Category Archives: Personal

Life Abroad / Personal

Our Life Abroad: One Year In

July 25, 2017

Now that we’ve been in Amsterdam over a year (more than 14 months, actually!) I thought I’d write a post about how things are going.

When we moved here, it was really exciting and stressful and overwhelming and… all of these BIG feelings, basically. Then I got pregnant IMMEDIATELY and descended into the lovely world of Hyperemesis Gravidarum, so my first summer here was spent missing home and feeling like absolute death every minute of every day.

In a nutshell, last summer was pretty rough. I know that so many people look at this opportunity and think that they would jump at the chance to do something like this, no questions asked; but a move like this, in addition to being amazing and a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing, is also a huge adjustment. There were so many times I wished we could just move back to California and pick up our life where we left off.

Now that we’ve been here a year though, this city is really starting to feel like home. It dawned on me when we were in Barcelona earlier this month — we had been in the city a few days already, and we were picking up some groceries at a local grocery store. I was standing in the frozen section looking for something and overhead a couple standing nearby speaking Dutch. Without even really realizing it, I thought, “That sounds like home.”

You know how when you’re traveling in a foreign country and you haven’t heard the sounds of home in a long time, how something familiar can be suddenly so comforting? I remember traveling around Europe with my sister years ago, and we stumbled across a group of people speaking Spanish with a Mexican accent while we were in Vienna. We both stopped in our tracks for a moment and then turned to each other and said, “Oh, it sounds like home.”

I was so surprised to have had the thought that hearing Dutch sounded like home that I was immediately jolted back to reality and stood there for a second thinking, “Oh my god… What does this mean?”

As you can imagine, KC and I are having an ongoing discussion about what we are going to do when his contract is up next year. We have so many options and possibilities, which is simultaneously amazing and overwhelming.

As much as we miss our families, we both wonder whether the Bay Area is going to be able to provide us with the life that we want. And as much as we love Amsterdam, I wonder whether I’ll ever be ok with raising our kids so far away from our families. As of now, nothing is set in stone, we just continue to go over and over all of the options and pros and cons.

I will tell you though, every time I ride my bike through this city I can’t help but feel like I could stay here forever.

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A Quick Update

December 19, 2016

Sorry for the silence over here the past few weeks. We’ve been quite busy traveling and getting ready for the holidays. We managed to take a weekend trip to Germany and Belgium to visit the Christmas markets in Cologne and Brussels a few weeks back, which I have been meaning to post about, and KC and I headed to Paris the following weekend and basically saw and ate everything in the city (so wonderful!) Our Paris trip was quickly followed by mine and Prim’s flight back to California, which requires quite a bit of work both before and after the actual flight, so posting to the blog took a backseat to real life issues like keeping my child from getting a lifetime ban from ever flying KLM and then navigating the wonderfully tricky world of toddler jet lag.

On a sadder note, my beloved MacBook Air recently blew up on me. After 3 years I somehow managed to fry the logic board AND charger in one go, which is a whopping $600 to fix. And spending $600 on a 3 year old computer that was $950 brand-new seemed a little silly, so I’m currently laptop-less. First world problems for sure, but a bit of a problem blog-wise nonetheless.

I hope that you’re enjoying the holidays and that your self-control around all the treats is much better than mine. I’ll get around to posting about all of our trips eventually, but things will likely be pretty quiet over here over the next couple of weeks still, as we’re spending our time with family and friends while we’re here in California.

There is a pregnancy post coming up tomorrow and probably an anniversary post later this week (if I can get my act together), so if you’re into big bellies and mushy sentiment, stay tuned!

Happiest of holidays, you guys. You’re the best.

PS: Isn’t that little Christmas elf under the tree just the cutest? My mom took this picture of her and the next day she grabbed my hand, led me to the tree and sat right down in front of it and yelled “picture!” at me. This girl is too much.

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What to Tell Our Daughters

November 10, 2016

It’s hard for me to see the upside to this election, especially having gone into it with so much hope and inspiration. I couldn’t wait to inform my daughters of the momentous result, which I hoped to them would seem small and insignificant by the time they heard and understood it. Much like we cannot fathom a world pre- Brown v. Board of Ed. or Loving v. Virginia, I hoped that my girls wouldn’t be able to comprehend a world where people are unable to marry the person they love, or a world where the white male always wins — even if he’s so clearly under-qualified for the position. Unfortunately, that world did not come to exist the other night. Instead, a silent, hateful minority finally made their voices heard, and equality and inclusion lost the day.

It’s hard to know how to proceed. So much of what is before us is unknown.

In speaking with a mama friend yesterday who has a daughter just a few weeks younger than Prim, she asked, “What do we tell our daughters?” We were both at a loss and instead simply sat in silence with tears in our eyes. Luckily I don’t have to tell my girls anything yet. As a mama I will do everything I can to fiercely shield and protect them from the hatred, racism and misogyny that our new leader represents. While they are still little I create their world, and no one — and certainly no man — will take that away from me.

For now, I will continue to raise my girls to be willful, opinionated, free and fierce. I will not silence them to make others more comfortable, just as my own mother would not (and still will not) be silenced. I was raised to be strong, forthright, and resilient, and I expect nothing less of my girls. If I make you uncomfortable because I’m not silent — good. I am educated, opinionated, and unwilling to sit on the sidelines. If you cross me or those that I hold close, I will bare my teeth (and my extensive knowledge of the law and the finer points of the English language).

I am here, I am bossy, and I am not backing down. And I am just one of the many. If this scares you — good, because you are who we are coming for, and you wouldn’t believe our strength and our stamina. I have carried life inside me and clawed my way through pain and circumstance far worse than this. I am the woman of today and I am raising the women of tomorrow, and I’m telling you now — we will prevail, so get behind us or get out of the way.

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And while the wound is still fresh and the future unknown, I will continue to tell myself and the women around me this:

Woman Warriors have always made beautiful worlds out of nothing.

Every time a child gets sick or a man leaves or a parent dies or a community crumbles, the women are the ones who carry on, who do what must be done in the midst of their own pain. While those around them fall away, the women hold the sick and nurse the the weak, put food on the table, carry their families’ sadness and anger and love and hope. They keep showing up for their lives and their people with the odds stacked against them and the weight of the world on their shoulders. They never stop singing songs of truth, love, and redemption in the face of hopelessness. They are inexhaustible, ferocious, relentless.

We’ve been Warriors all along, and nothing will change that.

We are not what just happened. But we might be what we do next.

The world needs our relentless, inexhaustible, fierce, boundlessness love today more than it ever has before. So let’s do what we do: Let’s feed some hungry babies and clothe some hurting families and get the heat turned back on for as many as possible.

– Glennon Doyle Melton

This is not the end. It is only the beginning.

The future is female.

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Brokeback

November 7, 2016

Those of you who know me might already know that I have a bad back. I started having severe back pain in early college and ended up needing to have surgery after my freshman year. Since then I have always been careful about the restrictions imposed by my neurosurgeon following surgery — no impact sports or exercise and no lifting over 20 pounds… ever.

I wouldn’t say this was “easy” to follow, (who knew that at age 20 I’d fall in love with a boy who lives to snowboard) but I haven’t had an inordinately hard time following the guidelines.

Until now.

Now, I’m not only 25 weeks pregnant, meaning my joints are already compromised and any ab strength I had to support my low back is a faint memory, but I have an 18 month old toddler who has passed the 20 pound mark. All of these factors combined yesterday and I tweaked my back — something which has happened before in the 13 years since my surgery, but yesterday went a little differently.

My pain started out as an annoyance, but by last night it was reaching an 8 or 9 on the pain scale. It got to the point where I couldn’t stand or walk, and I ended up spending the night on the couch because I couldn’t climb the stairs (or even make it over to the stairs to attempt them). Today I visited the doctor and found out that (luckily) none of my symptoms warrant emergency intervention, but I’m still in a lot of pain and can’t do much about it since I’m pregnant. (Hiiii fun drugs, see you never.)

Being debilitated like this is frustrating not just because I’m in acute pain, but because I can’t take care of Prim. I can’t get her in or out of her crib, her highchair, or the bath, nor can I reliably help her climb our treacherous Dutch stairs. And every time she walks up to me and demands, “UP!” I can’t lift her.

KC, being the amazing husband and dad that he is, has stepped up and picked up all of the slack — all while maintaining his crazy work schedule from home. And I’ll tell you, moments like these are so bittersweet, because on the one hand I’m heartbroken that I can’t do things like Prim’s bedtime routine with her, but there’s also just nothing sweeter than hearing your spouse read The Little Blue Truck and singing “You Are My Sunshine” while putting your little one to bed.img_0264And yes, that picture is me standing up “straight” right now. When my back goes out my muscles spasm and freeze everything in an awkward position, making my hips horribly off-kilter. I wish I was kidding or exaggerating, but I’m not.

Here’s hoping that things calm down in the next couple of days.

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It Happens All the Time

October 19, 2016

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I got my first “real” job when I was 16 because the assistant manager I interviewed with thought I was cute. Less than a year into my employment, he came in on his day off and kissed me while I was ringing up a customer on the register. He was easily twice my age, but I, being 16, didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing.

When I was 17 I transferred to a new store and a regular male customer flirted with me constantly. He was in his 50’s and my standard response was to laugh uncomfortably and not respond to his advances. One day as I was ringing him up he asked me how I liked to be kissed. I was visibly embarrassed and an older male coworker noticed and pushed me to tell him why. When I relayed the question, he turned to the customer and screamed at him, “She’s seventeen! SEVENTEEN!”

When I was in law school I attended a seminar at school on how to present yourself professionally in court and at job interviews. Among the helpful tips about resume formatting and setting social networks to private, was a long list of “guidelines” specifically targeted at female students: don’t wear your hair down, don’t wear too much makeup, don’t wear bright nail polish, don’t wear heels above 2 inches, don’t wear a top that’s sleeveless, low-cut or brightly colored, and always wear tights or nylons under a skirt, or better yet, opt for a pantsuit over a skirt — it’s “more professional.”

When interviewing at law firms I wore pants. I didn’t wear too much makeup. I wore conservative black wedge heels. I wore my glasses and my hair up so I wouldn’t look “too pretty.”

After being hired at a law firm at the age of 26, I was regularly asked if I was the new secretary. When I showed up for my first deposition they asked when the attorney would be arriving. When trying to file settlement papers in state court the clerk informed me that a lawyer from my firm would need to return to argue the settlement in front of the judge.

During one deposition, the claimant and his attorney immediately began discussing my attractiveness loudly and right in front of me at the table. The claimant even had the gall to turn to his attorney and ask if he thought “the carpet matched the drapes.” His older, male attorney chuckled. The female court reporter and I remained silent.

When I showed up in court for the trial involving the same claimant, his attorney strolled in and turned to my male boss, whistled and said, “That’s the best looking redhead I’ve seen in a long time.” During a court recess the claimant came up to me and said, “[The defense] brought you here on purpose because they know I can’t resist pretty girls.”

My boss was shocked and outraged by the comments. I informed him, “It happens all the time.”

After I got engaged at 26, a (childless) male partner at my firm came up to me and said, “You’re not going to have kids are you?” He proceeded to ask me repeatedly about my plans to reproduce to the point that I finally brought it up to the female partner because I no longer knew how to respond to his questions. She informed me that he was “probably just being friendly.”

When I was 27 and newly married, I was walking home from BART when a man ran up behind me and grabbed my ass. I turned around and screamed at him, calling him a “fucking pervert.” I saw him laughing as he ran across the street. I felt violated but reasoned that it was “my fault” for having been talking on the phone while I walked home, despite the fact that it was only 7pm and there were a lot of other people out. I mean, I should know better than to let my guard down like that.

Later that same year I took an early BART train to work in the city. A few stops in I glanced over at the guy sitting next to me and realized that he had started masturbating. I quietly got up and went and stood near the train doors and waited for my stop.

And you know what? I’m LUCKY, because every woman knows situations like these. So many women have known situations that are so, so much worse. I know multiple rape survivors, and you do too. Even if you don’t “know” — you know rape survivors. Trust me. It happens all the time.

Now, I’m a mother to a daughter. Soon I will be a mother to daughters. They will grow up in this world and I hope to God that things are different by the time they are my age and maybe have daughters of their own.

So if you’re wondering why I don’t support a presidential candidate who openly boasts about assaulting women, aside from the fact that he’s a completely incompetent racist imbecile without the experience or soft skills necessary to be leader of the free world, THIS is why. Because I am a woman and I live in this world. And I would be ashamed to vote in favor of ANYTHING that represents this kind of misogyny — not just for me, but for my daughters.

It is that common, it is a big deal, and it shouldn’t happen all the time.

Hillary 2016.