four years

Four years married seems downright puny compared to the (relative) mammoth eleven years total. I imagine a dainty 4 year old trying to outwit a lumbering 6th grader: it’s just not a fair match. But a milestone is a milestone. Happy anniversary, EJV. I have to admit– marriage hasn’t been nearly as hard as the dating was. I suppose early years are tough, regardless of rings and marital status. And now, I look back very fondly to those stumbling, struggling kids. They were so stubborn, and helpless, and confused about the grand scheme of things. They thought being right signaled being smart, and didn’t understand that right doesn’t mean happy. They fought about some valid things, and some very stupid things. They drank too much, slept too little, and spent too much time seeking validation from people who would never give it. They drank trunk wine, ate cheese for a solid third of their meals, and probably drove the neighbors nuts. They were loving and kind to one another, and not just to make up for treating each other badly. They had Sunday morning waffle rituals, and first snow of the year rituals, and once cooked a turkey on a Tuesday morning.

All this is to say: marrying you wasn’t the best day of my life. It was certainly fun, and I have great memories from that day. But our life together is so much more than that. It’s the days between the big events: eating dinner on the kitchen floor while our boy twirls on blueberries, touring Sam Adams and smelling like fresh hops, scouting new coffee places on our Saturday morning dates. It’s planning our next trip, our next move, our next kid. It’s drinking coffee out of our h & j mugs, and discussing the literary references in Californication.

I love this life with you, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

highs and lows

Some days, I feel capable and able and like I have much to contribute, and I ride high on the thrill of putting together a strong cover letter. Other days, I feel heavy and small, and though qualified, unable to express what I know.

On the worst days, I feel both ends tugging at my brain, and I collapse under the weight of the process. My old frenemy, Perfectionism, cajoles me into finding job after job that hits the trifecta of interesting, challenging, and attainable; then, when I sit down to apply, she light-heartedly asks me why I thought I had a shot. “Leave me alone,” I say, “I have plenty of worthwhile skills.” “If you say so,” she says with a side-eye, turning the page with a perfectly manicured finger.

Submitting the application knocks the wind out of me, and as I recuperate in a darkened room, I’m feel the Sitting Ghost slinking in. He’s not here to stay, but wanted to make sure I know he’s around. “Go away,” I say, knowing fully that he would never listen, “I’m busy.” I know he knows I’m lying, but I say it anyway. “I mean it. I’m too busy for this.” He leaves, but we both know it’s not because of what I said.

I try again. The blow is less harsh this time, and though I don’t crumble, I still wobble. The Sitting Ghost is noisily shuffling in the closet, waiting for his signal.  Perfectionism is arching her meticulously shaped eyebrow, signaling her disapproval at my weakness. I ignore them, and make another cup of coffee.

just go for it

I had a dream last night: I was working at a grocery store, and my (female) boss wanted me to stay on for another full shift. I explained that I couldn’t do so at my current pay rate (which was $7.16 in the dream), but that I would be happy to work as many hours as needed if my hourly wage was doubled. My manager talked to the company, and came back with a letter stating that they would increase my wages by 10%. As often happens in dreams, my job nonsensically changed from cashier to being part of the advertising department. As I looked at the average wages for the ad dept. and realized that I was woefully underpaid, my manager asked me (inquisitively, not meanly) why I wouldn’t just accept the 10% raise.

This dream stuck with me. I first woke up from it at 5, but remembered it clearly when I woke up around 8. What struck me the most was the way I was implored to just take what I was offered, and not ask any questions, particularly in light of the changed duties and higher level of responsibility. How typical. Women often don’t ask for more money or negotiate their starting salary, and often, when they do, they’re penalized. (Versions 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014) In the dream, I was confused that anyone would want me to work for so little, but second-guessed myself when my manager asked why I wouldn’t just take the raise as offered. I had a hard time explaining to her why an extra $700 a year* was not an acceptable trade for all the extra time I’d have to put in.

As I sit here on the cusp of applying for jobs, I have to continuously remind myself not to “settle,” and not to apply solely for jobs I feel I’m qualified for. I can’t tell you how many tabs I had open for jobs that required only an associate’s degree (and offered less than what daycare would cost). It’s not that I’m better than these jobs. It’s that I often don’t look beyond these jobs, and am at risk of getting such jobs and being bored and underpaid within 6 months. I imagine that many women put themselves in this position, and compound their mistake by going from one ‘comfortable’job to another.

When I left my most recent position, I was fed up with not being challengedI need to remember that frustration, and rethink my application strategy. As Sheryl Sandberg cautioned in Lean In, if I take a job I’m 90-100% qualified for, I’ll master the job quickly and won’t have much left to learn. In my last job, I was tapped as an “expert” contributor to a panel for process improvement when I had been in my position for slightly longer than a year. Comparatively, my husband has been in his position for 2.5 years, and still comes home to tell me about a new process he’s learning. Incidentally, he was only about 50% qualified for both of his most recent jobs. What’s more, I goaded him into applying for both, scoffing at his protests that he wasn’t qualified enough. I need to apply that same critical eye to my own reasons for “why not,” and just go for it.

Applying for worthwhile jobs is a tough gig. It takes a lot of time, patience, and internal pep talks (particularly when you don’t feel entirely qualified). But the alternative is to have no job at all, or worse: a job that neither challenges nor excites you.

 

*Yes, I’m aware that the math doesn’t add up. It was a dream. 

dear ejv

Dear EJV,

Happy father’s day! You should know that I would never have married you if I didn’t think that you’d be a good dad. But to say that you’ve exceeded my expectations is a laughable understatement. The love you have for our boy is palpable, and he clearly brings you more joy than anything else before him (even the Shadow!). He loves you more than anything… when you walk in the door after work, he can barely hold it together long enough for you to take your shoes off. To say you’re his favorite person is not quite enough: it’s more like he’s a tiny crackhead, and you’re his preferred drug.

Anyway. Thank you for being my baby daddy partner in crime. I’m truly enjoying this whole parenting thing with you (guess we must be doing it wrong). Thanks for your patience, your dedication to making us laugh, and dealing with the crap (ha!). If our kids end up being hilarious and a little bit weird, we have succeeded. Can’t wait to have a whole gaggle, I hope they like hippie shit.

Love,

H

banana bread

We’ve had very (very) ripe bananas on our counter for the last week, and I’ve been threatening (promising?) to make banana bread the entire time. So today, while the boy entertained himself for a while, I baked. And boy, did this banana bread deliver. It’s the best I’ve ever had. (Not that I’ve had banana breads from everywhere or am some sort of connoisseur, but it’s pretty damn delicious.)

Here’s the recipe– I used this one as a starter.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (microwaved to liquify)
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal (old-fashioned)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 4 medium bananas (very ripe, mashed with a fork)
  • 2/3 cup pecans (I buy them whole and break them into pieces)

Optional (for sugary crust)

  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/8 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat together the coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, and sugar. It should be frothy and thick when you’re done.
  3. Combine flour, oatmeal, baking soda, salt, chia seeds, flax seeds, and cinnamon in separate bowl.
  4. Add buttermilk to mashed bananas, stir.
  5. Add half of dry mixture and half of banana mixture to egg mixture. Mix well.
  6. Add remainder of dry mixture and banana mixture to batter. Mix very well.
  7. Fold in pecans.
  8. Pour batter into pan. (I used a round cake pan, but a boring old bread pan would work too.) :)
  9. (Optional: combine sugar, cinnamon, and pecans in small bowl. Sprinkle mixture across top of the batter: make sure to cover all corners/edges.)
  10. Bake for 50-60 mins.
  11. Let the bread cool for 15-20 mins.
  12. If you went rogue and baked it in a cake pan, cut into nice pie slices.
  13. Try not to eat half the loaf.

I’m not much of a baker– I greatly prefer to cook. When you bake, you can’t improvise (to the same degree as when you cook), and I like to taste and adjust as I go (something I’m obviously not going to do when baking). But ever since my dad introduced me to baked oatmeal, I’ve been playing around with other ways to bake with oats and various hippy things (chia seeds, flax seeds, alternatives to sugar (though nothing artificial), coconut oil, etc.). Thus far, it’s pretty damn delicious.

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