Thursday, April 29, 2010


So I think I started this blog as... well as a mega outlet.  Not necessarily to discuss things that were stressing me out or pissing me off, but just as a place to write in general.  When I was a kid I wrote stories for fun, and writing has always been an outlet for me.  But now I'm in a different place and I'm kind of insanely happy and satisfied with life.

I was a little terrified of being unemployed.  I have a knack for spending sick days and days off work on the couch, in my pajamas, watching a lot of shitty television.  I figured unemployment could very well end up the same way- long days of crappy tv turning into me sulking and being lonely.  However, I'm finished week two of unemployment and today is the first day in over a week that I haven't had something going on.  I've been cleaning the house, baking, cooking dinners, going to the dentist, visiting my family, catching up with old friends, etc.!  I've even picked up my photography again since I have my new camera.  All of these things have combined to make me happy.

So anyway, long story short- sorry I haven't been writing!  However, I have not lost all of my stupid loves, in fact, I think they're just increasing.  Look for a post with some photos coming up =)

Oh look... it's Beer 30

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


So yesterday was my first day home from work and it was a tough one.  I found out my car was going to cost a small fortune to repair, I heard some news I wasn't happy about, and I was stranded at home all day while the car was being repaired.  Anyway, by the end of the day I was feeling pretty discouraged.  I guess I was just feeling like here I am, finally doing something for ME, to take care of myself, and life is just throwing lemons at me over and over again.

So I called my mom.  For those of you who don't know my mom is social worker too, and beyond that she and I are pretty much identical in most ways.  We think the same way, we react to bullies the same, we have the same low threshold for crap, etc.  So through everything that has been going on my mom has been an amazing sounding board for me.  She's able to encourage me and offer me advice without telling me what to do.  When I talked to her last night she definitely settled me down, as she always does, and encouraged me to journal about what is going on.  She told me to focus on gratitude- all of the things that I'm grateful for and feel lucky to have.  So I did that before I went to bed and came up with quite a list.  When I finished writing I realized I could go one for pages and that that was probably the point my mom was trying to make.  Tricky, Ann, tricky.

So here is my list:

  • a loving and forever supportive husband
  • a loving and forever supportive family
  • a roof over my head
  • food to eat
  • my education
  • my crazy dogs
  • having a car!
  • the ability to take some time for myself
  • in-laws who actually love me
  • friends who are there when i need them
  • my health- i'm young and have a lot of life left to live
  • Joe's job
  • our sealy posturpedic queen size pillow top mattress- it's true <3
  • forgiveness
  • second chances
  • resiliency
  • that my life has been filled with a million times more love than hurt
  • constant laughter thanks to my own personal comedian
  • my camera and renewed art
  • a 5 year old who always makes me laugh and tells me i'm good at things
  • all of the exciting things yet to come with my Joseph (a baby!!!)
  • all that i have learned in the past three years about myself and the work i've been doing
  • my inability to put up with bullshit- it's a love hate thing!
  • the fact that i live in a time when my mental health doesn't make me worthy of a padded room
  • books and the fact that i love to read
  • patience- not mine, other people's
  • the fact that my mom has been here and gets it without trying to tell me what to do about it
  • that my sister is always ready with drinks
  • that my dad thinks i'm a gift no matter what
  • new creative outlets like baking and painting
  • warm showers
  • loud music
  • puppy snuggles
  • that i know i did a good job
  • that i'm proud of me

And that just doesn't seem to do justice to all that I'm grateful for.  So thanks Mom, for reminding me that life isn't all bad =)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Welcome Summer...

well.. it isn't really summer yet.  But I went to Fresh Market yesterday because I happened to be at the Office Depot right next to it- and when I walked in the first thing I saw was a giant mound of bright red, organic tomatoes.  They were so beautiful that my mouth immediately started watering but I thought- nah, it really isn't time for them yet, I can wait (for those of you who don't know, tomatoes are probably one of my favorite foods in the entire world... and I happen to be rather allergic to them)... but then I walked to the far side of the display and saw big bouquets of basil... and then I saw fresh mozzarella.. and Fresh Market won.  I put all three in my cart and was almost skipping with happiness.  Then I went to the meat counter just to see what they had and get some ideas for future meals but they had these sirloin burgers with portabella and gouda so I caved and purchased two of those as well.  When I got home I threw together a tomato salad and Joe grilled the burgers with some ciabatta rolls I bought for them.  We cleaned off the deck table and had our dinner out there....  despite one gnat landing in Joe's wine it was really rather lovely.

A very dry Pinot Noir paired nicely with our dinner.

So good... especially on the plates I've been eating on for as long as I can remember, lol.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Mi Corazón, Mi Alma, Mi Vida.

This blog contains mushiness and should be avoided by all those who may be tempted to "blarghle"

I'm going through a really strange and crazy time in my life right now with me leaving my job of three years and trying to learn how to take care of myself for the first real time in my life. All at once I'm feeling like everything I thought I knew has been turned upside down and I'm feeling happier than I've been in years. I finally talked to one of my best friends for the first time in too long and she told me that when she saw me last I didn't seem out of it or distant, I just seemed unhappy and I realized... I really was unhappy. I was unhappy in an all encompassing kind of way. Not a day went by that I didn't feel grateful for Joe and my family and all of those things, but all of that love and appreciation was clouded by a thin film of haze, like I was just going through the motions and not seeing the beauty.

Now I'm seeing the beauty. When my coworker invited me out for dinner last night I didn't make up excuses so I could stay home in my pajamas- I went (and I had fun!). When my bestest called me I called her back and didn't get her... so she called me back and missed me... so I called her back and finally heard her voice on the other end and I felt grateful, not frustrated that I had to talk on the phone. We talked and I had questions, I had things to say, I cared about the silly haikus she was reading me! Three months ago it would have felt like pulling teeth to come up with something to say. When I was laying in bed reading last night with Taylor curled up next to me I actually laughed out loud at my book. It's like I'm feeling life again, not suffering through it.

Now all of that being said I have to clarify- I have not wanted to kill myself for the last three years. It's not like I have nothing positive going on in my life. There have been beautiful moments in my life that I would never change when I feel like I could not have been happier, like the day I stood on a rainy dock and promised to spend my life with Joe- I wouldn't change anything about that day. I don't think I could have been happier. But that's the thing- there's always been Joe, he's always been my bright light.

I've dated plenty; I've had enough boyfriends to know what's good, bad, and ugly about a relationship. I've claimed to love people; I've thought I loved people. But then I met Joe. We have such a strange and intertwined story that I have to believe that we were meant to find each other and spend our lives together.

I first met Joe at a Memorial Day BBQ that we both attended with our significant others of the time. My bf at the time and I hadn’t been dating too long I don’t think (honestly, no one really seems able to decide what year this happened), and we were still figuring out how we felt about each other. The BBQ was being held by all of his friends who I had never met- so overall it was a pretty terrifying event. We ate food, they played volleyball, I sat on a bench and watched, and then we all went to someone’s house and got drunk and played Cranium. I ended up on Joe’s team and spent most of the night trying not to pee my pants because I was laughing at him so much. There was something about him that made me feel like he was important and when we all woke up the next morning and went our separate ways I never really stopped thinking about him. We talked online a couple of times but that was pretty much it. His friend and I became really good friends but stopped dating and eventually I ended up in a relationship with someone who never treated me like I was anything of import and generally made me believe that I wasn’t anything at all. When we finally broke up I was pretty broken. My good friend (and former boyfriend) invited me for a “weekend of awesomeness” in Northern Virginia and I immediately asked what Joe was up to… I never intended to fall in love and I never meant to start the rest of my life, but that night was the beginning of all the crazy beautiful that is us.

Two months later we were moving in together and a month after that we were engaged. He was my one from the moment I met him and sometimes I feel so sad at all the time that was lost, but also so grateful for all I was able to learn about myself during that time. Joe treated me like a queen. He told me I was beautiful and amazing and he made me believe it for the first time in a long time. Since then he’s never stopped reminding me and with him beside me I feel like I can conquer the world. He’s not my rock holding me up, that implies that he’s nothing but a support I use- he’s the roots of my tree that hold me in place, encourage me to thrive, and work with me to grow.

And through all of this insanity in life, all of these months of doubting myself and thinking I’ve failed, all these years of cloudy film, he’s stuck by me, reminding me how bright the flowers are and believing that eventually I will see their beauty myself. And now I’m feeling nervous about this new chapter, but I’m feeling confident because he’s beside me.

I’ve spent my life believing that love exists, that there is perfection for every person. I spent a lot of time believing I’d have to settle for good enough, but that I’d never find my perfection, but I was wrong. All that time he was playing putt putt 3 miles from my house, cooking banquet meals for my uncle, and loving Cannibal the Musical just as much as me. He is the half of me I never knew I was missing.

He’s been out of town for a few days and those days have done nothing but intensify my love for him and given me time to think about our story. He’s stood by me through thick and thin and the thought of spending the rest of my life with him excites me to an unbelievable point.

Now I know that only a handful of people read this, and I happen to know that one of them is holding onto their faith in love by nothing more than a thread. Let this mushy, sappy, disgusting, post serve as a reminder to you that even when your faith wanes love never does.

New Years '06-'07
My favorite picture of us

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The best things in life are... food.

This weekend actually turned out to be really nice!  On Friday my agency had their annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month event which managed to go off without a hitch.  After that Joe and I came home and paaaassed out.  On Saturday we spent the day doing a lot of free things including taking pictures of some of the beautiful trees and flowers in bloom, going to a Chesterfield library that we don't usually go to, and hitting the dog park.  Both of those days were really nice... but today was amazing.

Dex kept crying in his crate all night (very unusual) so neither of us slept very well and I ended up sleeping till lunch time.  When I got up Joe and I split my leftover breakfast from IHOP and then spent most of the afternoon painting.  The real excitement started around 3pm when my mom called.  She called to check up on me... supposedly.  After we talked for a little while she admitted that a big part of her calling was for Joe.  Mary Washington has put out a few of their presenters for the public forum and on September 23rd.... Anthony Bourdain will be speaking.  OMFG... ANTHONY BOURDAIN!  For those of you who DON'T know Joe and I are slightly obsessed with this rough-around-the-edges chef.  Mom told us that she would pay for the four of us (my parents, Joe and myself) to go see Tony at UMW.  I told her that we could probably find him around town and she suggested maybe they'd pay the extra fee to go to the reception afterwards and... get this... MEET HIM.  Wow... amazing.  So after we calmed down from all that excitement Joe took me to Pho So1 off Broad Street.  We love Vietnamese food and Joe adores Pho and he'd tried this hole in the wall a few weeks ago.  When we walked in the place was packed and there was only one non-Vietnamese person there- and he was there with his wife who was Vietnamese.  We sat down and the menu was two pages... one of which was Pho.  Our waiter came over and stood next to Joe, pen and paper in hand, but never took his eyes off the Lakers game on the GIANT screen TV over our heads.  He said "huh" more than a few times.  Joe ordred that and I had pork vermicelli and then I felt adventurous....  why not try the "salty lemonade soda"?  So I ordered that and Joe decided to try the "salty plum soda".  When he ordered it the plum soda the waiter said "you sure?"  So Joe asked if he'd had it and the guy said "no no, it just.. smells funny."  Well Joe is hardcore and decided not to heed this old Vietnamese man's advice on Vietnamese beverages in a Vietnamese restaurant.  So our food came (and it was phenomenal) and our drinks came and they were...  different.

Can you tell how much Joe enjoyed his "salty plum soda"?

The last two pictures are of my "salty lemonade soda" and yes, those are pieces of something floating in the bottom... no... I'm not sure those pieces are lemon.

After a very tasty dinner we went to Deluca Gelato, our favorite sweet treat in Richmond.  Joe had half sweet cream and half banana nutella gelato while I had my usual half of amaretto and half cookies and cream.  Gelato is really the best way to start or finish anything- always.

So yes blog followers- the best things in life are food, or at least food related (like Anthony Bourdain).

For more on Tony, my favorite celebrity chef, and why I love him, please watch this video which was my introduction to Tony and made me cry beautiful tears of joy.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Manic Monday update!

Because I know that the Fiona picture is slightly terrifying I had to add this...

I came into work this morning right on time with Dexter on my heels.  We have a big event coming up tomorrow and the day before a big event tends to be a little crazy since we cater our own events and style them all to be PERFECT.  Needless to say when I showed up at 9:30 I found three of my coworkers in our storage closet digging for last minute stuff, so I helped out for a few minutes and then headed upstairs.  When I got there I found Fiona had made a triumphant return to my office space, which is funny since I just posted about her and she's been MIA for a month or so now (we tend to pass her around to office to surprise each other...)

Fiona had developed tears which puddled at the bottom of her neck (she was seated in my chair but i had to move her to get a decent picture) with a note that said "It'll sure be different without you here.  -Jane"  It was from my former supervisor and the woman who has, by far, taught me the most about the work that we do.  She's become my mentor and someone I truly look up to and seeing that I would be missed just made these last three years worth it.  During a time when I'm feeling like all the work I've done isn't appreciated she took the time to let me know she'd miss me in a funny way that was special to us (although creepy).

I will miss this crazy family.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Just Another Manic Monday

So yesterday was quite a day.  I have been blessed to have been working at the same agency for almost three years- which is actually quite a feat not only for a young social worker but really... for any social worker.  I love the work that I've been doing and most of the people with whom I work have become my family in the last few years.  We may not always see eye to eye on work related matters but when it comes right down to it there are a lot of days I walk into my office to find a tiny plastic penis or even Fiona in my space and I can't help but love my crazy coworkers.

This is Fiona.
The head and wig were donated...
the artistic touches were added by my director and former supervisor and it was left on my bookshelf for me to find on Monday morning.

However there have been some changes over the last year that I haven't entirely been on board with and beyond that the work that I do is mentally and emotionally taxing.  I started job hunting pretty aggressively in January and on Monday I realized that I just couldn't wait any longer.  It was a really difficult decision that I didn't make lightly.  I chose to quit my job knowing that times are tough and jobs aren't easy to come by, but I chose to quit my job to save myself from certain destruction.  My mom put it best when she said "interviewing for jobs requires you to sell yourself and right now you aren't feeling good enough about yourself to be able to do that well."

When I made the decision that I was ready to quit I talked to Joe and luckily he was incredibly supportive.  I was terrified on a lot of levels but he never once made me feel like I was making the wrong decision.  When I got home last night he greeted me at the door with a giant grin and open arms.  All he could do was hug me and say "I'm so excited for you."  And he's right- the best is yet to come =)

So here is to tomorrow- to the next chapter in this crazy life I- no, we- live.  All I know is that it will surely be a bumpy ride but I have the support of an amazing family and the best man I've ever known.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Eating play dough may have paid off....

When I was a kid my mom used to make us play dough using flour, water, who knows what else, and a LOT of salt.  We always seemed to have a gallon ice cream bucket filled with play dough and to this day I can remember the smell that came wafting out when you pulled the top of the container off.
Also when I was a kid- I loved salt.  I mean, is there a kid who DIDN'T love salt?  I know so many people who would just eat straight up spoon fulls of butter when they were little, so I guess I should be grateful I wasn't doing that.  However... there was a play dough eating incident....  I had a friend growing up who I spent a lot of time with, I won't call him out by name but let's just say he's moved on to a much higher place in the world than I did since he finished a master's degree in biomechanical engineering at Stanford in the last couple of years- so i guess this incident didn't ruin him so I'll claim the same for myself.  Anyway, this friend and I spent a lot of time together and looking back on it I think we generally found ourselves getting into a lot of mischief.  So there was a time when my mom had made play dough and at 5 years old that play dough smelled kind of... well... tasty....  so my friend and I climbed under the dining room table with our gallon of play dough and proceeded to eat it.  I don't know if we each had a small bite or if we ate half of the container, but I do know that when my mom found us she was surprisingly less angry than I expected and now I realize it's because I'm sure she was using all of her strength not to just start laughing at these two very small children hiding with a gallon of play dough.

I'm not entirely sure what has possessed me to share this rather embarrassing story with the entire internet community (although I'm guessing only about 3 people will even read this, and I pray that this boy never reads this...) but here we are, with my play dough past now out in the open.

So anyway, I went to a training today that was hosted by the Children's Advocacy Taskforce and whenever they host a training they put out play dough (and this time pipe cleaners) for people to play with while they listen to the presenters- I guess they understand that we all need to occupy ourselves while listening to presenters who are a little over our social worky heads.  So before lunch I started with the pipecleaners and the very kind Petersburg police officer next to me even gave me his so I could continue my creations (I think he was amused by me).  The only thing worthwhile that I created from the pipecleaners was a dog.  He needed a way to stand up so I dove into the play dough to create a platform that, as it dried, ended up looking a bit like a surfboard.

This general dog design has been my only real method at creating dogs since probably about fourth grade.  I checked a book out of the Lousy Crotch- I mean- Lyles Crouch (my second-level elementary school) library about how to draw (clearly art has always been a skill I've always longed for) and really the only thing that stuck was this "scruffy" dog which is basically made up of scribbles.  So i used my scruffy dog design to make this little guy who I will ask Joe to name since he's gifted at naming things.

Once he was done I was a little obsessed with creating things (especially since the first presenter kept talking about neuroscience and I only understood ever 5th word or so) so I helped my coworker create some eggs for what, I think, was meant to be an easter basket but ended up looking more like a nest of totally awesome dinosaur eggs.

After the eggs I attempted to pay attention... but that didn't last long... so I was back to the playdough.  I had really bright colors so I decided to make some calla lilies because they seemed straight forward.  After I'd made one I needed a container so I made a box/basket thing...  and then I thought they looked pretty cool.

Please disregard my notes...

So then it was lunch time and one of the staff members announced that she was going to have 6 people who didn't create anything with the dough to judge the stuff everyone had made.  Unfortunately I was not pronounced the winner.  It ended up being between a former coworker from my old agency who made a glass of wine and some music notes and my current coworker with the basket of eggs.  Highway robbery if you ask me.  Anyway, the eggs won so I took a little credit for the win since I helped!

After lunch there was a presentation which I'd already seen so I started doodling a tree I'd seen out front during lunch- you know how I love trees.  While I was doodling the tree I realized I might be able to use to dough to create a neat tree.  When I started the creation process my former-supervisor (and my advocate role model), who was sitting next to me kept saying "well... that's... interesting?"  Granted- at first it looked like some weird-antler kind of thing.  However, as it grew and started looking like a tree I noticed my coworker couldn't stop staring at it, it was pretty funny.  Once I added the "flowers" she couldn't stop talking about it either- "It looks like some kind of Japanese art!"  "I wish you'd turned the paper over so you had a blank background!"  Part of my felt like I should gift it to her- maybe I'll create something out of real clay or sculpy for her.

It looks different now that it's kind of dried out.  I was working with play dough after all so I guess I couldn't really expect it to hold it's shape.  As it dried it kind of.. shrunk I guess, so some of the branches have pulled away from each other and the base of the branches pulled away from the trunk completely.  Plus, you can see the VSDVAA logo under the top of the tree which is too bad, but it's still kind of neat.

As I was collecting all of my crazy-kindergarten-artwork everyone walking by kept saying "Oh how pretty!"  "Wow that's so creative!"  and I have to admit that I loved every second of it since artistically creative has never been me at all.  Needless to say that I enjoyed aspects of the actual training, but overall I loved my day of creation.

But I admit.... the best part of the day was meeting Joe at Deluca Gelato after the training since we were both on that side of town.  I got to have my favorite amaretto gelato and I even tried a new one!!!  I tried the chocolate, coconut, rum and damn it was tasty!