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November 2013
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December 2013

Lies. Or, Phillip Got Me A Fitbit For Christmas

In early November I went out with my two svelte, stylish, will-never-look-older-than-they-do-right-now Asian-American girlfriends. Over a massive plate of nachos I said, "I need to tell you guys something." But then I didn't. Because I really really didn't want to tell my two size nothing, impossibly adorable girlfriends how bad - how very very bad - I was feeling about myself. 

I eventually got it out, in between mouthfuls of tortilla chips smothered in cheese, and because they know me they said exactly the right things. And a few things I wouldn't have thought of on my own. We talked about my Hot By Thirty days, what kind of space is required in your brain for weight loss, good changes, bad changes, giving up, things you think about yourself, lies you believe about yourself, and one of them said, "Oh Maggie, I hope that you can at least get back to the normal hating how you look, like the rest of us."

It wasn't the normal hating how you look. I knew that. Hearing it from someone else sort of solidified the Wacked Out place I was at and then I was sort of like, ".... whatever." I continued to eat massive plates of nachos and not care because I was All Cared Out. 

But I think that night was the Apex of whatever self loathing I've had going on in 2013. I have very slowly stopped hating myself for gaining weight. Can you believe it? I wouldn't say that I'm happy with how I am (AT ALL) but I no longer spend half of every morning mentally berating myself for getting to this point. I still look in the mirror and think, "DUDE", but I can move on. I still hate the way all of my clothes look, but I'm not super worried about what everyone ELSE is thinking about my clothes (uh... NOTHING ANYWAY.)

I believed I was a better person when I was thinner. I believed people liked me better. More. I believed that I could control my body - there's truth in that, but I twisted it. I believed losing weight was some achievement that people valued more than my other achievements. I believed people loved my achievements. 

Those are my me-centric lies, maybe you have different ones, and I don't know that I'll ever completely resist the temptation to believe them. But I'm doing so right now. For the first time in months I feel hopeful for me. 

I haven't weighed myself in ages, but I suspect I am at Square One. Before Jack. Before I ever tried to lose weight. I might hide it better now - I think I've figured out what kind of clothes work on me and most of the time I wear concealer and I do my hair every day and HOPEFULLY I am not such a college-y mess pretending to be a Career Girl like I used to be. I know that I am so much HAPPIER with the life I have now, and I like myself so much MORE, that it HAS to rub off on how I present myself to the world. 

That said. I think I'm going to try and lose this weight again. 

Probably not all of it. I'm doubtful I have what it takes to get back to those size 8 shift dresses I bought by the dozen. My husband would prefer my boobs never be that size again, quite frankly. But I think I'm going to try and get back to the place where I didn't plan my outfits around muffin tops. I think that would be healthier. I WANT to learn how to be active again and not fuel my body with a steady stream of sugar. 

What's the most amazing thing about this, for me, right now, is that I think I can

Last year at this time I was furiously attempting to lose holiday weight, only to keep putting weight ON. I eventually started to wonder if the anxiety medicine I was taking was affecting my efforts. I honestly have no idea if it was - all I know is that I tried very hard and nothing worked. 

I'm not entirely sure what's changed, but after months of being angry and not caring, I feel like maybe I could try again. I'm on a lower dose of medicine (not completely off) and maybe that DID have an effect? I've managed my expectations a little better this time? I got rid of all the sugar in my house, but I'm not interested in chewing myself out if I don't get on the treadmill every day. I feel like it could be slow, it could be not terribly successful, it could be unnoticeable by anyone but me. And that would be okay. Because I have to stop NOT taking care of myself. If that makes sense. 

So when I opened the Fitbit Phillip got me for Christmas rather than feeling immediately defeated, I was kind of excited. I do love data, you know. And it's counting my steps whether I run or walk. Walking is good too.

I wish I knew what got me out of that pit. It certainly wasn't losing weight, as I'm certain I've just kept gaining. I think it was not keeping it all to myself - telling you, telling the friends whose opinions matter so much. I think it was other people validating my "giving up" with telling me they'd have given up too. I think it was trying very hard not to talk about it or make excuses for it or make jokes about myself or mention it in daily conversation. It was asking God to help me. It was meaningful people telling me I hadn't failed them. Because that was the biggest lie I believed - that by gaining most (all?) of the weight back, I'd failed my husband, my family, my friends, anyone who'd been proud of me before, and now they were disappointed and ashamed and loved me less. 

I KNOW! I know that's madness. And yet, that's my THING. Right? So it's just so good to know, so good to be affirmed that you love me AND my muffin top. 


In which the Cheungs take the least direct and most expensive route to Victoria, BC, all in the name of Spontaneity

In Cabo Phillip and I talked a good deal about taking more (or, should I say, ANY) family trips. Not so much Big Deal Vacations as little day trips or weekend overnights. Have we gone anywhere? No. Then Phillip had the day off on Friday and we talked about a day trip to Leavenworth, which is this fake Bavarian village in the mountains and you know how much I love fake and manufactured cheer. (See: Disneyland, Las Vegas.) But we were also invited to my niece's first birthday party in Port Angeles on Saturday and late Friday morning I dreamed up the following plan: we could drive to VICTORIA that afternoon, hang out, and take the ferry across the next day for her party. HOW BRILLIANT WAS THAT?


The brilliant thing to do would have been to spend at least five minutes looking up ferry information. Ferries, those terrible, horrible, miserable steel behemoths, the mode of public transportation that consistently gives me panic attacks and neurotic episodes, the most dreadful and ire-inspiring aspect of living where I do. You live in Seattle? Would you like to drive somewhere cool? OH SORRY, YOU'LL HAVE TO TAKE A BOAT OF SATAN.

Even though it is a well known and oft mentioned fact that I Hate Ferries, I did not consider them when suggesting Victoria. (Which is also not my favorite, but more on that later.) I think this is because we didn't have a SCHEDULE. I mostly freak out about ferries because WHO KNOWS if you're going to get on the one you want, no matter how early you get there, and what if you WASTE TIME?! Oh I HATE wasting time. How I LOATHE waiting around. The inefficiency! The un-productivity! My anxious Three heart is going apoplectic just thinking about it. 

THE THING IS. What I did not know when I booked (and paid in advance for) the Victoria hotel is that there are only 2 ferry crossings from Port Angeles to Victoria per day. OH HO HO. How this would have affected our decision! 

Because the INTELLIGENT way to get to Victoria from where I live is 1) take a ferry to Kingston, drive across the Olympic Peninsula to Port Angeles, take the 1 and a half hour ferry from the PA to Victoria, which drops you off right in front of the Empress Hotel, and you can just WALK ANYWHERE. The UNintelligent way to get to Victoria from where I live is to drive alllll the way to Canada, sit at the border forever and ever, then drive alllll the way to the Tsawassen ferry terminal in Canada, take a 1 and a half hour ferry to Sidney and then drive another half hour to Victoria. Which is, of course, what we did. 

But no matter! Phillip and I said to each other. At this point we were still big believers in Spontaneity and Good Intentions and Family Togetherness. 

And of course, on our way to Canada, I realized I'd left Emma's coat at home. So we had to stop at Target, obvs, and buy the only size 2T coat in the store and THAT took forever because Targets are few and far between once you leave The City and all the moms in a 25 mile radius had driven in to their mothership, Target, and it was trafficky and busy and ACK. 

The border was okay. Not the hour promised by all the warning signs in Bellingham, but not too short either. I was very nervous that they were going to ask me if I had any fruits and vegetables because I DID, I FORGOT, but they didn't ask and I didn't have to lie about my two bananas in my purse. I called my brother in the PA to give him the update. He didn't SAY we were insane, but I've had 33 years of experience communicating with him and I could TELL he thought we were insane. He DID say, about nine hundred times, that he is the expert on Victoria and we should have called him first and he could tell us anything, especially about FERRIES, which is IMPORTANT, and alert! alert! Internet! Do you want to visit Victoria? YOU BETTER CALL MY BROTHER FIRST.

Driving to the Canadian ferry from the border was okay. We were totally on time for the 3pm ferry and maybe we'd have an hour or two to explore Victoria before going to bed. (And leaving at 9am the next morning. Oh, did I not tell you that part? That we were basically going to Victoria for dinner? Yes.)

The 3pm ferry was all booked. Of course. "It's a very busy time of year," the ticket lady told us. "You MIGHT get on the 4pm ferry." Huh? She also wanted $100 which... what? 

THANK GOD there was a little playground at the ferry terminal and a warm little gift shop in which to wait. We were there over an hour and GUESS WHAT! One of my kids was not feeling well. Poor Molly. We tried very hard not to be annoyed with her, but come on! Where was HER sense of adventure and spontaneity and feelings of family togetherness? (Okay, mine was drifting.)

We thankfully made it on the 4pm Tsawassen/Schwartz Bay ferry, and my God that thing is massive. MASSIVE. And MUCH nicer than any ferry I've ever been on, AHEM, Washington State. There were, like, multiple places to get something to eat. The bathrooms, which I used several times with various children, were very nice. The seats were comfy! If you found one to sit in, of course, as the entire population of British Columbia was going to Victoria for dinner with us. 

Please note that Phillip and I had not fought AT ALL. Our children were perfect angels (except for that sick one.) And once we made it to the island we easily found our way to our hotel where we dropped our stuff off and promptly ordered our tired and hungry children outside because we were going to ENJOY OUR HALF HOUR IN VICTORIA, DAMMIT. 

(Frail mopey Molly rode in Emma's stroller.) (I'm taking her to the doctor tomorrow morning.) (She has a Mysterious Rash! And a Fever! SURPRISE!)

THE NEXT MORNING. We felt smart. We KNEW that there were only 2 ferry crossings to Port Angeles. We KNEW we had to be there an hour and a half early. We KNEW, because we had looked it up on the website, that it was First Come First Served. 

We ate a lovely breakfast at the hotel and drove over to the PA ferry loading area. The girl in the ticket booth asked us if we had a reservation. 

"Uh, no?"

"Oh, then there's no way you're getting on the 10:30 ferry."

We were informed by the ticket girl and the ferry worker dude, who desperately wanted to get us out of the way, that if we parked NOW, we could be second in the STANDBY LINE for the 4pm ferry. Freaking FERRIES!

I was all "FINE" and Phillip was all, "DO NOT RUSH ME INTO MAKING DECISIONS, PEOPLE OF THE WORLD, I AM A NINE AND I WILL SIT HERE AND FORCE EVERYONE INTO A STANDSTILL UNTIL I FEEL LIKE COMMITTING TO SOMETHING, WHICH MIGHT BE NEVER" and finally I was all, "DUDE. Let's PARK and GET OUT OF HERE" and that's what we did. They hurried us out of line, parked us off to the side, wrote a big '2' on a scrap piece of paper, and put it on our dashboard. 

I felt super terrible about missing my niece's party, but we had a lovely time in Victoria. Even though I don't really like Victoria. And the only reason I'd suggested Victoria is because we could also make it to my niece's party. Victoria is... well, it's PRETTY and picturesque, but it's also got this stuffy uptight lady vibe (to me) and it's Britishness is not the Fake and Manufactured Cheer kind that I enjoy, but more, you know, ACTUAL Britishness. Victorian stuff (like Victoria) is not my bag. (But I LOVE London? I am a mystery.)

BUT ANYWAY. We really did have a good time. We saw the Christmas trees in the Empress, we walked up Government street and stopped in book stores and candy stores and had hot chocolate at Murchies (Murchies?). And we went to the Royal BC Museum which is pretty awesome and I could have wandered around forever (the HUMAN history parts, not the natural history parts - SNORE.) (Exhibits on Pacific Northwest ecosystems are right up there with ferries, in my opinion.)

We went back to our car at the exact right time to wait to be checked by Customs. And we waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and finally someone came to check us EXCEPT! We didn't have a particular necessary form because OOPS! we hadn't bought a ticket! Somewhere in the decision making that morning we'd parked in line without buying a ticket, or anyone requesting that we buy a ticket, or Phillip and I remembering that we needed to buy a ticket. Phillip ran out to the ticket booth and bought a ticket (for ANOTHER $100 OMGGGGG) - and then we waited again. And more and more and more and more and Phillip got out two or three times to see what was up and they just kept telling us to wait and wait and wait and HEY, THE CARS ARE MOVING WHAT'S GOING ON. 

Phillip asked ME to get out and ask that time since he was afraid he was annoying the Customs folks. When I got out they were nowhere to be found. The ticket girl was useless. I ran up to the office and was yelled at by a ferry worker who told me to (guess!) WAIT. 

We waited. And waited. And finally our line started to move and okay, I was considering freaking out at this point. See, I am anxious and neurotic and all that, but I'm actually QUITE GOOD in the moment. I was tense and had nervous tummy etc, but I was GOOD. I was READY. And when a Customs lady started running to our car I knew everything would be fine. 

Phillip rolled down the window and she shouted, "Why weren't you guys in your car for the check?!"


"Then why didn't you TELL anyone that no one had CHECKED YOU?"


"Well you might not get on this ferry! You should have ASKED!"

She had us pull out of line (THE STANDBY LINE) while she went over our passports, though, to her credit she gave us the fastest lookover in the history of customs. She sent Phillip running to the office for some sort of pass and ordered me into the driver's seat so I could meet him there and bypass the cars bypassing ME. And Phillip jumped back into the car with the appropriate papers and the grumpy customs people grudgingly let us through and YES. We made it onto the ferry. 

And THIS ferry... so, at first I'm driving on thinking "Oh thank God, there's ONE SPOT LEFT." But it turns out that spots are relative. It was like car tetris. A ferry dude came up to me and said, "Okay now, what we're gonna do is swing out waaaay far and then turn here and then go right into that slot right there." Fine! And I assumed he meant I should back in. I don't know why. Maybe it was the condescending driving directions? Because I didn't NEED condescending and overly specific driving directions to basically park head first in a regular parking space? So I swung out waaaaay far and then turned the wheel as if to back in and suddenly MANY ferry dudes are barking at me and making faces and Phillip is grabbing the wheel and THAT, my friends, THAT is when I lost it. Here I was doing precisely what I thought was the Right Thing, and it turns out they just wanted me to REGULAR park and what's wrong with this idiot woman who can't just REGULAR park and once I got into that parking space I cried. I put my forehead on the steering wheel and sobbed the sob of a girl who hates being yelled at, hates doing things the wrong way, hates being taken for an idiot. 

The ferry was slow. It was rocky. We were practically the last car off. We saw my brother and his family for MAYBE 45 minutes, long LONG after the pary had ended. Then we drove to our very last ferry, which we made with time to spare, and got home at 10pm. 

I am never getting on a ferry again. 

We've discussed blaming Spontaneity, but this would have never happened if we'd gone to Leavenworth. You don't have to take ANY ferries to go to Leavenworth. I thought about blaming my brother - how come HE didn't call ME? But I've decided to blame ferries. Miserable horrible STUPID STUPID OVERPRICED FERRIES.

Our next trip is to Disneyland. SO THERE. We have much better luck with airplanes, believe it or not. (See you in February, Sunshine!)



Dear God

I'm sorry we didn't go to church this morning. Or last Sunday. Or the Sunday before that. I feel like you would give me a pass for this morning, seeing as combing your daughter's hair for nits for three hours in the middle of the night is indeed a labor of love and worthy of a few Heaven Points. But last Sunday was the day after our party and we had a big bakery order, and honestly, I don't remember the reason for the weekend before that. 

We were lazy, we were tired, we were busy, we were PICKING NITS, but truthfully God, I didn't really want to go to church at all. [I shall now take a few moments to see if I burst into flames.] ...still here... I didn't want to go. I don't want to go. Oh, I sort of wanted to go this morning, but in a Get In The Christmas Spirit sort of way, in a Gee, We Haven't Been In A While way, in a Let's Get Mass Out Of The Way Early So We Can Go Downtown And Have Some Fun! way. I can't honestly say that I'm sorry for not wanting to go, God, although I realize I should be sorry and I think I would like to be sorry. 

I'm not sure when church became something I didn't really feel like doing. Maybe when our friends started disappearing at our old parish - for various sensible reasons. Maybe when I joined the Pastoral Council and realized I'd committed to three years of serving the parish in a way in which I am not at ALL gifted. Maybe when the new priest showed up and his demeanor made me cringe. 

Maybe when I had to start bringing KIDS. (Probably that.)

God I go back and forth and back and forth with myself. I'm supposed to GET something out of Mass. No, I'm supposed to BE at Mass. I'm there to receive the EUCHARIST. I'm not supposed to expect a brilliant homily as well. I'm certainly not supposed to expect to FEEL something at Mass. 

Even though I continue to read blog posts by, and talk to people who feel things at Mass. I wish I did! Is something wrong with me? 

God, I'm sorry for constantly entertaining the idea that I would be happy in a non-denominational church. That I would be a better Christian if I went ELSEWHERE. Not sorry because I think non-denominational churches are no good, but because I know that's not where you want me. How many times have you told me I'm supposed to be/stay Catholic? A LOT. What was it you said to me at Urbana a year ago? That the Catholic Church is definitely where you want me to be. 

It's not that I don't want to be Catholic, God. I love that I'm Catholic. You know that. I never want to not be Catholic. I just sometimes (a lot of times) want to go to Not Catholic church. 

And I'm SORRY! I'm sorry, God. I'm sorry that most of what I'm thinking about in Mass is how much longer I have to make sure my kids are behaving. How I can't understand the priest. How I'm tired. What other things I could be doing. All the things I am NOT getting out of Mass. How I STILL don't remember the "new" responses. 

I am fully aware that all of those things could and do apply to other churches too. I KNOW. But perhaps the grass is greener, etc.

We are more or less decided on That Other Church. For now. They have a great Sunday School program and THANK YOU, GOD for providing me with bunches of people to tell me about it and encourage me to go there. My oldest will prepare for his first communion next year and I'm thankful that I've at least got that covered. 

I feel committed to you in so many other ways, God, but I'm a huge disappointment in this department. It feels extra terrible since its the department you hear most about: be in the pews on Sunday! And I'm sorry, but not enough. Not really. It's so confusing. It can be so unsettling.

It's probably quite inconsiderate of me to bring up these unpleasant things right before your birthday. I'm sorry.

What else am I sorry for? Oh man, so many things. I'm sorry I completely ignored that letter home about lice because 1) I'm lazy and 2) I didn't have time for lice and therefore it wouldn't happen to us and so 3) my daughter suffers. I'm sorry I made an Advent wreath and then never lit it. I'm sorry I've been SO short with my family. I'm sorry for all the evenings I want to hide in my bedroom and shut the door. I'm sorry we can't find Joseph from the nativity set. I'm sorry I keep eating cookies when I'm stressed instead of being with you. I'm sorry that an overpriced eyeshadow kit I don't need was the thing that most floated my boat this week. (Although, God, if you wore eyeshadow, you would totally shun the drugstore stuff once you tried my fancy palette. Thank you for fun things like eyeshadow.)

I'm not a very knowledgeable or devout or intense or enthusiastic Catholic. But God I do feel that I am a very earnest Catholic, with good intentions and genuine desire to be better. I am super serious about my faith, even if it can be a very flighty twinkly bipolar sort of faith. Oh I pray you have mercy on me and forgive my self-indulgent thinking. I know you love me, I know you're totally down with sharing a bottle of wine in my living room, and thank you for your patience and grace while I strive to become better company.

(happy birthday) 

Let's just say this is my Christmas card this year

I am running on fumes, guys. GOOD fumes, cookie-scented and decorated with twinkly lights, but still. Fumes. You too, I bet. Let us all gaze at my favorite picture for a bit and we'll feel better. 


(credits: ummmm, a nun at a monastery in Dubuque, IA painted this for a Christmas card. I believe. And I break some sort of law every year by posting it on my blawg, I'm sure.)

Are you businessy? More mumblings from a know-nothing startup baker who never took a college level math class

I'm going to start with the bakery since that's what I started thinking about at 5am this morning and couldn't not go back to sleep. What I'm mulling is: should we pay for space in a commercial kitchen? 

A month or two ago I'd decided no. The lowest rate I could find was at least $400 a month (with only one person working and not much storage space) and I didn't know if we'd get $400 in ORDERS. Too risky, not necessary, the Cottage Food Permit was just going to be a necessary evil. 

But I am rethinking BECAUSE:

1. I'm still mad about the CF restrictions, including no wholesaling, no making things that require refrigeration, no shipping, and no making more than $15,000 in a year. We are not getting into this gig to only make $15,000 a year. (Not that we have any prayer of making anywhere NEAR $15,000 as it sounds right now, but you know, we have DREAMS!) Also the part where you're not supposed to make any recipe that hasn't been first cleared with the Cottage Food people. ANNOYING. 

2. Katie had a hard time with the brunch order we delivered Sunday morning after my Christmas party. She and I both made a heap of cookies, but Katie also made croissants and galettes for the party AND the brunch order, in addition to scones and muffins. Oven space turned out to be a bigger problem than she expected, especially regarding the croissants (which are finicky little suckers. Remind me to never try making THOSE.) She wasn't super satisfied with the product AND...

3. You know what? It's HARD doing this from your own house. A cake here and there works fine, even the cookie boxes we've been doing the most, but larger pastry orders? Or the amount of cookie orders we filled this last week (WHICH WAS NOT EVEN A LOT?) 

Last night I was googling around, as I do, seeing if anyone was renting kitchen space on Craig's List (not really), and then reading up on local "kitchen squatters", starter entrepreneurs renting space from established restaurants, or partnering with them in some way to make things more affordable. 

Then I found a website called and found a whole bunch of places I hadn't been able to locate before. Including one in a suburb about 15 minutes north of where I live, for a much lower rate with more options. And I started thinking. Again. 

If we were using a commercial kitchen we could:

  • go around to local coffee shops and see if any of them would be interested in selling our treats
  • ship orders out of our reasonable delivery area, including out of state
  • start an Etsy store

We would require a business license (got it) and insurance (need it, no idea how much it costs.) The lowest rate I found at a new place charges $225 for 15 hours a month or $60 for 6 hours in one day if we don't want to commit to a monthly rate. 

It will cost $230 to apply for the Cottage Food permit (our application is pretty much done, but since there was no way we could get legal by the holidays we put off finishing it), but that's a yearly fee. 

The scariest thing about renting space is that we have NO IDEA what our anticipated need would be. We were pretty busy this last week, but January will probably be dead. I bet we'll get a few orders around Valentine's Day, but then what? Maybe a few cakes? I don't know. It's not like having a shop where you have inventory on hand. We've thought about Farmer's Markets, which would give us a steady schedule, but you have to apply and they're very choosy if you're not a farm or dairy. I don't have any idea how to even estimate how much time we would need kitchen space, or even IF we need it. 

Maybe we do the CF permit and see how things go. Although half the opportunities are cut off to us if we cook from home and that would, I think, greatly affect our ability to estimate what we can do and how we can grow. 

I've also thought about seeking out a church or restaurant or caterer with kitchen space. What scares me about this is that I have ABSOLUTELY NO BUSINESS EXPERIENCE. None. Zero. Zip. My sister has worked for several local bakeries, but that doesn't make her an ace negotiator either. I have ideas and thoughts, but no confidence to take a step. 

Sometimes I wonder if there's a local church around that wants to start a coffee shop in its basement and maybe we could get our start there. That's kind of a thing around here. But I don't know how to do that either. And I assume all these folks would like some rent money too. 

AAAUUGGGHHHH. I'm ready to risk for this business and Phillip is too, but only if it's SMART. I don't feel very smart. Severe irritation with Washington State regulations does not seem, to me, to be a good impetus for forking out $225 a month that I don't HAVE to fork out. 

An update that is more like an update about updating soon.

Oh Internet. I am SO TIRED. And I have SO MUCH TO TELL YOU. But I am SO TIRED. I know being too tired to update your blawg is a first world problem of the utmost degree, but it's not like you expect me to be above such things. 

There was a Party, the start of a New Job, and a Mysterious Ailment; there's the continuation of the Shower Saga, a few existential thoughts on Should We Continue To Throw This Christmas Party, and then a whole heck of a lot of Bakery Lessons. I reeeeeally want to get your opinions, but I went to bed at 2am last night and you guys, I'm pretty sure the last time I saw 2am I was in high school. Even in college I went to bed at Reasonable Hours, to the massive irritation of my various roommates. I had to put part of a bakery order together after the party, then I had to assist my sister in delivering that order to Tacoma by 9am this morning, and I was so tired I fell asleep in the car on the way home and dreamed I was dating Macklemore. I KNOW. That is VERY TIRED. 

I know that you are not particularly dying for me to share any of these stories, but I feel like I'm forgetting things and this is the only Baby Book/Journal I've got and I have to keep it up. For ME. So, if you are still reading, stay tuned for more first world problems, more starting-a-business-while-having-absolutely-no-experience ruminations, and eloquent explorations of All The Stuff Going On. (Also, I plan to start reading what you are writing again. Sheesh.)

Tenterhooks, folks. Be on them. 


There's only room for one man cold in this house and it's not going to be MINE

I'm trying super hard not to man cold it up around here, but JEEZ LOUISE I feel hammered.  And not the good kind. I pretty much zombie walked through my day, and when EJ decided she didn't feel like napping, I didn't let that prevent MY nap. I just stuck her on the couch with me and gave her my phone. The tiny bit of sleep I was able to eke out had an Angry Birdsish scent. 

Katie came over this afternoon and figured out the Baking Plan, which is good because I was in no shape to organize anything and someone has to run this business. We have a whole bunch of things due Sunday, which is terribly inconvenient as my Christmas party is Saturday. A certain someone (NOT ME!) is planning to wake up at 4am Sunday morning to let the croissants rise. Hey, she chose that department. I will be sleeping until I really shouldn't anymore, then trucking a giant breakfast pastry order down to Tacoma. And then I will pass out on my parents' couch for the remainder of the day. 

Oh wait, no! I will come home and put more bakery orders together because WE! ARE! BUSY! 

(This week anyway.) (I am wondering if I have to give up my Christmas party in the future.) (NEVAH!)

Speaking of, if any of you just happened to show up at my house next Saturday night I would be DELIGHTED. 

It's not just the baking about which I'm a teensy bit twitchy, we still have the matter of the Bloody Shower. I like to refer to it this way because 1) it's red, and 2) my secret inner Parliament MP enjoys saying Bloody in reference to hugely aggravating things. Oh, and it's red because on Monday I slathered three coats of RedGard over the whole thing. TECHNICALLY we can start tiling any time we want but, ah, we are frightened. Basically I don't want to attempt tiling without Phillip, and because Phillip has been working late every night (ISN'T THIS HIS LAST WEEK?!) and also I've been SICK, tiling has not been happening. 

So the PLAN is to go get our Christmas tree Friday evening when Phillip SUPPOSEDLY will get home early, and then we'll have the whole weekend to destroy our Bloody Shower. Is it possible? I am under no illusion that we will have the whole thing finished by Party Day, but I think we could at least get the rest of the bathroom USABLE. Right? We have to tile, grout, put up trim to hide where we tore off too much drywall, and order and install a shower door. NOT HAPPENING BY NEXT SATURDAY. But I think we could get the tile up. Maybe I'll even experience a burst of confidence (and health!) and take the rest of the project on myself! 

I bet your favorite posts are the ones where I basically process everything on my to do list. Those are So! Interesting! Whatever. I'm going to bed. It's 7:48 PM. Bite me.

A million unintentional words on anxiety

I've had a nasty cough for over a week and today I added sneezes and chills and a sore throat and dependency on Kleenex to the mix. You'd think that with the nine frillion supplements I take there's no way I could possibly be sick, but here I am, infecting everything in a ten foot radius. 

Speaking of supplements, I was kind of thinking I would tell you guys what I'm doing and why, just in case anyone else out there is interested in trying this route. 

The "holiday project", as my naturopath put it, is to be consistent taking my pills (I am... bad at this) and then testing me in January to see what's what. In addition to the lowered dose of my SSRI, I'm on iron, probiotics, and two kinds of methylfolate. Even though I've read heaps of research now on MTHFR mutations and what happens when you have one, I can't explain or describe it. All I can authoritatively say is that because of this mutation, something in my brain does not process correctly, and my body makes 30% of a particular chemical compared to a person without the mutation. (Okay, even that I'm not sure I repeated correctly.) ANYWAY, this particular chemical has been shown to affect several different things, one of them being depression and its flip side, anxiety. That's what the methylfolate is for - to even this out and build me up.

The iron is because I am Practically Anemic and I've HEARD that this makes your body function rather poorly, perhaps contributing to things like wanting to nap every afternoon and never feeling rested and not having any energy for things like exercise... the problem is iron is finicky and you have to take it a certain way otherwise you get stomachaches and you shouldn't take it with dairy because calcium blah blah blah and TOO MUCH WORK. However. I have recently been convicted that I will feel much much MUCH BETTER if I get my iron levels up.  (I already feel better. Shut up.) 

The probiotics are because... okay, don't laugh. But a study recently came out where the gut flora of aggressive mice was replaced with different flora and the mice, uh, got less aggressive. Chilled out, if you will. The gut, if you did not know, has a lot to do with anxiety (even according to my Obnoxious Brain Doctor!) and my current hippie doctor was like, "Well, we could TRY it?" 

I stopped with the acupuncture -  it didn't seem to have any affect on me. I mean, I enjoyed my half hour in the quiet darkness, but I never felt one way or another after a treatment. 

In terms of other changes/effects since I started this naturopath stuff - I can't imagine going back to a regular doctor after seeing a naturopath. This last visit when I was feeling so terrible, so discouraged and angry and down and apathetic, she WANTED to hear about it, she encouraged me to say exactly what I was feeling and thinking, and when she responded I felt like she actually listened to what I said. One of the supplements she gave me is to take "as needed", whenever I start to feel anxious. It's hard to restate what she said here, but basically she agrees with me that once my body is anxious, it stays anxious. Like it forgets there are other ways to be. And that's what that supplement is for, to say "Hey, we don't have to go there," and maybe my body will learn. I know that sounds weird, but it makes SO MUCH SENSE to me and I was SO GRATEFUL that she accepted and understood MY evidence. 

(Note: the supplement doesn't make anything go away, but most of the time I DO feel slightly better, like maybe the edge is off and it's easier to fight the battle.)

(Also, I am fully aware that you do not see a doctor to talk about your feelings. If it turns out all this hippie supplement stuff does nothing, then I will grudgingly return to the brain doctors - just a different one this time.)

Another thing - I do this all the time I guess, but even more so right now I'm kind of processing all the years I've been dealing with this. I'm just realizing how much I believed it was my fault. I had brought this crazy on myself. I am gracious to myself with this part, because it wasn't until the last couple years that I began to mainly experience anxiety outside of any emotional triggers or reasons I'd defined as anxiety-causing. As a purely biological thing. The part I'm struggling with is how much I believed that my failure to get better was my own fault. For many years I refused any kind of medicine because this was about FEELINGS, right? So I was just going to work super hard on changing the way I feel. And I did! But constant examination of character did not make anxiety go away. A better prayer life did not make anxiety go away. Rehashing my entire sophomore year of high school in therapy did not make anxiety go away. Growing up and getting smarter did not make anxiety go away. All of these things helped, but nothing made it disappear. It always came back. 

So now I can look back and think, yeah, you WERE messed up, but you were also in your early twenties when stuff like this, if it's going to happen, tends to happen. You didn't know what to do. You didn't know what it WAS. Current Me is okay with Past Me for being bonkers during this time. 

But MAN do I wish I'd been easier on myself during the time when it was improving, but still THERE. Like I hadn't worked hard enough. I hadn't learned enough or done enough or changed enough. I wasn't a good enough person. I hadn't figured out how to forgive myself for ancient transgressions and if only I could do THAT. I hadn't grown a thicker skin and if I could only do THAT. I hadn't come to a place where I wasn't bothered by certain things and if I could only get THERE. 

Except... this is part of me. I mean, if all the research I've read is correct, or even if it's not and all the stuff about why SSRIs work is the real deal, then there is not one thing I can improve, not one way I can grow, not one way I can be closer to God, not one way I can be a better person to make sure certain things don't trigger anxiety. If I could do that? If I could totally conquer my triggers? The last two years have shown that I would experience anxiety anyway. Because that's the way my body behaves and reacts and there's science out there to back me up, not to mention thousands of people dealing with the same thing. 

It's a relief, it's maddening, and it's tragic when I think about how hard I've been on myself. 

And I wouldn't say I fully KNOW or accept it now. It still doesn't make sense to me. I get that when I'm dehydrated I get a wicked headache. I don't get that when a process in my brain isn't working correctly I feel scared. I feel like I should be able to control FEELINGS. Feelings are how I experience EVERYTHING. I'm NOT a logical thinky rational decision maker. I'm a gut instinct person, a touchy feely person, a totally obnoxious person who says things like, "I sense that..." I access everything through my feelings, and when my feelings betray me I don't understand ANYTHING. 

Ugh. I actually meant to write about the bakery tonight, believe it or not. Hello digression!

I am doing WELL right now. Except for the lingering cold. I am doing WELL. Very very busy and a little nuts, but WELL. I am saying the Christmas novena. I feel God present in my day to day. The amount of haranguing myself because of my size has decreased. I don't even hate my super grown out hair. This isn't a processing-my-sads post. 

I wonder if this is all a result of gradually getting older and learning myself better. In which case I welcome and excitedly look forward to the future. 

Bakery update! First shower reno update! (Note to self: LAST shower reno.)

Katie calls them Pity Orders, but you have to start somewhere, right? So far Internet Katie has ordered cookies, Internet/Real Life Carrie ordered a cake, Real Life Friend ordered a cookie box, and we have two more orders from real life people. My mom's BFF wants to order a bunch of things for a brunch she's hosting and a friend of mine wants to order little holiday cookie treats for all of her coworkers. I deeply DEEPLY appreciate our friends' and family's enthusiasm and YES, I WILL TAKE THEIR MONEY. Thank you! 

It was super hard to put that proposal together tonight because we're still not sure how much everything COSTS. I mean, we know how much it costs to make a certain item and we know the rule of thumb Katie's pastry school profs recommended for pricing things, but it's still hard. You don't want to give anyone sticker shock, especially your family and friends are throwing you pity orders (THANK YOU), but you also want to 1) stay with the going rate and 2) know your worth. In accordance with every "how to price your cakes" article I've read on the internet, we don't want to be known as The Cheap Cake Lady. 

We still haven't done the final read through on our application. I wasn't motivated to do it over Thanksgiving, knowing we couldn't mail it in yet anyway. Besides, we were busy tearing out a shower. 

OMG THE SHOWER. Okay, so I've had a pretty firm "Let's hire professionals!" stance on most home improvement projects. I feel okay about paint, but not much else. But Phillip, who is still reeling from the small fortune we spent on our deck this summer, refused on principle to hire anyone. "WE CAN DO THIS OURSELVES!" he proclaimed, loud and far, and FINE, PHILLIP CHEUNG, let's get it DONE then. I finally declared that Thanksgiving weekend was The Weekend Of The Shower and he grudgingly agreed and then? 

On Thanksgiving night WE TORE OUT THE SHOWER. Okay, I should say that Phillip tore out the shower. And I cannot overemphasize the CRAZYPANTSNESS of Phillip and me doing a home improvement project on our own. Neither of us knows anything about anything. Thankfully there are many tutorials on YouTube and thankfully we also have two handy friends on speed dial. Not that we've needed them. (Yet). 

I'll have pictures for you later, but right now you can imagine the Before: boring gray square ceramic tile, disintegrating grout, sliding shower door. And the Right Now: New cement board backer with taped seams, ready for its first coat of RedGard either tonight or tomorrow, depending on how I feel. (The rest of this project is pretty much mine, Phillip having done all the heavy lifting and ripping and cutting and garbage collecting, poor guy.) 

I have to admit I was thinking that we'd just knock a couple tiles off, see how the backerboard was doing, and stick some more on. I did not realize (BECAUSE I AM AN IDIOT) that we were going to rip it down to the studs. I did not realize that even if the backerboard underneath IS fine, the easiest thing is to rip it down to the studs. So that was exciting! HA! It was filthy and gross and we weren't sure what we were doing, but when we got to the part of the shower where the drywall (BECAUSE THEY TILED RIGHT ON THE DRYWALL) was WET (WET), we felt vindicated. 

But you know, I'm pretty sure that's the original shower and the house was built in 1988 and hey, that's not too bad, right? There were some teeny tiny dots of mold on one stud, but no other damage that we could see. So I feel like even if our tiling job sucks, at least we're using much better materials and everything should turn out okay. 

Speaking of materials, as I was taping the seams yesterday I decided that the white subway tile we bought was probably going to cause a divorce. Like, it just seemed SO small and tedious and the walls are not especially level and I was freaking out about bumps and AUGH. I didn't want to stand in my shower every morning and get mad at the tile. So I told Phillip we should probably return the white ceramic tile for the big tiles Home Depot sells at the end of the tile aisle. We found a grayish beigeish stoneish 12 x 12 tile for CHEEEEEAP and I picked out some coordinating mosaic glass tile for an accent row at the top. (That's about as artsy as we're going to get.) And I'm disappointed. It is NOT the clean, bright, white/aqua shower of my dreams. It's greige and neutral and HO HUM. I don't think it's ugly - I think it's FINE - but it's definitely not my favorite. BUT. It was super duper crazy cheap (while still being Quality Wall Tile For A Shower) and now I don't feel too bad about splurging on a frameless shower door. (The shower door frame is the entire reason I hate cleaning the shower.) 

BESIDES. One day we're going to remodel the whole bathroom, split it into two, maybe even enlarge the master bedroom side, and THEN I will have a PROFESSIONAL make me a beautiful sparkly white-and-aqua shower. SO THERE. 

I know. You don't care. This was entirely too many words about tile. I understand.