Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Getting Tattooed with Ron Paul

I did it.

I got inked.


This is my little tattoo. It's alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll mine and I love it dearly. It gives my Kitchen Aid mixer some seriously tough competition for my affection.

(I'm just kidding, Mixie. Mamma loves you.)

But the darnedest thing of all is that I haven't actually seen my tattoo since Shannon, my tattoo artist, finished me up and said, "You're good to go, darlin'". (I have such a soft spot in my heart for large, salty men who call me semi-sexist nicknames.) My foot was immediately wrapped up in a bandage and I was handed a list of instructions that included, "Do NOT remove your bandage for 24 hours. NO PEEKING!" (and I'm all about following rules ... unless of course that rule is "DO NOT BE AWESOME".)

So out of fear of a tall, heavily tattooed gentleman breaking into my house and yelling at me for peeking, I've satisfied my urge to "look" by admiring the picture I took of my tat with my iPod Touch at the parlor. (Look at me, referring to it as "my tat". I'm considerably more bada$$ already!) I will be allowed to remove the bandage tonight after Salsa class so I can clean it (read: have CLAYTON be the one to wash off the plasma and bloody goo the instructions said are inevitably seeping from the tattoo) and start letting it air out.

But I have to be honest guys, I will not be able to run for about a week and the idea of not being able to run filled me with so much anxiety that I could not fall asleep last night. (And when I turned on my lamp to see what time it was, for some reason I couldn't see out of my left eye for a second and I immediately started freaking out that I was having an allergic reaction to my tattoo and went blind  ... but that's a story for later.) But seriously, no running for at least a week? I don't know what I'm going to do. It hasn't even been 24 hours since I got the tattoo and I'm already royally spazzing out about not getting my "runner's fix". Clayton all but hates me because I won't shut up about it and his softeners for making me feel better are getting shall we say, significantly less soft.

So cue my "worse case scenario" meltdown. I was already down for the count two weeks ago when I was on my death bed with a raging cold, so my running was just recently forced to the back burner while my body "healed" and "rested" and did other stupid things that were a huge waste of time. And now I have to take another break so my ink can heal?! (Ha, "my ink". Oh, I'm positively adorable.) Gah! I almost had a conniption fit this morning when I logged onto Facebook and saw one of my friends had posted a status update about how excited she was to run on her lunch break. I almost left a comment and said, "RUB IT IN WHY DON'T YOU!?", but I can't afford to lose any more friends, so I held my tongue.

I had an outside run scheduled after work last night since global warming is providing us with the most delightful winter ever, but when we found out the tattoo shop closed at 8, I skipped my run so I could make sure we could permanently mark my body before we met our friends for dinner. I promised myself I'd get a good run in on the treadmill later that night; I would simply wrap the dickens out of my newly inked foot.

No can do. I can't have socks rubbing on the tattoo or wear constricting shoes that suffocate the wound while it heals. It can cause the scab to fall off prematurely and result in holes in the ink lines. We don't want that do we?

But, like a woman truly devoted to her craft, I did a Pilates DVD late last night to make sure I got in at least some form of physical activity. I didn't even break a sweat.

This is going to be the longest week of my life.

But this was my choice. And I do not regret it at all.

I actually went to the tattoo parlor over the weekend, my little Hermes wings idea in hand and was prepared to leave with a new piece of body art. Shannon drew something up and asked me where I wanted to slap it down on my body. I showed him the spot right below my ankle bone and said, "Here, please."

You know what he said next? He said, "No." As in no, I will not do that. According to Shannon, in all of his infinite tattooing wisdom, the skin located on that particular place of the ankle is naturally very wrinkly and creases with movement. Long story short, I'd end up hating it. It would become warped and faded and quite frankly, he didn't want word getting out that he did a tattoo that turned out so awful. "Trust me, honey," (There we go again with the sexist terms of endearment. Be still my heart...), "I wouldn't send a sale out the door unless I really believed you shouldn't get it."

Back to the drawing board.

Clay and I spent the rest of the weekend pouring over tattoo ideas. The more we looked online, the less in love I became with the wings idea. In the world of commemorative running tattoos, Hermes wings were incredibly cliche and I certainly did not want to be that unoriginal. I wanted something petite and something that not only represented my passion for running and how it changed my life, but a tattoo that symbolized me and what I stood for outside of the sport.

After a few hours, I finally found the one I wanted. It was exactly what I didn't know I was looking for. I determined how big I wanted it and where it would sit on my foot, and then I went out searching for one more detail I could add that would truly make it my own. That's when I remember one of my favorite Bible passages:

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..." Hebrews 12:1

Come on, it even has the word "run" in it!

It was decided.

So Monday night we went back to the tattoo parlor and I ponied up my drawing to Shannon. "That's pretty cute," he said, taking the photo from me. (If I can get a man covered from head to toe in motorcycles and flaming skulls to say that something is "cute", I clearly win at life.) His response to my idea only reassured me even more that I was making the right decision. When I originally went to the parlor over the weekend, I could hardly speak I was so wrought with nervousness and doubt. But when I stood in that very same spot last night, I felt nothing but excitement.

Then he busted out the needles. It was good that I was sitting down, because I felt my knees go a bit weak. More so then pain, I had a million concerns about hepatitis and other icky, needle-y diseases. "So, what exactly does it feel like?" I asked timidly. "Will it be like a flu shot needle poking me repeatedly?"

Wrong question to ask.

Why? Because he never actually answered my question. Rather, Clayton and Shannon got into a lengthy discussion about how flu shots might actually be a government conspiracy and their widespread, encouraged use was wildly reminiscent of the book 1984.

Within a span of 5 minutes, conversation went from the evils of flu shots to how awesome Ron Paul is and somewhere in between all of that I got tattooed. I was a quiet observer even though the entire process was happening to me. Clay stood back behind the front counter (no hovering!) and talked to Shannon about the Republican Primary and Shannon mentioned how Ron Paul was going to "get America back to the Constitution" and I was all like, "Hi, life-changing event happening right here to me. Okay, thanks!"

But listening to their political debate (in a tattoo parlor that had a neon sign in the window in the shape of a sperm that said "Cum in") kept me relaxed and not so focused on any discomfort I was feeling. At the beginning of the tattoo, I couldn't get my foot to stop shaking. Shannon had to stop a few times and say, "I can't draw a straight ink line if you're shivering all over the place." After assuring him I was a big girl and just had some anxiety, I was able to absorb myself in any and all things Ron Paul and finally stop shaking like a Polaroid picture.

And I wasn't even shaking because it hurt because really, it didn't. When he was working directly over a nerve it was a lot more uncomfortable than I thought it would be, but did it ever hurt? No. Not at all.

I was very pleased with the finished product and I can't wait to admire it later tonight (P.S. Shannon said that when I left the shop the first time, his assistant said I would never come back. Ha! Now what, dude? Now what?!). I told Shannon I wasn't sure if I could even get a tattoo on my right foot because I have some scar tissue that goes all the way up to my toes, but he said it was going to be just fine. And that was a huge relief. I was very adamant about getting this on my "ugly foot".  Most of the scarring from my accident is located right where the top of my foot meets my shin and after using an Instagram filter, it's not very noticeable in the picture I took (thank goodness).

While I was sitting in a black leather chair waiting to get started and shivering like a chihuahua, I suddenly had the most vivid memory of when I was 17 years old, driving my old 96' white Plymouth Neon in the summertime with the windows rolled down. I don't know why I began thinking about that time in my life or why it was such a strong recollection, but I couldn't get it out of my head the entire time I was getting my tattoo. Did 17 year-old me think that she would ever get a tattoo? She was so Ms. PlayItSafe with everything. What would she think? Would she think it was trashy or would she think it was "totally rad"? This whole tattoo experience gave me an unshakably deep desire to make her proud of me.

Maybe my mind was flooded with that memory because being 17 years-old in my car, the car I bought with my own part-time job money, were some of the most care-free days of my entire life. At 17 years of age, the whole world is literally laid out for you, beckoning you to take any route you please. Responsibility and obligation haven't laid on the breaks, broken your spirit or impaired your dreams. The future is huge, it's limitless and it's yours for the taking.

Maybe my tattoo symbolizes a tiny rebellion, or a brief foray back to the same crossroads of my youth where I had the power to make my life anything I wanted it to be. I'm 26 years old. While my tattoo is permanent, I am not. I'm not set in my ways. I still have the ability to adapt and change as I need or want to.

Leave it me to make mountains out of molehills and make my dinky tattoo such an earth-shatteringly big deal.

But my goodness, I think that's the most freeing feeling of all.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mission (Statement) Possible

I recently read an older article on Glamour.com written by Bethenny Frankel called "Bethenny Frankel Says You Need a Personal Mission Statement". For those of you who don’t know, Bethenny Frankel gained fame after appearing on Real Housewives of New York City and making margaritas for skinny girls. Now apparently she’s some kind of foodie author and was on Celebrity Apprentice or something like that. I don’t know (nor do I particularly care); I just really liked her article.

from Glamour
Essentially, Bethenny believes that everyone needs their own personal mission statement as a way to remind yourself of who you are, who you want to be, and help you stay true to your course of becoming that person. According to Bethenny, “We all know that life is about the journey, but having a destination in mind gives a sense of order, structure, and, crucially, calm.”

Bethenny advises readers reflect on what we want out of life, to mediate on it. Then, once we’ve established what’s important to us, we owe it to ourselves to shout it from the rooftops, write it down, or bury it in the ground. “Just live your mission in your own way,” she writes. “…try to see everything you do as part of it.”

And in perhaps the most profound piece of advice in the entire article, Bethenny instructs us to “embrace everything life hands you—and when in doubt, consult your mission statement. IT has the answer.”

For a woman who weighs less than 100 pounds, that’s some serious food for thought. I found Bethenny’s article to be incredibly inspiring and it has encouraged me to start reflecting on my life and craft my own mission statement. Especially after my self-image nuclear meltdown last week, I find it crucial that I have a tangible purpose that will help me achieve and maintain true happiness with myself.

What is it that I want out of life? What direction do I want to go? What is my ultimate goal for my time here on earth?

While I was on Pinterest.com pinning up a storm this weekend, I stumbled upon a quote of sorts that spoke to me so loudly that I ended up printing it out and hanging it my office cubicle today, directly above my laptop in such an obvious place that I have no choice but to look at it multiple times a day. 

from theberry.com

While I find that quote to be among one of the most personally moving things I’ve ever read, those are someone else’s words and not my own. Clearly I value the “let go and let God” mantra, but how can I rewrite that idea to fit in my life, into Courtney’s life, specifically?

Obviously, if I were to take a quick stab at my mission statement, it would probably end up being something along the lines of “I was told there would be cake?”, which is exactly why I’m not going with my gut reaction for this project. Rather, I’m going to take some time to reflect and do the whole infamously clichéd soul-searching “thing” to find my true happiness and how to put it into words. I know what’s important to me and what I value most in this earthly life, but how can I put that into a concise statement that will help me refocus and regroup every time I read it?

Of course, like all things in my life, I will keep you updated.

What is your mission statement?

Friday, January 27, 2012

You're on my heart like a tattoo ... (sorry, that was lame)

On and off for the past couple of years, Clay and I have discussed the idea of me getting tattoo. My hubby already has one and has been forever talking about adding more to his body ink collection, and all of his chatter has been rubbing off on me, too. But whenever we'd get into a serious discussion about my getting one, it always ended the same.

Me: "I'd love to get a tattoo."

Clay: "I'd love for you to get one."

Me: "Yes, I'm definitely getting a tattoo."

Clay: "Great! I'll go with you."

Me: "Nah, I'm not getting a tattoo."

I'm probably the most indecisive person on the planet, and not being able to make decisions on my own does not mix well with permanent body art. Whenever I need to make a choice pertaining to myself, I automatically seek out the opinions of others (i.e. my husband, mom and sister), as if I don't trust myself to reach the right conclusion on my own. I am extremely guilty of letting other people's opinions sway my own.

That's just not something you can do with a tattoo. You get a tattoo because YOU want one. You don't get a tattoo because YOU don't want one. It's that easy.

And that's the inner dialogue I've been having with myself for the past several months.

Do I want a tattoo? Yes.

Am I scared of getting a tattoo? Definitely.

But why?

I think what I'm most scared of is that I will come to regret my tattoo, that I will look down at it and feel remorse rather than happiness. And if I end up hating my tattoo, there's really not too much I can do about short of going through a painful removal procedure. Come at me with a laser, and I will kill you ... 

This is so wrong. So, so wrong.
But you know what? We only get one life and I've spent the majority of mine playing way too safe and not taking any chances. What's the edgiest thing I've ever done? I pierced my belly button my sophomore year of college but ended up taking it out less than a year later when it got infected.

So for the past few months, the idea of getting a tattoo has been exciting me more and more. I've been mulling over in my head for about a year now about what specifically I would get and where, and I think the secret to not regretting my decision is all in the tattoo's placement.


I refuse to get a tattoo that does not hold meaning or symbolize something important to me. I don't think etching something permanent on your body should be taken lightly or done just because "you thought it was cute". I mean, by all means, get a butterfly tattooed on your butt if your dad was a butterfly or something, but getting a giant ship inked into your chest because you were on a boat that one time? Pass.

Naturally, my first idea was to get my favorite Bible verses tattooed in Latin. Many people have personal slogans or mantras that help them navigate through life's peaks and valleys, and I've always leaned on this particular passage no matter what the circumstance:

Psalms 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?


Clay and I kicked around the idea of having the scripture tattooed on my rib cage, directly beneath and to the side of one my lady bits. The script would be small and discreet, only be visible to my husband or when I was gallivanting around the beach in my bikini (which surprisingly, happens a lot). However, the more I thought about it, the more I started to worry that such a location would feel a little too intrusive. I feel like a tattoo in that location has the ability to go from cool to trashy very easily.

So after a lot thought and reflection on what I value and how I feel about myself as a person, I decided that if I do take the plunge, I will be getting a tattoo of a little set of wings on the side of my foot, right beneath that ball of the ankle. (It might be the fibula? I don't know, I'm not a doctor. Or smart.)

Anyway, I would like to get this tattoo on my right food, my "ugly" foot. My foot that has a giant burn scar from a childhood accident and the infamous janky toe that turns purple every time I run a mini. My foot that I'm embarrassed of. I want to get a little set of wings, similar to the wings on the sandals of Hermes, the Greek god who served the messenger between the gods and humans. To me, the wings symbolize that even though my foot is "ugly", with it I can run strong and fast. Even though I will never be "perfect" and even though my body itself will never be "perfect", it is mine and it is still capable of doing amazing things. 

I shared the idea with Clayton and he just can't picture. He keeps saying he'd have to see it first in order to decide whether or not he likes it. Which to me, simply means, "I don't like that at all." But, like I said earlier, you can't get a tattoo or not get a tattoo for anyone else but yourself. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

God might really be a stand-up comedian

Exactly one week ago my beloved little car started making a weird rumbly noise from it's undercarriage that sounded like sadness and money coming out of my pocket. Every time I put on my brakes, Gia the G6 (yes, I name all my cars. That's not weird. Everyone does it. Clay's car is named Travis the Stratus) made this really weird noise that if I had to type it out, sounded exactly like this:

"Garawljsdfsdifuiosdufsdkljflamsdlaksdmpaskudioaysdgsakdhgasd!"

Not believing the noise could legitimately be a problem, I causally mentioned it to Clayton later that night. Just a few days later he was driving the car, heard the brake noise for himself and said,"Yeah, that sounds bad. We have to take it back to Eric" (Eric's our mechanic). Cue the major bitch and moan fest because I was NOT happy with that idea. We just paid Eric's mortgage 2 weeks ago when we took my car in for some problem that I am not automobile savvy enough to identify. How could something else be wrong already?

Clay emailed me earlier this afternoon to let me know that my car was fixed and ready to pick up, purposely leaving out the miniscule detail of how much this new repair was going to cost us. 

"...and?" I emailed in return, waiting with bated breath for his response.

$450.

I've paid $1150 dollars in car repairs in less than one month's time.

Oh God, You DO have a sense of humor. Or You clearly do not like me ... but I'm so adorable and awesome, I know that can't be it. You are a funny, funny deity.


So with an unwelcome feeling of déjà vu, Clay and I moved more money out of our savings account and continued to help put my mechanic's kids through college. Ugh, it's so frustrating. Again, we are in the financial position to pay for this expense out of pocket and I cannot even express how thankful I am for being able to do that, but still, do you know how many bottles of wine $450 could buy?

About 56.

The answer is about 56.

In other news, Clay and I were both in good enough health to attend Salsa class on Tuesday night and it appears that I was able to overcome the post traumatic stress disorder I developed from our very first class. Thanks to our germ-infested bodies, Clay and I opted NOT to switch dance partners throughout the night, stating that we didn't want to cough in anyone's face and risk passing along the plague. Safety first, ya know. 

So our second lesson was far more relaxed and enjoyable than the first. In fact, I was so comfortable shimmying and shaking around the dance floor with my hubby that I was actually able to absorb the steps we we were leaning! Instead of worrying about standing practically nose to nose with a complete stranger or wondering if my deodorant was standing strong, I was able to practice the art of dance and *gasp!* have fun. I even asked the instructors questions and let her take me for spin on the dance floor when I wasn't fully comprehending one of the turns she just showed us. 

At first I was slightly concerned the instructor would be irked at Clay and I for not playing her "Touch People We Don't Know" game, but after a certain point, I just didn't care. Sure, she repeatedly announced to the class, "We should keep switching parterners!" and kind of gave Clay and I few weird looks throughout the night as we danced in our own private corner, but screw it. I didn't care. For once in my life I didn't care if I was displeasing someone and ya know what? It was liberating. 

Look at me being an adult!

Clay and I even practiced the new steps when we got home that night. Why? Because we're cute, that's why. And you know what? Clayton has some MOVES. When I pressed him to admit that he took ballet when he was a child, he was quick to inform me that he got he sweet dance moves from gym class. "They made us line dance and waltz for a week in gym," he said proudly. Oh Clayton, you are man of many mysteries ...

Oh, P.S. Thank you all so much for the love you showed me on Tuesday's post, Our bodies, myself. I got a lot of positive feedback from the post, mostly by comments and emails from other women who can totally identify what I've been going through most of my life. As usual, I found myself questioning whether or not I should click "publish" and send such a personal confession out in the internet universe, and I even panicked about it a little bit when I went to bed that night,but luckily you guys put my doubts to rest yet again. Thank you! I'm so glad I can be myself. But I just hope that it doesn't weird anyone out that one day I'll write a light-hearted post about my weekend adventures or crazy people who hoard own their urine and then turn around the next day and write an uber serious post about how I can't eat like a normal human being and secretly despise myself most of the time. Maybe I should change the name of my blog from Notably Neurotic to Slightly Schizophrenic?

And one more thing, I'm totally debating getting a tattoo and I want your thoughts. And I want them like, right now. Good on girls? Bad? Location? Context? Leave me a comment or an email or come find me on twitter at @MrsCourtneyP (But be aware, my tweets are protected and you have to request to follow me. It's not like my tweets are too amazing or sacred to share with the general public, it's just that the last time I "unprotected" my tweets, I got constant requests to follow porn stars and wart removal websites.). I tweet, and I tweet often.

You can even come find me on Pinterest. But be forewarned, I mostly pin pictures of puppies and cake. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Our bodies, myself

Women's body issues fascinate me. I minored in gender studies in college and was so interested in the class material that I had a 4.0 GPA my final semester of school when I was taking 18 credit hours of 400-level women's studies courses. I did the readings and studied the material so intensely that I cranked out over 100 typed pages of papers and essays that semester, most of which were granted high A's for grades.(Yes, I'm bragging) Ah, if only I approached my Calculus class with that same gusto ... both times I had to take it.

Thanks to the media and the subsequent lies I let breed in my young teenage mind, I am a woman who has grown to both fear and loathe her body. Succumbing to my own negative thinking, I developed an eating disorder at the age of 13 and bought into the whispered belief that women shouldn't take up space. I favored sharp, boney angles in the female form rather than the soft, nurturing curves that are, by definition, the very essence of womanhood and female sexuality. To be hungry was to be in control and to give in to the temptation of food was an act of unbridled overindulgence. And to say that such ideas were illogical and inevitably damaging was lost on my starving, self-loathing ears.

Even having a mother who worked as a clinical psychologist couldn't save me. I bought into the falsehoods of what it meant to be female and I bought into them earlymy fragile sense of self never stood a chance.

And I honestly don't believe I have ever fully recovered.

I only practiced the act of starving myself for a few months before my mom, step-dad and a teacher at school intervened. We had a few perfunctory come-to-Jesus talks, my eating was monitored at both school and at home, and it wasn't long before everything was easy peasy lemon squeezy again. My foray into the world of eating disorders was never serious enough to require outside therapy or hospitalization. I was lucky enough to have a mother whose relentless love refused to let me sink low enough into my own private hell to do any permanent damage to my body. I had simply become too skinny too fast and everyone was concerned.

Going through that experience, I remember mostly feeling immense relief once I was caught and my secret was brought into the light. Having someone else be privy to my self-abuse was a huge weight off of my shoulders and I was grateful to have someone else take the reins. Hating yourself is exhausting work; I was thankful to relinquish the control I had been fighting so passionately to keep.

But there was one other emotion I remember cultivating that year—guilt. I have a vivid memory of watching an episode of Oprah with my mother when I about 11 years old. We were living in a new city, coming fresh off of my parents' divorce, and I was already starting to feel weird and resentful about life. One afternoon after the bus dropped me off from school, I joined my mother on the couch and watched the daytime TV queen preach to her studio audience about the dangers of anorexia and bulimia. A sorrowful looking woman sat next to Oprah and tearfully rehashed the painful details of her decades-long struggle with binging and purging. Without turning away from the TV my mom said to me, "I would be so disappointed if you or your sister ever did anything like that to yourselves."

As an adult, I eat like a horse and do everything that a semi-well-mannered woman would do. I am a proud member of the Clean Plate Club at home and thanks to my athletic prowess on both the treadmill and softball fields, I can consume more food in one sitting than my husband. However, one of the unseen punishments of my brief disorded eating lingers heavily in my private thoughts on a continuous, 24/7 basis—I am preoccupied with the size of my body. It can't please me. And the way it changes scares me. I was over the moon when I lost upwards of 20 pounds in the past year, but openly cried only a few days ago when I discovered that my chest size has shrunk yet again and even my tiniest bra sags and bunches.

My body shows the tell-tale evidence of weight loss, and yet it's not good enough for me. Now certain parts are too small. I traded one misery for another and proved to myself that no matter what I do and no matter size I am, nothing will be good enough for me.

And I've been monitoring myself when I'm out in public dining with friends. If any of my girlfriends don't finish their meal, I'll automatically lay down my fork in surrender, too. But the reality is, I can always finish my food ... and probably their plates as well. But for some twisted reason I'm afraid they'll judge me for being a piggy and think that I don't have any self-control. I can't let them think I don't have any self-control! Because if they have self-control, well dammit, then I have to have it, too.

All of that being said, I still continue to read articles and books about women and their bodies, hoping that maybe one day what I know to be true in my head will finally make it my heart. I think I've read every memoir on eating disorders our public library has to offer and I've even armed myself with a copy of Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls just in case God finds it funny enough to bless me with a daughter of my own one day.


Today I saw an article from GirlieGirlArmy.com circulating on Facebook that I would love to share with you. It's called The Problem With Skinny Bashing and discuses the way women's curvy bodies are always pitted against skinny bodies in a sick competition of which is the preferred ideal. The article points to the notion that tearing one body type down to prove a point about another is detrimental to all women. Check out the article and let me know your thoughts!

Is this something that you struggle with, too?

Monday, January 23, 2012

My Cold: The Gift That Keeps On Giving


I’m still sick. But I’ve successfully moved on to Phase 3 of my cold, so I’m confident that I am on the mend and will be back to normal by the end of this week. Phase 1 of my cold started earlier this week with an overall feeling of “blah”, a fever, and the insatiable desire to crawl under the covers and sleep for the next month.  Stubbornly I fought my icky feelings and insisted I could maintain the same level of activity, thinking “Only wusses get sick”. However, after almost falling off the treadmill because my vision started to go fuzzy, I finally gave in an accepted that I was indeed sick.

Phase 2 took full effect on Friday with a rampant sore throat that caused my voice to come out in almost an inaudible squeak, like a decibel that only dogs could hear. Even though Clay himself is still sick, he found this new development in my cold to be wildly hilarious and went out of his way to make me laugh in a weird, helium-sounding way that in turn, made him laugh so hard that he ended up coughing himself stupid.

Now I’m in the third (and hopefully final) stage of my cold which merely consists of a relentlessly stuffy nose and the desperate need to cough every two seconds. Clay and I could barely make it through Moneyball on Saturday because we both took turns hacking and had to constantly pause or rewind the movie to see what we failed to hear while the other person was busy coughing up their lung.

In fact, Clay’s coughing has been so bad that we haven’t slept in the same bed for well over a week. Out of courtesy to me, Clay has opted to sleep on the couch until he’s sure that he won't keep me awake during the night. It’s an overwhelmingly sweet gesture on his part, but our big bed is getting rather lonely and I miss his body warmth. I’m not even sure what good his chivalrous offer to sleep downstairs is doing anyone because now both of our coughing is echoing all over our townhouse. I’m sure our neighbors hate us.

Needless to say, most of our weekend was spent intravenously dumping cold medicine into our systems and sleeping. I had to laugh on Sunday night when I opened a cupboard and saw that we have 4 different, almost-empty bottles of various cold and flu-fighting concoctions. We could open our own pharmacy. 

Despite being sick, Clay and I managed to pull ourselves together long enough to enjoy at least some of the weekend. Before meeting our friends for dinner on Saturday night, Clay and I left our sick beds long enough to go outside and enjoy the ice storm we had the previous night by ice skating on our back porch (as evidenced below). 



I was also really excited to come home from a long day at the Indy office on Friday night to discover that our dining room table had finally been delivered! Clayton’s grandmother is in the process of selling her home in Tennessee since she now lives here in town with my in-laws, and earlier this week a moving truck brought the rest of her furniture up North. She promised to give Clay and I her table and matching buffet a couple of years ago, and I was over the moon to finally see it sitting pretty in our modest dining room. We’ll have to wait until we have a home or bigger townhouse before bringing the buffet over, but for now the dining room table is a perfect fit by itself. Apparently the table was purchased back in the 50s and is quite the antique. More than finally having a table big enough to actually invite people over for a meal without forcing them to sit on the floor, I’m so grateful to have something of hers. I don’t have any mementos or belongings of any of my own grandparents, so having something from Clay’s grandmother is really special. 
 
I did have a slight meltdown on Saturday night that I am totally blaming on the numerous doses of Nyquil I had been shooting all weekend. After having dinner with our friends, we got back to our townhouse only to realize we forgot to stop and get more cough drops on the way home. My husband, the good provider that he is, told me to relax on the couch while he ran back out to get the medicine. 

“Okay,” I squeaked with my scratchy throat, sounding more pathetic than usual. He kissed me on the forehead and left.

Wal-Mart is not even a 5 minute drive from our house, so when he wasn’t back in a half hour I started to feel a little uneasy. We did just have a huge ice storm, so maybe it was taking him a bit longer than usual to navigate the icy roads? That’s when I noticed that his cell phone was laying on the coffee table.

45 minutes went by. I pulled myself off the couch and looked at the window in hopes of seeing his car coming up the road. I heard ambulances screaming in the distance. I tried not to let my mind wander too much. 

60 minutes went by. I started full-on panicking. There’s no way it took an hour to make a 5 minute drive for cough drops. Awful scenarios started to play out in my head as I started to pace the living room, trying to figure out what to do next. He had both sets of keys, plus his car was frozen shut from the storm, so I had no hope of driving out to Wal-Mart myself and looking for him. 

What could I do? The only thing I could do in that moment was put on my coats and boots and start walking in the direction of Wal-Mart. Almost paralyzed with fear, I shakily open the front door and gingerly stepped out on the icy sidewalk. I slowly started walking towards the main road. 

It was then that a car turned the corner and I almost peed myself with relief when I made out the familiar headlights of our car. Clay pulled into a parking spot and before he came to a completely stop, I beat on the passengers door until he unlocked it. I was prepared to yell at him for taking so long and making me worry, but when I opened the door and saw his face, I burst into tears. Like straight-up sobbing. Had my boogers not been frozen, snot surely would have been running out of my nose.

“WHERE WERE YOU!?” I shrieked, my voice cracking like a boy going through puberty. 

Clay enveloped me in a hug and apologized profusely for worrying me. After I finally calmed down, Clay explained he took so long getting home because on his way out of the store, he got sucked into a conversation with an elderly Wal-Mart greeter. “She has Alzheimer’s,” he explained. “And she just needed someone to talk to. I knew I had to get home to you, but she kept talking and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I won’t leave without my cell phone ever again.”

Is my husband the greatest man in the whole world or what?

After the great success I had with my Mexican meatball stew, Clay and I are on a soup kick. So on Sunday night I continued our comfort food streak and made a giant pot of stuffed pepper soup (it’s like making stuffed peppers, but for lazy people). A few weeks ago our favorite diner had it on their lunch menu and I promised Clay I would try and recreate it at home. As it turns out, it’s a very simple recipe. All you need to do is brown a pound of lean ground beef, add half a cup of chopped red and green peppers each, and simmer for about 30 minutes with your favorite spices, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. You can serve it alone or, as we did, with a big spoonful of brown rice on top.  One batch of soup makes about 8 servings, so we’ll thankfully be able to eat it several more days this week.

I finally had enough of my strength back on Sunday night to attempt the long run I so miserably failed at earlier that weekend. I didn't want to push myself to the full 7 miler I was scheduled for, but I cranked out 5 at a faster-than-normal pace with minimal discomfort. It was a huge relief. When I couldn't do my long run on Saturday morning I honest-to-goodness started crying. I hate being down for the count. I am not a weak person, but being so sick made me feel that way and I could not tolerate it.

How was your weekend?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Forever Lazy

Okay, I'm just going to come right out and say itI hate winter. I want it to be spring like, right now. No matter how much I think I'm looking forward to busting out my snugly mittens and warm, fuzzy sock hats, once temperatures drop below 40 degrees, I'm huddled on the couch with three blankets and a space heater pointed directly at my feet, bitching up a storm.

If winter and I were in high school, I would have dumped it by now and started dating its younger, sexier friend named Summer.

If I was in charge of the weather (and honestly, I'm not sure why I haven't been granted that responsibility yet), I'd let spring and summer proceed as usual, but after September 30th it would stay 65 degrees every day up until Christmas Eve where we would spontaneously experience an extreme temperature drop to 32 degrees and a snow storm. However, once we woke up on the morning of December 26th, the snow would be melted and the temperature would spring back up to a happy, tepid 65 degrees.

I think what rattles my cage most about winter is how blasted inconvenient the weather is when it comes to fashion. I hate wearing sweaters. They itch. In fact, I can't stand wearing long sleeves period. Unless it's a hoodie or some ah-mazing running t-shirt I acquired from registering for a cold-season race, I have no use for long sleeves. They bug me. I don't like things encasing my wrists. I barely wear my watch. If you bought me a breathtaking diamond tennis bracelet because I'm your favorite blogger, I'd probably have to turn you down and say, "No thank you." (okay, that's a lie. I wouldn't turn down diamonds. At the very least I'd go behind your back and have a jewler turn it into a necklace ... or pawn it for cake.)

Hey, what do you know—a cake made out of diamonds!


Anyway, I don't like wearing long sleeves or layers. It's heavy, it's constricting, and it's usually very itchy. Everything makes me itchy. I have a really cute red turtleneck sweater hanging in my closet from Victoria's Secret, but I've never worn it out in public because as soon as I pull it over my head, I start feeling claustrophobic and the wool fabric makes my hair frizzy. So I immediately rip it off in a frustrated flurry of aggression and static before tossing it into the back of my closet.

And yet, I haven't gotten rid of it. I think I'm holding out hope that one day I will put on that sweater and discover that it magically changed it's texture and fit.

But, as with all things, there is a silver lining to this time of the year. Sure, winter brings dry skin (and in my case, spontaneous nose bleeds), flyways that cannot be contained with any kind of serum or leave-in conditioner, and chapped lips, but it also brings two of my most favorite things ...

... scarves and boots.

Hey, what do you knowUgg boots made out of cake!


All bitterness against winter aside, I do love me some cute winter boots. And I have several pairs in my closet to prove it. Even though Clayton detests skinny jeans and makes an audible sigh of disgust every time I yank a pair on, I think jeans tucked into boots is the hottest thing since the stir-up pants I used to wear with slouchy socks in elementary school (I was somewhat of a 2nd grade fashionista). I used to think Ugg boots were ghastly and would will city buses to run over all of the girls trotting around campus wearing them with booty shorts, but the look of those funky little boots has grown on me. While I don't favor the Ugg brand itself and would never dream of walking out of the house wearing booty shorts with them (people would go blind I tell you, BLIND), I like the concept of the shoe. My boots? American Eagle (Adorable and affordable). Come on, there's nothing worse than the dreaded wetness stain on the bottoms of your pants from trudging through snow. My cute little booties totally eliminate that problem and keep my tootsies roasty toasty all winter long. 

Another way you can make your winter less miserable? Snuggies. And if that doesn't tickle your fancy, there's always the fashionable, head-turning, babe-magnet called Forever Lazy:

 

Clayton and I would both be lying if we said we never considered buying a pair of these for each other for Christmas. He was skeptical about the idea until I told him they have a little trap door in the back so you can go to the bathroom without taking them off. Then he was a believer, too. 

I just love that the commercial had people modeling them outside at what looks to be some kind of barbeque or cookout. Psh, like anyone who owns a Forever Lazy and wears it in public has any friends or gets invited to parties.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Plague

Clay and I share everythinga life, a townhouse, a stinky beagle, money, sometimes the same pair of his old baseball sweatpants, one brainso it makes total sense that we would share germs, too. After spending an entire weekend with Sicky McSickerson, I ended up contracting whatever plague was (and still is) infecting his body.

(Which he takes no responsibility for, by the way. I told him it was his fault I was ill and his response? "That's what happens when you can't keep your hands off of me." He's humble, that one.)

I called in sick to work yesterday because I spent the better part of the previous night sweating through my pj's and trying to swallow the hot coals that were burning in the back of my throat. Around 4:00 a.m. I was jolted from my fitful sleep by the sound of gale-force winds crashing against the side of our house. Flashes of lightning sparked outside the window and rumbles of thunder shook my bed frame. In my delirious, fevered state, I couldn't connect the dots that we were having inclement weather and I honest-to-goodness thought the world was coming to end. My suspicions were confirmed when I sat up and noticed Clayton was not laying in bed next to me.

"Great," I thought, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, "Clayton got raptured and I didn't."

But as it turns out, it wasn't the Apocalypse. It was just a rare January thunderstorm that did little to convince me that global warming is only a huge lie made up by the government.

I felt like I got ran over by a truck and with the swelling in the back of my throat, I could have sworn I had mumps. Then I freaked about having mumps and spent 20 minutes googling the symptoms on my Kindle Fire before I passed back out in bed.

I rarely get sick. I like to credit my dedication to fitness and healthy eating as the primary reason why I rarely succumb to the sniffles. Yet no matter how many precautions you take and despite how many multivitamins you shove into your system like Pez candy, your immune system will occasionally betray you anyway.

I don't even know what's wrong with me. I have a fever (and possibly the mumps?) and my throat feels like it was massaged with a cheese grater. A pounding sinus headache was a wonderful new development this morning, as well as the overwhelming desire to play Sleeping Beauty for a few hundred years. But my nose isn't stuffy yet and I don't have a cough. Clay had a straight-up common cold; I have no idea what he gave me.

Eventually I yanked my body out of bed and forced myself to get some work done because I felt guilty for being sick (I think being guilty is a hobby of mine). But after working on a few publicity documents, I fell back asleep for what felt like the millionth time.

Everything there after is a blur.

So much to my dismay, Clay and I skipped our salsa dance class since he was still leaking snot from his face and I was apparently a walking zombie. Over the weekend I practiced the basic steps we learned in our first session and was raring to redeem myself in this week's class. But Clayton figured it wouldn't do anyone any good if I was lurching around the studio in a Nyquil-incuded haze and he was sneezing on everyone and everything.

We're a sexy pair, he and I.

So you'll have to excuse my erratic posting schedule this week. Hopefully things will be back to normal by the weekend.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dilated Pupils: Seeing is Believing

I had the best #firstworldproblem ever this weekend and I just have to share it with you:

A friend and I were talking about how crazy downtown Indianapolis was going to be during the Super Bowl and we joked that it would probably be better to just fly there rather than wrestle with the inevitable traffic on the highway. That led me to mentioning that my dad was a pilot and had his own plane.

“Great!” my friend exclaimed. “He can fly us there!”

And that’s when I replied with the first-iest first world problem of them all: “Well, my dad and I don’t have a very good relationship, so I never get to take rides in his airplane.”

Womp. Womp.

*****
So did everyone have a good weekend?

I sure did, despite the fact that I was nursing a sick hubby the entire time.
Friday afternoon I left work a few minutes early to drive across town for the second part of my eye exam. I had the first part of my routine exam last Saturday, but opted not to have my pupils dilated at that time because taking in excessive amounts of light through my eyes isn't really a hobby of mine. However, my optometrist insisted that I have it done at a later date, free of charge (and he had me there, I do like free things), just to make sure my eyes were really as healthy as he suspected they were. 

So Clayton drove me to the doctor's office yet again (Clayton was sent home from work early because his incessant coughing and hacking was driving his boss up the wall), and the dilation of my pupils began. And yes, my eyes are perfectly healthy and according to my doctor, shaped like perfect footballs. I think that was a compliment? I don’t know, but it was very specific. And apparently I’m some kind of anomaly because I have a freckle on one my retinas and it was, in my doctor’s words, “just the cutest little thing ever”.

Have I mentioned my eye doctor is the best? Seriously, if you’re looking for a local optometrist who has impeccable personal hygiene, a sharp-tongue and quick wit, email me because I will be delighted to tell you who he is and where he’s located. It’s like getting an eye exam and a show. 

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever had your pupils dilated, but to put it frankly, it sucks. It’s not pleasant in the slighest. It takes your normal, perfectly happy pupils and increases their size to that of a dinner mint or in my case, a dinner plate. It allows your doctor to look more deeply into your eyes (I don’t mean that romantically) and check out the overall health of your peepers. It takes about 20 minutes for the drops to fully take effect and once they do, you can’t see for crap and have to walk around looking high for the next several hours. Since his office is located in our mall, he instructed me to go shopping while I’ll waited for the drops to work their magic. About ten minutes in, I could no longer read price tags and I accidentally ran into a sunglasses kiosk.

After thoroughly making fun of me, Clay had a moment of compassion and offered to take me to a Chinese buffet for dinner. I couldn’t see the sushi I was eating, but it sure was delicious … what parts made it into my mouth, anyway.

By Saturday morning my sight was fully restored and I banged out a stellar 6-mile run on our treadmill. I was too chicken to brave the elements and decided that running inside while watching an episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta was a better alternative to wheezing out in the snow. 

That afternoon my mother drove down to meet me at Oliver Winery so we could sample wine and pick out the perfect bottle to compliment our dinner. I made her steak, roasted red potatoes and steamed broccoli in an effort to repay her for the millions of homecooked meals she made for me growing up.

I don’t know why, but I get nervous whenever I prepare anything to eat for my mother. I think it’s because she’s such a tremendous cook that I just want her to be pleased with me and feel confident that her culinary skills are being carried on by her daughters. But she really liked my food and commended my broccoli for having the perfect amount of crunch and color.

I was beaming. 

This part made me pee a little, I'm not gonna lie.
But I couldn't help but notice that this demon's
pupils were NOT dilated. (Photo from DigitalTrends.com)

After my mother left, Clay and I finished the movie Insidious on our Netflix Instant Queue. We attempted to watch it the night before, but my dilated pupils made everything 10 times creepier, and Clay shut it off after I started screaming something about over-stimulation and demons being able to see into my soul by way of my giant-sized pupils.

Sunday was fairly low-key. Clay was still pretty sick with his cold, so we skipped church and took it easy (and by taking it easy, I mean we did lots of laundry). Wanting to comfort him, I made a giant pot of Mexican meatball stew which actually ended up being the perfect meal on such a chilly January evening. I always feel like a million bucks when he takes the first bite of something I’ve cooked and sighs happily. Makes me feel like a good wifey. 

He also gave me one of those compliments wrapped up in an insult that I’m so found of. After downing a massive glass of water after my run, a giant belch slipped out of me before I could stop it (Okay, that’s a lie. I was encouraging it to come out … with bravado). After the ground stopped shaking, Clay looked at me, clearly disgusted, and said, “How can something so incredibly gross come out of something so incredibly cute?”

Aw. :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

My two left feet: Salsa dance class recap


This is not me and my friends.
As you are all well aware, I’m not the best dancer in the world. Based on my marvelous, proven track record with Just Dance 3, it’s evident that I have about as much grace as wildebeest and shouldn’t be allowed around anything resembling a dance floor. Sure, I can bust out a great rendition of the “Cha-Cha Slide” at any wedding so long as there is a cash-only bar nearby, but when it comes to performing calculated dance steps that involve my hands and feet doing something different at the same time, forget about it. My lack of dancing ability is a humiliating, shameful secret that was very much exposed on Tuesday night at Clay’s and my first Salsa dance class. 

I went into this class thinking, “Yay! I’m trying something fun and exciting with my husband! This is going to be great!” and apparently forgetting everything that was just mentioned above.  But come on, I’ve done sports since I was in kindergarten. I’m used to being able to do participate in almost any type of athletic activity with at least some marginal amount of skill. That kind of stuff just comes easily to me. Could structured dancing really be much different?

Why yes, yes it can.

I knew I wasn’t going to be great at salsa dancing. In fact, I didn’t even count on the fact that I would be good at it. I just figured I’d be able to channel my inner volleyball and softball player and get through the motions without completely embarrassing my husband or drawing any sort of unwanted attention to myself.

We began class with an introduction to thebasic Salsa steps and learned to always step onto the balls of our feet.  This is when I also learned that when looking into a mirror, I can’t tell the different between my right and left feet.  

Our instructor told our class, “Salsa is the sexiest dance in the world.” 

To which I promptly replied, “It won’t be after I get done with it.”

Our instructor told our class, “Salsa is all about the sway of the hips.”

To which I promptly replied, “Lucky for Salsa I’m built like a prepubescent boy and don’t have any hips.”

But never mind all that, I thought to myself. Clay and I can laugh and fumble through this together.

And that’s when our dance instructor dropped a bomb on me:

“I’d like for everyone to switch partners every couple of minutes,” she chirped, shimmying herself to the center of the room.  “It will be a great way for you to get used to dancing with other people and recognizing their unique cues.”
This is not Clayton and I either.
 I’m sorry, but I don’t plan on ever going out “for a night of Salsa dancing”, let along ever dancing with another dude. I took this class to dance with my hubs, and my hubs only. No other man in this room is prepared to take on the hot mess that is Courtney Alexis.

But switching partners we did. I am highly disappointed to report that out of the entire 50 minute class, I danced with Clayton for maybe 45 seconds of it. I tried to hide my feelings since everyone else seemed perfectly okay to dance with complete strangers, but inside I was seething. I mean, hello? Have we ever met? My name is Courtney and I’m all about personal space. I saw the movie Bubble Boy and it didn't seem like such a bad life. I’m awkward enough on my own, I do not need to be 6 inches from a complete stranger’s face.

“Make sure you look at your partner, not your feet,” our instructor interjected as she slinked by to check our progress. Um, no thank you.

I'm pretty sure that my face was about 50 shades of red during the entirety of that class. I do NOT do well in situations where I’m pushed outside my comfort zone. I’m always willing to try something new and will give almost anything a shot at least once (Cleary. I was there, right?), but I want to crawl out of my skin with anxiousness if I have to such a close encounter with someone I don’t know. I mean, holding hands and staring into the eyes of someone I’ve never met is the most awkward thing I can imagine. And on top of everything else, the Salsa is supposed to be sexy. And I’m sorry, but I don’t have a desire to do anything sexy with anyone but my husband. I’ve been less anxious at a pelvic exam.

I kept apologizing to everyone I danced with. I tried to justify my two left feet by mutter over and over again, “I’m a terrible dancer,” which of course, just made me even more nervous. 

Occasionally my partner was another woman which made me feel a little better. And dancing with my friend Dan was fine because he and I talked about everything gross, embarrassing or inappropriate when we used to work together; he’s my bud. 

And speaking of Dan, it sure didn’t help that we are taking this dance class with him and his wife, Emily.  Dan and Emily who have taken swing dance lessons together. Emily who is a jazzercise instructor.

And she was amazing! Emily was so fluid in her movement and all of the steps came so easily to her. In fact, our instructor kept using Emily as her partner whenever she needed to demonstrate a step and after class took her for a freestyle spin across the studio floor. I was so impressed by Emily and so wildly embarrassed by own lack of skills.

And I hate that I let myself get so flustered during class. As you all know, I’m hopelessly tense and nervous at all times. And as you all also know, I completely hate that about myself. I wanted so badly to go into this class as a cool, confident chick who was totally willing to laugh at herself and have fun no matter how terrible she was. But that was not me. Not at all. And I kept reprimanding myself for being such an awkward idiot. I made it such much worse for myself. 

So while I took the first dance class as a complete failure, I’m not going to let it get the best of me and prevent me from going back. I can’t deny the truth—this is a brand new experience for me, something of which I have no previous knowledge to fall back on. And learning something new definitely takes time and everyone in that studio is there to help, not to judge or make fun of me (gosh, at least I hope not!). This 8-week dance class will be a great way for me to work on getting used to being pushed outside of my comfort zone and an opportunity to stop being so damn critical of myself. No one expects me to leave this class and head straight for Dancing with the Stars: Bloggers Edition, And I need not put that kind of pressure on myself either. I’m not expected to be good at everything I try. It’s just a dance class. It’s supposed to be fun.

And I’m going to keep dancing until it is.
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