Thanks to This Blog, I Found Out my Husband is Afraid of the Same Movie

The other day we were walking up the stairs and he mentioned ever so casually that “Darkness Falls scared me too. I still think about every so often when I realize I’m standing in the dark.” And I was like *yay I’m not the only loser still deeply affected by a horror film about tooth fairies* and then I thought wait, how did I not know this until now? and THEN I realized: “Hey! You read my blog post!” which shouldn’t have been surprising because he always does read them. He’s just been so busy with school and applying for jobs and carefully not mentioning reading my blog because then I’ll ask if he’s read the most recent book chapter I’ve sent him and really passive aggressively mention something along the lines of “so much for reading a chapter a day, huh?” and he’ll feel guilty because he loves me but hates reading apparently, and I’ll feel guilty for feeling pleased that I made him feel guilty and it’s just a whole big thing.

 

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[Fantasy] Football Season is Here!

I love this time of year. Apart from the promise of pumpkin beers and sweaters and boots, fall brings with it the delight of football season.

I was never that girl: super into football. Baseball was my sport of choice, but I’d watch basketball or football if it was on. I’d half-heartedly cheer for the Patriots or Packers (which are my parents’ favorite teams) or the Redskins (because they were the home team), or failing those excuses, I’d pick the team with the prettier uniform colors (i.e. Panthers and Seahawks).

The Wildcards invited me to join their fantasy football league two years ago. It was possibly a rare instance of the boys being nice, or maybe they figured adding a couple girls who didn’t pay attention to football would increase their chances of winning. I don’t think they realized just how consumingly competitive I am.

The first year, I scoured the lists of top players and read a few articles about projections, but mostly I went in fairly blind and ended up with a pretty phenomenal team that brought me to second place. Somehow, I managed to draft Gronk, Odell Beckham Jr, Julian Edelman, Danny Woodhead, and Drew Brees. If I hadn’t lost Woodhead in a misguided trade and OBJ to his attitude — and suspension — I might have won it all.

Last year, I made it to play-offs, but ended middle of the pack. It was frustrating, since I’d spent far more time and energy last season reading every scrap of information I could get, taking risks tempered with “expert” advice. Still, I learned.

For me, the best result of fantasy football is that it’s encouraged me to pay attention. And not just to the teams I like for wishy-washy reasons, but to every game. Every player. Because of fantasy, I know the names of the top players in the league. And because of fantasy, I’ve found my favorite team in the Oakland Raiders.

My husband argues this is simply because we have family in Oakland. That helps, but even once they go to Vegas, as long as Carr leads them, I’ll follow. Between the past two years, I’ve had almost their entire (possible) offensive line on my team. My brother-in-law offered me the typical challenge when one claims to love a team: name three of their players. Easy: Carr, Crabtree, Cooper, Janikowski, Murray (at the time), Jalen Richard, Walford.

At this point, I could probably name at least three players on every team in the league. That’s not all Oakland has going for it. I just love watching them. They have an obvious cohesion and a fluidity that’s beautiful. They’re good — good enough to keep every game interesting — but not so good that it would be more exciting to watch them lose (ahem: Patriots). I’ve watched every single team play any number of times, but few give me a similar thrill to the one I get when the Raiders are on the field.

And I have fantasy football to thank for giving me a team to cheer for, and interest in a sport that’s as intricate and graceful as it is straight-forward and brutal. Win or lose, I’ll always have that.

But, obviously, I want to win, too.

Wildcards Vacation 2017: Colds and Charleston

This year my friends decided to switch up our normal Nagshead beach trip and travel an extra few hours south to Charleston, SC. It was a week-long adventure of discovering new places, seeing beautiful architecture, eating amazing food, and spreading germs between fourteen people and two apartments.

Our car — affectionately and not at all competitively referred to (by us) as the “best” car — carried four people and one massive cold virus. The trip began with an immediate stop for cough drops and ended with none of the other three passengers feeling sick, so we didn’t think too much of it beyond hoping our friend felt better.

Until another wildcard fell ill. Then another. Then another. Every day it seemed a new person woke up feeling crappy. Still, those of us from the best car didn’t feel it. We were invincible. We were immune to what became known — affectionately — as the Tyler Plague.

We went to the beach — both Folly and Sullivan’s Island. We went out to bars every night (even if a lot of those nights we still made it home before midnight and in bed shortly thereafter — when did we become grownups?). We wandered through neighborhoods of houses from the 16- and 1700s. My husband convinced almost everyone to try our favorite burrito spot (Minero) at least twice. (Side note: I’d previously had the best burrito of my life here. This trip, the catfish taco blew me away.) He also had avocado toast at a restaurant near our airbnb (Park Cafe) for the first time…and every day of our trip. By the last day, they knew him there.

Some wildcards went golfing. Some did stand-up paddle-boarding. Some did an escape room. Some went on a ghost tour that turned out to just be a walking history tour about brothels, murder, and conspiracy theories (which is way better in my — slightly terrified of ghosts — opinion). We played our usual drinking games without our usual, youthful enthusiasm, and spent a lot more time just hanging out and chatting.

It was a wonderful trip, even if I personally missed having a pool to lounge around beside. We reflected on how far we’ve come, how grown up we’ve all gotten, and looked forward to future trips and more changes as life spurs us onward.

The magic faded on the drive home. Two passengers were coughing instead of just the original one. We all insisted it was tickles in throats or residual from A/C and late nights and drinking and whatever else we could think of.

Then the Tyler Plague hit my home. My husband got it first, but I was (am) only about a day behind him. Now, we’re shuffling around the apartment, thankful that — due to our upcoming move I still have yet to blog about in detail — we no longer have work to suffer through or obligations that can’t be pushed back a day. Our coffee table is a mess of Dayquil and cough drop bags and tissue boxes. We’re drinking tea all day (echinacea and ginger and lemon and “cold 911” from David’s Teas on repeat). Our pantry is stocked with chicken soup. We’re going to crush this thing.

Our lack of complete immunity is a somewhat humbling blow. Still, it’s a worthwhile price to pay for a week with the Wildcards.

You are the Best Thing

This weekend, my husband and I will celebrate our first year of married life. It’s insane to me that a full year has passed since the “I do”s and the big dress.

Recently, someone asked how being a newlywed was going. I surprised myself by responding immediately with “it’s really wonderful.” That’s not to say it’s surprising that being married is wonderful — of course it is; why else would people do it? It’s just also hard sometimes, and annoying sometimes, and honestly, a little bit terrifying. But when faced with the question — asked in a way that was meant to illicit a deep, well-thought-out response — my first associated feeling was warmth and light and safety. My lips lifted. And then the words tumbled out. “Really wonderful.”

Trust me, this wasn’t some platitude to change the subject. It wasn’t naivety or boasting or sugar-coating reality. Sharing a living space with someone is annoying. Especially when one is introverted and has grown used to living alone. Suddenly having another person eating my food and using my bathroom and watching my TV 24/7 was uncomfortable (note: I should say that it is “our” food now, and “our” bathroom, and –if anything– “his” TV). I like coming home from work and writing or watching a good, detailed show on the DVR (like GoT) or reading a book or whatever it is that is silent and solitary and not peppered with questions. I’ve had to get used to there being someone who wants to hear about my day and tell me about his (and eventually ask for the umpteenth time “why does she have dragons?”) — literally every single day.

My husband is neurotic about very particular things. We all have our quirks. I’m seriously blown away he loves me so freaking much considering all of my own little weirdo-things.

We are also different people. This should go without saying, but being different people, we have different thoughts and ideas and different things are important or not important or done differently and this leads to fights.

This year has not been a walk in the park, though we’ve taken many. We’ve experienced loss, and learned how difficult comfort can be to find when he grieves differently than I. There have been eye-rolls and firmly-shut-doors (okay, I might have slammed one or two). There have been tears (in my defense, he knew going into this I’m a mess of emotions) and there has been heavy silence. I’ve learned (read: still learning) that sharing a life can be as windy and rocky as it is smooth.

But I’ve also learned that if I’m not feeling well, my husband knows without my saying which mug to serve my favorite soup in. I know he’ll go to three different stores to track down one ingredient for dinner if I say it’s important (and sometimes, even if I say it’s not). He always cleans up after dinner — he’ll say it’s because I cooked, but even if he makes his specialty rice-and-avocado-burritos, he cleans up.

When a funny movie makes him belly-laugh, he reaches for my knee. It’s a subconscious tick — he just likes to be physically connected to me while we’re doubling over with laughter. Sometimes he holds my hand as he’s falling asleep. He tells me he loves my singing (no matter how loudly, stupidly, or off-key I make it), and insists he’s not lying when I scoff.

He thinks I’m strong, and beautiful, and that I see the world with childlike wonder. He can be utterly selfless, my modern-day hero. He epitomizes one of my favorite lines from my favorite movie about my favorite fictional crush: “That boy would stand on his head if I asked him to!” (okay, so the original quote said “Gilbert Blythe” but I’ve thought it so often of my husband that it’s forever warped in my heart to “that boy”).

So despite the challenges that go along with all of life, despite the discomfort of fitting my life with another human being, when asked to dish about all the anxiety marriage can bring, the word that came to mind was “wonderful.” Really wonderful.

There were points during the past year where I questioned everything. I had panic attacks and really low periods and felt really lonely. There were also times I couldn’t fall asleep because my husband wasn’t home yet, and now I’m used to his arms around me at night. It’s all a beautiful, painful, wonderful journey to weave my life with someone else, the best someone else. It’s a journey we’ll continue on for a lifetime of years.

 

Beach Beach Beach Beach!

This is the mantra of my week. Because this weekend, you guessed it, I’m going to the beach.

It’s the annual Wildcards Beach Trip, so the Outer Banks better beware. We’ve spent our time making so many plans that will likely not come to fruition (no matter how awesome “Pickle Back Monday”* sounds) and just repeating “beach” to each other over and over that I am like a child in her last week of school. Who cares about anything at all? THE BEACH IS NEXT WEEK!

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Last year, due to so many of us getting hitched and having our own private beach vacations (aka honeymoons), we did not do a beach trip. You can bet this year we will be sure to make up for that fact.

We’ve tried to learn from past “mistakes” (but really, none of our ideas are bad ideas), and attempted to make a grocery list for when we arrive. The normal behavior is a large group of us to rush into the store, grab a cart, panic and just grab everything we see. We all like sandwiches, so we each get a loaf of bread. We all buy our own gallons of milk. We make fun of the one person who always buys donuts, and then we all eat them all week. Inevitably, there are one or two of us who fill their carts with cases of beer, and the ladies in the group insist it’s too much and the men insist it’s not enough and then make it their goal to prove themselves right (we always end up needing more beer. Because we’re garbage).

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Our first Wildcards beach trip occurred over spring break our senior year of college. It was amazing. The house had an elevator. For that reason alone, it was the best house. Even when the hot tub stopped working, our guys just carried boiling water in pots down from the kitchen on the top floor to dump into it.

That’s also an excellent shot of our Wildcards team shirt.

There was a room just for video games. There was a nice long table in the dining area for a vicious game of Peanuts (the last time this group ever played due to “cheating” — does it count as cheating if you announce you’re doing so? — and over-competitiveness) and for extensive puzzle-making.

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And, I mean, it had a bench by the pool table which was clearly for liquor storage.

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Note for Mom: We did not finish all this alcohol in one week. We are not animals.

Another important factor, our self-designated (and uncontested) group-mother laid out an organized chart of which pairs and trios were in charge of dinner each night. Of course, we made it a competition (how else would we live our lives?), which resulted in pretty amazing food each night (except the night the grill-masters under-cooked some of the burgers, but to be fair, I think we were pretty impatient. Alcohol kills bacteria, anyway, right? WRONG).

Since that trip, others have taken turns being the ringleader of the trip (i.e. facilitating the discussion of dates, choosing the house, determining how to charge everyone for the nights they are staying, etc). These trips have been awesome — because, Wildcards — but also extremely disorganized by comparison. (Group-Mom is so organized there’s no hope of anyone coming close).

Whether this trip will be as organized as spring break or as chaotic as is typical of the Wildcards, it’s going to be fan-freaking-tastic. We’ll eat pounds of mac ‘n’ cheese and shout “VACATION!” to justify it. We’ll make classy cocktails and wash them down with cheap beer and drinking games. We’ll lay in the sun and play bocce ball in the sand and throw a football in the waves.

A few of the guys will likely try to dig a hole to China because that’s apparently still a thing kids do. We’ll talk trash and have life chats, and for one week, nothing else will matter.

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Continue reading “Beach Beach Beach Beach!”

My “Sister” is a Bitch

I mean, seriously (she’s a dog):

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But also, she can’t even look at me when I’m talking to her? Rude.

Heidi (II) is the most recent in a long line of pups my family has owned. Since before I was born, we’ve had a Heidi (the original), Lucky, Pete, Becky, and Sasha.What makes this one so special?

This Heidi is my mom’s baby.

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This is a big deal because my mom is not really an animal person. She hates cats. She tolerates dogs. She’s responsible for several guinea fowl murders (they cackle and poop and are ridiculously ugly, so the jerks were one hundred percent asking for it).

Heidi II came along when Mom was empty-nesting hardcore. My brother was graduating college in a few months. I was getting married a few months later. And really:

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Can anyone help falling in love?

Being named for the family’s first dog is a great honor. The Original Heidi was, quite honestly, the best dog ever. She adored us. I remember napping on her, and riding her like a horse, and, I mean, just look at her:

She freaking pulled us around on a saucer in the snow.

This Heidi is crap compared to her namesake. She’s a diva. Here she is rolling her eyes at us:

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Such a bitch!

She barks if my mom hugs me too long. She wedges herself onto the couch between my dad and me. And yeah, she’s “not allowed” on the couch, but who would dare stop her?

Honestly, my brother’s gotten the worst end of the deal. He’s used to being the baby. The precious child. You know, living the “it’s all about the baby” kind of life. And now here comes our parents’ new furry child to fill the gaping holes we’ve ripped in their lives by simply growing up, and my brother has become the dreaded middle child, aka chopped liver.

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Blissfully ignorant of the fact he’s soon to be irrelevant.

But seriously, Heidi is all right. She’s sassy and has dumb moments like Sasha. She likes sneaking onto couches like Becky (even though Heidi is way better at it). She’s sweet like Heidi the First and loves to play fetch almost as much as Pete did. Her personality is strong, and it’s a funny, familiar combination of our past dogs. And she keeps my parents young and laughing. So I guess she can stay. Even if she tries to bite my feet when I visit. Even though she chewed on my mom’s wedding dress because I tried it on. Even if she’s not at all what I had in mind when I would beg my parents for a baby sister.

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El Rey Louis Dandy

My husband’s dog is a fancy-pants. His name is literally “The King Louis Dandy” (though he allows us plebeians to call him simply Rey). His bed is embroidered with his name. My husband has claimed his parents feed Rey better than they do him. Rey gets a treat whenever he goes outside, whether he does his business or not.

I first met The King when my husband and I were early in our dating relationship, after his parents dropped Rey off at JMU before leaving for vacation. Rey hid most of the time in my husband’s room, refusing to be coaxed out by his roommates and friends (one of whom chased poor Rey around the living room yelling “I wanna pet him!”). He whined almost constantly and was basically a pain in the neck for about a week. BUT by the end of that time, Rey and I were best friends. He’d make my husband wait at the foot of the stairs up to my apartment until I was out of sight. As the years progressed, he’d snuggle up to me on the couch or roll to expose his belly, because he knew I’d give him belly rubs all day long.

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“Why are you not rubbing my belly, peasant?”

I love the story of how my husband convinced his parents to get him a dog. At all of eleven  years old, he wrote up a contract promising to care for a dog and had his (lawyer) parents review and sign it. Of course, as it always happens with a kid’s first dog, his parents ended up taking over care of Rey, anyway.

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Rey has been a part of their family for 15 years. He’s ancient. He’s developed health issues and has lost his sight, but it hasn’t slowed him down too much. Except that he likes to sleep more and his little, old legs don’t move quite so fast as they used to. And sometimes he gets a little confused. He still begs for food, but sometimes he begs a lamp instead of a person, and sometimes he begs when no one is eating anything.

Even in his old age, though, he still knows how to casually model on the beach. img_0677

Because he is the king. Long may he reign.