Tag Archives: shout out to someone way more talented than me

Showered Up: The Sequel

This weekend my more-talented-than-she-realizes mom and some dear friends threw me the loveliest, dinosauriest baby shower. I wasn’t sure of the etiquette surrounding second baby showers; this is my first second baby. But they generously offered, and I tried to make myself scarce during the planning and prep, leaving my bedroom 10 minutes before go time.

decor collage

I was nervous about how I’d fare in that kind of social setting given my bouts of anxiety over the past year, so I agreed to/jumped at the idea of having it at my house. Everything was so thoughtful and the morning ended up feeling completely laid back, even though I was wearing eyeliner. There were about 20 family members and close friends. We ate delicious quiche, banana bread, croissants (with chicken salad for those not currently vehemently opposed to poultry) and cupcakes. Carbs are a girl’s best friend.

My hostesses accommodated my persnickety wishes about games—not many, as little interaction as possible—and presents—they left it up to me to open them in front of everyone or not. By the time a natural gift-opening break appeared, I was feeling swell, so I made all the aunts and grandmas happy by cooing over little boy onesies and baby socks. Which wasn’t hard because omg so tiny and cute and blue and new and we really didn’t have any boy clothes and this one has a monster on the butt and I think I might cry it’s so adorable.

I was a straight up pro out there.

fam collage1

Remarkably, even the ongoing, very public “she’s so much bigger this time/no, she is so much smaller this time” debate didn’t faze me. Because it’s clearly acceptable to argue over the state of someone’s physical appearance in front of said person when they are at their most physically and hormonally vulnerable. Now I’m wondering if a party goer secretly spiked the beverage jug with some liquid valium. And to that guest I say, THANK YOU, KIND LADY.

fam collage2

The shower also marked a much anticipated lull in pre-arranged activity up until Falcor’s arrival. It was sitting on the calendar with glorious, unspoiled, quadratic white space behind it. Granted, we’ve already filled in like half of those once open dates with potential commitments, but the idea of them filled me with joy and made the shower all that more exciting.

I can’t thank my mom enough for rolling with my nonsensical, multiple personality texts and conversations regarding décor, games and guest lists. She knows me and made this day as stress-free as humanly possible, mainly because she took all of that stress on herself, striking a miraculous balance between my antisocial, pretentious ways and the normal, generalized expectations of the rest of society. Not an easy task, and I adore her for the effort she put into achieving it.

nat mom

So much belly touching for a modest introvert.

And my pals who each have several babies to care for, homes to manage and crazy schedules of their own who graciously gave time they didn’t have and brain power they didn’t need to spare to make this a really beautiful day.

Up next: one nursery, one name and a whole lotta napping.

Recap of my baby shower for Addison here. I guess I like those earrings. Feel free to play along with the “she’s huge! she’s tiny!” game. It’s my favorite. 

Yes! please.

A couple of months ago my good friend Tori mentioned that she had an extra ticket to a Jason Mraz concert. I told her I would sacrifice for the sake of our friendship and take the ticket off her hands.

Because children and jobs make all areas of life inconvenient, I had to wait until the day of the concert, a Thursday, to head up to Jacksonville. Procrastination postponed my departure by an hour and traffic added another 30 minutes, so I cut it a little close by arriving in Jacksonville at nearly 6 p.m. I threw on some eyeliner, we popped into Tijuana Flats for dinner, Tori broke just a couple of traffic laws finding parking and we were in our seats just in time.

The tour is touted as “an acoustic evening with Jason Mraz and Raining Jane,” so there was no opener, but Raining Jane played a few of their songs before he took the stage. It took about four notes for me to be completely infatuated with them, especially the drummer. (Source)

mona rj

I think it’s because she reminded me so much of this girl from my secret Netflix obsession, “Gossip Girl.”

They were missing one member, but the three I saw were insanely talented and each played more than one instrument. The tour is based on the album “Yes!” Listening to the album, I wasn’t blown away by the band, but at the live show, they were incredible. P.S. Try to be in a bad mood listening to that cd, I dare you. 

When the Mrazmeister joined, you know things got funky. Clayton and I went to his concert a few years ago in Virginia, and this show was every bit as fun and entertaining. He is sarcastic (my second language) and laid back, and even in the middle of winter in a crowded theater, it felt a little like being at the beach watching the waves come in. The vocals blended so well together – again, the band plus Jason sounded way better live than on the cd – and Raining Jane can kill some percussion and sitar.

The only improvement would have been a venue with room to move. Our romantical swaying to the encore was rather stifled, though I think we still nailed the expectant couple awaiting first child vibe we were going for. Related: trying to sneak past a row of people inconspicuously with a six-month bump is as effective as attempting to avoid the potent marijuana smell oozing off the guy next to you by turning your head 12 degrees to the left. Neither works. I was so close to texting Clayton about whether or not a fetus could get high via aroma.

nat tori yes

After dealing with the back ups at the parking garage pay station and exit, we made it back to Tori’s house high (figuratively…I think) on the positive tunes but exhausted. Bright young minds needed molding early the next morning, so Tori went to work and I left shortly after she did. Panera’s honey walnut cream cheese had been calling to me for hours. I said goodbye to my tiny little roommate for the night and made it back to Tampa so that I could work for awhile before retrieving Addison.


Real talk: I’d been debating going to the concert for several weeks, wondering about some anxiety from the past few months that’s much improved but still lingering in certain situations. While this wasn’t a homerun in terms of my nerves, I’m really glad I went for it. Tori is infinitely understanding about all of my hang-ups. #jasonandjane definitely did their part to mellow me out, too, and even with the bouts of crazy in my head, it was a great show that I’d be bummed to have missed. Turns out Tori’s fortune that day was spot on.


Closure & Contemplation

“The only way to find out if you’re in the right place
is to stand in the place.”
- Amy Poehler

During a brief respite from determining how I can force Amy P. to adopt me, I took a few minutes to watch this Smart Girls video of her speaking on courage. The above quote kept echoing in my head after I heard it for a few reasons.

Most obviously, I thought about our time in Virginia. Clayton and I had been so excited and optimistic to leave Florida. We’d talked about that leap for years, imagined it over and over, and finally had an opportunity. We were so ready. Never in a million years did we think that journey would circle right back to Florida two years later, at our own choosing.

nat shenandoahIn some ways, it felt like we’d failed. Scratch that, it felt like I’d failed. I was the one who couldn’t hack it less than a year in, I was the one looking for PA jobs in Florida (no one would even see me for an interview) after building up this dream of what life would look like anywhere but here. But Ames reminded me that we wouldn’t have known if that move was for us unless we actually packed up and moved. Turns out, Newport News did not hold the Noas’ glamorous, reinvented future. It did, however, hold a lot of military bases, terrible traffic and an insane job in a trauma hospital. (But weekend D.C. trips were pretty fantastic.)

nat clayton dc

So we moved on. I think about those years quite a bit, for better or worse. Maybe moving on didn’t necessarily have to mean moving back, but Clayton and I were both so desperate for relationships. Tampa had a whole vending machine of prepackaged, ready to consume friendships waiting for us. It would have been hard to take another risk in a new city at that point. Plus, I was pregnant and wanted my mommy.

When I think about where we’ll be five or ten years from now, though, I don’t know that Florida is sustainable. Crazily enough, I’m the one who will probably initiate another foray outside the Sunshine State. Clayton has the personality that accepts things as they are; I am the wanderer and questioner. He can’t sit still literally, but I can’t stay still figuratively. After only a few years being back, I cherish the family and friends that fill my life but still wonder what might be waiting. And, quite simply, we won’t know if there is another place for us until we’re standing in that place

Apart from an actual get-up-and-go battle cry, A.Poehls reiterated some thoughts I’ve been wrestling with about my work. Writing as a career in and of itself still thrills me. Factor in doing it from home, on my own schedule, and in between caring for kiddo(s), and it’s oh so tempting to ride this wave as far as it takes me without changing course.


But then some days, like today, I will catch a glimpse of what writing about things and people and places that truly inspire me would feel like. And I know with certainty I could do that. That’s about where the debilitating blackness of the Unknown begins to stretch out ahead. I have no idea what “writing about what I want” looks like. A book, a column, a blog that is actually maintained, a journal that never sees the light of day. Or a more creative day job that nurtures me professionally but prevents me from nurturing my family in the way I am used to.

So far, I have not felt a strong enough pull to make any effort to change my work load. I take what I am given by my current clients, weathering the hectic months along with the silent ones. Thankfully, my income has remained pretty steady and everything balances out by the end of the year. Except for taxes. God forsaken taxes.

Now that baby number that’s-it is coming along, I’ve been getting a different thrill thinking about what comes next. I am sure this was a crux, but it seemed a little pointless to dive into a new lifestyle, hobby or work situation knowing a baby was about to be on board. Could I have opened a new business or enrolled in a doctorate program in my second trimester? Sure. Would it have led to a mental breakdown ending in a murder-suicide primed for a Lifetime movie? Probably. All signs now point to the imminent end of childbearing, and I’ll be “free” to and (eek!) responsible for creating what life will look like raising babies instead of making ‘em.

It’s an exciting proposition to feel like anything is possible. I honestly feel that way, as cheesy and PSA-sounding as it is. I’m looking forward to training for all sorts of running PRs in the next decade, planning trips that require air travel and being able to take the necessary sedatives to follow through with them, visiting far away friends more regularly, and who knows what else. I was semi serious about the doctorate program. Always the scholar.

oh the places

My future second mommy Mama Amy offered an added reassurance that yes, all those plans may crash and burn—okay, not cool to use that analogy related to air travel; double my dose, please—but taking steps to stand in those places, no matter what the result, is courageous. Even more, it’s living.

St. Augustine Half Marathon Recap

The St. Augustine Half Marathon, aka my second half ever, is complete. Woohoo…is what I wish I could be saying, but instead I am me and being Debbie Downer about the whole thing.

The good news is that it’s done. My feet covered 13.1 miles for the second time in my life, and I have the shiny medal to prove it. Which may have stayed on during lunch 100 miles away from the race site.

The tough-to-digest part is that this course was bananas, and I had no idea. It’s not like I had eight weeks to study the course map posted online or anything. Instead, I chose to show up and be all, “oh, there’s bridges?” And the course was all, “UM. FOUR OF THEM.”

Those miles across water? Wishing now I would have swam them.

Those miles across water? Wishing now I would have swam them.

The friend that I’d trained with and planned to run with ended up getting sick last week and decided race morning to not put herself in the hospital by attempting a half marathon feeling like death. I hated it for her, of course; I’m not a completely horrible person. She even came all the way to St. Augustine for two nights to not run. But, frankly, I hated it for me, too. Two weeks before my first half I begged and pleaded with Clayton to run it with me because I didn’t know if I could push through on my own. It was quite a stunner to plan for having a partner with me, and then realize that wouldn’t be the case an hour before the race. (Missed you, Kelly!)

High hopes on race eve that we'd be crossing the finish together.

High hopes on race eve that we’d be crossing the finish together.

I was way nervous in the morning and couldn’t finish my usual breakfast or coffee. Clayton, Addison and I left about 10 minutes later than we’d planned, but we were staying so close to the race that I didn’t think much about it. When he dropped me off and I realized the start line wasn’t where I thought (seriously, eight weeks of non-map studying), I started freaking out a little about missing the start. I jogged to the big mass of people, made a quick as lightning bathroom stop on the way, and just as I asked someone if this was the half marathon start, the gun went off.

And there I was, running. I had very little time–okay, zero time–to steady my head or stretch or get my bearings. The first five miles were lame city. We ran over the Bridge of Lions immediately, and then spent the rest of the time on a major highway passing strip malls and Sunday morning traffic. I really wanted to hold off on listening to music in case I needed a boost later, so it was just engines and feet out there. Luckily, there was a decently funny guy behind me that kept me entertained with sardonic commentary. We’re all idiots for doing this, let’s just embrace it.

My pace for those first five miles was exactly on target. I’d wanted to keep it somewhat conservative but not start too slow to the point where I couldn’t ever increase to my loftier goals. Turns out, that ol’ increase would never take place, so that became a moot point. It was a positive split parade after six miles. But at least for five miles I stuck to the plan.

Around mile 5 we hit the second bridge (the Bridge of Lions was the first), which was long and long. I felt pretty good going over it and saw my speedy friend coming back down the other bridge (numero tres, if you’re keeping count). She looked really strong and that was exciting. I saw Clayton twice around this point and his lanky torso hanging out of the car trying to snap pictures was too much cute to handle.

Such a beautiful highway view with a line of drivers giving you angry stares for making them late to brunch.

Such a beautiful highway view with a line of drivers giving you angry stares for making them late to brunch.

Once we descended bridge two, it was maybe 0.1 mile before we turned around and ran up the third bridge. And this was my coffin. I seemed to have lost all steam going up that beast. Trying desperately to be funny and encouraging, I made some comment to a girl that was walking. She passed me less than a half mile later, so I doubt I’ll be throwing out any more hilarious and obviously effective words of wisdom at any future races. I’ll probably invoice her for coaching fees.

I tried to remember my friend telling me that miles 3-8 were going to suck. Just get past that point, I thought. But mile 7 was it for me. It was the last time I felt any sustained strength. From that point on, I battled against quitting and walking my pissy butt back to the car. My initial strategy was to turn things up at mile 9. In real life, this was the point I vowed never to do a full marathon. Honestly, the only reason I didn’t stop at the mile 10 marker was because I knew how long it would take for me to walk back and there was no shortcut. I had no other motivation to keep running other than I’d finish slightly faster that way.

I had to walk a few seconds here and there but got so annoyed with myself I started back up pretty quickly. [Text to husband somewhere around this point: "Babe it's over". Dramatic much?]

There was actually a sad little pack of us who would run some and then stop to walk and then try to run again between miles 10 and 12. Clearly, this was not our day, and I felt bad for all of us. We never envisioned this would be our race. Womp womp.

I got a text from a friend when I was feeling especially womp-wompy that said “hope the run went well today!” After I got over the boiling rage of her thinking I’d be done when I still had two more miles, I realized there were a lot of people who knew about this race that were going to ask me about it. I could not imagine saying I gave up at mile 11, so I kept going out of sheer stubbornness. But I wasn’t happy about it.

We had to go back over the Bridge of Lions at the last mile. Four bridges would be an accurate summation. Luckily, that was the easiest of all of them and wasn’t too awful at that point. Life in general was looking rather dismal so a little incline wasn’t going to swing that vote too much. I was able to pick it up ever so mildly at the end when I saw my fast friend–2nd place in her age group and 9th woman overall, wha?!?!–and her fam. A little farther down towards the finish line I spotted Clayton and Addison’s huge grin, which was indescribable. But more than anything, I was glad that it was over. I was so hoping to finish feeling more than that.


I wasn’t impressed or anything after I finished, but having that six-mile mental battle so fresh in my mind, I was proud that I pounded it out. As the hours dragged on, and I looked over and over at my terrible splits, and the official times were posted, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.

I don’t know if I had more in me during those hours, but I am bummed that this race was the culmination of a totally healthy, really strong, 12-week training cycle. I felt great after every long run and did speed work consistently every week. My long run paces were all better than what I ended up with at this race, and my long runs had always felt easy. That is so, so frustrating. I was hoping, planning and training to race this thing, and all I could do was finish.

But hey, I did finish.

Lunchtime bling.

Lunchtime bling.

Other positive notes: technically I did reach my very basic goal of beating the time from my first half marathon (by 6 minutes) and Miss Black Shirt was all about trying to pass me in the finish chute and did not, thank you very much. I didn’t even know anyone was near me until I looked through the pictures.

I may not have finished before many people, but I did finish before her.

I may not have finished before many people, but I did finish before her.

Plus, mom bonus: I ran a half after baby birthing. When I remember that first two-mile run a few months after having Addison, it’s hard to believe I conquered (okay, tolerated) 13.1 miles. Those first few weeks were u-g-l-y.

Oh, speaking of ugly.

Boy, she sure is having fun and looking good doing it!

Boy, she sure is having fun and looking good doing it!

So what now? Well, I am going to sulk and eat cookies for another day or two. I’m going to join my sister in law for a pedicure and wine date. And then I am going to put my big girl tempo shorts on and get ready for


The definition of insanity...

The definition of insanity…

I am certain I have a better race in me, and I am not wasting this training on that miserable half.

At least we know one person was glad I made the trip to St. Augustine. (Total accident, by the way.)

Just me and MJ, rounding third base.

Just me and MJ, rounding third base.

So, anyone feel like running a half in December???

Shout Outs

Even though not much is going down in my thrilling life, that’s not the case with a few people I know.

My friend Laura, who I pester incessantly about running and whose puppy Bryson is betrothed to, ran her first marathon this past weekend. Chicago didn’t even see her coming. Congrats, friend! (Also, you need to start a running blog for me to read obsessively.) Send her congratulatory and anti-inflammatory thoughts this week, ok?

The lives of forty other people are about to be exponentially more exciting when they receive their baby shower invitations this week for mom-to-be/best friend Leah. Buckle up, ladies. It’s on.

I also think I forgot to introduce you to my very first niece/goddaughter, Sarah, Clayton’s brother’s new baby girl. She made her debut a few months ago and is not that size anymore, even though I was secretly hoping she would stay six pounds until I got to hold her tiny cuteness in my hands. But she is healthy and still adorable enough for me to claim as family. Pretty sure they’re going to have to hold me down and force her out of my arms when we visit in November.

Sarah Jade3

“The Meatloaf!”

About 10 days ago, after staring blankly into our bare freezer until I felt a hint of frostbite, I finally grabbed a pound of ground beef to thaw. I never have any idea what I’m going to do with raw meat once it’s thawed, I just feel like taking meat out of the freezer and putting it on the counter gets me some sort of Wife Points. Once it was mostly thawed, it went back in the refrigerator. Again, this shows at least a shred of preparation and forethought. Even if my entire preparation plan consists of “Thaw meat.”

Clayton came home a little early, then proceeded to fall asleep on the couch. Don’t worry, I’m not about to nitpick about naps. This pot’s just a little too black for all that kettle name-calling. But I did sneak out to go to the gym while he was snoozing. At the gym, I remembered we only ever make two meals involving a pound of ground beef, and we had none of the ingredients for tacos. Meatloaf it was.

To my surprise, or because I had already affixed a “Cook Me!” post-it note to the ground beef—I can’t really remember the details from that long ago—my husband was already working away at that meatloaf when I got home. This allows me the opportunity to still earn a few WP’s without actually cooking by saying, “Hey, I was going to do that!” And then quickly getting out of earshot in case the husband wants to let me follow through on that.

I showered and fixed us two massive salads. The meatloaf was already cooked when we sat down to eat our salads but, seriously, they were like entrée-sized portions, so Clayton put it back in the oven so it wouldn’t get cold. And then the enchanting world of fall television premiers locked us in. Clayton scoffs at oven timers, trusting his laser sharp memory and keen relationship with red meat to sense when food is ready.

So this happened.


Let’s rewind back to the previous night. The husband wanted to run, and I suggested he try a long run because, now that I can say it, he had decided to run the half marathon. By “long,” I meant 6-8 miles. He doesn’t really ever run unless I con him into it, and then he tops out at about three miles. A bit of the ADD in him. He wanders back in, about a half hour after I’d expected him, and starts to stretch.

“So, how did it go?” I ask, curious as to why he’s not really talking about his big deal run.

“It went good.” Conspicuous pause. “I did 10 miles.”

Of course he did. Of course he runs a handful of times in the past two weeks, heads out one random Tuesday evening and busts out 10 miles. Congratu-freaking-lations. It’s not like other people around here have to train for five months to do something like that. Totally rad for you, dude. Totally. F’ing. Rad.

After this little incident, I’m not going to say I gloated over the meatloaf charring. But I’m not going to say I didn’t gloat, either.

A girl needs to have the upper hand once in awhile. And sweet and sour chicken made for an absolutely delicious upper hand.

chinese food


I feel like I should give you fair warning that this post is nearly void of humor and serves as one gigantic “you go girl” high-five. To me. From me. With an exaggerated back pat. Wearing a foam “number one” finger. During a parade in my honor. If that doesn’t sound like a party you’d like to attend, I recommend skipping this one and maybe spending that time writing an ode to yourself. It’s indulgent and fabulous.


Big day for the Noa hip flexors. I registered for my first ever half marathon. Even though it’s 3 1/2 weeks away, I’m a big fat pansy and you probably won’t find out about this until long after I’ve iced my aching knees and downed my free beer. I really like having a non-accountable window of opportunity to completely flake out and forfeit my $30 (it’s a really, really small race, like 56 laps around someone’s backyard).

While I initially just typed “I don’t know why I’m afraid to talk about this milestone,” the absolute truth is that I know exactly why I don’t want to share the details of my attempt at a long distance road race: I’m obnoxiously competitive. And I’m just plain terrible at running. I don’t want you to know that I’m so very slow, and that it may take me three hours to finish that beast. I don’t want you to know that, because the race is so small, there’s a very high probability I’ll cross the finish line to an empty parking lot because everyone’s already gone home. I’m embarrassed and prideful and would never admit that I might take a walking break or five before finishing those 13.1 miles.

But that’s a heaping load of crap. I’ve worked my slow butt off, achieving things that I never imagined, like looking forward to a five miler as an easy run, pushing myself to keep moving when every single muscle from my waist down screamed at me to stop, getting back on the pavement after knee pain sidelined me for two weeks and doing what it took to stay there.

Week after week, I got up, put on my Mizunos, and ran. I could never have pressed “Confirm Registration” if I stopped doing those three little things when I was tired. Or when my muscles hurt. Or when I preferred to eat my weight in chips and salsa. Or when it was inconvenient. Or when my family asked repeatedly why I would ever run nine miles for no reason at all.

I’ve been an athlete my entire life. I can genuinely say that running is the hardest sport I’ve ever been a part of. I started noticing recently that all the running blogs and running friends I know are classic Type A personalities—driven, organized, structured and disciplined. You cannot run with any kind of success without all of these components. Being a solid middle-of-the-roader when it comes to personality, sticking to and improving my running was a true challenge. It demands consistency, and sometimes every single step is a mental and physical battle.

For the past five months, I’ve won. I beat the voice in my head that said

You can’t run because you’ve never done it.

You can’t run because you’re slow.

You can’t run because you won’t win.

You can’t run because you have asthma.

You can’t run because no one understands it.

You can’t run because it hurts.

You can’t run because it’s hard.

I told that voice to shut the hell up. And I ran.

For 2.5 really, really tough miles. And then for 3. And then for 5,6 and 7.

And then twice, I ran for 9 miles. This weekend, I’ll go for 10.

And in a little less than a month, I’ll finish 13.1. Without any expectations of how it will look, or how long it will take, or what the “real” runners will think of me. I simply expect to do what I’ve done for five months: to get up, put on my Mizunos, and run.

Running Collage



Dunzo. Kiss it goodbye, put a fork in it or smack it on the butt as it scoots by. 13.1 miles are D-O-N-E.

I might write a detailed recap, I might not, but trust that it didn’t take me 3 hours (even though that would have been fine with me, but better for my Achilles that it didn’t) and I didn’t stop to walk (even though that would have been okay, too).

The only reason those two things happened was because my husband ran with me. Step for step, for every mile. He wouldn’t let me work that hard and throw it away at mile 11, when I really, really, really wanted to walk straight off the course and into a tub of ice mixed with Heineken. He was there to hold my water bottle when it was time to take some Shot Bloks. And as soon as we put that bickering match that occurred between the starting line and the first quarter mile behind us, it was basically smooth, aching sailing.

And then we got to walk for days back to our car. Yeah, I should probably do a detailed recap.

But for now, I’m just thinking about what a very lucky girl I am. Now, about that Heineken.

half marathon

The Staunton Series, Part 4

Well. It’s 7:48 on Friday night and my husband has been asleep for an hour and a half. I don’t think he’s prepping for a wild night. I think this is our Friday night.

Being old and married and having a husband with craz-o all night on-call shifts is doing wonders for my blogging.

Let’s talk some more about Staunton, mmkay?

By Saturday, our last full day, we were spent. We didn’t set any alarms Friday night and figured breakfast hours be damned. We just wanted to sleep off the soreness of hiking, kayaking and squinting at fictitious celebrities.

After we stumbled out of bed around 10:30, we decided to check out a restaurant that had been packed the night before. Byers Street Bistro was delish; I had a wacky, non-traditional, kitchen sink kind of lunch and Clayton had a classic cheeseburger, and we both loved our meals. Plus, waffle fries came in to seal the deal.

When we couldn’t really stand up straight from being impregnated by frying oil, we took to the streets. I’d had my eye on this one adorable store from our very first night. Honestly, it’s the only reason I threw on hiking clothes and tore through rapids in a kayak—I knew Clayton would owe me big time. Dude paid up with two hours in a boutique and some yummy nude pumps. My love for them is as explicit as that description. A staple, no? Especially because they’ll complement my pajama pants and oversized t-shirts during my phone meetings.

Afterwards, when I was fat, well soled and perfectly content, I tried and tried to convince Clayton that he could splurge on any mantastic item he wanted. Even with a cigar shop, a theatre showing at least one movie sure to have poor acting and cars exploding, and a reminder of the brewery that was thirty minutes away, he swore he, too, was happy if I was happy. (A couple of weeks ago someone shared with him the saying “a happy wife means a happy life” and he took it as solemn, prophetic life advice. Mainly because he’s spent more than two seconds with me when I was less than happy.)

So we walked around and snapped pictures.

Ten minutes later, we realized Staunton’s not exactly a booming metropolis and were back to square one. Clayton was breathing in way too much of that mountain air, so when we got into the car, he yanked out the GPS and just started driving. I was mildly terrified of the sudden change in personality but also thought we might end up somewhere that served ice cream. I love road trips!

The tractor on the main road slowed us down a little, but we didn’t mind because the drive was absolutely stunning. Grey-blue mountains rising out of the horizon behind acres of rolling green farmland and bright red barns. We were happy, aimless campers.

I was slightly less impressed with Waynesboro, where we ended up. I humored Clayton by actually getting out of the car at a park, but we both knew it was time to get the hell out of that nowheresville when a grown man with his elementary-aged daughter began screaming at a punk teenage kid. I think the kid may have thrown something at the man when he walked by, but I can’t be sure. All I distinctly remember is being on the verge of tears and begging Clayton to drive away as the man got inches from the kid’s nose saying, “Hit me. I want you to do something.”

You know that whole fight or flight thing? My response is on the utmost end of the flight spectrum and typically involves repeated apologies, assuming responsibility for everything negative that’s ever happened in the world, a healthy outpouring of tears and a handful of inappropriate sarcastic comments that make the situation infinitely worse. So yeah, I probably need life coaching.

Clayton’s guilt at the social awkwardness that was Waynesboro manifested itself in the form of an iced caramel macchiato. It was like National Husband Bonus Points Day.

For me, one of the most luxurious feelings in the world is to get ready without a stopwatch. The restaurant we chose for dinner didn’t take reservations, and since my husband had made it clear this was a non-GPS type of day, I had no timer on my get-pretty prep time. Isn’t that fabulous? If you have kids, you’ve probably forgotten that such a thing exists, but I encourage demand you to request this very indulgence for Christmas, your birthday, Mother’s Day, Columbus Day or whatever random holiday is next on the calendar. I hear Sunday is Pioneer Day in Utah, so there you go.

You have the freedom to wait until you look exactly the way you want to look before leaving. Within reason, of course. Ninety minutes of staring into the mirror did not do much for my wackadoo-shaped nose, but you get the idea. Underwear not working with those jeans? Change ‘em! Eye shadow turning goth rather than smoky? Re-do it! All it takes is a free NC-17 television station included in your hotel room to occupy the husband, and you’ve got nothing but time, ladies.

(I’m totally kidding. “Despicable Me” was the distraction of choice. I told you about those bonus points.)

All I need to say about the dinner experience was that when I asked the server (who also happened to be one of the bartenders) if he could make me a mojito, he said, “Sure. I’ve got fresh mint in the back.” Yes, and yes.

After a delicious dinner, Clayton read the chocolate frenzied look in my eyes and took me to get some ice cream/gelato. Staunton has some seriously good eating. We had to burn off all those empty calories, as well as drink some more of them, and we found ourselves sneaking up to a rooftop restaurant that had live music.

The only person on that roof who enjoyed Bryan Elijah Smith and the Wild Hearts more than my husband was the lady sitting directly to our right who’d obviously gotten a 100-yard head start to those liquid calories. She was somewhere in the neighborhood of her early fifties, and she was smashed. All night long she talked way too loud, in the way people do when they think they are making complete sense and hiding their inebriation so well from everyone else. Except everyone knows you’re gone and they’re only talking to you so that you respond in that funny loud voice that you think is totally normal. And then everyone laughs at you.

She yelled. She danced. She screamed at the lead singer to take his shirt off. She repeated to her husband that she had just screamed at the lead singer to take his shirt off. She made her way to the top story of the building and called out the window to her husband. She kept hollering when her husband ignored her. She tried to get strangers to dance with her. She sat on a cowboy’s lap.

I thought of her and her splitting headache often the next morning.

As for me and Clayton, reveling in a few hours that felt deliciously like those dating days was the perfect way to spend our last evening away from things like all night on-call shifts.

Forget the drum roll. I’ll take a mojito.

Meet my baby. It’s not exactly what my mother has been incessantly praying for over the last three years (which is almost cruel considering how we told her she had a grandson and then introduced her to an untrained, 6-week old Bryson). It’s the lovechild of some serious site envy, one incomparable web genius/friend and the eerie shadows of my brain’s weird ramblings. And ta da, you have my new blog.

Because you’re so awesome…?

Ha. No. It’s so that I don’t lose out on jobs because the first posting that pops up is about killing mice in my apartment (get ready for an uncomfortable déjà vu post involving our new place).  For a long time I’ve been wanting to separate my “professional” information from my musings on everything else. I felt censored blogging on a site that was also serving to promote my freelance work.

So for the last few weeks I’ve been working with my pal Josh Blanco, who I have not forgotten is a Seminole at heart even though he lives all the way out on that hippie left coast in Seattle. He took my concise direction–“I think this is kind of neat. Ew, that’s not cute.”—and made a site that actually functions. A task that is light years over my head. So, all the credit really belongs to him. Here’s his site one more time in case you missed it.

Now what?

We still have some fine tuning, tweaking and jazz-ifying to take care of. No one is comfortable with all that gray. 

In the meantime, I write. Hopefully better. And more consistently. But let’s not get carried away in the excitement. Bottom line: the “good” stuff is here, folks. So save it, subscribe to it, share it, whatever. Just know that this is the place for lusting over caramel flavored coffee beverages, an amateur use of profanity and all the sarcastic morsels I can muster. Which is also the closest you will ever get me to cooking.

On the real

Family, friends, strangers and social media stalkers, thank you so much for reading.