In Which Nobody Puts TxtingMrDarcy in a Corner… Least of all Herself

Hello again Blogloves!

I have a confession to make. I’m sure that it’s going to surprise exactly .01% of you, but here it is:

I wrote myself into a corner.

After years of reading blogs, and loving blogs, and writing blogs, I felt the need to try to FOCUS myself.

“I should pick one thing and be really good at it!” I thought. “Every REALLY good, successful blog has an IDEA! Or a FOCUS! Or a THEME!”

Obviously, since I posted about books a great deal of the time, I pegged them as the thing that I am PASSIONATE! about, and started only posting about that.

And then? I got bored. SO bored.

If I didn’t love a book, I didn’t post about it. I got tired of trying to sound knowledgeable, and trying to formulate well-written opinions based upon my vast amount of reading. Even when I loved a book so much that I wanted to buy a notebook solely for the purpose of writing “Brooke + Life After Life” over and over again with pink puffy hearts? I still didn’t want to write about it.

I started to long to get back to just writing about LIFE again. Life, while it’s happening. Whether it’s boring and repetitious,  or fantastic and fresh every single day. That’s what I did when I started almost three years ago. (Holy crap) It worked for me.

(Example: I didn’t even blog about THE ROYAL BABY. Because I didn’t think it “fit.” How stupid is that?!)

(PS- OMG da widdle PrinceGeorgiekins and his widdle cheeks!@.)

Even while I didn’t blog for so much of this year, I tried to keep connected via Twitter, and Instagram, and other forms of social media. And even though it’s been A YEAR, the smoke has started to clear, and I’m ready to get back to interacting with all of you again. I miss the perspective that you give me- that whatever I’m going through here, there is a BIG world out there full of fun and laughter and amazing friends that I have yet to meet.

So, allow me to introduce myself, Internet.

My name is Brooke. I’ve been married for two years to my childhood sweetheart-of-sorts Army Boy.

We are parents to a devious beagle named Wesley (OF COURSE it’s after the Princess Bride.)

We live in a small town in Pennsylvania, with a lot of corn and cows, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We just sold our first home and bought our second, and I suddenly found myself a bit of a country girl.  Not, like Pioneer Woman -level country girl, but it feels close.  We dream sometimes of adventure, and when we do we do it big-time. See: Ireland in 2011 and Scotland in 2013. (The UK has my heart forever and ever.)

I am a completely unashamed book hoarder, but also share my affection with cupcakes, wine, travel and anything British.

Thank you for stopping by today, and I can’t wait to get to know you all again.

 

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Ridin’ Dirty. Or… Not So Dirty.

My Instagrammy friends are probably sick to death of already aware of the fact that Army Boy and I have been spending a lot of time biking the local rail trails this summer. Most of it is due to the fact that exercise is GOOD FOR ME, but I’ve also discovered that biking is something I really enjoy. Yes, I may call Army Boy horrible names around mile 5, but I eventually get my second wind and am back to my sweet and charming self.

Well, as sweet and charming as I get, anyway.

Sometimes I don’t exactly make the best decisions of other ways to spend my spare time, such as choosing ginormous books to read when I should perhaps be focusing on my “British Monarchy Month” goal. Or of choosing to watch allllll of “Game of Thrones” season two in a week, and then jumping right into A Storm of Swords because my intense fervor for the series has returned with a vengeance. Between that and Elizabeth The Queen, I’m plowing though (heh heh) two huge tomes, and my other British books are looking at me reproachfully.

“You do realize that June is practically over,” they’re saying, “And that you’ve only posted a review of ONE of your scheduled books?”

Then I give them The Finger because since when did paperbacks get so judgy?!

One super exciting development that I’m thrilled to share is that I nabbed a spot in Mandy’s Blogger Book Club, hosted by the adorable Mandy (duh!) of The Well-Read Wife. I already knew that Mandy was awesome, as I reached out to her when I was thinking of steering my blog in a more bookish direction, and she responded with a great email full of invaluable tips. She’s a bit of a literary chameleon, and never shies away from using a book as an opportunity to wear a great outfit. On top of that? She’s one of BlogHer’s Voices of the Year this year. Yes, I have my gushy pants on. I am slightly excited.

I’m going to be reading and reviewing America, You Sexy Bitch by Michael Ian Black and Megan McCain along with 50 other bloggers, and I’m going to love every stinking second of it.

(Secret Confession: I kinda… like? Meghan McCain?? She’s been in the spotlight for a while, and handled herself well despite some extremely personal criticism. I like her enough that I’m willing to read what she has to say, and I think that if we could make a pact to not talk about our political leanings, we could totally get down with pedis and a cocktail and debate the merits of Channing Tatum’s abs vs Chris Hemsworth’s everythingnomnom.)

(Don’t tell anyone I blogged that or I’ll have to kill you.)

(I mean about my bff Meghan. Not about Channing Tatum vs Chris Nomsworth because Chris would win unless Channing’s face was covered and he was doing a little “Magic Mike” routine bow chicka…)

WHERE WAS I?!

Yes! It’s practically July, and I’m in Mandy’s Blogger Book Club. Stay tuned, because it is sure to be enlightening. Or amusing. Or a little of both!!

(And? This was my 350th Post! Wow, when did that happen?)

A Charm City Caper: Part Deux

Wesley, where were we? Oh, that’s right. Mommy and Daddy were spending the night in the Baltimore Marriot, because somehow Mommy’s car had decided to be a TOTAL ASSHOLE. And nobody could help!

In summary up to this point:

A: Flat tire in downtown Baltimore

B: Lug nuts will come off, tire will not

C: Tire will come off, lug nut will not

D: A Kardashian is preggo again

The next morning, Mommy woke up early and because she was so eager to get home to you. We were supposed to meet Peter at 10am, but we wanted to have a plan in place just in case things went wrong (and at this point EVERYTHING had gone wrong.) We didn’t want to risk driving home on the dummy tire, because they just don’t make those suckers like they used to and the last thing we needed was to be stuck AGAIN on the highway. Mommy found the closest tire shop to the hotel, and gave the gentleman there an estimate of when she hoped they could arrive. She also took the numbers of three LEGITIMATE towing companies, just in case Peter didn’t show.

(Side note: We found out after the fact that Mommy’s insurance wouldn’t cover the cost of having Peter’s company come and try to fix the car, but they would have paid for a tow truck. Where the hell we would have told them to tow the car at 11pm in a strange city, when we’d still have been stuck there overnight with no way of then getting TO the car other than calling a cab and spending MORE MONEY YAY!…. You see my point.)

Mommy and Daddy decided to get cleaned up as best they could, while still wearing the previous days clothes and without Mommy’s makeup OMG CRISIS, and grab some breakfast. There was a Starbucks right across from their hotel. For the first time since the night before, with peppermint mochas in hand, things were looking up.

Then, one of Baltimore’s Residents without Residence came over to the plate glass window we were sitting by. He’d just plucked a cigarette butt from a trashcan, and was attempting to light it while starting intently at us. I continuted contemplating my breakfast, and noticed Daddy staring unabashedly back.

“Honey,” I intoned, smiling sweetly. “Please stop staring at that man.”

“Do you think this window is a two-way mirror?” Daddy asked, puzzled.

“No, I’m pretty sure he’s just staring at us,” Mommy answered, continuing to smile.

“Then why is he just standing there??” Daddy continued to question.

“He probably wants money sweetheart, just keep talking to me and stop staring.”

The gentleman went away without further incident, but Mommy was amused by Daddy’s naivete.

We finally met up with Peter again, and he made sure Mommy’s car had enough air in the tire to follow him “ten minutes down the road, to a garage on a main road.” Not being from Baltimore, and having paid him already, we were… well… SOL. Off we went through the city, noting that we were moving to a quieter part of town and feeling relieved…

…until we turned the corner to our destination. We were facing a row of storage units that had been converted to garages. All of which were owned by different people, seeming all of whom were clustered in the street talking and listening to eleventy different loud music stations. Had Mommy been alone, she would have been very nervous, but fortunately she was with Daddy and had her trusty iPhone. She also saw the cops driving by at frequent intervals, which brought a small measure of solace.

We were introduced to the gentleman who was going to cut Mommy’s tire off the car, and given his business card. For posterity, we had to save it. Because it is a girl in a bikini on a pink car.

Despite the apparently sketchiness of our surroundings, Mommy’s car was quickly taken up on a lift and the garage’s employees got to work removing our tire. Electric Bolt Removal Thing?* Nothing. Something that Looks Like A Saw?* No dice.

Suddenly, a BLOWTORCH appeared as if out of nowhere, and that nasty tire was FINALLY off. The verdict in the bright light of day was that the tire had a puncture in the side-wall under the car, and thus couldn’t be fixed. The dummy tire was on in a Jiffy, and we were informed that our service station attendants only accepted cash…which we totally didn’t have. Because Hello, STUCK OVERNIGHT IN BALTIMORE.

Fortunately, Peter came through and handled that part of things (since his business hadn’t been able to actually get the job done), and with the aid of Mommy’s trusty iPhone we were on our way to a tire shop that was not a converted storage unit.

Things get boring here for a while, because actually getting the tire fixed at a “legit” tire shop required very little effort and time. Before we knew it, we were heading back to you, as excited as we could be. The total time elapsed since we’d departed for the city for “an evening of revelry” was 24 hours, and we were eager to get cleaned up and in fresh clothes.

Apparently, Mommy was a little TOO eager for those fresh clothes, because shortly after we crossed the border of sweet, sweet Pennsylvania, some flashing lights appeared in our rearview mirror. Don’t judge me too harshly. What highway has a speed limit of 55 and expects drivers to ACTUALLY follow it? (Answer: THAT ONE.) Perhaps the officer suspected that Mommy was on the verge of going EFFING POSTAL, and took it easy on her with a minimal fine. (Which didn’t seem so minimal after the crazy charges we’d racked up in the preceding 24 hours.)

After that, it was smooth sailing all the way back to our sweet little town, and your sweet little face.

And we are never ever ever ever ever leaving again the end. Ever.

(Except we’re totally going to Philadelphia later this month. Pray for us.)

*I am now a whiz at all things required to fix a car. CLEARLY.

Off The Wagon.

When we last left off in the Great Diet Saga of 2011, our heroine was fully on-board with the diet and exercise changes necessary to get rid of the nefarious weight she had somehow gained during her first year of cohabitation.

Then she stopped talking in the third person because it was really annoying.

I was on the right track, switching up a lot of my meal and snacking choices and exercising when I could. I was actually seeing some decent results as well- Since my last diet post, I’m down over five pounds.

And Easter happened.

It was the first family gathering since I’d started the big d-word, and the first time when I had little control over what the menu for the day way. Instead, I could focus on portion control and not go apeshit over the abundance of awesome food and chocolatey goodness.

Can we talk about that for a minute? The chocolate?! Because for the love of all that’s holy, I MISS IT. It’s quickly revealed itself to be my one true weakness, and if I don’t enjoy a little of it a day, I become a stabby hellbeast.

Anyway, wah, boring, blah, done with that.

However, Easter presented a new set of challenges in the form of my lovely, sweet, pastel-filled Easter basket. Not only mine, but Army Boy’s too! (Not to worry, I wasn’t tempted by anything that was in Wesley’s treat stash.)

“No big deal,” I thought. “I can handle this. I’ll just have to make my basket last longer than it typically has in the past.” I stuck to my original plan, with the addition of a piece or two of Easter candy each day. I had to get it out of the house, after all.

And THEN, I sprained my knee.

At least, that’s what we’re going with at this point, a few days after the fact when I’m now able to put some weight on it and returned to normal NSAIDS (naproxen) instead of the good shit I was taking immediately after it happened.

I am the queen of “traumatic injury while doing nothing.”

Rather than a fabulous story to tell you about how I was horseback riding through the woods on a summer-like day, and was thrown dramatically off the horse and into a patch of thorny bushes that just happened to be inhabited by an angry hobo….

…I was in the kitchen. Getting my dog some water. And I turned, and suddenly my knee buckled and I couldn’t put weight on it. AWESOME.

Somehow, my timing for “traumatic injury while doing nothing” was awesome, and I was going into a four day weekend during which Puppers was scheduled to get his… ahem…manhood removed. We spent a great deal of time taking it easy together, and though he seemed confused as to why he inexplicably wanted to watch the Royal Wedding* all the time, I wasn’t about to argue with him. Whatever makes you feel better, Wesley.

At this point, I’m willing to go with “sprain” without too much shame, but SHIT. That was NOT fun. And all that I could think about at the time was that my diet was going down the tubes because I would be unable to exercise and I had eaten EASTER CANDY that week. GAH! (Catholic guilt? Or just neurotic? You be the judge.)

It’s safe to say that last week, I tumbled off the diet wagon. My scale attested to the fact, though less significantly than I would have thought. That, at least, was a relief. With another few weeks of good behavior, I should be right back on track.

*GAH! PERFECT! AMAZING! *Swoon!*

Temptation.

(Scene: The Frat House, Monday Afternoon. Yankees Fan comes in bearing bakery boxes. )

Yankees Fan: Hey guys. I have cupcakes if anyone wants one.

Everyone: Mmm! Yum! Etc.

Brooke: Haha, no thanks! I will just eat this AWESOME WATERMELON instead!

Brooke’s Inner Monologue: Ha! Good job, self! You did it! Way to resist! Don’t you feel so much better? Now you can go home and EXERCISE, and then maybe have some sort of low-fat treat after dinner! Yay!

Brooke: Shutup, bitch.

N-Pants: What?

Brooke: Oh no, not talking to you! Haha! Stupid… computer… is… being a bitch! Yes! HA!

Brooke’s Inner Monologue: No need to get pissy. I mean, I know you’re hormonal and all, and probably would REEEEEALLY like that chocolate icing right now…

Brooke: No really. I’m going to stab you in the face. Shut up. (grabs a piece of gum and chews furiously)

(Time passes. Brooke heats up her Healthy Bullshit Lunch™ and eats it while continuing to dig out from under the mounds of work that Monday always brings. An email flashes onto the corner of her screen.)

Email from Yankees Fan: Hey gang! I have cupcakes over here at my desk! Come and get them, the wife said I’m not allowed to bring them home.

Brooke: (grits her teeth, hits “reply.”) “My wedding dress hates you.” There, that should do it.

Brooke’s Inner Monologue: Hey, how ya doin? Ya doin’ good? Yeah, just checking in.

Brooke: Uh huh. Great. I’m peachy.

Brooke’s Inner Monologue: Ok… I mean, I can imagine how much it must SUCK to have to say no to those amazing, gooey, scrumptious—

Brooke: NOT HELPING.

Brooke’s Inner Monologue:– cupcakes for a second time. But look at how awesome your willpower is!

Brooke: Yeah, thanks. Woo. Now go away so I can eat this DELICIOUS banana. JUST what I was craving. A fuc-

Brooke’s Inner Monologue: HEY! Do you think the language is really necessary?!?

Brooke: YES. IT IS NECESSARY. I am FIVE SECONDS from driving to Target, buying a chocolate bunny and biting that sonofabitch’s head RIGHT OFF. OK?! Just let me suffer in silence!!

NewPharm: Yankees Fan, would you like some pastries? My wife picked them up over the weekend at Snooty McBakesalot.

Yankees Fan: Damn, those look really good.

Brooke: (like a mantra) They are men with amazing metabolisms… they are men with amazing metabolisms….

PMS: Hey, how’s it going??

Brooke: Oh shit, not you too!! I can’t handle anymore right now!

PMS: Is she always like this?

Brooke’s Inner Monologue: No, she was definitely more fun before the diet. You know, with the baking, and the pasta with cream sauces and the baklava…

PMS: So what’s the problem?

Brooke’s Inner Monologue: Some bullcrap about the wedding, and not wanting to look like the StayPuff Marshmallow Dude…

Brooke: Don’t talk about me like I’m not here!

PMS: Oh, I’m SORRY crankypants. Would you rather I talk TO you? Because you are too pissy right now even for ME!

Brooke’s Inner Monologue: Word.

Brooke: Guys? As much as I’m enjoying this? There’s work to do. Tons of it. And since I’m not getting help from the coworkers, I need to focus on that. And to avoid being pissy about THAT? I’m focusing on the fact that we are getting married in 6 months. So I honestly don’t have time to argue with the voices in my head about this diet.

PMS: Chocolate. You wants it.

Brooke: Bite me.

(End Scene)

(image via google images)

Diet Schmiet.

A little over two years ago, I decided to start online dating. Shortly after that, I got the bright idea that I’d share with the Internets how it was going.

Even more shortly after THAT, I met Army Boy and he ruined my blog idea.

So, we’re happy, we’re hunky-dory, we’ve got the house and the ring and the puppy and the honeymoon to Ireland in the works…

But of course, something insidious was creeping into the picture. No, quite literally.

See, here’s me when Army Boy and I first got together. It’s a familiar shot, and has been my pic on my profile page for quite some time.

Two weekends ago, we got together with the family for a birthday celebration, and this happened:

WHO IS THAT GIRL?! Where did she come from?!?! She is… doughy! And round-faced and…

Oh. That’s ME?

“They” say that you have a moment when you hit the wall, and can’t keep going forward the way you have been. That picture was my moment. When I couldn’t ignore the fact that I had gained WEIGHT. All Caps. I could no longer put my finger on the excuses of “I’m so busy!”, “There’s snow everywhere and it’s cold!”, “I’m soooo tired from getting up at 5am with the puppy”, etc etc etc to infinity.

I’m getting married in 6 months. And I will NOT be happy if I have to look back at wedding pictures where I don’t look like me.

Last week I got serious. I got a scale, dusted out the old pilates dvds and the bike, and started a diet. EW. I can’t believe I just used the d-word here on my blog.

I know this probably sounds bad and self-loathey, and I don’t mean to come off like that. However, my filter that appears to have applied to online dating also applies to dieting (AGH THAT WORD AGAIN), and I have trouble being anything but honest.

Like about how I fantasize about walking into the next row and decking the size 4 girl who just sat down with a massive plate of Chinese food. Gaaahhh…

In all honesty, I’ve had some great role models lately that let me know how awesome losing weight can feel (notably The Yezel and Erika at Parsing Nonsense), and let’s face it… It IS wedding year. Not to be the total stereotype who grows out her hair and immediately goes on a diet- shit, I gained weight since getting engaged, obviously, but I can’t assume that the dress is going to go on and voila! Instant princess!

Here’s the problem: I LOVE food. I love cooking it, I love eating it, I love watching programs about it and trying new things. I typically don’t drink my calories- I EAT them. And enjoy every second of it.

Since last week, I’ve bitched, moaned, complained, wanted to quit, and felt like a failure (at dieting. How silly) I railed against the fact that I had to think about each and every thing I’m eating, and that thinking about food that much made me want to EAT IT MORE. And finally, I think I’m coming out the other side. Looking at this as more of a challenge than a sentence. It’s safe to say I’m getting a handle on the daily routine, and making the necessary changes that will hopefully jumpstart me on my way back to a body that I can live with.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled snarking.

The Stomach Flu is not a Valid Pre-Wedding Weight Loss Regimen. Also, I May Have Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Shit. I really need to stop with the descriptive post titles, since I basically told you EVERYTHING. Right THERE.

Let’s just say that March truly lived up to its reputation of coming in like a lion, and knocked me flat for the better part of last week. There were all kinds of hijinks involving the local ER, lots of iv fluids and meds, and many days off work. And it was not remotely fun.

I am not sad to see last week in the rearview mirror, let me tell you. Now we just cross our fingers that Momma Darcy and Army Boy, who were my lovely nurses (No really… the first stomach bug together is a fabulous test of whether you should actually be getting married. UGH.) don’t end up with my affliction.

In the interest of being totally honest with the bloggy world, there’s a bit of the “grass is greener” coming into play with the new position, which was started in October. I don’t doubt that I got out of the last one in the nick of time, but there are “other” things going on right now that are very “big brother” and shady. For the time being, I like the job I’m doing and am in a position to take the wedding time off that I need, and that is where I’ll cool my heels.

I have no desire to get Dooce’d (unless it should happen to work out as fabulously for me as it has for her) and will keep my thoughts on the subject to a minimum. Other than to say that unfortunately, when you are planning a wedding, you are sometimes required to deal with wedding business DURING the business day. As long as it’s not GREATLY compromising your ability to work (and easily trackable stats would show that it is not), there should be no issue.

This is to say that should I seem to be less available than even previously, it’s not because I don’t love you all. I am just… balancing.

Let’s leave that unhappy topic, shall we?

Toward the end of February, we reached the point where I was starting to feel under the gun about booking for the honeymoon. Way back when we decided that the wedding was going to be in October, we wrote off the possibility of travel to the Caribbean. The anxiety over whether our trip would be lousy because of hurricane season wasn’t a risk that we were willing to take.

We started getting creative, trying to come up with destinations that would fit our definition of “honeymoon” without the threat of possible catastrophic weather. We were able to rule out a cruise right away, as that was basically the same problem AND the trip that Army Boy took the first time around (awkward!). Because of some of the recent gang activity in Mexico, he felt pretty strongly that we should avoid heading that direction as well.

My criteria was pretty vague- I wanted us to get pampered (massages please!) and I’ve always held to the preprogrammed notion that a honeymoon is supposed to involve swimming and relaxing. With our ruled-out destinations, I started to get creative in pondering some trips that we could take within the US, in October, that could fit the bill.

My first thought was of the fabulous trip my family took to Lake Placid a few summers ago. Although it didn’t necessarily fit my mental picture of us lounging in the sun, I knew that the resort that we stayed at had a gorgeous indoor pool and hot tub, plus Jacuzzi tubs in the rooms we’d be staying in. And an incredible spa. And amazing food. The only downside to that trip would be the cost. We couldn’t swing a very long honeymoon at that particular resort.

Being the nerd that I am (I KNOW YOU ARE SHOCKED), my next thought was of Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I must go there, quite simply put. Army Boy has never been to Disney, so the idea began to take shape of a combination trip to both parks. We’d stay on the Disney property and make use of their awesome transportation system, but make sure to work in a day or two at Universal, AND a day to do nothing but relax, swim, spa, or otherwise enjoy being in Florida.

It seemed like the perfect solution to our honeymoon dilemma, and I went ahead and bought the 2011 Disney guidebook to begin planning our adventure to the letter.

However, that didn’t stop me from occasionally checking out other wild ideas that came to mind. A certain Mexican resort was ranked top on Trip Advisor? Checked it out. The Yezel had an amazing time on her honeymoon and is already booked to go back for her anniversary?! Checked THAT out. Ooo, a romantic resort in Canada. Must research.

Army Boy observed my research with amusement, often stating “you really have no idea where you want to go.”

“Yes HUH,” I’d retort. “We’re going to Florida.” (I am eloquent and also mature.)

Did it occasionally cross my mind that spending your Sexfest Honeymoon with a crapload of other people’s kidlets might not be the most romantic thing? Possibly. But there’s Epcot! Kids hate World Showcase, and I love it! And I looked up hotel rooms further from the main transport lines, and thus less likely to be hot spots for families with little ones! And! And! We were going to MAKE it romantic, dammit. And have an amazing time!

It may not have helped the issue that I was doing a lot of my planning during the months when we’ve been hit with winter weather, and when sun exposure is at a low. The lack of vitamin D to my brain started to make me question whether Disney was, in fact, the right honeymoon choice. Both for us and for me.

In a lot of the wedding planning thus far, there’s been a little voice in the back of my head that likes to chime in at inconvenient times. It usually says exactly the same thing, with minor variation:

“When you look back at the wedding, do you want to remember… [wearing this dress, feeling like you should have lost weight, a Disney honeymoon]”

I hate that voice.

But sometimes, it may have a point. The true question was: Should I listen to it, or was I just in the grip of February madness?! Would all things seem happy and bright again after we were able to spend more time out of the house, not gazing out and rain and snow? Or, as the title suggests, am I suffering from a combination of Seasonal Affective Disorder* and Extreme Indecision?**

We reached a solution. But I’ve gone on long enough in this particular post.

(EVIL, TRICKSY WAY OF SAYING “TO BE CONTINUED!!!”)

(I SUCK)

(CAPSLOCK!@)

*- This is not in any way meant to be disparaging to those who deal with depression. Having come out the other side myself, I’m with you.

**– Poor, poor Army Boy.