Okay, what’s your resolution for 2014, Ang?

Okay.  I resolve to go to Zumba class twice a week.  And I resolve to trade French fries for applesauce or cottage cheese or carrots or something.

I’ve been feeling a bit chubby lately.  The jeans I bought this fall are snug.  And I’m not keen on building a new wardrobe to adjust.  I’d rather just get back in shape.  I feel much better about myself and internally, especially, when I’m in a habit of exercising.  I actually feel cleaner when I exercise.

I felt like 2013 was the year I spent taking care of my emotional and mental health.  I came home from Wisconsin with a plan to surround myself with people who truly love me.  Check.  I vowed to get in shape.  Check, for about 8 months.  And I worked with a woman who became a mentor.  We gardened several times a week.  My dear friend, L, was such a positive influence on me this summer.  She helped empower me by teaching me all about plants and seasons and flowers.  I planted my own garden here and watched all summer and fall as my hard work paid off.  I felt connected to the earth, the land, Iowa, and my home.  I really needed that after 2012.  And now, at the end of 2013, I got a job.

Now, I know my problems aren’t magically solved, but having some money to put toward my student loans and such is a HUGE relief!  And it’s time to focus on my body.  I want to prepare myself for the day when I want to start a family.  I want to prepare myself for aging.  I don’t want to be 80 and look back and wish I’d taken better care of myself.

So, Zumba meets three times a week in the next town over.  If I go twice a week, that’ll be great.  I’ve done it before, I can do it again.  And the potatoes thing is that I feel like I use them for filler.  And I’d rather eat a healthier filler.  I’ll know I’ve succeeded in my resolution when I can count more weeks with 2 Zumba nights than weeks without.  And I’ll know daily if I succeed with making healthier (fruits and veggies) choices.  I do weigh myself on occasion, but I normally judge my body by which clothes I can wear.  How I feel in my clothes.  And how I feel without my clothes.  Inside, like in my digestive system.

Since meeting my birthfamily, I’ve come to terms with my body shape actually.  I used to get so frustrated that I carry my weight in my tummy region.  But after meeting my mother and grandmother, I see that it’s just genetics.  That’s where they’re soft too.  And they have short torsos.  And longer legs.  And no matter what I do, this is what I’ve got to work with.  And that’s a great feeling actually!  That doesn’t bum me out at all!

***UPDATE***

Since I began writing this post, I have since gotten a new phone.  With said phone came a $50 gift card to the Verizon store, so I bought a FitBit with it.  This is not an endorsement, but I will say that I kinda love my little pink Bit!  And I’m proud of myself for taking a real step toward my goals.  The Bit tracks my steps, calories burned, and distance traveled.  It’s kinda fun to see how many steps I can do – it really makes you WANT to move more!  I hope to use this information to target my efforts and be more aware of the types of foods I’m eating.

What are your resolutions for the year?

What’s gotten you in such a huff?

I wrote the following post on Facebook a few weeks ago.  I’d had enough.

“I just read a funny post about things adoptees don’t want to hear. Yup, it was funny, and most of it, I agreed with. But I’m starting to get pissed off about people ragging on Gotcha Day. If you don’t like Gotcha Day, or don’t want one, don’t have one! Leave me and my family’s understanding and celebration of Gotcha Day to us. And just because we still celebrate it, doesn’t mean my brother and I don’t understand why people don’t like it. That doesn’t make us bad adoptees. So there. *steps off soapbox*”

Someone asked me what a Gotcha Day is in the first place….This was my response.

“Okay, essentially, a Gotcha Day is the day an adoptive family celebrates either the day the parents and child met for the first time, or maybe the day that legally the adoption passed. Some, many I guess, say that the term “Gotcha” is very skewed to the adoptive parent perspective. That it suggests a child is something to be gotten, obtained, an object. That the term ignores the whole side of the birth parent, their pain, even the pain of separation for the adoptee. Some families use the term Adoption Day or Family Day or something like that.  Apparently a lot of adoptees are quite incensed that families celebrate this day in the first place.

For me, my birthday has always been bittersweet – I’d think about my mother and what she must have been doing and thinking that day. Did she love me? Did she think about me? I didn’t have those answers until just a year ago when we reunited. But my Gotcha Day, now that was a concrete day that I knew I was loved. I was placed in my parents’ arms on November 19, 1984, and every year, even now, I get giddy and ask Mom for “the story” – the only true story until last year that I knew for sure. My parents and I have a fantastic relationship. And a few weeks ago I talked to my mom about Gotcha Days. She listened to my concerns about what so many people have been saying. She asked if I felt that way, negative about the name and the day. And I said, well I didn’t? I don’t feel like you ignored my mother by celebrating this day every year….So yeah, that’s basically the debate. I get it, for some families whose parents probably don’t have such an open relationship, a Gotcha Day might be a huge source of friction and pain for the adoptee. But not in my family. And it’s just gotten to a point, reading about it everywhere, that I had to say something.”

This is the link to the original post that got me so huffy.  While I’m really glad that Gazillion Voices exists, I do find that I don’t agree with everything they publish.  Or promote.  And that’s great.  I mean, the likelihood that all adoptees everywhere agree on every issue is…..crazy.  And we all can’t be crazy.  So anyway, leave me a message if you have any questions about Gotcha Day.  And thanks for reading.

http://gazillionvoices.com/guest-piece-by-christina…/…

Has Hell frozen over? Whatever, who cares!

I HAVE A JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m so damn excited!!!!!  I get to use my brain every day!  I’m gonna be writing narratives for urban renewal grants, working on EPA reports, and proofreading Iowa city codes.  And guess what?  My boss treats me like an adult!  A competent, real adult!  You might not think it was such a big deal, but trust me, it’s not a given.  I am excited to work hard and earn the amazing benefits she’s giving me.  I’m excited to be part of helping citizens of my beloved state get services they need.  I’m excited for using my degree finally!  I think I’ll just wish I’d have paid more attention in Semantics…..Phonology isn’t so helpful now.  haha

The whole thing came about really organically and really quickly.  I saw my new boss while working for another local company.  She asked what I was up to, I told her, and she took my email address.  I ended up emailing her my resume and references.  Another week later she came back into the store, and we met up last week for an interview!  I started yesterday and already have responsibilities and questions and research to do!

I was quite nervous yesterday morning and had to give myself a little pep talk!  Just because things didn’t work out the last time I had a(n almost) real job, doesn’t mean things won’t work out this time!   The last job couldn’t keep a person like me around for more than a couple years, but this place has employees who’ve been there for about 30 years!  That’s really saying something!  I get a key this time around, which is cool.  I told my boss it’d be more likely that I would be the last to leave, as opposed to being the first one there.  haha  She’s encouraged me to volunteer so I’m excited to keep working at the Gardens in my town on Friday mornings.  She’s encouraged me to be on a Chamber committee!  So long as I’m trusted to get my work done.  Deal.

I’m excited to be an adult again.  Someone who can pay some bills.  Save some money.  Visit friends.  Visit my birthfamily.  Buy a bigger bed.  Treat my mom to something fun.  Treat my friends.  And generally pass on the kindness that has been shown to me by so many friends and family.  No, money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does buy a peace of mind.  A confidence.  Independence.  And I can’t wait :)

You’re *still* crying? What happened??

(I started writing this post a month ago, the last week of November.  I still wanted to post it though, b/c my Grandma deserves to be remembered here on my blog. – AO)

Yeah, still crying.  Or not.  It’s been a tough two weeks.  My grandma passed away about 10 days ago.  We’ve had the visitation and the funeral already.  Thank you cards are on their way out, and the potato salad leftovers are almost gone.  Now begins the real work – life without Grandma.

It should be easy.  Grandma’s been in care facilities for the last ten years or so.  She’s sort of been…away from home, from me, and it seemed like she was always there…down the road.  Maybe that’s why it doesn’t feel real yet that she’s gone.  Even this Thursday, when our family gathers to eat and laugh, it won’t seem real.  She hasn’t been able to travel for our holiday celebrations for a year or so, so her presence won’t be missed like it might have been.  Let me start over though.  And tell you about my grandma.  Her life and story are worth sharing because she’s had such an influence on my life, and it’s my blog, so there!

Grandma was born in rural Iowa in her parents’ home.  The family doctor who delivered her put her on the scale.  When the needle went as far as it could go, at 13 pounds, he said, “That’s enough.  No baby should have to weigh more than that.”  Classic!  She spent the next 5-7 years playing outside with her older brothers and younger sister when she came long.  One day, at her country school, Grandma was on the end of a Crack-the-Whip line.  Well, they whipped, and she cracked.  She broke a collarbone, poor thing!  Shortly after that year, her family moved to the town where she’d get married, have children, and spend her retirement years with her true love.

I forget the exact timeline, but Grandma once told me that she was a synchronized swimmer.  One of these days I’m gonna do some research into that to see if I can find a photo…I think this must have been while she still lived at home…?

Again, I’m estimating here, but probably in 1945 she met my Grandpa at a historic location in our town.  They loved dancing together and spending time with their friends.  It didn’t take them long to decide that they wanted to spend their lives together.  They married in July 1946 and started their family pretty soon after that.  My uncle was born the next year, and five years later my Mom came along.  My aunt came three years later and the little brother finished out the family nine years after that.  So my grandpa drove a bakery bread truck for the local bakery for 40 years.  For the kids’ birthdays, they’d get a yellow cake with chocolate frosting from the bakery.  At some point, they quit making those cakes, so Grandma continued the tradition on her own.  Mom remembers a seven layer yellow cake with chocolate frosting for several years’ birthdays.  Sounds amazing!  My uncle remembers that cookies were *always* in the freezer or on the kitchen counter.

All signs and stories point to Grandma loving her life as a mother.  But Mom says that once in awhile Grandma would get an “itch” to work outside the home.  She and her sister took classes at the local beauty school.  They learned to do hair and other things.  Grandma never took the test, but Mom’s younger brother definitely took the brunt of Grandma’s practicing haircuts.  After my uncle graduated high school, my grandparents started traveling a bit.  They went to Hawaii with Grandpa’s sisters and their spouses.  They spent some time on a tour of European countries and took lots of photos…that we found last week.  Us kids started coming along starting in the late 1970s and Grandma loved being a grandma!

One of my favorite memories of my time with Grandma was when she’d pick me up from Friday morning kindergarten and take me to lunch at Arby’s.  We got vanilla shakes.  We’d cruise in her red Honda and listen to Kenny Rogers.  I’ll remember so many cute things about her.  She always had tissues, Tic Tacs, and a pick in her purse.  I’ll never forget how she put her lipstick on.  Or how she put her socks on.  That she always looked nice.  Always had her hair and makeup done.  How she smelled.  How tasty her cookies were.  How delicious her potato salad was, and how almost no one can duplicate it.  She was exactly the kind of grandma everyone deserves.  And she influenced my mom to be the best kind of mom for me.  I said at her service that if nothing else, teaching my mom how to be an amazing mom is enough for me to love her forever.  I’m so very thankful for all the vacations, day trips, and sitting around watching tv moments I had with my grandma.

Why are you crying, Angela?

Dear Tickles,

I love you, baby.  I’m so sorry this happened to you.  And I’m sorry to make the decision that I did.  I hope you forgive me.  I couldn’t be guaranteed you’d get better, and I didn’t want you to suffer through a winter outside.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the last three months outside.  I think you did.  I watched you from my bedroom window, curled up in the grass, watching the birds.  Your tail twitching.  Those birds could have been toast if you’d have wanted to chase them!  And that mouse I found near my car this summer – that was you, wasn’t it?  Silly girl.  You were the BEST mouser ever!  We’ll never forget the night that you caught the mouse in the kitchen.  Mom and Dad were making supper, and you were super focused on one of the cupboards.  Somehow you got hold of the mouse, then Dad scooped it up, then he dropped it, then you caught it, then he caught it, and dropped it again!  He should have let you take care of it.  haha

I remember the day you came to us.  Someone found you wandering around their neighborhood in town.  We said you could come here and live outside.  So you came here.  And we found out that you were declawed in the front.  No outsiding for you.  Plus, I loved you instantly and wasn’t gonna let you out of my sight.  So we fattened you up a little.  But you just kept getting fatter.  When it looked like you’d swallowed a ball, we decided you must be preggers!  Silly goose!  Stupid owners though – didn’t spay you when they declawed you.  Anyway, you had two beautiful little munchkins.  And we gave them to a friend.  And then we spayed you.

And you became my best friend.  I went off to college but missed you everyday.  When I came home for a year after graduation, you slept at my feet almost every night.  Sometimes you’d follow me around the house, and sometimes you’d hole up in a closet somewhere.  And when I lived on the rez for a year, you were there for me.  You didn’t care if I’d been humiliated by my boss, or if one of the elders who was taking wacko medication made lewd comments at me, or if I’d actually had a good and productive day – when I got home, you expected kibbles and snuggles.  You didn’t judge me when I cried of loneliness.  In fact you often jumped on my bed and laid on my tummy.  You made me laugh with your nightly “zooms” – that five minutes of whipping all over the apartment like a maniac, just before bedtime.  And remember that night I didn’t feel good and rolled my back on a tennis ball on the floor, and you came up behind me and BIT my head!  And drew BLOOD!!!  Little shit.  I constantly had to wipe off the counter b/c I gave up on trying to keep your fours on the floor.  You could be such a troublemaker!  You really could bite ya know that?  Damn.  I’m scarred for life!  haha  But I know I wouldn’t have survived that year without you.  Coming home to you every night was the best part of my day.

You were one of the sweetest cats I’ve ever had.  You could snuggle with the best of them.  You had a knack for knowing when I needed a snuggle.  I loved when you’d go through phases of sleeping on my head.  As fun as it was to wake up choking on fur, I loved loved loved when you slept with me.  I loved when you’d crawl under the covers and sleep under my bent knees.  Your purr soothed me so many times.  And your fur was so fluffy and soft.  A few times I woke up to you stretched out, snuggled up to my side, so I put my arm around you.  I loved those moments when you’d be sitting on the edge of a table or counter, and I’d stand in front of you.  I’d start scratching behind your ears and you’d lean in and put your forehead on my tummy.  Those are the moments I knew you loved me.

Then came the Indiana Years.  School was tough sometimes, but you were always there to lift my spirits.  And then came along the Kitten.  I couldn’t blame you when you hissed and fretted over her arrival.  She was definitely gonna make our household dynamic change.  You kinda went from my baby to my friend.  It was a change we all had to adjust to – but we made it.  You soon took her in and gave her a place in your heart.  I thought you might.  I thought your mama instinct would kick in.  You’re a sweetie.  And boy did she looooove you!  haha  She followed you around and played with you as much as you’d let her!  I distinctly remember her taking a flying leap off the coffee table onto your back.  I laughed so hard!  You were such a good sport that first year.

And last year in Milwaukee, you were a trooper for traveling with me up there.  You and Tortie kept me company.  And I’m so grateful for that.  For your love.  Cats are finicky.  And you were SUCH a cat!  Your tail gave me an immediate read on your mood.  You’d whip it around when you were irritated.  It curled when you were in a good mood, up for play.  I swear you’d wrap it around my leg when you brushed past me.  Ya know that’s how you got your name?  Brother decided to call you Tickles because he thought it tickled when you rubbed up against his legs.  I wasn’t so convinced.  I thought it was a silly name.  But it turns out to have fit you perfectly.  And so the nicknames ensued – Tickles Bickles, T Bickles, TB, Miss Kitty, Silly Pants, Tickles Pants, Pants, Miss Puss, etc.  Shoot, the Pants name even extended to my friends.  Daniel Pants, Dani Pants, Amanda Pants….and my grad school boyfriend just/still called me Pants.

You’ve been SUCH a huge part of my life for the past 13 years.  I can’t thank you enough for letting me be your human.  You’re my best friend.  I’ll love you forever.  And I’ll tell all my future kitties about the standard you set for friendship.  It’s hard for me to trust people sometimes, I think that’s why we connected so well.  I always thought we were partners in crime.

Burying you last night was so hard.  I wanted to hold you again.  I swear the thought crossed my mind today – I could just dig you up and hold you one last time.  I won’t, b/c at this point it’s gross, not to mention a little crazy.  But I am going to miss you, Kitty.  I miss you already.  Just having you in the house the last two days, taking care of you.  Syringing water into your mouth.  Cleaning the blood off your paws.  Cutting away the fur that was matted.  Giving you a washcloth bath.  Listening to you purr was like music to my ears!  I want to believe that you knew I wasn’t going to hurt you, that I was trying to help you.  You’d lay back on your side and let me work.  As terrible as it was that you were injured, I’m glad that your last days were spent inside and being cared for.  I sobbed into your fur, I think I knew what was coming.  And when the vet told me what we’d have to do, just to see if you might heal, I made the difficult decision to let you go.  Maybe it was selfish on my part, but I just keep trying to remind myself that you’ve just spent the last three months in heaven on earth, playing in the grass.  That you’d been completely loved your whole life with me.  That I’d fed you well.  Kept you healthy.  Played with you.  Snuggled you.  Slipped you bits of banana…

You made me smile and laugh and cry sometimes.  My life will go on, and I’ll be fine.  But I’ll never forget you.  We buried you in the garden so maybe flowers or veggies would grow over your grave.  Sometime beautiful or delicious.  B/c you were beautiful.  My gorgeous girl.

I’ll love you forever and ever and ever and ever.

Angie

Ps.  Say hi to Tony in Kitty Heaven.  And if you get visiting hours with Doggy Heaven, say hi to Maddie.  Tell her I miss her.  Okay, love you.  See you in my dreams.

Tickles Bickles

Tickles Bickles

Angela, how do you really feel?

Pretty much like this.  These fellow millennials pretty much nailed how I’ve been feeling the last five years.  Whiny?  Maybe.  Right?  Yes.  Click on the link to go to the video on Upworthy.

http://www.upworthy.com/the-best-response-for-when-anyone-calls-young-people-lazy-today?c=ufb1

For me, I have been trying to do better.  Tried to rise above the situation.  After college, when I wasn’t getting hired, I volunteered for a year with AmeriCorps to get some experience at life.  I went to grad school to try to get a better job.  And the job thing still isn’t working out.  I haven’t given up.  But it’s tough to be educated and face working part-time jobs to make ends meet.  I know a lot of people do it.  I know.  It’s just taking me a while to deal with reality being much less impressive than my expectations promised.  Than my parents promised.  Than society promised.  So now what?  …I still don’t know where we go from here…

Seriously, Ang, where the hell are you?

Oh, hi.  Yeah.  I’m still here. 

I haven’t forgotten about you all.  I apologize for being missing for like, two months.  Been busy. 

Earlier this summer I worked for a nice woman in my hometown.  She had eye surgery and needed someone to do her gardening since she wasn’t allowed to bend over.  Something about blood in her eyes?  Very strange and quite frustrating for her.  But we had fun.  I weeded and planted herbs and flowers and watered flowers and snuggled with her two outside cats.  Not a bad way to spend the summer!  I learned a lot from her and have been grateful for her friendship. 

I’ve also been working in my own garden.  I planted acorn and butternut squash, zukes and cukes, eggplant, green peppers, and like, eight tomato plants!  The hot peppers didn’t make it.  Nor did the fennel.  But I have green leafy lettuce and kale and basil too.  And CARROTS!!!!  They’re so damn cute when they first sprout.  It’s always a surprise when the first greens poke their heads out of the black dirt.  I don’t tend the garden too much.  I’m a plant-and-see kind of gardener.  I did make a concoction recommended by my Garden Friend to combat the grasshoppers.  Mix water, Dawn soap, and stinky things like garlic salt, cayenne, and onion powder.  Spray it on the leaves of the plants.  The stinkies repel the bugs, and the Dawn makes the stuff stick to the leaves.  Seemed to work pretty well!  Ya know there’s just something so satisfying about going down to the garden to collect lunch. 

I’ve also been working around my hometown a bit.  It’s fun.  Helping out with events and concerts.  Visited friends in Minnesota.  Overall, except for the lack of a real job and tangible benefits, it’s been a good summer.  Oh!  And I went to Florida!  Oh, I’ll write about that soon.  That’s worth its own post. 

I’m still hunting for a job.  I decided not to give up.  A few ideas are quite promising…  And I’ve been working on something pretty awesome for the long term…  Not gonna talk about it until after the test happens because I don’t want to jinx myself too much.  Lots of studying to do yet. 

Future posts to include ideas and stories about my Florida trip, my favorite season, and turning another year older.  Stay tuned!