Oh, Hey.

Obviously, I’ve been MIA the past few weeks. For good reason! Here’s a quick rundown of things that have been happening in my life as of late: 

  • Left job at the Thinkery
  • Packed up our huge apartment 
  • Moved from Austin 
  • Spent a weekend in Austin as a family (a really significant occurrence, IMO)
  • Moved back to Odessa
  • Accepted a job as a long term sub (a mere two days after moving back!)
  • Started the process to receiving my teaching certification 
  • Jury Duty (blergh)
  • Mad dash to get organized before school starts on Monday (aaaah!)

So, there you have it. Honestly, it’s a bit scary how fast things started happening once I moved back to Odessa. Like, “this is where you were supposed to be at this point in your life” scary. Scary in the “If it’s meant to be, God will make things work,” way that my aunt so often talked about. Scary in Tim Gunn’s “make it work,” sort of way. 

Not everything has fallen into place yet. Still working on figuring out some sort of workout/run/bike schedule. Also, I need to learn how to swim before September 24th seeing as I have a triathlon that day. 

I know things are about to get crazy busy in the next few days but I’m super excited. Bring it on (also, wish me luck)! 

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A Weighty Topic

Two posts in two days! Woah.

I’ve really wanted to write about this topic for a while now. Folks, this is going to be a super honest and personal post; a part of me is really scared about putting this (and myself; there are pictures) out into the internet. But, I also feel like its important to get this off my chest and use it as a catalyst to a healthier chapter in my life. 

This picture isn't super relevant to this post but does show how stinking cute my siblings and I were when we were wee babes. Also, yay for photo albums.

This picture isn’t super relevant to this post but does show how stinking cute my siblings and I were when we were wee babes. Also, yay for photo albums.

I’ve always been…bigger than most people. Okay, if I’m being honest, I’ve been overweight/obese since at least junior high. For me, I think my excess weight is a result of genetics, a sedentary lifestyle, and my love for food. My first attempt to lose weight came in between junior and senior year of high school. I don’t remember how much weight I lost or even how much I weighed but I do remember one guy on the first day of band camp exclaiming, “you look really good, Becky!” It was the validation my 17 year old self was looking for. 

What little physical exercise I took part in during high school (marching band) completely fell to the wayside once I started college. I went to class, sat on my ass, slept, watched t.v. (my first experience with cable), and had a really unhealthy diet (as in, eating an entire bag of chip in one sitting). By the time graduated I weighed, oh my goodness, 210 pounds. *breathe, Becky, breathe*

My 5’3 frame was not built to carry that much weight so I obviously felt really crummy. I was always short of breath, I would get really weird pangs in my chest, I just felt heavy. I was always aware in the back of my mind that I was slowly making my way to a life of diabetes, kidney failure, high blood pressure, etc.; all of which are in my family history. The thing was that while I did care I just didn’t have the energy to do anything about it. 

The catalyst came when I moved to Birmingham and, if I’m being honest may have had something to do with a guy. I know, I know. A part of me wanted to get skinny for him in the whole stupid, “maybe if I’m skinny and pretty he’ll like me” rigmarole. I didn’t say I did it for all the right reasons. There were a few other driving factors: living with my aunt who had always been healthy-ish, a few nice, but blunt conversations (“your stomach rests on the counter”), one of my graduate professors skimming over me when talking about attractive girls in the class (yeah, sort of skeevy), and the feeling that it was sort of now or never. 

Ultimately, I decided to adopt a vegan diet, took up yoga, attended free workout classes offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, and even jogged a few 5k races. It took a while but I ultimately started losing weight, toning up, and feeling loads better. I went from weighing 210 pounds to 150 pounds. I was in the best health and shape of my life. 

I really like candy.

I really like candy.

I also like awkward poses

I also like awkward poses.

I know now that I am an emotionally eater and my weight started to creep back up when I went through a “have to move back to Odessa” depression. It never really stopped creeping back up, even when I moved to Austin and joined a running group. I haven’t gained back all of the weight that I lost and I’ve decided that that’s not going to happen. Many of my 30 before 30 goals focus on a healthier lifestyle (runs, hikes, cooking) as a way to help me stay on a healthier course and hold me accountable. 

Post Cap 10K. I inhaled that banana.

Post Cap 10K. I inhaled that banana.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been struggling with the idea of losing weight for a while. You see all of these articles about designers and clothing stores finally catering to fuller figured women. There’s even a whole movement of brave ass women who refuse to conform to the skinny standard perpetuated by the media. I applaud them. A part of me even wants to be them. To give zero fucks about what people may think as I walk down the beach in a bikini, to wear what I want to wear, to be confident with how I look. 

Ultimately, though, I can’t. Because I just don’t feel good at my current weight. I feel heavy (obviously), lethargic, and just….not healthy. When I was coming up with my 30 Before 30 list, #5 (get back to “birmingham” weight) was one of the first things I jotted down. After losing those 60 lbs I felt great; the best I’ve felt in a long time, health wise but also confidence wise. 

Even though I want to lose some pounds to feel healthier, I struggle with being conscious about wanting to lose weight for the right reasons. Sometimes, super vain Becky comes out and wants to get skinny to be hot and wear super cute clothes. Sometimes I want to be skinny so cute guys can flock to me like bees to honey (honest but God, so embarassing). When I get hung up on “skinny” I have to remind myself that being skinny and being healthy are two different things and that ultimately, what I’m working towards is my health and longevity: I’m no longer 17 year old Becky but late 20’s Becky. 

One of the only pictures I have of myself during my Pura Vida 2014 trip.

One of the only pictures I have of myself during my Pura Vida 2014 trip.

I’m not going into this thinking that I won’t struggle with reasonings and losing weight, but I do think that I’m on the right track; acknowledging my way of thinking is a good first step, right?! I have a feeling that this topic will come up again in the future but for now I’m just excited to start this new, realistic, and healthier journey. 

T-minus 382 Days

The big 3-0 is about 382 days away. Its terrifying (I’m not getting any younger) and thrilling at the same time. 382 days of endless possibilities, adventures, and just plain living.

Here is a list of 30 things I’d like to accomplish in the next 382 days. Some are really basic and others are more challenging, but all are realistic. I think for the most part, they all seem to fall within my larger goal to take more risks. Onwards!

30 Before 30 List

  1. Read a book a week
  2. Learn how to code
  3. Complete my first triathlon
  4. Run 3 half-marathons
  5. Lose “Austin weight”, get back to my “Birmingham weight”
  6. Pay off one credit card
  7. Purge closet
  8. Go skydiving
  9. Grow my blogs
  10. Summit Wheeler and Guadalupe Peaks
  11. Technology Free Sundays
  12. Identify a skincare routine that works for me
  13. Go on a road trip once a month
  14. Hike the JMT
  15. Figure out my career
  16. Preserve family history (dust off the cobwebs on my history background)
  17. Meatless Mondays
  18. Learn how to bake an apple pie
  19. Buy a camera; take a photography class
  20. Volunteer more
  21. Cook for family once a week
  22. Learn how to swim
  23. Establish a fitness regimen
  24. Get published
  25. Grow a garden
  26. Finish 62-mile Bo Bikes Bama route
  27. Get some history, writing, freelancing gigs
  28. Grow spiritually
  29. Go on a date once a month
  30. Get some business cards made

And a couple extra, just for good measure

  1. Learn how to use chopsticks
  2. Join/start a book club

So, there’s the list. There are some items on here that I might address more in-depth at some point (like, #5) but most are pretty self-explanatory. I’ll be sure to check off my accomplishments as I go. I’m looking forward to the next year!

Day 4: Kidnappings, Ditches, and Astrovans

Prompt: What’s the worst nightmare you remember?

Start time: 2:15
End time: 2:45

The worst nightmare I remember wasn’t scary in a Friday the 13th sort of way, or even in an E.T. is coming to get you way. It was more of a psychological and it was one that I had over and over as a kid. Basically, my entire family minus my youngest brother (who wasn’t born yet) would visit an auto shop. Think Autozone or Pep Boys. Anyway we would be browsing when two men would come in and lock the door behind them. We were held hostage with several other customers. But, we were lucky; the men hadn’t seen us when they entered the store.

My dad, thinking quickly, would shove our entire family in between a tire display. By in between I mean sandwiched between flimsy cardboard sign and a large stack of tires. All I remember is that my dad was on one end and my brother was on the other. I was terrified. The two bad men, that’s what they were in my young mind, would slowly walk through the store looking for people; almost intently looking for someone specific. Terror built up inside of me and permeated the dream. I always woke up from the nightmare in hysterics; sobbing.

Apparently, our hiding space wasn’t that great because the men would find us. They would snatch my brother from the end and then run out of the store. He was the one they were looking for. The rest of the dream was a blur: my parents running after them while my sister and I stood mute and forgotten by the tire display. My parents frantically looking for any sign of my brother as they drove through the streets. Finally we would drive to my grandmother’s house in our Astrovan (remember those?!).

Up to this point, the dream was always the same. However, once it reached this point, it would sometimes change. Many times, it would continue along with my parents searching and searching without any luck. Sometimes, though we would drive up to my grandma’s house and the astrovan would fall into a shallow ditch that was in front of the house. The ditch would turn into a gaping hole and down, down, down we’d fall.

That particular version of the dream was the worst, because my mind correlated the free fall with hell, fire, and never seeing my family again. It was during this time that someone told me that once we died and went to heaven (or hell) we would not remember our family. I think this just added to the trauma I experienced in my dream.

I think the nightmare seeped into my conscious life because it traumatized me in small ways. For example, as a kid I enjoyed visiting auto stores with my dad (I was especially enthralled with the waxes, car fresheners, and wipers) but I would always be uneasy about what could happen. The ditch in front of my grandma’s house would sometimes really get to me and I’d go out of my way to avoid it; when we’d visit I would always get scared if my mom parked it too close to the edge of the ditch.

I think the most traumatizing part of the dream was the loss of family. I was always subconsciously aware of my brother(s). To this day, I feel more of a….motherly instinct towards them? Like, there was a time when I would walk to their side of the house and press my ear to their door to make sure I could hear them on the other side; breathing. Sometimes I would knock or holler through the door until they responded just to make sure they were alive.
The (lie?) that once we die we’d forget family really stayed with me. Truth: sometimes even now I’ll wake up terrified of death. Not the actual dying but what happens after. Being lonely and not remembering family is always the thing that scares me the most; especially being divided between heaven/hell/whatever.

Crazy.

Day Three: Getting It Off My Chest

Disclaimer One: This is not a prompt I randomly chose. In fact, this may not even be an actual prompt in the book. It’s more of a therapeutic writing session.

Disclaimer Two: I’m not using names and I’ve let the person I’m writing this to know what I’m doing. As such, I will take whatever wrath, hate, friendship implosion comes my way.

Prompt: Something I need to get off my chest

It was cute for a while but now, more often than not, your blase “it’s whatevs” is seriously starting to irk me. I feel that, in a point in my life where I’m trying to figure shit out, your “it’s whatevs” just magnifies your apathy towards just about everything. Not that there’s really anything wrong with being content with an easy, okay paying job. It’s just that is not where I am right now.

I’m in a moment of flux. I’m figuring out what I want to do both in the immediate and more distant future. I’m looking to move away from barely surviving to establishing myself and maybe even setting down some roots in the next 5-10 years by buying a house (daunting, even to type!). Basically, I’m done with living solely in the moment and I’m looking towards the future.

Look, I’m not saying that you aren’t doing that (the whole, looking towards the future thing) because you might be. I’m not even saying that you really conform to the whole “it’s whatevs” attitude; maybe its just a facade. Either way it’s just not who I am at the moment and the fact that it comes up almost every time we talk is infuriating and confusing. Sometimes I just want to scream when you say those two words; sort of like how Andi did every time Juan Pablo said, “it’s okay.”

Another thing that’s been bugging me with this whole “whatever” attitude; and, if I may, a piece of advice for your future. Don’t ever respond to a girl (no matter how silly, or annoying) pouring her confused heart out by saying basically do whatever you want, it’s whatevs. I mean, I know that the things I told you while I was in Costa Rica were stupid; I acknowledge that. But I was telling you so you could reaffirm the fact that whatever I was thinking/feeling was something I needed to get away from. A really vague you do you reaction just doesn’t cut it.

If you’re reading this you may feel like I’m throwing you under the bus and am calling you out. I promise I’m really not. I just had to get this off my chest. It’s sort of been gnawing at me and I just needed to let it out without getting an apathetic response. If this ends up causing some weird rift in our friendship, I’m sorry. Hell, maybe, in some unforeseeable future I’ll take your “it’s whatevs” for granted; just not right now.

 

Day Two: Winos

Catchy blog title, right? I struggled a little with this mostly because I kept deleting text instead of striking through it. Also, I’m pretty sure I went over the allotted 30 minutes.

Prompt: There are two types of people: drunks and survivors of drunks. Which are you?

I never saw my parents drink or express any desire to drink until I was in high school. Drinking and alcohol were pretty foreign to me; reserved for tales my grandparents told me about their young days, boisterous stories told by my Navy veteran uncle, and in whisperings of failed marriages.

I remember the day that it all changed; well not the exact day, but the place. The Sam’s Club in dusty, flat, waiting-for-another-oil-boom Odessa. Even though I was old enough to stay at home I always enjoyed those trips, mostly because it meant the possibility of buying a cheap paperback.

This time, before heading to the checkout lanes my parents detoured to the wine aisle. It was a foreign space to me and to my parents. They walked slowly up and down the aisle and stood around, seemingly confused by the plethora of chardonnay, shiraz, pinot, and malbec options.

The anger inside of me was quick, fierce, and (looking back at it now) comical. A fury burned in me guided by the fact that my parents did NOT drink. “Why are you even looking at this stuff? You don’t even know what it is,” I remember hissing at my parents. I remember a very distinct look, one of surprise, confusion, and mild amusement. They ignored me, and I huffed away across the aisle to the books and magazines.

That day we went home with a bot I went home empty handed and my parents with a bottle of some nondescript red wine. It sat underneath the kitchen sink for the longest time. “Right where it belonged,” I thought “with the other poisonous substances.” What a foolish girl.

Since my quest to stop them from purchasing the bottle didn’t work I changed tactics: proclaiming what had transpired to the high heavens. Well, not really; maybe just to my family.

I spent so much time hounding them about it that I never really paid attention to when they opened it. I remember one day opening the fridge and seeing it; unceremoniously jammed into a nook with the ranch dressing, half-used jars of pickles, and array of jams and jellies. It stayed there for a good, long while.

I took my first sip of alcohol a few years later, as a junior in high school. I was working at Texas Burger with a bunch of kids that were more worldly than I was. I was invited to go cruising down the drag (out of pity?!)stopping at the 7-11 to get a pack of beer–Coors Light. (one of the girls was over 21). By the time I drank a sip it was lukewarm, looked like piss and tanged all the way down my throat.

 

 

Aside

Day One: Austin, I Love(d) You

I’ve slacked on the whole writing challenge. This post will serve as the first one; although it’s not really a prompt from the “642 Things to Write” journal. Onwards, the “prompt” is below!

A few years ago I co-opted a few lines from LCD Soundsystem’s “New York, I Love You” for my Facebook status. It went something like this: “Austin you’re bringing me down…but you’re still the one place where I’d happily drown.”

I can officially say that I’ve grown disillusioned with Austin. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many great things about the city; there’s a reason why it attracts so many people from in and out of state. However, I’ve realized that it’s not the place where I am supposed to be. I want so much more than working two part time jobs just to scrape by and pay rent and bills each month.

The Kubler-Ross model breaks down grief into five distinct stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Now, I’m not sure if I’m grieving at the thought of leaving Austin but I still feel that the stages apply. If I really think about it and am honest with myself I’ve been in denial for pretty much the entire time I’ve spent in Austin. I mean deep down I always knew that Austin wasn’t where I was supposed to be; but stubborness tempered that knowledge; overshadowed it.

Anger was one of the stages I came back to again and again. Anger at the situation I was in; hustling for jobs, spending days upon days looking for jobs, settling for jobs that I immediately hated. Anger at not getting the full time position at the museum that would have, in my mind, solved all my problems.

It was that last burst of anger that finally melted (devolved?) into bargaining and depression. Even as I sat with my supervisor crying (so lame) and listening to her as she tried to make me feel better my mind was racing: “I liked this job and the people so maybe I could just get another part time job, I could sacrifice my evenings to work retail, heck maybe I could even take up tutoring and babysitting again.” Man, I was bargaining with myself like crazy during that talk.

I realized that, truthfully, I couldn’t bargain my way out of it and the next stage sucked. I spent the next day; a Saturday, curled up in my bed. The only thing that got me moving was the fact that I was leaving to Costa Rica on the following Monday.

Honestly, that trip saved me. It limited my depressive, woe-is-me stage to a good two days. It also gave me plenty of time to seriously reflect on what I really wanted; or more importantly what I knew I didn’t want. That brings me to the final stage: acceptance.

I accept the fact that what I want at this point and juncture in my life is probably not in Austin. I accept the fact two part-time jobs will not cut it. I accept the fact that I failed in Austin. I accept the fact that come August I will no longer be living in Austin. I accept the fact that in order to move forward I have to leave behind friends, a fulfilling and challenging gig as a volunteer ESL teacher, running clubs, and a great place to work.

This acceptance has been made easier by the fact that, to some extent, I’ve fallen out of love with the city. It frustrates me that for a many people living in Austinis only a reality reached (rather precariously) by hustling and having several jobs and living with several roommates. I hate that the cost of living is so high that living in the city proper is inaccessible to many: teachers, life-long Austinites, and some families with two full-time incomes. I hate that there hasn’t been a more serious discussion in regards to controlling the rise of rents, making housing affordable, addressing the huge increase in property taxes, in having a working and sensible form of public transportation, and in keeping the cultural and historical integrity of the city.

A small part of me doesn’t want to give up just yet. That small part of me is still applying to jobs in the hopes that at the last minute something will come along and keep me in the city. But, that small part of me is tempered by the larger realization that what I crave is not in Austin; at least not right now.