three hours and hippies make giant bubbles in the squares.

When to Opt-Out of Thanksgiving

It’s relatively well known that I got engaged a week after my parents split up. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to plan a wedding OR had your family break apart, but I would advise against experiencing both in tandem.** My job was also at an all-time low. We are talking peak stress five days a week.

For the first six months of this strange new world, my brain seemed to shut down. I had a hard time remembering things. There are dinners I went to with people whose names and faces I can’t recall. There were meetings I forgot I attended within 24 hours of attending them. When I wasn’t forgetting things, I was fretting that I had some sort of early on-set Alzheimer’s. I may not have appeared to be a hot mess, but a hot mess I was.

Which is probably why I’ve never told this awesome story from the first Thanksgiving without both of my parents.

My parents separated in July 2009, and by November, they were still living in our house together. A couple weeks before Thanksgiving, my dad had had it.

“I just want to let you know that I’m moving out,” my dad said to me over the phone. “I am still trying to figure some things out with your mother, but I’ve just come to the conclusion that I can’t live like this.”

We’re either together, or we’re not is what I heard, and I didn’t blame him. He had an apartment and would be moving into it two weeks before Thanksgiving.

When I asked my mom what our holiday plans were, she quipped that they’d be the same as always — my aunt, uncle, cousins, their kids and my aging grandparents all staying at our house. My brother, my dad and I were disheartened. I think were hoping to find a way to work through the first Thanksgiving apart, together.

But on we trudged. And we were low on drama until the day after Thanksgiving. I walked into our house after dinner with D’s family to nobody talking to each other.

“Uh, hi. What’s up?”

My mom topped off her wine glass and led me out of the kitchen and into the home office. She looked like she’d just done battle.

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A Day of Firsts, or, FML, LOL

Today I:

  • Cried Sobbed over work. To add insult to injury, I had started the whole gasping-for-air bit just as our amazing* cleaners walked in, with what appeared to be one of their tween daughters.
  • Received a piece of mail addressed to my dead brother.

So, I pretty much have to go kill myself, right?

*Not being sarcastic. This investment is one of the best we have ever made.

A Yelp Review

“Does this hurt?”

“No.”

“Does this hurt?”

“Uh, no.”

“How about this?”

I was lying on my stomach on an exam table while the doctor pushed on various parts of my spine. I was facing the one accent wall, which was painted bright red. It was far too aggressive for the tiny, windowless room. Size and flickering lights aside, it took me a couple of minutes to figure out what was so unsettling about it: There was no sink. In its place was a giant bottle of hand sanitizer.

I hate hand sanitizer. What was wrong with good old-fashioned soap and water? How could this be an exam room without a sink?

I questioned the cleanliness of the doctor’s hands as he continued to push along my back.

“How about there?” he said.

He was somewhere between my tail bone and my lower back, but not underneath the navy surgical shorts I was asked to put on in spite of having brought my own as instructed on the website. I am nothing if not thorough about matters involving my health.

“YES. That’s it. That hurts.”

“OK. So you’re pretty active.”

“Yeah, extremely. And I’d like to get back at that point again.”

This is what I’d come for. I’d researched ortho docs with a specialty in sports medicine and I was eager for him to drop some wisdom.

“What kind of workout where you doing when started having more serious symptoms?”

“Um, my workout that day had deadlifts in it, and–”

“Deadlifts?”

I felt my face fall. Mr. Fancy Sports Medicine didn’t know one of the most basic weight training exercises in the history of weight training. I was doomed.

“Well, nothing seems seriously awry from the exam, so I think we ought to get some x-rays if that’s OK.”

“Yeah, sure.”

“I’ll get Randy.”

Randy, as it turns out, was their lone lab tech — and the creepy guy in a red polo who had stood in the doorway of my exam room eavesdropping on my medical history when the nurse was reviewing my symptoms. I’d thought he was a wandering and potentially mentally unfit patient.

Now he was walking me down the hall and into an x-ray room that hadn’t been updated in 30 years and saying, “We’re going to get through this together.”

Kill me.

I’ve had a lot of x-rays in my life, and none of the rooms had looked like places women go to die. This one had mastered the Princess Bride Torture Chamber / Civil Rights-Era Back-Alley Abortion Room motif.

I lifted myself onto the x-ray table and stared at the thick hazmat-approved rubber gloves propped up on a side table. What could those possibly be used for?

Randy explained that he needed me to sign a waiver for the x-rays. I nodded and took the clipboard, which had two yes or no questions on it. The third and final question inquired about the date of my last period. Randy was about the sixth motherf*cking person with whom I’d shared this information today.

I handed it back to him and he stared at it for an uncomfortably long time.

Finally he said, “June 15th, huh?”

“Yep.”

He was standing about four inches from my knees, which were hanging over the table.

“So… you’re not like, trying for one.”

“Excuse me?”

“You know… are you TRYING for one.”

His intonation didn’t include anything resembling a question, which made this more uncomfortable.

“No,” I said flatly. “I’m not.”

Randy instructed me to lie down on the table the way Buffalo Bill first told Catherine Martin to put the lotion on her skin — calm but menacing. He flipped on a light above me and zeroed the antiquated machine over my stomach. Then he smoothed my t-shirt over my stomach.

This seemed like a good time to mention that my husband was a lawyer. A malpractice lawyer. Actually, if we’re going to talk about the law, let’s make him an SVU detective. You know, f*ck it. My husband is Leon Panetta and he will have the CIA come to your house while you’re looking at kid porn and you’ll never been seen again.

“OK. Now hold your breath. Hold your breath! Please.” Randy shuttled back to his picture taking room.

He came back out and attempted to help me roll onto my left side.

“I got it,” I quickly said.

“Now, put your hands together up by your face as if you were sleeping. Yes. Together like you were sleeping.”

Oh, I get it. This is how he poses all the dead corpses in his basement for their photos before he ditches them in a a rural Maryland swamp.

He smoothed my t-shirt again and told me not to breathe. Or what? The hose again? How was this happening?

Because I’m a hypochondriac and wanted to rule out a spinal tumor, I told myself to hang in for one more photo. He took the picture and I bolted out of the room and back to the sh*tty exam room.

I sat there fuming, staring at the red wall, trying to pry the sticker off of my surgical shorts and wondering what it was going to feel like to call my husband and tell him I had back cancer AND that I wanted to sue everyone who worked here.

The doctor came in after a few minutes and pulled up my films on the monitor crammed next to the hand sanitizer.

“Well, Megan. These look perfect. I don’t know what to tell you. I think you may have irritated some of the soft tissues in your back and probably need some physical therapy.”

“Interesting. Nothing there at all that would suggest pain when I so much as sneeze or bend over and tie my shoes?”

“No, everything looks perfectly healthy.”

Right. Because by all accounts, you people know what you’re doing in here.

Jessie Spano Wrote a Book

Forgive me for wondering if the star of “Showgirls” is equipped to get my teenage daughter through the rough patches of adolescence.

(And, for old times’ sake)