Who has my wrapping paper cutter

It’s officially our first Christmas as a family of three.  Job changes, added expenses, and income loss had dictated that we would save money this holiday and not spend much.

That lasted about a week, maybe less.

As we both sneak around each other, spending credit and cash, I can’t help but worry a little bit about what that means after the holidays. After-all, shouldn’t Christmas be all about the holiday spirit and family and love and less about gifts and spending?

Hahahaha saps.

Ok, yeah, a little bit, but man I love gifting. I get a thrill off of finding that absolute perfect gift. I have a knack for figuring out what people need, especially when they realize they had no idea how much they needed it. I love wrapping and ribbon and bows. The sound of tearing paper and scrunched up tissue gets me high. I live for this time of year because I get to do things for others; be they friends, family, or the little red kettle. I only get to splurge like this once a year now, let me have it.  I have 50 or so weeks to freak out about the cost of it later.

Tis the season, happy holidays, merry Christmas, and yadda yadda yadda.

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The Fitness Trap

Three years ago I considered myself to be in the best shape of my life.  I was active, playing Roller Derby with a recreational league. I was working hard, on my feet all day. At 5’6″ I was just under 160 pounds, a size 10 for the first time in nearly ten years, but I was a fit size ten.  I looked GOOD. I felt GREAT. I was HAPPY.

I was able to hold onto that for quite awhile, mostly due to being employed in an incredibly active job. I was on my feet for 8-10 hours a day, running from one length of the big blue box, constantly. I lifted 10-25 pounds throughout my shifts. I would snack lightly during work and eat well before and after.

Then I left that for a desk job. I had stopped playing derby due to scheduling and personality conflicts (much of the personality was my issue which I didn’t come to terms with until much later.) My activity level dwindled to just a few hours at the gym a couple days a week. I started to slowly gain weight.

Then I got pregnant.

People tell you that you get tired during the first trimester, but my god was I not prepared for the level of fatigue I felt. I could barely get out of bed to go to work. I would fight through each shift, vacillating between extreme lethargy and nausea. I would get home, fall in a heap and nap until it was time to go to bed. My body weighed 1,000 pounds. During the pregnancy I had vowed to stay active, but it was so easy to not follow through.

All of that momentum I had built up was gone.

It is easy to make excuses, I am the queen of excuses. I was too tired. It was too hard to go out. My work-out clothes didn’t fit anymore.

Now, nearly a year later I am out of excuses. I look in the mirror and I am angry and frustrated.

When he was born I weighed 211 pounds, five weeks later I was at 180 and back in my pre-pregnancy clothes.  I was less than ten pounds more than what I weighed pre-pregnancy. I was excited, but still not motivated.

And then more excuses. No time to eat, as he was very fussy and needed constant attention. Meals didn’t happen, there was only snacking. That kid knew when I was going to try and eat and as soon as the microwave started so did he. Screaming that is. I was making lactation cookies every few days, and that was my snack, all day, every day. I easily ate a couple dozen cookies a day. I would occasionally pick up those little protein packs with nuts, cheese, and processed meat. It was better than a sugary cookie, I guess. The only good thing I did was drink water by the buckets.

Now, twelve weeks later I’m at 190 pounds. My clothes are unattractively tight. I am a borderline size 14. And I am tired of excuses.

So how do you motivate yourself when you spend all day long taking care of a baby? Those couple hour long cat naps he takes are filled with laundry, dishes, cleaning, and if you’re lucky enough, a little bit of t.v. time to relax and enjoy the down time. I don’t want to work out when I have so much to do. Or I just want to play a little World of Warcraft, is that so wrong?

Now this is were I turn into an advertisement.

Last week I fired up the Nike Training Club app on my phone. I had done a few of the work-outs last summer and they kicked my ass.  It’s even more painful now. One 15 minute workout and I want to die. It’s both demoralizing and motivating. When I was fit, I preferred strength training workouts to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or Cardio. But all I have time for is HIIT these days. I’m rebuilding from the ground up so when I was only three minutes into a 15 minute workout and I wanted to quit, I knew I was going the right direction. The best part is that I paired my phone to the sound bar, set the music to the routine, and it walked me through what I needed to do. I watched the five second videos for each exercise so that I knew what to do when they got to it.

Now I have to keep my goal which is to do one of these workouts every other day, working to every day. I’ve started with the shorter routines to build up endurance. As I go I can increase the workouts to longer ones. At the moment I am slightly limited in that I don’t have a good amount of space to do some of them, and I lack equipment; but as I slowly purchase equipment I can explore new workouts. I’m hoping that by next spring my endurance is strong enough to start a running routine in the morning, before the boys wake up. I would love to take a jog through my neighborhood, but right now I can’t make it 100 feet before I’m done in.

It’s baby steps that I hope to stick with. My expectations are high for myself because ultimately I have only myself to blame for how I look and feel right now. I’m not going for a drastic change, I just want to feel as amazing as I did a couple years ago. I did it before, I can do it again.

A few words on parenthood

Today my son licked his hand and giggled.  Tomorrow he’ll be two months old. I can’t figure out yet if he knew what he was doing, or if it was an accident, but I like to think it was on purposed.

“Trevor, our son figured out how to lick his hand!” Trevor was in the office, playing around on his computer but he was up and in the living room in seconds.  He LOVES it when I call him in for these little milestones.  We watched as Eddie licked his palm and chewed on it and giggled. He would smile and giggle every time we laughed, so I’m convinced that he knew what he was doing.

At 4:30 a.m. he was giggling and laughing as I tried to change him. He would kick his legs just as I would try to place the little tabs on his diapers. When I would lose grip on the tab he would laugh and smile.  I have a feeling he is going to be a very difficult little boy, I’m quite okay with that though.

We’ve only been parents for two months but I like to think we’re becoming adept at it. We learn new things every day; what his cries mean, what to expect when his lower lip suddenly pops out, how to dodge a pee stream. It all makes the decision to work part-time such a positive one.

But with it comes a lot of struggle.  We’re also learning how to tighten our belts. I’ve had to make a few calls to creditors and beg forgiveness.  The power company came through big time when I called to discuss my three months laps on bill payment. They worked out a plan to pay the missed months over the next five months and figured out how to make our power usage easier to handle. We’ve had to swallow our pride on a few occasions and ask for financial support and we’ve had to give up a few things that we took for granted, like gym memberships and loot crate.

And then my kid giggles while chewing on his fist and my heart melts because in the end it’s all worth it.

I’m learning a lot. So much more about myself, my husband, and what it means to shape another human being. I keep looking up milestones because I’m excited to see him sit on his own and cuddle his toys.  I’m pretty sure I have a ridiculously smart kid as I swear he mimics us when we say “hi.” This kid is going to have so much to offer the future, I’m glad that Trevor and I have a part in forging it.

Saying good-bye to a sanctuary

The old saying goes, “When one door closes, another door opens.” Well, in April, Madison has gotten news of two very important doors closing.  When do we get two more doors to open?

Bars and clubs come and go. It’s the nature of the business. But what happens to a community when two incredibly important clubs close within just weeks of each other. When two communities lose their comfort spots, their home, their escape? The loss of FIVE and Inferno will be a large impact to a lot of people who relied on those clubs to escape the harsh realities of day-to-day living. The loss of them so close together is even greater.

I haven’t been to FIVE in years, in fact, not since it re-branded from Club Five. The few times I have been there were mostly on show nights and they were great nights. So much love, exuberance for life, and passion for each other, could be seen. It was a safe haven for the LGBTQ community that openly welcomed everyone. You can see it even now in the communities efforts to save the beloved home for so many.

But I want to talk about my safe haven.

The first time I stepped into the Inferno I was barely 21. A group of us were in Madison from Platteville and I don’t remember who, but someone said we should check this little club out because “it was a goth club.” Through high school and early college, I didn’t really have a label, but I had been attracted to the goth culture. Let’s be honest, I didn’t really know what that meant until years later, but I tried. I wore all black (obviously :eyeroll:), only black make-up if any make-up at all, I tried to look all dour and moody. I had to go to this place and be “with my people.”

I was such an idiot.

I don’t remember much from that night. It was well before you could park at the pet store, or the annexed parking lot down the road. We got there and there was a small crowd, though not too bad. The place was kind of a dive. The music was great, the drinks were cheap, and I knew that I had no idea what being “goth” meant. I loved it.

Flash forward four years and I’m just moving back from California. I have a mix of old and new friends and I’m looking for a bar to call “my bar.” I don’t know who made the suggestion, but we all dressed up and headed to Leather & Lace. I was wearing a red plaid pleated skirt, a tied off see-through white cotton shirt and bright red bra underneath. Add to that heavy make-up, school girl pig tails and combat boots, and I felt a freedom I hadn’t felt in years. It was so unlike me to dress and show so much skin. I had some pretty serious image issues and I walked into the packed club and they were all melted away. I was free, and beautiful, and accepted.

Those couple of years following I spent many a Saturday and Wednesday at the Inferno. I felt all the weight of daily life melt away as I walked through those doors. I got to know the DJ’s and bartenders and many of the regulars. We were all there for the same reason, the freedom to express ourselves and be accepted. You always had the “tourists” who would pay the exorbitant cover fee to “see the freaks” as they stood along the walls and just stared, but we didn’t care. Let them come, let them watch, let them realize that they couldn’t possibly open themselves to the world the way that we did.

Now I have to be honest, I was a weekender at the Inferno. I dressed and acted differently when I was there and I was envious of those who it wasn’t a weekend thing. They were just who they were, every day. And sometimes I wondered if it was frustrating to have us come into their haven and pretend. I want to be honest, I didn’t pretend when I was there. I was free. I just wish I had the power and the bravery to be that person every day. I envied you, and that’s why I was there, to be like you, and to learn from you.

I never got the hang of falls, and my god, did I covet Kate and Jade’s incredibly creative and gorgeous falls every week. I found freedom in Josh, Mike, and Matt’s music during L&L and Chrome. The live bands… From Matt’s birthday bash with the Azoic, to NullDevice and Stochastic Theory; the feelings and movements they evoked on the dance floor where the sounds of anger, pain, love, and freedom pouring out of us.

For several years my attendance was spotty. We would go maybe once a year. There was even a 2-3 year break in there, I don’t really know why, it just sort of slipped away. About two years ago, Trevor and I started to make it our thing again. He would dress up in a suit and tie, often three-piece, even knowing the club would live up to its name inside. I started to explore myself more. More skin, more inhibition. Again, freedom. I would cover up, modestly, walking to the club and as soon as I walked in those doors I would allow myself to be exposed. I welcomed the wandering eye and felt a sense of pleasure in my own skin I rarely got to feel in the outside world. The Inferno gave me that freedom.

My greatest regret is the few weekends, last year, that we planned to go and decided to stay in. We had no idea that last March would be the last time we stepped foot in the club, ever. We’ve talked about going for one last hurrah in the coming weeks, and I will try. I would say it’s easy to make excuses, but when your 7 months pregnant… well it really is easy to make excuses.

Where will I go to show off the satin corsets, knee-high platform boots, and inner goddess now? Where will I feel that freedom of expression when the grandparents have the kid for a night? Trevor and I had even talked about convincing someone to take our son every first Saturday so we can go to L&L.

I met Apollo a couple of times and I don’t think I ever thanked him personally for this haven he created. I remember pointing him out to Trevor, as he tended the busy front bar, and Trevor thinking it was awesome seeing the owner care so much about his clients and employees to be in the ranks with them. Apollo gave us all this incredible place to be free. To love ourselves and to love each other. And he was always right there with us. Thank you, Apollo, thank you a thousand times for everything you did for us and everything you did for the community, both inside and outside the club.

There is a massive void opening up in Madison and it will haunt us all. Who will fill that void? How long will it take? Will it ever be as great as the Inferno? With some luck, we can fill the void with a bigger, greater, more inclusive club that will provide a home to all displaced by FIVE and Inferno.

Hiatus…

I’ve been a poor blogger.  And by poor, I mean pretty darn bad. There’s a lot that has happened in the last year and a half and I’ll do my best to get this up to speed. It’s not going to be right this moment, sort of getting ready for work and all. But I have a lot of ideas tumbling around in the brain pan and I need to start getting them out. Don’t give up on me yet. I’ll be back very soon!

It’s not that I hate people…

I will always call myself a people person. I am, truly. But people are fucking stupid sometimes. Entitled little bitches that haven’t worked a day of retail in their lives.

Yesterday I was training a new guy who says to me, “My wife always says that every person should work a year of retail at least once in their lives.”

This. This statement right here.

Every person should work retail or food service at least once. If they did they would not treat retail or food service employees the way they do. Most consumers are horrible. I do not use the word “most” lightly. I truly do not.

Yesterday, we had a man yelling at my coworkers, “Do you think that’s chump change?” when it was explained to him that what he wanted cost about $200. We had already made many exceptions on his behalf. We had done a ton of work that we should have charged for, all while he stood at our counter and belittled our agents for three hours. And this was the second time he was in.

I had another woman yell at me on the phone because she came in for her 6 p.m. appointment and left after fifteen minutes of waiting. I calmly explained that our appointments ran long that afternoon and I was really sorry that we couldn’t get to her at exactly 6 p.m. She interrupted me, told me that it was a waste of her time, and how dare we allow our appointments to run late. So, I asked her if she has the same conversation with the receptionists at her doctor’s office.

*crickets*

I work in retail. I work in a retail service industry. But at what point did we, as human beings, allow this kind of behavior to become acceptable? When did we say it was okay for customers to swear at and degrade our fellow human beings because they get paid $8 an hour to “serve us?” When did we accept that it’s okay for people to treat us this way?

I have, on occasion, had to stand up for myself as a retail consumer. We all have. And I always do so feeling bad because I know that the person behind the counter has to uphold some shitty policy that they don’t even believe in. That’s the hard part of working retail. You get paid minimum wage to be the bad guy. It sucks on a level that most people don’t truly understand.

But, just because it’s a big box store that serves millions of customers a year, doesn’t mean the assholes don’t stand out. If you are one of them, here’s a little known secret. We fucking talk about you jerks all the time. We trade stories. You are our horror stories. You may think you are standing up for yourself or your fellow man, but you are the nightmare fuel that keeps us from sleeping. You are the reason we are on psycho meds and drink too much. You, my fellow entitled American asshole are the reason that our relationships fail, our friends avoid us, and you are the reason we don’t sleep and smell like a bar.

Everyday my husband says that he wants so badly for me to get another job. I should, I know I should, but I stand by my fellow retail comrade and fight for the little people who services your biological hazard of a laptop so that you can continue to eat Cheetos, drink beer, and watch illegally downloaded porn.

A quick work rant

I need to change the ringtone on my phone for work. Apparently I haven’t done that and when I heard it, at 8:30 a.m., I answered.  Now, I am going into work four hours early. I will, inevitably, fight my way through an 11 hour shift of fighting against the waves of computer illiteracy rushing to crush my very soul. 

This is after a four day weekend.  This is also after answering my phone because of a default ringtone.

The question begs, why am I now working four hours early and still closing the store? 

I work in retail, it’s true. Most of my coworkers view their job as “something to pay the bills,” until they finish school or find something better. Truth be told, so did I.  There is one major difference between me and them.

I fucking respect the people I work for and most importantly, the people I work with. 

Did I just go back to school and get a shiny new degree to teach people not to download porn blindly onto their computer? No.  Did I go back to school to have to get belittled by the general public because they think they are above our rules? Hell No. Did I go back to school to cover my coworkers shifts because “they just couldn’t face the day?” Fuck no. 

But you know what, I could have said No. I never do, they know that. Why? Because it’s still a job. They still pay me. That big box store is the reason I barely make my mortgage. 

Most of all, it’s because I don’t like to see the people I work with get completely fucked over by one selfish person. Because if I don’t go in, my coworkers, some I consider friends, have to deal with the masses of ignorant consumers who don’t understand and certainly don’t care that a person called off their shift and they are stuck trying to make it up. 

But for the love of god, if you work any job, when you call off, think a little less about yourself and think about what you are doing to the people you have to work with everyday. The ones that are going to cover your ass. The ones who’s day went to hell because you couldn’t “do it.”

Unless you have the plague. Then do us a favor and stay the fuck home.